The landlocked country of Botswana is blessed with resplendent forests, wildlife-rich deserts and idyllic wetlands, complete with lagoons, secluded islands and a delta of water channels that rate as one of the most visually stunning settings in Africa. Combine these habitats, and you have some of the best game viewing and birdwatching in the world.
The highlight is undoubtedly the Okavango Delta, though the Chobe National Park and spectacular Makgadikgadi and Nxai pans are also hugely rewarding. Generally a very temperate climate, Botswana’s water holes and dams are at their busiest during the rainy season, which falls between October and April.
Places To Visit
The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s last unspoilt game reserves, it is a staggering natural phenomenon, one of the world’s largest inland water systems, providing a unique habitat for numerous endangered animal and bird species. Millions of years ago the Okavango River used to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi now known as the Makgadikgadi Pans. Tectonic activity interrupted the flow of the river causing it to backup and form what is now the Okavango Delta. Exploring the waterways by mokoro, the native dugout canoes, provides a tranquil means of getting up close to the animals in their natural habitat. The delta has large concentrations of otherwise rare animals, such as red lechwe, sitatunga, crocodile, elephant, buffalo, wild dog and wattled crane. The best time for game viewing in the delta is from May to October.
To the north of the Okavango Delta is the private and secluded Linyanti Game Reserve, which can claim some of the best lodges in the country. Bordering the Chobe National Park, Linyanti’s key attraction is one of the greatest concentrations of elephant on Earth. In the Moremi Game Reserve, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah and the endemic red lechwe are all allowed to roam unfenced; it’s a truly beautiful environment which covers about a third of the Okavango Delta. Much of the Moremi can be experienced by mokoro, but there are also walking and jeep safaris available on the savannahs.
During the rainy season, the unearthly salt pans of Makgadikgadi (the largest in the world) burst into life as birds and grazing animals arrive to take their piece of the bounty. These pans are a place like no other, dotted with ancient baobabs reaching up to the sky and streaked with beaches. The pans are the relics of a super-lake that covered the Kalahari millions of years ago. Meerkat, mongoose, aardvark, aardwolf and brown hyena are present all year round, while vast herds of nomadic game pass through with the seasons. When the rains arrive pink clouds of flamingo, vast herds of zebra and wildebeest are found on the savannah.In the Makgadikgadi, there are two small camps that both offer a unique experience where you can quad bike across the salt pan or lie on the desert floor and look up at the stars.
Local Weather & Useful Info
English & Tswana (Setswana)
Best combined with
South Africa, Zambia, Namibia
10 hrs + 1 hr 40mins
Maun via Johannesburg or Livingston
No visa is required
The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans
The Linyanti Wildlife Reserve
King’s Pool Camp
Moreni Game Reserve