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All you need to know about Safaris in Botswana

What makes Botswana safaris so unusual?

All you need to know about Safaris in Botswana

Discovering the Wild Heart of Safari in Botswana: Sustainable and Ethical Adventures in Chobe and the Okavango Delta

A safari in Botswana is like nothing else, even other safaris in other African countries, that you’ll ever experience. Botswana is a tiny and sparsely populated land-locked country in Southern Africa. With its stable economic and political situation, as well as a high GDP per capita relative to its neighbours, it’s a tranquil and peaceful place to visit.

About 70% of the country is desert which might make you think that there’s not a huge amount to see here from a wildlife perspective. As our article on deserts in Southern Africa sets out, in fact, the reverse is true. There’s a vast amount to see and in particular, Botswana has a remarkable relationship with water which attracts a unique collection of wildlife at particular times of year. It’s a land of vast wilderness and diverse ecosystems with two key destinations standing out as quintessential experiences: Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. Let's delve into these remarkable regions and uncover the treasures they hold for intrepid travellers seeking the ultimate safari adventure.

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Getting to Safari in Botswana

The capital of Botswana is Gaborone but the city is not located near to the Chobe of the Okavango Delta. It’s actually easier, if your intention is to visit the Delta to rather fly to Johannesburg (JNB) in South Africa or Windhoek (WDK) in Namibia and fly from either place to Maun.

In terms of Chobe National Park, you can take light aircraft flights from the Delta to Chobe or alternatively you can access the park by tar road from Kasane, a small town almost on the border with Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls. It’s easy to fly to Victoria Falls (VFA) from Johannesburg and also Cape Town.

You can also cross another land border from South Africa near the little-visited Madikwe National Park, which sits about 5 hours north west of Johannesburg and makes for a fantastic safari in its own right. See our article on Madikwe (and why it has in some senses more to offer than the mighty Kruger Park).

From Madikwe, it’s a very short drive across the border to Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, with onward flights to either Maun or Kasane to visit the Delta and Chobe respectively.

Travelling around Botswana on Safari

It is possible to do a self-drive safari in Botswana but the road network isn’t very well maintained and much of the country has no tar roads at all. For this reason, a self-drive journey in Botswana should be considered an adventurous choice.

The journey takes you through Namibia and into Botswana, self-driving in a 4x4. Bear in mind that with self-driving, at certain times of the year, because of the water levels in the Delta, it’s often not possible to access some of the camps other than by light aircraft.

It’s much easier to take light aircraft around Botswana, if budget permits. There are a raft of small local light aircraft companies that operate out of Maun and Kasane. These companies can fly you directly into the camps and out again, taking either road transfers or scheduled flights to larger destinations for onward travel. For a sample journey that avoids self-driving, have a look at our Botswana Okavango Delta Safari.

An alternative to both these options is to go for a mobile or itinerant safari. Here, you’re not left entirely on your own with a 4x4 and a roof tent but instead, you are driven from place to place by a driver and have your camp set up for you each night. Some mobile safaris even come with a chef! This can be a totally exclusive experience or you can join as part of a group.

Chobe National Park: Where the Giants Roam

Situated right in the far northeastern corner of Botswana, Chobe National Park beckons with its abundance of wildlife and dramatic landscapes set along the Zambezi River, just before it flows over the Victoria Falls.

It’s really easy (perhaps a bit too easy) to access the park from the town of Kasane, which is a short tar road drive from Victoria Falls. It’s better to try to get as far into the park as possible rather than stay too close to Kasane as the day trippers from Victoria Falls intrude on the feeling of wilderness that this park is famous for. Chobe National Park is renowned for its large herds of elephants, often regarded as the highest concentration in Africa. Visitors embarking on a Chobe safari can expect thrilling encounters with these gentle giants as they roam freely across the savannah.

One of the best ways to explore Chobe is by embarking on a game drive, traversing the park's diverse terrain in search of lions, leopards, buffaloes, and a myriad of other species. For those seeking a different perspective, a boat safari along the Chobe River offers a unique opportunity to witness wildlife congregating along the water's edge, from hippos and crocodiles to a dazzling array of birdlife.

An Okavango Delta Safari: A Symphony of Life

Moving southwest to the Okavango Delta, travellers are greeted by a landscape of unparalleled beauty and biodiversity. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a sprawling oasis of waterways, lagoons, and islands, created by the annual flooding of the Okavango River. Accessible via Maun, the gateway to the delta, this pristine wilderness promises an Okavango Delta safari experience unlike any other. Uniquely, you’ll spend most of the safari here in total silence (no diesel engines ruining the peace) as you’re punted by your ranger in low canoes called mokoro. You’ll also be at ground level the whole time which gives you a unique perspective on the wildlife. Many camps also offer walking safaris on the many delta islands too so in terms of low emission and ultra sustainable safaris as well as total tranquillity, it’s very hard to beat the Delta.

Where to stay for Safaris in Botswana

At Where It All Began, we consider the best safari lodges in Botswana to be those places that go the extra mile in terms of ethicality and sustainability. We consider such important things like ownership by local, preferably Black or otherwise marginalised people, living wages and twelve-month (not just tourist season) contracts. You might like to read our article on two of our top choices for Botswana and why we like them so much; Okavango Delta as you've never seen it before.

At the heart of the delta lies Delta Camp, an eco-friendly retreat that offers an authentic safari experience. Set amidst towering trees on an island overlooking a tranquil lagoon, Delta Camp provides guests with an immersive journey into the heart of the wilderness. From guided walks and mokoro (traditional canoe) excursions to sunset boat cruises, every moment spent here is filled with wonder and adventure.

For those seeking a more rustic yet equally enchanting experience, Oddball's Camp and Oddball's Enclave offer a back-to-basics approach to safari living. Located on remote islands within the delta, these camps provide a true wilderness experience, where guests can fall asleep to the sounds of lions roaring in the distance and wake up to the sight of elephants bathing in nearby channels.

For Chobe, Muchenje Safari Lodge stands out as a premier choice, offering luxurious lodgings amidst the wilderness. With panoramic views of the Chobe River floodplain, guests can unwind in comfort while immersing themselves in the sights and sounds of the African bush.

Best Time for Safari in Botswana

While Botswana's wildlife can be observed year-round, the best time for a safari depends on personal preferences and seasonal variations. In Chobe, the dry winter months (May to September) offer excellent game viewing opportunities as animals congregate around water sources. In contrast, the Okavango Delta is at its most spectacular during the annual flood season (June to August), when the delta is transformed into a mosaic of waterways and islands, attracting a wealth of wildlife.

It’s important in terms of the Delta to consider carefully what time of year you’d be able to travel (this is less important with Chobe because its water source is the Zambezi which flows year-round). The Okavango Delta by contrast fills entirely with river water that is collected in the Angolan Highlands between December and February every year. It then flows over 1200km to get there. Very little rain ever actually falls in the delta nor for that matter in Botswana in general (it’s less than 500mm per year), so it’s better to think of it as an oasis in the midst of a desert rather than a naturally verdant area. The water starts to dissipate into the desert almost as soon as it arrives with the peak of the water being around May each year and by August, the delta is almost completely dry.

If you’d like to combine Chobe with the Delta, the best time of year would be April, May and June, both from a weather, water and wildlife perspective.

In conclusion, a safari in Botswana promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Africa's wilderness. Whether exploring the vast plains of Chobe or navigating the labyrinthine channels of the Okavango Delta, travellers are sure to be captivated by the sheer beauty and diversity of this remarkable country. With its pristine landscapes, abundant wildlife, and world-class safari lodges, a safari in Botswana remains an excellent choice for those seeking a sustainable and unique experience.

Discover our Safari in Botswana Journeys

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari
4x4 Self Drive African Safari Exploring Namibia & Okavango Delta Adventure
Namibia & Okavango Delta Overlanding 4x4 Adventure

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