User Reviews – Botswana
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best time to visit Botswana
Botswana is a beautiful country. If it's wildlife spotting you're after, try the Chobe National Park - it's the country's second-largest national park. Summer lasts between November and March so I would recommend going outside of those months as it can get extremely hot. Have a look here for more advice on the best time to visit - http://www.safaribookings.com/botswana/best-time
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.
Email Juanita Coolidge | 65+ years of age | Experience level: first safari
Luxury tenting with delicious food, attentive service and knowledgable and caring guides .
They found all kinds of wildlife, luxury tenting, amazing food and great social interaction. Guides were top notch in Kadizora and Little Machaba. Not a hitch. Ker and Downey planned well for us.
Email Imran Pirwani | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Fantastic place for a safari
I'd been to South Africa 3 times before. The reason why I kept going back is because I absolutely loved my experiences there, especially, in Kruger National Park. Thus, I was a bit reluctant to step out of my comfort zone. I am so glad I went to Botswana. Before choosing to visit the Okavango Delta, I did fair bit of research and everyone seemed to say that Botswana is beautiful and it gives a true experience of African wilderness and wildlife; they were not wrong.
The Okavango Delta, it seems, is run in a way which limits visitors, thereby limiting the impact on the environment. There are strict limits that are imposed on how many people can be in any given concession, and it's not possible for casual guests to just show up and stay in the Delta. I stayed in three different camps: Footsteps across the Delta, Duba Explorers Camp, and Chitabe Lediba. Footsteps specializes in bush walks, which is an activity which I enjoyed immensely while in Kruger Park. The walking experience in Shinde concession in which Footsteps is located, was absolutely amazing. We got to see some lions while on foot -- this this generally quite difficult to do since lions take off the moment the sense human presence on foot. We also got to follow a large pack of wild dogs for a while as they tried to hunt. Duba Explorers Camp was quite a bit more luxurious than Footsteps. It had running hot water and electricity. The game viewing was quite incredible, too. We got to stalk a mid-sized elephant herd for about 3 hours whom we followed for about 2 miles to the river. We stayed about 60-70 meters from them, and when the elephants stopped, we approached to about 30 meters. We took a bunch of photos of them. Due to the skillful guide, the elephants were never aware of us stalking them. Later, we also followed a small pack of wild dogs on a hunt, who cornered a reed buck. It was quite a gruesome sight watching the dogs rip the poor buck to pieces while it was still alive, but I guess that's how dogs scrounge a living. We saw quite a few other predators, too, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyena. At Chitabe, I spent 3 nights. The area was quite dry and was rich in predators. There was a lion pride that'd specialized in hunting the abundant giraffes in the area; they'd killed one just a day before I'd arrived. There's an area called "the river" which is about an hour's drive from the camp, bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. The area is so rich in game that no matter where I looked, I could see 7-8 species of large game in large numbers!
I found Botswanans to be such friendly and peaceful people. I've travelled a lot but have never come across a people who have such a strong sense of national pride. I am sad that my trip only lasted 10 days. I can't wait to go back there!
Email M Howard | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Amazing but now the government has reinstated elephant killing - tragic
We chose Botswana as a destination worthy of the additional expense due to their conservation and reputation. Safari Bookings and Desert and Delta were both top notch with excellent service. Tragically however the government has just reinstated elephant killings. These are smart and emotionally intelligent animals that understand who is attacking them. This is a safety issue in addition to the vulnerable status of African elephants. We will not return or support the decision to reinstate elephant killing.
Email Sully858 | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
We rode from Vic Falls to Cape Town on motorcycles and the amount and variety of wild life we encountered - often in the middle of the road - was truly incredible. One of our riders had an accident in Botswana and the people at the scene couldn't have been more helpful. Truly good people - many living in awfully modest conditions to say the least.