Botswana contains some of the very best wilderness and wildlife areas in Africa. With a population of only about two million people, occupying a country two and a half times the size of the UK, Botswana has been able to adopt forward-thinking land policies that set almost 40% of the country aside for nature and so offer visitors the finest possible authentic wildlife experiences.
The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest intact inland delta; a 16,000 sq km wetland paradise located within the arid Kalahari Desert. Each year floodwater flows into the Okavango from its source in the Angolan highlands over a thousand kilometres away, creating a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of magnificent wildlife. While the beauty of this seasonal gin-clear water wonderland is astonishing, the Delta also provides a year-round wilderness sanctuary that offers excellent prospects for game viewing.
The private reserves of The Linyanti and The Selinda total a staggering 600,000 acres of private prime game viewing, shared between just five small camps. The reserves contain many varied habitats including marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands and ancient floodplains, and are home to the world-famous Savute Channel and Selinda Spillway. This is an area renowned for its predators and large concentrations of game, made famous by the National Geographic films of Dereck and Beverly Joubert that include Eternal Enemies, chronicling the unique interaction between lions and hyenas.
Makgadikgadi is a relic of one of the world’s largest super-lakes, which dried up thousands of years ago as a result of the continued shifting of the earth’s crust. During the dry season visitors can cross the vast Makgadikgadi Pans on quad bikes to visit remote archaeological sites, where discoveries continue to be made of previously undocumented fossil beds of extinct giant zebra and hippo. But when the rains come this arid wasteland magically transforms into one of the most important wetland sites in Africa: a breeding ground for huge flocks of flamingo and other migratory birds. The rains also regenerate the grasses, which attract the last surviving migration of zebra and wildebeest in southern Africa.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve of more than 12m acres is the largest conservation area in Botswana and the second largest in the world. While rightly famous for its wildlife throughout the year, the summer rains bring some truly outstanding viewing opportunities as the fossil riverbeds and verdant flatlands come alive with herds of gemsbok, springbok and blue wildebeest, which in turn attract good concentrations of black-maned lions and cheetah. The abundance of predators and their prey is perfectly complemented with lush green landscapes and floral displays. The reserve is also one of the best places in the world to see honey badgers.
Botswana has a semi-arid climate, with hot, wet summers and mild, dry winters. The rainy season runs from mid-November to mid-April, and most of the rain falls in the north and east of the country between December and March. The national average rainfall is 475 mm per year, but this varies greatly from place to place. The driest areas are in the Kalahari Desert, where annual rainfall can be as low as 100 mm. The wettest areas are in the northeast, where annual rainfall can exceed 1,000 mm.
Temperatures are generally warm to hot year-round. The hottest months are October to March, when average daily temperatures range from 29 to 35 degrees Celsius but can approach 40. The coolest months are June to August, when average daytime temperatures range from 20 – 25 degrees Celsius but minimums can go down to 2-3 degrees.
Rainfall is highly variable in Botswana, and droughts are a regular occurrence. In recent years, the country has experienced a number of severe droughts.
The best time to travel on safari is between May and November.