Botswana

Abundant wildlife, remote desert, lush delta wetlands

Overview

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.


Major Airport

Gaborone Sir Seretse Khama International Airport - GBE

Low Season Months

Jan
25°C
79mm
9hrs
Feb
25°C
73mm
10hrs
Mar
24°C
82mm
9hrs
Apr
20°C
23mm
9hrs
May
17°C
13mm
9hrs
Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
23°C
23mm
11hrs
Nov
24°C
40mm
11hrs
Dec
25°C
48mm
11hrs

Featured Hotels

Coming online very soon

Top Experiences

The Zebra Migration

The November rains see the well-kept secret of 25,000 zebras migrating through the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans in search of lush nutrient rich grazing grounds. The land transforms from a normally barren environment, an inspiring backdrop to see zebra foals running alongside their mothers.

Okavango Boat Safari

As the flood waters recede in low season, head to the panhandle in the northern part of the delta and glide on a silent exploration of the waterways by traditional mokoro dugout canoe. Navigate the narrow channels abundant with wildlife, taking care to avoid deadly hippos and crocodiles.

Deception Valley, Kalahari

Harsh, hard and hostile, come the low season rains, the natural pans fill with water. Take a 4x4 jeep safari with expert guides and explore the now verdant grasslands which not only attract a wide range of wildlife, big cats, ostrich, springbok, but also create a stunningly scenic backdrop.

Insider Tips

  • Rising out of the flatness of the northwest Kalahari are the spiritual Tsodilo Hills, home to the UNESCO protected imposing rock formations. Here you’ll find more than 400 cave painting estimated to date from 30,000 years ago. Visit early or late in the day to avoid the worst of the heat.
  • In Chobe National Park you’ll find the highest concentration of elephants anywhere in the world. You can actually feel the earth move as large herds pass by. It is also the site chosen by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor for the secret ceremony of their second marriage in 1975.
  • Kasane is the town close to The Four Corners of Africa where Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zamibia meet. It’s good hub for exploring the Chobe River and Victoria Falls, and has many of its own attractions, including a baobab tree whose huge trunk was once used to hold prisoners inside.

Good To Know

  • Although the heavy rains of low season put some travellers off, you’ll experience beautifully dramatic thunderstorms and afterwards, a gorgeous light. So embrace the rains like Botswanans do. Their currency is the pula, which means rain, reflecting what a valuable commodity it really is.
  • When leaving Botswana on a connecting flight from Maun via Johannesburg, consider booking an overnight in Jo’burg before your international leg. This is because in the rainy season, flights are often delayed due to storms and unwary travellers are in danger of missing their onward connection.
  • An ideal way to discover Botswana’s incredible wildlife is at a remote bush camp. It’s a beautiful, fully immersive experience that allows you to really appreciate tranquillity and nature. Enjoy a wonderful digital detox, free from mobile network coverage or wi-fi for a few fabulous days.

Food & Drink

Dusty Donkey, Maun

This is a delightful place close to the airport making it a perfect venue for a last meal. Friendly staff, and great burgers, milkshakes, breakfast, coffee and take away sandwiches.

Traditional Style Chicken

Serving a home-fed chicken to guests is the ultimate sign of good Botswanan hospitality. The bird is slow cooked in a traditional three-legged iron pot over an open fire for the best flavour.

Vetkoek Mince Meat Burger

The delicious fast-food must-try of Botswana. The minced beef is mixed with onion, garlic, red pepper, spinach and spices and all stuffed into a thick doughy bread bun.

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