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More about Botswana
Botswana has an intriguing geographic history, much of which is rooted in the creation of the world’s largest, uninterrupted stretch of sand, the Kalahari desert. 85% of the country is covered in this huge, dry expanse and its history is integral to Botswana’s current population distribution and main source of income; diamonds.
100 million years ago, when Africa first split up from the main body of Gondwanaland, a lengthy period of weathering filled the Kalahari basin with erosional debris, the foundation of today’s sands. Subsequent tectonic activity moved the Kalahari basin both vertically and southwards – depriving it of moist air and further dehydrating it, putting the Kalahari well onto the way of becoming a fully fledged desert. Antartica’s formation about 5 million years ago was one of the final steps, absorbing remaining water and locking into the huge polar ice cap – leaving a desert similar to the one we have today and Botswana’s defining geographic feature.
Other significant geographic landmarks are the Okavango Delta, the Makgadikgadi Pans and the Linyanti Swamp, which collectively cover about 30,000 km².
The Okavango Delta is the country’s main attraction, the world’s largest inland delta – an incredibly lush oasis in the middle of the Kalahari desert. Some of the best wildlife in Africa takes refuge here, which although admittedly a well-worn phrase, is genuinely justified when discussing the Delta. Huge herds of elephant and buffalo roam the paradise, complemented by a plentiful collection of browsers and grazers – and predators naturally flock to where food is so plentiful. A safe and reliable safari destination, the Okavango doesn’t disappoint, and is conveniently located to link with other popular locations like Victoria Falls and Zambian or Namibian safari hotspots.
The Moremi Game Reserve is the main destination within the Okavango Delta, and occupies about a third of its total area. Created by a local tribe, the BaTawana, it serves as a sanctuary for wildlife that had suffered from previous cattle farming, as well as an alternative income to this pastoral lifestyle that simultaneously protects the Delta’s natural splendour. Moremi is fantastic for activites and offers traditional mokoro trips (recommended!), fishing, top game-viewing and other water-based activities.
The Makgadikgadi Pans are remarkably scenic, and is perhaps surprisingly to some, only one-fifth covered in salt pans – there are three other habitats (dictated by their primary vegetation type), riverine woodlands, scrubland and pure grassland. Thousands of animals flock to the area for the nutritious grass, and most of the animals typical of African safaris can be found here. Perfect as a stop-over on the way to the Okavango, it’s probably the most essential site of Botswana, and we highly, highly recommend a visit if you’re travelling in this part of the world.
The Linyanti is an exclusive alternative to the Okavango Delta – remote bushcamps that are only accessible by air have privileged access to an African swamp that simply teems with wildlife. Luxurious, private and special are all keywords when describing this location…we speak from experience when we say that this is one of the greatest spots on the African continent to visit, especially if you’re a travelling veteran and need something less commercialised and personal.
If you want to see lion, the zebra migration in the Savute is particularly dramatic, whilst cheetah, wild dog and elephant are very, very good in Kwando.
Why go to Botswana?
The safari industry is sophisticated with an excellent selection of lodges and bush camps. Guiding standards are good and transportation between the main wilderness areas is generally well organised. As mentioned earlier, Botswana’s stability is a good foundation for the tourist industry to build itself upon, and for anyone concerned about reliability or safety, Botswana’s reputation puts it in very good stead.
We strongly recommend that first-time guests focus primarily on the Okavango and then spend some time in the Linyanti or Chobe National Park ending at Victoria Falls.
When to do Botswana
As with many African safari destinations the best time for big game viewing is during the drier, winter months (July, August, and September). For bird watchers, November to March is without doubt the best period.
The champagne months of May and June are delightful; just before the main rush of tourists begins, with clear skies and lingering green bush, and fat, well-fed animals at the end of the rainy season.
How to travel Botswana
Botswana’s better spots are small and remote so advance bookings are recommended. Speak to us about our mobile safaris or specific camp combinations are if you’re seasoned in Botswana or would like to experience a more adventurous type of safari.
Getting to Botswana is easy – fly into Johannesburg International airport from almost anywhere in the world on a number of major airlines. Connect to Maun on Air Botswana which is a short hop, around an hour and a half. Alternatively fly into Victoria Falls or Livingstone from Johannesburg, Lusaka or Harare and connect by road to Botswana – a short drive on good roads with a border crossing.
If you’re keen on self drive you can get into Botswana from any of the surrounding countries which generally have good road systems, other than Angola.
Wherever in the world you are, our Zambezi community is full of easy-going travel-minded friends who take their fun seriously. Come and join the adventure.