Botswana is a prime location for viewing big game in large number, and is largely unspoilt. As a country it prides itself on being a high cost, low impact destination, and can be seen as quite exclusive. However it is possible to visit Botswana on a budget as well. At Discover Namibia we can help you get the most out of your Botswana safari, whatever your budget.
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
The most accessible and frequently visited of Botswana’s big game country, the Chobe Riverfront is most famous for its large herds of elephants and cape Buffalo, which during the dry winter months converge upon the river to drink.
During this season, on an afternoon game drive, you may see hundreds of elephants at one time.
Take a river cruise – and you’ll experience the park, and the animals, from another vantage point.
Here you’ll get up close and personal with hippo, crocodile and a mind-boggling array of water birds.
The Okavango Delta is situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, and is often referred to as the ‘jewel’ of the Kalahari.That the Okavango exists at all – deep within this thirstland – seems remarkable. Shaped like a fan, the Delta is fed by the Okavango River, the third largest in southern Africa.
Swollen with floodwaters from the summer rains, the Okavango River travels from the Angolan highlands, crosses into Botswana at Mohembo in the Caprivi, then later spills over the vast, fan-shaped Delta.
Just as the waters from Botswana’s summer rains disappear (April, May), so the floodwaters begin their journey – 1300 kilometres of which is through Kalahari sands – revitalising a vast and remarkably diverse ecosystem of plant and animal life.
MOREMI GAME RESERVE
Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango, and includes the Moremi Tongue and chief’s island, boasting one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the continent.
This makes for spectacular game viewing and bird watching, including all major naturally occurring herbivore and carnivore species in the region, and over 400 species of birds, many migratory and some endangered. Both Black and White Rhino have recently been re-introduced, now making the reserve a ‘Big Five’ destination.
Contained within an area of approximately 3900 sq kms, here land and Delta meet to create an exceedingly picturesque preserve of floodplains – either seasonally or perennially wet, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riparian, riverine and mophane forests. This terrain makes driving Moremi’s many loops and trails both delightful and, at times, totally inspiring.
Moremi is a very popular destination for the self-drive camper, and is often combined with the Chobe National Park to the northeast.
CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE
The Central Kalahari game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq kms.
During and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gather at the best grazing areas. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.
At other times of the year, when the animals are more sparsely distributed, the experience of travelling through truly untouched wilderness, of seemingly unending dimensions, is the draw.
The landscape is dominated by silver terminalia sandveldt, Kalahari sand acacias, and Kalahari appleleaf, interspersed with grasslands, and dotted with occasional sand dunes, pans and shallow fossil river valleys.
The northern Deception Valley is one of the highlights, principally because of the dense concentrations of herbivores its sweet grasses attract during and after the rainy season (and of course the accompanying predators).
MAKGADIGADI PANS NATIONAL PARK
For much of the year, most of this desolate area remains waterless and extremely arid; and large mammals are thus absent. But during and following years of good rain, the two largest pans – Sowa to the east and Ntwetwe to the west – flood, attracting wildlife – zebra and wildebeest on the grassy plains – and most spectacularlyflamingos at Sowa and Nata Sanctuary. Flamingo numbers can run into the tens – and sometimes – hundreds of thousands, and the spectacle can be completely overwhelming.
The rainwater that pours down on the pans is supplemented by seasonal river flows – the Nata, Tutume, Semowane and Mosetse Rivers in the east, and in years of exceptional rains, the Okavango via the Boteti River in the west.
During this time, the pans can be transformed into a powder blue lake, the waters gently lapping the shorelines, and flowing over the pebble beaches – a clear indication of the gigantic, prehistoric lake the Makgadikgadi once was. Research suggests that the Makgadikgadi is a relic of what was once one of the biggest inland lakes Africa has ever had.
Spectacular landscapes, rich and varied wildlife, and a host of historical, cultural and natural history attractions define this unique and very striking corner of northeastern Botswana.
Straddling the Shashe, Motloutse and Limpopo Rivers, which serve as natural boundaries with Zimbabwe and South Africa, the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (NTGR) comprises 71,000 hectares of remarkably diverse habitat, including mophane bushland, riverine woodland, and marshland, punctuated by towering sandstone cliffs, basalt formations and unusually shaped kopjes – making for truly breathtaking scenery.
One of the largest privately owned game reserves in Southern Africa and incorporating three major private concessions (Tuli Safari Lodge, Nitani Private Game Reserve, and Mashatu Game Reserve), the NTGR is home to 48 species of mammals and over 350 species of birds, with an estimated 20 000 animals residing in the reserve.
KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER NATIONAL PARK
Situated in the extreme southwest corner of Botswana, and adjacent to South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park (KTP) is run as a single ecological unit, and gate receipts are shared. Tourist facilities, however, are still run autonomously.
Immigration and customs facilities have been designed to allow travellers to enter the park in one country and depart in the other. The main entry and departure point between the two countries is at the Two Rivers/ Twee Rivieren gate, which also has camping facilities, chalets, shops and a restaurant.
The national boundary with South Africa is along the dry Nossop River bed; and three quarters of the park lies within Botswana territory.
KTP’s very beautiful terrain comprises fossil river valleys dotted with dwarfed trees and bushes, grasslands and different coloured sand dunes. Wildlife is abundant, and the animals are attracted to waterholes along the otherwise dry riverbed.
Several species of antelope, including the ubiquitous springbok and gemsbok, hartebeest, and eland can be seen, as well as the famous black-maned Kalahari lion, jackal, brown hyena, and wild cats.
Rich birding is always part of the experience. Over 170 species of birds have been recorded here, and it is not uncommon to see over 30 bird species within a few kilometres of the campsite.
Indeed for the people who live at the Hills – the San, the original inhabitants, and the Hambukushu who have periodically occupied the hills for the past 200 years – Tsodilo is a sacred, mystical place where ancestral spirits dwell. In earlier times, their ancestors performed religious rituals to ask for assistance, and for rain. They also put paintings on the rock face; and their meaning and symbolism remain a mystery even to today.
Exploring the three main Hills – Male, Female, and child – is a journey into antiquity. Archaeological research – ongoing for the past 30 years – estimates that Tsodilo has been inhabited for the past 100 000 years, making this one of the world’s oldest historical sites. Pottery, iron, glass beads, shell beads, carved bone and stone tools date back 90 000 years.