The original nature makes Botswana one of the most attractive travel destinations in Africa. The country consists of around 80% semi-desert with many remote areas with rich wildlife. A fee is required to visit many national parks. (For reservations: Parks and Reserves Reservation Office, PO Box 131, Gaborone (Tel: 397 14 05; Fax: 318 07 75; Email: [email protected] ).
The most beautiful region is the 15,000 sq km Okavango pool in the northwest, easily accessible from Maun between June and September. The city is the starting point for all safaris in the nature reserves and the Okavango Delta, where there are 36 mammal, 80 fish and 200 bird species in addition to the diverse and varied flora. The delta was created by a change in the surface of the earth that displaced the river system from the original valley, creating the largest inland delta in the world. The basin consists of a vast network of narrow waterways that merge into lagoons. The papyrus reeds of the waters are so dense that the northern area can only be reached by mokoro (dugout) is passable. One can see crocodiles, hippos, elephants, zebras, giraffes and hundreds of exotic bird species in the wild. Numerous safari camps dot the swamps: including Island Maun Safari Lodge, Crocodile Camp, Jedibe, Xigera, and Okavango River Lodge. At Island Safaris there is a swimming pool and regular film screenings.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Botswana, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
One of the most beautiful and fascinating wildlife sanctuaries in southern Africa is the 1812 sq km Moremi Game Reserve in the extreme northeast of the Okavango Basin. There are comfortable accommodations like Mombo Camp, Kwara,Chitabe and Duba Plains. However, the roads are difficult to drive on. There is also a risk of malaria. Known for big game safaris (buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra, leopard and lion), Chief’s Island in the Moremi Reserve can be reached by air or mokoro; in Xaxaba there is a tent camp.
Those leaving Maun by canoe or boat with a guide can visit the Xakanaxa, Gcobega and Gcodikwe Lagoons or travel through the extensive network of waterways to Shakawe some 300km northwest near the Angolan border.
The Gcwihaba Caves with its breathtaking stalactites are 240 km away from Tsau. The name means “hyena hole” in the Qing language of the Bushmen.
The Tsodilo Hills lie north of the Okavango Basin near Namibia’s Zambezi (formerly the Caprivi Strip). There are over 1700 rock paintings here, mostly animal scenes. It is believed that they came from the ancestors of the Basarwa and Bantu peoples, who still call these hills “man, woman and child”. Similarities with rock paintings in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa and Lesotho are striking. The hills can be reached by plane or car, but there are no campsites and no fresh water. You have to take water, food and petrol with you.
The wildlife of the approximately 11,700 sq km large Chobe National Park is extraordinarily diverse. One of the main attractions is the over 70,000 elephants and white rhinos that make their way down the beaten track to the Chobe River watering place in the afternoon. Buffalo herds, hippos, kudu and graceful impala can be seen along the riverbank. With the exception of certain parts that are closed during the rainy season (November – April), the park, located 10 km from Kasane, is open all year round. A visit is particularly worthwhile between May and September, as you can observe thousands of animals every day. The luxurious Cresta Mowana Safari Lodge on the Chobe River is an ideal base for exploring the Chobe Game Reserve on river cruises, Land Rover safaris or traditional mokoro rides (A tree). Rafting tours are also offered on the Zambezi River, where you can visit four different countries (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) in one day. A tarmac road leads to the Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), 69 km away, which are best viewed from a helicopter tour. Bordering the Okavango Basin to the west and Chobe National Park to the east, the Savuti/Linyanti area is famous for its lion and spotted hyena, as well as herds of buffalo, zebra and elephant . Some of the luxury camps in this area include King’s Pool, Savuti, Duma Tau, Linyanti Tented Camp and Selinda andZibadjiana Camp.
The approximately 5500 sq km Makagadikgadi/Nxai Pan National Park is located 32 km north of the main road from Francistown to Maun. Numerous herds of animals, especially giraffes, graze on the flat grasslands during the rainy season. The region is best known for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan, a prehistoric lake that only has water in the rainy season and is populated with countless pink flamingos at that time. Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest come here to drink. When the water in the Makgadikgadi drops, the animals migrate to the Boteti River, where they remain until the next rainy season, before migrating further north to the Nxai Basin. Camping facilities are available but you should bring water, food and petrol.
South of Maun and the Okavango Basin lies the vast Kalahari Desert, which blooms after rains in March and April and attracts hundreds of flocks of birds. The Khutse Game Reserve (240 km northwest of Gaborone) consists of a large savannah. The campsites are quite basic, you have to bring water, gas and food.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second largest protected area in the world (51,800 sq km). This region is home to the San or Bushmen, the natives of Botswana who still hunt with bows and arrows today.
Gemsbok National Park (26,000 sq km) is located in the extreme southwest on the border with South Africa and after merging with the South African Kalahari Gemsbok Park (9600 sq km) bears the name Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. High sand dunes and deep fossil river beds determine the landscape here. A paved road leads from Gaborone to Tsabong, from here the park can only be accessed by four-wheel drive. Herds of chamois and springbok as well as numerous other antelope species, cheetahs and lions can be observed here at close range. The best time for game viewing is the winter months from May to September. Between December and March it is very hot and expect downpours and heavy thunderstorms. The otherwise dry rivers can then suddenly flow, roads become impassable and parts of the park have to be closed to traffic. Camps in the park are Mata Mata and Nossob to the north and Twee Rivieren in the south. Mabuasehube Game Reserve has now become part of Gemsbok National Park. This region is also known for its salt pans, which shimmer in a variety of colors. Antelopes, foxes and over 170 different bird species are at home here. The best time to visit is from July to September.