We visited Botswana in May – when the landscapes were only just starting to dry up after a very wet rainy season. As such, some areas – such as the Linyanti – were still extremely dense with vegetation, making gameviewing a bit of a challenge. If you’re a keen wildlife lover and only have a few weeks up your sleeve around this time of year, here are six of our favourite safari destinations in Botswana (in no particular order).
- Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Thousands of zebra and hundreds of wildebeest migrate into this reserve after the rainy season, to graze on the sweet yellow grasses that carpet the salt-encrusted Makgadikgadi Pans. It’s the second largest land mammal migration on Earth – and unlike the Serengeti and Masai Mara, very few travellers even know about it.
Another major highlight: meerkats, especially some of the semi-habituated ones who are bold enough to use human visitors as a lookout.
2. Chobe Riverfront
The banks of the broad, blue Chobe River are arguably the best places in Botswana to observe the country’s many elephants.
A late afternoon boat cruise uncovers incredible birdlife, from colourful bee-eaters to majestic African Fish Eagles, whilst getting you closer to both land and water mammals than you could ever get in a vehicle. The only downside to this region is how busy it is relative to other parts of Botswana, but if you time your boat cruise right, you’ll have the river to yourself.
Up until a few years ago, a channel flowed into the Savuti. What’s left today is a muddy marsh and a few man-made waterholes, which support an amazing array of wildlife in an otherwise dry and inhospitable environment. Lodges in this isolated reserve are few and far between, while predators are plentiful so chances are high you’ll get a big cat viewing all to yourself.
4. Khwai Community Concession
Another superb gameviewing area, where we saw leopards every day! The variety of species in Khwai will impress even the most seasoned safari-goer.
Hippo are abundant in the many waterways, whilst this concession’s many wide open spaces ensure that iconic African animals are also easily seen. Proceeds from tourism here get funnelled back into programs that benefit the community so it’s a win-win for tourists and Khwai locals alike.
5. Moremi Game Reserve
Located at the edge of the Okavango Delta, this reserve is exceptionally scenic. You can cruise through a maze of reeds in a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) and also go on regular game drives.
Because of tight restrictions on how many safari lodges can operate in here, the Moremi feels very exclusive (especially compared to neighbouring Khwai), and its diverse landscapes means that visitors are often rewarded with great wildlife sightings.
6. Okavango Delta
To truly experience the magic of water in a desert, you have to spend at least two nights in the perennially flooded heart of the delta. Boat safaris reveal hundreds of smaller species that inhabit this fragile ecosystem, from tiny painted frogs to exquisite malachite kingfishers, while road-weary travellers will appreciate the opportunity to walk on sandy islands amongst warthog and antelope. Enjoy a swim, if you dare!
As Australians, we don’t take distances for granted. Distance is amplified in Botswana due to poor quality of road, thick sand, wildlife and lack of signage so if you’re self-driving, make sure you schedule lots of travel time in between destinations. Read this article for Botswana driving tips.
There are two other ways you can get around: a mobile safari (where a driver/guide transfers you between destinations) and by flying (safari lodges will organise charter flights). Of course, these are considerably more expensive but much more convenient!
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