Botswana Land and Water Safaris
On a Botswana safari, bigger really is better. The elephants are super-sized, the landscapes vast, and the magnitude of the experiences beyond measure. Home to the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, Botswana truly is one of the greatest safari destinations in Africa.
The Okavango Delta defines the country’s landscape, cutting through the stark red hues of the Kalahari Desert in a flood of emerald green. During the seasonal rains, the Delta becomes a lush animal habitat. Here, you can explore meandering channels and papyrus-fringed islands by mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe). However, horseback rides, speedboat trips, and guided island walks are available too, and no less exciting! Expect to see an abundance of birdlife, hippos, and crocodiles. And don’t miss the sunsets. Bookend your days with sunset cocktails and marvel at the colours of the Delta as it turns molten gold.
On dry land, Chobe National Park is famous for its herds of elephant and buffalo. During the winter months, the animals converge on the Chobe River. As a result, wildlife sightings are particularly rewarding at this time. Furthermore, on a Botswana safari, you can enjoy almost guaranteed encounters with Africa’s star players: the Big Five.
With its wealth of world-class accommodation, Botswana is renowned as one of Africa’s top luxury travel destinations. Sumptuous safari lodges and intimate tented camps give you a front-row seat to the fabulous wildlife spectacles. With unlimited elbow room and the wildlife pretty much all to yourself, you can expect an utterly exclusive safari experience, unmatched anywhere else in Africa.
Best Time to Visit Botswana:
In Botswana as in most African safari destinations, animals will converge at water sources during the dry season to slake their thirst. As a result, Botswana game viewing at the Okavango Delta and in the reserves of Chobe and Moremi is at its peak between May and October.
The Okavango Delta is well known for its exceptional land and water-based safari excursions.
Chobe National Park is widely considered home to the largest elephant herds in Southern Africa.
Visit the Makgadikadi Pans in central Botswana during the Green Season to witness the annual zebra migration.
Top Destinations in Botswana Safari
Home to the world’s greatest concentration of larger-than-life elephants, Chobe National Park in Botswana is an unmissable safari destination in Africa. Ideally combined with a safari in the Okavango Delta, Chobe offers an incredible Big Five safari experience that includes incredible lion encounters in the Savuti Marsh and massive buffalo herds along the Chobe River.
Chobe became Botswana’s first national park in 1968 and continues to be one of Southern Africa’s most iconic wildlife destinations. The park encompasses three wildlife areas that all offer a unique experience: the Chobe River which offers amazing elephant, buffalo and plains game sightings along the river bank, the Linyanti Marsh in the far north which is peaceful and abundant in game, and the Savuti, which borders Chobe proper to the west and the Okavango Delta to the east.
Top experiences in Chobe include dawn and dusk game drives in open-air vehicles, luxury camping out under the stars and cruising along the Chobe River at sunset.
Best Time to Visit Chobe National Park:
Like any other big park or reserve in southern Africa, Chobe has distinct ‘seasons.’ The dry season (May to October) offers incredible game viewing as the landscape is thinned out and animals tend to gather at the riverfront or at waterholes. The green season (November to February) is lush and green, with newborn animals and phenomenal bird sightings.
Discover one of nature’s masterpieces. The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the world’s largest inland deltas. It’s known for its sprawling grassy plains, meandering channels and rewarding wildlife encounters. This World Heritage Site sustains vast quantities of elephant, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, zebra and more. It’s also a predator’s paradise, supporting lion, leopard and wild dog.
With a large choice of private reserves and luxury safari camps, an Okavango Delta safari is an ideal choice for a honeymoon or couple’s holiday. Explore the papyrus-flanked islands and waterways of this lush animal habitat by mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe), boat, horseback or on game drives for up-close wildlife encounters and rewarding sightings of abundant birdlife.
To add on another highlight to your Okavango Delta safari, visit the Moremi Game Reserve, which occupies the east and central areas of the region. Moremi Game Reserve is also home to Chief’s Island and Xakanaxa Lagoon.
Best Time to Visit the Okavango Delta:
The Okavango Delta is hot for most of the year, particularly from October to December; May through August sees warm days with cool nights. Some roads may become impassable in the wet season (November to March). The drier months (July to October) are a popular time to visit when wildlife-viewing reaches a peak.
Enjoy a Kalahari Desert safari where the vast sandy savannah dominates the land-locked country of Botswana in southern Africa. Deriving its name from the Tswana word “Kgala”, meaning the “great thirst”, the Kalahari ‘s “thirsty” sands leave little trace of the area’s 5-10 inch annual rainfall other than the distinctive camel-thorn trees, that punctuate the grasslands.
The expansive Kalahari basin spills out of Botswana into neighbouring South Africa and Namibia, giving refuge to antelope, elephant, giraffe, numerous bird species, and a variety of predators that reside in its national parks and reserves. The massive salt pan of Makgadikgadi to the north was once a lake the size of Switzerland. Now the pans attract herds of wildebeest and zebra as well as predators like hyena, lion and cheetah which congregate to drink from the shrinking puddles along the region’s historic hunter-gatherer paths.
The Kalahari’s wide-open plains are ideal for predator-viewing and the area is known for the magnificent cheetah, lion, leopard and endangered African wild dog that roam this starkly beautiful landscape. In fact, this desert is recommended as the best place in Africa to view cheetah in their natural habitat, an experience that is especially memorable from the top of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park’s red sand dunes.
A guided Game drive through Deception Valley in Botswana’s largest reserve, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which will bring you up close to the reserve’s lions, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards, jackals, bat-eared foxes, African wild cats, zebra, giraffes, as well as thousands of birds and insects.
Best Time to Visit the Kalahari Desert on Safari
Wildlife gathers around the few remaining waterholes as the dry season begins in May and June; and this is when game viewing is optimal. However, if you don’t mind a bit of precipitation on your safari, the start of the rains in December to early January transforms this dry landscape into a verdant sanctuary for migrating zebra, buffalo and elephant herds, providing extraordinary sightings of a different kind.
Savute is one of Africa’s best-known big game areas. A wild and arid scrubland region, teeming with birds and a variety of wildlife. Here the mysterious 100-kilometer Savute Channel inexplicably ebbs and flows at its own pace. This creates wetlands known as the Savute Marsh and Mababe Depression. The Marsh attracts summer migrants and water birds including fish eagles, Addim storks and bright clouds of flashing carmine bee-eaters.
Botswana’s Savute region nestles in the south of Botswana’s renowned Chobe National Park in southern Africa. It is remote and untouched but has its own airstrip and is easily accessed as a fly-in destination, often paired with a visit to the Okavango Delta safari. For a self-drive option, 4×4 vehicles are recommended.
A Savute safari is famous for its spectacular zebra migrations. Predator populations of lion, leopard, hyena and wild dog are also a big drawcard. It is also not uncommon to witness an elephant or two ambling majestically through your campsite. You may even find a herd of buffalo browsing close to the veranda of one of the luxury Savute safari lodges.
The sheer beauty of this wilderness is remarkable, particularly in the upper Savute areas and the private Linyati reserve. The wildlife viewing is always exceptional. Activities in the area include: day or night game drives (depending on your choice of accommodation), a visit to the ancient San Rock paintings at Gubatsa or a ghostly amble through the mysterious Dead Forest.
Best Time to Visit the Savute on Safari:
Visit the Savute region between November and December, or April to May. Here you’ll get to witness the massive herds of zebra. The zebra traverse the savanna from the North to the lusher grasslands of the South. Although these are the prime times to visit, game-viewing is rewarding all year round at Savute.
A remote and wild protected area of almost 5000km2 in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Moremi is reputed to be one of the most beautiful reserves in Africa. This is a landscape of stark contrasts with mopane woodland and acacia forests flourishing alongside the seasonal floodplains and scenic lagoons. A safari experience here includes sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal, impala, African wild dogs, elephant, buffalo, lion, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, red lechwe, puku, hartebeest, sable antelope, impala, waterbuck, baboon and monkey, warthog, hippo and crocodile, amongst a profusion of flora and fauna.
Its proximity to the thriving tourist town of Maun makes this Botswana safari tour destination an ideal kick-off point for a southern African tour itinerary that includes visits to sights like the awesome elephant bulls of Chobe National Park, the 5300 year old Baobab in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park or the breathtaking Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
The stilted luxury tents and mobile camps of Moremi’s exclusive Chief’s Island can only be accessed by boat or light aircraft, and this is also the one area on the Delta where you will encounter the recently reintroduced rhino.
Other than Chief’s Island, the only areas that remain above water-level all year round at Moremi Game Reserve are the tree-shrouded slopes and riverine forests of the Mopane Tongue. This peninsula protrudes some 60km out into the Delta between the Khwai and Mogogelo rivers. Here self-drive guests can follow the winding trails to the spectacular Xakanaxa Lagoon, where storks, herons, jacanas, spoonbills and sacred ibis swoop amongst clouds of bright blue-cheeked and carmine bee-eaters at the tongue’s tip.
Moremi offers rich water and land-based viewing with an impressive variety of wildlife and bird species. View Africa’s Big 5 on open-topped game drives, boat trips, paddling in traditional dug-out canoes (mokoro) or on adrenaline-charged bush walking safaris.
The Moremi campsites are unfenced, enabling free passage for the animals between sites. You will be treated to a passing parade from your sundeck in your PJs, morning coffee in hand.
Best Time to Visit Moremi:
Areas of Moremi Game Reserve become inaccessible during the wetter season from January to March because of flooding. Rather plan your trip between the drier months of July to October when large herds of zebra, buffalo and wildebeest migrate back into the park from the Kalahari in search of food.
If the call of an unspoilt, undisturbed and remote getaway tugs at your heart, the exclusive safari experience of Botswana’s Linyanti’s Private Reserve is the place to satiate that longing. This quiet wildlife sanctuary has a low visitor rate and a high concentration of wildlife. Linyanti’s birdlife is simply spectacular, and it is a mecca for birding enthusiasts, particularly during the wet season when thousands of migratory birds jostle for space on the banks of the Linyanti River and papyrus-lined waterways.
Together with the Selinda and Kwando private reserves, Linyanti is tucked away between Namibia’s Caprivi Strip to the North and Botswana’s Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta in the South. The private concession shares an unfenced border with Chobe, enabling the area’s renowned, massive elephant herds to rumble unhindered from one reserve to the other.
Easily accessible by air or road, the picturesque Linyanti is an ideal add-on for a Botswana safari package.
While Linyanti is probably best known for its burgeoning wild dog population and awe-inspiring lion prides, the region’s riverine forests, grassy floodplains, marshlands and lagoons overflow with a huge variety of other wildlife including Cape buffalo, hippo, leopard, hyena, cheetah, giraffe, crocodile, zebra and a range of antelope species. Counted among the smaller residents of Linyanti are big-eyed bush babies, bustling porcupines, long-legged serval and curious bat-eared foxes.
Accommodation at Linyanti includes a range of exclusive luxury lodge facilities, but many of the campsites are limited to only a few tents, to ensure visitors a private and authentic bush experience. Activities include game drives, guided bush walks, bird watching, helicopter flips and river cruises.
Best Time to Visit the Linyanti:
Unlike many other African parks, Linyanti retains water even during the driest months, and is ideal for excellent year-round wildlife viewing. The thinned-out vegetation in the drier season from May to October makes for easier game-spotting while the lush greenery, abundant birdlife, migrating zebra and plentiful newborns in the “green” season between November and March present superb photographic opportunities.
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Top Experiences in Botswana Safari
View the patchwork plains of the Okavango Delta from the sky and discover why this watery landscape in the middle of the desert is a marvel of nature.
Glide swiftly and smoothly through narrow channels seeking out an abundance of birds and wildlife. Silent but for the call of a fish eagle or the grunt of a hippo, this is the closest you can get to the wild in the Okavango.
Chobe is best known for supporting the largest concentration of elephant found anywhere in Africa. It is not uncommon to encounter herds in excess of a hundred animals.
Experience the magic of Africa along the Chobe River and view the area’s legendary wildlife from the comfort of a luxury houseboat.
Savour the tranquility of cruising reed-lined channels in a mokoro or experience the thrill of action-packed game drives on land. However you do it, game viewing in the Okavango is always a rewarding experience.