Botswana Safari – Complete Travel Guide
There is no country like Botswana. In the Okavango Delta cats are bigger, elephants are taller and all the great African creatures reign supreme. From the cool and clear waters of the Okavango Delta to the dramatic stretches of arid land in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana offers an incredible range of sights to see.
Best Time To Go:
Mar-May (dry parks), Jun-Sep (Okavango, Chobe)
Average Safari Cost
$200 to $1,500pp/day
The mighty Okavango River Delta, The land of the Elephants in Chobe National Park, The Kalahari Desert, ancient baobabs in Nxai Pans, salt pans in Makgadikgadi, fossil river valleys, black-maned lions, indigenous San people, rock art in Tsodilo Hills, and more!
Why Go on a Botswana Safari
As the leading country in an eco-friendly approach to tourism and safaris, Botswana prides itself on authentic experiences of the untouched lands. It is home to the Big Five, so you are likely to spot lions, elephants, leopards and many other animals roaming free.
There is simply no best time to travel to Botswana. With its diversity of the animal and bird species, any time of the year will offer a unique safari experience. Cross into the Kalahari Desert, the largest continuous area of sand in the world, which comes as a sudden contrast to the floodplains and greenery of the Okavango Delta areas. However, even in this true desert land, the variety of wildlife and the beauty of the landscape never ceases to amaze.
An abundance of wildlife can be seen throughout Botswana's parks and the Okavango Delta. You can also have many different adventures in its diverse environment. Try exploring the exquisite beauty of the Okavango Delta in a mokoro canoe, or watching the animals on game drives, spotting elephants on the Chobe River floodplains and crossing the boundary into the arid land of the Kalahari Desert with its salt pans.
Pros And Cons
Travel here at the right time and you will be mesmerized by the diversity of the animal and bird species that populate this virgin land. Being the largest continuous area of sand in the world, the Kalahari Desert proposes a total contrast to the floodplains and grasslands of the Okavango. However, even here in a true desert land, the variety of wildlife doesn’t stop to amaze.
Unlike other places in Africa, Botswana offers truly unique, intimate views of its wildlife from the porches and tents of its remote, exquisite lodges and campsites. If you're looking for a true and wild African safari experience, Botswana is the place to see.
To choose the right adventure, have a look at our list of pros and cons.
- Low-density tourism and eco-friendly lodges
- Abundant wildlife to see in the parks
- Diverse scenery of desert, saltpans, scrubland, grassland and delta waterways
- Politically stable and safe
- Many different ways to experience Botswana (Off-road driving, fly-in safaris, houseboats on the Chobe River etc.)
- Potential health risks, so consider vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid
- Expensive safaris, with limited budget options
Best Time To Visit
This is Botswana's wet season. Temperatures can range from 66 to 89.6˚F (19-32˚C). The days are hot and humid with thunderstorms and rains that can sometimes last for days. This means that certain parks may close down as it less popular for tourists. However, rates may be more affordable during this time. While wildlife sightings are more difficult, it is an excellent time for birding.
The best parks to visit at this time
Start your African Adventure
Popular Botswana Tours
8 Days Windhoek to Botswana Victoria Falls
Klein Windhoek Guest House - Windhoek - 1 Ghanzi Trail Blazers - Ghanzi - 1 Dqae Qare San Lodge - Ghanzi - 1 Sepopa Swamp Stop - Okavango Panhandle - 1 Nguma Island Lodge - Okavango Panhandle - 1 Chobe Safari Lodge - Chobe River Front - Thebe river camp - Kasane - 1 Victoria Falls Hotel - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - 1
Botswana Wild Parks - BTa14
Botswana is considered Southern Africa’s premier game viewing destination. But it is also known as a very expensive destination. However by using a range of affordable lodges Sunway offers a fully accommodated tour of Botswana at a value for money price.
Botswana Zimbabwe, South Africa ( Kruger Sabi Sands)
Three Countries Safari; Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa; Arrive in Maun Botswana and depart from JHB, Or Tambo Charter flight to Okavango Delta for 2 nights, all activities and meals, Second charter flight to Kasane for 2 nights;' Full- Day game drive in Chobe N. Park and Sun set boat cruise on Chobe River. We drive to Victoria Falls for 2 nights, Tour of the Fall, a day free to try any of the adventure activity, Flight to JHB, Mpumalanga Panorama route, 3 nts in Kruger Sabi Sands, Flight Kruger to JHB.
Popular Parks And Reserves
One of the world's largest inland deltas where you can peacefully glide through the waters in a mokoro canoe and see hippos, crocodiles and elephants.
Situated in Botswana's north-eastern corner, Chobe National Park is famous for some of the world's biggest elephant herds. It has an extraordinary amount of wildlife and birdlife, especially along the Chobe Riverfront.
As Botswana's largest reserve, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is pure wilderness and the place to be if you enjoy off-road driving and solitude. You can see wildebeest, hyena, oryx, cheetah, and black-maned lions if you're lucky.
While the Nxai Pan National Park encompasses several large pans, the Nxai Pan is the easiest to drive to and also tends to have the best wildlife spotting.
Created by combining the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the Mabuasehube-Gemsbok National Park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the world's largest arid areas and is a true desert. While this inhospitable environment lacks many species found in the more lush reserves, it offers excellent predator sightings and incredible photographic opportunities with its red sand dunes against blue skies.
The open plains of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park makes wildlife sightings much easier. During the dry seasons, when the pans dry up, many wildlife species can be seen around the Boteti River where many of the lodges are.
Chobe National Park is one of Botswana's most popular safari destinations. With some of the biggest herds of elephants in the world, Chobe is famous for having the largest concentration of animals in Africa. The Chobe River supports a multitude of wildlife as hippos and crocodiles laze in the waters, and herds of buffalo and elephant gather to drink in the late afternoon sun. Game drives through the park offer incredible opportunities to see predators such as lions and leopards and many other animals. From cruising in a luxury houseboat down the river to roughing it in the wild at the campsites, there are many wonderful experiences to be had at Chobe National Park.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a vast, beautiful desert and the largest reserve in Botswana. It is pure, desolate wilderness where black-maned lions prowl the land and can be heard roaring through the night. While not as hospitable an environment as the other parks, the Central Kalahari has many special animal sightings on offer. From incredible landscape photographic opportunities to superb wildlife sightings, this remote, desert land offers an array of exceptional adventures. If you are seeking to experience the wonders of a true wilderness then this is the place for you. With its rugged terrain and harsh, inhospitable environment, the Central Kalahari is a beautiful and unique place.
As one of Africa's most renowned safari destinations, the Okavango Delta offers an abundance of wildlife, beautiful scenery and a true safari experience. The delta is a beautiful oasis within the harsh environment of the Kalahari Desert. Its crystal clear waters spread out into a labyrinth of waterways and lagoons providing plenty of water to support the incredible diversity of wildlife in the surrounding area. This untouched land is a real wilderness, where the Big Five and many other animals roam free. The Okavango Delta is a true wetland paradise surrounded by vast, dry desert land. It is a beautifully unique safari destination that is definitely worth seeing!
From the expanses of glistening salty land to beautiful lakes where animals congregate, the Makgadikgadi pans are a truly remarkable sight, no matter when you visit. Makgadikgadi Pans National Park has some of the biggest saltpans on Earth. The pans are remnants of an ancient lake that dried up millennia ago, leaving these massive areas of land encrusted with salt. After good rainfall, this dry, cracked, salty land becomes flooded and the biggest pans turn into clear blue lakes drawing herds of zebra, wildebeest and many other animals. As the sole source of permanent water, the Boteti River is the best place to spot wildlife from April to October, when the pans are dried up.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the best destinations to find the big cats, especially cheetahs, along with many other predators. Black-maned lions are often sighted lazing in the shade on hot days or heard roaring through the night, and cheetahs can be seen prowling for prey. The landscape of the Kgalagadi is just as incredible to see as the wildlife. Red sand dunes span the endless horizons meeting beautiful clear blue skies and pose an exquisite setting for photography. With its picturesque landscapes and awesome predators, the Kgalagadi truly lives up to the ideals of an African safari.
The Nxai Pan National Park consists of smaller salt pans than those found in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Grassland and shrubs that attract certain wildlife species surround these pans. The park is well known for its amazing cheetah sightings as they can easily be spotted in the low-lying vegetation. After rainfall, the pans become lush and new grass feeds massive herds of zebra, wildebeest and many other animals. One of Nxai Pan National Park's attractions are Baines' Baobabs. These are a spectacular sight, as they stand tall in contrast with the flat grasslands of the pans. The Nxai Pan National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing, stunning scenery as well as many other memorable sights and experiences.
Dual-natured Moremi Game Reserve is as fascinating as the rest of the Okavango Delta. With lilies floating on the waters and a kaleidoscope of habitats from dry savannah scrub, to woodlands and lagoons, this land is wildly beautiful.
Wildelife And Birds
- Black Rhino
- Blank rhino
Infrequently Seen Animals:
- Wild dog
Commonly Seen Animals:
It is always an incredible experience to see big cats – lions, leopards and cheetahs – hunt or rest in the shade, but there is nothing morehumblingthan aherd of majestic elephants towering next to your car. The feeling of the power of nature won’t leave you for weeks or even months after your Botswana safari.
But there are many other wild animals you could see here. Head to the Moremi Game Reserve to try your luck seeing the endangered African wild dogs. They are fierce and strategic predators and you'll want a good sighting of them. However, they can be difficult to spot as they travel over large areas of land in their packs.
Rare antelopes such as the Sitatunga, red lechwe and puku,can also be spotted in the Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe's riverfront area. These extraordinaryspecies often live in shallow water and even adapted to a semi-aquatic way of life!
Wildlife sightings are generally better in the northern parks during the time between May and October. This is because the vegetation is sparser, and wildlife tends to gather around waterholes and riverbanks.
The Kalahari area and the drier reserves offer better sightingsbetween November and April. This is when the vegetation is thicker and greener, which attracts the wildlife from the northern parks.
Moremi Game Reserve
Home to the Big Five, endangered African wild dogs, red lechwe, giraffes, wildebeest, zebra, hippo and hyena.
Elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra, lion, kudu and hyena are all common sightings. Leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs are also sometimes sighted.
Here you can find the black-maned lion, cheetah as well as herds of oryx, springbok and kudu.You are also likely to find spotted and brown hyenas, bat-eared foxes, yellow mongoose and the very cute and inquisitive meerkats.
Giraffe, zebra and wildebeest are all common sightings as well as oryx, eland and red hartebeest. Spotted and brown hyena, leopards and lions can also be regularly seen. Bat-eared foxes, striped polecats and aardwolves can be spotted at dusk.
Lion, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, springbok, oryx and red hartebeest are all commonly seen after rains at the Nxai Pan. If you're lucky you could see an aardwolf or a honey badger but they are difficult to spot as they come out at night.
Four of the Big Five can easily be found here but rhinos are an extremely rare sighting. You can also spot giraffe, hippo, wildebeest, zebra and occasionally one of the big cat species.
With approximately 550 recorded species of birds, Botswana an ideal bird watching destination. There are no endemic bird species but the Short-Clawed Lark is considered near-endemic. With a skilled local guide you may be able to spot up to 200 different species of birds in a day, while travelling through different sites and habitats. Water birds are plentiful around the delta and rivers, while birds of prey and dry-country birds are found in the Kalahari Desert.
- Wattled Crane
- Hooded vulture
- White-backed vulture
- Gray-crowned crane
Near- Endemic Birds:
- Short-Clawed Lark
Getting There And Safety
There are direct flights into Botswana from its surrounding countries. Generally, tourists fly into Maun Airport or Kasana Airport, which is closer to the northern and most popular parks in Botswana.
Air Botswana offers a limited number of domestic flights that are cheaper when booked online than at a travel office. Check with your operator, they are most likely to provide this as an ad-on item for your itinerary.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Botswana.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Botswana.
All foreign visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit.
Visas are not required by visitors of many nationalities, who will receive a 30-day entry permit upon arrival. If you plan to travel to Botswana's neighbouring countries you can obtain visas in Gaborone. The Botswana commission provided more detailed information on visa requirements.
Botswana is one of the safest countries in Africa. The greatest danger is the wildlife, but if you follow your guide's safety precautions you will enjoy a safe journey. Be respectful of your environment and exercise common sense when it comes to wildlife safety precautions.
The crime rate in Botswana is relatively low, and the parks and reserves are generally crime-free areas. While the country is safe, it would be best to practice the same caution that you would in your home country.
Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or carrying excessive amounts of cash. Busy markets and bus stops are usually the stomping ground for pickpockets and muggers - remain vigilant.
Avoid walking around in cities alone, especially night. If you are on a self-drive safari, it would be best to inquire about crime hotspot areas to avoid, as well as the condition of the roads that you will be traveling on.
While on a game drive or mokoro canoe safari, always follow your guide’s instructions and do not exit the vehicle unless the guide gives you permission to do so.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Botswana. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check the World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.