Botswana, a landlocked gem nestled in the heart of southern Africa, is a captivating destination that offers travellers an immersive experience in the untamed wonders of the continent. Located in the southern part of Africa, Botswana shares borders with Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Renowned for its pristine wilderness and thriving wildlife, this remarkable country captivates the hearts of adventurers seeking a truly authentic African safari experience.
One of Botswana’s most compelling attractions is its connection to the KAZA (Kavango-Zambezi) region, a trans-frontier conservation area spanning five countries. Botswana’s northern regions, such as Chobe and Okavango Delta, are part of this vast conservation landscape. The KAZA region boasts a remarkable diversity of ecosystems and an unparalleled concentration of wildlife, making it a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers alike.
Travellers are drawn to Botswana for its extraordinary wildlife encounters. The country is renowned for its vast herds of elephants that roam freely in Chobe National Park, offering awe-inspiring sightings and the opportunity to witness incredible interactions. The Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a true natural wonder, where visitors can explore its labyrinth of waterways in traditional dugout canoes, called mokoros, while encountering hippos, crocodiles, and an array of birdlife. Additionally, the remote and wild landscapes of the Makgadikgadi Pans, a starkly beautiful salt flat, present a unique opportunity to witness the spectacle of the annual zebra migration.
Beyond its wildlife, Botswana offers a harmonious blend of cultures and a chance to connect with local communities. The warm hospitality and rich traditions of the San people, also known as the Basarwa or Bushmen, provide a fascinating insight into ancient ways of life. Visitors can embark on guided walks with San guides to learn about their remarkable survival skills and the deep bond they share with their surroundings.
Botswana’s commitment to sustainable tourism ensures that visitors can explore its remarkable landscapes with minimal impact while supporting conservation efforts and the empowerment of local communities. From luxury lodges that offer an intimate and exclusive experience to eco-friendly tented camps that immerse travellers in the heart of the wilderness, Botswana provides a range of accommodation options that cater to every traveller’s preferences.
How to get to Botswana
Getting to Botswana is convenient, with several airlines offering connecting flights. The most common route involves flying from Johannesburg, South Africa. Travellers can catch a direct flight to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, or to Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Alternatively, connecting flights are available to Kasane, near Chobe National Park, or Francistown, another entry point for exploring Botswana’s attractions. Qatar Airways operates flights from Doha, Qatar. From Doha, travellers can connect to flights bound for Gaborone or Maun. Emirates offers flights from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Passengers can connect to flights heading to Gaborone or Maun. Within Botswana, charter flights will operate regionally.
Where to stay in Botswana
When it comes to accommodations, Botswana offers a diverse range of options that seamlessly blend luxury and comfort with the raw beauty of the African wilderness. From exquisite lodges to intimate tented camps, travellers to this captivating country are spoiled for choice, ensuring a memorable and immersive experience.
Botswana’s luxury lodges are renowned for their exceptional service, attention to detail, and stunning locations. Nestled within private concessions and game reserves, these lodges provide privileged access to some of Africa’s most pristine and exclusive wildlife areas. Offering spacious suites or tents with en-suite bathrooms, lavish furnishings, and private decks, these lodges immerse guests in unrivalled comfort. Many also feature infinity pools, wellness spas, gourmet dining experiences, and expert guides who accompany visitors on thrilling game drives and guided walks, providing an extraordinary opportunity to witness the mesmerizing wildlife up close.
For those seeking a more authentic and adventurous experience, tented camps are an excellent choice. These camps range from basic to luxurious, with en-suite facilities and comfortable amenities. Set in remote locations, often within national parks or private concessions, these camps provide an immersive experience in the heart of nature. Falling asleep to the sounds of the wilderness and waking up to breathtaking vistas are part of the charm. Tented camps offer a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature, with activities such as guided bush walks, mokoro excursions, and starlit dinners under the vast African sky. These camps often have a smaller footprint, prioritizing eco-friendly practices and a close connection to the surrounding landscapes.
Top things to discover in
Botswana offers a myriad of extraordinary experiences for adventurous travellers. From exploring the enchanting waterways of the Okavango Delta to witnessing the raw power of neighbouring Zambia’s Victoria Falls, encountering abundant wildlife in Chobe and the Makgadikgadi Pans, and immersing oneself in the cultural heritage of the San people, each experience is a testament to the country’s unrivalled beauty and captivating diversity. Here is a short list of the top 10 things to do in the country.
Explore the Okavango Delta
Glide through the labyrinthine channels of the Okavango Delta in a traditional mokoro canoe, immersing yourself in this UNESCO World Heritage site while encountering an array of wildlife, from elephants and hippos to colourful bird species.
Witness the Majestic Victoria Falls
Take a short trip across the border to Zimbabwe and marvel at the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, as you feel the mist on your face and hear the thunderous roar of the cascading water.
Embark on a Chobe River Safari
Cruise along the Chobe River, a haven for wildlife, and witness incredible sightings of elephants, buffalo herds, and a multitude of bird species while enjoying a breathtaking sunset over the African savannah.
Encounter the Makgadikgadi Pans
Venture into the vast expanse of the Makgadikgadi Pans, a surreal salt flat that transforms during the rainy season, attracting a spectacular migration of zebras and wildebeests, creating an awe-inspiring natural spectacle.
Discover the Kalahari Desert
Experience the stark beauty of the Kalahari Desert, interacting with the San people and learning about their ancient traditions, survival skills, and deep connection to the land.
Discover Tsodilo Hills’ Rock Art
Uncover the ancient rock art at Tsodilo Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where over 4,500 paintings depict the spiritual beliefs and daily lives of the San people, providing a glimpse into Botswana’s rich cultural heritage.
Marvel at the Savuti Marsh
Embark on a game drive through the renowned Savuti Marsh, where dramatic predator-prey interactions unfold, offering a thrilling opportunity to witness lions, hyenas, and cheetahs in action.
Visit the Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Support rhino conservation efforts at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, where you can spot both black and white rhinos in a protected environment, contributing to the preservation of these majestic creatures.
Cultural Immersion in Maun
Explore the bustling town of Maun, known as the gateway to the Okavango Delta, and indulge in local cuisine, vibrant markets, and traditional dances, experiencing the authentic warmth of Botswana’s people.
Hike in the Tswapong Hills
Lace-up your boots and embark on a trek through the Tswapong Hills, a scenic mountain range dotted with ancient rock formations and cascading waterfalls, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
The best time to visit Botswana
The best time to visit Botswana depends on the traveller’s interests and desired experiences. The dry season, which runs from May to October, is considered the peak safari season, with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities as animals gather around water sources. The wet season, from November to April, brings lush landscapes, newborn wildlife, and a profusion of birdlife. This period is particularly enticing for photography enthusiasts and those seeking lower rates and fewer crowds.
Top Tips for travelling in Botswana
- Pack light, breathable clothing in neutral colours, along with a good pair of walking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen.
- Don’t forget to bring binoculars and a quality camera to capture the incredible wildlife sightings.
- Stay hydrated and protect against mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing during evenings.
- Embrace the spirit of adventure by participating in diverse activities like game drives, boat safaris, walking safaris, and cultural interactions.
- Engage with a knowledgeable travel agent specializing in Botswana to ensure your clients’ itineraries are tailored to their interests and preferences, taking into account the diverse regions and unique experiences Botswana has to offer.
To discover more about Botswana, visit Botswana Tourism – botswanatourism.co.bw
For more on the KAZA region, visit kavangozambezi.org
Disclosure: The writer Kate Webster travelled as a guest of KAZA TOURISM. All images are credited to Kate Webster unless otherwise specified.