It is easy to understand why so many people put Botswana right at the top of their bucket lists. This awe-inspiring destination certainly makes for life-changing adventures that can be enjoyed by families, couples, and the solo traveler. With no shortage of jaw-dropping scenery and amazing wildlife to blow your mind, Botswana truly is an amazing country to explore. Home to numerous national parks, Botswana is also a pillar in sustainable ecotourism with countless opportunities to enrich lives while you travel, furry and otherwise.
Most people will head to see the Okavango Delta with its full cast of wildlife including around 120,000 elephants, the most you’ll find anywhere in the world. In contrast to the marshy waterways of the Okavango, there is also the Kalahari Desert with its ancient baobabs and incredibly cute families of meerkats that we are told will pop out for photos on demand. It isn't just about the wildlife either. There are intriguing cultures to learn about, festivals and other cultural events that you can go to at different times of the year, and a wealth of historical sites and unique geographical features to explore. Choices of where to stay can be anything from rustic accommodations in tented safari camps all the way to extreme luxury lodges. No matter your budget, there is something for everyone in Botswana.
The highlights of Botswana are its national parks. A safari in Botswana can vary in the modes of transportation for viewing animals. You might do it from the air, in a 4x4, on a boat and even your own two feet, depending on where you are and the time of year. Good planning is necessary, especially if you have specific goals in mind for what you would like to see and experience. There are numerous places to visit here and the experiences are as different as they are special.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve covers nearly 10% of the land in Botswana and is as big as the Netherlands. A sprawling grassland terrain that is home to such wildlife as giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, honey badgers, zebras, aardvarks, elephants, and the list just keeps going. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and it is from here that scenic flights can be taken in low-flying planes which is undoubtedly, one of the most incredible experiences you can have in Botswana. The best time to do this in the winter time when the water is at its peak levels. A boat cruise down the Chobe River is another amazingly scenic and pleasant way to enjoy the wildlife. You'll encounter hippos grazing in the water, birds laying their eggs on the banks and during the dry season elephants will congregate as well. Throw in a sunset and you are in photography heaven.
The word 'Khutse' means ‘place where you can kneel down and drink’ and that is in the Khutse Game Reserve. This protected area on tribal lands, features several watering pans where animals congregate and in the dry months, and they will often pipe in water for the animals making this a good place to spot animals anytime of the year. Among the many animals calling this home, you might see springboks, gemsboks, giraffes, wildebeests, kudus, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and even the endangered brown hyenas. The San and Bakgalagadi people live along on the edges of the park. Walks with the San can be arranged and is a wonderful cultural experience that will give you insight into their daily life.
If you are looking for something different to do, about 10 miles from the border with Namibia is Gcwihaba. Going here is a great adventure and it is extremely interesting. Accessible by 4x4 and way off the beaten path, this is an intriguing cave system with pits, caverns, and linked passages. It is strikingly decorated with huge chandeliers of hanging stalagmite and stalactite formations that almost touch the ground in places. There are also colorful flowstones that appear to be a waterfall made of rocks.
If you visit the Okavango Delta between April and September, one of the most incredible experiences to have is a hot air balloon ride over this UNESCO World Heritage site at sunrise. Leaving from Kadizora, this offers you breathtaking 360° birds-eye views of this incredible landscape and its wildlife including the Big Five and many other species like the endangered Wild Dog.
For a spectacle like no other, the Makgadikgadi Pans in the Kalahari are not to be missed if you are in Botswana from December to April. This is the time of year when the short rainy season will bring in the Greater and Lesser Flamingos by the thousands. This beautiful and quirky birds will use this as a breeding ground and seeing the up to 100,000 eggs laid out on the ground of this salt-water lake is truly an amazing sight to behold. Going horseback to the pans is the best way to experience this incredible display of nature and the bonus is that there are more than 250 other species of birds to see here.
Another amazing experience is to go on a photo safari to see the "Seven Sisters" at the Nxai Pan National Park in the Kalahari. The giant baobab trees here are rare because they are clustered together. They are found on the southern side of the park and going around sunset is the best time to make this excursion and enjoy the amazing landscape.
There are so many amazing things to experience in Botswana. The most difficult thing will be choosing the best time to go and what to do once there. Botswana is just one of those places that you need to come back again and again.
When To Go
Botswana can be a year-round destination, it just depends on what your personal goals are for your trip here. If you have never been before, narrowing down when to go might require a spreadsheet and for our clients, we have already done your homework helping to make it easier to choose. There are so many different itineraries to choose from it can become overwhelming without guidance. Many people include Victoria Falls in their Botswana trips as well as other neighboring countries and this is something you might want to consider too.
The high season in Botswana begins in July and the low season is from December through April. There are advantages to going in the low season aside from lower rates. This is the time of year when Botswana is much greener with less dust and there are more baby animals in some places and this is a good time for viewing migratory birds. For photographers, April and May might be the best months as you are transitioning from the wet and dry seasons and there is more potential for dramatic skies and interesting light and the landscapes are prettier. The disadvantages are that many of the services and places to stay are closed during this time, though by April, they are beginning to re-open.
No matter when you decide to go, we can help you make the most of your travels and will provide you with your options based on your personal preferences. Botswana is a lot of fun to plan and we work with you to create a special experience.
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