A guide to Botswana safari tours, cost, destinations, things to do and safari companies.
Top 25 things to do in Botswana
Visit the San Bushmen on A Cultural Safari
The San Bushmen who are believed to be one with the Kalahari desert are said to have occupied this arid land several years ago perfecting their survival skills in this arid land and ways of life from one generation to another. During your visit you will get an opportunity to learn about their day to day life and practices including learning about their medicinal plants, their unique traditions and even listen to their amazing legends as told by the elders. On the brighter side Safari lodges like the Kalahari plains camp, offer culture tours to the San community during which you will visit their traditional villages and interact with the local people.
Go mobile camping on a family Safari in Botswana
One of the best ways to see the most of this beautiful country is by mobile camping. ideally this includes spending two to three nights at one tented comp and then move to another as you follow the traditional itineraries during which you will visit a number of tourist attractions found within Botswana such as Chobe National Park, Moremi game reserve, the Okavango delta and Savute. Although amenities like a swimming pool and Wi-Fi may not be available you will enjoy close proximity to Mother Nature and have an authentic African safari experience. Views of elephants, ground squirrels and honey badgers are very common during your adventure
Take a guided Wildlife Safari
Botswana has a number of tour operators who organize thrilling guided tours to see the different wildlife found in the country. The guides are very knowledgeable and have spent several years of experience in this practice; so be assured of an amazing game viewing adventure. Some of the best places to see the wildlife include Moremi game reserve home to a large number of predators and Chobe National Park where you will be impressed by the large number of elephants and buffaloes.
Enjoy views of baby animals in Botswana’s Green Season
The wet season which is locally referred to as ‘Pula’ in the local Tswana language to mean rain begins in the month of November up to April; the land becomes green the bird life is plenty and many animals are giving birth at this time. Taking a safari at this time of the year offers holidaymakers an opportunity to see many young animals.
Engage in power boating on the Okavango delta
This Delta is the largest inland Delta in the whole world and has a very large number of channels flowing through its extensive network of reeds making a perfect playground to enjoy power boating. During this adventure the guides will turn off the engines as they approach the areas with different wildlife such as crocodiles, sitatunga antelope, elephants and hippos. During you power boating you will be able to adventure further from you accommodation and proceed to even the more remote areas. This activity is very possible given that the water levels are high enough. Places like the Xugana Island and Vumbura plains can organize power boating adventures in the morning.
Do yoga in the Kalahari Desert
Traditionally safaris in Africa are believed to be all about game viewing however the good news is that many safari lodges and camps have become more and more creative when it comes to activities offered to their guests. Today places like Jack’s camp have established beautiful porches that overlook the extensive pan where guests can enjoy yoga. Yoga is a perfect way to decelerate and give your body an opportunity to mentally connect with the peaceful surrounding environment
Take a Mokoro ride to see hippos
Several years back, the initial way of traveling around the Okavango Delta was using the traditional mokoro which were made from trunks of sausage trees that were hollow. Currently there is a faster and more environmentally friendly means of transport used which are canoes made with fiber-glass which are used by most Safari lodges. Taking a ride on a mokoro offers you a very peaceful experience as you explore this waterway. The guide will pole you gently down the course of the water streams as you enjoy the views of beautiful lilies, different birds like the goliath heroines, and see the Reed frogs. You shouldn’t be scared of the hippos in the water because when they hear the poles tapping the water surface they clear the way for the mokoro to pass. Most of the lodges found close to the Okavango delta offer mekoro rides as part of their activities to their guests.
See the huge baobab tree of Botswana
According to the traditional tales of the people of Botswana the baobab tree is also known as ‘the tree god made in anger’. according to their tales it’s alleged that God became frustrated with this tree and threw it out from the heavens down to earth where it’s landed in an awkward way leaving its roots on top these trees generally have a large trunk that holds large volumes of moisture and their backs are a delicacy to elephants. They are found nearly in all parts of the country however they can best be seen in Savute within the Baobab Alley.
Enjoy the breathtaking views of Botswana
Although Botswana is generally considered a fairly flat country, you will be able to enjoy different views ranging from the extensive Chobe floodplain to the Savute marsh as well as the Okavango delta. In this country the skies appear to be bluer and higher with numerous clouds and the beautiful African sunshine. Botswana is a much-loved destination for both immature and experienced photographers.
Enjoy a sunset Cruise on River Chobe
Within the northern parts of Chobe National Park flows the mighty Chobe River where many safaris in Botswana usually end. Enjoy a cruise down the river during which you will see a great array of different types of fishing eagles, hippos and crocodiles and later you will encounter different animals like the elephants on the river banks plus some few antelopes that come to quench their thirst. as the evening progresses and the sun begins to set you will enjoy the breathtaking views of the African sun disappear beyond the horizon.
Go for a Bird watching Safari
Botswana prides in a diversity of about 550 different types of birds and when you visit during the summer months from November to March you will see different migrant species sharing habitat with the resident ones. Some of the birds you will see in Botswana include the lilac-breasted rollers, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, African fish eagles, ground hornbills, black egrets, carmine bee-eathers and the giant eagle owls.
Enjoy star-gazing in the desert
Spend the night out within the Kalahari Desert and enjoy the spectacular views of dazzling Stars shining bright above you. Because the sky is a generally clear while in the desert you will enjoy very clear views as you camp anywhere outside the main cities. However don’t forget to pack some warm clothes because the desert is generally very cold in the night
See large Schools of hippos and giant crocodiles
Because part of Botswana has numerous water sources this definitely means that there are numerous hippos living with the shallow muddy edges of these water bodies. During the night and sometimes of the day these move out of the water to the shore where they can easily be seen. The hippos have over time created routes for the water to their grazing grass which are locally referred to as the ‘hippo highway’ by the local people.
Because hippos are very territorial, during your adventures it is a common sight to see them fighting vigorously as they defend their spaces. These water bodies are surrounded by long grass which serves as habit to different antelopes and other animals such as the zebras which come to quench their thirst, not forgetting the giant crocodiles as well. The crocodiles have a tendency of not moving for several hours tricking their prey that they are not dangerous and later they suddenly attack at a super fast speed. Some of the best places to see the giant creatures is in the deep Waters as well as the swampy Banks of river Chobe.
Take a quad biking (ATVs) adventure on the pans
Locally referred to as quad biking on the African continent, this adventure is also known as ATVs internationally. Because of the nature of the Botswana pans which are generally flat they, offer the best place to enjoy an ATV ride as you will be able to traverse longer distances at your preferred speed. The best places to enjoy these are in the Makgadikgadi pan and the Nxai pan. This activity is best suited for those who do not mind getting themselves somehow dirt due to the dust in the area.
Watch Predators on the Okavango Delta
A visit to Moremi game reserve will reward you with amazing views of the leopard. This game reserve is the only national protected area within the Okavango Delta which delta is listed among the world heritage sites. Within Savute, there is a big pride of lions that leave within the mash and it’s considered to be one of the largest lion populations on the continent. Over the years, these lions have perfected their powerful hunting skills due to the taxing work involved in hunting within the deep waters and today they have been known to have the capacity of taking down large animals such as elephants. Deep in the night these animals are believed to roam around the area as they mark the boundaries of their territory to keep their enemies away. On a lucky adventure day you might be able to see some lion cubs
Take a hot air balloon ride over the spectacular Okavango Delta
The experience of gliding over the extensive inland Okavango Delta in a hot air balloon is very remarkable! This experience is totally different from flying in the light aircrafts. You will be able to see the different wildlife below you such as the large numbers of hippos, Buffaloes and elephants and even see the unique landscape that includes different features such as the oxbow lakes. This balloon adventures normally begins very early in the morning before sunrise in the Vumbura plains.
Watch the big five in Moremi game reserve
No safari in Botswana is considered complete without watching the big five animals that include rhinos, buffaloes, elephants, leopards and lions. These can best be seen within Moremi game reserve and in the Okavango Delta. sadly the Rhino is one of the most endangered species in this country however thanks to a conservation program known as ‘Rhinos Without Borders’ this has helped conserve the species within the country. These rhinos were transferred from some of the hot spot poaching areas in South Africa and put to safety with in Botswana.
Enjoy a horseback riding adventure
Horseback riding is becoming one of the much-loved tourist activities in Botswana and this can best be done by the experience riders. The horses used are normally habituated to the wildlife so you will be able to trot through the vast floodplains as you search for different animals such as the sitatunga, zebras and the lechwe. On the other hand, the less experienced riders enjoy the gentler rides which are specifically tailored for beginners and this activity is offered by a number of accommodations within Botswasna such as San camp.
Enjoy a guided walk with the elephants
at the moment riding safaris on elephant backs are becoming phased out across the different countries in Africa however this leaves behind a large number of habituated elephants which include a number of them that were orphaned, while others were rescued while injured and were nursed back to good health; and then another number of them was rescued from poachers. Today many tour operators organize guided walks besides these gentle giants during which you will be able to enjoy up close encounters with the elephants. Places like Abu camp organize guest interactive visits with the habituated elephants.
Spend time with the meerkats
Visit the Kalahari Desert where you will get an opportunity to spend time with the cuddly and charming meerkats that are bold suricates having an impressive social structure and guard system. Due to their bold character, they easily became habituated to people. They mainly stay in the drier desert areas where they burrow in the sand. Accommodations like the Camp Kalahari are commonly visited by the meerkats and can easily be see playing about or mating in the vicinity.
Enjoy game viewing of Chobe Rare Wildlife Species
This national park which is among the best known tourist destinations in Botswana offers holidaymakers an opportunity to see some of the rare wildlife species such as the wild dogs. Leave alone the traditional big five animals which are considered as a must-see prize for every safari taker that visits the African continent, Chobe National Park unveils a number of unique species that are hard to find in a number of places. The hairy waterbuck which has sizeable white rings on its ramp and very good looking is another species you will encounter here. When you explore further into the Delta you might be able to see the shy sitatunga antelope as well as the red lechwe. According to conservationists and wildlife experts, it’s alleged that it is easier to spot a leopard than a sitatunga. The African wildcat which is another challenging to see specie that is slightly larger than the domesticated cat can also be seen here. these fast runners are normally seen within the open grassland during your adventure the sable antelope a beautiful yet rare species having characteristic half Moon-like horns and silky blackish coats . ..
Visit the ‘Louvre of the Desert’
Located within the northwestern part of Botswana, the spectacular rocky outcrops found on the Tsodilo Hills boast have the largest number of rock art in the entire world. According to a report by UNESCO this place which covers an area of 10 square kilometers is estimated to have more than 4500 different paintings. The paints are believed to be dating back to the era of the Stone Age and accounts for how the long ago people managed to survive in the rough environment at the time. The native San as well as the Hambukushu communities still hold in the highest regard Tsodilo as their worship place considering it to be a place of worship. Therefore during their visit, all tourists are advised to be respectful.
Enjoy the luxury Safari Lodges
Botswana offers a variety of private safari lodges and camps which offer a blend of comfort and luxury with remoteness. These facilities are located close to most of the tourist destinations in the country offering great services to their guests. Khwai Tented Camp for instance which s found within Moremi Game Reserve in the middle of the Okavango Delta offers a very intimate safari experience within its different tents.
Visit the statutes of The Three Dikgosi
This trio is comprised of three bronze giants and was made in honor of the influential journey to Britain that led Botswana to its independence. The trio of huge bronze figures referred to as the Three Dikgosi look out across the beautiful country and they stand proudly in a square. They are a figure worth observing on your safari in Botswana.
Visit the Gcwihaba Caverns
The Gcwihaba Caverns found far away along Botswana’s beaten path, can only be reached through a only 4×4 vehicle. This series of spectacular caverns is filled with stalagmites, thousands of bats and stalactites. in case of cave exploration, this park offers a less demanding challenge while descending., however it is very important that you keep your voices low considering the fact that once the bats’ serenity is interrupted with noise, they will fly out of the cave in very large numbers. The cave is home to thousands of bats and its alleged that there are three (3) different species of bats.
Frequently asked Questions on Botswana
Do I need a visa to visit Botswana?
Whether one needs a visa to access Botswana will depend on the country in which they are a citizen. Visitors entering the country from majority of the commonwealth countries such as Canada, the UK and Ireland as well as those from most European Union countries like United States Norway, Israel and Switzerland will simply need a valid passport with no visa to access the country. On arrival their passports will be stumped with a Visa valid for 30 days however extension of up to three months can also be issued. In case you are applying for a Visa for a longer duration of stay that exceeds three months you have to make applications directly to the migrations and passport control office found in Gabarone prior to your entry in Botswana.
Holidaymakers who are on a safari that combines visiting Botswana and going to Zambia to see the Victoria Falls; you will need to get a tourist visa at the border of Botswana and Zambia. When it comes to itineraries which combine Namibia and Botswana you will not need a visa to enter into the Namibia if you are a citizen of New Zealand, the UK, Australia, the US and Canada. Additional Visa requirement guidelines and inquiries can be obtained from the Botswana high commission within your home country
What is the most recommended place to visit in Botswana?
Well Botswana offers a wide range of national parks and private wildlife conservation areas that serve as home to several natural wonders and different species of wildlife. Because of its large size zeroing down to the best place to do your Safari will greatly depend on what you want to do or see on your Safari. On your visit some of the highlights we best recommend include visiting the Okavango Delta which is home to a large number of national game parks as well as several attractions.
You can also explore the Kalahari Desert Basin where you will see different weird natural wonders, breathtaking vistas and some of the rare wildlife species in the world. A visit to the Okavango guarantees remarkable game viewing experiences, however, we best recommend that you combine it with a couple of nights in some of the other fascinating areas within the country. a visit to Chobe National Park which is best known for its large heads of elephants or to the Moremi game reserve home to large numbers of lions can easily be combined with an adventure to the Okavango. On the other hand the Kalahari Desert offers a very different wildlife experience unveiling to Holidaymakers different animals that have adapted to the arid conditions of this area. The Botswana Salt pans are home to large heads of antelopes, zebras and are among the best places to see hyenas while in Botswana.
Is Botswana a family Safari destination?
despite the fact that this country is considered to be among the expensive destinations on the African continent, Botswana is an amazing family destination offering specially themed tours that won’t only give you an opportunity to see the different wildlife and natural wonders in the country but will also be inspiring, educational as well as fun for the entire family. as you plan for your Safari as a family in Botswana there are a couple of things you have to put into consideration for instance: since majority of the camps are not fenced it is best recommended that you talk to the children so that they do not move alone unguided or in the night. The best advised age of children to bring on a safari is 12 years old an age that is acceptable at most of the accommodation areas. However, there are a number of lodges and camps that cater for even family members who are below 12 years given that they have a caretaker accompanying them on the safari.
Is English spoken in Botswana?
Yes actually the official language in this country is English despite the fact that Setswana is widely spoken as well. During your visit you will be fascinated that even in the remote areas of the country you can easily communicate with the people in English. The guides who will lead you on your different Safari activities use English as the language of communication for that reason you will not be required to first master the local language before traveling.
What vaccinations do I need to visit Botswana?
Botswana doesn’t have any formal vaccination requirements however it is highly recommended that you take precautions regarding malaria since the country is in a malaria area. Please visit your physician at home prior to your Safari to get a proper prescription for your prophylaxis for malaria. It is also recommended to share your travel plans as well as the activities you will be engaging in with your physician so that they make all the necessary health requirements, recommendations and prescriptions.
How to avoid malaria in Botswana?
Please take the prescribed anti-malaria drugs given by your physician
Always sleep under a mosquito net
Use insect repellent
Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants to protect yourself from mosquito bites
Is it safe to drink tap water in Botswana?
No. Although the water in the urban areas is chlorinated and you might see some of the local people drinking it please refrain from drinking tap water while in Botswana. You are advised to drink only bottled drinking water. Ensure that the ice cubes and the water you use to brush your teeth is bottled. Take it upon yourself to make sure that the water bottles for drinking water that you are given have their seal on don’t drink and sealed bottled water
What is the local currency in Botswana?
The local currency in Botswana is known as polar and it is denoted by P’.
Are credit cards used in Botswana?
Within the large cities such as Francistown and Gaborone, you will find a number of ATM machines where you can use your credit cards, however, when you go into the remote countryside for your safaris these services are not available so you will need to have some cash with you. The MasterCard and Visa are widely used in Botswana, and the American dollar as well as the South African Rands plus the Euros can be used as well
Can I visit Botswana if I have a dietary need?
Yes you can as majority of the dietary requirements are catered for however you are highly advised to inform your tour operator as well as the management of the accommodation you will be staying before you travel to the country. Feel free to inform them of any dietary related allergies for instance allergies to peanuts or gluten, so that they prepare for you appropriately. always keep in mind that the Safari camps or lodges that you will be staying in during your Safari are far away in the remote parts of the country so informing the chief at that very moment when seated in the restaurant of your dietary need or allergy may lead to serious disappointment since they may not be able to cater for you immediately. Therefore earlier communication is very important in this case.
What is the electric current in Botswana?
Botswana runs all its electric appliances on 220 volts with a 3-pin on a 15 amp plug. many hotels, lodges and camps provide adapters however you are advised to carry your own. it is also important to know that some of the accommodation facilities within the remote touristic areas run on generator power for that reason the power will be switched on for a couple of hours say 6 to 7. therefore, you ate advised to plan all your activities and have then completed within that time frame. in cases where there are no charging points in your rooms you are advised to speak to the staff at you accommodation who will show you the charging points which are normally located in the common area. ladies who may wish to work on their hair with gadgets like the iron in the morning are also advised to keep in mind this time frame during which electricity will be running at the facility on which they will be staying.
What is the time zone in Botswana?
The local time of this country is GMT + 7
What are the tipping rules for Botswana?
Tipping in Botswana is not mandatory and because it’s looked at as a form of appreciation of one’s service to you, it will surely depend on you whether to tip or not. Below we have given you a guideline you can follow while tipping
In restaurants and hotels at 10% of your bill is customarily included
Porters are given $1 per person per movement
Staff at Safari Lodges or camp can be given 5 dollars per trek
Trekkers at the Safari Lodge or camp can be given $5 per trek
Your Safari guide for you trip can be given $10 per guest per day
What are the luggage restrictions for Botswana?
For anyone visiting Botswana on a safari the thumb rule is to always park light. small and personal items such as medication, passport, eye glasses, cell phone, camera, wallet, iPad and sunglasses should be carried with you in a smaller portable bag at all times. Please leave all your expensive and highly valued jewelry at home; avoid bringing anything that you think or consider is replaceable on your Safari.
Different international airlines offer a different luggage limitation so depending on the airline that you will be using you are advised to make a comprehensive inquiry on the luggage limitation to avoid any discomfort and disturbances during your travels.
When it comes to the local smaller aircraft that serve the country internally many of them prefer that you carry soft bags preferably without wheels since they can easily fit with a maximum luggage weight of 20 kilograms. These local aircrafts necessitate that persons with a weight above 100 kilograms purchase an extra weight allowance for their personal comfort plus safety. This cost is calculated on request according to the route and destination you are going to. for those who wish to take extra luggage that is above the stipulated luggage weight you are allowed to purchase additional weight that does not exceed a maximum of 70kg.
What to Pack on a Safari In Botswana?
This is among the commonly asked questions by people visiting Botswana, however the most important thing to remember is to always pack light. Only park what you will need not what you want. The less things you take the better for you.
Take neutral colored clothing preferably khaki, grey or brown.
Pack warm clothing to layer up since the early mornings and late evenings are extremely cold. as the day warms up, you can begin to strip the layers off.
Light weight blouses or shirts that are long sleeved to protect you from biting insects and the hot sun
At least 2 pairs of Socks
Comfortable hiking shoes preferably with ankle support
A water-proof jacket that is light weight
flip flops to wear on the warmer days
A hat having a wide brim and preferably with a strap to fasten it under your chin
A warm polo neck shirt if traveling in the cold green season
A warm scarf for the cold season
Additional equipment: Cameras with related gear including lenses, several memory cards as well as spare batteries, Sunglasses, Travel alarm clock, charger for your electrical gadgets such as laptops, ipads, and dual USB cable with multiple outlets, a small flashlight, purse size umbrella, additional batteries, Ziploc bags in different sizes to water proof your cameras and protect it from the dust or keep your wet bathing suits. A small backpack to carry some of your personal belongings.
What to include in your Personal First Aid Kit: Band aids, Eye drops, Hand sanitizer, Chapstick, Antiseptic cream, Heartburn relief, Itch spray for biting bug, Pain tablets, insect repellant, kleenex packets, Sunscreen with a high SPF factor.
Best time to Visit Botswana
When we talk about the best time to visit in Botswana, it will all depend on what you want to do on your safari.
For those interested in bird watching we recommend that you visit during the rainy green months that begin in December to March
The best time for game viewing is during the dry season that begins in April to November.
The best time to enjoy the mokoro rides in the Okavango Delta is when the water levels are high and the delta is more or so flooded offering holidaymakers a spectacular experience around the Delta.
In case you are interested in seeing the wild dogs, it is best advised to visit from June to September and the good thing about them is that they remain in the same area for a long time which makes it easier to see them. As the countryside becomes drier, you can enjoy clearer views of buffaloes and elephants so in September and October you will be assured of good views of the big game.
Why take a safari in Botswana?
Taking a safari into Botswana will offer you the opportunity to encounter the plentiful wildlife around the Okavango Delta, which is the largest inland delta on the planet. Here, Mother nature’s drama of life shows up at each and every turn, regardless of whether during regular game drives in safari vehicles that are uniquely designed to provide exceptional views or on the thrilling water safaris using mokoros (the local dugout canoes) in the flooded plains. Then the Mombo Concession found inside the Moremi Game Reserve is regarded as the “predator capital,” of Botswana with views of leopards, cheetahs, large prides of lions as well as the endangered and uncommon African wild dogs seen hunting their prey. in addition, Botswana is home to the largest population of elephants on the African continent, and during your Botswana safari, you will walk with the semi-habituated elephants and even learn about these huge animals from their keeper experts. A lot of the Botswana safaris likewise incorporate chances to travel to the powerful Victoria Falls, which is a must-see destination in Botswana.
What to see on a safari in Botswana?
The big numbers of different types of wildlife found in Botswana include several diverse species of antelopes, buffaloes and elephants, in addition to predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, brown & spotted hyenas and more than 1075 types of birds. Not so long ago, six rhino were generously donated to Botswana.
Which Safari Company or Tour Operator?
You will find a large number of different safari companies inside Botswana. Fortunately, most of these companies provide different safaris in Botswana such as boat rides, birding safaris and wildlife safaris. Important to note is that you should find out if the tour operator you are using is registered with any of the recognized Tourism professional association such as Africa Tour Operators, Association of Botswana Tour Operators and Tourism Botswana.
Where to Stay On a Botswanan Safari?
Despite the fact that Botswana has several good hotels, the tourists that go to Botswana have a tendency to do this for the luxury safari experiences which it presents. The kind of accommodation available in the safari areas of Botswana such as the Okavango Delta, Tuli Block, Chobe, Savute and the Linyanti include primarily tented safari camps, in addition to several game lodges. In a number of the small centres associated with tourism, like Maun plus Kasane, the guest houses are as well popular. Nevertheless generally speaking, safari camps (especially luxury tented camps) are the most widely used type of accommodation within Botswana. Then Game lodges come second as the most widely used and then follow the hotels in the traditional perception of the word are limited to the larger business centers such as Francis town plus Gaborone.
How much does a Safari To Bostwana Cost ?
A basic three day safari into Chobe National Park that will include game drives and be conducted as a medium group safari with accommodation offered in Mid-range lodges will cost $55o per person.
Are the people of Botswana Friendly?
The people of Botswana are very friendly and so welcoming. They pride of a diversity of tribes and cultures each with a unique language however the formal language is English, and Setswana is the most extensively spoken language across Southern African. There are 8 main Tswana tribes and each of these occupies its separate territory and features its own traditional chiefs, and every tribe retains communal ownership over its land.
What is the Weather like in Botswana?
Summer begins in the month of November to the finish of March and normally is characterized with extremely high temperatures. Additionally it is the rainy season and the cloud coverage plus rain help cool down the environment, although just usually for a brief period of time.
The winter months begin in May and end in August. This is as well the dry season as hardly any rain falls. The winter days are usually sunny and between cool and warm; however, the temperatures in the evenings and nights may drop below 0C- the freezing point in a number of places.
The periods in-between which is from April to early May as well as from September to October – are usually dry, however the days are cooler than in the summer while the nights are hotter than during the winter months.