Covering a surface area of 581 730 km2 (224 610 sq mi), Botswana is a topographically flat country with a low human population around 2.4 million. This implies it boasts of vast undisturbed wilderness and wildlife thrives in this country rendering it one of the most exclusive safari destinations in Southern Africa. It has the highest African Elephant populations in the world distributed over national parks and protected areas.
The main highlights of Botswana include:
Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve
Receiving 450mm (18 in) rainfall on average per annum, the Okavango Delta certainly does not depend on this rainfall for its vegetation. The delta gets most of the water from the Okavango River. The Okavango River, unlike most rivers that pour all their waters either in another river or in the sea, it empties water onto open land. This creates a healthy habitat that supports over 1000 plant species, 130 mammalian species and over 480 birds. Mammals include the Southern Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Hippopotamus, Common Impala, Eland, Greater Kudu, Sable antelope, Roan antelope, Puku, Red Lechwe, Waterbuck, Sitatunga, Tsessebe, Cheetah, African wild dog, Spotted Hyeana, Black-backed jackal, Caracal, Serval, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Bat-eared fox, Honey badger, Porcupine, Warthog, Chacma baboon, Vervet monkey among others. Birding specials include the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Skimmer, White-backed Night Heron, Bat Hawk, African Wood Owl, Narina Trogon, Swamp Boubou, Pink-backed Pelican, Brown Firefinch, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Chirping Cisticola, Greater Swamp Warbler, African Pygmy Goose, Rock Pranticole, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Wattled Crane, Slaty Egret, Rufous-bellied Heron, Long-crested Eagle, Southern Carmine Bee-eater among others. Activities around here include canoeing, game drives and walking safaris to give guests and ultimate wildlife experience.
Chobe National Park
Established in 1968, this 11700 km2 area is Botswana’s first national park, and also the most biologically diverse as it encompasses floodplains, swamps and woodland. The park is widely known for its large elephant population, estimated to be around 50,000 hence they tend to congregate in huge numbers up to 200 at a given time. Other mammals include Red Lechwe, Puku, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Roan and Sable antelopes, Common Impala, Warthog, Chobe Bushbuck, Vervet Monkey and Chacma Baboon, along with the accompanying predators such as Lion, Leopard, Hyeana and Black-backed Jackal, who are never far away. About 460 bird species have been recorded in the park, which include common species like Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Goose, White-breasted Cormorant, African Darter, Spur-winged Goose, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, most members of the Kingfisher family, all 5 species of Rollers in southern Africa, the unmistakable African Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Collared Palm Thrush and many more. Specials include Pennant-winged Nightjar, Copper Sunbird, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, White-crowned Lapwing, African Rail, Lesser Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Croaking Cisticola, Denham’s Bustard, Orange-winged Pytilia, Rufous-bellied Heron, Luapula Cisticola, Half-collared Kingfisher among others. Activities here include Game Drives, Sunset Boat Cruise and Day Visits to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 4500 paintings preserved in a 10km2 area. Local communities here respect Tsodilo as a place of worship frequented by ancestral spirits. It consists of rock art, rock shelters, depressions, and caves. The paintings have been linked to hunter gathers, the San people. However, there is evidence of the Bantu tribes to have had some presence in this area. Activities include walking trails to view these paintings and it is conducted by local San guides.
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and Central Kalahari Game Reserve
This area has a collection of salt pans that cover a total surface area of 30 000 km2, making it the largest salt pans in the world and one of the former largest inland sea in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, very important for breeding of flamingoes and renowned for its seasonal Zebra migration. Mammals here include huge herds of Plains Zebra and Blue Wildebeest, Oryx, Springbok, Red Hartebeest, Lion, Leopard among others. Birding specials include Abdim’s stork, Black bustard, Black-faced Waxbill, Bronze-winged Courser, Burchell’s Coucal, Burchell’s Courser, Dusky lark, Great white Pelican, Greater Flamingo, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Kori Bustard, Lesser Flamingo, Martial Eagle, Meyer’s Parrot, Pink-backed Pelican, Red-necked Falcon, Saddle-billed Stork, Secretary Bird, Temminck’s Courser, Violet-eared Waxbill, Wattled crane, White-browed Robin-chat among others. Activities are centered on game drives, walking safaris and visiting the San (Bushmen) people.
Located in the northeastern part of Botswana, the Nxai Pan National Park covers an area of 2578 km2. Large herds of Plains Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Springbok and Oryx attract many predators like Lion, Cheetah and both Brown and Spotted Hyeana. Birding is similar to Makgadikgadi Pans, since it is part of it. Birding specials include Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Pink-billed Lark and rare ones include Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Thrush Nightingale among others. Activities are centered on game drives and bush walks with the San trackers.
This massive area comprises of different concessions, some privately owned and totaling an area of 800 000 hectares. The Tuli Block is situated in eastern Botswana within a narrow strip along the Limpopo River in the border triangle of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Various mammals occur here including Waterbuck, Eland, Elephant, Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, Caracal, Aardwolf, Spotted Hyeana and Black-backed Jackal among others. Birding specials include African Hawk Eagle, Ayres’s Hawk Eagle, Booted Eagle, Allen’s Gallinule, Dusky Lark, Miombo Pied Barbet, Mocking Cliff Chat, Pel’s Fishing-owl, Southern Ground Hornbill, Spotted Crake, Yellow-breasted Apalis. This area offers a range of activities including game drives, walking safaris, hiking, cycling, horse riding among others.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
Previously comprising of two adjacent national parks: The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, the current Transfrontier National Park has been merged to create a massive 38 000 km2 (14,670 sq mi) area with great wildlife diversity. This wilderness reserve, has huge herds of Springbok, Oryx, Red Hartebeest among other antelopes hence boasts a large population of Lion, Cheetah and Leopard, offering excellent sightings of predators. Both Brown and Spotted Hyeana occur in large numbers. Bird species include Red-necked Falcon, Orange River Francolin, Monotonous Lark, Eastern Clapper Lark, Rufous-eared Warbler, Kalahari Scrub Robin among others. A wide range of activities are offered here including game drives, 4 x 4 Wilderness drives, Mobile Camping, Sand Dune climbing, Sand boarding, Camel ride, Quad biking among others.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
This 4 300 ha Kalahari Reserve was established in 1992 to conserve vanishing populations of Rhinos. In addition to rhinos, the sanctuary is home to several endangered and rare species as well as a variety of wildlife, including the African Wild Dog, Caracal, Aardvark, Leopard, Cheetah, Plains Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Southern Giraffe, Eland, Springbok, Common Impala, Oryx, Greater Kudu, Steenbok, Red Hartebeest among others. Guided night drives around here might yield the African wild cat, Caracal, Small spotted Genet, Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Brown Hyeana, Common Duiker among other nocturnal species.