Landlocked Botswana may not get as much press as South Africa or Tanzania in the tourism world but it should definitely be on your bucket list if you love African wilderness, wildlife and epic landscapes. From the waterways of the Okavango Delta to the cracked salt pan of Makgadikgadi, Botswana is full of the kind of natural wonders that will knock your socks off.
Here are our 5 reasons to go on safari to Botswana:
1. Chobe National Park
Home to the largest concentration of elephants in the world (around 50 000 of them) and one of the largest concentrations of wildlife of the entire African continent, Chobe is a fantastic safari destination. Botswana’s first national park, Chobe is also its most biologically diverse, with animals like lions, leopards, wild dogs, Roan and Sable antelopes, zebras, hyenas red lechwe, cheetahs and 450 species of birds spread across four different areas – grass woodland, two marsh areas and the Chobe Riverfront, which has the most game.
2. Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s greatest wilderness areas – a vast 18 000 square kilometres of waterways and small islands which makes up the planet’s biggest inland delta. Here you’ll find awe-inspiring landscapes – forests, floodplains, water channels and lagoons – and abundant game, including a huge elephant population, leopard, lion, cheetah, giraffe, wild dog, buffalo and over 400 bird species, including the iconic African fish eagle. There are four ways to experience the Okavango Delta: by game drives, by mokoro (traditional dug out canoe), by foot and by plane or helicopter. Whichever way you end up exploring this amazing wilderness, there is no way you will be disappointed.
3. Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The second largest wildlife reserve in the world is so vast and untouched that you’ll feel like you couldn’t be further away from civilization. If you’ve ever wanted to get away from it all, this is where you should come. Visit just after the summer rains and you’ll see huge herds of springbok and gemsbok and other wildlife such as wildebeest and giraffe but apart from the game the landscapes are phenomenal – vast grasslands peppered with the occasional sand dune, pan or river valley under enormous Botswana skies. The reserve was closed for 30 years and it remains underdeveloped in comparison to Botswana’s other more famous parks, so if you want wildlife sightings without any other cars, this is the place!
4. Makgadikgadi Pans
Covering 16 000 square kilometres, the Makgadikgadi Pan in the northern Kalahari Desert is the largest salt flat in the world. Being here feels like you’ve arrived on a different planet. In the dry season, the pans are bone-dry and blindingly white – a giant lunar landscape dotted with the occasional baobab – that is extraordinarily beautiful. One of the highlights of the pan is Kubu Island, an island of granite rocks and old baobabs. Considered to be a sacred site by the local people, a mystical atmosphere pervades the island. Camping overnight here under a blanket of stars is a true bucket list experience!
5. Tsodilo Hills
This UNESCO World Heritage site has one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world, earning it the nickname the “Louvre of the Desert”. The Tsodilo Hills are made up of massive rock formations rising out of the sand dunes of the Kalahari Desert. In caves and on the walls of the rock are over 4500 paintings – some of which date back thousands of years.