Whizzing over the Okavango Delta in a helicopter with the doors off is a truly memorable experience: flying low over elephants drinking in clear lagoons and Sitalunga leaping over the reeds, the landscape a patchwork of emerald greens and vibrant blues.
Contrast this with being punted along through the tributaries of the delta in a dugout Mokoro, ducking through plumes of papyrus and peering into the depths of beautiful water lilies. With no engine noise, you glide silently amongst a pristine wilderness teeming with frogs, dragonflies and mesmerising bird life which will convert even the most hardened non-birder like me into a bit of a twitcher.
Despite being dominated by the vastness of the Kalahari Desert, Botswana’s various ecosystems showcase a dramatic diversity that can add serious depth to a safari. Your trip can encompass everything from the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans to the legendary Okavango Delta.
The Okavango Delta is what makes Botswana different to other safari destinations. Here the seasonal flood is caused not by local rains, but by water originating 1,200km north in the highlands of Angola. The Okavango River flows south from the highlands for many months until it reaches the flat Kalahari Basin. But with its route to the ocean blocked, it fans out to flood the landscape. However, unlike many floods it doesn’t bring devastation, but instead creates a fertile habitat for a diverse wildlife population.
The area isn’t completely flooded however, and even when the Delta is in full flow, there’s a mix of wet and dry with habitats that range from permanent lagoons and swamps to seasonal floodplains and wooded islands. Hopping around in a Cessna Caravan between locations, it’s easy to combine a number of camps so that you can experience both the Delta’s and Botswana’s varied pallet of landscapes and also see a greater variety of wildlife and have more things to do.
But it’s not just the beauty of the landscape. The wildlife is pretty phenomenal too.
From magisterial lion lounging in the grass.
To graceful giraffe, ostrich and lonesome tssebbe.
And if you want to see more elephants than you can count, Botswana is definitely the place to go.
Days have a clearly defined pattern on safari: early starts (consider 5:30am a lie in); breakfast as the sun rises; games drives in search of wildlife where the thrill is ever present as you never know what you will find; sipping a gin and tonic overlooking the wetlands watching a dazzling sunset; dinner swapping stories with other guests; and then falling asleep to the grunts of the hippos.
As an add on
A great combination with a safari in Botswana is a quick sneaky peek at Victoria Falls. One or two nights on either the Zambian or Zimbabwe side (or combine both for different views) is perfect to experience the power and beauty of the falls.
Need to know
Botswana is beautiful and there is definitely a lot more to it than just the usual jeep safari, but timing and location are everything. Add to this the fact that lodges are small and get booked up a year in advance plus Botswana is one of the more expensive safari destinations. This all means that planning, knowledge and experience are key to a successful Botswana safari, which is where I can help. So if you are interested in going on safari in Botswana or elsewhere in Africa, then please do get in touch. I'll ensure you have a stress free, seamless travel experience from the planning stage right through to when you return with lifelong memories.