Botswana has the highest elephant population in Africa.

Best Botswana Safaris

Botswana is a country that showcases life and death in microcosm against the most sweeping of backdrops … like salt pans, wetlands and desert. Almost the size of France or Texas, it’s not surprising this immense realm – a truly iconic African safari destination – offers such varied terrain; let’s take a closer look.

The key safari hotspots are in the centre and north of the country, with the Okavango Delta being the jewel in the crown. This fluctuating, labyrinthine tangle of channels, islands and floodplains hosts significant populations of some of Africa’s rarest animals. It’s a landscape in flux, and this is reflected in the variety of ways it can be experienced. Game drives with specially-adapted ‘swamp’ vehicles, excursions in traditional dug-out mekoro and dreamy hot-air balloon rides each give different perspectives.

Adjacent to the Okavango, the famous Chobe National Park contains the iconic Savute and Linyanti areas, rich with the promise of elephant and wild dog sightings. Moving eastward, this procession of safari pilgrimage sites continues with the Chobe River and Kasane areas, gateway to Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Victoria Falls, and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip.

Also in northern Botswana, Makgadikgadi Pan and Nxai Pan are the beds of long-forgotten inland seas, still littered with ancient stone tools and scored by wildlife trails leading to waterholes. Each summer the rains transform them into shallow lakes, before the winter sun creates gleaming expanses of salt.

In the heart of the country, the Central Kalahari’s annual transformation into a green savannah attracts herds of springbok and eland, and signals a bounty for resident lion and cheetah… Come satisfy your safari itch in Botswana – you won’t be disappointed.

When to Go

This is the cooler, drier winter season; paradoxically, it’s also when floodwaters in the Okavango Delta reach their peak, having filtered down from Angola. As the vegetation thins out and animal populations are compressed by rising water, the wildlife sightings get increasing impressive. On the other hand, the pans become dazzling white salt flats as the last of the summer rainwater evaporates, and Chobe gets parched (causing animals to congregate at water sources). Weatherwise, fresh mornings – especially out on the pans and in the Central Kalahari – contrast with pleasantly warm days.

The hotter, wetter green season – Botswana’s summer – is marked by dramatic afternoon storms and an even more dramatic profusion of new life. Plants burst into leaf and flower, migratory birds return and many young antelope (in particular) are born. In the Okavango, the floodwaters recede, creating more space, although denser vegetation can make animal spotting more challenging. Arid areas also come alive – the greening of the Central Kalahari prompts a localised zebra migration, while the pans once again become vast shallow lakes, irresistible to flocks of flamingo.

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