The word ‘safari’ was born out of two worlds coming together; ‘safar’ being Arabic for a journey and ‘kusafiri’, the Swahili verb for “to travel.” So, while it is generally associated with viewing wildlife in the wild, Safari speaks of a travel journey. And exploring Botswana is exactly that – a travel journey of adventures and experiences through landscapes, culturescapes and great escapes. Here are our top 5 favourite travel adventures in Botswana.
1. The magnificent Chobe
Your journey to Botswana would not be complete without a stopover at its first national park. Known for its large population of elephants, this park is also the most biologically diverse. With the highest concentration of game in Africa, you are sure to enjoy a classic African Safari while here. But more than that you will have the chance to explore various ecosystems in a park. With swamp, river and seasonable marshland areas, as well as floodplains and woodlands.
2. The Okavango Delta
A visit to the Okavango Delta takes you on a water travel journey. See wildlife from a new perspective – a mokoro. The dug-out canoe gives you a view over animals, from big to small. Spot lions, elephants and the rare Sitatunga on the Savannah or pause to examine exotic frogs hanging out on nearby reeds. This is a birders’ paradise! Get the best of the jungle, but sleep in style at luxury island camps.
3. Walk with the San Bushmen
In Botswana, you can explore by game vehicle, mokoro and by foot. There are few things that compare to observing wildlife in their own environment. Few experiences compare to walking with the original inhabitants of Botswana. Their intimate knowledge of the landscape and its animals, expert tracking and knowledge of how to survive in the wild.
4. Gcwihaba Caves
If exploring rocks and caves is your thing, then you have to explore one of Botswana’s most remote destinations – Gchwihaba. Lose yourself in the underground labyrinth of caves and pits. Discover linked passages and unique stalagmite and stalactite formations, while admiring coloured flowstones scattered in the rocks. If you are scared of bats and a little claustrophobic, you will have to find courage! But it is sure to be worth the discomfort – these caves have been part of the Kalahari ecosystem for close to 3 million years. Here you will find flora and fauna that you have never seen before. These caverns are recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site with all the secrets it holds from a prehistoric era.
5. Explore the Salt Pans of Makgadikgadi
With an area of 3900 kilometres, the Makgadigadi Pans National Park is one of the world’s largest salt flats. To see the vastness of the salt pans, you have to visit during Botswana’s dry season (March to October). The white expanse of glittering salt makes for stunning photo opportunities, and despite these being winter months, the days are sunny and warm.
If you’re an avid birder, you would want to time your visit during the wet months from November to March. You won’t be able to access the pans, but during April – May the pan retains water, and this is when you will have a spectacular show of birds and game. A special treat is to see the pink mass of flamingoes that flock here during this time – from above with a helicopter flight. And while you could spot springbok, gemsbok, wildebeest and zebras as they move from the pans to the Boteti River, your most memorable moment here will probably be the quiet remoteness that carries on for kilometres.
Also, ask about the local meerkats! Years of studies have led these little guys to be quite tame – take some time to meet them and to observe how they work as teams to survive in the harsh environment of the Makgadikgadi.
Botswana offers so much more than an African Safari, or perhaps it offers just that – a travel journey that shows you Africa like never before.