When most people think of Africa, they think of wide open savannah, lions roaring and giraffes wandering through the acacia trees.While this isn’t totally accurate – there are many large cities in Africa – some areas are just as described. Take Botswana, for example. This landlocked country is often forgotten amidst the more tumultuous African nations, but it’s a real gem. It lies between South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and just 150 metres of Zambia. Here are three reasons that you should visit Botswana.
1. Reasons to Visit Botswana: Elephants
Botswana is home to one of the largest populations of African elephants, the vast majority of which life in the Chobe National Park. If you’ve never seen an elephant up close – or if you have, and want to keep repeating the experience – Chobe is the place to do it. Elephant herds are led by a matriarch and can number in the hundreds. In the winter months – that’s April to August in those parts – they congregate close to water in this summer rainfall zone. That makes the African winter the best time to visit, as the vegetation is dry and brown, making it easier to see animals and drawing them to watering holes.
2. Reasons to Visit Botswana: National Parks & Wildlife Reserves
Almost 40% of Botswana is National Park or a Wildlife Reserve. Human populations centre in the bigger cities, like Gaborone, but most of the country is wild. One of the biggest is the Chobe, but there’s also the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, the Kgalagadi National Park and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, among many other reserves. These parks and reserves are home to millions of animals, birds, and plants. There’s something for everyone.
3. Reasons to Visit Botswana: Water-Based Game Viewing
One of the great things about this water poor nation is, counter-intuitively, the water-based game viewing. The edges of the country contains many rivers, and water is a precious resource. The Moremi Game Reserve (alongside the Chobe) is home to the famous Okavango Delta, an enormous watercourse that empties into the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango River runs from Angola all the way down into the Delta, attracting millions of animals. Water-based game viewing is somewhat of a rarity in Africa, due to the general dryness. In the Okavango, you can take river cruises, kayak or canoe and experience game in a stillness and proximity that is truly unique.
Top Places To Stay in Botswana
Now that we’ve established Botswana as your next holiday destination, let’s talk about the best place to experience the magic. Keen on seeing the elephants of Chobe? Try Chobe Under Canvas, a mobile camp in the Chobe National Park that moves to wherever the best game viewing experiences are. The Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp is in the stunning Okavango Delta, making it an incredible location for waterside game viewing, as well as for motorboat and kokoro boat experiences. Looking for the lap of luxury in the most exquisite location? Kings Pool Camp, on the western boundary of Chobe is in the Linyanti wildlife reserve. Visitors can swim in the pool alongside the river, dine alfresco and take game drives, night and day.
When it comes to Botswana, you’ll visit for a week and leave your heart there for life. It’s a land of incredible beauty and mindblowing diversity. It’s one of those places you have to keep returning to, in different seasons and to different places, to keep re-experiencing the peace and wildness.