The wildlife reserves of Botswana, mostly unfenced, offer some of the most exclusive safari adventures to be had in one of Africa's least unpopulated wilderness areas. Due to an enviable conservation policy endorsed by the Government, which proposes low tourist volume but higher revenues, Botswana offers more intimate wildlife encounters than its other African counterparts.
Each destination described here has something different to offer, so we have combined the best Botswana safari holidays for game viewing to enable you to have a life-changing experience, with just you and the vast wilderness for company.
Here are the 5 Best places to see exciting wildlife in Botswana
Considered to be a jewel in the crown of nature, the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta on the planet, is the perfect place for visitors to gain an insight on denizens of the great wilds of Africa. This still untouched, vast freshwater wetland is located bang in the heart of Botswana's red Kalahari desert, and supports an extraordinary amount of wildlife set in a dramatic environment.
This emerald-green ecosystem, in the middle of nowhere, is the ideal base for most of Botswana's safari trips. The open flood plains, labyrinthine water channels and the swampy marshes are a haven for many species of wildlife. These, in turn, can be seen by different modes of transport ranging from canoes, boats, jeeps and even by way of nature walks. The privately managed Moremi Game Reserve, a legend in its own right, manages most of the conservation and protection of the Okavango Delta region.
2. Nxabega Concession (Okavango Delta)
This small reserve is situated in the middle of the south-west part of the flood plains of the Okavango Delta. Most of this area gets flooded between the months of May and September, resulting in the cropping up of a large number of small islands.
A great way to observe animals, and especially to photograph them, is by traveling across to these islands in a 'mokoro', a traditional boat used for transportation in this region. The main vegetation along these waterways are papyrus, miscanthus grass and water lilies, making it a habitat for some unique bird species which can be spotted on a sunset ride when the light is at its best.
Other wildlife one is bound to come across in Nxabega are large pods of hippos who enthrall visitors with their loud grunts throughout the night. Zebras, giraffes, baboons and the pesky vervet monkeys can be seen almost everywhere. Having said that, what makes Nxabega a top place to visit is the large number of lions found here, who make their presence felt loudly in the clear night. Packs of wild dogs, a highly endangered species and one of the fiercest of all animal hunters in Africa, can also be seen hunting here.
3. Chobe National Park
Another leading reserve of Botswana, the Chobe National Park, is the place to visit if you are an elephant lover. This is the third largest park in Botswana but the most biologically diverse.
Nearly 120,000 of these gentle giants live around this big game reserve, and most of these congregate near the Chobe River banks in the dry months between May to October. Herds of over 400 have been seen crowding the area, some of the largest to be found anywhere in this country. Among other wild animals to be found in Chobe are hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, kudu, leopard and cheetah.
Further south, in the Savuti area, dramatic predator and prey interaction awaits the observer. Here, large pride of lions dominate the region, bringing down all sorts of prey like elephants, giraffes and even the biggest of them all, buffalo. A safari to Chobe can be enjoyed on game drives or on leisurely river cruises, where you can witness herds of animals, in an unrivalled manner.
Throw in some spectacular sunrises and sunset excursions in luxurious houseboats, stay in pristine riverside lodges, and you will have a memorable safari experience, lingering in your life forever.
4. Makgadikgadi Salt Pans National Park
Once a huge lake surrounded by wetlands and swamps, the Makgadikgadi Pans region was a densely populated area owing to the abundance of food and water. The lake has long since dried out and the collection of salt pans may appear inhospitable today, but the fact is they still hold large savannah grasslands with a fascinating variety of both animals and birds.
Game drives and guided walking safaris are the two ways to experience the Makgadikgadi Pans. Other unique activities here include visiting meerkat colonies and spending the night under the open sky.
The Nxai Pan region is well known for cheetah sightings and views of other special resident species like the bat-eared fox, jackals and ostrich. A visit to the pans is quite unlike any other national park experience in Botswana and makes a perfect combination with the Okavango Delta part of Chobe.
5. Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Established in 1992, the 43 square kilometres Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community based conservation program for saving the black and white rhino population and restoring them to their original habitat. The sanctuary also holds a good number of wildebeest, ostrich, impalas, brown hyena, leopards and nearly 230 different types of birds.
Well trained guides are on hand to take visitors on game drives where you can see the wildlife of the sanctuary and its natural resources. Apart from this, guests have the option to go on self drives, nature walks or Rhino Tracking. The Khama is approximately 273 km away from Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and 17 km away from the nearest town, Serowe.
For sheer numbers, Botswana's extensive game reserves are second to none for the variety of wild animals you can sight. The carefully managed tourism and a firm commitment towards conservation, has ensured that a wildlife vacation in this part of the world has no parallels. Even today, no matter which park of the country you go to, the only residents you are likely to discover are those who have been staying there since a long time - the wild animals themselves.