Botswana

 

Blessed with some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, Botswana is one of the great safari destinations in Africa.

Exclusive Travel's Spiritual Home

Botswana didn't just turn its back on mass tourism and all the potential pitfalls it can bring. It ushered in an era of utterly exclusive safari experiences, the likes of which no other country on mainland Africa can match. These are sumptuous lodges and remote tented camps, especially in the Okavango Delta and surrounds, that are sometimes contemporary in style, and at other times awash in safari nostalgia. Best of all, they provide a front-row seat for fabulous wildlife spectacles that you may just have all to yourself.

Why I Love Botswana

By Anthony Ham, Writer

Nowhere in Africa have I felt such a closeness to the wild dramas that are Botswana's daily stock. I love listening to lions roar just beyond the circle of my campfire light. I love the contrast of desert and delta, the endless horizons of the salt pans, the sense of a delta world in motion that is never the same from one year to the next, and the sense that here in Botswana, the world of wilderness, wildlife and wild places survives intact.

Nature's Abundance

The Okavango Delta – there's nowhere quite like it on earth. This is a place where wild creatures roam and rule, where big cats and much bigger elephants walk free in one of the world's last great wildernesses. The delta is a byword for abundance – for animal numbers, for the variety of species, for the birdlife, for floods of Biblical proportions. And it is also a place of singular and unparalleled beauty where safari possibilities can seem as endless as the waters themselves.

Stark Desert Beauty

The Kalahari Desert, the largest unbroken stretch of sand on the planet, is not your ordinary desert. From the salt pans of Makgadikgadi, the baobabs of Nxai Pans, and the spare magnificence of Kubu Island in the north, to the wonderful wildlife of Kgalagadi in the south, this is a desert of exceptional variety. Throw in the fossil river valleys, swaying golden grasses, black-maned lions and the echoes of the indigenous San people in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and there are few more beautiful deserts on Earth.

Africa's Best Camping

You can experience Botswana by renting your very own 4WD vehicle that doubles as an ingenious camping home away from home. This is about experiencing wild Africa at your own pace, travelling from one campsite to the next, where you may lie awake at night listening to lions roar their bone-trembling roar, or hippos, elephants, or the chilling saw-like grunt of a leopard. Build a campfire, gaze at the stars and feel at one with this gloriously beautiful country.

The Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta, recently named UNESCO’s 1000th world heritage site, is located in the north of Botswana, and is one of the few wetlands in the area.

This delta is fed by the Okavango River which flows in from the Angolan highlands. The Okavango is produced by seasonal flooding on the otherwise flat land. Due to the gentle slope of the delta, it takes around six months for the flood waters to make their way down from Angola. The Okavango Delta has many different islands, lagoons, and mainland areas. The water level reaches its maximum in July and August, just as the dry season hits Botswana, making it a popular gathering place for wildlife.

The Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of the Okavango Delta is one of the most diverse habitats in Botswana and is home to wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, elephants, buffalo, hippos, and the rare sitatunga. All of the classic African safari animals can be found at this reserve.

Location: North of Botswana

Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park, located in the north-east of Botswana, is home to one of the three largest parks in the country. The Chobe River, one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, is responsible for keeping the park well-watered.

The landscape at Chobe National Park is nothing short of spectacular. It is also one of the most populated areas for elephants, and is home to over fifty thousand of these beautiful creatures. If you are looking to get up close and personal with these gentle giants, the Chobe National Park is for you.

In the southern banks of the Linyanti River is the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, arguably one of the best game viewing areas in Botswana. Whether you are hoping for buffalo, zebras, or elephants, you’re sure to spot your favourites here. There is also a wide variety of predators that roam through the area, making for an exciting viewing experience. This location is especially popular during the winter months when water is scare. During this season, large groups of animals can be seen congregating at the river.

Location: North-east of Botswana

Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert a large semi-arid savannah that’s both vast and beautiful. This desert covers much of Botswana, and stretches into Namibia and South Africa.

Contrasting with the Okavango River, the only river to run through this desert, the Kalahari Desert is a vast wilderness that stretches 360,000 square miles. The name of the desert, Kalahari, means “large thirst” in the Tswana language, and features a mixture of salt pans, riverbeds, and brush. It’s also home to big cats including cheetahs, leopards, and the Kalahari lion, famous for its beautiful black mane.

This desert is home to three parks and reserves, one of which happens to be a reserve for rare and endangered species such as lions, African wild dogs, and cheetahs.

Camping in the Kalahari Game Reserve, you will be overwhelmed by its vastness. Listening to nothing but the sounds of roaring lions, hyenas, and other wildlife is an experience that’s truly remarkable.

Tsodilo Hills

Located in the north-west of Botswana near the Namibian Border, the Tsodilo Hills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of rock art and caves.

There are estimated to be over 4500 rock paintings at the site, and an estimated 500 individual sites which represent thousands of years of human habitation. It is believed that the San people, or bushmen created the rock art, as they at one time inhabited the caves and rock shelters. Exploring the three hills is a journey into antiquity, as this site is thought to be one of the world’s oldest historical sites.


Location: North-west of Botswana

Moremi Wildlife Reserve

Moremi Wildlife Reserve is a true gem of a reserve, located in in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango. This reserve offers spectacular game viewing and bird watching opportunities, including opportunities to spot the “Big Five.”

This reserve stretches for approximately 3900 square kilometres, and features picturesque floodplains, waterways, lagoons, grasslands, and mophane forests. The vast and varied terrain makes this an especially desirable destination for self-drive tours, with many visitors opting to combine this reserve with Chobe National Park to the northeast. A tour through this park will feature terrain and wildlife so phenomenal that at times, it will be nothing short of awe inspiring


Location: Central and eastern areas of the Okavango

 

Cruise along the Chobe River

The languid and life-giving Chobe River is both exceptionally beautiful and bursting with wildlife. Probably the best place in Africa to see elephants swimming, you’d also be hard pushed to find a better spot for an evening boat cruise and a sundowner or three with hippos belly laughing all about you. To take the experience to another level, book a Chobe houseboat holiday.

Experience the beauty of Moremi Wildlife Reserve

Botswana's Moremi Wildlife Reserve lies in the centre of the Okavango Delta. The reserve encompasses a wide range of habitats – from wetlands, floodplains and reed beds to forests and savannah woodlands. The fauna inhabiting this pristine park is abundant and equally diverse, ranging from exotic birds, zebras, buffalo, wildebeest and giraffes to hippos and lions.

Get lost in Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park

Encompassing ancient animal migration routes between Botswana and South Africa, this enormous desert park is bigger than the Netherlands and famed for its big cat population, particularly lion and cheetah. Other attributes include incredible night skies and overpowering stillness. It’s still a relatively underexplored park, and a special place for wild camping.

Go on a game drive in Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park is Botswana’s flagship park and easily combined with a visit to Victoria Falls just across the border into Zimbabwe or Zambia. The park itself is vast, wild and home to more than 100,000 elephants, sometimes seen in herds of up to 500. There are also plenty of predators, including leopard, lion and the critically-endangered African wild dog.

Paddle around the Okavango Delta

The oasis of the Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s most iconic destinations and not without good cause. Positively teeming with wildlife and birdlife, this region of vast grass flats, low tree-covered ridges and narrow and intricate waterways is best explored in a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe. This rustic means of transport takes you closer to the delta’s staggering biodiversity.

Roar across the Makgadikgadi Pans

Traverse the world’s largest salt pans on a quad bike to make the most of the awe-inspiring vistas and sense of isolation. Come at the right time of year and you’ll also see southern Africa’s most spectacular zebra and wildebeest migrations. The barren landscape is occasionally punctuated by strange and picturesque islands of palm trees. You might spot the rare brown hyena here.

Sleep with the rhinos at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Established in 1992, this community-based wildlife project is a shining example of Botswana’s sterling conservation work and its emphasis on sustainable tourism. The peaceful sanctuary provides a safe haven for both white and black rhino, previously wiped out across most of the country, and there are onsite chalets and camping facilities.

Trek in the sacred Tsodilo Hills

Tsodilo Hills is a UNESCO World Heritage Site held sacred by Botswana’s San Bushmen. Known to have been inhabited for at least 100,000 years, these dramatic, isolated hills are decorated with thousands of fascinating ancient rock paintings. A number of different hiking trails showcase both the stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of these ancient landscapes.

Venture into Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Remote, enormous and virtually unexplored, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a refuge both for iconic wildlife and the country's few remaining Bushmen, nomadic hunter gatherers indigenous to southern Africa. Often referred to as one of Africa’s last true wildernesses, roaring lions may be the only sound to puncture the overpowering desert stillness here.

The Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe are Botswana's most popular parks. The best time to visit them is from May to September, during the Dry season and winter, resulting in more moderate temperatures. In addition, the Okavango is flooded from June to October.