They say an elephant never forgets. Perhaps it’s down to a large brain, exceptional communication skills or innate ancient knowledge. Whatever the reason, the gentle giants of Botswana number around 130,000, almost a third of the entire African elephant population, and by far the highest number of free-roaming elephants in the world. Despite controversy over the trampling of crops, and animal-human conflict, Botswanan initiatives are working to preserve elephant numbers and raise the country’s status as a world leader in eco-tourism. An impressive 38% of the land is protected for wildlife conservation and visitors can experience this inspiring place in intimate camps offering rustic luxury with low-impact tourism in the very heart of wildlife hotspots.
With a long history of stability, Botswana is a safe destination with welcoming people. It’s home to the San people of the Kalahari, hunter-gatherers who have lived in the harsh environment for at least 30,000 years and remain a proud and traditional folk despite attempts at their rehousing. Botswana is around the same size as France but with a tiny population of 2.5 million, making for an ideal spot to explore without the crowds. It’s a landlocked nation but features diverse and unique ecosystems defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta. From the gateway towns of Maun and Kasane, access the incredible wilderness of Botswana where you can really appreciate the peace and tranquillity that this beautiful destination has to offer.
The mild, dry southern African winter from June to August is the peak for visitors. As a low season traveller in the wet summer months from late November to May however, you can expect much hotter weather with the gauge pushing 40°C, especially before the rains arrive. However, you’ll also enjoy a crowd-free experience with many sites all to yourself. As summer progresses scenery becomes greener and more luscious, bringing much-needed foliage and nutrition. Life flourishes and the calving season in November and December affords ample opportunity to see animal mums with their babies. Although the extra growth provides camouflage for wildlife, Botswana’s phenomenal number of elephants, huge crocs, wildebeest, hippo, zebra, buffalo, leopards and lions means you’ll still spot plenty. Come and see Botswana for yourself and experience a place you will, like an elephant, never forget.
Okavango Delta & Moremi
Superb at any time of year, the UNESCO protected wetland of Okavango and the Moremi Game Reserve at its southern edge are a haven for herds of elephants, hippos, giraffes, and zebras. Plus a stunning variety of birdlife gathers in the rainy season. The floodwaters from central Africa make their way to the flat delta forming a unique wetland ecosystem of reed-fringed waterways, lagoons and islands. Ironically it is during the dry season that the delta is flooded due to the time it takes the rainwater to arrive from higher ground. So in the low season water flood recedes but there are still plenty of opportunities to take both land and water-based safaris.
The Kalahari Desert
Covering a massive 70% of Botswana, the desert is the defining feature of the country’s landscape. The Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks are both physically and ecologically a part of the desert but at its heart is the huge Central Kalahari Game Reserve sporting endless undulated grasslands, fossilised river valleys and sprawling wilderness. In the harsh terrain live cheetah, wildebeest, oryx, ostrich, springbok, giraffe, hyena, African painted dogs and the famed black-maned Kalahari lion whose roar provides a spine-tingling soundtrack to the desert night.