by Matthew Sterne | November 15, 2017
6 min read

Welcome to the final chapter of Matt’s fascinating nine-part blog special on Botswana.

There’s no place like Botswana. The wildlife and landscapes might be the big drawcards, but it’s the smaller aspects that also win over the visitors to this remarkable country. Well, not all of them are so physically small, but they all add up to an experience that is truly remarkable. We’re talking about…

Botswana Moremi Okavango Delta Chobe boat cruise Sunset

Boat cruise at sunset in Botswana – Okavango Delta

1. Chobe River Sunset Cruises

One of Africa’s bucket list experiences, a sunset cruise here involves world-class game-viewing from the boat while elephants, buffalo, lion and warthogs visit the river for an evening drink. And the kaleidoscopic sunsets are damn spectacular too.

2. Water Lilies

These elegant flowers are held above the water at the tip of a green stalk and can be found all over the Okavango Delta. The white day lilies with a yellow centre are most common. If you’re out in the evening you might also see the slightly different, pinker night lilies.

MapMap
MapMap

3. The Birdlife

Botswana is a bird paradise, home to birds from small, brightly-coloured kingfishers, parrots and bee eaters to the large and powerful hawks, kori bustards, and eagles. Owl bet you’ve never seen birds like this!

Flock of birds at sunset - Kings Pool Botswana

Flock of birds Kings Pool, Botswana

4. The People

Down-to-earth, warm and welcoming, the people of Botswana are one of the secret ingredients for their successful tourism industry.

5. Bush Flights

Lodges in Botswana are remote and far apart from each other. The answer: bush planes that not only get you to your destination quickly but add an exciting experience to your day.

6. Wild Dogs

Botswana is a wild dog hotspot as it is home to around 30% of the remaining population of this fascinating social canine, one of the world’s most effective hunters.

wild dog safaris Kings Pool Botswana

Wild dogs at Kings Pool in Botswana

7. Its Fascinating History

Botswana is one of the only African countries to never be colonised. It did however attract international attention when Seretse Khama, heir to a local kingdom, married a British woman, Ruth Williams, while studying at Oxford. This story was recently turned into a film called A United Kingdom starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.

8. Mokoros

Silently gliding through ancient waterways made by hippos and elephants while birds and dragonflies dance around you is one of Africa’s most enchanting experiences.

9. Meerkat Experience

Watch a mob of wild yet habituated meerkats wake up in the Makgadikgadi Pans, emerge from their burrows, wrestle with each other and start hunting. You’re even able to get up close and walk with them or sit with them while they climb on you to use you as a sentry lookout post.

10. Singing

“We love to sing because it’s like a form of bonding for us,” I was told more than once in Botswana. And that was clear when the lodge staff sang too, often putting on lively and moving performances. The power of their voices often brought a few tears to the eyes in the crowd.

Botswana Moremi Okovango Delta staff dancing

Dancing at sunset – Okavango Delta, Botswana

11. Walking Safaris

Go on and get walking amongst the elephants and predators in Botswana’s wilderness. Due to the amount of wetlands, there are not many camps that offer walking safaris, but the ones that do create an amazing experience. If there’s one way to get the heart racing, this is it.

12. The Zebra Migration

Botswana’s zebra migration is the second largest land-based migration in Africa and is made up of between 25,000 and 30,000 zebra. Their epic journey begins in the southern Okavango and heads through the Nxai Pan National Park, ending up at the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in search of mineral-rich grasses, fresh water sources, and safe breeding grounds.

 zebras standing in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, Okovango Delta

Herd of zebra standing in Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

13. Kalahari Bushmen Experience

Step back in time with the Kalahari Bushmen who share their ancient hunting and food-gathering knowledge of the desert as well as their fascinating trance dance.

14. Glamping

Ah the best of both worlds, luxury and adventure. Sounds like a perfect holiday and Botswana does glamping better than most. It offers the joys of camping without the fuss.

15. The Big Cat Populations

Botswana is one of the finest places in Africa for big cats, with cheetah commonly seen in the Kalahari Game Reserve, as well as the infamous black-maned lion. The Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, bordering the Delta, is one of the best places in the world to see leopard.

leopard laying tree Machaba Camp Botswana Khwai

Leopard in a tree, Botswana

16. Boat Trips

The Okavango Delta is the biggest inland delta in the world and the water acts as its roads. Cruising on its waters, with wildlife on its banks, is one of the most stirring and quintessential Botswana experiences and is what distinguishes it as unique compared to other African safaris.

17. Elephants

They don’t call Botswana the elephant capital of the world for nothing. Home to more than 150,000 elephants, Botswana has more elephants than any other country.

Muddy elephants in Machaba Camp Botswana Khwai Concession

Elephants covered in mud in Machaba Camp, Botswana

18. Selinda Canoe Trail

This is a 5-day canoeing trip down the Selinda Spillway. You’ll paddle past hippos and elephants and spend your nights around a campfire while camping on the river banks. It doesn’t get much better than that.

19. Kalahari Stars

One of the world’s largest deserts has some of its brightest night skies. Sit round a fire, with a drink in hand and get lost in its glittering panorama of end-to-end stars.

20. Savute Marsh

The marsh is home to the mysterious Savuti channel, which flowed in Livingstone’s time, but went dry in 1880, and remained dry for about 70 years. It then flooded again in 1957. And did so on and off for the next few decades. It has now been dry for the past 18 years. The resulting marsh is green and thick with herds of wildlife and reminiscent of East Africa.

botswana moremi okovango delta full moon long exposure stars

Sitting in the moonlight along the Okavango Delta in Botswana

21. Helicopter Safaris at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge

Lying in Botswana’s lush Okavango Delta, Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is surrounded by a staggering variety of animal, plant, fish and birdlife. And you can see it all on the helicopter safaris that provide a bird’s-eye view of this unique landscape.

22. Elephant Interaction at Abu Camp

Meeting Abu Camp’s resident elephant herd gives you a unique opportunity to interact and learn from these incredible creatures and is described as Africa’s premier elephant interaction experience.

23. Hot Air Ballooning in the Delta

This is one of the most enjoyable and unique ways to enjoy the wonders of the Okavango. Wilderness Safaris offers this experience at a number of their camps in the Delta.

Chapter 9/9

That’s it for Chapter Nine, armchair travellers! Be sure to join me on my next adventure through Bots.


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