"Botswana’s vast wilderness areas and abundant wildlife have long kept the country high on the safari bucket list. In the northwest, the Okavango’s mosaic of islands and waterways is a magnet to huge seasonal herds of big game while, to the northeast, Chobe National Park hosts a similar spectacle along its waterfront. Wildlife movements between the two also take in the adjoining Kwando and Linyanti areas, where private concessions offer an exclusive safari experience. To the south, the thirst-lands and salt pans of the Kalahari draw seasonal grazers and protect unusual semi-desert fauna. Elsewhere, attractions include the rugged Tuli Block, in the southeast, and the sandy Kalagadi Transfrontier Park to the south. Safaris here don’t generally come cheap, but the rewards are spectacular”

- Mike Unwin

Botswana

Botswana is one of Africa’s least populated countries, and with some 40% of its area given over to national parks and reserves, the wildlife viewing is as impressive as anywhere on the continent. Most prime safari regions are in the north, where the semi-arid grasslands of the Kalahari meet the waterways of the Okavango Delta and, to the northeast, the mopane bush of Chobe. Large game concentrations, including Africa’s biggest elephant and buffalo herds, wander this wilderness, responding to seasonal rain and growth, while each habitat harbours a wealth of resident wildlife.

The Okavango Delta itself centres around the islands, waterways and woodlands of Moremi Game Reserve, where buffalo and elephant throng hippo-filled waterways during the dry season and numerous predators hunt the many herbivores drawn to the rich growth, from resident red lechwe and impala to visiting herds of zebra and wildebeest. Visitors can explore by vehicle or by boarding the traditional dug-out mokoros that ply the watery labyrinth. The Panhandle region, to the northwest, is especially rich in birdlife – including local specials such as Pel’s fishing owl – and offers access to the intriguing Tsodilo Hills, with their ancient rock art.

Further north, the Kwando and Linyanti regions link the delta with Chobe National Park, and extend into a number of private concessions, where private lodges offer some of Africa’s most exclusive game viewing. Chobe itself has two prime areas: the waterfront region in the northeast, where boat trips offer leisurely viewing of hippos, crocs and huge elephant herds along the bank; and the Savuti region, further south, famed for its abundant lions and hyenas. The region as a whole is home to one of Africa’s largest populations of wild dog.

The Kalahari’s sands underlie most of Botswana, supporting a semi-arid savannah habitat. Here the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is Africa’s largest, spanning 50,000 sq kms, and after the late rains draws springbok, oryx and wildebeest by the thousand to its fresh growth, tailed by predators such as lion and cheetah. Seasonal herds also throng Makgadikadi and Nxai salt pans on the northern fringe, the latter celebrated for its baobab ‘islands’. This stark landscape also harbours such dry-country species as meerkat and brown hyena, as does the Kalagadi Transfrontier Park, far to the south. To the west, the Tuli Block protects an enclave of rocky bush, where smaller reserves are home to, among others, elephant, lion and leopard.

Botswana doesn’t come cheap: this is the domain of the top-end, fly-in safari lodge. Private concessions, however, offer activities that are unavailable in public parks – including night-drives, walking safaris and off-roading, and a complete sense of seclusion in some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife country.

 

When to go

Find out when is best to visit

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WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

Wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. Midday temperatures are quite hot throughout the country.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

Wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. Midday temperatures are quite hot throughout the country.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

Wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. Midday temperatures are quite hot throughout the country.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

The rains fade and midday temperatures are more pleasant. Mornings can be surprisingly cold.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

The rains fade and midday temperatures are more pleasant. Mornings can be surprisingly cold.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

Clear skies dominate. Midday temperatures are pleasantly warm throughout the country, though mornings can, however, be very cold.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

Clear skies dominate. Midday temperatures are pleasantly warm throughout the country, though mornings can, however, be very cold.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate. Midday temperatures begin to rise and can at times be hot. Morning remain surprisingly cool.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate. Midday temperatures begin to rise and can at times be hot. Morning remain surprisingly cool.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

DRY SEASON

Temperatures continue to rise before the start of the rains, with midday temperatures over 40°C/104°F not uncommon. We suggest early morning starts during this time to make the most of the cool temperatures!

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

WET SEASON

The first rains arrive, usually in the form of sharp afternoon showers. The temperatures still, however, remain very hot, while the humidity adds a level of discomfort.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

Wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. Midday temperatures are quite hot throughout the country.

Botswana has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from October through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Botswana is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up, wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi which come into their own during the wet season as wildlife moves in to take advantage of the fresh, lush grass.

Temperatures can be very high in and around the wet season; when the sunlight is at its strongest, however nights can be cool to sub-freezing throughout the year. So, don’t forget to pack warm clothing!

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Kalahari is a semi-arid savannah rather than a true desert, supporting a wealth of wildlife including oryx, meerkat, wildebeest and zebra. The best of this habitat is protected in the vast Central Kalahari Game Reserve where visitors can absorb the magic of a true wilderness.

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Chobe National Park & Savuti

Chobe National Park & Savuti

The famous Chobe National Park has two prime safari areas. The Chobe river hosts elephant and buffalo during the dry season, and Savuti Marsh protects an open plain with zebra, leopards and lion prides. Between these two areas, a hinterland of mopane woodland shelters remote seasonal pans. .

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Linyanti, Kwando & Selinda

Linyanti, Kwando & Selinda

The Linyanti region lies in northern Botswana, between the Okavango Delta and Namibia’s Caprivi strip. The area falls into three privately managed concessions: the Linyanti, Kwando and Selinda. Each offer outstanding safaris from some of Africa’s most exclusive private lodges.

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Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Park

Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Park

These salt pans comprise vast, shallow depressions that fill up after the rains, and to which flamingos and other water birds flock in their thousands. The hauntingly evocative pans offer other attractions and activities, including prehistoric relics, and game tracking with the San bushmen.

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Okavango Delta & Moremi Game Reserve

Okavango Delta & Moremi Game Reserve

Okavango Delta is a top wildlife destination, home to hippos and red lechwe, and prolific seasonal big game, including elephant and buffalo. At its heart lies Moremi Game Reserve, where much of the game concentrates while, to the west, the Panhandle region is known for its fishing and birding.

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Tuli Game Reserve

Tuli Game Reserve

The Northern Tuli Game Reserve is arguably Botswana’s most underrated safari destination. Its hilly terrain protects the largest privately-owned conservation area in southern Africa. Mashatu is the best known reserve, where wildlife roams among hillsides, dry riverbeds and impressive rock outcrops.

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Explore our sample itineraries for a little inspiration

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