When you think of Botswana, what usually springs to mind? Tracking elephants across Chobe National Park? Taking in the sheer scale of the Kalahari? Viewing the immense amount of game on the Okavango Delta? These are all huge parts of what makes Botswana such a desirable holiday destination, but if you delve deeper into this fascinating country, you'll find some slightly lesser-known places rich in history, tradition and beauty. From ancient rock art dating back countless generations to game reserves known for being the "land of giants", Botswana is packed full of hidden gems and we're going to give you a helping hand in your discovery and showcase just some of our favourites.
The Selinda Adventure Trail is an authentic, exhilarating journey through the ancient Selinda Spillway as you travel downstream through the surrounding riverine forests, floodplains and vast open savannah. The Selinda Spillway is a quiet, wildlife rich region which links the Okavango Delta to the Linyanti Swamps. The varying water levels create interesting patterns, and also mean that the journey can be taken either on foot, or a combination of walking and canoeing through the waters. The area is known for its remarkable landscapes and huge variety of game, and only a limited number of people are allowed there at a time, giving plenty of exclusivity to your experience.
For a less crowded safari destination than the famous Chobe National Park or the Okavango Delta, the Mashatu Game Reserve is perfect. Mashatu covers 40% of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve and shares unfenced borders with both the Zimbabwean and South African national parks, meaning that the animals are free to come and go as they wish and ensuring a diverse wildlife population. The reserve is known as the “land of giants” as it is home to the world’s largest flying bird (the kori bustard), largest mammal (elephant), largest flightless bird (ostrich), largest antelope (eland) and the tallest living animal in the world, the giraffe. The reserve has a very healthy predator population, it’s one of Botswana’s prime leopard spots and the spotted hyena, cheetah and the endangered African wildcat are also present. Birdlife is prolific in Mashatu, there are currently up to a record 366 species recorded in the area.
The best accommodation to visit the reserve from is Mashatu Lodge, located in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. The lodge is an oasis among the seemingly endless plains of the wild. Burning torches at the camp’s entrance lure safari-goers home, where they experience the embodiment of sublime hospitality.
One of the biggest tourist destinations in Botswana is the Makgadikgadi Pan, one of the world’s largest salt pans. 5,000 square kilometres of seemingly desolate land can make finding the ideal picturesque spot difficult, which is why Kubu Island is such an amazing gem. Despite the name, Kubu Island isn’t a literal island but is instead an outcrop of ancient rocks which date back over 200 million years. Reaching heights of up to 20 metres and spanning 1 kilometre wide, the area certainly stands out against the backdrop of the vast salt pan surrounding them. Popular sights on the island are the odd-looking baobab trees whose branches resemble roots and give the tree an appearance of being upside down and the African star chestnut tree. It has been known for tourists to find fossils which show evidence of life that once occupied the island, the word “kubu” actually derives from a word from the Setswana language meaning “hippopotamus”, as the island was once surrounded by the giant creatures before the land dried up.
As you’d expect, the Makgadikgadi Pan surrounding Kubu Island are not inundated with accommodation, which is why Jack’s Camp is such a special property. The camp is the last remaining old-style African safari camp in Botswana and offers activities such as interacting with meerkats, interactive walks with Bushmen guides and a 2 day expedition to Kubu Island.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, Tsodilo Hills consist of rock paintings, shelters, depressions, and small caves and are of great religious and spiritual significance to the local San People of the Kalahari. There have been records of human settlement here for countless generations, it’s estimated that there are over 4500 ritual rock paintings dating back over 2400 years. There are a number of unique hills at the site, all of which hold significant spiritual value to the local people, known as the Child Hill, Female Hill and the Male Hill with the Male Hill being the tallest and rising to over 410m. The hills' rock art has been linked to the local hunter-gatherers. It is believed that ancestors of the San created some of the paintings at Tsodilo, and were also the ones to inhabit the caves and rock shelters
Tsodilo Hills can be easily visited from Nxamaseri Island Lodge, a luxury fishing lodge just an hour from the hills. Nxamaseri is one of the oldest camps on the Okavango Delta and is Botswana’s premier fly fishing destination.
If you're looking to unearth some of Botswana's secrets, get in touch with us by calling 020 7843 3500 or email us at email@example.com
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