Safari Holidays in Botswana

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Explore the Iconic Landscapes of the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert

With few major roads and a sparse population, for the most part Botswana is a wilderness of savannahs, saltpans, deserts and wetlands. Such a varied geography – from the stunning waterways of the Okavango Delta to the beautiful Baobabs of the Makgadikgadi Pans – makes it an ideal sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife (there are more elephants in Botswana than any other country) and a great safari holiday location.

 

Another benefit of the mixed landscape is that it allows for some pretty unusual safari activities. Traditional exploration by Land Rover is still the main mode of transport, but Botswana is also popular for horse riding, quad biking, walking safaris and silent canoe safaris – known as Mokoro Trails.

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Great Places You Can Visit

We recommend three different regions of Botswana as must-visit locations and they couldn’t be more different from each other.

Okavango Delta

Potfolio-SOuthAfrica1The undisputed geographic highlight of Botswana, and perhaps of the entire continent, the Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. With its countless tributaries that flow from Angola into an 18,000sq-km expanse of papyrus swamps, reed beds and floodplains, the Okavango River and surrounding area is a hotbed of wildlife fertility soundtracked by the roaring and barking of wild cats and the whoops of running hyena.

 

What a contrast it conveys compared to the rest of the country, too. Like an oasis of gargantuan proportions, this wetland paradise is found amidst the arid Kalahari Desert. Stranger still, it lives and dies here, soaking into the salt pans that surround it and never reaching the sea, unlike any other major river in the world.

Moremi Game Reserve

Potfolio-SOuthAfrica1The Moremi Game Reserve (also know as The Moremi Wildlife Reserve) is actually part of the central and eastern Okavango Delta. Unlike the rest of the Delta, this area of untouched wilderness is officially cordoned off for the preservation of the finest selection of wildlife in Africa.

 

As well as rich floral and faunal scenes, the Moremi is also home to over 400 species of bird, including colourful favourites like the malachite kingfisher, purple gallinule and the rare and secretive Pel’s fishing owl. And with the recent reintroduction of rhino – the result of years of painstaking conservation work – this is also one of the few areas in the region where you might spot all of the Big Five (lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and rhinos).

 

The game reserve status of Moremi also ensures it is highly accessible for safari lovers, with excellent trails and accommodation that ranges from luxury lodges to public campsites for self-drivers.

Makgadikgadi Pans

Potfolio-SOuthAfrica1The Makgadikgadi (or the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, to use its full name) is a stirring counterpoint to the Okavango Delta. Just as stunning, but for entirely different reasons, this 3900-sq-km park in the Kalahari is a mix of desert salt pans covered with baobab trees, desert bushes and dry grasses.

 

The geography makes it an ideal place to try quad biking and despite largely being a desert region, there is plenty of wildlife to see here. The Boteti River in the west is the reason for this – November rains fill the pan with water which sees zebra, giraffe and antelope descend on the National Park, followed by their natural predator,the lions.
In the dry season from May to October, the grasses turn to straw and desert-adapted species like hyena, meerkat and springbok dominate the landscape instead.

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Botswana Experiences

There’s just so much you can do in Botswana and we are full of ideas to suit you. In the meantime, here are three of our favourites.

Mokoro Trails

Potfolio-SOuthAfrica1Steeped in authenticity, safari through the waterways of the Okavango Delta in a traditional dug-out canoe or ‘mokoro’ is an absolute must for anyone visiting Botswana. Over the years, these Mokoro Trails have become a popular way for travellers to experience the tranquillity of the Delta and gain real insight into the lives of the people of the Okavango.

 

You’ll sit on the low seat of your mokoro, inches from the waterline, whilst your guide stands at the back and poles you along – much like an indigenous form of punting. The slow pace and lack of physical exertion on your part makes this a hugely relaxing activity. You have nothing to do but sit there and watch waterlilies, reed frogs, and the occasional crocodile float by.

 

Mokoro Trails are inherently flexible too – you can take long trips if you want, but a couple of hours or half day is often sufficient to get the experience.

Horse Back Safaris

Potfolio-SOuthAfrica1Although horse riding for inexperienced riders is not well-catered for in Botswana, it remains one of the best countries in Africa for those that know their way around a saddle. The Okavango Delta is by far the most popular area for horseback safaris in Botswana, and offers abundant and varied game, extremely experienced and knowledgeable guides and superb quality horses in a truly breathtaking setting.

 

The wildlife that can be spotted, weather and demands of the terrain do differ depending on the time of year, so if horse riding is a key interest then this should be carefully considered (don’t worry, we’ll be more than happy to advise you).

 

If your group has a mixed ability level, fear not – specialist providers do cater for non-riders accompanying riders by offering a range of alternative activities whilst the main party is out riding. As well as the Okavango Delta, riding safaris through the Makgadikgadi Pans and in the south east of the country are also possible.

Quad Biking in the Makgadikgadi Pans

Quad biking is yet another way to experience a safari in Botswana, and is a seriously exhilarating one at that. The salt pans region is ideally suited to it, with few obstacles or challenging terrain to negotiate allowing you to race across the pale white sands at high speed.
Excursions are available either as day trips or overnight trips to Kubu Island – a picture-perfect landscape of round boulders and twisted baobab trees.

 

The latter is an incredible experience, so aim for this. There are few safari experiences out there that can compare to watching the red sun descend on this unique geological feature from the back of your bike, chilled drink in hand.

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When You Should Visit

Timing is everything and when you choose to visit will play a huge part in the experience you have. Here’s some advice to help.

JANUARY

One of Botswana’s wetter months, although a fantastic time to visit the Central Kalahari, as the flowers are in full bloom and game sightings are fantastic.

Average Temperature: 33°C

Average Rainfall: 101mm

FEBRUARY

A wetter month in northern Botswana, however the Central Kalahari, Kgalagardi and Makgadikgadi are at their best – plus its a great time of year for bird watching.

Average Temperature: 32°C

Average Rainfall: 101mm

MARCH

March starts to see the sun shine and the wildlife becomes ever more present. However, Thunderstorms are still a possibility. A particularly good time to be in the Makgadikgadi its famous zebra migration passes through.

Average Temperature: 32°C

Average Rainfall: 51mm

APRIL

As the green season draws to the close, Botswana really starts to come to life. This is a great time to capitalize on the low season prices.

Average Temperature: 30°C

Average Rainfall: 26mm

MAY

The landscape is beautiful and green; the air is very clear with no rain around. Its a great time to go. We here at Migrations Safaris think its a really good time to go.

Average Temperature: 28°C

Average Rainfall: 0mm

JUNE

As Botswana’s dry season gets well under way, so does its wildlife sightings. The Okavango Delta and Chobe start attracting larger herds of wildlife. Cooler evenings at this time of year.

Average Temperature: 25°C

Average Rainfall: 0mm

JULY

Great game viewing in Botswana’s northern parks, including the Okavango and Chobe. Warm days, cold nights. A fantastic time to travel.

Average Temperature: 26°C

Average Rainfall: 0mm

AUGUST

Conditions reach their optimum at this time of year – the game viewing is phenomenal, as is the weather, making it the perfect time to travel.

Average Temperature: 27°C

Average Rainfall: 0mm

SEPTEMBER

Coupled with August, September is arguably the best time to travel Botswana. Its a little bit hotter at this time of year, and as the dry season draws on, the game viewing only improves.

Average Temperature: 34°C

Average Rainfall: 0mm

OCTOBER

This is Botswana’s hottest month and the last of the long dry season. The game around the Chobe Waterfront is among the best anywhere in Africa.

Average Temperature: 38°C

Average Rainfall: 0mm

NOVEMBER

An unpredictable month; this month marks the start of the much needed rains. Still a great time to view wildlife.

Average Temperature: 37°C

Average Rainfall: 25mm

DECEMBER

With the rains returning it’s a great to go to Botswana’s southern parks.

Average Temperature: 35°C

Average Rainfall: 26mm

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Did You Know?

Elephants have much in common with humans including a similar lifespan and pace of development.

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THE ELEPHANT

 

They share a strong sense of family and each has a unique personality. They can be happy, sad, volatile or placid.

 

They display envy, they can throw tantrums and can be fiercely competitive. They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering from depression.

 

They have a sense of compassion, which can extend to others in distress and unlike us, they have incredible long range infrasound and an extraordinarily good memory!

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