Exploring BotswanaOur Travel Guide
The first time I flew into Botswana I looked down from the plane and saw only bush. No roads. No towns or villages. No cities. I was flying in from where I was living, in neighboring Zimbabwe, but it still surprised me. The wildness of Botswana is what attracts people to this beautiful country. With a long stable democracy, one of the only ones in reality in southern Africa, Botswana has become a favorite safari spot. Botswana is a Southern African country perfect for safaris and wildlife tracking. It is the second largest producer of diamonds in the world, with its Orapa and Jwaneng mines among the most valuable worldwide. The capital of Botswana is Gaborone, which is a blend of modern and traditional cultures. The country has grown since its independence from the British in 1966. But visiting Botswana is not all about diamonds and Gaborone.
For starters, safari in Botswana is one of the best ways to explore the vast landscapes of the Southern African nation. For those on a vacation in Botswana, the great Kalahari Desert offers a sharp contrasting image to the rest of the country. With large national parks spread across the north and central regions, one gets an up-close view of Africa’s Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos.
Botswana is a landlocked country bordered by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. This special location makes travelling to Botswana the perfect excuse to see much of Africa’s southern countries. With a peaceful populace and booming economy, Botswana is open all year round for those seeking fun and adventure. After all, Botswana is “Land of the Tswana” people.
Botswana at a Glance
Currency: The Botswana Pula is Botswana’s official currency.
VISA: US visitors don’t require tourist visas to travel to Botswana. Citizens from many Commonwealth countries and most EU nations also don’t need a visa to enter Botswana.
Language: The official language in Botswana is English. The majority of the country also speaks its local language, Setswana.
- Sight Seeing 90% 90%
- Cost 80% 80%
- Ease of Travel 60% 60%
- Activities 85% 85%
Top Experiences in Botswana
Best time to visit Botswana
Being in the Southern hemisphere, Botswana enjoys a summer season between November and March each year. Winter in Botswana comes between May and August.
Summer in Botswana
During the summer in Botswana, the hot temperatures are tempered by periods of rainfall and thick cloud covers. The alternating wet and hot weather makes it a perfect time to go sight-seeing. This is because the ponds and lakes are full and running with water, attracting many animals looking for a drink. Visiting Botswana’s wildlife parks is perfect during this time. If you are on a vacation to Botswana during the summer, make sure to pack hiking boots and rain coats. Temperatures could reach beyond 40°C so light dressing is advised.
Winter in Botswana
The winter season in Botswana is from May to August. While the day temperatures are cooler during this time of the year, night time temperatures could fall to freezing levels. It is important to carry along jackets when you go out for a late afternoon walk through the streets of Gaborone in order to stay safe when temperatures begin to fall.
Most Popular National Parks to visit in Botswana
The Land of the Tswana people is filled with natural wonders. From migrating wildebeest to dominating elephants, Botswana has enough adventures for those on a safari in Africa.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Botswana and in Southern Africa; it is the second largest game reserve in the world. Vast, remote, and full of wild beauty, this game reserve is populated with some of the biggest world wonders. Black-maned lions rove through its waist-high grasses looking for prey at the watering holes. And there are many of them to spot. Springboks, wildebeest, giraffes, and eland come out of hiding to browse the endless sea of tall grass. You will find swift cheetahs, curious leopards, and packs of wild dogs who can’t wait to give you a taste of the hunt.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is open all year round. However, the best sights are available shortly after summer rains. Rainfall peaks around January, but November is always an excellent time to see the wild animals trouping to the watering holes for the first time after a long, cold dry winter season.
Chobe National Park
Chobe is Botswana’s second-largest national park and probably the most well-known. Located in the north near its border with Namibia, Chobe houses one of the largest populations of elephants in Africa. With the exception of rhinos, this national park teems with some of the largest wildlife, including lions, buffalos and leopards. It is also perfect for bird watchers.
Thanks to the life-sustaining Chobe River, this national park has more to offer than most others in the region. A good boat ride along the magical Chobe is a must for safari-lovers and couples searching for a romantic afternoon ride. From the middle of the river, you will enjoy great sightings of elephants and buffalos coming to get a drink. Crocodiles swim the water as well, meaning the chance of a wildlife hunt is very high. Safari in Botswana is incomplete without a trip to Chobe.
Mokolodi Nature Reserve
This is for those who wish to see wildlife up close without having to go on a safari to the wild deserts of the north. Mokolodi Nature Reserve is only a short drive from the capital, Gaborone. A small private reserve, you can drive yourself to the reserve and observe the amazing wildlife from the comfort of your vehicle.
There are options for horse trekking while you track giraffes, zebras, and even rhinos. The most magical experience is coming up close with a cheetah.
In addition to wildlife sightings, Mokolodi has bike tracks for cyclists. These tracks are perfect for hiking for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Gaborone. Only 12 kilometers away from the capital, you can be in and out of Mokolodi at any time of the day.
One of the best destinations in Botswana is the Okavango Delta. Home to amazing wildlife and natural landscapes, the delta hosts some of Botswana’s more intimate wild reserves. The wet climate is a perfect habitat for crocodiles, hippos, and small antelopes. People on a safari in Botswana get a best of both worlds where the waters of the delta meet the sands of the Kalahari Desert to create a unique scene perfect for the gram!
The fan-shaped delta is populated with islands of palms, acacias, and lilies. The abundance of water means it is perfect to spot members of the big five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos. Riding in a dugout mokoro canoe can be a romantic adventure.
Most Popular Destinations in Botswana
Safari in Botswana is the perfect getaway for you and your family. But the Southern African nation is more than just vast deserts and swift cheetahs. There are countless tourist destinations to enjoy for anyone on a visit to Botswana.
The capital city of Botswana is the obvious starting point for anyone on a vacation in Botswana. A truly modern, peaceful city, Gaborone offers visitors a unique blend of traditional and exotic cultures. Outside of the Gaborone Game Reserve, the city boasts of a dedicated Gaborone National Museum and Art Gallery. The museum is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of Botswana’s rich heritage. It celebrates the works of local artists and exhibits the paintings and crafts of countless creatives.
The museum also houses the Negro of Banyoles after it was recovered from Spain; the corpse of a traditional San man who had been stuffed and put on exhibition in Catalonia for years until its return to Botswana. In the heart of the Central Business District are the monuments of three tribal chiefs: Bathoen I of the Bangwaketse, Sebele I of the Bakwena, and Khama III of the Bangwato. These three elders were instrumental in the creation of Bechuanaland Protectorate, leading to the eventual creation of the Republic of Botswana.
Gaborone is also home to some of the best luxury resorts on the continent, perfect for a relaxing afternoon after a day spent on safari through the rest of Botswana.
Gabane is a village located merely 15 kilometers to the west of the capital Gaborone. The first things you notice on your visit to Gabane are the hills. The ebb and flow of these majestic hills create a perfect contrast against the horizon especially at sunset. With great night life owing to its amazing live band music, Gabane offers a much needed relief for visitors looking for something other than the formal landscapes of Gaborone.
Kasane is a town located in the ‘Four Corners’ of Africa near Botswana’s borders with Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. This unique location makes Kasane a melting pot of experiences. The Chobe River and its wildlife sanctuary runs through Kasane, offering people on a safari to Botswana a best of many worlds. From Kasane, you can get exclusive boat rides on the Chobe or catch a trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (and Zambia).
Kasane is small enough that it is not overcrowded. The many cross-boundary tourist destinations make it a nodal point for visitors. For those who choose to enjoy the luxuries of Kasane, there are enough lodges and shopping malls to meet all your needs and more besides.
Jwaneng and Orapa
Orapa has the largest diamond-producing mine in the world. Considered the diamond capital of the world, the Central District town is also the ‘Resting Place of Lions’. The town is always under protection due to the presence of the richest mine in the world. However, the Orapa Game Park offers a great variety of springboks and zebras for those who manage to get a permit to visit it. There are camps and lodges in the rural town with a dedicated golf club to entertain you during your vacation in Botswana.
Jwaneng, which means the ‘Place of Small Stones’, is another of Botswana’s rich mining towns. It’s one of the most valuable diamond mines in the world, and also has a dedicated Jwaneng Game Park with more than 1,700 animals. The small, restricted town offers visitors a rare culinary treat at its special restaurants and camp sites.
Whether it’s your first time or you are a seasoned traveler, a visit to Botswana is the perfect vacation for you and your family to go out and find Africa’s Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Cape Buffalo and Rhino. They are all here in Botswana. Something not to be missed.
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