Generally regarded as one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations, Botswana offers a broad rage of natural habitats and a rich variety of safari experiences.
Botswana is renowned for having some of best wildlife areas on the African continent. Nearly 40 per cent of the country’s total land area is devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. For the most part these areas are unfenced, allowing animals to roam wild and free. While on safari trips, visitors have the feeting of moving through an immense natural wonderland of incredible beings.
The main attractions of Botswana are the Okavango Delta, Moremi, Khwai, Savute, Chobe, Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans.
In a crowed and overdeveloped world, Botswana is something of a rarity. For those who appreciate spectacular scenery, there is nowhere quite like the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest intact inland delta. Also, Botswana is home to the awe-inspiring vastness of the Central Kalahari, the world’s second-largest game reserve, as well as to the Makgadikgadi Pan, an uninhabited salt flat covering an area the size of Portugal.
The country is the last stronghold for a number of endangered animal and bird species, including, but not limited to, wild dog, cheetah, brown hyena, Cape vulture, wattled crane, Kori bustard and Pel’s fishing owl.
For many visitors, their first and most lasting impression is of the vast expanses of uninhabited wilderness, stretching from horizon to horizon, astoundingly rich animal and bird viewing, clear night skies filled with brilliance and magical sunsets of almost unearthly beauty.
How can get better than this?
One of the most sought after wilderness destinations in the world, the Okavango Delta gives entrance to the spectacle of wild Africa – the heart-stopping excitement of big game viewing, the supreme tranquility and serenity of an untouched delta, and evocative scenes of extraordinary natural beauty.
Moving from wetland to dryland, it reveals the many facets of this unique ecosystem, the largest intact inland delta in the world. The Okavango Delta is situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, and is often referred to as the ‘jewel’ of the Kalahari.
It is the first reserve in Africa established by local residents. Concerned about the rapid depletion of wildlife in their ancestral lands – due to uncontrolled hunting and cattle encroachment – the Batawana people of Ngamiland, under the leadership of the deceased Chief Moremi III’s wife, Mrs. Moremi, took the bold initiative to proclaim Moremi a game reserve in 1963.
It is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta, and as such holds tremendous scientific, environmental and conservation importance. And, undoubtedly, Moremi ranks as one of the most beautiful reserves in Africa, possibly in the world.
The Khwai Concession is a wildlife-rich 180,000 ha gem on the fringes of the Okavango Delta – sandwiched between Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. With no fences separating Khwai from the other areas, you are likely to see just about everything.
The Khwai River flows through the concession and in places spreads out to form marshy areas and in others is a mere narrow channel where you can find hippos, crocodiles, waterbuck and lechwe, and in the dry woodlands, sable and roan antelopes, zebras, impalas, giraffes and buffaloes.
Elephants can be found everywhere, and lions, leopards and hyenas are commonly seen. Wild dogs often den in the area during the winter months and can then be seen with pups.
Makgadikgadi is the size of Portugal, around 12 000 sq km, largely uninhabited by humans. Its stark, flat, featureless terrain stretches – it would seem – to eternity, meeting and fusing with a milky-blue horizon. It is part of the Kalahari Basin, yet unique to it – one of the largest salt pans in the world.
Nxai Pan lies just north of the Maun-Nata main road and adjoins the Makgadikgadi Pans on its northern border. The pan itself is a fossil lakebed about 40 square km in size. In the south, Baines' Baobabs comprise a clump of large baobab trees, rendered immortal in 1862 by painter Thomas Baines, a member of Livingstone's expedition.
The Savuti area borders the Delta to the west and Chobe National Park to the east and is one of Africa's best known big game areas.
Savuti is a place of enchantment, of beauty, and boasts one of the greatest concentrations of animals in Southern Africa. It is famous for its predators, especially its resident lion and spotted hyena populations. Large secretary birds and kori bustards can be sighted strutting around the Savuti marsh and small redbilled francolins is known for its noisiness.
Interesting summer migrants and water birds include Abdim's storks, carmine bee eaters and even fish eagles. Little quelea finches are quite a spectacle as a single flock could contain tens of thousands of these small birds.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq km.
During and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gather at the best grazing areas. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.
At other times of the year, when the animals are more sparsely distributed, the experience of travelling through truly untouched wilderness, of seemingly unending dimensions, is the draw.
Established in 1968, the park covers approximately 11.700 sq km, encompassing floodplains, swamps and woodland. The Chobe River forms its northern boundary. There are four distinct geographical areas in the park: the Chobe Riverfront, the Ngwezumba pans, Savuti and Linyanti.
The most accessible and frequently visited is the Chobe Riverfront, famous for its large herds of elephants and Cape buffalo.
Over 460 bird species have been recorded in the park, making it one of Africa’s premier venues for Bird Safaris. Common species to be seen are: Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Geese, the ubiquitous cormorants and darters, Spur-winged Geese, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Carmine bee-eaters, most members of the kingfisher family, all rollers, the unmistakable Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, just to mention a few.