If geography isn’t your forte and you don’t know a whole lot about the continent of Africa, then you might have no inkling as to why Botswana is an incredible destination for your dream safari experience or what makes it special! Let me share with you a little about the country itself and then we’ll get into the reasons why it is perfect for your dream safari!
Botswana is a land-locked country bordered by Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Over 70% of the country is the semi-arid, Kalahari desert, but within that desert is one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders, the Okavango Delta which floods every year and then evaporates. Botswana is one of the least densely populated areas in the world and its economy and standard of living are one of the highest in Africa!
Hmm… Maybe it’s not the ‘Africa’ you’ve been picturing for Safari! Its low human population and a large number of protected areas is perfect harmony for wildlife viewing. Some of the amazing animals you can see on safari in Botswana are: lions, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, bat-eared foxes, wild dogs and various antelope such as the kudu, impala and lechwe. Not sure what all of those are? You’ll be well-educated about these and many other animals after a week on safari with your expert guides!
Check out these five amazing reasons you should enjoy your dream safari in Botswana!
1. If you are an elephant lover, you will not be disappointed in Botswana! This beautiful country is home to Africa’s highest concentration of elephants! Sure, you can see elephants in many African countries, but Botswana is special for the sheer number of them. There are estimated to be over 130,000 elephants in Botswana, although it is hard to get exact numbers like the ones who make their homes near borders, roam freely between countries.
2. If you are truly interested in the well-being of our earth, the land and the animals that you are dreaming of visiting, Botswana is top of class when it comes to conservation and anti-poaching measures. They take poaching so seriously that they have a shoot-to-kill law that allows rangers to literally shoot to kill anyone, unauthorized, who makes their way into reserves, parks or protected areas after dark. For this reason, all game drives close down at dusk and boats stop traversing the waters of the Chobe River and the Delta.
Not to worry, you are perfectly safe at your camp. Poachers are doing their best to avoid people so they make their way to the deepest parts of the bush. The roadways, waterways and bush are highly patrolled by skilled rangers and anti-poaching units to protect wildlife in general, but most specifically Elephants, Rhinos and Pangolins.
3. If you are a photographer or birder, you’ll be particularly taken with the colourful sights and sounds of Botswana! Home to over 595 species of birds, you’ll just have to look a different direction to find something new. Your safari guides are adept at deciphering and sometimes even mocking, bird-calls, almost as if they were part bird themselves!
4. One of Africa’s Seven Wonders, the Okavango Delta is truly spectacular. In the middle of the Kalahari desert, each year the inundation arrives and the plains fill to the brim with water. This begins most years, in March and continues to swell until August, before receding.
What most people don’t understand about the delta is that it does not rise because of rains in Botswana. The water comes from rains in Angola, in the north, and can take nearly six months to make its way south into the great delta panhandle. The Okavango Delta is home to an incredible and diverse variety of wildlife, some of whom have adapted specifically to live in both the desert and water-filled delta conditions.
5. One of the biggest reasons I loved travelling in Botswana and that I love recommending Botswana to clients looking for a safari is for the different activities and styles of safari. While your anticipated game drives in open vehicle trucks will take you through great game-viewing such as, Chobe National Park, you also have the opportunity to speed along the Chobe River, darting in and out of the tributaries on small boats, perfect for bird watching, a fishing experience and to get a water-level view of elephants basking in the river or hippos and water buffalo taking a drink. Keep your eyes open for incredible birdlife who stick close to the water and the mighty crocodiles!
You can take a river cruise on the Chobe River in various levels of luxury, from four to forty passenger boats, where you get the experience of sleeping on the boat each night and exploring the surroundings in smaller boats during the day. You can also stay in a unique houseboat deep within the Okavango Delta! If you have the chance to enjoy a mokoro ride, don’t miss out! The polers are particularly adept and moving you in and around the delta, through the reeds and lily pads.
By land, you can stay at lodges and do open-truck, safari game-drives, or you could stay at a lodge where boat is your main form of safari transportation. Then there is also the option to adventure into the African bush with your ranger on foot to learn about the plants, trees, animal tracks and smaller, but equally important insects and amphibians that you don’t encounter from your truck.
Want something even more unique? How about a horseback safari, riding alongside a herd of elephants or zebras, a hot air balloon ride to see the vast beauty of the Delta from above or a light aircraft sight-seeing flight to take in the wonders of the inundation of the Okavango Delta?
You can take a safari in many countries in Africa and each has its own special, unique features, but I for one, am a fan of Botswana for its beauty, its waters and its unwavering commitment to protecting the flora and fauna, which in turn help protect our earth as a whole. It’s all intertwined. We only have one Mother Earth.