OUR SAFARI DESTINATIONS
Safari destinations can be combined together to form a complete Safari in Botswana
Botswana is a remarkable part of Africa and a must-see destination for adventure travelers seeking something fresh, engaging and inspirational. What are the top five safari destinations to see in Botswana and why are they worth visiting?
Botswana is located in southern Africa. The country has an abundant wildlife population and a fantastic ecosystem. The ecosystem has remained relatively untouched to this day.
The country is teeming with wildlife and is home to the famous big five. The big five are the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, and buffalo.
From the crystal-clear waters of the Okavango Delta to the large elephant herds in the Chobe National Park and the unpredictable Savute Channel, which runs dry and floods seemingly at random – Botswana is blessed with some of Africa’s most beautiful reserves and an array of exceptional wildlife.
The Okavango Delta is a magical oasis – water in the desert is a truly spectacular sight. The wide, grassy floodplains are host to a magnificent range of wild animals, including the specially adapted sitatunga and red lechwe antelopes.
Chobe National Park in Botswana is famed for having Africa’s largest single concentration of elephant, while Moremi Game Reserve is renowned for its brilliant birdlife. Also, not-to-be-missed is an exploration of the stark and dramatic landscapes of the Kalahari Desert and the iconic Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
Recently nominated as the 1000th Unesco Heritage site, the Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland deltas situated in the middle of the largest stretch of continuous sand in the world – the Kalahari basin. This oasis in the middle of the desert is a rich yet fragile ecosystem, providing a life source for an incredibly huge variety of wildlife.
This delta in north-west Botswana comprises permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains. It is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, with a wetland system that is almost intact. One of the unique characteristics of the Okavango delta is that the annual flooding from the River Okavango occurs during the dry season, with the result that the native plants and animals have synchronized their biological cycles with these seasonal rains and floods.
The wealth of species that inhabit the Okavango have adapted to the contrasting conditions created by living in the harsh Kalahari desert which is transformed annually with the arrival of the delta flood waters originating in Angola.
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.
The rustic Third Bridge campsite, situated near the pretty Sekiri River, flanked with thick stands of papyrus, is a favourite, creating lasting memories of resplendent Okavango sunsets.
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
The reserve was declared the Chobe National Park in 1967. The park covers 11,700km2 and extends from Kasane through Serondela (the Chobe Riverfront) to Western Chobe, the Ngwezumba pans, Savute and Linyanti.
Western Chobe covers from Ihaha, the mid-point of the National Park, to Ngoma and Muchenje. Western Chobe has no traffic congestion and is untouched wilderness. The lifeblood of the park is the Chobe River, one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers. Western Chobe supports diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalleled anywhere else in the country. The Chobe River forms the northern boundary of the park and, with its close proximity to Victoria Falls and the Southern African region, the park is the ideal location for anyone interested in a combination of the natural wonder of the Victoria Falls and magnificent wildlife experience, freely from the park as from Namibia, Zambia and beyond.
Khwai is a wildlife-rich 200,000 ha gem on the fringes of the Okavango Delta – sandwiched between Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. This is one of the best places in Botswana to see wild dogs and other predators and, with no fences separating any of these areas, you are likely to see just about everything that northern Botswana has to offer.
The Khwai River flows through the concession and in places spreads out to form marshy areas and in others is a mere narrow channel that animals step across as they migrate between Moremi and the Linyanti section of Chobe National Park, via Khwai. The water channels have good populations of hippos, crocodiles, waterbuck and lechwe, and the dry woodlands away from the river host good populations of sable and roan antelopes, zebras, impalas, giraffes, buffaloes and many other species. As is the case with most of northern Botswana, elephants can be found everywhere, and lions, leopards and hyenas are commonly seen. Wild dogs often den in the area during the winter months and can then be seen with pups.
The 200,000 ha (2,000 km²) Khwai area consists of the small Khwai Community Concession (NG19) and the much larger Khwai Private Reserve (NG18). The tourism core of this area lies along the banks of the Khwai River and its tributaries with associated floodplains and woodlands, as much of the area north of the rivers is remote and dominated by mopane woodlands and open floodplains.
Most of the easily accessible concession area (Khwai Community Concession) is open to the public and mobile safari operators, and so wildlife sightings can be crowded during the prime safari season of July to September. This concession hosts lodges and campsites, and prices range from budget to luxury. On the other hand, Khwai Private Reserve has several mid and upmarket lodges, and access is restricted to guests.
Most importantly, Khwai Community Concession – which receives the majority of visitors – is owned and run by the local community, with camps and lodges renting the privilege of operating in this exquisite space. For visitors, that means knowing that the proceeds of their trip directly benefit the local people in the area, which in turn is vital for the survival of any conservation area. A visit to Khwai village, situated in the concession itself, also offers the opportunity to meet some of Botswana’s charismatic citizens and to appreciate their history and culture that is so intricately entwined with the wilderness around them.
Nxai Pan & Makgadikgadi
The Makgadikgadi Pans are flat, featureless salt and clay depressions interspersed with sand dunes, islands of rock, grassy plains and patches of Kalahari desert. Good rains cover the pans with shallow waters. The two main pans of Nxai are large, open grass-covered stretches studded with mopane, acacia and baobab trees (notably the seven known as Baines’ Baobabs, first painted by the explorer Thomas Baines in 1862). The whole area was once part of an ancient super-lake. Herds of migratory zebra and wildebeest increase predator numbers (lion, cheetah and hyaena). Giraffe, buffalo, elephant and various antelope, including desert-adapted Gemsbok and Springbok. December – February, the rain-filled pans host thousands of migrant flamingos and other waterbirds, such as pelicans, spoonbills, waders and storks.The sensation of vast open space, timelessness and complete nothingness. Flamingos on Sowa and other pans, and the variety of easily seen wildlife. Lodges and camp sites at Nata and in Makgadikgadi and Nxai pans, a rest camp/motel and camping ground at Gweta