Botswana is in southern Africa, bounded by Namibia in the north and west, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the northeast, and South Africa in the south and southeast.  The Kalahari Desert covers a large portion of the land area, with the rest of the vegetation being mainly savanna.  The wildlife consists of lions, giraffes, leopards, antelope, elephants, crocodiles, hippopotami, and ostriches.  It’s a dry country; it doesn’t get a great deal of rain, so droughts are common.

What’s Different about a Botswanan Safari?

LeopardThere are no fences between the national parks and private reserves in Botswana, so animals roam freely wherever they wish.  You can choose between the Okavango Delta (the delta ranges from flood plains and lagoons to forests and open grasslands), the Chobe National Park, or the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, where, in the winter when it is at its driest, herds of elephants and zebra search for water and thus seek out water holes and other water sources.

When to Go

If it’s going to rain, it will be from November through April, and this is when the animals move to new pastures.  It’s at this time of year that zebras migrate from the Linyanti in the north of the country through the Savuti to Mababe, where there is grass on which they can feed.  In February, when the humidity is high and it’s very hot, the animals start to move north again.

It’s usually dry in Botswana from May to October. The waters dry up and animals are drawn to artificial waterholes.  Elephants, which are the largest land-based mammal and have no natural predators (or, more correctly, adult elephants don’t, the young are fair game for attack by crocodiles and lions), take priority.  Other animals have to wait for them to finish.  This makes it a good time to go on safari, as you will have plenty of chance to see the animals.  However, June to September is probably the best time to go to Botswana because you can be pretty sure there won’t be any rain.

What to Expect from a Botswanan Safari

Leopard TortoiseBotswana tends to be more expensive than other safari destinations in Africa because many places are more difficult to get to by road.  You will need to shop around to see how much your chosen holiday costs, but there are usually some deals available.

The safaris tend to mean a long day away from your base camp – an early start is usually the order of the day.  You may stay out all day, having lunch at the hottest time of day, when the animals tend to rest, or you have may a shorter trip out and go back to your base late morning.  If your travel company doesn’t provide it, make sure that you take something to drink with you for your safari, even if it’s only going to be a few hours.

Don’t expect five-star accommodation. Although most of it is good, for the location, it’s not going to be all Jacuzzis and spas.  And, as always, ensure that you have sufficient clothes to protect you from the heat of the sun (sunglasses, sunhat, sun block, long-sleeved clothes) and that you are adequately vaccinated.

Have a wonderful holiday!