Botswana is one of the most beautiful places on planet Earth. The land-locked country has an impressive landscape made up of fossilised river valleys and billowing grasslands, making it not only a wonder to the human eye, but a place most definitely worth visiting.
The country relies on safari tourism for its economic needs but ensures it doesn’t sell itself short. Tourism in Botswana is managed and controlled which, amongst other things, means it doesn’t come cheap.
However, Botswana offers insights to some of the world’s most admired wildlife, including formidable big cats and remarkable elephants. So, if you’re keen on having a wonderful African safari, Botswana may just be the place for you.
Best Time To Visit
There is no one universal time that is best to embark on your Botswana safari as each individual park has its own criteria.
However, for some travellers, the weather plays a large part in choosing where to go, so it will be best to explain the climate of Botswana and the two very different seasons experienced in the country.
Botswana’s dry season occurs from April to October in which the grass gets thinner and dries out, leaving more areas for animals to be spotted. As well as this, during the dry season animals congregate around waterholes and rivers to cool off or hydrate themselves. When this happens it is much easier to spot them and so your chance of the perfect safari is usually increased.
The best months to visit parks in the dry season are usually June or July (depending on the park) through to October when there is minimal rainfall and lots of sunshine.
Some parks have better visibility during the wet season which begins in November and ends in March because of the different types of wildlife that can be found there. It is rainy at this time of year so if you don’t fancy taking a plastic mac with you on holiday, it’s best you choose a park that fits with your seasonal tastes.
Best Safari Parks In Botswana
Botswana has many safari parks, all of which have something unique to offer. However, we think we’ve got the top five cracked and are sure you’ll find somewhere you love in this list.
One of Botswana’s most famous safari hot spots is the Okavango Delta UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are several private reserves within the delta as well as the Moremi Game Reserve which is known the world over for its prestigious wildlife viewing opportunities.
This safari is particularly unique because it allows for a range of viewing experiences. You can take part in walking safaris and experience the true natural habitats of some of your favourite animals or even canoe safari in what is sure to be one of the greatest ways to see wildlife.
Throughout the year, elephants and hippos are in abundance and it is not unusual to see giraffes, buffalos, zebras and wildebeest too. The dry season is when you are better off heading to Okavango because huge numbers of animals travel there at that time of year. You may even see lions and spotted hyenas at this time of year because lots of their pray actually arrive in Okavango.
The swamp in the delta is also pretty amazing, attracting red lechwe and the semi-aquatic sitatunga. Unusual antelope can be spotted around the swamp too, making the safari that little bit more quirky. Both white and black rhino have been reintroduced in the area but sightings are most definitely not guaranteed.
Chobe National Park
The most common safari animals are accounted for at Chobe: elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffalo and zebra are all present and in high numbers. It is also great for lions as they are pretty common sightings as well as the occasional cheetah and leopard.
Similar to Okavango, Chobe National Park has a pretty unique way of getting around. You’re best off experiencing it on a boat on the Chobe River. In the late afternoon, herds of elephants and buffalo arrive at the river for some cooling off time and something to drink. You will see elephants swimming together in the river on a gorgeous African sunny afternoon and it’ll probably be one of the best things you will ever do.
Game drives are also possible and that is how you will get the chance to see lions, leopards and wild dogs at the park as you will be taken to areas where they live in high numbers.
It’s best to visit Chobe in the dry season because more animals will be at the river and if you are on a boat; your chances of a magical journey are virtually 100%. From December to April, animals congregate around the interior of the park, so it is unlikely you will have the same experience as in the dry season.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
If you really want to see what Botswana has to offer visually and geologically, the Makgadikgadi Pans NP is a great place for you to be. It is a part of the Kalahari basin and looks like such a hostile environment that you wouldn’t find any of your usual safari animals.
However, despite the cracked crust of the NP, you can spot zebra and blue wildebeest alongside giraffes and sometimes elephants when the luscious green grass grows through the cracks and makes it a home for wildlife.
Lions can often be seen hunting zebra at Makgadikgadi and leopards can be found in the forest if you are braving enough to venture in. As well as this, a few white rhinos are present after being introduced to the NP. There has been a positive population growth in the past five years so there is a chance you can catch a sight of one or two.
The pans attract wildlife in the wet season, so you can visit then and experience the animals. However, the lodges are located next to the Boteti River which attracts wildlife in the dry season. It’s really up to you when you go as both are suitable and just as exciting.
Moremi Game Reserve
As mentioned previously, the Moremi Game Reserve is located within the Okavango Delta and is fantastic for wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard) present.
The leopards at Moremi are a sight to behold and can be seen frequently alongside some of the best wild dog sightings in the whole of Africa.
Due to flooding, some of the lodges close from January to March so it is best to go in the dry season from July to October where there is a better chance of seeing animals and more accessibility to the reserve.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi TP offers a very specific safari experience to travellers. It merges with a South African site too, where most of the tourism is directed due to the better facilities.
Red sand dunes make this park one of the greatest vistas in Botswana, setting the perfect background for professional and amateur photographers alike. However, it’s not just the backdrop, but the wildlife that make Kgalagadi a spectacular safari destination.
It’s not great for first-timers as there are no elephants, giraffes or hippos but there is a large population of lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. The park is famous for its Kalahari lions which are regarded as some of the most spectacular creatures in Africa. We’d recommend this park for those with a particular interest in lions and those who love wildlife photography too.
The best time to visit Kgalagadi is at the end of the wet season in March to May when animals centre on the waterbeds. However, viewing time is generally good all year round.
Wherever you go, enjoy your amazing Botswana safari – we’re sure you will!