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Botswana Safari Tours & Holidays

4.8/5  –  248 Botswana Reviews

Other countries might have invented the safari, but Botswana has perfected it. The combination of epic wildlife populations in the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park, with the world’s largest network of salt pans in Makgadikgadi Pans and the desert-specialist animals of the Kalahari, makes for endless Botswana safari packages and possibilities. It is possible to explore it all on a self-drive 4WD expedition, but the Botswana safari experience is more often defined by high-end luxury safaris.

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8 Questions About Botswana Safaris

Anthony Ham
Expert
Answered by

Anthony Ham


Anthony writes the Lonely Planet guide to Botswana and has written travel and feature articles about the country for various media worldwide. It’s quite possibly his favorite country on the planet and there are no corners of the country he hasn’t been to.
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8 Questions About Botswana Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

When is the best time to visit Botswana?

“There’s no bad time to go on a Botswana safari tour, although it does depend on what sort of journey you have in mind and where you’d like to go. If you’re keen to see the Okavango Delta and other northern reserves such as Moremi or Chobe at their best, July to September is excellent with generally dry conditions, plenty of water in the Delta’s waterways, and wildlife in abundance; be prepared for high-season prices, however. By October, it can be hot and uncomfortable, although animals tend to concentrate around the few remaining water sources and hence are easily seen. If birds are the reason you’re considering Botswana vacations, November to April is when birds migrate here in their millions, a period that coincides with low-season prices in the north. The downside of visiting at this time is that rain and poor road conditions can make getting around difficult. The Kalahari operates on a different time frame – high season prices take hold from November to April when it’s low season elsewhere; the Kalahari is fine from June to October, but can be bitterly cold from late afternoon until mid-morning. If I had to choose one period which captures the best of most worlds – clear, dry conditions and low-season prices – it would be May or even June, although bring warm clothes to ward off the winter chill.”

1

Why visit Botswana, and what are the major attractions?

“Wildlife and wild places. If these words stir the soul as they do for me, then there are few finer places in Africa to visit than Botswana. The range of habitats – and hence the diversity of wildlife – is astonishing, from the flooded waterways of the Okavango Delta to the Kalahari’s dry, golden grasslands, Botswana has iconic African landscapes covered. The northern reserves – the Okavango Delta and its concessions, Chobe National Park, the Moremi Game Reserve – rank among the best places on the continent to view charismatic mega-fauna – elephants, Big Cats, African wild dogs, hippos, rich birdlife and, increasingly, rhinos. Not far away to the south, the vast salt pans of Makgadikgadi Pans and the soulful expanses of the Kalahari add depth and variety an already-extraordinary safari palette. And such is the Botswana holidays model of high-end, low-density tourism that crowds are extremely rare – this is Africa as you imagined it without the crowds. Although it can be expensive, the levels of available luxury can mean that this could just be the African trip of a lifetime of which you’ve always dreamed.”

2

What does a Botswana safari cost?

“Botswana safari prices can be expensive. Although cheaper safari options are possible, very little comes cheap out here – count on a starting point of $250 per person per day, and an upper limit of around $1200. Most often it is worth every dollar spent, as most safaris include supremely comfortable accommodation, high-class meals and packages that include all activities. Air transfers between camps and lodges are sometimes included, and sometimes extra. Most safari deals also come with the advantage that once you’ve paid for them, you’re unlikely to have any additional costs beyond shopping purchases and tips. You could keep costs down by self-driving, but DIY safaris here are similarly pricey by African standards once you factor in 4WD-camper rental, national park and campsite fees, and fuel.”

Factors influencing the cost of a safari 3

How is the wildlife viewing in Botswana?

“Simply wonderful. My most enduring memory of watching wildlife on one of my Botswana safaris is of having wildlife all to myself or only having to share it with a few other like-minded safari-goers. There are many places to see these animals in Africa, but only in Botswana are there no queues of safari vehicles. I have spent countless hours virtually alone with lion prides under an acacia tree, with elephants at a waterhole, or watching a mother leopard playing with its cubs. I love predators and some of my most memorable sightings of lions, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs have been in Botswana, from the Moremi Game Reserve to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. But finding yourself among the elephants of Chobe – these are some of Africa’s largest elephants – is one of the great safari experiences you can have. One final thing: Botswana’s calling card is the diversity of wildlife, which means that you may not see the quantity of animals for which the Serengeti or Masai Mara is famed, but the variety on offer here is unrivalled.”

More about viewing Botswana's wildlife & Animals 4

How safe is Botswana for tourists?

“Botswana is one of the safest countries in Africa. Crime rates, even in the country’s cities and towns, are extremely low. Botswana also has one of the lowest population densities on the planet, meaning its roads are lightly trafficked and road accidents are rare. Even with that, it’s even possible that you’ll spend next to no time in towns or traversing the country’s roads – many Botswana tours fly into Maun or Kasane, fly back out into the trails of the Delta and/or Kalahari and only travel along remote safari trails with only other safari vehicles for company. Threats to safety from wild animals is also rare – most Botswana safari trips and operators have excellent safety records, and if you follow the safety briefings and instructions from guides, the risk of injury or anything more serious is very low.”

5

How to select a reliable Botswana tour operator?

“There are so many variables in choosing a Botswana safari, but the best advice is to compare first-hand the experiences of other safari-goers on Safaribookings.com – consistently high ratings from other travelers is arguably the best recommendation you can find. Beyond that, price is obviously a factor, as is the type of safari you wish to have and when. But once you’ve narrowed it down to a few operators, start asking questions and be as specific as you can. Given that this is Botswana and you’ll be spending quite a sum to go on safari, you have a right to ask as many questions as you wish, and to expect straight and detailed answers. Whether an answer is what you want to hear is perhaps less important (not all operators offer customized Botswana tours) than that the operator is able to answer the questions at length and is happy to do so. Think about what is important to you (Is it flexibility? Is it cost? Is it the language spoken by the guide?) and then set about confirming what operators have satisfactorily answered your questions on these key points.”

6

What type of accommodation can I expect on a safari?

“Unless you’re camping, in which case you’ll most likely be sleeping in a simple tent on the ground or atop your vehicle, accommodation in Botswana is very often world-class. Lodges usually have rooms with four walls, often with private terraces and sometimes even private plunge pools. Tented camps, including mobile camps, have safari-style canvas tents, usually with canvas floors and rugs. The better places have good space between the tents, which facilitates both privacy and a good night’s sleep. Almost all – whether safari tents or lodge rooms – have proper beds, sometimes a sitting area and desk, and private bathrooms – private, outdoor showers are a particular safari highlight. Some will have somewhere to charge your devices and batteries, but most have a public charging point in the main public area, which may be the bar or restaurant.”

7

What can I expect from an African safari in Botswana?

“The normal safari day begins early, usually before sunrise, with a wake-up call from a staff member who may bring tea or coffee. The aim is invariably to get you out on the trail as early as possible – the hours around sunrise, and those around sunset, are the best times to find and view wildlife. Once out on the trail, you’ll spend a couple of hours or more in an open-sided safari vehicle. Unless you’ve paid extra for a private vehicle, you’ll usually share the vehicle with other lodge or camp guests. Also in the car will be a driver and guide. Some places also send a tracker. Unless there’s a lot of wildlife action happening out on the trail, you’ll return to camp mid-morning for a proper breakfast, after which there’s often time to relax until lunch. More down time follows after lunch before afternoon tea (often called High Tea) around 3pm or 3.30pm, before the sunset game drive, which often finishes with the traditional ‘Sundowner’ – the guide and driver will choose a pretty place to watch the sunset while you toast the day with the drink of your choice. Dinner follows, then an early night in readiness for the next day’s safari.”

8

Botswana Safari Reviews

4.8/5 248 Reviews
Expert
Harriet Nimmo  –  
South Africa ZA

Harriet is a zoologist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has the privilege of working with the world’s top wildlife photographers and photo-guides.

Africa at its most wild
5/5

If I had 48 hours left on this planet, I would spend it on safari in Botswana. Botswana is my favourite African country. It still feels so wild, there is abundant wildlife, a huge variety of scenery and habitat…and only 2 million, very...

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Expert
Mike Unwin  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Desert and delta
5/5

Botswana has perhaps a more single-minded focus on safaris than does any other African destination. After all, the country is so empty that there is little else to tempt the visitor. It is dominated by two very different landscapes: to the...

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Richard Godfrey  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Nov 15, 2018
Great day out, good value. Loved the close up view of the wildlife.
5/5

Had a wonderful day out from Victoria Falls. All very professional. Easy transfer over the border with the right visa. The boat trip gave the better view of the wildlife. Very good value with a great lunch and comfortable taxi transfers....

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Rajeev  –  
Australia AU
Reviewed: Nov 6, 2018
Amazing experience for my ten year old boy.
5/5

We did not know what to expect as this was our first time in Africa. We were met by our guide and began the drive out of Maun to our camp site, roughly three hours away. About ten minutes later, my son quipped "I think I just saw an...

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Kirstie Bankslyon  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Nov 5, 2018
Blown away by Botswana
5/5

Booked a 10 day mobile Safari from Maun to Kasane. First night was spent in Maun before a 3 day 2 night camping trip on the Okavango Delta. Fantastic experience to be poled through the reeds. Great walking safaris enjoyed. We then had one...

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Marco Valentini  –  
Italy IT
Reviewed: Oct 26, 2018
5/5

Is one of the few places where camping sites are in the wild, giving the unique expereince to be alone in nature; big carnivores are frequeently seen, among those wilddogs, leopards, and in the Kalahari Brown hyena; scenic beauty can vary...

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