With nearly 40 percent of the country’s total area located within the confines of national parks and private game reserves, Botswana is an ideal destination for safari vacations. Much of this wilderness remains virtually untouched by modern conveniences, making them the perfect locations to watch lions stalk their prey, sight several species of birds, or travel the reed-lined channels in the wetlands.
Visitors to Botswana would be wise to consider these locations and activities:
Chobe National Park
Located in the northwest, Okavanga Delta region of Botswana, this national park is most known for its high concentration of elephant herds. The most often visited of Botswana’s national parks, Chobe is also home to lions, leopards, rhinos, and Cape buffalos. Visitors interested in seeing hippos, crocodiles, and wild dogs will not be disappointed, as these and more than 400 species of birds are also visible in floodplains, grasslands, and forests of this national park. Safaris in open all-terrain vehicles and cruises on the Chobe River make Chobe National Park a favorite for many visitors.
Unlike traditional mainland safaris, explorers to the Okavango Delta can enjoy the sights of the Kalahari Desert from local Botswana canoes, known as mokoros. When the delta floods during the rainy season, tour guides take the mokoro canoes across the delta and right past the wildlife. Explorers can travel into the nearby Moremi Game Reserve to see even more examples of big game.
Visitors can hike the three main hills of Tsodilo in order to see the outdoor art gallery of more than 4,000 ancient rock paintings. These scenes depict hunts, dances, and a variety of animals, some believed to have been painted more than 20,000 years ago.
Nxai Pan National Park
Featuring sand dunes and salt pans, the northeastern Nxai Pan National Park offers a different safari experience than many of the other locations in Botswana. The short grasses of Nxai Pan attract many different species of hoofed animals, including zebras.
This eastern area of Botswana borders South Africa and Zimbabwe and includes Mashatu Game Reserve and Northern Tuli Game Reserve. Encompassing several rivers, forests, a savannah, and groups of baobab trees, the Tuli block of land is home to a variety of elephants, lions, leopards, and cheetahs. The private lands of this region require guided safari tours, but these groupings are generally few and make the experience much more personal.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Covering a huge area of land, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was formerly known as Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Although it can be difficult to travel to, requiring an all-terrain vehicle traveling across the salt pans and Kalahari sand dunes, this park is home to migrating herds of wildebeests and antelopes, as well as rarer animals like the pangolin.
Mokolodi Game Reserve
Not far from Botswana’s capital city is Mokolodi Game Reserve, a private park dedicated to conservation education. Visitors to this location can enjoy a rare opportunity to track rhinos, especially the hard-to-find white rhinos, thanks to a breeding program. Tour operators offer guided walks, game drives, and even night drives to travelers.
Moremi Game Reserve
Also located in the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve borders Chobe National Park and offers more than 500 different species of wildlife, including wild dogs and black and white rhinos.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The most remote safari location in Botswana, Central Kalahari Game Reserve is largely inaccessible with small groups of bushmen living on its grounds. This reserve has only recently been made partially open to the public, and the opportunity to view thousands of springbok and gemsbok, as well as giraffes, ostriches, and black-maned lions make this an enticing safari locale.