Watching elephants in Botswana
By the time we made it to Botswana, after six months in Africa, we were eager to explore the country. Botswana is a land of pristine wilderness and draws in safari enthusiasts from all over the globe.
The country is made up of wetlands and the massive Kalahari Desert. Besides the sheer natural beauty of Botswana, the country is also one of the most financially and politically stable countries on the continent.
We may have caught the sunrise in the Namib Desert and relaxed on the white sand beaches of Mozambique, but traveling Botswana was unforgettable. Here are our five favorite experiences and things to do in Botswana.
5 Things to do in Botswana
1. A Mokoro Ride in the Okavango Delta
Taking a ride in a mokoro is the perfect way to experience the Okavango Delta.
The mokoro is a traditional dugout wooden canoe. They are used in shallow waters where the poler can steer the mokoro, making it the perfect way to cross shallow waters of the Okavango Delta.
The Delta is one of the top wildlife spectacles in the world. In fact, you have probably seen it on BBC’s Planet Earth or on the cover of National Geographic. The delta is a mixture of sand, marsh, and water filled with African wildlife.
A mokoro ride through the delta is an incredible way to get up close and personal with one of Arica’s top destinations. Safari-goers float through tranquil channels in the heart of Botswana. Just watch out for the hippos!
Insider Tip: A trip to the Okavango Delta doesn’t come cheap. To get the most bang for buck try self-driving into Moremi National Park and camping. Mokoro trips can easily be arranged at these campsites or in Maun at Old Bridge Backpackers.
2. Take a River Cruise Around the Chobe National Park
Seeing elephants in Chobe National Park was one of our favorite experiences in Botswana.
The base for the Chobe National Park, Kasane connects Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia together making Chobe National Park one of the most accessible in all of Africa. Besides the ease, Chobe National Park has one of the largest concentrations of game in all of Africa.
The park is home to all of the Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino, and leopard). It is even estimated that there are over 120,000 elephants in the park. So with just a few hours in the park, you are almost guaranteed to see an elephant on safari.
The best part about visiting Botswana’s first park is that you can take either a traditional land safari or a river cruise. We decided to try out both and saw just about everything you could hope for while in Botswana.
From the Chobe River, we were able to get up close with crocodiles, buffalo, beautiful birdlife, and baby elephants bathing. While on land we could view things like baby impala, vultures, and lionesses with their cubs.
Insider Tip: Overland safaris and river cruises into the Chobe National Park can all be arranged once in Kasane. Or try staying overnight on a luxurious houseboat, like us!
3. Take an ATV Across the Great Makgadikgadi Pans
Vultures – another interesting animal to see in Botswana
The Botswana salt flats are one of the largest salt flats in the world. The landscapes here are some of the most unique in all of Botswana.
The Makgadikgadi Pans are in close distance to the town of Nata. From there you can drive to the Gweta entrance to enter the park. The park is 4×4 recommended, but another popular option is to take ATV’s and drive off into the never-ending sunsets in the pans.
If you’re feeling adventurous then be sure to set up an overnight stay within the park. Here you will be able to spend the night watching the shooting stars on a bedroll next to a blazing fire, or “bush TV” as the Africans like to call it.
Insider Tip: We found great value at Nata Lodge. They organized trips into the pans for less than $100 per person.
4. Get Hot in the Central Kalahari
The Kalahari is an inhospitable environment, but you’ll still see lots of animals.
There is so much beauty in the Kalahari between the sand acacias, apple leafs, sand dunes, and grasslands. By some measurements, the Kalahari Desert holds the largest volume of sand in the world when compared to other deserts.
The Kalahari encompasses and humbles visitors who are at will to nature at its harshest. A 53,000 SQ km reserve in the desert can do that to you. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is actually the second largest wildlife reserve.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is actually the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. Just because you are in one of the worlds most inhospitable environments doesn’t mean you won’t see any animals.
The wildlife here have adapted to the harsh climate and viewing is at it’s best in the Kalahari. Wildebeest, zebra, red hartebeest, lions, and more roam free across their giant home in Botswana.
Insider Tip: To self-drive the park a 4×4 is a must. When going into remote places like the Kalahari it’s also important to pack enough water, food, and fuel to get you through your journey. It’s not for the faint of heart.
5. See Rhinos at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Unfortunately poaching has drastically decreased the rhino population.
You can find both black and white rhino at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary outside of Seroe. KRS is a community-based project run by the local Botswana community and benefit the local people and wildlife through sustainable tourism. If you have never seen a rhinoceros before then this place is the best for viewing the magnificent animals.
After now eight months in Africa and over a dozen game drives, I have to say that viewing a rhinoceros is quite lucky. Unfortunately, due to the high demand for ivory in China and other countries, the lives of rhinos have been greatly affected. It’s estimated that there are less than 30,000 rhinos left in the world, and if poaching continues we could lose them all.
It’s a sad situation and that’s why I love the work that Khama is doing. Even if you get rhino-ed out (which you won’t), there are over 30 other species of animals in the sanctuary as well as abundant African bird life.
Insider Tip: Bring your swimsuit. The Khama Rhino Sanctuary has a restaurant and a pool to cool off from the hot African sun.
Want to overland Africa and see all these places on your own just like us? Check out why we are overlanding the continent and how we can help you plan your trip on our Hashtag Africa page.
Plan Your Trip to Botswana
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