The Ultimate Guide to Safaris in Botswana
An Insider's Guide to Planning the Perfect Safari in Botswana
Planning the perfect safari to Botswana can be overwhelming. With so much to do and see, especially in a country as diverse as Botswana, most travellers don’t know where to begin. But we’re here to help. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and insights needed to make your safari dreams a reality. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a first-time safari-goer, we’re confident that you will find valuable insights in this guide.
Learn about the best time to visit, the top safari destinations, and the different types of safari experiences available. Discover insider tips on selecting the right accommodation, the right safari activities, and getting the most out of your wildlife sightings. Whether you’re seeking close encounters with majestic elephants or rare sightings of elusive big cats, this guide has got you covered!
Why choose Botswana for a safari?
With its abundant wildlife, diverse ecosystems, and breath-taking landscapes, Botswana offers a safari experience like no other. The country is home to some of Africa’s most iconic safari destinations, including the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi Pans. Wide open spaces, and massive private concessions make Botswana one of the most exclusive safari destinations on earth. But what sets Botswana apart is its commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the beauty of its wilderness for generations to come.
Best time to visit Botswana for a safari
Choosing the right time to visit Botswana is crucial for a successful safari experience. The country has two distinct seasons – the dry season and the wet season, each offering a unique experience. The dry season, which runs from May to October, is considered the best time to visit. During this period, the wildlife congregates around water sources, making it easier to spot animals. The wet season, from November to April, brings lush greenery and newborn animals, but it can also make wildlife sightings more challenging due to the thicker vegetation.
The Okavango Delta floods from May to August, forcing the animals onto the few remaining patches of dry land. This makes for phenomenal game viewing in these areas. But if you prefer milder temperatures (and fewer crowds), we recommend travelling to Botswana in the shoulder seasons in April or September.
Safari activities and experiences
Most people picture game drives when they think about a safari, but in Botswana there are so many more activities to choose from! The country offers a wide range of activities and experiences to make the most of your wildlife adventure. Set out on a guided walking safari (our personal favourite), where you can explore the wilderness on foot and learn about the smaller, often overlooked aspects of the ecosystem. Take a scenic helicopter flight over the Okavango Delta for a bird’s-eye view of this remarkable landscape. Or, for the more adventurous, try your hand at tiger fishing or glide along the pristine waterways in a mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe).
We also always recommend that our guests consider visiting a local village and getting to know the local people that call Botswana home. We especially love the guided walks with the Bushmen that take place in the Makgadikgadi Pans region. Learning more about their lifestyle will give visitors a better understanding of Botswana’s rich history and the amazing people that create a life in this harsh environment.
Top Safari Destinations in Botswana
Botswana has many famous safari destinations. Below are our favourites:
Okavango Delta Safaris
The Okavango Delta is an oasis that supports most of the wildlife in northern Botswana. It is made up of wetlands, channels, rivers, lagoons and floodplains with islands that range in size from little mounds to massive wildlife havens that support thousands of animals. A Okavango Delta safari experience is heavily impacted by the seasons, because during the rains, the delta floods and animals are forced to dry land.
We recommend staying at one of the camps on the outer edge of the delta, as these will offer land based activities like walking safaris and game drives as well as mokoro rides and speedboating that are traditional in this part of Botswana. Your wildlife sightings also tend to be better on the outer edge of the delta, as most animals prefer to be on dry land.
The Linyanti region in Botswana can be found north of the Okavango Delta, pocketed between Namibia and the Chobe National Park. It is made up of massive private concessions, where you can stay in some of the most exclusive safari camps in Africa.
During the dry season, huge herds of elephants and buffalo migrate towards the permanent waters in the region, making for incredible sightings. The Linyanti is known for these elephant and buffalo, as well as amazing packs of wild dogs and more.
Makgadikgadi Pans Safaris
The Makgadikgadi Pans spans an area of over 10,000 square kilometres, making them some of the world’s largest salt pans. Despite its unforgiving looks, the Makgadikgadi Pans offers some of the most diverse safari experiences in Botswana.
Guests can enjoy interactions with habituated meerkats, sightings of brown hyenas and other desert adapted wildlife, and witness one of the largest zebra migrations in Africa. There are also some incredibly special activities on offer here, like sleeping under the stars in the desert, quad biking across the pans and getting to know the San Bushmen of Botswana, who have carved out a life for themselves in this unforgiving landscape for generations.
Choosing the right safari camp or lodge in Botswana
Choosing the right accommodation is essential to the success of your Botswana safari experience. There are lots of options to choose from for all budgets and preferences, but below is a list of our favourite Botswana camps and lodges, and the ones we’d most recommend using:
- Duba Plains, Okavango Delta
Located on a private concession in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Duba Plains Camp is everything you’d expect from a luxury Botswana safari. This exclusive camp has Relais & Chateaux status and is home to just five suites. We get especially excited about all the activities guests can look forward to at Duba Plains, including game drives, walking safaris, speedboating, mokoro rides, fishing and even helicopter tours.
2. Selinda Explorers, Selinda Reserve
Selinda Explorers Camp in Selinda Reserve is a Great Plains Conservation property like Duba Plains, meaning guests can expect the same awesome activities. We love how Selinda Explorers feels connected to the surrounding wilderness area. It is located in a prime predator habitat, with lion, leopard, cheetah and African wild dogs hunting here regularly.
3. Jacks Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans
Nestled in the heart of Botswana’s otherworldly Makgadikgadi Pans region, Jack’s Camp is the epitome of luxurious safari experiences. Made up of canvas and oozing timeless charm, this exclusive camp invites guests to immerse themselves in the wonders of this unique landscape. Unusual experiences available at Jack’s Camp include habituated meerkat encounters, game drives to see the region’s incredible desert adapted animals, and guided walks with the Bushmen.
This is our favourite camp in the Makgadikgadi Pans region, and for good reason!
4. Jao Camp, Okavango Delta
Jao Camp can be found tucked away on a remote island in Botswana’s rich Okavango Delta. This luxury camp blends architectural beauty with a deep appreciation for the wilderness area it operates in, creating an exclusive gem in the space where water and land blur.
Jao Camp offers both land and water based activities, including mokoro rides, boating and game drives. It’s the perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature while still giving visitors the adrenaline rush of phenomenal wildlife viewing.
5. Kanana Camp, Okavango Delta
Kanana is located on the southwestern section of the Okavango Delta in a captivating mosaic of islands, floodplains, and channels. With 7 spacious tented suites, Kanana offers luxury accommodation in one of the delta’s most active wildlife hotspots.
Visitors can look forward to abundant wildlife sightings (the area is known for its lion, leopard and wild dog populations) on a variety of different activities. Kanana’s private concession allows for the usual Okavango Delta activities like boating, mokoro rides and game drives, as well as our favourite safari activity – guided bush walks!
While the sheer size and variety of Botswana can make it seem overwhelming to plan the perfect safari here, the rewards are well worth the effort and the money spent. Varied and awe-inspiring landscapes, some of the best wildlife sightings in Africa, phenomenal accommodation and the opportunity to meet some incredible people, a Botswana safari is truly an unforgettable experience. So whether you’re a nature lover, a wildlife enthusiast, an experienced adventurer or a safari newbie, Botswana is waiting to welcome you with open arms.
We deeply love this enigmatic country, and this love paired with our extensive knowledge and experience in the area means we are the best in the business of planning safaris in Botswana. Get in touch to start planning your Botswana safari.