Botswana is arguably one of the best safari destinations in Southern Africa, if not the whole of Africa. It has vast game reserves and national parks, including the unique Okavango Delta, the Moremi National Park, Chobe National Park, the Makgadikgadi Pans and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. These are some of Africa’s last great wilderness areas and magnificent safari destinations. Botswana has an upmarket tourist policy that promotes high cost, low volume tourism that discourages an influx of low-income tourists whose impact can cause irreparable damage to ecosystems.
Most of the safari lodges in Botswana can only be accessed by light aircraft, and we do not recommend the destination for self-drive itineraries.
This does make Botswana a slightly more expensive safari destination, but those who do go on safari in Botswana can expect superb wildlife, birdlife and scenery without the crowds of some the other destinations.
Botswana can ideally be combined with the Victoria Falls (either in Zimbabwe or Zambia), and also with South Africa and Namibia, as there are regular flights from Maun and Kasane to Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as to Windhoek.
The Okavango Delta arguably offers the best safari experience in Southern Africa, one of Africa’s most unspoilt and authentic wilderness areas, consisting of lakes, papyrus-lined waterways, tranquil lagoons, hidden channels, floodplains and rich savannah grasslands, covering an area of 17 000 square km making it the largest inland delta in the world.
In the Delta you will find some of the most luxurious safari lodges, which not only offer exquisite safaris, but all the amenities you can ever wish for. But it’s not only for the rich and famous, those on a tighter budget will also have some very good options!
The Okavango river originates in the uplands of Angola and flows though Namibia and into Botswana’s where it spreads out to the Kalahari sandveld in a fan-shaped delta, resembling a human hand. The palm is a permanent Delta with constant water and the fingertips are seasonally flooded swamps. The delta is an alluvial fan of sediment and debris, which filled a trough formed by the sinking of the earth’s crust, between a series of parallel faults across the Okavango River.
This unique destination has outstanding game viewing in all of the safari areas that can be conducted either on foot, in game viewing open vehicles, mokoro (canoe like) or motorised boats.
Most properties in the Okavango Delta can only be accessed by air, in light aircraft either from Maun or from Kasane.
Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is one of the largest National Parks in Botswana and famous for its high concentration of game, especially elephant. The National Park is situated at the Northwest of Botswana, close to the Victoria Falls, with diverse beauty and eco-systems ranging from lush plains, dense forest to hot dry hinterland.
The Chobe river area, easily accessible from Zimbabwe and Zambia contains an interesting variety of habitats and is rich in plant life. Many a tree has suffered considerable damage from the high number of elephants who push them over and rip off the bark. Hippos and elephants epitomise this park more than other animals but you will still experience some of the finest game viewing in Africa with huge herds of buffalo and zebras. And it is known, where there are buffalo, lions are never far away and there is a good chance of seeing large prides including hyena, leopard and cheetah, who all enjoy a variety of game.
Chobe can be accessed by road from Livingstone, Victoria Falls and Kasane.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is in the centre of Botswana, covering about three quarters of the western part of the country and characterised by golden sanddunes, vast open plains, saltpans and ancient riverbeds. Nothing quiet prepares you for the immensity of this reserve, not its wild, not its mysterious beauty. Once there you get the impression of unending space …
The main wildlife concentrations are in the northern half, known as Deception Valley and definitely a highlight, principally because of the dense concentrations of herbivores attracted by the sweet grasslands during and after the rainy season. Other game to be seen in this area are lion, leopard, brown hyena, giraffe, warthog, cheetah, wild dog, leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu, red hartebeest and springbok.
Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve
Makgadikgadi lies southeast of the Okavango Delta, a series of salt pans with sandy desert in between. A dry salty clay crust most of the year, the pans are seasonally covered with water and grass, and are then a refuge for birds and animals in this very arid part of the world. Interspersed between the pans are sand dunes, rocky islands and peninsulas, and desert terrain.
In the wet season, this reserve can offer great wildlife viewing, particularly when large herds of zebra and wildebeest begin their westward migration; other species include gemsbok, eland and red hartebeest, as well as kudu, bushbuck, duiker, giraffe, springbok, steenbok, and even elephant, with all the accompanying predators, as well as the rare brown hyena.