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According to the granddaddy of travel guidebooks, the Lonely Planet, Botswana is the place to be this year and has named it the top destination for 2016. We’re well aware of Botswana’s allure, so it’s nice to see the rest of the world start to take notice too. As the Lonely Planet says;
“Botswana is a unique destination with an unusual combination of desert and delta that draws an immense concentration of wildlife. It is wild, pristine and expansive… Despite their embarrassment of accolades, Botswana remains off the radar for most people. The impression is: it’s too difficult to get to, it doesn’t cater for families. But we’re here to tell you that’s all nonsense. Go now! Go by plane, car or mokoro (canoe). Go in the green season or the dry season – it’s all great.”
Recently, some of our consultants were lucky enough to go on another trip to Botswana. We had a chat with one of them, Toast Seagers, to find out more about their experience.
“The main thing about Botswana is that it’s very diverse. The difference between the camps and various regions can be big. Chobe is classic African bush with the river as the main attraction. Then you go further south and you get the open plains of Savuti. Then you get the Okavango Delta, and then you get the desert.” All of these habitats offer different wildlife sightings and landscapes to explore.
“One of the highlights was definitely the small plane transfers…
Because the camps are so remote you have to fly. You fly quite low and get a great view of Botswana. Botswana is very, very flat. From one side to the other the whole country changes by only about 300 metres in altitude, far less when you focus on the Delta. As soon as you get up there you can see for miles over the open floodplains dotted with Lala palm trees along the horizon.”
“We were there in the very dry season…
Which means a lot of areas that are completely covered in water normally are open and you get herds of animals coming into these fields – zebra, wildebeest, lechwe, to name a few. There were a lot of elephants everywhere we went as well as a number of unique species such as the red lechwe. We also saw sable in the Vumbura area, which are very rare and a treat to see.”
“There is a huge difference of habitats in Botswana…
The Sandibe area had the biggest diversity of habitat in the places we visited on this trip. We drove through a dead tree forest covered with red desert sand. It was a great place to spot birds of prey using the dead trees as vantage points to spot prey. You drive from there for twenty minutes and you’re in Zambian-like wetlands, thick waste-high green grass with one or two little trails that are made by hippos. It’s incredibly lush, and then you go another twenty minutes and you’re in thick bush with huge baobabs. So it’s very diverse from one area to another.”
“Some camps you can’t even drive to because they’re just surrounded by water…
If you go in the wet season in July, you have to take a boat to some areas. At Vumbura Plains, where we stayed at in the north of the Delta, the airstrip is actually sandbagged so when it floods the only piece of land in that area is the airstrip. So you land and you get on a boat to the lodge. You can spot elephants, hippos, and a lot of other game from the plane. When we were coming in to land at Jao I saw a kill site on the ground – a dead animal surrounded by vultures. Once we landed, I told the ranger and we went to look and found a dead Lechwe surrounded by dozens of vultures and marabou storks.”
“Botswana still maintains an element of being very wild…
Most of the camps are quite remote and all their supplies need to be brought in by long distance truck when it’s dry, or by plane. They need to fly most things in, from the potatoes to the toilet paper. That is what makes it slightly more expensive than other destinations but the benefit then is that you see very few other vehicles and signs of civilisation. Because it’s so open and always changing it is a lottery so you never know what you’re going to see. It’s like that anywhere on safari, but in Botswana, it’s particularly like that. You can go at what people think is the worst time of year, which is when we went in December. And we saw wild dogs, lions, leopard, tons of elephants, buffalo, everything…
“That’s why it’s important to not go to just one place in Botswana but to have a Chobe experience, have a Delta experience (or two), and maybe have a desert experience as well. Just to see the diversity and the different animals you’ll find in the different areas.”
Travel to Botswana with our special offer
If you would like to discover Botswana for yourself, you are in luck as we are offering a not-to-be-missed opportunity to travel to Botswana with our Belmond Botswana Special. If you would like to find out more how you can experience the wild places of Botswana yourself please contact one of our travel experts who are standing by to make your travel dreams a reality.
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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