Botswana is regarded as a premier safari destination in Africa, and rightfully so. With its vast wilderness, remote lodges and exceptional wildlife viewing, Botswana ticks all the boxes when it comes to choosing an authentic African safari. Botswana is unlike any other safari destination in Africa. Discover award-winning luxury lodges and an array of luxury experiences in Botswana that are unique and unforgettable.When you take into consideration the country’s topography, it is hard to imagine Botswana as one of the best safari destinations in the world. Three-quarters of the country is in fact a desert but even more bizarre is the fact that right in the middle of this desert lies a flourishing wetland known as the Okavango Delta. The unique landscapes of four well-known area of Botswana: Chobe National Park, Linyanti, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta, allow travelers to enjoy three different kinds of safaris - on land, in water, and in the desert.Here are 10 unique experiences in Botswana not to be missed.
1. Glide through the Okavango Delta on a Mokoro
Mokoro safaris involve gliding through water channels on a traditional canoe in the Okavango Delta.A mokoro is simply not just your average canoe experience, it is most certainly the best way to explore the branches of channels and floodplains in the Okavango Delta. The traditional Tswana “Mekoro” is crafted from the trunk of a large straight tree. Mekoros nowadays are increasingly made of fiberglass, one of the advantages of which is the preservation of more of the large endangered trees. Mokoro trips are conducted by professional guides who undergo extensive training to become certified in this practice. Operating a mokoro is a true art - propelling through the shallow waters of the delta by standing in the stern and pushing with a pole isn’t as easy as it looks. The guides are walking maps of the delta, navigating through the winding channels and tall reeds to bring you up-close with the delta’s spectacular birdlife and within safe viewing distance of larger animals such as elephants and hippos. The hippos create a trail through the reeds of the shallow channels which are often referred to as the “hippo highway”. During the flood season, usually between May and October, mokoro experiences in Botswana become possible at camps with access to the lagoons. For an unparalleled year-round water wilderness experience, Camp Okavango is an exclusive African safari camp in the remote Nxaragha Island - the heart of the permanent Okavango Delta.
2. Take a Walk with a San Bushmen
Walking with the San Bushmen allows you to connect with the deep and rich history and culture of the land.The San Bushmen are Khoisan-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherers who are found in various territories of Southern Africa. The ancestors of the San people are considered to have been the first inhabitants of what is now Botswana and there are said to be approximately 60,000 San people living there. The San were traditionally semi-nomadic, moving seasonally between areas with available resources such as water, game animals, and edible plants. The San Bushmen are fascinating gentle people - their knowledge of animals, plants and how to find water in the midst of the desert is remarkable. It is for this reason that some lodges in the Kalahari such as Tau Pan Camp, employ San Bushmen as trackers, enhancing the safari experience of their guests and offering insight into their strong heritage and culture. In the Makgadikgadi Pans, the San Bushmen employed by lodges such as Camp Kalahari and Jack’s Camp will often wear traditional dress and will show you their traditional grass huts and showcase their incredible bush skills. It's certainly one of the experiences in Botswana not to be missed!
3. Take to the Sky on a Hot Air Balloon Safari
Little girl enjoying early morning flight on hot air balloon, Botswana, Africa.During the months of April to September, hot air balloon rides become the highlight on a safari in the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Okavango Delta. A balloon safari epitomizes the very best of game viewing, flying over a landscape flooded with water and winding channels, as well as beautiful woodland forests. The experience of a balloon safari is unlike any other, lifting you thousands of feet off the ground and offering a 360 degree birds-eye view of the world’s largest inland river delta and abundant wildlife - including the famous Big Five and the endangered Wild Dog. Kadizora is located in the only region of the Okavango Delta that offers hot air ballooning. You have the option of booking an early morning hot air balloon flight to float over the Delta at sunrise and view game from above.
4. Experience the Adventure of Mobile Camping
Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp - click the image for more details.A common misconception is that a camping safari in Botswana means roughing it up - pitching a tent, sleeping on an inflatable mattress and cooking your own meals. Nothing can be further from the truth! Mobile camps in Botswana offer the luxuries of a lodge with comfortable beds in spacious tents, en-suite bathrooms with showers and flush toilets and sumptuous meals prepared by a chef on an open fire. The hardest thing you have to do is to decide which chair is best from which to enjoy that perfect gin and tonic whilst admiring the most magical sunset. A privately guided mobile camping expeditions such as Duba Expedition Camp and Chobe Under Canvas offer the best mobile camping experiences in Botswana and are ideal for families or groups looking for an exclusive safari.
5. Discover the Famous Elephant Herds in Chobe
Large elephant wading across the Chobe River in Botswana, Africa.Often referred to as the “Land of the Giants”, Chobe National Park is a Big Five safari destination that is most famous for its huge concentration of Elephants. The park is home to the largest elephant population in the world, currently estimated to exceed 120,000. Elephants love water so it is no surprise that the Chobe Riverfront is frequently visited by large herds seeking a refreshing drink and dip in the cool waters. It is a photographers dream, presenting the opportunity to photograph elephants bathing, diving under the water and babies simply playing and having fun. Chobe is best explored from the comfort of a safari vehicle or on a thrilling boat safari. Where there is a source of water, the ellies are sure to visit. Accommodations such as Chobe Safari Lodge and The Elephant Camp have their own private waterholes which offer some magnificent views of these majestic creatures. Chobe National Park is most certainly a rewarding year-round safari destination and a firm favorite amongst travelers.
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6. Flamingos in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Greater and Lesser Flamingoes wade through water in Botswana.Surrounded by the Kalahari Desert in Botswana is one of the largest salt flats in the world - the Makgadikgadi Pans. Experience the remoteness and isolation of a 3 900 kilometer barren park that receives very little rain but is extremely rich in minerals, attracting thousands of animals that have adapted to a life in the desert. During the short wet summer season of December to April, the Makgadikgadi transforms into an important breeding site for thousands of Greater and Lesser Pink Flamingos. It is a sight to behold with up to 100 000 eggs laid on the clay ground of the salt water lake - it’s a beautifully pink spectacle not to be missed! The fact that the Makgadikgadi Pans complex is home to an additional 255 species of bird is an added bonus for keen bird watchers. Jack’s Camp offers some of the best horseback safari experiences in Botswana, allowing travelers to experience the salt pans as the pioneers once did.
7. Rock Art in Tsodilo Hills
Tsodilo Hills, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Botswana, Africa.Tsodilo Hills is a place of mystery; a sacred site believed to hold the first creations of Bushmen paintings and be the resting place for the spirits of the deceased. 3 500 magnificent rock paintings can be seen across the stone faces of the hills. It is believed that some of the paintings date back to 800 AD, making Tsodilo Hills one of the most historically significant rock art sites in the world. Whilst exploring the Tsodilo Hills, you may also come across the Tsodilo Gecko; a small, nocturnal gecko that has the most beautiful brown and yellow stripes and very unique to Tsodilo Hills. Shakawe River Lodge and Nxamaseri Island Lodge are within easy reach of the hills and offers guided day trips to view the inspiring rock paintings.
8. Visit the Land of the Baobabs in Nxai Pan
The Baobab trees of Nxai Pan are famous for their signature shapes.On the 22 May 1862, painter and explorer Thomas Baines painted a spectacular artwork of an unusual group of baobab trees whilst traveling through the Kalahari. The seven giant trees, also known as the “Seven Sisters” dominate a small island on the edge of the open grassless Kudiakam Pan. This region is significant because almost 156 years later, the trees and the scene of the painting remain exactly the same. Nxai Pan National Park has recognized the importance of this rare baobab sighting and has put protective measures in place to secure the futures of these trees. Photographic safaris are popular at the Nxai Pan National Park because of the Baines Baobabs, and Nxai Pan is ideally located to not only view the famous baobabs but experience the wonder of the reserve on both exciting game drives and nature walks with Bushmen trackers.
9. Interact with Meerkats
Meerkat standing in the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana, Africa.A visit with a habituated meerkat family can be a memorable part of a safari in Botswana. A truly incredible and humbling experience, these remarkable creatures with their sharp eyesight and incredible hearing are very social and quite happy to use people as lookout posts - their perfect solution to getting a better viewpoint. These fearless creatures that manage to eat poisonous scorpions safely and are remarkably immune to snake venom, can keep you intrigued for hours. Habituated programmes such as those offered at Jack’s Camp and Camp Kalahari, aim to better understand these significant creatures without affecting their behavior, allowing travelers to experience up-close encounters that are rarely possible anywhere else.
10. Marvel in Big Game Fishing
Responsibly fishing in the Okavango Delta is a must-do for everyone from beginners to enthusiasts.Fishing in Botswana will most likely be unlike any fishing trip you have ever taken, offering three very unique fishing experiences. Keen anglers may choose to tigerfish during the natural feeding frenzy created by the annual Okavango Barbel Run every September to October, or combine a tiger fishing trip with water-based game viewing on the Chobe River, or perhaps fish for bream in the channels and lagoons of the Okavango Delta. Catch and release fishing experiences in Botswana are popular amongst travelers and offered at many lodges, but some firm favorites include Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Xugana Island Lodge and Ichingo River Lodge.These unique experiences in Botswana define what we consider to be a bespoke safari vacation - suited to even the most discerning travelers. Whether you a first-time or seasoned traveler, Botswana offers an exclusive safari experience that includes one of a kind activities and world-class accommodations. Contact one of our Expert Consultants to book your safari adventure in Botswana.