If you’re looking for the ideal African safari destination packed with excellent wildlife sightings, fantastic lodges and excellent guides, then both Kruger National Park in South Africa and Botswana are hard to beat. But, if you could only choose one, which one should you go to?
Kruger is one of the biggest game reserves on the continent and hosts the iconic Big Five along with a dazzling diversity of other African safari animals. Botswana, on the other hand, is home to the magnificent elephant empire of Chobe and one of nature’s true masterpieces, the Okavango Delta.
Both of these two major African destinations offer unique and incredible safari experiences, but the choice between them depends on your preferences and priorities. Here are some factors to consider.
The best time to visit Botswana is during the dry winter months of May to October when game viewing is at its peak. During these months, animals are concentrated in ever-increasing numbers at water sources as the dry season wears on. Botswana wildlife tends to disperse during the rainy from January to April though.
The best time to visit the Kruger National Park is also from May to October for the best game viewing and walking safari conditions. Vegetation is low and sparse at this time of year, making animals easier to spot and track, while the permanent water sources offer a rewarding safari experience in the Kruger.
Unlike Botswana, Kruger is generally considered a year-round destination and welcomes visitors throughout the year.
Both Botswana and Kruger offer a similar amount of awe and wonder to safari newbies. Botswana has the added attraction of water-based activities while Kruger has an incredible diversity of wildlife.
Let’s talk about those water-based activities. One of our planet’s genuine Gardens of Eden, the Okavango Delta is an emerald-green paradise with permanent wetlands and waterways. The Delta’s maze of channels, floodplains and woodlands are teeming with wildlife. Most of the eastern side of the Delta is protected by the beautiful Moremi Game Reserve, which is famous for its wildlife activity. Visitors can explore the water via boat or the iconic mokoro canoe.
The Chobe River also offers memorable moments on its waters. Sunset and sunrise cruises take in incredible birdlife as well as sightings of enormous herds of elephants – they believe the population to be around 70,000.
Greater Kruger National Park is a huge area consisting of a designated national park and surrounding private game reserves in the north-east of South Africa. Covering 20 million hectares, the area includes the Kruger National Park and over twenty private reserves. The whole area is unfenced and wild, with free movement of wildlife across this spectacular land.
Due to the enormity of the area, habitats differ and of course, animals gravitate toward whichever habitat is best for them. Some areas are better known for their leopard sightings, others for their incredible birdlife and others for their large elephant herds. Due to this, you’re more likely to see all of the Big 5 in the Kruger.
Taking your kids on a safari is an experience like no other. You can watch your children gaze in wide-eyed wonder as they explore the sights and sounds as yet unseen to them. You’ll also bond in an environment that is devoid of modern distractions and create memories that will last a lifetime.
While both Botswana and Kruger boast world-class lodges, Kruger has a wider variety of lodges that offer special kids’ programs. These programs welcome kids of all ages and give them the chance to play ‘junior tracker’ among a host of other fun bush-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, treasure hunts, and many other forms of entertainment while the grownups are on game drives or at the pool or having a nap.
Botswana is slightly different in that the lodges are not as diverse and don’t have such a broad offering for kids. It’s also quite difficult to move around in, with many lodges needing to be reached via small planes – so all in all, Kruger is easier for families to visit.
Kruger is one of the great African destinations and attracts large crowds, especially in certain areas. Botswana, however, is less crowded, providing a more exclusive and intimate safari experience.
What’s fantastic about Botswana is that they value their tourism experience so highly that they have excellent policies in terms of the amount of lodges available in the Okavango Delta and their footprint on the land. This means that it can be slightly more expensive to visit Botswana but once there you are rewarded with a wonderful sense of solitude and exclusivity that is hard to beat.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer because both Kruger and Botswana are incredible African safari destinations. It depends on what you’re looking for in an African safari, which is where our expert travel planners can help. It comes down to when you’re travelling, who you’re travelling with and the type of experience you’re looking for. Either way, you’ll be left with memories and experiences that will stay with you forever.