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Botswana
Botswana
Botswana
Botswana
Botswana
Botswana
Botswana

The Okavango's waterways are often crystal clear; great for a tranquil mokoro trip.

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are the bed of an ancient lake

All of our fishing in the Okavango is done catch-and-release

Floating papyrus reed beds create a new experience for every boat trip

A leopard will exploit every possible advantage when hunting

Animals in Botswana's protected areas are generally relaxed around safari vehicles

The Gomoti River forms part of Moremi Game Reserve's southern boundary.

Botswana

Botswana: In depth

A guide to visiting Botswana

A Botswana safari is one of Africa's top experiences for visitors. Vast tracts of wilderness in pristine condition are home to huge herds of game, roaming unrestricted between the Kalahari's plains and the waterways of the Okavango. For those who enjoy the wilds, a Botswana safari holiday is perfect.

With its network of private ‘concessions’ dotted with just a handful of small, well-designed safari lodges, Botswana safaris offer near exclusivity. Whether you’re watching lions stalk their prey, or taking a magical mokoro trip along narrow, reed-lined channels, you’re unlikely to come across any other visitors. The game here rarely disappoints, the birdlife can be spectacular, and night drives are a compelling further option. But all this comes with a hefty price tag: a holiday to Botswana’s safari areas is expensive.

Botswana safari holidays: the choices

At first glance, the choices for a Botswana safari are bewildering. Public or private parks? Wet or dry areas? Permanent lodges or guided mobile safaris?

Whatever your choice, Botswana safaris are seldom cheap, but can be good value. Most trips include meals, activities, laundry and park fees; some even include drinks. There are no hidden extras. You'll see superb wildlife and have pristine environments virtually to yourself. For a holiday, a Botswana safari is wild, magical and very exclusive!

Botswana’s parks: public or private?

The public parks of Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve form the core of northern Botswana's protected areas. The wildlife and scenery here are often superb, but you will share the area with other vehicles and people so these public reserves don't offer the most exclusive of safari experiences in Botswana. Strict park rules forbid anyone in these parks from driving at night, conducting walking safaris, or driving off ‘road’ – which is especially annoying when interesting game is spotted away from the track.

Lying around these parks and reserves is a patchwork of private wildlife reserves or 'concessions'; which offer much greater flexibility for activities on a Botswana safari: their guides may drive off the tracks when searching for game; most offer night drives; and some offer walking safaris guided by expert armed guides. Each of these safari reserves covers about 800–2,500km², yet each contains just a couple of small, private safari camps, with guests arriving by air. They have no campsites or public access so game viewing is generally undisturbed. Take a look at the more detailed map of northern Botswana to see the location of many of these reserves.

Environment: dry or wet areas?

For the purposes of deciding on your holiday options, you can divide Botswana’s safari environments very roughly into two categories: dry and wet areas. We usually advise travellers to mix different types of camps and environments, in order to experience the full range of safari activities, flora and fauna.

Most camps stand on, or close to, large dry areas, which are easiest to explore by 4WD safari. It's in these drier areas that you'll usually have the best sightings of big game, plus dry-country bird species.

Many camps also have access to wet areas – some with deep water, others with shallow. You'll usually explore areas with deep water using motorboats, driven by a guide. Shallower floodplains are best seen from a mokoro, or dug-out canoe. Both are excellent for birdwatching, but you'll usually see less game in a wet area than in a dry one.

Permanent camps or guided mobile safaris around Botswana?

All Botswana's permanent safari camps use open 4WD safari vehicles and professional safari guides, and most are very comfortable. Tents and chalets usually have en-suite flush toilets and hot/cold showers; many have fans and some even have air conditioning. Take a look at our suggestions for Botswana safari holidays, then talk to us: the team at Expert Africa can describe them from personal experience, and guide you to the best options for your trip.

Comfortable camping and luxury tented safaris are a great way to explore the best wildlife areas in Botswana, led by a professional and knowledgeable guide. Join a small group of like-minded travellers on a scheduled holiday or take a private guided mobile safari to a location of your choosing on dates that suit you. See our Wild about Africa programme for a wide range of safaris to Botswana.

Where to go on Botswana safari holidays

For most people thinking of a Botswana safari holiday, the Okavango Delta springs to mind. And rightly so: it hosts Botswana’s greatest concentration of different environments. Yet the patchwork of ecosystems that makes the Delta so fascinating is found all over northern Botswana. So by all means focus on the Okavango Delta, but explore beyond this area and you'll leave with a much broader picture.

Even within the Delta, there are plenty of options for visitors. As well as Moremi Game Reserve, there is an extensive network of private reserves that offer exclusive game-viewing safaris. Similar levels of big game are to be found in the private reserves clustered around the waterways of the Kwando and Linyanti Rivers, and the nearby Selinda Spillway, as well as beside the busier Chobe Riverfront. Further south, Savuti is a magical spot for mobile safaris, with fewer visitors.

Fringing the Delta’s western perimeter, the Okavango River gradually widens into a huge, deep river that’s known as the Okavango Panhandle. This area doesn't have the game densities of most other areas in the Okavango, but is nevertheless interesting in its own right and can be more affordable. It’s also within striking distance of the Tsodilo Hills, where Laurens van der Post stumbled across whole galleries of ancient rock art, and can be visited as a side-trip to a self-drive safari around Namibia.

No mention of a Botswana safari would be complete without the vast, flat saltpans at the heart of the Kalahari, host to fleeting herds of game and big, open skies, and encompassing the truly remote Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Then there’s the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is usually best visited as part of a holiday from neighbouring South Africa.

Botswana safari: in context

Botswana arose from the former British protectorate of Bechuanaland in 1965, an impoverished republic whose focus was on improving the lives of its people. The timing was fortuitous; within just a few years, the discovery of diamonds was to give a massive boost to the new country’s faltering economy. With stability thus assured, the government looked to its other major resource, the environment, introducing a ‘high-revenue, low-volume’ tourism policy that has resulted in considerable protection of the country’s wilderness areas. Together, Botswana’s national parks and huge private game reserves protect about 40% of the country’s total area which is why a Botswana safari has so much scope!

Much of this wilderness is concentrated in Botswana’s northern safari areas, where people are heavily outnumbered by wildlife; the majority of the country’s population of two million or so live in the south-east of the country. While Botswana is a relatively new nation, its people date back some 60,000 years to the hunter gatherers of the Kalahari. Today, their ancestors, the San (or Bushmen), are marginalised within Botswanan society, which is dominated by the Bantu-speaking Batswana; indeed, ‘Batswana’ is also the term denoting a citizen of Botswana. Although the country’s official languages are English and the Bantu language of Setswana, these are just two among some 26 languages spoken here.

This diversity is also true of the environment. A land-locked country just a little larger than France, Botswana consists mainly of a gently undulating sandsheet punctuated by the occasional isolated outcrop of rock. In the north, two major features stand out: enormous saltpans, and the huge inland delta of the Okavango River. The climate follows a similar pattern to that of most of southern Africa: a ‘rainy season’ between November and April, typically followed by days of cloudless blue skies when daytime temperatures gradually rise to a sticky peak in October, but can fall below below zero at night between June and August.

To understand more about the weather – and the best time for a Botswana safari holiday, see Botswana’s climate statistics.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings in Botswana

This is their success in sighting key species on our safaris in Botswana. Click on a species for more detail. How we work this out.


Hippo

97% success

Giraffe

97% success

Zebra

96% success

Elephant

96% success

Lion

88% success

Buffalo

86% success

Wildebeest

82% success

Oryx

67% success

Leopard

60% success

Spotted Hyena

54% success

Wild dog

51% success

Meerkat

48% success

Cheetah

36% success

Sable antelope

35% success

Roan antelope

32% success

Eland

23% success

Brown Hyena

23% success

Sitatunga

18% success

White Rhino

15% success

Aardvark

3% success

Black Rhino

3% success

Pangolin

2% success

Botswana holiday styles & special interests

From family adventures to romantic breaks, find ideas here for your perfect Botswana safari


Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Diverse habitats, discreet hides and superb guiding.

Cultural experiences

Cultural experiences

Get an insight into Africa's cultures and history.

Family holidays

Family holidays

Hand-picked camps for an incredible family safari.

Honeymoons

Honeymoons

Romantic safaris and castaway island retreats.

Luxury

Luxury

First-class service, scenic vistas and unparalleled comfort await you during these carefully selected luxury holidays. 

Photography holidays

Photography holidays

Great holidays to suit the keen photographer.

Private villas & houses

Private villas & houses

Enjoy Africa with just your friends & family

Riding holidays

Riding holidays

Explore Africa's wilderness on horseback.

Solo Travel

Solo Travel

Trip ideas ideally suited for a solo traveller.

Walking

Walking

Explore Africa's most scenic trails on foot.

Walking safaris

Walking safaris

Explore Africa's untouched wildernesses on foot.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing

Wellness escapes in stunning locations

Wildlife safaris

Wildlife safaris

These trips include hard-hitting game and fascinatingly elusive species alike, as well as superb guiding and a variety of diverse ecosystems.

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Our top safaris in Botswana

Here are 29 great Botswana safaris to inspire you.


Itinerary image

Wild Dog Safari

13 days • 5 locations
KASANE AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

An in-depth discovery of northern Botswana’s wilderness, from Chobe and the private Kwando Reserve to the Moremi and iconic Okavango Delta with a great variety of activities and wildlife.

US$9,180 - US$15,600 per person

Itinerary image

Porcupine Safari

11 days • 4 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

Visit dramatically contrasting landscapes boasting a variety of species during this exploration of Botswana’s top-safari destinations. A combination of national parks and private reserves allows for a range of activities.

US$9,000 - US$13,570 per person

Itinerary image

Spring Hare Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KASANE AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

An authentic and diverse safari to Botswana combining the Chobe Forest Reserve, Savuti Marshes and the Okavango Delta. Strong wildlife viewing, a variety of activities and excellent value camps.

US$5,850 - US$9,770 per person

Itinerary image

Large-spotted Genet Safari

9 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

A luxury safari exploring the Okavango Delta and Linyanti-Savuti, two of the best wildlife viewing areas in Botswana, staying at three top camps renowned for their guiding for a first-class experience.

US$8,470 - US$16,610 per person

Itinerary image

Red Lechwe Safari

9 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

Superb guiding from three fabulous camps full of character in three contrasting areas for a fabulous safari to the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert.

US$10,060 - US$16,820 per person

Itinerary image

Steenbok Safari

9 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

A classic Botswana safari exploring the Moremi, Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta. Excellent wildlife viewing and a variety of activities from three of our favourite traditional tented camps.

US$6,110 - US$9,500 per person

Itinerary image

Pangolin Safari

8 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

Three relaxed, local feeling camps in pristine settings – the Kwando Reserve and Okavango Delta. Guided by a driver and tracker at each, this a great trip for spotting Botswana’s top predators.

US$6,200 - US$11,040 per person

Itinerary image

Bushbuck Safari

8 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

Discover three of Botswana’s best game-viewing regions with stays in the private Linyanti, Chitabe and Vumbura reserves. Intimate, smart camps offer a range of activities by which to discover these stunningly varied habitats.

US$12,190 - US$21,250 per person

Itinerary image

Reedbuck Safari

8 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

Focussing on the Okavango Delta and combining the crème de la crème of Botswana’s camps – Zarafa, Vumbura Plains and Mombo – this is one of the finest safari experiences in Africa.

US$14,490 - US$27,160 per person

Itinerary image

Tsessebe Safari

7 days • 3 locations
MAUN AIRPORT TO MAUN AIRPORT

Visit three sister-camps in and around Moremi Game Reserve during this thorough exploration of the Okavango Delta. A range of activities provide excellent opportunity to observe the local birdlife, mammals and fauna.

US$4,760 - US$8,880 per person

View all holidays in Botswana

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