Why Botswana for your African safari?

There are so many countries to choose from for an African safari. So, why should it be Botswana? Here’s why …

Why Botswana?

Botswana’s Top 10 Safari Highlights

1. Okavango

sunset-thumbnailFor wildlife & nature lovers, the Okavango Delta is one of the top highlights not just of Botswana, but the whole of Africa. The annual floods bring life to this huge oasis in the sands of the Kalahari, which is an incredible haven for wildlife.

 

2. Kalahari & the Basarwa

San BushmenThe Kalahari is an incredible area of arid, semi-desert savannah with a surprising amount of wildlife. It is also the traditional homeland of the San Bushmen Spending time with the indigenous San Bushmen of Botswana is a privilege. Whilst very few now live a traditional life, many hold on to their culture and traditional skills and are happy to share this knowledge with you.

 

3. Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (and meerkats!)

Makgadikgadi Salt PansAn ancient inland lake dried up to become the huge shimmering salt pans of the Makgadikgadi. It’s worth coming for the sight alone, but it is also home to some rare wildlife such as brown hyenas, and you can meet characterful meerkats here too.

 

4. Elephants in Chobe

elephant-chobeChobe National Park is said to have the largest population of elephants in Africa, at around 70,000 individuals. If you love elephants, come to Chobe. And don’t miss a boat safari on the Chobe River.

 

5. Scenic flights

okavango-flightBotswana’s landscape is so unusually picturesque, that seeing the Delta, salt pans, desert and more from the air in a light plane or helicopter is not to be missed.

6. Tsodilo Hills

Tsodilo hillsAn important cultural world heritage site with Basarwa rock paintings up to 2000 years old. It’s a remote spot in the Okavango Panhandle, but what an experience to come here with a Basarwa guide.

 

7. Zebra migration

Zebra migrationAfrica’s second largest zebra migration of about 20,000 animals moves between the Boteti River and the summer breeding grounds of Nxai / Makgdadikgadi Pans at the start and end of the dry season.

 

8. Mokoro rides

mokoro-thumbnailThe iconic activity of Botswana. You are gently poled along the Delta waterways in a dugout canoe. A mokoro ride offers you a different aspect on a safari, and you get close to painted frogs and jacana birds walking on water.

 

9. Wild dogs

wild-dogAfrican wild dogs are rare. You are more likely to see wild dogs on an African safari in Botswana than almost anywhere else.  Moremi Game Reserve and the Kwando-Linyanti region are the two best places.

 

10. Horse safaris

horse-safariThere is something very special, and definitely unique, about cantering through the watery wilderness of the Okavango Delta. A horse safari in Botswana gives you a ride unlike any other you will find – anywhere.

And one for luck

….  Botswana can be combined easily with Victoria Falls (Zambia or Zimbabwe) which makes a great start or end to a Botswana safari.  You could also consider other add-ons such as time in Cape Town, or a beach break … We can help you with a variety of options.

Is Botswana the best place to go on an African Safari?

Comparing Botswana with African safaris in other countries

Kenya Flag

Comparing safaris in Kenya to safaris in Botswana

If you pick the right places to visit, you are guaranteed a stunning safari in Kenya. The Masai Mara is one of the best places for an African safari and takes some beating, especially for big cats and the annual wildebeest migration. Kenya has other places too which offer truly superb wildlife experiences. Given this, it is hard to compare these two countries.  However, we’d recommend Botswana if you want fewer visitors around, more wilderness, the ability to take water-based safaris in mokoros and in boats in addition to the game drives and walks which both countries have in common.

Malawi Flag

A Botswana safari compared to a Malawi safari

Much as we love Malawi, we’d have to say that there is no comparison for wildlife viewing.  Yes, Malawi has some good reserves such as Liwonde and the relatively new Majete, and you will indeed see some good wildlife here, but there’s by no means the same diversity nor numbers of wildlife. On the plus side, Malawi has the lake of course, so if you want to combine some safari with watersports or chilling by the lake it’s perfect.

Namibia-flag

Is Namibia a better African safari option than Botswana?

Botswana and Namibia are like chalk and cheese.  Botswana is of course best known for its watery Delta and lush landscape, whilst Namibia is arid desert for the most part. In many ways this makes it quite easy to decide between the two. Do you go for the lush landscape and prolific wildlife of Botswana, or do you choose challenging terrains where it seems incredible that wildlife can live and therefore seems all the more precious?  Maybe choose Botswana first as it has the Delta and the Kalahari, then Namibia later?!

Rwanda Flag

Is Rwanda comparable to Botswana for wildlife?

Rwanda has one element over Botswana – primates, namely gorillas and chimpanzees.  If this is something you yearn to see, Rwanda wins, no question. Otherwise, on variety and numbers of wildlife, the range of habitat and general standard of safari services, Botswana has it.

South Africa

Does South Africa compare to Botswana for a safari?

There is no doubt that South Africa can offer a great African safari. On the whole this will be cheaper than Botswana, but in general there will also be more people (most especially in Kruger). South Africa tends to attract more first-time safari go-ers and, whilst there are exceptions to this rule, many of the reserves feel less ‘wild’ than the wilderness areas of Botswana.

Tanzania Flag

A Botswana safari compared to a Tanzania safari

This is a tricky one. How can you argue with the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha, and Katavi? There is variety a-plenty in Tanzania in terms of landscape and wildlife. We think that types of activity could be the key to your decision between Botswana and Tanzania.  Other than in Selous, you won’t get boat safaris in Tanzania, and you can’t do canoeing or mokoro safaris either. Also Botswana has a desert and also a vast salt pan ecosystem which you won’t find in Tanzania, so such creatures as meerkats will be out of your reach. If you choose northern Tanzania, you will also find that there are far more visitors than in Botswana. 

Uganda Flag

Can Uganda compete with Botswana for a safari?

Similarly to Rwanda, Uganda most certainly has it if you want to see gorillas or chimps as well as other wildlife. Uganda does have a very good reserve (Queen Elizabeth National Park) which has savannah wildlife and a few other gems spread throughout the country, however these do not add up to offering as much as Botswana in most people’s views. We love Uganda, but for a classic high quality safari where you want to see a fantastic range of African wildlife, it has to be Botswana.

Zambia Flag

Deciding between Botswana and Zambia for your African safari

This is possibly the hardest comparison of all to make. Both countries have superb wildlife, both countries have excellently trained guides and great lodges, both countries have a range of habitats and can be easily linked with Victoria Falls … So how do you differentiate between them? Well, simply put, only one country has the Okavango Delta.

And here are some more reasons to choose a Botswana safari

N

More wilderness and wildlife than people:

Botswana is roughly the size of France, but instead of around 67 million people it has only about 2 million. This means that the country has vast swathes of unpopulated wilderness in which the native flora and fauna of the country can flourish, and incredible landscapes from dramatic desert to the lush Delta.
N

Stable & safe:

Botswana is one of Africa’s most stable countries. Since it gained independence from Britain in 1966 it has consistently had democratic elections and there have been few troubles.
N

High quality safari-based tourism:

Upmarket safari-based tourism is a very important source of income. Botswana has always followed a strategy of low volume–low impact for tourism, especially in the Okavango Delta, with the intention of better conserving the wilderness for future generations. This means Botswana can be expensive, but it’s definitely worth it.
N

Best choice of safaris in Africa?

Botswana has the full range of ways in which you could enjoy being on safari. Possibly offering more choice than any other African country, you can take diverse safaris from budget mobile camping trips all the way up to fly-in safaris staying at super-exclusive luxury lodges, not forgetting canoe safaris, walking safaris, horse riding safaris …
N

Ecotourism:

Botswana is one of the few African countries with an ‘Ecotourism Certification System’ which acknowledges those lodges actively committed to sustainable ecotourism.
N

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency:

Alexandra McCall Smith’s series of novels set in Botswana brought an enthusiasm for this wonderful country to many readers. Maybe it’s time to see this part of Africa for real?