What’s so special about Botswana? If you’ve been you wouldn’t ask – it’s simply amazingly divervse, with incredible scenery, animals and people. Wetlands, desert, forest and bush, it has it all. If you’re planning on visiting Africa, Botswana should be right up there on your list.
If you love wildlife, beautiful scenery and maybe a gin and tonic or two, you will love Botswana. The birdlife is fantastic, think bee-eaters, vultures, eagles, owls, kingfishers, herons and egrets, the list goes on. In terms of animals, there’s the big 5 but often not in one place as rhinos are rarely seen. Then there’s hippos, wild dogs, hyenas, meerkats, crocs, many different antelope and much much more. Whilst Botswana has good control over development and keeps the number of lodges and camps to a minimum, the choice is a still little overwhelming and the exclusivity makes it expensive. But you don’t need to stay in a lodge, there are many mobile camping safaris options too and such a variety of activities and safaris to chose from. What is clear from the planning I did in 2014, it’s extremely difficult to book camps and flights in the Okavango independently.
Here’s some photos from my trip in 2014:
Where to go?
It’s best to combine 2 or more camps depending on what you are looking for. Perhaps a camp with water activities on offer, combined with another with more game drives. It’s a good idea to discuss what you’re hoping to get out of the trip with your agent.
The Okavango Delta: The Okavango River starts in Angola but spreads out into a delta in Botswana when it’s progress is stopped by the Kalahari sands; forming waterways, islands, lagoons and floodplains, which differ depending on the time of year. This area combines extensive wetland, private concessions (private parks), forests and the Moremi Game Reserve.
Chief’s Island: A top safari destination, Chief’s Island is the largest island in the delta and makes for a varied safari experience. Lodges like Mombo and Chief’s Camp are exclusive (read expensive) but offer some of the best experiences in Botswana.
Xigera: Within the Moremi National Park, Xigera is surrounded by water which makes it best for water activities and birds. Xigera Camp.
Duba Plains: In the northern part of the delta it floods early in the season, and includes both floodplains and savannah. Great for buffalo, elephants, lechwe and lions. Stay at Duba Plains.
Kwhai River Bank: Close to Moremi National Park, spot Wild Dogs, Hippos, Hyenas, Giraffe, Elephants, go mobile on a Mobile Safari. Or, I stayed at Kwhai Tented Camp in 2014. It’s a really friendly and welcoming camp, with excellent guiding in the Kwhai concession and Moremi National Park.
The North: Including marshy river areas like Savuti and Linyanti which border the Chobe National Park.
Chobe National Park: Taking up a huge part of the northern Kalahari, Chobe National Park is good for spotting elephant, buffalo and large prides of lions. Stay at Chobe Game Lodge or try out the Zambezi Queen houseboat on a trip down the Chobe River.
Savuti: Well known for big game, try Savute under canvas for an authentic safari.
Linyanti: Flood plains, river and mopane forests near the Chobe National Park, good for lions, leopards, birds and hippos. Stay at Kings Pool overlooking a hippo pool, or try Linyanti Bush Camp where I stayed in 2014 – it had wonderful food and excellent guiding on the Linyanti waterfront and in Chobe National Park. The sunsets here make for great sundowners by the river.
The Salt Pans and the Kalahari: Go to Nxai Pan and search out springbok, giraffe, gemsbok, lion and cheetah from Naxi Pan Camp, or see the famous Makgadikgadi Pan, a vast salt pan which is wilderness at its purest, go Jan to Mar for flamingos. Stay at Jacks Camp or Camp Kalahari.
When to go?
For game viewing at it’s best go in the winter months May to Oct, it’s dry so animals are concentrated at the water pools. Peak time is Aug/Sept for Chobe, Moremi and the Okavango. For the Kalahari try Dec to Mar.
For birds you will have an excellent time all year round but even more so in the wet summer months of Nov to Apr.
A mokoro ride, sundowners with the hippos, the enjoyment of a flight over the Okavango Delta, the sounds at night…not scary but strange, a “bushbaby” in your bed – this is hotwater bottle placed there whilst you’re at dinner rather than a small furry animal !
Highlights of my 2014 trip
I stayed for 3 nights at Linyanti Bush Camp and 3 at Kwhai Tented Camp. I booked through Yellow Zebra Safaris who were great in putting together a trip that suited me well and sorting a small teething problem on arrival at Kasani airport. I purchased the entire package through them but could have saved a bit on the airfare if I’d booked it myself.
At Kwhai Bush Camp we spent a lot of time with hyena cubs who were most inquisitive. We followed a wild dog hunt and saw their pups, and had some fabulous sundowners at the hippo pools. The staff were absolutely lovely and I was welcomed with a song!
I have a strange love for a bucket shower. Water heated by the staff when you need it and the shower is all set up ready for you. Showering in the open air (still private) is a joy.
Linyanti Bush Camp had great staff, excellent guiding and wonderful food!! Highlights of my trip included: leopard, lions mating and fantastic sundowners on the river…ooh and special surprise helicopter ride!! I also enjoyed the light aircraft flights from camp to camp. The whole trip was amazing!
Please let me know what you think or ask questions about Botswana by commenting on the post.