Blessed with some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, Botswana is one of the great safari destinations in Africa. From the Kalahari Desert in the south to Chobe National Park in the north and, of course, the Okavango Delta in between – Botswana is a place of wild beauty and dynamic wildlife behaviour. These areas offer visitors a chance to experience untouched ecosystems and witness wildlife in their natural habitat.
Botswana’s wildlife highlights include Africa’s greatest concentrations of elephants, fantastic bird watching, abundant predators and the African continent’s largest population of African wild dogs. Botswana’s lions are particularly notorious for their size and their ability to prey on large animals such as hippos, buffalo and even young elephants. The game viewing opportunities are exceptional, providing visitors with unforgettable encounters with Africa’s iconic wildlife.
A little history of Botswana: Lying landlocked in the dry heart of the Southern African subcontinent, the France-sized Botswana was settled by Iron Age African pastoralists and subsequently colonised by the British. Once something of a colonial backwater, Botswana’s peaceful transition to freedom was led by Sir Seretse Khama – a highly revered figure in the country – and the discovery of enormous diamond fields quickly transformed the country.
One of Botswana’s most unique aspects as a destination is its focus on low-impact, high-quality tourism. It’s an enlightened approach to tourism with a focus on preserving the environment and the traveller’s experience, rather than simply trying to bolster profits. They have a limited number of lodges and camps in designated areas, which ensures a more exclusive and intimate safari as visitors can enjoy uncrowded game drives and personalised attention from knowledgeable guides. It’s through a similar line of thinking that has led Botswana to become known for its commitment to sustainable tourism practices and conservation efforts. Many lodges and camps in Botswana have embraced eco-friendly practices, making it a responsible choice for wildlife enthusiasts.
Today, it’s the wild spaces and wild animals that visitors come to Botswana for. While there is a lot to see and do in Botswana, below we unpack three must-visit destinations in Botswana to see the best that this amazing country has to offer.
The Okavango Delta is one of Botswana’s most extraordinary natural wonders. It is the largest inland delta in the world, formed by the Okavango River spreading across the Kalahari Desert and is home to its own special kind of magic. The islands and waterways, marshes and forests invoke an otherworldly sense of wonder that, when coupled with the wildlife riches and the luxurious warmth of the lodges, make the Delta one of Africa’s most loved destinations.
The permanent lagoons and deep channels of the Okavango Delta offer a range of amazing water activities. An iconic experience is a trip on a mokoro (a dugout canoe), meandering through the spectacular watery landscapes.
Another great way to appreciate the mind-boggling vastness and the sheer diversity of the Delta is from above. If you’re looking for things to do, a helicopter flight is perhaps the most rewarding of them all.
The world’s greatest elephant reserve, Chobe National Park in Botswana’s far northeastern corner is one of Africa’s iconic destinations. Chobe encompasses three wildlife areas that all carry a whiff of safari legend: Chobe Riverfront, the Okavango-like Linyanti Marshes; and the remote Savuti, with wildlife to rival anywhere.
It’s the sunset boat cruises the Chobe is best known for, when huge herds of elephants make their way down to the river to drink and play. Chobe’s elephant herds are known to travel up to 325 km (200 miles) to visit the river when the local waterholes dry up. They believe there to be around 50,000 elephants in Chobe today, which is the highest elephant concentration in Africa. In addition to the mighty pachyderms, a full suite of predators and more than 440 recorded bird species are present.
The biggest reserve in Southern Africa, the sheer scale of the Kalahari is breathtaking. Its vast plains are broken only by the occasional flat-topped acacia. It’s home to incredible night skies, desolate pans and large herds of plains game such as springbok and gemsbok, after the rains.
The diamond in this desert is the lunar-like landscape of the Makgadikgadi Pans. One of the largest salt pans in the world, the pans boast a shimmering, cracked crust that doesn’t look as if it could support any form of life. After good rains, however, this desolate landscape transforms when new grass attracts thousands of animals, and from December to March the park is home to one of Africa’s biggest zebra migrations. As the pans fill up, flocks of pelicans and flamingos settle in as well.
Makgadikgadi has the most incredible night skies (as you might imagine). Known as one of the darkest places on the planet, the pans have a glorious view of the star-spangled sky. You’ll find the clearest nights between April and October. Other popular activities in the region include horseback safaris, quad biking and morning excursions to visit meerkat families.
For an authentic and awe-inspiring African wilderness experience, Botswana is an absolute must-visit destination. This naturally stunning country offers a captivating journey that will leave a lasting impression on any discerning traveller. Whether you’re seeking thrilling wildlife encounters, breathtaking landscapes, or cultural immersion, Botswana has it all. To begin crafting your unforgettable Botswana adventure, get in touch with one of our experienced travel curators.