Botswana

Botswana is Africa’s shining light. Democracy, peaceful people, positive GDP growth and money in the bank are some of the reasons why Botswana is a successful nation. Botswana is virtually the same size as France or Texas. Situated in the center of Southern Africa, it is a landlocked country, with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbors. With the exception of the eastern part of Botswana where the great majority of Batswana live, three quarters of Botswana is technically a desert. There are 3 main regions of game viewing and safaris; the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park & Linyanti Game Reserve, and the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans.

HIGHLIGHTS

Chobe National Park/Linyanti Game Reserve

To the northeast of the Okavango Delta are the Chobe and Linyanti Game Reserves. These areas are renowned for their predators and large concentrations of game, particularly elephants. There are many varied habitats within the Chobe and Linyanti parks, marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands, and the world famous Savuti Channel. The Savuti Channel is a “waterway” that connects the Linyanti River from Zibadianja Lagoon, with the interior of the Chobe National Park at the Savuti Marsh. Today the Savuti Channel is an open grassland and home to a variety of different animals.


Okavango Delta

Located in Northern Botswana, the Okavango Delta has to be Africa’s most unique wildlife and wilderness sanctuary. What makes the Okavango most remarkable is that it is a wetland paradise located within the arid Kalahari Desert. Each year floodwater from the moist central African highlands, over 600 miles away, flows into the Okavango Delta. These floodwaters create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife.


The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans

The grasslands of the Kalahari with the expanse of the Makgadikgadi salt pans complete the third safari option in Botswana. The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans are in total contrast to the verdant, game-rich Okavango and Linyanti regions and are a must-see for all visitors to Botswana who are interested in the country’s diversity. The desert experience focuses on species unique to the area such as Brown Hyena, Meerkats (Suricate), Gemsbok (Oryx), Springbok, and the great black-maned Kalahari Lion as well as the geology, archaeology and anthropology of the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi. The Makgadikgadi is a relic of an ancient super lake that covered much of southern Africa, which dried up thousands of years ago.


HOW
WHEN
WHAT
WHO
Botswana is located in Southern Africa. Botswana is North of South Africa. There are daily flights from South Africa to Botswana. There are also flights from Victoria Falls and Namibia.

If traveling from the U.S. or Europe it is most common to fly to South Africa. From Johannesburg, there are daily flights to Maun, Botswana. There are also flights from Cape Town directly to Maun. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and from Maun it is a light aircraft flight to the camp of your choice in the Okavango Delta.

The Linyanti/Chobe area of Botswana is in the extreme northern portion of the country, close to Victoria Falls. Due to the proximity to Victoria Falls, Botswana easily combines with a visit to the Falls. Botswana also can easily be combined with safaris in Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. As many travelers fly through South Africa in order to get to Botswana, a stay in South Africa is also common.
Botswana is a year-round wildlife destination. Game viewing is great any time of the year.

From December through March Botswana does get some rain and it is warm. The rain makes everything green and thus this time of year is often referred to as the Green Season. During the Green Season, Botswana is beautiful and unlike just about any other safari area in the World. Due to the rain and the flood waters from Central Africa, the Green Season sees an increase in water levels around the camps. This makes safaris by boat more prevalent and sees birds flock to the area. This is a great time to go on safari and can be less crowded than other months.

April through October sees water levels decreasing each month with little to no rain. As the weather is dry, the landscape dries out and takes on various colors of green, beige, and brown. Water levels recede, and more safaris by land and 4x4 are possible. As the area is not as lush, seeing animals can be easier during these months. June, July, and August are peak months as the great game viewing also corresponds with the North American and European summers.

November is a month of transition and Botswana sees its first rains in a while. This is the time when many animals give birth. The chances of seeing a birth are highest during this period and predators can be very active.
Safaris are the main attraction when visiting Botswana. There are a number of ways to experience a safari in Botswana and this is what helps make Botswana unique. Safaris by open 4x4 are common. Viewing animals can also be done during night drives, by walking safaris, by riding elephants, on boats, and on mokoros (traditional dugout canoes). Many of the camps are built in area where animals can be viewed directly from raised decks at the camp. Animals that one might see include lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, a number of antelope species, giraffe, wild dogs, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, and much more!

Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve
The heart of the Okavango is the Moremi Game Reserve. All the major habitats and ecosystems of the Okavango are preserved here. The Moremi Game Reserve is home to the famous Mombo and Little Mombo camps. Around the Moremi Game Reserve are large private reserves (locally known as concessions) that are leased out to safari companies under strict guidelines. These game reserves offer great safari experiences due to their massive amounts of pristine land, wildlife, and a level of privacy encountered in very few other places in Africa. One can go out all day in some areas and not see another soul, other than the animals on the savannah.

Linyanti/Chobe National Park
The Linyanti Wildlife reserve is a 275,000 acre private reserve on Chobe’s Western edge. This area is very different from the Okavango and is a must for every Botswana itinerary. This private reserve is an enormous area shared by only four small camps. There are three main features of the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve: the Savuti Channel, Linyanti River, and the woodlands of the interior. Two thirds of the famous Savuti Channel is in this pristine reserve and guests are able to view the abundant wildlife privately and exclusively. The last stretches of Africa’s Great Rift Valley divide the forest of the interior with the rivers and floodplains of the Linyanti and it is along this ridge (and the Savuti Channel) that one sees the best wildlife.

The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans
For a few months each year, the Makgadikgadi transforms into one of the most important wetland sites in Africa. When the rains come, the pans fill with water and they become a breeding ground for huge flocks of flamingo and other migratory birds. The rains also regenerate the grasses which attract the last surviving migration of Zebra and Wildebeest in southern Africa. A visit to the area is essential for anyone interested in evolution, the origins and explanation of the Okavango Delta and Botswana’s big picture. For those who are prepared to travel off the beaten track and take a step back in time, a wealth of sensory experiences awaits you – from 1940’s safari style luxury to giant, ancient baobabs and pre-historic beaches.
The number of tourists allowed in each area is limited in Botswana. Game drives see less tourists and are more private. Camps and lodges tend to have less of an impact on the environment than in other destinations and we describe this as more barefoot luxury feel. If a barefoot luxury, private, exclusive safari experience sounds good, Botswana very well could be the place for you. Many people consider Botswana to be the best overall game viewing experience anywhere.

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