Exploring the Natural Wonders of Botswana - An Insider's Guide for Travel Seekers
If you are thinking of touring Southern Africa, then my series of articles on each of the countries in this region will be quite useful where I share information on each country making up this part of the continent. Southern Africa is where I grew up the majority of my life and I still visit each year. A place very dear to me.
When I assist travellers in tour planning to Southern Africa I always encourage them to visit Botswana. Especially the the northern parts of the country because Botswana is the heart of this region and not only does the northern parts of this country give access the amazing Okavango Delta, it is also in very close proximity to Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, a touch of Angola, giving you the opportunity to explore these countries as well without taking too much extra time out or too much out of your budget.
In this blog post, I'll take you on a journey through Botswana, sharing insights on its attractions, the best time to visit, accommodation options, currency, and other essential information.
Where is Botswana?
Botswana is a landlocked country located in the southern part of Africa. It shares borders with South Africa to the south, Namibia to the west, Zimbabwe to the northeast, and Zambia to the north. The country spans over 581,000 square kilometres, making it larger than France or Texas. Its central location makes it an ideal starting point for exploring Southern Africa.
Dubbed the "Jewel of the Kalahari," due to its lush green oasis amidst the arid Kalahari Desert, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a vast oasis of wildlife. Its unique blend of permanent waterways, seasonal floodplains, and islands supports an incredibly rich and diverse range of flora and fauna. Glide through its meandering waterways in a mokoro (traditional canoe) and witness a diverse range of animals, including elephants, hippos, and countless bird species.
Moremi Game Reserve:
This protected area within the Okavango Delta is a true wildlife sanctuary. Game drives here offer close encounters with lions, leopards, and other predators, while the annual floodwaters bring a thriving ecosystem to life.
Chobe National Park:
Home to one of the largest elephant populations in Africa, Chobe is a game viewer's paradise. Enjoy thrilling safaris and river cruises along the Chobe River, where you can spot elephants bathing and basking on the banks.
Moving south of the Delta, these mesmerizing salt pans are a striking contrast to Botswana's lush wetlands. The vast, shimmering expanses create surreal landscapes, and during the rainy season, they come alive with flamingos and other migratory birds. The Makgadikgadi Pans are the remains of a super lake that once covered an area bigger than Switzerland.
Best Time to Visit:
Botswana's climate is characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons. The best time to visit depends on your interests:
Dry Season (May to October): Ideal for wildlife viewing as animals gather around water sources. The weather is cooler during this period, making it comfortable for safaris.
Wet Season (November to April): This is when the Okavango Delta comes alive with lush greenery and newborn wildlife. Birdwatching is exceptional during this time. However, some areas may be inaccessible due to flooding.
Botswana caters to a range of budgets and preferences:
Botswana has some of finest safari lodges anywhere in the world. Experience unparalleled luxury in private game reserves and lodges. Many offer all-inclusive packages that include safari activities, gourmet dining, and spa treatments.
Mid-Range Lodges and Camps:
These provide a comfortable balance between luxury and affordability, often with guided game drives and bush walks.
For the adventurous traveller, Botswana's national parks offer campsites where you can immerse yourself in the wild whilst being close to nature. Be sure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons.
Botswana’s tourist areas have dedicated modern airports that service the Okavango Delta and Chobe regions, so transfers are quick and easy. Getting to safari lodges within the Delta is also quite easy as many of the private game reserves have their own airstrips for light aircrafts. Apart from air transport, overland transport is also easily obtainable.
Thanks to this network of air and road transport facilities accessibility to other must visit destinations such as South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe is quite easy. From Botswana visiting South Africa’s Mother city Cape Town, the gigantic Victoria Falls which spans between Zambia and Zimbabwe, or Namibia’s ancient desert landscapes is very straightforward.
The official currency of Botswana is the Botswana Pula (BWP). Major credit cards are widely accepted in cities and at luxury lodges. Whilst during my travels electronic card payment facilities were available even in remote locations, however it's advisable to carry some cash.
Food and Drink Options:
When it comes to experiencing the culinary delights of Botswana, you're in for a treat. The country's cuisine reflects its rich cultural heritage and is a delightful fusion of flavours and traditions. From traditional dishes to international fare, there is something to satisfy every palate.
One of the must-try dishes in Botswana is seswaa, a traditional meat dish made from slow-cooked beef or goat. It is typically served with pap, a stiff porridge made from maize meal. This hearty and flavourful dish is a staple in Botswana and is sure to leave you feeling satisfied.
For those looking for a taste of the wild, game meat is a popular choice in Botswana. From kudu to warthog, you'll find a variety of game meats on the menu. These meats are often grilled or braised and served with flavourful sauces and accompaniments.
If you're in the mood for something a bit more adventurous, try mopane worms. These caterpillars are a traditional delicacy in Botswana and are often dried or fried before being eaten. They have a unique texture and taste and are considered a delicacy by the locals.
In terms of beverages, Botswana offers a variety of options. One of the most popular drinks is ginger beer, a refreshing and tangy drink made from fermented ginger root. It's the perfect beverage to quench your thirst on a hot day.
If you're looking for something stronger, try the local beer, known as Chibuku. This traditional sorghum beer is brewed locally and has a distinct flavour. It's a popular choice among locals and visitors alike.
For those looking for a taste of the familiar, Botswana also has a wide range of international cuisine. From Italian to Chinese to Indian, you'll find restaurants serving a variety of dishes from around the world.
No matter what your taste buds are craving, Botswana has something to satisfy every appetite. So whether you're in the mood for traditional dishes or international flavours, be sure to explore the culinary delights of Botswana during your visit.
Check visa requirements for your country before traveling to Botswana.
Consult your doctor about vaccinations and anti-malarial medication.
Botswana is a respectful and conservative society. Dress modestly when in towns and villages, and always ask permission before taking photos of local people.
Respect the wildlife and follow your guide's instructions for a safe and responsible safari experience.
English is the official language, and Setswana is widely spoken.
Botswana can be hot and dry, so it's important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when exploring the national parks and wildlife reserves.
Be prepared for early starts:
Wildlife viewing is best in the early morning when animals are most active. Be prepared to wake up early and start your safari adventures at sunrise for the best chance of spotting wildlife.
Botswana, with its diverse landscapes and incredible wildlife, promises an unforgettable journey through Southern Africa. Whether you seek thrilling safaris, serene waterways, or the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, Botswana has it all. Start planning your adventure to this remarkable country, and get ready to create lasting memories in one of Africa's most beautiful destinations.
Should you require any more information or would like my assistance in planning a trip to Botswana, any other destination in the region or tour the entire region as a whole please write to me.