One of Africa’s very best wilderness destinations, Botswana is a wildly beautiful and extraordinarily varied country. This safari destination is blessed with a rich array of African wildlife. Its diverse and untamed landscapes, spanning deserts, rivers and savannahs, support a range of wild animals seldom found in a single country, making Botswana a game-viewing paradise. The Big Five – lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino – can all be found here, although it may take a trained guide to help you track every species down!
An astonishing 38 percent of Botswana is dedicated to national parks and wildlife reserves, creating an immense unfenced wilderness in which the animals roam free. The country adopted an official ‘low volume, high returns’ ecotourism policy almost 35 years ago, which means that you can explore this game-rich country in unusual peace.
Much of Botswana stretches across the Kalahari Desert and the only sources of year-round surface water are the Chobe River in the north, the Limpopo in the southeast, and the outstandingly beautiful Okavango Delta – the world’s largest inland delta – in the northwest. The delta’s freshwater plains sustain an abundance of life and large numbers of game throng here. Also to the north lies the Makgadikgadi Pan – a large saltpan that is transformed by good summer rains into a wildlife wonderland.
Botwana’s spectacular national parks are specifically situated where the wildlife is more concentrated, and offer a range of accommodation options. The Chobe National Park supports the world’s largest concentration of elephants, while Moremi Game Reserve is nearest to the Okavango Delta. In the Kalahari Desert are the vast Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Nxai Pan National Park, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park.
The Big Five, cheetah, antelope, wild dog, bat-eared fox, hippo, giraffe, gemsbok, zebra and hyena are just a small sample of the wildlife to marvel at year-round. First-time safari adventurers particularly love the milder, dry winter months from June through September when game viewing is easiest, with animals clustered close to waterholes and rivers, and short grasses and dry trees improving visibility.
Like much of southern Africa, this semi-arid country falls within the southern hemisphere’s summer rainfall area. When the rains set in from November until March, temperatures can be very high but the dry, dusty African landscape transforms into a lush green paradise, with afternoon thunderstorms bringing refreshing, much-needed rain. Seasonal wetlands fill up and rivers start to flow. Plains game such as impala and springbok give birth now, while the grasslands are covered in nutritious sweet grasses. And where there are babies, you will find predators: this is an excellent time for Big Cat action, as the breeding herds provide easy pickings for lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog.
Botswana offers a range of activities for families and adventurers alike. Connect with the natural world with guided game-viewing drives and nature walks. Gasp at the phenomenal perspectives offered by scenic flights and deeply relaxing river cruises or mokoro (dugout canoe) trips in the Okavango. Exploring the delta’s network of channels and pools, in the company of an expert guide, is the wildlife — and birding — experience of a lifetime. Visit a local village to socialise with the Batswana and immerse yourself in their cultural world. Whatever you choose, prepare to have a corner of your heart colonized forever by beautiful Botswana.