Ichobezi Houseboat - Chobe River report

Nov 10th, 2006, 08:03 AM
  #1  
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Ichobezi Houseboat - Chobe River report

Hi Folks
I have just returned this afternoon from spending a couple of nights on the Ichobezi House Boat on the Chobe River and here as promised is my report.
First off I must say that I was totally horrified at the amount of river traffic and lodges I saw between Kasane and the Chobe NP, not to mention the hoardes of people. The last time I did this stretch of River was back in 1997 and it was still very remote and peacefull but today it is just a nightmare for folks looking for a tranquil African experience, especially if you have just come from the Okavango Delta and Savuti/Linyanti areas. Besides all the little boats (if I may say) buzzing up and down I do beleive according to the locals that there can be up to 80 vehicles at a time on games drives in the Chobe NP now. Hence the reason why I was invited to experience the Ichobezi House Boat.
The Ichobezi House Boat is part of the Ichingo Chobe River Lodge which is situated opposite Kasane on Impalila Island in a remote part of the Chobe River rapids which no other lodge has access to. One must however bear in mind that there is very little game on this island, however it is a unique place in its own right.
Upon arrival at Inchingo where the Ichobezi is berthed you will clear immigration and then board the boat for a roughly 2 hour cruise through the buzzing mayhem to Elephant Bay which is the first stop for the night. Now, it is not such a bad cruise as besides all the game viewing along the way you have all the other guests in the little buzzers coming close to take photographs of this magnificent boat. You truly do feel special, like driving the latest Rolls Royce down 5th Ave NY (for lack of a better word as I am an African). Anyway you finally reach Elephant Bay and the boat docks on an island in the middle of the Chobe and you settle in for the rest of the day and night. By this time you don't mind the little buzzers as they have made you feel like royalty. You are now docked in the Chobe NP and the little buzzers now have to go back to their respective lodges and suddenly here you are all on your own in paradise with Elephants, hippo, fish Eagles, and so much more. The silence engulfs you and almost instantaneously the call of the Fish Eagle, the snort of the Hippo kicks you right into Africa, your Africa, and then your journey begins.
We opted to go Tiger fishing as I do beleive this is a very exciting part of experiencing an African River although I know that not all folks will do this but it is an experience that one should at least try. One has two options using the tenders, which you will see in the video and that is game viewing along the river or fishing and from many past experiences I always choose to fish as I get the best of both. I caught a small Tiger which I put back.
Let me describe the boat now.
The Ichobezi can accommodate a maximun of 8 guests in 4 bedrooms, I call them bedrooms because they are not cabins. They are extremely comfortable each with en-suite facilities, spacious cubhoards, 220 and 12V electricity which will accommodate all shavers and hair dryers and large windows which allow you a fantastic low level view along the river. The first morning I was awoken by the sounds of a hippo right next to the boat frolicking around and I jumped out of bed grabbed the video camera but by the time I filmed he was gone but on the video you will see what I am trying to say. This to me was pure heaven, a totally different experience, I really was part of the Chobe River system. Lying in bed and looking out at 05h30 in the morning and seeing life from a completely different view totally blew me away. I had no desire to jump in a landrover, as most of you know how much I love leopards and lions , and chase around looking for the Big Five, I had peace and tranquility lapping at my bedroom window. What a feeling!

In Conclusion.
Anybody who does not do this experience is REALLY missing out on something extraordinary. GO FOR IT...its well worth it, I promise.
Folks I have put up a video which I think will give you a better view of what I am trying to share with you and if you have any questions just ask.

Here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6ra8eRZLnk
Mark
Marksafari17 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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Thanks Mark, for the report--and for the comments on fishing. I love to fish, and I agree totally re. going tigerfishing as part of the Africa experience if one has the opportunity. I mention it in my report on Zambia and the Lower Zambezi, but I didn't want to come across as just another "pushy" fishing nut.

It's a lot of fun being out on the boat, catching a fish that is as exotic appearing in the fish world as an aardvark is in the animal world.

As you say, you get a twofer--watching hippos and elies on the bank and in the water, crocs lurking (I kept being reminded NOT to dangle my fingers in the water--a natural tendency. No more reminders were necessary after I saw a nearby 12 foot long croc slide into the water and disappear. Sundowners on the river, spectacular sunsets, and, of course, tigerfish.



steeliejim is offline  
Nov 10th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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Most intriguing! Thank you.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 10th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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Mark, great report and incredible video. Its a bit sad to read about the increased traffic on the Chobe River; when I visited, in August 2001, it was not nearly that busy. But, its gratifying to learn that there remain remote sections, and that they can be visited in comfort.

Michael
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Nov 10th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Jim
It was unbeleivable. Last night we were out on the rapids drifting with bulldogs and had hippos and crocs all around us and we lost 3 lines. We used the jet boat and all I can say is GO FOR IT! We came back to the lodge in total darkness. Alan who was in charge knows his stuff.
This is adrenalin pumping. I loved every moment and can highly reccommend it guys.
Mark
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Nov 10th, 2006, 09:55 AM
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Mike
Hopefully I have a plan. I will keep everyone informed.
Mark
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Nov 10th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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Jim and Mike
I wished I could have filmed last night on the rapids.
I left the video camera on land for reasons we all know.

Mark
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Nov 10th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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santharamhari
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Mark,

Isnt impalila island actually in the caprivi strip in Namibia? So Ichingo lodge is in Namibia, then?

Did you do any game drives in the chobe this trip? 80 vehicles doesnt sound appealing to me.....

Either way, glad you enjoyed your boat cruise and thanks for sharing....

Hari
 
Nov 10th, 2006, 08:41 PM
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Hi Hari
Yes Impalili Island is in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. I did not do any game drives as I was only interested in the boat and fishing.
Mark
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Nov 11th, 2006, 10:22 AM
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Jim
How do we get to explain or share the pure joy of Tiger Fishing to others on this board. I am sitting right now in my office in JHB and am already planning my next trip out to those wild African rivers.
Mark
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Nov 11th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Hi Mark,

Greetings once again from a fellow fishing fanatic from afar.

Yeah, it's hard to explain to others who have not done it. I find the same problem in trying to explain the other worldly experience of scuba diving. Adjectives like fantastic, amazing, spectacular just don't register. Actually, it's not so much different, than trying to explain going on safari, being there, immersed in the wildness of Africa, rather than watching it on tv.

For me, and clearly for you too, it's not just the fishing but the whole experience of fishing on a wild river (yes, I know the Zambezi has dams, but while they may temper the river in spots, they do not tame it.).

I live in the western US, where we have some spectacular rivers, as well--although none with crocs that I know of. <g>

I've been lucky enough to jetboat, raft (even used to whitewater guide on No. Calif. rivers), and driftboat many wonderful rivers. My favorite trip out here is driftboating the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River in southern Oregon. You go through Class 4 rapids on a 4 night trip in the fall, spending each night in rustic lodges that can be reached only by drift boat, raft, kayak, hiking, or, in a couple of cases flying into a short, grass air strip. No elies or hippos, but lots of other wildlife--otters, bear, deer, eagles, etc.

Great fishing for steelhead and salmon (and easy for the rankest of beginner), AND rarely see other people or boats except those in your party. Truly a world class experience that can be had for the price of one night at Mombo.

No, I don't have a vested interested in the outfitters who run Rogue River trips, but I did do a magazine article on the trip a few years ago, have done the trip again since, and plan to return.

Okay, back to Africa. Aside from the Lower Zambezi and Chobe River, where are some of the other places where one can fish for tigerfish? I was quite happy with my success considering it was my first try, and I was flyfishing, but the ones I caught were small (to 4 or 5 pounds) compared to how big they can get. I can only imagine the fight a 15 or 20 pounder would put up, esp. on a fly rod.

Jim

steeliejim is offline  
Nov 12th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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I saw the Ichobezi Houseboat last week, impressive looking boat! Sounds like a lot of fun
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 12th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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Hi Jim
Thanks for the help. My late Dad always taught me "Don't mock it until you have tried it". This is true in this case and although I am nowhere as keen a fisherman as you I have fallen for Tiger fishing like you cannot beleive.
As for other places to fish for Tiger, Lake Kariba is famouse for it and every year in I think October they hold the annual Tiger Fishing competition which is attended by hundreds. This is where I had my first Tiger fishing experience back in the 90s. Do a search on Google for 'tiger fishing lake kariba'

Hi Alin
Yes, the boat is a very enjoyable experience. It gives one a totally different perspective to game viewing and experiencing Africa. As far as I am concerned anyone doing the Botswana/Vic Falls route must add in this experience as it will only enhance one's stay in Africa.
One does not have to go Tiger fishing as there are other options but to wake up on the Chobe River with hippo snorting around you and you open your blinds and see water is amazing.

Mark
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