Over the past few years Botswana has become a more and more exclusive and luxury safari destination. It enjoys the best reviews in terms of game viewing and the level of comfort is one of the best in Africa. Its popularity has even made it to Hollywood, as some of the A-listers do come on safari here. The “usual” safari outline takes you from Johannesburg in South Africa, via Maun (Botswana) to the Okavango Delta and although this is typically one of the more expensive locations to go on safari, it is still possible with a little more thought and research to manage this with a more basic approach.
The Okavango Delta is formed by a river that flows into a desert, therefore making it a green paradise for various species. The Game viewing is good all year round, and you also get the chance to see the resident wildlife from other ways than just from your game drive vehicle, as walking safaris, elephant back safaris and water based safari are all possible.
Although the Delta and its Wildlife is spectacular and often the focal point of a safari in Botswana, why not try something different as well, rather than sticking to the usual tourist routes? Aside from the lush Delta waterways Botswana is actually mainly dry desert, with the largest part being the Kalahari Desert. Not only is this home to some of the last Bushmen tribes that still live traditionally as they have for centuries, but it also hosts very good wildlife. Contrary to the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari is extremely dry, meaning that animals had to adapt to a completely different ecosystem. Water is rare and if you can find a waterhole, you are sure to see game activity here.
Previously the central Kalahari game reserve was closed off for many years, only allowing the Bushmen to live here. It became renowned mostly by the Book “Cry of the Kalahari” by the US researchers Owen, who spent years in the deception valley researching behaviour in Hyenas amongst other things. Eventually the government finally allowed tourists to visit this area. Although it might not be for everyone you will find expansive desert and wide open landscapes when venturing into the Kalahari. Even today there are only a few lodges and camps in this area, still allowing you to see a pristine wilderness that is hard to find elsewhere.
Another great place to visit after you have seen the Kalahari would be the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans. These are huge salt pans that stretch as far as the eye can see. There are several camps here, offering more rustic camping. Most camps make use of the shade from palms that grow on the edge of the saltpans, giving the camps are wonderful atmosphere. There is, of course, wildlife around here but one thing you have to do is go out onto the saltpans with your guide and experience the feeling of unlimited space. Standing in the middle of a saltpan, with nothing but a white surface 360, degrees around you, gives you an real sense of freedom and that you have come far away from the usual tourist routes.
So when you plan your safari to Botswana and wish to travel a little off the beaten track, do visit at least one of these areas. If anything, it will make you appreciate the lush, green flora of the Okavango even more!
There are plenty of operators to assist you with a budget orientated package in Botswana, or you can take hold of the reins and plan things yourself, for those wishing to treat themselves to something a little more expensive there are operators such as Opulent Africa who provide a more luxury Botswana safari
experience unique to the traveller.