Botswana Safari Holidays: All You Need to Know Before You Go
Botswana is one of the best places to go on safari in Africa. We've produced a short guide on all you need to know to help you decide if it's the perfect safari destination for you.
Best Time To Go
Botswana can be visited year round but the peak game viewing time is during the dry winter months between June and October when thinner vegetation makes it easier to see the animals. Also from June to August the Okavango Delta is in flood so the waterways and channels of this renowned wildlife haven can be enjoyed by mokoro canoe, that quintessential Delta experience. However the green season during the rains is an equally rewarding time to visit with lush vegetation, young animals, prolific birdlife and occasional spectacular thunderstorms. In some areas such as the Central Kalahari this is actually the best time to visit as herds of animals congregate on the plains.
The summer months at the start of the year generally see warm temperatures with some sunny days, some overcast days and rainfall usually in the form of short, heavy showers. April and May become drier and a little cooler while the prime game viewing winter months of June to September see dry, sunny days and cold nights.Temperatures in October and into November can be very hot before the rains arrive to cool things down.
Neutral bush colours of green and khaki are recommended when on safari and wearing layers allows you to remain comfortable as conditions change throughout the day. When travelling in winter warm jackets are essential for evenings and early mornings and hats and even gloves should also be considered. A hat to keep off the sun is recommended at any time of year.
Best Areas to Visit
The Okavango Delta is the jewel in the crown of Botswana’s safari areas, a vast wildlife haven that is home to an impressive amount of animal and bird life, exclusive experiences at luxury camps on private concessions and where the annual floods fill the waterways and allow visitors to explore by mokoro canoe and boat. The Moremi Game Reserve is part of the Delta and has a great density of wildlife including big cats. The Chobe River is famous for its huge numbers of elephants, particularly in the dry season, and a boat trip on the river is a wonderful way to view and photograph these amazing animals. The Savute Marsh area of the Chobe National Park attracts elephants, herds of buffaloes and predators. The vast Central Kalahari Game Reserve dominates the centre of the country and is a land of big skies and open grasslands where desert wildlife such as gemsbok and springbok are found along with the famous black-maned lions. The grasslands of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park sees herds of zebra and wildebeest in the summer months while further east is a vast salt pan with stunning scenery and opportunities for walks with Bushmen, visits to a colony of semi-habituated meerkats and quad biking in the dry winter months.
We always recommend you speak to your doctor or a travel clinic before your trip. Botswana is a malaria area so anti-malaria prophylactics should be taken.
Many nationalities including UK and US passport holders do not require a visa.
Most visits to Botswana involve flights on light aircraft with limited baggage space. Luggage is usually limited to a total of 20kgs per person including hand luggage and one small, soft-sided bag as hold luggage. For safety reasons and the planning purposes of the charter company we will usually ask for the weight of each passenger on booking.
Money & Tipping
As most safaris in Botswana are all inclusive you will probably only need money for tips. Tipping is of course discretionary but we generally recommend USD10 per person per day for your guide and a total of USD5 per person per day for camp staff such as waiters and housekeepers.
Drinking & Dining
You can expect to eat well on a Botswana safari. Camps always keep guests well fed so there is no danger of going hungry and drinks are never far away, whether it’s a warming cup of coffee on a chilly morning or a cold drink as the sun sets. You may also have the chance to dine al fresco during a bush breakfast or dinner under the stars.
The diversity of animal life found in Botswana is quite incredible with all the big game species associated with an African safari found here including herds of elephants and buffaloes, predators such as lions, leopards, wild dogs, cheetahs and hyenas, zebras, giraffes, numerous antelope species like red lechwe, desert animals including gemsbok, springbok and meerkats and rhinos can also be found in a few areas.
What To Pack
A camera with spare memory cards is a must to capture some of your amazing safari experiences and wildlife encounters. Binoculars are also essential especially for close up viewing of the wonderful variety of birdlife that you will see.
Where To Stay
Botswana has numerous wonderful camps and lodges, many of them in private concessions offering more exclusive experiences. Mombo Camp on Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta has arguably some of the best game viewing in the whole of Africa, let alone Botswana. Also in the Delta, Kanana Camp offers a range of activities such as mokoro canoe trips, game drives and walks along with a sleep out platform for nights under the stars while Abu Camp and Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp offer up close elephant interaction encounters. Moremi’s legendary game viewing can be enjoyed from Camp Xakanaxa and Okuti while some of the best camps in the Savute and Linyanti areas are Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge and Wilderness Safaris’ Kings Pool and Savuti Camp. Jack’s Camp and San Camp are two wonderful bases for exploring the vast open spaces of the Makgadikgadi Pans. Chobe can get busy but Muchenje Safari Lodge is located in a quieter area in the western sector and you can take things a little slower onboard the Zambezi Queen and Chobe Princess houseboats which cruise on the Chobe River. This is just a small selection of the available accommodation in Botswana so please do contact our consultants to discuss the right camps and combinations for you.
Botswana has a wide variety of exciting ways to explore the landscape and view the wildlife. From gently floating through the Okavango Delta’s waterways to more exhilarating horse riding, quad biking or helicopter trips, to traditional game drives and boat cruises and the chance to take exciting walking safaris or explore on foot with Bushmen, Botswana has something for everyone.
If you are interested in booking a safari holiday to Botswana, please get in touch with our Africa Travel experts on 020 7843 3500 and they can start planning your dream holiday to Botswana today.