The Best of Botswana
Botswana is a stable and prosperous African country. Thirty-eight percent of the country’s land has been set aside for conservation. Ride in a mokoro in Chobe National Park to view hippos, crocodiles, and elephants up close. Spend a night sleeping under the stars in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Learn basket weaving from the Wayeyi people in the Okavango Delta. These are the unique ways travelers can connect with Botswana’s people and wildlife.
Chobe National Park, in northern Botswana, has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa, and the most exciting way to experience the park is by boat. The Zambezi Queen and a handful of small-vessel cruises operate along the Chobe River, and between May and October—the dry season in these parts—the riverbanks come alive with large breeding herds of elephants, as well as families of giraffe, sable, and Cape buffalo. The flood plains are the only place in Bostwana where you can spot the Puku antelope; the region also happens to offer some of the best bird-watching in all of Africa. Cruises on the Chobe aren’t only about watching wildlife; many passengers also come for the tiger and bream fishing, or to explore some of the villages on the Namibian side of the river. Though most cruises don’t make it to the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, many offer guided side trips to Victoria Falls, classified as the largest waterfall in the world.
Pont Drift, Botswana
I love the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana, near the Limpopo River. The opportunity to explore the 25,000-hectare reserve by bicycle or by foot is something that rarely happens on a safari. You can arrange morning and late afternoon walks with one of their phenomenal rangers, staying in the comfort of camp in the evenings, or you can opt to head out on a three- or four-day adventure on foot, camping each night. Either way, you’ll soon be among the elephants, giraffes, and other beautiful animals in their natural surrounds.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana’s most famous crafts are baskets woven from fan palm fibers. They are dyed with natural pigments: blue from fever-berry leaves, dark brown from magic guarri shrubs, and yellow from the roots of red star apple trees. Some baskets take a month to make. Nearly all lodges sell baskets, but you can also purchase them online.
Chobe Forest Reserve, Botswana
To get away from the crowds in Chobe, stay at Ngoma Safari Lodge. It’s located on the far western edge of the park. The eight thatched roof cottages are completely spacious but cozy and feature decks overlooking the Chobe River. In 2011, the African Wildlife Foundation helped support this community owned and operated lodge in partnership with the Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust (CECT) and African Albida Tourism. In exchange for their support, the community agreed to set aside land for conservation. The lodge provides the community with additional revenue through conservation fees plus employment opportunities. It has also created a larger corridor for wildlife to have room to roam freely throughout the region on their ancient migration routes.
R360, Upington, 8800, South Africa
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was created through the cooperation of the governments of Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. Their cooperation has united several smaller fragmented parks into a larger border-less area for wildlife to roam. Highlights include viewing predators like cheetah, hyena and black-manned lions, along with bat eared foxes, meerkats, wildebeest, and other species. One of the best camps on the South African side is Kieliekrankie. It’s an unfenced campsite located towards the middle of the park located on the top of a dune. Four self-catering cabins come with a kitchen and outdoor grill. There is a ranger on-hand to help check you in and oversee your stay in the event some curious leopards or jackals come to visit your cabin. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a big park and a lot of the roads are corrugated, so a 4x4 vehicle is strongly recommended (but not necessary). Make sure to stop at Twee Rivieren with your passport if you plan on exiting through Namibia or entering Botswana.