In this article read about top things to do in Botswana. Botswana is known for its incredible wilderness areas, such as the epic Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, and the opportunity to experience them by staying in some seriously fancy luxury lodges, making it one of Africa’s best destinations for wildlife enthusiasts. The country is a one-of-a-kind playground for amateur anglers and birdwatching enthusiasts alike, as well as cultural and outdoor adventurers.
The stark Kalahari Desert covers
Much of Botswana, making for an unusual setting for an African safari. The desert may appear lifeless and uninhabited at first, but the dry plains are home to unusual delights that make for a magical travel experience: endless salt pans, ephemeral lakes, islands of baobab trees, friendly meerkat colonies, Neolithic sites that speak to a fascinating past, and the world’s largest inland delta.
Despite being surrounded by desert, the miracle of water is what truly distinguishes this country. The annual floods, fueled by rains from Angola’s mountainous watersheds, create exquisite river systems and replenish the Okavango Delta for the extraordinary diversity of wildlife that lives here.
Plan your trip to include these top 8 unmissable things to do in Botswana, whether your interests are wildlife encounters or elemental desert scenery.
Book a traditional Botswana safari.
Although the term originated in East Africa, Botswana has perfected the safari experience. Almost half of Botswana’s land area has been designated for wilderness tourism, with national parks, wildlife conservancies, and game reserves accounting for more than 40% of the country’s land allocation.
Chobe National Park is the most accessible wilderness, thanks in part to its location at the end of a tarmac highway near Kasane Chobe Airport. It also provides an easily rewarding encounter with wildlife. This region of Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population (approximately 126,000), and the best way to see Africa’s elephant capital is to board a boat and cruise the Chobe River’s game-rich shores.
Moremi Game Reserve,
located nearby, encompasses one-third of the Okavango Delta. The Batawana people of Ngamiland established this reserve in 1963, making it one of Africa’s first reserves to be declared by local residents rather than colonial powers. The majority of luxury lodges and camps are located in concession areas leased by the government in order to enforce a more responsible high-value, low-volume tourism strategy. The best reserves are in the Okavango Delta swamps, and visitors fly in on small bush planes from Maun.
The logistics of getting to these remote locations inevitably raises the cost of a game-viewing experience – stays start at US$650 per person per night and can cost up to US$4000 per night – but lower visitor numbers reduce the environmental impact on these pristine wildlife areas. It also means that visitors are more likely to have exclusive access to lions, painted wolves, and other animals.
Seek out the desert-adapted animals of the Kalahari, a massive wildlife park that opened to the public in the late 1990s, for an even more far-flung adventure. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), which spans five million hectares, is home to black-maned lions, stately oryx antelope, and amusing ground squirrels (12.4 million acres).
The CKGR is also the San people’s ancestral home. The San, also known as bushmen in Botswana, traditionally lived a nomadic lifestyle, hunting and gathering only what they needed from the desert, and glimpses of this life can still be seen when visiting local communities.
In the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, a campsite with a campfire under a starry sky.
Wild camping in Botswana is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. Getty Images / Westend61
Go camping in the wild.
If you’re feeling adventurous but don’t want to spend money on a luxury camp, you can rent a car and drive to simple demarcated campsites scattered across the country. You’ll need a fully equipped 4X4 camper, which you can rent in Botswana or South Africa (many flights to Botswana fly through Johannesburg) for around US$140 per day. These tough vehicles are outfitted with all-terrain tyres, recovery gear, and basic camping gear like rooftop tents, chairs, cutlery, crockery, and even battery-powered fridges.
Most of Botswana’s wildlife parks and camps are unfenced, and there’s no better way to experience the rugged intensity of the wilderness than by camping alongside the Kalahari’s creatures. You might have to dodge spotted hyenas on your way to the bathroom (if there is one!) or wait for hippos to scamper back into the river after grazing along the riverbanks all night. Many CKGR campsites require complete self-sufficiency, but some, such as those in Savuti and Moremi Game Reserves, have flushing toilets and hot showers.
The most popular self-drive camping route connects Baines’ Baobabs in Nxai Pan National Park with Third Bridge in Moremi Game Reserve, before continuing north to Savuti and the Chobe River in Chobe National Park. If you want to go somewhere right now, remember that the world is changing . So travel the world, book a Botswana trip or to any other country like South Africa . Live your best life today.
A nature walk honours San culture
The San have lived in the Kalahari for over 50,000 years. And any visit to this desert area should include time to appreciate their ancient wisdom. The San have long been regarded as the original inhabitants of southern Africa, despite being tragically expelled from their ancestral land in the central Kalahari, and nature walks with skilled trackers offer culturally sensitive insights into the traditional bushmen way of life.
When you enter their world to learn about their traditions. You help to ensure the survival of this rapidly fading culture. Responsible tours are offered by lodges such as Tau Pan Camp, Nxai Pan Camp, and Jack’s Camp. Visit the Dqe Qare San Lodge, which is run by the local San community.
In D’kar, visit a contemporary San art gallery.
A daring community project in D’kar, near Ghanzi, offers an alternative way to experience Botswana’s oldest culture. At the Kuru Art Project, vibrant prints and paintings preserve accounts of the Naro San people’s lives. Backcountry art studios can be visited, and artworks celebrating botany, wildlife, and traditional beliefs can be found. Don’t miss the small museum right next to the art project. This is one of the most
++top things to do in Botswana
Canoe across the Okavango Delta.
Most safaris in Africa take place in a rattling 4WD vehicle. But Botswana’s most iconic safari vehicle provides a more serene way of communing with nature. Botswana’s crown jewel is the Okavango Delta, and the best way to explore this wondrous. Watery Unesco World Heritage site is aboard a traditional mokoro canoe.
The area’s first human inhabitants navigated the delta’s wild waterways in these flat-bottomed boats. Which they steered by standing at the back of the vessel and pushing forward with a long pole. Certified professional polers follow paths cleared by herbivore hippos and hungry elephants. You’ll sit inches above the surface, inches above the water. And enjoy the river in silence, sharing the channels with beautiful water lilies. Adorable Angolan painted reed frogs, and aquatic lechwe antelopes. For centuries, this is how the Okavango Delta has been enjoyed.
Most Okavango luxury lodges offer canoe trips, but most require an expensive flight. The Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust also offers day trips. And overnight camping adventures from Maun, which is a good option for budget travellers. Inquire at their office or through a hostel, such as the Old Bridge Backpackers or Delta Rain.
Take a scenic flight to see the Delta from above.
You must fly to appreciate the size of the swollen swamps that make up the Okavango Delta. The serpentine channels are revealed in all their glory from inside a small Cessna plane. Or a bush helicopter with the doors removed. The delta is painted with watercolour swatches of emerald, olive, pea, lime, and every other imaginable shade of green. While elephants and buffalo herds traverse it.
Okavango Delta Maun Airport serves as a hub for several scenic flight operators. Including Mack Air and Helicopter Horizons, which you can book directly through their offices.
Don’t miss a walking (and tasting) tour of Maun.
Maun is a gateway to the safari world. And many visitors use it as a base to explore Botswana’s untamed northern regions. Make time for an immersive guided walking tour with Your Botswana Experience to see the modern face of Maun. The walks begin with a visit to the town market. Where essentials like cattle bells, water tap locks, palm-leaf baskets, and fat cast-iron cooking pots are traded.
Before you try your hand at basket weaving, guides will explain the traditional uses of everything in the market. You’ll quickly understand why it can take two weeks to craft one of these intricate vessels. After that, tswi, a water lily stew made from potato-like roots harvested from Okavango waters. Will be served with magwinya, a deep-fried donut-like bread roll, at the charming Akacia Cafe.
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