A Botswana safari holiday offers some of the most spectacular wildlife and wilderness experiences in Southern Africa. From the evocative Kalahari desert and the surreal Makgadikgadi salt pans, to the montane forests on the banks of the Chobe River and the vast seasonal floodplains of the Okavango Delta, a Botswana safari is an unforgettable holiday experience, whether you choose a camping trip or fly in luxury safari.
The jewel of Botswana, and one of the best wildlife regions in southern Africa, is of course the famous Okavango Delta with the Moremi Wildlife Reserve at its heart. Most people include this as a ‘must’ for anyone taking a Botswana safari. But the other parks should not be overlooked such as Chobe in the north, and those in the Kalahari Desert in the south. Botswana offers walking safaris, boating and poling in mokoro canoes, day and night game drives and even houseboats and fishing. Horse safaris are also available in the Okavango region.
Botswana is also home to some of the last remaining communities of San Bushmen who live in the harsh landscape of the Kalahari Desert. Tribes has links with some of the Bushmen communities, allowing us to introduce you to the unique way of life of this indigenous people. Whilst Botswana is primarily a wildlife safari destination, including time to meet the people can be highly worthwhile.
Highlights of a Botswana Safari
- Stunning wildlife and waterways of the Okavango Delta & Moremi Game Reserve.
- Elephants & other wildlife of Chobe Game Reserve.
- The dramatic salt pans of Makgadikgadi.
- Wilderness, wildlife and San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert.
- Excellent quality safari accommodation and guiding.
- Good choice of safari styles –luxury tented camps and lodges, private wilderness camping, mokoro safaris, horseback safaris.
- Luxury island lodges in the Caprivi Strip.
The official language is English. Tswana is spoken widely.
Not required for British travellers (up to 90 days). EC nationals can ask us for further advice.
There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if you are coming from an infected area. Malaria prophylactics are recommended in the north.
Best times to go
Rainy season (late Oct to early April). Dry season (mid-April to mid-October)
Overnight flights to Johannesburg then connections to Maun, total flying time about 13 hours.
Top Places to Go
The incredible scenery and wildlife of the Okavango Delta make safaris in Botswana some of the best in the world. Of course, there is far more to Botswana than just its famous delta and I’m going to introduce you to this amazing country by looking at five specific areas.
- The Okavango Delta
- Chobe National Park
- Magkadigkadi Salt Pans
- The Kalahari Desert
- Tuli Block
In most cases, you can visit several of these in the course of your trip. Before we begin to explore each of these areas, here are two points to note.
1) The majority of safaris in Botswana form part of more extensive tours which also include game viewing in neighboring countries such as Zambia and Namibia.
2) Botswana is the perfect destination for canoe safaris and very popular for horse riding safaris.
You will need to be a fit, confident, experienced rider with a secure seat if you take to the saddle, as much of the riding is fast and some of the wildlife dangerous.
Some trips include walking safaris.
So let’s find out what delights await those considering safaris in Botswana.
The Okavango Delta
This immense river delta is one of the largest in the world; a vast inland network of lagoons and water-filled channels encircling a myriad of islands covered in rich vegetation. Created by the run-off from the rain soaked highlands of Angola to the north-west, it is subject to seasonal changes in water level which give rise to a variety of landscapes and habitats.
Chobe National Park
To the north-east of the Okavango Delta, on the border with Zambia, is Chobe National Park. It has the greatest diversity of ecosystems of all the game reserves and one of the highest concentrations of game in Africa, hence, it is another key destination for safaris in Botswana.
Magkadigkadi Salt Pans
To show you a very different landscape, safaris in Botswana often include a visit to the Magkadigkadi Salt Pans to the south of Chobe. A desolate, shimmering, arid wilderness for most of the time, when the rains arrive, the area comes alive with herds of migrating zebra and wildebeest.
The Kalahari Desert
This is where you really enter the domain of the San bushmen of the Kalahari.
They have perfected the art of survival in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world.
The Kalahari, which covers about two-thirds of Botswana, is not a classic sandy desert but is composed of dry grassland, salt pans and acacia forests.
It has two main game reserves and the one you are most likely to visit is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in the northern region of the country.
There is a surprising diversity of wildlife here with lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, wildebeest and several large species of antelope to be found, although numbers are much lower than in wetter areas.
If it is the Meerkat that charms you, then this is definitely a place to include in your itinerary.
They are often undaunted by human presence so close encounters with these cheeky, playful creatures are a real possibility.
The Tuli Block is a narrow wedge of land in the east of Botswana, squeezed between Zimbabwe to the north and South Africa to the south.
Although it offers great game viewing, it features less regularly on safaris as it is isolated from the main safari region in the north of the country .
It is, however, very popular for horse riding safaris, the reason I mention it here.
There are opportunities for both centre-based riding in several of the excellent game reserves as well a trail rides with wilderness camping.
As with all African safari destinations, there is lots of variety.
You could find yourself sleeping in lodges (basic or luxury), hotels, guest houses, on a houseboat or camp site (wilderness, basic or luxury).
So if you have a strong preference, choose your trip carefully.
Choosing your holiday
To help you find exactly what you are looking for, I have categorized some of the Adventure Travel Companies listed below.
I am also in the process of sourcing good local companies and will add them to the right hand column as I find them.
I have already mentioned that a high percentage of trips covering safaris in Botswana venture into neighbouring countries.
I should also tell you that Botswana is included in many extended overland journeys in Africa (of 1 to 9 months duration), on which safaris feature widely.
All this means that there are plenty of options and there are certainly some superb holidays out there awaiting your discovery.