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.
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 Nicola Cappelletti | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Fantastic wildlife, great landscapes but a bit too crowdy.
65+ years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Outside of the Delta Botswana is a dry country of flat, bush-covered semi-arid terrain. We didn't travel the southern parts of the country that are pure desert, but I expect that the scenery there is equally stark. This kind of country has real beauty but can easily get monotonous because there is little variety.
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.
35-50 years of age
Breathtaking Okavango, like a painting!
The aerial view of Okavango Delta was unexpectedly breathtaking. The patterns made by the islands, waterways, vegetations were like a constantly changing large canvas of painting by nature. It was a sheer joy watching giraffes, herds of elephants and buffaloes wading in the water.
I had 2 nights of bush camping, coming and going by the local canoes called mokoros. During the bush walks, we had to keep a safe distance from animals, so we could not get as close to them as in a vehicle. A pangolin visited our camp site at night.
We didn't feel very safe in a camp site in Maun. We were told to keep all our belongings in the truck, just had only the necessities in our tents. We were told that tents were slashed and stuff stolen in the middle of the night previously.
The river safari was a special experience, to watch herds of elephants, crocodiles, hippos and buffaloes by the river bank from the water. The land safari was less impressive though.
Email Barbara | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Thank you SafariBookings Team for arranging the trip for us. We enjoyed it a lot.
We had wonderful wild life. Game drives were better than boat trips.
Kubu lodge where we stayed was very good - very friendly staff, good accomodation, all fine.
We would do it again!
Email Couple | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
2 days safari Moreni game reserve
We booked the tour with Mervelous. They have been very helpful and answered very quickly to our emails. We decided to do an overnight stay in the Moremi Game Reserve. We were supposed to be picked up at the hotel at 6 am at the first day but we were picked up at 8 am. They promised us to trop us off at the hotel the next day by 5 pm so we would have a long day at the game reserve. Unfortunately we had to leave the park at 11am according to the park rules. So actually we had to half day safaris and would not call it a two days game drive. But except of that the tour was amazing. We were by ourselves with a team of 3. They were all very nice, helpful and it was interesting to talk to them at the evening on the fire of our campsite. Everything was affectionately arranged from the dinner table to the tent. The food was delicious we even had some lunch on our way back to Maun. Our guide Gibson did a great job. He was so focused to show us lions, what he did in the end. From him we learned a lot about the animals and the nature of Botswana. We enjoyed our tour very much.