Did you know Botswana is one of Africa’s most exciting tour vacation destinations and it has developed an admirable reputation for fervently protecting its precious and varied environment. It is a land with vast herds of giraffe, elephant, gemsbok and zebra that feast on nature’s bounty and, in turn, attract cheetah and lion.
The Okavango Delta has been likened to paradise on earth: its lily-filled waterways are best explored in a dugout canoe (mokoro). In the northeast, Chobe National Park boasts some of the largest and most dramatic herds of elephant in Africa.
The vast Kalahari Desert offers visitors a chance to experience this seemingly infinite expanse as well as the opportunity to meet the people who have made this harsh land their home for millennium. Explore the mysterious ancient heart of our ancestors through the rock paintings of the Tsodilo Hills. The Makgadikgadi Pans are an ethereal realm that host rare desert species in the dry season, and attract thousands of migrating zebras when it rains. Just across the Zimbabwe border, Victoria Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world and the adventure capital of Africa; a trip to see “The Smoke That Thunders” can easily be integrated into your visit to Botswana.
Botswana is considered by many travel connoisseurs to be the ultimate safari destination in Africa. Known for its stability, safety, and active government support of environmental protection, Botswana’s National Parks, and the Great Okavango Delta, are vast, awe-inspiring lands that convey a sense of pristine Africa, rich in wildlife and untainted by the modern world. Many travelers choose to combine a visit to Botswana with a brief excursion to nearby Victoria Falls. Given its present name by Livingstone, the falls’ more atmospheric, traditional name is Mosa oa Tunya – The Smoke that Thunders. The Falls are one of the great sights of this world, and have also become the heart of adventure travel in Africa, with canoeing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, horseback safaris, and bungee jumping on offer for the adventurous. More sedate excursions include sunset cruises along the Zambezi, enjoying sundowners and canapes. Botswana is a short distance west of the Falls, enticing you with endless opportunity for adventure.
Chobe National Park is a raw, wild land, teeming with game. The most popular regions of the park are the riverfront, and the Mababe depression, popularly known as Savuti. The river attracts tremendous numbers of wildlife during the dry season: June to October. The sight of hundreds of frolicking elephants along the water each afternoon is an unforgettable highlight of a visit to Botswana.
The nearby flood plains are covered with open grasslands, dense bush and forests. This varied landscape is home to herds of elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, antelope, and much much more. Savuti is at its best from November to May. The area is known for the prides of lions that rule the marsh. Even travelers who have visited other wildlife parks in Africa are struck by the primeval wilderness of Savuti, where the vast expanse of open plains are heaving with masses of wildlife, who migrate to the riverfront during the dry season. To the north of Savuti are the Gubatsaa Hills, dotted with ancient rock paintings.
The Okavango Delta is an enchanting labyrinth of channels, lakes, flood plains and islands, which shelter one of the world’s greatest arrays of wildlife and birds. The most popular time to visit is the dry season, from April to October. On the eastern edge of the Delta is Moreni Wildlife Reserve: recognized as one of the best reserves in southern Africa, Moreni is imbued with a sense of primordial wilderness long gone from so many other parts of the continent. Drift through waterways lined with lilies as you explore hidden islands, teeming with elephants and antelope. Most of all, the Delta is a paradise for bird-watchers: even the most casual visitor with be enthralled by the splendor of the bird life: storks, herons, kingfishers, fish eagles, rollers, and over 400 other species make their home among the varied ecosystems of the Delta. Delta lodges epitomize luxury in the wild, combining exploration of this glorious natural wonderland, with stylish accommodation, superb service, and exclusive luxury.
The vast Makgadikgadi and Nxai salt pans of the northeast immerse visitors in a rare and powerful sense of silence, space and infinity. The unique landscape surrounding the pans attract an amazing wealth of bird-life: flamingos, pelicans, ducks, and geese nest amidst the grassland surrounding the pans. In the Makgadikgadi Pans are a series of islands; most notable is Kubu. Only 10 meters high, Kubu provides a surprisingly panoramic view over this otherwise utterly flat area. Some archaeological remains have been found here, dating as far back as 500 AD. The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve are best seen in the dry season, from April to November, especially from June onwards. Gemsbok, springbok, ostrich, lions and more dwell among the grasslands and palm groves to the north of the pans.
Nxai Pan National Park is dramatically different from Makgadikgadi. Here, a 14 km stretch of grass is dotted with small islands of trees. The best time to visit is the rainy season – from November – March. This is the time to see most of the wildlife: if there have been good rains, you’ll see wildebeest, zebra, gemsbok, giraffe, and sometimes cheetah & lions. At the southern edge are Baines’ Baobabs, overlooking Kudiakam Pan. From December-February, the pans fill with rain, and attract flamingos & other waterbirds.
As a travelers’ destination, the Kalahari Desert is in a class of its own. Covering almost two thirds of Botswana, this is a raw, untamed and challenging land that has unique rewards for those adventurous to accept its innate difficulties. While the area is home to a great deal of wildlife, the vast scale means that sightings are not guaranteed. The profound silence of the landscape and awesome desert expanse is deeply rewarding to those inspired by the grander of the natural world. The area is also home to some of the last remaining San hunter-gatherers, whose rapidly vanishing lifestyle may be experienced by fortunate and inspired visitors eager to learn their secrets of survival in this harsh land.
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