BOTSWANA

YOUR ULTIMATE OVERLAND DESTINATION IN AFRICA

Botswana is considered by many experts as one of the top wildlife countries in Africa for game viewing. You will experience a true 4×4 destination with incredible places to discover the best spots in Botswana on a point-to-point itinerary.

You can choose:

    • a self-drive adventure,
    • an escorted self-drive,
    • a 4×4 itinerary with a driver, or
    • a fly-in safari

The areas of interest include the Okavango Delta, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the salt flats of Nxai Pan National Park, the wild Kgalagadi, the legendary Moremi Game Reserve on the edge of the Okavango Delta, the Savute region in the game filled Chobe National Park, and the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.

    • Between May and September, Botswana is at its best in the Dry Season
    • April and from October to December are shoulder seasons
    • Some parks like Chobe NP, Central Kalahari GR, and the Makgadikgadi Pans are enjoyable all year long.

Depending on your desire, we will be happy to choose for you the best campsites and lodges.

Areas of Interest

Parks and Reserves

Chobe National Park is in northern Botswana near the vast, inland Okavango Delta. It’s known for its large herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, which converge along the Chobe Riverfront in the dry months. Lions, antelopes, and hippos inhabit the woods and lagoons around Linyanti Marsh. The floodable grasslands of the Savuti Marsh attract numerous bird species, plus migrating zebras.

The main attraction is the Chobe River, and the game viewing from a boat when the wildlife congregates to drink. You are likely to see all the African iconic wildlife species. The Chobe National Park is also famous for bird watching. The variety includes open-billed-storks, kingfishers of all types, and the renowned breeding colonies of carmine-bee-eaters (September to October).

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve, also known as the CGKR, is one of the largest in the World, with its 20,000 square miles. Depending on the season, you will find the best cheetah population in Botswana and all the other predators (December through May). The most famous part of the CKGR is Deception Valley. The area was home to Mark and Delia Owens, American researchers who wrote the bestseller The Cry of the Kalahari (a must-read).

You will find this park ideal for visiting if you plan to extend your holiday to South Africa. 

It is the land of the extremes, with summer temperatures exceeding 105 F (40 C). 

Animals have adapted to these conditions, and the areas around the Auob River and the Nossob River Valley will ensure exceptional wildlife sightings.

On the outskirts of the beautifully preserved Moremi Game Reserve is a wildlife-prolific and varied ecosystem that provides a patchwork of lagoons, shallow flooded pans, open grass plains, and woodland forests. The Khwai area is, without a doubt, one of the most scenic regions in Botswana. 

The Khwai community, adjacent to the northern region of Moremi Game Reserve, has a population of just 400 people who are predominate of either BaBukakhwe or River Bushmen decent. They are an inspirational example of a local community who live in peaceful harmony with wildlife.

The Khwai Concession is a 180,000 he area situated in the northeastern Okavango next to the Moremi Game Reserve. It was formed by the local Khwai villagers and is managed by the Khwai Development Trust. The area used to be a hunting concession but is now actively managed as a conservation area. The villagers took over the site when they moved out of the Moremi region when the Moremi Game Reserve was formed. The local community now runs eco-tourism initiatives, conserve the environment actively, and manage the concession wildlife.

Rising like the grey-colored humps of hippo wallowing in muddy water, Lekhubu Island is a fitting name for the mounds of rock that lie almost smack bang in the middle of Botswana’s Sua and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

“Kubu” is the local Setswana word for hippopotamus. Besides describing the island’s physical characteristics, the local dialect for this popular off-roading destination also alludes to its surprising watery history.

Although the rocky outcrop is roughly 30 feet high, Kubu Island’s summit is enough to offer panoramic views across the vast plains surrounding it. Turn in a 360-degree circle, and you cannot see any other civilization, only an infinite white horizon.

This total lack of human habitation also makes this tremendous white space a top location for uninterrupted stargazing.

Geologically speaking, these sprawling salt flats bear proof that this was once a prehistoric lake. The water that now feeds the Okavango Delta, all the way from Angola in the north, used to spill over here. Still, tectonic activity shifted the waters away, leaving today’s travelers with the only desert.

Look closely at some of the seemingly whitewashed rocks. Experts say this is fossilized guano from waterbirds that once perched along the Great Makgadigadi Lake’s edge.

Makgadikgadi National Park is part of the Makgadikgadi Pans, a large area that of 4,600 square miles.
The landscape is characterized by salt pans, with a few land islands scattered in the area.
The wildlife includes large herds of blue wildebeest, flamingoes, plain game, and the famous meerkats.
On the western side, thanks to the fact that the Boteti River is now flowing again, wildlife viewing is very rewarding.
Stargazing is also a famous highlight of the Makgadikgadi. The complete darkness produces the brightest stars you could ever imagine.

It is the most diversified of all the parks in Botswana. Although fewer than 1,900 square mi (5,000 square km) in extent, Moremi Game Reserve is a surprisingly diverse game reserve, combining mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains, and lagoons. 

Only about 30% of the Reserve is mainland, with the bulk being within the Okavango Delta.

Chances of seeing all the Big Five are high (May to November). 

By combining drier areas and waterways, the contrasts are astonishing. Imagine savannah game and birdlife views around the rivers, or elephants and hippos splashing in the lagoons. 

Often referred to as a Garden of Eden, the Moremi Game Reserve offers excellent game viewing year-round and stunning landscapes of savannah, floodplains, lagoons, dense forests (where leopards and wild dogs hide), and winding rivers.

We strongly recommend you to read a bit more about this fantastic place, an ecosystem unique in the World. 

The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta in northern Botswana. It’s known for its sprawling grassy plains, which flood seasonally, becoming a lush animal habitat. 

The Moremi Game Reserve occupies the east and central areas of the region. Here, dugout canoes (called mokoro) are used to navigate past hippos, elephants, and crocodiles. On dry land, wildlife includes lions, leopards, giraffes, and rhinos.

The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. More an alluvial fan correctly, the delta covers between 6 and 15,000 square miles of the Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River, which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and into the harsh Kalahari Desert.

Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, as the 1,000th site, the Okavango Delta is an important wildlife area protected by both the Moremi Game Reserve, on its eastern edge, and the numerous wildlife concessions within Ngamiland.

Culture and Ethnic

San, also called (pejorative) Bushmen, an indigenous people of southern Africa, related to the Khoekhoe (Khoikhoi). They live chiefly in Botswana, Namibia, and southeastern Angola. Bushmen is an Anglicization of boesman, the Dutch and Afrikaner name for them; saan (plural) or saa (singular) is the Nama word for “bush dweller(s),” and the Nama name is now generally favored by anthropologists.

Contrary to earlier descriptions, the San are not readily identifiable by physical features, language, or culture. In modern times, they are for the most part indistinguishable from the Khoekhoe or their Bantu-speaking neighbors. Nevertheless, a San culture did once exist and, among some groups, still exists. It centered on the band, which might comprise several families (totaling between 25 and 60 persons). The elementary family within the band is composed of husband, wife, and their dependent children, but it is occasionally enlarged by polygynous marriage. Often all band members are related. Considerable interaction through trade, visiting, and particularly marriage may take place between bands; and kinship, both real and fictional, has wide ramifications, thus facilitating the frequent movement of people from band to band, so that the composition of any particular band may fluctuate considerably in time. Each band is an autonomous, somewhat leaderless unit within its own territory, and in most bands influence rather than authority is exercised in particular situations by skilled hunters or older men.

Many of the rural San live in lightweight, semicircular structures of branches laced with twigs and thatched with grass. Their equipment is portable, their possessions few and lightweight. Woods, reeds, and animals (and, formerly, stone) are the main raw materials from which their skin clothing, carrying bags, water containers, and hunting weapons are made. For hunting they use bows and poisoned arrows, snares, throwing sticks, and sometimes spears. They have probably always fed on the game, wild vegetables, fruits, nuts, and insects; as the game becomes less plentiful, they are forced to rely increasingly on gathering or, ultimately, into abandoning their old means of subsistence altogether.

Herero is a group of closely related Bantu-speaking peoples of southwestern Africa. The Herero proper and a segment known as the Mbanderu inhabit central Namibia and Botswana; other related groups, such as the Himba, inhabit the Kaokoveld area of Namibia and parts of southern Angola.

The Herero formerly subsisted mainly on the milk and meat of large herds of cattle, sheep, and goats, which grazed the tree-studded grassland; following European contact in the mid-19th century, several groups adopted horticulture as well. They were divided initially into autonomous political units under local headmen. Local residential groups were formed around extended families based on patrilineal descent; matrilineal kin was also frequently attached.

The Herero’s clan organization, in which each person belonged to an exogamous patrilineal clan and an exogamous matrilineal clan, is unusual. The preferred mate for a man is a girl of his father’s matrilineal clan; polygyny is common. Priestly offices of the patrilineal clan and the chieftainship descend through the male line, whereas livestock is inherited in both lines. Their traditional religion is a form of ancestor worship, but many Herero has adopted Christianity.

Namibia’s friendly Himba people are renowned for their sculptural beauty, their intricately decorated hairstyles, and the women’s red ochre daubed skins. They live a life of almost extreme isolation in Namibia’s Kaokoland.

 The Himba people originally shared ethnicity with the Herero group, dating back to when they lived within the leading group between Botswana and Namibia. 

 The Himba people headed west looking for more available land – they found the Kunene region (formerly Kaokoland) – an area that is very arid and mountainous with little vegetation. Still, it’s here that they settled with their cattle in the more remote far-flung regions. Today around 50,000 Himba people live in northern Namibia (accounting for less than 1% of the country’s population.)

 The indigenous, semi-nomadic Himba people are hunter-gatherers. They are traditionally working with skin and leather to make aprons, girdles, and headdresses. They craft jewelry making bracelets and neckbands out of copper-wire and making baskets, pottery, and musical instruments.

 OvaHimba are predominantly cattle farmers and breed goats, fat-tailed sheep, and concentrate on maize and millet crops. Such farming provides their milk, meat for the mainstay of their diet with supplements of cornmeal, maize, chicken, eggs, honey, and wild herbs. Only a small proportion of their livelihood comprises a non-farming business and achieved through their conservancy work, pensions, and relief aid from the Namibian Government.

Extensions

David Livingstone became the first European to see Victoria Falls in 1855 and named them to honor the British Queen. 

Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In more modern terms, Victoria Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world.

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as, at the height of the rainy season, more than five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge, over a width of nearly two kilometers, into a gorge over one hundred meters below.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 5,604 ft (1,708 m) and height of 354 ft (108 m), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is rough twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice its Horseshoe Falls width. In height and width, Victoria Falls is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls. 

Sundowner cruises operate above the falls, and the area is also famous for the private flights on small aircraft and the bungee jumps. Rafting in the Zambezi river is exciting, as well as canoeing and kayaking. If you are looking for an active holiday, Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River is the place for you. 

Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe, occupying roughly 6,000 square miles. It is located in the northwest corner of the country, and it is closed to Victoria Falls. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world-famous, and the Park’s elephant population is one of the largest in the world. The Park has three distinctive Camps and administrative offices at Robins, Sinamatella, and the largest one at Main Camp.

The winter months are considered from mid-May until early August. The days are warm with beautiful blue skies, and the evenings can get extremely cold, and temperatures below freezing are not uncommon. Summer months go from September through to May. Hot to extremely hot days and warm evenings. The rainy season is generally between late November and April.

August, September, October, and early November are the best months for game viewing in this Park. Water becomes extremely scarce, and the animals congregate around the few pumped waterholes. During the rainy season, the lush fields are the scene for an abundance of grazing. The animals disperse, and game viewing becomes difficult, but not impossible. This is the green season and has it’s own magic as this is when the Park and all the animals rejuvenate themselves, feeding like crazy on the abundance of food. Newly born animals can be seen everywhere, and the birdlife is absolutely prolific.

The largest coherent sandplain worldwide. The Kalahari Semi-Desert forms the largest coherent sandplain worldwide. The Kalahari is part of a vast sand basin, the Kalahari Basin, that stretches from the Orange River up to Angola, in the west well into Namibia and in the east into Zimbabwe.

The Kalahari – a semi-desert. During summer, the Kalahari temperatures are very high (up to 45°C), whereas, during winter, the temperature decreases strongly. The winter nights can be very cold with temperatures well below 0°C, while during the day, temperatures up to 25°C can be enjoyed.

The Kalahari is described as a semi-desert, as the annual precipitation receive is between 100 mm and 650 mm. Real deserts like the Namib Desert are defined by annual precipitation not more than 50 mm. Thanks to the higher rainfall, the Kalahari boasts very diverse flora and fauna. However, due to the thick sands, surface water only accumulates in the so-called vleis. Most of the rainfall percolates immediately. During the dry winter months, the animals are thus dependent on the vleis and artificial waterholes, or they move north towards the Okavango River that seeps away in the desert sands, thus forming the famous Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta worldwide. Thanks to its diverse and unique flora and fauna, large parts of the Kalahari have been declared as nature conservation areas, for example, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Central Kalahari, and the Okavango Delta.

Most of the natural vegetal cover in the Kalahari, especially grasses, shrubs, and acacias, can survive an 8 – 10 month long dry period. The wildlife is unique, and many animals are endemic. Here you will find amongst others the highly endangered African wild dog, lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Also, giraffes and many antelope species can be viewed. The humid Delta, which forms part of the Kalahari, is also home to elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, etc. The Kalahari and especially the Okavango Delta is a bird’s paradise and thus extremely attractive for ornithologists. The large raptors, ostriches, and numerous social weavers that build photogenic nest colonies are worth mentioning.

The Kalahari is also home to the San, who has been living in the area for approximately 60.000 years, inhabiting most of southern Africa. Also, the San, who until today kept most of their traditional culture, are astonishingly well-adapted to the harsh life in the semi-desert. They know about 1000 different useful plants and are known worldwide as masters in hunting and tracking.

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