With its unspoilt wilderness and promise of adventure, Botswana is one of the last remaining safari destinations in Africa where you can still experience nature as the early explorers did. Mainly a roadless wilderness of savannas, deserts, wetlands and saltpans, this magnificent country boasts a treasure trove of options from the famous Okavango Delta wetlands, the world’s largest inland delta, to the incredible desolate Makgadikgadi salt pans. Botswana is also home to grass plains of migrating zebra and the stark openness of the Kalahari and huge herds of elephant in Chobe.
More the 600 kilometers from the nearest ocean, this landlocked country has Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its neighbours. Botswana really only has two seasons - summer from October to April and winter from May to September. Most of the rain falls between December and February, usually in the form of short, sharp thunderstorms.
The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park is where the most lodges are situated and Botswana’s prime attraction must be the abundant bird and wildlife. In addition to the Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino - Botswana is also home to the rare Aquatic sitatunga and Red lechwe antelope. The best “birding” areas are in the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River, Nata and the Tuli Block, with the hot summers providing the best bird-watching as males sport their bright breeding plumage and droves of migrants are present.
The Okavango Delta is a wondrous wetland within a desert, receiving its waters from rain falling over a thousand kilometers away and sustaining a huge diversity of fauna and flora. Our planet’s largest inland delta system, this region is rightfully reputed to be one of Africa’s most incredible wilderness and wildlife sanctuaries. Every year floodwaters flow from elsewhere in Africa to collect in this wetland paradise.
In the north-east of the country, the Chobe and Linyanti parks are renowned for their predators and large concentration of game. The Central Kalahari is an area of extremes during the winter season and vast distances extend seemingly endlessly, punctured by sparse vegetation and rare sightings of game.
In the heart of Southern Africa, Botswana offers possibly the finest, authentic wildlife experience in the world. It is comprised largely of the Kalahari Desert, within which lies the Okavango Delta, a wonderful blue-green wetland considered by many to be Africa's most incredible wildlife and wilderness sanctuary. This dynamic waterworld contrasts with an ecosystem driven by different stimuli in the Linyanti and Selinda region in the north of the country.
The lush Okavango Delta wetland is a unique area containing 95% of all the surface water in Botswana and covers an area over 15 000 sq km. Surrounded by the arid Kalahari, this emerald jewel is an immense oasis fed by the flow of mighty Okavango River, which unlike every other major river in the world, never reaches the sea but instead dies in the desert sands of northern Botswana.
In the middle of the The Okavango Delta is Moremi Game Reserve and described as one of the most beautiful and varied reserves in Africa, with an unprecedented concentration of wildlife. The delta is today a sanctuary for a huge elephant population, as well as lions, cheetah, giraffe, wild dog, leopards, buffalo, crocodiles, hippo and a number of bird species and the African fish eagle has made this paradise its home.
The permanently and seasonally flooded areas within the central and southern Okavango hide within their cloak of beautiful lagoons, backwaters and forested islands, some of the finest safari camps in the world. Here you can enjoy mokoro safaris (dug-out-canoe), game drives and walks, or even night boat rides to see the large amounts of crocodiles and birds.
Summer is from November to the end of March and usually brings very high temperatures. It is also the rainy season and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down, although only usually for a short period of time.
The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas.
The in-between periods - April / early May, September / October - still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter. October is the hottest month in Botswana with very high daytime temperatures and warm nights.
Gaborone: You can fly to Sir Seretse Khama - Botswana's main international airport - from Johannesburg but most safari-bound travellers skip it and fly directly to one of the two airports below.
Maun: Regular flights from Johannesburg and Windhoek (via Victoria Falls) mean easy access to the Okavango Delta's gateway airport. You'll transfer to light charter aircraft for your flight into the Delta.
Kasane: Fly to Chobe's gateway from Johannesburg, Gaborone or Maun. You'll transfer by road to lodges in the Chobe River area or smaller aircraft for safaris in Savute or Linyanti. Victoria Falls is less than 100km away by road.
Charter flights on small aircraft are the norm for getting from place to place in Botswana with transfers and game drives conducted in open-sided 4X4 vehicles. Transfers and game viewing by motor boat and mokoro (dug-out canoe) are common in the Okavango Delta.
Every visitor to Botswana must be in possession of a passport that is valid until six months after the initial date of travel; however, no visas are required by citizens of EU countries, most Commonwealth countries, the USA, South Africa, Switzerland, Israel and Norway.
Upon arrival you will receive a 30-day entrance stamp and, for those who plan on travelling onwards to Botswana's neighbouring countries, visas for Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe can be obtained in Gaborone.
Situated in the centre of southern Africa and more than 600 kilometres from the nearest ocean, Botswana is surrounded by Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbours. With the exception of the eastern part of Botswana, where the great majority of the Botswana people live and where the summer rainfall is slightly higher, the majority of Botswana is desert.
Each year floodwater flows into the Okavango from its source in the moist central African highlands over a thousand kilometres away. These floodwaters flow from their catchments southwards and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife. Apart from year round excellent game viewing, the beauty of this water wonderland is awe inspiring.
To the north-east of the Okavango Delta are the Chobe and Linyanti Game Reserves. The many varied habitats within the Chobe and Linyanti parks - such as marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands and the world-famous Savute Channel - have created an area renowned for its predators and large concentrations of game, particularly elephant. The grasslands of the Kalahari together with the lunar expanse of the Makgadikgadi saltpans complement and are in total contrast to the verdant, game-rich Okavango and Linyanti regions.Health & Safety
Botswana is one of the most stable and peaceful countries in Southern Africa but it helps to be aware of your surroundings and keep your possessions close at all times. When travelling in the cities, keep your cameras and valuables out of sight. It is advised you check with your tour operator or hotel concierge - they will know if there are any potentially unsafe areas along your travel route.
It is wise to avoid deserted areas, particularly at night. If you are on a self-drive adventure then please ensure your car is locked at all times - park in well-lit, busy areas. Dress-down (i.e. don’t wear excessive jewellery) when exploring Africa’s diverse cities. Concealed travel wallets are recommended. Stopping for hitch hikers is not recommended.
Consult your doctor or an immunisation centre about the relevant vaccination requirements for the countries to which you will be travelling. We do suggest you get a Yellow Fever vaccination, because it’s compulsory for most African countries. For extra safety while travelling African countries, we recommend vaccinations for typhoid, polio, tetanus, hepatitis, meningitis and cholera. Also with your passport, make a certified copy of your certificate. Refer to www.travelclinics.co.za for more medical advise.