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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.