There are few holiday experiences that are more fulfilling than a successful safari, and good organization and preparation are the keys to making a safari a success. The beauty of self-drive is that you can experience things for yourself, in your own time, focusing on what you want. Botswana is well known for having some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas on the African continent. With a full 38 percent of its total land area devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, for the most part unfenced, allowing animals to roam wild and free, travel through many parts of the country has the feeling of moving through an immense Nature wonderland. The first, and most lasting impressions, will be of vast expanses of uninhabited wilderness stretching from horizon to horizon, the sensation of limitless space, astoundingly rich wildlife and bird viewing, night skies littered with stars and heavenly bodies of an unimaginable brilliance, and stunning sunsets of unearthly beauty.
Botswana is the last stronghold for a number of endangered bird and mammal species, including Wild Dog, Cheetah, Brown Hyena, Cape Vulture, Wattled Crane, Kori Bustard, and Pel’s Fishing Owl. This makes your safari experience even more memorable, and at times you will feel simply surrounded by wild animals. Botswana is around 90% covered in savanna, varying from shrub savanna in the southwest in the dry areas to tree savanna consisting of trees and grass in the wetter areas. Even under the hot conditions of the Kalahari Desert, many different species survive; in fact the country has more than 2500 species of plants and 650 species of trees. Vegetation and its wild fruits are also extremely important to rural populations living in the desert and are the principal source of food, fuel and medicine for many inhabitants.
The Moremi Game Reserve covers much of the eastern side of the Okavango Delta and combines permanent water with drier areas, which create some startling and unexpected contrasts. Some prominent geographical features of the reserve are Chiefs Island and the Moremi Tongue. In the Moremi Reserve one can experience excellent views of typical savannah game as well as very rewarding bird-watching on the lagoons. A vast array of other species of wildlife, including buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyaena, jackal, impala, red lechwe and African wild dog are found here. Although just under 5,000 square kilometres, it is a surprisingly diverse reserve, combining mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons.
Situated between the Okavango Delta and the Chobe National Park lies the Savuti and Linyanti safari areas. The area is made p of vast open grassland, swamps and sandy plains. The region is well known for its superb lion viewing and will not disappoint. Along with a remarkably high density of elephants the area also hosts one of Africa’s largest annual zebra migrations occurs where the herds move from the Linyanti to the Savute and back in search of better grazing. There are a number of small intimate camps in the area and due to it being pleasantly remote a superb wilderness safari experience can be expected.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a vast, remote wilderness in the centre of Botswana. Although the Kalahari is classified as a desert the area teems with wildlife. From the bolstrous honey badger to the region’s large herds of Springbok and Gemsbok, high densities of large and small predators and great birdlife, the Kalahari will not dissapoint. Its a great new area to explore for the well-travelled safari goer. The reserve has a few luxury camps which will provide for a pampered experience in this harsh environment. However the Central Kalahari can be enjoyed on a self-drive camping safari. Just ensure you have brought everything that you will need including water.
Home to a population of over 80 000 elephants, Chobe is one of the best places on the planet to view these giant pachyderms in their natural environment. Great herds of buffalo hunted by large prides of lion, a notable zebra migration and the aqautic pods of hippo alongside sinister crocodiles make this a game viewing spectacle. The Chobe River is most popular for its boat-based game viewing and fishing for the predatory Tigerfish. There are a number of hotels and safari lodges on the periphery of the park and several bush camps and remote camping sites within the park. Self-drive and guided safaris take place in the park where one can get intimately acquainted with Africa’s larger mammal species.
For much of the year, most of this desolate area remains waterless and extremely arid; and large mammals are thus absent. But during and following years of good rain, the two largest pans – Sowa to the east and Ntwetwe to the west – fill, attracting wildlife such as vast herds of zebra and wildebeest on to the grassy plains most spectacularly flamingos at Sowa and Nata Sanctuary. Flamingo numbers can run into the tens of thousands, and the spectacle can be completely overwhelming. The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve incorporates the western side of Ntwetwe Pan, providing a game rich area of extensive grasslands and acacia woodland.
Situated in the south eastern corner of Botswana alongside the borders of South Africa and Zimbabwe lies the Tuli Block. The Tuli Block is a conservancy of privately owned game farms. The Tuli is fondly known as the ‘Land of Giants’… Huge trees line the banks of the Limpopo and the Shashe rivers, massive herds of elephant wander the river basin and the large apex predators are prolific. The Tuli gets incredibly dry during the dry winter months and game is drawn to the rivers and to the remaining pools. The Tuli is a unique safari destination and offers a wide array of activities from traditional game drive based safaris to horseback and cycle safaris. It is easily accessible from Johannesburg and Francistown and the border is relatively quiet.
There are a vast range of accommodation options throughout Botswana. Many campsites are of a good quality such as Phofu Eco Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge and Nata Lodge. Self catering like Jumbo Junction or Serolo Safari Camp and lodges with meals and game drives included such as Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Chobe Bush Lodge and Mogotlho Safari Lodge. Or splash out and indulge in a super luxury lodge like Baines Camp, Abu Camp and Mombo Camp.