Ever wanted to take that magical trip to Africa and go on a safari? Well, Botswana should be right at the top of your list. Having spent four years living and working in in this landlocked country in the South of Africa, these are, in my opinion, the best safaris in Botswana:
There are not many places in the world that will ever compare to the Okavango Delta, one of Africa’s last remaining great wildlife habitats. A safari to the largest inland delta in the world will begin with a drive through some harsh, hot and bushy terrain in order to reach the poling station to meet the guides (locals who liv in the Delta) who’ll be taking you into the wild.
The method of transportation from here is a mokoro, which is effectively a dugout canoe from the sausage tree, and once you have settled into position, the guides will begin pushing the canoe out into the Delta.
Cue extreme bliss and precious moments of serene relaxation. Listen to the polers laughing and chatting while keeping a lookout for any potential encounters with any animals that call the Delta home, such as the hippopotamus.
The Delta is more than an animal habitat; it’s one of the most incredible eco-systems on the planet, one in which the work of billions of termites have allowed for all the miniature islands that your canoe is going past. These islands, along with the thousands of waterways created by hippos have created a huge myriad of channels which all connect to form this beautiful eco-system and opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the ultimate wilderness.
Depending on the camping spot chosen for the evening, you will glide through the reeds and waterways for an hour or so, with a brief stop on one of the many islands along the way.
Once there, the guides will set up camp and take very small groups on a walking safari in the nearby area. This is not to be taken lightly, the Polers are extremely knowledgeable but it is important to listen to their instruction, most especially if you happen across a herd of elephants or other wildlife. There will also be an opportunity to take a sunset cruise to see hippos and relax some more beneath the half light of evening. Later, enjoy a traditional meal around the campfire with the other guests.
The next morning, the guides will try to find a suitable place among the reeds for a swim before taking you on another relaxing cruise back to land.
Chobe National Park
As far as safaris goes, Chobe has it all with its varied landscape ranging from marshland to woodland, and its plethora of wildlife (especially all the wild African elephants you want to see in their natural environment).
The town of Kasane in the north-east corner of Botswana is usually the base from which to take a safari into Chobe National Park, and for good reason as the town is also home to many incredible lodges along the Chobe River, which offer boat trips in the afternoon.
There are multiple day cruises along the river on houseboats such as the ultra luxurious Zambezi Queen, but the most affordable option for taking an afternoon cruise is still one of the best. Not only does it allow you to see everything a trip upriver has to offer, it also affords more time to be spent on an amazing land safari inside the park.
The river cruise departs from several of the hotels along the waterfront and makes it’s way up the River Chobe, which arrives in Botswana after a long journey south from Angola. Aside from the many crocodiles, hippos, and elephants, there are also a large variety of colorful bird life which use the River as a watering hole. If you’re lucky, you might witness a herd of elephants being led down to the river by the matriarch.
The land safari in Chobe National Park offers opportunities to see lions, hippos, giraffes, baboons, zebra, elephants, leopards, hyena and much more. Regardless of when you go, the experience is always just as unforgettable. In the high season, thousands of visitors arrive for safari knowing that the bush will be less thick enabling for them to see the animals a little easier. In the low season, however, the lack of crowds and anticipation of the search, can intensify the experience when you stumble upon a lion stalking its prey.
Kalahari Desert Safari
While technically a desert, the main difference between the Kalahari and the Sahara is rainfall.
Botswana receives a healthy amount of rainfall every year, but the sandy soil of the Kalahari Desert soaks up the water, turning the huge area into a semi-arid savannah. Almost inhospitable and yet endearing at the same time, there are people living in this large expanse and they are renowned the world over for living there more than 20,000 years, making them the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa.
The Bushmen are an incredible tribe and their superior survival human instincts have allowed these people to survive for centuries in such a landscape. Touring the desert is a unique experience – to see how the bushmen live today, to understand the difficulties of their environment, and to bear witness to the most primitive life imaginable.
Another highlight of a trip to the Kalahari is the ever changing landscape, the rolling grassy hills, ancient valleys, and of course – the Makgadigadi salt pans, one of the largest salt flats in the world. While a walking tour around the salt plans is a fantastic photograph opportunity, it’s also a great learning experience in understanding the complex eco-system of the area.
The Central Kalahari is teeming with animals, all of whom have had to adapt to the dryness and long periods without water. Many of them will seek out moisture from plants in their desperation or, as with the meerkat, constantly moving from one place to another in seeking any kind of waterhole.
There are lions and leopards, hyenas, baboons, meerkat, jackals, and oryx. If you seek a wildlife experience but also a different side to Botswana other than the Okavango or Chobe National Park, a safari into the Kalahari is a fascinating mix of environment, wildlife and history of the human race.
Do you think we’ve missed anything out? What safaris in Botswana would you like to do? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.