Botswana is undoubtedly one of our favourite places to go on safari in Africa. As part of our Botswana Safari Guide Series, these are our top 5 reasons to go on safari in Botswana.
1. More Wilderness than People
With vast areas of unpopulated wilderness, it is no surprise that Botswana is Southern Africa’s premier wildlife destination.
Botswana has nearly 2 ½ times the land area of New Zealand but has under half our population with just over 2 million people calling Botswana home. Visitors to New Zealand often comment on how little people there are here, in Botswana it is even more obvious!
2. Low Volume – Low Impact Tourism
Botswana values its wilderness areas and where people can go and how many can stay there is carefully managed a system of Private Concessions, Community Areas and National Parks & Reserves.
Like Kenya in East Africa, trophy hunting is banned in Botswana and today the former hunting concessions are now exclusively used for ‘photographic’ safaris. The government strictly regulates the number of guests allowed on a concession to roughly one person per square kilometre. This is the reason why there may be only one or two lodges on a concession and you pay more to stay these lodges.
Private concessions provide exclusivity and the rules for permitted activities differ to National Parks & Reserves. Depending on the location of the lodge, those staying on Private Concessions can enjoy activities such as walking and night safaris.
Some lodges and private campsites are located within Community Areas. These are wilderness areas where the land is owned and managed by the local community and they receive the direct benefits from tourism activities they permit on their land.
Community Areas like the National Parks and Reserves often have restrictions on activities such as night game drives and off-road driving.
National Parks & Game Reserves
Botswana’s National Parks and Game Reserves also offer outstanding wildlife viewing but you can expect to see more vehicles. The roading network within parks and reserves must be strictly followed and no off-road or night driving is allowed.
Unlike parks and reserves in neighbouring South Africa, there is no fencing and wildlife can move freely between National Parks and Game Reserves, Community Managed Areas and Private Concessions.
3. Botswana is a Safe & Stable Country
Botswana was a British Protectorate until 1966 when it gained full independence. Since independence, it has remained one of Africa’s most stable countries with regular democratic elections.
Botswana’s Flag that was unfurled for the first time just after midnight on the 30th September 1966 has a thick strip of light blue at the top that represents the sky, and the bottom that represents water and the black diagonal strip bordered by white represents racial harmony. The two Zebra’s in the coat of arms represent the nation’s character of being non-racial and inclusive.
If you are interested in learning more about Botswana’s History, you may like to read The Colour Bar by Susan Williams, the book the inspired the movie “A United Kingdom.”
4. The Range of Safari Experiences
With its focus on eco-tourism and preserving its wilderness of future generations Botswana, this can mean that Botswana can be viewed as expensive especially when comparing it to neighbouring South Africa, however, this must be weighed up with the quality of the safari experience on offer.
For those on a budget, small group safaris that travel by vehicle can offer excellent value. If you have more in your travel kitty, fly-in safaris allow you to access wilderness areas with no road access and avoid the often bumpy, dusty and long drives between the lodges that can be accessed by road.
The most cost-effective option to experience Botswana is with back to basic’s adventure camping with a small group. You pay less for these safaris as the cost of the guiding services, transport and government fees and taxes are spread across the entire group.
A word of warning! Not all camping safaris are created equal. A good quality camping safari operator will hold licenses to use the private wilderness campsites within the parks and reserves without needing to ‘subcontract’ these services out.
For those wanting a private wildlife experience in the bush for their family or a group of friends a serviced mobile safari could be the perfect fit.
On a mobile safari, you have your own private vehicle and guide with a camp staff moving the camp ahead to the next location while you out on a game drive. This type of travel is not dissimilar to how the early explorers travelled except land cruisers have replaced oxcarts.
Most people opt for a ‘glamping’ camp set up. Your tent will have beds, linen and lighting and an en-suite bathroom. In your private bathroom will find a short drop or chemical toilet, washstand and a bucket shower that is filled with warm water by your camp staff.
Evenings are spent enjoying dinner prepared by the camp chef and swapping tales with your guide around the campfire.
There is a wide range of lodge accommodation on offer, from modest to luxurious.
Hotel style lodges can be found in Kasane a town that is the launching point for river and land safaris in Chobe National Park’s famed Riverfront Area.
However, the vast majority of lodges consist of permanent tented rooms or individual chalets with public areas where guests come together to eat and relax with open views. These lodges tend to be small and accommodate 20 or fewer guests a night.
>> View a Selection of our Comfort Lodge Safaris and Affordable Lodge Safaris
5. The Variety of Landscapes & Eco-Systems
No other safari destination has the Okavango Delta. The Delta is an African Eden, the largest inland delta that stretches into the Kalahari, the world’s largest area of continuous sand.
But there is so much more to Botswana than the Delta and the Kalahari.
There are the shimmering salt pans, floodplains, swamps and rivers. Savanna, woodlands and rocky land masses that abruptly rise out of the scrubby thickets of thorn bushes.
And with this sort of variety, it is not surprising in Botswana is a natural game reserve for most animals in Southern Africa including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, giraffe, zebra, hippo, rhino, buffalo and 22 species of antelope.
Botswana also has the greatest Elephant population in Africa and a spectacular 593 bird species can be found, making it a dream birding destination.