Botswana’s Best Safari Parks

Nature has never been so mesmerising as what you will see in Botswana

Botswana has long been a safari enthusiasts dream, and thanks to various news stories, thrilling nature films and conservation documentaries (such as National Geographic’s Into The Okavango) that expose us to our natural world, travellers are increasingly becoming aware of just how important eco-systems are to our planet and why going on an ethical safari is a great way to help conserve them…

…and there’s no finer place than Botswana!

Many of the safari destinations in Botswana can be higher priced compared to their counterparts in other countries, this is down to the country’s approach to conservation, protecting habitat and aiding the Batswana people. Whilst at first some of the rates for safari camps appear eye-watering (and some of them certainly are, but affordability is also there for excellent value), it’s for this very reason of providing a low-impact, sustainable tourism model that also provides exceptional safari experiences.

Botswana has a subtropical desert climate characterized by great differences in day and night temperatures, and low humidity overall. Botswana receives virtually no rainfall for six months of the year, with the wettest months being December to March, during which time the vast floods of the Okavango Delta make their way from Angola and flooding the Delta from May/June until October. Winter and summer is at opposite times of the year as Europe and North America, and they correspond to the Dry and Wet season respectively.


When to go?

We don’t promote a “best time to visit” for our safaris, as safaris can be spectacular any time of the year and this also applies to Botswana. For the unique Mokoro (dug out canoe) rides, you want to travel from mid June-October when water levels increase to allow for boating activities. Whilst the infamous zebra migration occurs across the Nxai Pan during December of each year and birding can be phenomenal all year round with a host of migratory and resident birds to be found, particularly around the watery landscapes of the Delta, Moremi and Chobe. High season is mid June-October, which is when the annual Delta floods occur, but travellers should also consider travelling out of high season for equally fantastic sightings, new born cubs towards the early part of the year … and discounted rates at camps.

MAKGADIKGADI PANS

Northeast of Africa’s Kalahari Desert and southeast of the Okavango Delta lies one of the largest salt pans in the world. It was once the site of one of the largest inland seas on Earth. For much of the year, the salt pans glimmer in white, parched by the sun and the salt and allowing little more than algae to grow. But during the rainy season (roughly November to March), the area can be transformed into a crucial wetland. Water can flow in from the Boteti and Nata rivers, filling ephemeral ponds, watering holes, and shallow lakes and creating short-lived but abundant grasslands. The event draws migrating wildebeest and zebras, as well as the predators that hunt them. The waters fill with ducks, geese, pelicans, and flamingos—one of just two breeding spots in southern Africa for the long-legged birds.

Mornings spent with meerkats, visits to majestic baobab trees used as camp sites by Livingstone, and walks with the Bushmen are all on offer here. Springbok and oryx are particularly well adapted to the arid environment of the pans, and they can often be spotted here, even when there isn’t much else around. Some predators that lurk around the fringes of the pan and can be found at dusk are aardwolf, bat-eared fox and striped polecat.

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK

Aptly and fondly known as ‘The Land of The Giants’, Chobe National Park in the north of beautiful Botswana is home to Africa’s largest elephant population and comprises more than 10,000km2 of rich ecosystems, diverse landscapes and an almost unparalleled abundance of wildlife and birdlife all centred around the stunning Chobe River. Chobe National Park sits in close proximity to the borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, making it a popular and easy day trip destination for visitors from Victoria Falls

Chobe is surely the best place in Africa to see elephants, particularly in the water. Individual herds sometimes number in the hundreds and there are an estimated 120,000 elephants in total in the park. The park also offers great lion and leopard sightings, while the river has an unbelievable abundance of hippos and crocodiles and an almost inconceivable wealth of birdlife, including a number of particularly rare species that are highly sought after by top wildlife photographers.

Chobe National Park

OKAVANGO DELTA

The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. More correctly an alluvial fan, the delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometres of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the harsh Kalahari Desert. The Okavango Delta is a vast and varied ecosystem created as the Okavango River flows into the Kalahari desert in Botswana. Rich in wildlife, this World Heritage Site is a sanctuary to some of the world’s most endangered animals and birds.

Wildlife of the Okavango Delta includes a myriad of species including African Bush Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Lechwe, Topi, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, Nile crocodile, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Brown Hyena, Spotted Hyena, Greater Kudu, Sable Antelope, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Plains Zebra, Warthog and Chacma Baboon. Notably the endangered African Wild Dog still survives within the Okavango Delta and exhibits one of the richest pack densities in Africa. In addition to the large animals the wildlife of the Okavango Delta includes over 500 species of birds and 85 recorded species of fish including Tigerfish, Tilapia and Catfish.

MOREMI GAME RESERVE

The Moremi Game Reserve consists of pans, floodplains, lagoons, grasslands, forests of acacia trees, savannahs and dense mopane woodlands. Jutting into the Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve preserves the heart of Africa’s finest game viewing region. Moremi Game Reserve was declared by the BaTawana people and was the first wildlife sanctuary to be created by an African tribe in their own area. Now, the Moremi Game Reserve is one of the most diverse reserves with surprises everywhere, even for the most seasoned Africa-travellers.

The Moremi Game Reserve is home to over 400 of the Okavango’s species of birds, including the African fish eagle, crested crane and sacred ibis. This unique ecosystem, characteristic of the Okavango Delta, allows for a diverse spectrum of wild life and coupled with effective protective measures results in huge herds of impala and tsessebe and in the dry season large herds of buffalo, wildebeest, elephant and zebra come into the reserve from the dry Kalahari Desert in search of both food and water. The sitatunga and lechwe live in the papyrus banks of the waterways with lions, cheetahs and packs of wild dogs hunting in the open grassland. The northeast tip of Moremi, known as Khwai, is an area where evergreen trees such as mature leadwood line wide floodplains. It boasts excellent density and diversity of both predator and prey species with leopard sightings consistently good. There are also notably large lion prides. From an ornithological perspective, saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes and many species of kingfishers and bee-eaters are common.

NXAI PAN NATIONAL PARK

Nxai Pan National Park is located in the north-east of Botswana. The park is made up of the Nxai Pan, one of the Makgadikgadi Pans salt flats and is a waterless, fossil pan covered in open grasslands with stunning acacia trees forming islands and home to a cluster of millennia-old Baines baobab trees that are purely awe-inspiring to view in person.

The area comes to life after the summer rains in December, when big herds of migrating zebra and wildebeest, accompanied by other grazers, arrive to feast on the new grasses. Cheetah and wild dog sometimes follow the herds of herbivores giving birth at the pan. Spotted hyena are often heard at night, and the elusive brown hyena can be found scurrying around looking for food. Other small predators that are present, but difficult to see, are aardwolf and honey badger. Bat-eared fox are more active in the daytime and thus easier to spot. The woodland supports a lot of tree squirrels. More than 200 species of birds can be viewed including ostriches, pale chanting goshawks, black bustards and the pin-tailed whydah.

CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE

The Central Kalahari game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq kms. Waist-high golden grasses seem to stretch interminably, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Wide and empty pans appear as vast white stretches of saucer-flat earth, meeting a soft, blue-white sky. At night the stars utterly dominate the land; their brilliance and immediacy are totally arresting.

In the harsh desert environment large concentrations of herbivores, such as blue wildebeest, oryx and springbok, can be seen at the water-filled pans in Deception Valley after the rains. Eland, greater kudu and red hartebeest can be found in smaller numbers, and following this migration are the black-maned Kalahari lion and cheetah. Dawn and dusk are the best times to spot hyenas returning to, or leaving, their dens. Spotted hyena are common, but the less common brown hyena is quite easy to find as well. The desert is also home to many smaller predators, such as bat-eared fox, yellow mongoose.

LINYANTI CONCESSION

Linyanti Concession boasts a more private location in the north-western corner of Chobe National Park, on the banks of the river border between Botswana and Namibia. One of the biggest drawcards of Linyanti is that there are no borders between the concession and Chobe National Park, meaning fewer crowds and more wildlife. The Linyanti Concession is made of stunning wilderness defined by the Linyanti River, several lagoons and marshes, as well as mopane woodlands.

Linyanti harbours thousands of elephants and giraffes living in the forest and then traveling across the rest of the park while in the river, you will encounter big buffaloes, crocodiles and hippos in the water. Linyanti is so outstandingly restricted to the collection of predators, including threatened painted dog, leopard, cheetah and hyena. During the wet months, from November to April, the area is home to the calving and migration of zebra.

We’d love to plan your dream safari

Plan your sustainable safari to Botswana today with Better Safaris.

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Botswana’s Best Safari Parks … via @bettersafaris #safari #travel #africa #blog


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