From the massive, dry desert of the Kalahari to the splendid Okavango delta, a maze of waterways coursing through the desert sands – Botswana safaris offer you a breathtaking contrast that will be a feast for your senses, bored and tired of the sameness and uniformity around them.
Here is a brief sketch of some top destinations:
The 10,600-acre Khama Rhino Sanctuary was set up in 1993 to rescue the vanishing white rhino. Beginning with only four, the rhino population has now swelled to nearly 20. Plans are afoot for the introduction of the nearly extinct black rhino to the sanctuary as well. It is run by a community trust involving locals from the area. The entrance fee with a vehicle is only $5, and contributions from visitors keep it going. For accommodation, there is the Mokongwa Camp or the Boma camp offering various facilities at suitable prices.
Chobe National Park has an area of 4,079 square miles just over the borders with Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also a picture of contrasts – from a lush river region in the north to the dry bush land in the south. About 45,000 elephants have made it their home. If you can ensure that you are not trampled by any one of them, then try fishing too. You will find more than 90 species, including the mighty tiger fish. And remember, the big cats rule here as well. Accommodation is no problem: Chobe Safari Lodge is moderately priced and comfortable.
What was a lake millions of years ago is now the Nxai National Park, covering 2,787 square miles of arid basin that goes from a strangely desolate yet inviting dust bowl in winter to a shallow, wet wonderland when it rains in summer. When the weather is wet, flamingos, wildebeests, and zebras (and inevitably their predators too) can be spotted migrating here in the thousands. For accommodation, Planet Baobab is there for your comfort.
The Mashatu Game reserve, occupying over 100,000 acres, is the largest privately owned wildlife area in Botswana, and part of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. Apart from lions, leopards, zebras, kudu, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, and hyenas, it also offers you riverbeds full of baboons, ancient archaeological sites and splendid sandstone dikes!
For accommodation, although known as an expensive spot, Mashatu Main Camp is quite reasonable compared to most Botswana lodges.
The 1,881-square-mile Moremi Wildlife Reserve is located on the magnificent Okavango delta. More than 300 bird species teem in the delta’s massive maze of inlets and islands, in addition to the hippos, crocodiles, elephants passing through, and lily pads that appear to stretch on forever. Avoid the summer-wet season if you can, as there would be too much water for the traditional “mokoro” (a type of canoe) ride at that time of the year. Make yourself comfortable at the Audi camp, which offers extremely moderate rates and plenty of attractions.
Botswana safaris are available in various types. The three main ones are mobile safaris, luxury honeymoon safaris and fly-in safaris. In mobile safaris 4×4 vehicles are usually pressed into service to cover larger areas or a variety of different habitats in a single trip. Luxury honeymoon safaris are for the romantic couples who want to spend time sipping champagne on a private terrace while gazing out over the vast plains of Botswana. Fly-in safaris utilize top luxury safari camps in high-density game areas like the Okavango delta.