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Beautiful Botswana is, first and foremost, nothing like what you’d ever imagined. Rich in diamonds and with a rapidly-growing economy, it is a rising superstar of the luxury African touring market. Well-appointed lodges with all the amenities have sprung up like wildflowers, luring visitors fascinated by the far-flung locale. Lush national parks and game reserves make up a large part of Botswana’s appeal. Those with safari fantasies will fall in love here, amid massive grassland vistas sprawling as far as the eye can see.
Immense game reserves and national parks teem with a diverse wealth of flora and fauna, including the world’s largest accumulation of elephants! Enjoy a traditional safari, or one of the country’s specialized marine safaris by canoe or houseboat! You’ll savor the sights of majestic wildlife as you meander down a rushing river… what could be better?
Another of Botswana’s major selling points is a low population density and lower visitor numbers than other South African nations. This is largely intentional, as part of a greater conservation strategy. The result is plenty of room to roam and a constant, delicious feeling of discovery. Here, off the beaten path, is where travelers really have an opportunity to chart new territory and savor the experiences of a lifetime!
Moremi Wildlife Preserve
When nature is left to her own devices, wild magic happens. Such is the case in the pristine Moremi Wildlife Preserve, where an abundance of animals and plant life flourish in unconfined freedom amidst the richness of the Okavango river delta. Leopards, cheetah, lions, and rhinos stalk through the tall grass, and zebras, warthogs, and baboons call this place home as well. The birdwatching here is phenomenal, with hundreds of unique species visible in the air and on the ground. The best safari camps are located on Chief’s Island, once the royal hunting lodge of the leader of the local tribes.
Chobe National Park
Some of Africa’s best game viewing happens every day at Chobe National Park, which encompasses most of the northern Kalahari Desert. If you love elephants, this is the place to go: whole herds of pachyderms live here, each just waiting for their close-up. This is actually the world’s largest accumulation of elephants, estimated at fifty thousand strong. Prides of lions hunt in freedom—their neverending one-sided battles with hyenas are a fascinating bit of natural theatre—and the river thrives with hippos and crocodiles! Within the park is the mysterious Savute Channel, which has dried up and then flooded over years-long periods during the park’s history. It had been dry since 1982, but recently began flowing again!
A rare, shining green oasis in the midst of the arid sands of the Kalahari, the delta of the Okavango River is a lush wonderland for a large amount of wildlife. Many Botswana safaris have their base here, from game drives and nature walks to more traditional overland safaris and even boat rides! The wetlands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site overrun with lions, hippos, zebras, antelopes, and leopards, among many others. Among the country’s safari destinations, the delta is known to be one of the most romantic. Couples on African honeymoons will love the pairing of exotic sights and secluded, cozy lodges situated on the vastly scenic riverfront.
The national capital of Botswana, along with its most-visited city, Gaborone is always popular with visitors. A warm, welcoming vibe, excellent food (said to be the best in Southern Africa outside Joburg!), plenty of shopping, and an unexpected “big city” feel are all found here. Climb Kgale Hill for breathtaking panoramic views of the city—and sightings of baboons! Visit the Mokolodi Game Reserve, which makes up for its (comparatively, for Botswana) smaller size with plenty of charm, and peeks at giraffes, hippos, kudus, and other wildlife. Just outside town, Otse Village is worth a day trip… get a rare look at Cape Vultures and take in the local lore.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Twice the size of the state of Massachusetts, Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the 2nd-largest in the whole world. Lest you think the Kalahari Desert is all sand, know that the reserve encompasses woodlands, riverbeds, and miles of swaying grass all around. All this beneath the starriest, clearest wide-open skies you can imagine! Large game abound, as elsewhere in the country, and the winter springbok birthing season is notable for the increase in big predators it brings to the area - all the better to photograph lions, cheetahs, and leopards! Notably, this area of the Kalahari is home to the San Bushmen.
|Primary Airports: Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE), Francistown International Airport (FRW)|
|Government: Parliamentary Republic|
|Currency: Pula (BWP)|
|Population: 2,004,000 (2012 est.)|
|Language: English, Setswana|
|Electricity: 220v / 50Hz (British or South African plug)|
|Time Zone: UTC +2|
Botswana Travel Reviews
Game Safari in Botswana
I traveled to Chobe National Park with my son and daughter as well as my friend, her son and her daughter. We used the safari specialist company called African Portfolio because they had offices both in Africa and in the United States, which we thought would make it more convenient if we ran into problems while on our trip.
During our trip, we stayed at the Chobe Game Lodge, which is the only lodge that is actually located in Chobe National Park. That meant we could stay longer in the park than other guides and their customers who had to spend time getting out of Chobe before it closed for the night.
Chobe is an amazing place. While we did not see herds of zebras and wildebeest, we did see an amazing number of water buffalo and elephants. We even saw elephants swimming across the Chobe River, using their trunks like snorkels.
We also saw quite a few lions, including one lioness who took a swipe at a sleeping hippo. The hippo, not surprisingly, took great offense, and I was able to take a picture of its wide-mouthed protest.
We spent the morning on game drives, and the evenings we took boat rides down the Chobe River, looking for wild animals. The boat rides were a nice alternative to the game drives.
The biggest surprise for us was how cold the mornings were in July. It is winter in Botswana, but I always envisioned Africa as being hot. So my advice to any tourists heading to Botswana in July is to pack a warm jacket and gloves.