User Reviews – Botswana
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
Well developed but still authentic bush.
Beautiful earth, nice people, lots of elephants andhyppos, but a few cats (too much water)
Email Wild Dogger | 35-50 years of age
Email gsskimsing | 50-65 years of age
A land of rich grassland, varied wildlife and clear water but dusty houses.
I spent 5 days staying in the Okavango swamps and two days in Chobe. The Okavango swamps are more about relaxation, birds and river animals such as hippos and crocodiles. What land animals are about are hidden by the thick hedge of reeds that line the Okavango delta. We were entertained by a day's excursion into the swamps by being punted around in the local mekoros (dugout) and then led through the bush by a knowledgeable guide who taught us about the health or nutritional properties of the vegetation as well as visiting the giant Baobab tree. Afterwards we took a long refreshing dip in the clear waters of the Kavango.
From the lush vegetation of the Okavango, we drove south east into drier scrubland and were disappointed at seeing our next campsite in Chobe, a barren dustbowl with the basic of amenities. But we were rewarded later that day by a spectacular safari on riverboats as we got really close up to wildebeest, large herds of elephants, cape buffalo and a myriad of birds, all while sipping gin and tonics.
We saw a huge variety of wildlife while camping in well kept campgrounds.
20-35 years of age
I would visit South Luangwa Park in Zambia before returning back to Chobe because it is so much more rural and bush, but Chobe was beautiful
50-65 years of age
We felt safe and well looked after an amazing experience
Email gkamin | 20-35 years of age
The combination of walking safaris (not always available in other places) and ridden ones (4x4 or boat) allow you for a taste of both close encounters with single animals in the bush, and the impressive abundance of herds.
Email Was Buf., Now Was. | 20-35 years of age
I've only been to two parks, and both have been in Botswana (Mokolodi and Chobe). You won't see big cats in either, but you will see elephants and more in Chobe. But in terms of what you can get around Gaborone, short of driving a few hours and dropping a big wad of cash at some bigger, more famous parks, you can't get better than Mokolodi. Botswana is safe, it's inexpensive, and it's not crowded with too many tourists. You'll be in a smaller park, but you may be all alone... we had only four people on our rhino visit, including the two of us. Last time, on a cheetah visit, it was just me and two others. Excellent!
The real bush vibe
Botswana is relatively unknown to tourists, yet provides all the wildlife and scenery you expect from a safari. When booking always ask for the possibility to stay inside the parks. There are private camping areas so it will be only you, the guide(s) and the wildlife. One night when sitting around the campfire in one of the parks a huge male elephant came rushing through the bushes and passed us within 10 meters. These kind of thrills are almost impossible in other African countries.
We stayed here with a guide and a cook on a private safari, while staying as much as possible inside the parks. As sidetrips we took a flight above the Okavanga Delta and spent two days in nearby Zambia to visit the Victoria Falls including a helicopter flight. Both were fantastic experiences well worth the money.
As the infrastructure inside the parks (and sometimes also outside the parks) is not always developed, do not try to attempt to book a self-drive unless you are very experienced in off-road driving.