Botswana is one of the premier wildlife destinations in the world. There are few other areas where you can get so close to the call of nature. Imagine sipping cocktails on the deck of the lodge overlooking a lagoon in the Okavango delta or the excitement of tracking lion on foot during a game walk.
Imagine the fantastic photographic opportunities on game drives in open four wheel drive vehicles or the adventure of driving yourself through the rugged terrain in the national parks of Botswana. This is the true out of Africa experience.
Botswana’s offers something to everyone. From luxury lodges, fine dining and cocktails at sunset to adventurous camping safaris. Unique natural features like the Okavango River inland delta which forms the western edge of a migration route that stretches northeast from Moremi Game Reserve through the Savuti to Chobe National Park on the Chobe River and beyond into Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The Central Kalahari with it’s wide open spaces and wonderful wildlife. The San Bushman paintings adorning rocks of Tsodilo Hills.
Botswana is your ulitmate Safari destination.
It is semi arid country, the southwestern areas are dominated by the Kalahari Desert. Most of the Kalahari (or Kgalagadi, which is its Setswana name) is covered with vegetation including stunted thorn and scrub bush, trees and grasslands It is home to the San people “Bushman”. Their knowledge of fauna and flora in the desert has allowed them to survive in a most inhospitable area.
Larger than Denmark or Switzerland, and bigger than Lesotho and Swaziland combined, the 52,800 square kilometre Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which was set up in 1961, is the second largest game reserve in the world.
Situated right in the centre of Botswana, this reserve is characterised by vast open plains, saltpans and ancient riverbeds.
Varying from sand dunes with many species of trees and shrubs in the north, to flat bushveld in the central area, the reserve is more heavily wooded in the south, with mophane forests to the south and east. Rainfall is sparse and sporadic and can vary from 170 to 700 millimetres per year.
The people commonly known throughout the world as Bushmen, but more properly referred to as the Basarwa or San, have been resident in and around the area for probably thousands of years. They now live in settlements, some of which are situated within the southern half of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Other fairly recent residents were Mark and Delia Owens, who spent many years in the Deception Valley area of the park undertaking research mainly on brown hyaena. They set up their camp in the northern section of Deception in a prime “tree island”, however tree islands are no longer used for camping in these days of more environmental awareness. The Owens’ book, “Cry of the Kalahari” brought the attention of readers to this previously little-visited area and even today many people refer to the Central Kalahari simply as Deception.
Game viewing for animals which include giraffe, brown hyaena, warthog, wild dog,cheetah, leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu, red hartebeest and springbok, is best between December and April, when the animals tend to congregate in the pans and valleys.
Moremi Game Reserve
The Moremi Game Reserve covers much of the eastern side of the Delta, and combines permanent water, with drier areas – making for some startling, and unexpected contrasts. In the Moremi you can experience excellent savannah game viewing by 4×4, as well as bird-watching on the lagoons. There are also thickly wooded areas, which are home to the shy, and rare, Leopard. To the north-east lies the Chobe National Park which borders directly on to the Moremi Game Reserve.
The reserve encompasses a wide range of habitats – from wetland, floodplain and reed beds to forest and savannah woodland. The fauna inhabiting the park is abundant and equally diverse, ranging from exotic birds, zebras, buffalo, wildebeest and giraffes to hippos and lions; the only large African mammals not found here are rhino. Boats take visitors to various lagoons, such as Xakanaxa, Gcobega and Gcodikwe, to view game and birdlife.
Lodges around Moremi Game Reserve have a variety of activities and facilities. Most of the lodges have game drives, mokoro rides, and game walks.
The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland water systems.
Millions of years ago the Okavango river use to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans).
The delta environment has large numbers of animal populations that are otherwise rare, such as crocodile, red lechwe, sitatunga, elephant, wild dogs, buffalo, wattled crane as well as the other more common mammals and bird life.
The best time for game viewing in the delta is during the May-October period, as the animal life is concentrated along the flooded areas and the vegetation has dried out.
The best time for birding and vegetation is during the rainy season (Nov.- April) as the migrant bird populations are returning and the plants are flowering and green.
Safari activities by water are the primary speciality of the Okavango – the mokoro – a dug out canoe which is ‘poled’ along by your Guide is the most evocative way of exploring the numerous waterways. Motor launches travel on the main waterways and lagoons.
Traditional 4×4 Game viewing vehicles are used on the main islands, with night drives available in the private concession areas – not allowed within the National Park.
Perhaps the most marvelous way of exploring the Okavango is on the back of an Elephant at Randall Moore’s famous Abu Camp.
Chobe National Park
The Chobe National Park, which is the second largest national park in Botswana and covers 10,566 square kilometres, has one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the African continent.
Its uniqueness in the abundance of wildlife and the true African nature of the region, offers a safari experience of a lifetime.
The park is divided into four distinctly different eco systems: Serondela with its lush plains and dense forests in theChobe River area in the extreme north-east; the Savuti Marsh in the west about fifty kilometres north of Mababe gate; the Linyanti Swamps in the north-west and the hot dry hinterland in between.
A major feature of Chobe National Park is its elephant population. First of all, the Chobe elephant comprise part of what is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population. This population covers most of northern Botswana plus northwestern Zimbabwe.
The Botswana’s elephant population is currently estimated at around 120,000.
The Chobe elephant are migratory, making seasonal movements of up to 200 kilometres from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park, to which they disperse in the rains. The elephants, in this area have the distinction of being the largest in body size of all living elephants though the ivory is brittle and you will not see many huge tuskers among these rangy monsters.
Often described as one of, if not the best, wildlife-viewing area in Africa today. Savuti boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife left on the African continent.
Animals are present during all seasons, and at certain times of the year their numbers can be staggering. If you allow yourself adequate time here (a minimum of three to four days is recommended) you will probably see nearly all the major species: giraffe, elephant, zebra, impala, tsessebe, roan, sable, wildebeest, kudu, buffalo, waterbuck, warthog, eland and accompanying predators including lion, hyaena, jackal, bat-eared fox and possibly even cheetahand wild dog.
Savuti is famous for its predators, particularly its resident lions and spotted hyaena populations. . Almost certainly you will hear lion at night.