Since its independence in 1966, Botswana has maintained one of the most prosperous economies in Africa, leading the world in average economic growth for a period of more than three decades thanks to a booming (and clean) diamond mining industry, prudent fiscal policies, and a scarcity of corruption (rated as the least-corrupt country in Africa). Add to this committed conservation efforts (40% of Botswana’s land is protected), and this creates an idyllic safari destination; what little has been developed for tourism has fantastic infrastructure, allowing travelers comfortable and safe access to vast wilderness areas teeming with wildlife.
One of those wilderness areas is the world’s largest inland alluvial floodplain, the Okavango Delta, whose waters originate in the Angolan highlands and eventually disappear into the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Within this oasis, safaris can be conducted by mokoro, or dugout canoe, which offer an unparalleled experience for observing the unique flora and fauna of the region (including the largest population of free-roaming elephants on Earth). An entire trip can easily be spent in this wetter northern part of the country, visiting areas such as Chobe National Park and the Moremi and Linyanti Game Reserves. Or it can be combined with its near polar-opposite: the dry and seemingly inhospitable landscapes of the Kalahari Desert, where the only thing more awe-inspiring than the dramatic landscapes is the fact that wildlife abounds (think meerkats!) and the San Bushmen have been thriving here for tens of thousands of years.
Botswana also combines exceptionally well with safaris in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Victoria Falls is a popular Botswana safari extension as well as it is easily reached with flights into Livingstone or overland & riverboat travel across the Kazangula border.
Botswana is a year-round destination, depending on where you want to go and what you want to experience. For instance, in the Okavango Delta, safaris by mokoro (or “canoe trails”) are best when there is plenty of water (Jun-Aug), while game-viewing at the fringes of the Delta (places like Moremi Game Reserve) are best during the hotter, dryer months (Sept-Oct), yet bird-watching is at its peak in the wet months (Nov-Apr). The wet season of November-April is often referred to as “Green Season” and normal safari prices are attractively discounted during this time of year – the best time to travel to Botswana on a budget.
How to get there?
Getting to Botswana is quite simple – your routing will depend on your carrier. One of the easiest routes involves a flight into Johannesburg (JNB) from a major east coast hub (ie. JFK), then on to Maun (MUB). Many international carriers also connect directly into Maun through European hubs.
How much time?
This depends on whether you plan on spending all your time in Botswana, or are trying to include some other countries, as well. A minimum of 2-3 weeks is needed to really get a feeling of everything that Botswana has to offer, but a week will suffice to scrape the surface if you are combining it with another destination (ie. Namibia or Zimbabwe).
Who is it for?
Anybody who appreciates conservation of the last truly wild places left on Earth, and wants to explore them. Botswana is the Discovery Channel in real life. Save up for it, though – doing Botswana right isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
Unless you plan on staying more than 90 days in a 12-month period, US and Canadian citizens only need a passport with at least six months of validity.
How to get around?
Charter flights by small plane are the most often-used method of travel to many of Botswana’s best areas (simply by virtue of them not being particularly accessible by vehicle). Boat travel is also an option in some areas, as is overland travel on good roads.
Health and safety concerns?
Anti-malarial medications are highly recommended, particularly in the wetter areas of the north. Speak with your physician or local travel wellness clinic about your travel plans.
Book one of our suggested itineraries or use them as inspiration to work with us to customize and build your perfect private Botswana tour!
The Ultimate Botswana Family Safari
From $5599 per adult and $4399 per child, depending on travel season and age.
This carefully crafted family safari is designed to show adventurous travelers of all ages the best that Botswana has to offer. Select family-friendly lodges in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, the Savute Channel in Chobe National Park and the Caprivi Strip provide diverse safari experiences and activities across 5 of the key ecosystems and environments in Botswana. Special pricing available for children and teens and Green Season rates often coincide with spring break dates. Read more…
14-Day Botswana Camping Safari & Victoria Falls
From $3,229 per person sharing, depending on travel season.
Immerse yourself in African landscapes and wildlife on a Botswana camping safari! A truly wild experience, camping safaris allow you to get deeper into the amazing National Parks of Botswana, where hippos flash their toothy grins, marshy tributaries ebb & flow, and the sun bleeds into the horizon. Your fully serviced overland experience is led by certified local guides who know the safest and most intimate ways to view game, which ranges from wild dogs to elusive leopards, sunbathing lions to galloping antelopes. Read More…
Looking for something different? We specialize in custom, private travel – contact us and we’ll start planning your perfect trip!
***It is important to note that there is an impressive array of camps and lodges in the northern part of Botswana, catering to a wide variety interests, travel styles, and budgets – far more than we can list here. Below is a shortlist of some of our favorites.
Mombo Camp: Recently listed at the very top of Travel & Leisure’s prestigious list of The Best Hotels in the World, Mombo Camp (and exclusive annex Little Mombo) remains a flagship for Botswana, an idyllic blend of authentic safari and genuine luxury. Some of the best game-viewing in all of Southern Africa and renowned for high concentrations of Cape buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and cheetah. Located on Chief’s Island in the heart of the Moremi Reserve, Mombo Camp has just nine huge tents set atop raised platforms that are connected to the main areas via raised boardwalks, permitting wildlife to wander freely beneath your feet!
DumaTau: Meaning ‘roar of the lion’ DumaTau is a ten-roomed luxury tented camp located in the private Linyanti Wildlife Reserve that boarders the western boundary of Chobe National Park. A large, hippo-filled lagoon, serves as the backdrop to cocktails enjoyed on private verandas. Having a quality guide is arguably the most important factor of a successful safari, and the guide team at DumaTau offers some of the best guiding in Botswana, operating as much like a research station as a luxury lodge. The area also boasts legendary game-viewing, providing a truly remarkable safari experience.
Xigera Camp: Xigera is an excellent example of a chiefly “wet” camp in the Moremi Game Reserve, offering one of the best mokoro, or canoe, safaris in the Okavango – a unique and quintessential Delta experience. Ten tented suites are situated on raised platforms featuring outdoor showers and stunning views of the floodplains and watering holes that lie adjacent to the camp. More adventurous travelers can join a multi-day mokoro trail, camping at a remote bivouac site deep in the Delta.
Baines’ Camp: Like other properties in the Sanctuary Retreats portfolio, Baines’ Camp emphasizes environmental responsibility and eco-friendliness while maintaining a high degree of luxury and exclusivity. Only ten guests can enjoy Baines’ at a time, and each of the five luxurious suites features star baths and sky beds on private decks, making this an ideal retreat for romance or a safari honeymoon in Botswana. The main draw here is the opportunity to explore the bush with rescued, semi-habituated elephants as your guide – a truly remarkable and unique experience.
Zarafa Camp: Recently crowned “Best Safari Property in Africa” by the Safari Awards, Zarafa Camp was also a runner up as the “Best Ecological Safari Property in Africa.” With just four elegant safari suites and a location at the source of the Savute in the Private Selinda Game Reserve, a stay at Zarafa Camp is coveted by discerning safari guests. Day and night game drives, bush walks, and canoe safaris in the wet season make this a truly well-rounded property.
San Camp: Located in the Makgadikgadi Pans within the Kalahari Desert, San Camp offers one of the more unusual and immersive experiences in all of Africa. Channeling old-school elegance, the camp is comprised of six white canvas 1940’s safari tents, with bucket showers, flush toilets, four-poster beds, mosquito net canopies, and paraffin lamps. There is no electricity at the camp, so at night the camp is romantically lit with oil lanterns. During the dry season, race across salt pans on quad bikes, mingle with a family of meerkats, and learn about desert survival from the San; wet season game-viewing is superb.
Kalahari Plains Camp: The first camp to be granted a license in the Central Kalahari, Kalahari Plains Camp is a superb base from which to explore this unique region, totaling 12 million acres of protected habitat. Ten spacious en suite tents offer guests the option to sleep out under the stars on roof top mattresses. Cheetah viewing here is exceptional. Wet and dry seasons result in very different safari atmospheres, but the experience is always alluring and magical.