After the rains fall, there’s nowhere else on earth like Botswana’s Okavango Delta

Safari in Botswana does not mean the same thing as safari in Kenya or Tanzania, or anywhere else in Africa for that matter, for one very important reason – the Okavango Delta. 15,000 square miles of stunning grasslands and rivers that reside in the heart of the Kalahari desert. Once the rains have fallen in July and August, the region transforms into a paradise for some of the most beautiful flora and fauna found in the whole of Africa. The Okavango isn’t the only thing however that Botswana has to offer.

When to go

In July and August, in the middle of their dry season, the Okavango River will burst its banks and send watery lifelines through the landscape, catalysing a reboot of the enigmatic papyrus swamp. This is Botswana’s main annual attraction and best experienced during these months. However, there’s a lot more to Botswana you can explore all year round, from the Kalahari in the south the Makgadikgadi salt pans in the east.

You’re less threatening in a Mokoro canoe, the distance you can get to the animals makes for a truly unique intimacy

What you should experience

A land, water and heli safari around the floodplains of the great Okavango Delta

UNESCO World Heritage site, the Okavango Delta, is without a doubt one of the greatest safari experiences on earth.

Depositing 11 billion tonnes worth of water every year, the Angolan Highlands rainfall gifts us this annual wildlife bonanza. Likely viewings include any of the Big Cats, Elephant, Hippo, Rhino, Zebra, Buffalo and many more.

In one day in the Delta you can experience three types of safari in 24 hours

Start your morning at sunrise with a game drive that will take you out on 4×4 through the drier areas of the Delta, these regions and time of the day make for your best chance of witnessing a hunt on the water’s edge. Though some areas of Botswana offer fantastic opportunities for self-drive safaris, the Okavango Delta need knowledge and experience to make sure you’re making the most of your time on the Delta.

On your second game drive, head to the skies to see this beautiful place from above. It’s from here you can start to grasp the scale of this transformation, watching the animals scattered between the blues and greens is a site you’re not likely to forget.

Your final experience is an older, more traditional approach to the animals here. The Mokoro canoe is an old dugout canoe once used for hunting purposes, now used for boat safaris.

This is one of the most immersive wildlife experiences in Africa. The details and atmosphere at water level can only be seen to be believed.

See an endless night skied pierced by dazzling stars on the Makgadikgadi Salt Plains

North west of the delta, the Makgadikgadi Salt Plains offer a totally contrasting African experience. Heading out from Jack’s Camp during the day, these plains are vast. Soak in the lunar landscapes of the Salt Plains by day and then by night. By night the attention is stolen by the starry night sky.

Light pollution out here is next to nothing, so after a candlelight dinner under this sky it’s worth sitting back and letting your imagination drift into this truly phenomenal night sky.

Where to stay: Jack’s Camp

An epic 45 kilometer canoe journey through the waters  of the Selinda Spillway

Flowing eastward from the Delta into the Zibidianja lagoon, this region is best known for sightings of elephants, hippos, lions, leopards, buffalo, roan antelope, and wild dog. Due to uniquely high rainfall over the past few years this spillway has connectet, linking east to west like never before. Taking advantage of this means a four day, 45 kilometre adventure across the floodplains of one of Africa’s most beautiful countries. Not a bad way to spend a long weekend.

Where to stay:  Selinda Camp

Where everything is

The Delta runs into the north of the country

Northwest of Botswana you’ll find the Angolan Highlands, the lifeblood of this ecosystem. The water runs out of Angola and into the northwest region of Botswana, where it soon begins to disperse. One branch of water heads east along the Selinda Spillway towards Zibidianja lagoon, which makes a great route through to the north eastern parts of the country and into Chobe National Park.

Just North of Chobe National Park and a heli – flight away is one of the great wonders of the world and Victoria Falls. You’ll find the famous and natural rock devil’s pool that sits on the very edge of the abyss, bungee jumping, microlight or helicopter flights through the gorge and over the falls, and even walking the knife edge bridge. Visit between April and August to catch a peek at the Lunar Rainbow, a sight to experience during high water levels during a full moon.

When the Delta is dry, head south to the Kalahari Desert

The last surviving migration of Zebra and Wildebeest in Southern Africa; The Kalahari Desert is a natural force waiting for you to explore. The long grass, stones, and smaller bushes of the valley creates a rigid texture to the landscape blanketed with hot, dense air.

The game-viewing in the Kalahari Desert is stunning between November and April, as the herds of Zebra and Wildebeest migrate here from the Okavango Delta in the north after it has dried up, attracted by the lush grass.

There is much less game during the dry season of late April through October, however this is the season has great experiences too, you can spend your time quad biking onto the salt pans where visiting and learning the desert life of the wonderful San bushmen will show you how life has been in this desert wilderness for thousands of years.

Where to stay: Zafara camp

The great eastern salt flats of the Makgadikgadi

To the east of the country, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai sands reside. They are the remains of a massive super-lake that covered much of this part of Africa thousands of years ago. All that remains today are two huge, protected salt pans. From the Delta this is a great stop over on the way to Chobe National Park further north and onwards to Victoria Falls. From December through to early May the Zebra Migration is an incredible sight to experience.

Where to stay: Jack’s camp

 

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Whenever the time of year or the experience you’re looking for, our trips to Botswana cover everything mentioned here and much more.

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