User Reviews – Botswana
Deep in the Heart of the Chobi Reserve
I had to good fortune to spend two weeks in the Chobe National Park & the adjacent game reserve, and have never seen so many elephants in my life. It is a beautiful park, and is teeming with wildlife. It was also a nice respite to not have as many tsetse flies following you around. The local guides we were with were elephant experts, and had even names certain ones based on the tracks they left, and could tell elaborate stories of how they spent their days based on their comings and going. The weather was very mild for Africa standards, and the abundance of water at the time made for some great game viewing. I highly recommend this area, especially for people who don't have a lot of experience on safari, as this would be a great entry level safari. You're definitely going to see lots of wildlife.
You feel very well, nice people, very safe and amazed of such wild animal richness and beauty of Okavango Delta, Moremi, Savuti and Chobe. Tourism is quite well under control, so no crowded places which could make this experience more dangerous and less natural. I returned with 3000 photos of great memories of this nice and peaceful country. I hope disputes with bushmen could be resolved nicely for both sides. There are an old tribe and they have the right to live peacefully in its country. Such things also have a very positive side for respectful tourism which could be nicely used to benefit such community. I appreciate hunting has been finally banned in order to keep safe such great natural richness, which should not be for thirsty killers and 'macho men' feeling superior to others because of a huge prey. Nice country I hope to visit again soon.
Email John Carthy | 20-35 years of age
Great choice for top end safaris
We drove through Botswana coming from Namibia via the north west border crossing, down the west of the Okavango panhandle to Maun, and then up to Chobe before heading into Zimbabwe.
Botswana is great. It has the flat, empty expanses of wilderness that most of us associate with Africa, but which are so hard to find nowadays with the vast population growth and land shortages which affect most African states. Driving from Namibia towards Maun it is pretty mindblowing to think that to the right of the road there is almost nothing but untouched wilderness stretching all the way to South Africa, whilst to the left of the road are the wetlands of the Okavango Delta followed by the Moremi Game Reserve, with its packs of African Wild Dogs.
Unfortunately, we were in a Honda Jazz. Small hatchbacks are not designed for Moremi, the Okagango or the Makgadikgadi Pans, so we stopped in Maun to consider our options. After two days searching in vain for a low-budget, organised camping trip into any one of the nearby parks, which involved me getting the car stuck in sand in the entrance to a hotel and having to be pushed out by local children, we gave up and drove to Chobe. The last hundred or so kilometres were done very slowly on a space saver spare tyre after we were eaten by a large pothole north of Francistown.
My only criticism of Botswana therefore is that there is very little infrastructure for the independent tourist; the entire tourism sector is geared towards high end fly-in safaris. Having said that, it will be the first country in Southern Africa that I return to - purely because I didn't have the money to see everything the first time around. To be truthful, I spent more on petrol than on seeing animals.
The only real exception to the rule is Chobe National Park. It is readily accessible from Victoria Falls and makes a great add on if you are visiting Livingstone or the Zimbabwean side. There are hotels in every price range, and you can park your small Japanese car outside the Avis office at the airport and leave it there. While you are spotting beasts, some poor Botswanan has the unenviable task of driving it the thousand and odd kilometers back to Johannesburg on a space saver as spare tyres of that size are not available anywhere further north.
Several hotels along the road in Chobe have boat and safari vehicle trips into the park, which is great. The boat trips get you close up to elephants, hippos, various antelopes and lots of birds, whilst the jeep safaris are great for lion and all the more common species - we saw a porcupine (the only one I have ever seen), and only just missed some wild dogs. Chobe is easily comparable to good National Parks in neighbouring countries, and it is something of a shame that it gets overshadowed by Botswana's star attractions further West.
If I come into money, I'll be straight back onto the plane to Botswana to do all the things I couldn't afford to do last time around. If you're on a budget, you'll do much better to stick to South Africa or Namibia, where your money will go much further.
35-50 years of age
Botswana was beautiful, wild, warm and true
Camping our way through several Botswanan and Zimbabwean parks was one of the most transformative journeys I have ever made. (And I have traveled). The land has a sense of immensity that is humbling and awe-inspiring. The camping was very basic, with no modern amenities or fences, so the feeling of being in the wild, versus watching a performance of the wild, was complete. The guide was truly learned and local: A dedicated naturalist not a tour guide. And the camp hands were amazing. Warm, knowledgeable, friendly, and excellent cooks given one pot and a fire. The wildlife. What can you say? I was perpetually transfixed, even when rooted to the spot with terror (a face-off with a Bull elephant and hyenas raiding the cool box in our truck come to mind). The cats (the big drawcard for me) were astounding. Many lions, a close-up with a leopard in a tree above us, and a dusk sighting of two cooperating cheetahs hunting. At night we saw a serval, so incredibly hard to spot and very high on my list. Crossing into Victoria Falls was wonderful: despite the woes of its country, a town and a people so warm, funny, smart and welcoming. And I was surprised by the quality of the wildlife there, too (as well as the white water rafting and nightlife). Botswana and Zimbabwe are countries that will sear images onto your retina and memories into your mind, and and these things conspire over the years to produce a kind of soul-magic not easily found in other places. They call you back to Africa.