View herds of elephants up close and walk with the Kalahari San Bushmen at a Botswana safari. Unlike most African destinations, Botswana is a land of contrasts.
On one hand, you will find rolling grasslands, lush forests, swamps and rivers inhabited by herds of elephants and wild dogs (Botswana has Africa’s largest population of wild dogs).
Linyanti and Chobe rivers provide a fitting habitat for the wild game in Botswana as birds flock to the Savuti Channel to feed, frolic and breed.
This abundance contrasts with the desolate Central Kalahari Game Reserve that is home to the San Bushmen and the parched Makgadikgadi Pans that resemble the moon’s surface. Still, in Botswana, you will find the fascinating Okavango Delta, which provides remarkable game viewing.
Botswana is sparsely populated with the majority of the population dwelling in and around Gaborone. Most of the land is taken up by game reserves and the Kalahari, so if you’re looking for a serene escape, a Botswana safari will do you good.
Botswana Safari – Okavango Delta
This floodplain is part of a lake that once spread over Southern Africa and consists of waterways, islands, palm trees and wildlife which are found on the water’s edge. Evidence of this lake’s waterway can be seen in the Savuti sand ridges and Makgadikgadi salt pans.
Okavango Delta sits in the middle of Kalahari Desert and its behaviour changes as seasons come and go.
It is responsible for the seasonal flooding of the Kalahari Desert. Its waters recede in dry seasons exposing fish and other aquatic creatures to predatory birds. Larger animals graze on the lush pasture left in the floodplains until all that remains is dust and fires.
This quickly changes when the waters from Angola highlands flow into the system or when rains come. Everything goes from brown to green as wattle cranes and other migratory birds fly back home.
To experience the wonders of Okavango Delta, cruise through the channels in a makoro (dugout canoe). A boatman stands at the back of the canoe and directs with a long wooden paddle. You are bound to hear birdsong, humming insects and croaking frogs as the gentle breeze caresses your face.
Botswana Safari – Chobe National Park
Home to the Big Five, puku, waterbuck and lechwe, Chobe National Park is a perfect safari destination.
It also hosts over 120,000 elephants and 460 bird species including raptors, fish eagles and kingfishers.
Hundreds of animals and numerous elephants can be seen bathing in the Chobe River at sunset.
Since Chobe is close to Victoria Falls, most tourists combine the two destinations in their itinerary.
Bordering Chobe National Park is Savuti and Linyanti wildlife reserves which are famous for exclusive walking safaris and night game drives. Both reserves have huge populations of elephants, lions and wild dogs.
For the best sightings of wild game, go to Chobe in April to October during the dry season when pans dry up and animals come out of hiding to look for food and water.
However, if you prefer bird watching, visit Chobe in the wet season from November to March. Both resident and migratory birds can be found at Chobe National Park at this time.
Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve
Lake Makgadikgadi evaporated leaving salt deposits that have now formed Makgadikgadi -the largest salt pans in the world with an area of 3900km2
Each pan is separated by sand and is filled with blue-green algae. During the wet season, wildebeests, zebras, migratory birds, greater flamingos, gemsbok, cheetah, elephants and other wild animals congregate here.
Tourists indulge in game drives, bird watching and bush walks as well as tours of archaeological sites when they are at Makgadikgadi.
Botswana Safari – Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Photogenic red dunes, acacia, tropical rainforest and light woodlands all characterize the Kalahari.
This sand sheet has been in existence for millions of years and is home to hundreds of black-maned Kalahari lions, gemsboks, bat-eared foxes, hyenas, honey badgers, wild dogs, leopards and cheetahs.
Ostriches, kori bustards and other birds wade around river valleys as well as Kalahari scrub robins. These river valleys, Okwa, Meratswe, Passarge and Deception were formed by rivers which stopped flowing 16,000 years ago.
Botswana Safari – Best time to go
Game viewing is best enjoyed in Kalahari when the rain falls because migratory birds and animals gather in these parks looking for food and water.
In Chobe National Park, game viewing is best during the dry season from May to October.
April to September is ideal if you prefer good weather, though the nights are a little cold, the days are warm.
Things to do in Botswana
- Fly over the Kalahari Desert
- Tour the Khama Rhino Sanctuary
- Go for a bicycle safari at Mashatu Game Reserve
- Go for an elephant back safari in the Okavango Delta
- Quad bike on Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
- Go for a boat cruise through the Chobe River
- Camp at an island on Okavango
What to pack for a Botswana Holiday
- Neutral coloured clothing
- Lightweight clothing
- Fleece blanket for early morning game drives
- Wet wipes
- Insect repellant
Safari lodges in Botswana
- Okavango Tented Camp
- Chitabe Camp
- DumaTau Camp
- Chobe Safari Lodge
- Mashatu Game Reserve
- Deception Valley
- Jack’s camp
- Ngoma Safari Lodge
- Kalahari Plains Camp
- Xigera Camp
- Ichobezi Luxury Safari Boat
If Southern Africa is on your wish list, check out the Botswana safari packages available or call an agent to customize your trip.