ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting Africa

Safari in Botswana, Africa

Updated on December 12, 2014

Safari In Botswana, Southern Africa

This article is about Safari holidays in Botswana, travel tips, advice and recommendation. Botswana is a beautiful country in southern Africa with a wide variety of wildlife viewing opportunities, from the classic safari vacation to the unique and wonderful Okavango Delta I went on a camping trip to Botswana, on an organized tour with Explore (www.explore.co.uk) feeling that it was safer to have everything coordinated and someone at least knowing whom to contact if I was eaten by a hippopotamus or honey badger. It turned out to be a wise precaution (no I didn't get eaten by a honey badger) Chobe National Park in Botswana is an excellent destination for the usual Big Five viewing, although less touristy or crowded than some areas of Kenya and Tanzania, giving a more natural and adventurous feel; Just you, your guides and nature. It is a popular place to camp, if you want to be very close to the animals, although there are also luxury lodges near by. The Okavango Delta is an unique location, extremely tranquil and excellent for viewing hippopotomases and the occasional crocodile.

Please also see my African Safari Photo Gallery

And my other Photo Gallery

Map of Botswana

Botswana is in southern Africa, north of South Africa, east of Namibia. The capital city is Gabarone, which is north west of Johannesburg.

A markerGaborone, Botswana -
Gaborone, Botswana
get directions

Why Botswana?

Botswana and Namibia in Southern Africa are generally safer than other countries in Africa, where humans tend to be the most dangerous animal. Botswana has wonderful wildlife viewing and provides more expensive and higher quality safari experiences than an average safari holiday.

Getting There

We flew from London to Windhoek in Namibia via Frankfurt. Our baggage flew to Frankfurt, where it decided to stay. We stayed the night in Windhoek after quite a hurried shopping trip to Woolworths, which is an African shop selling clothes and everything else, with the £50 each, that our travel agent representative had managed to get for us (possibly from the airline) This turned out to be plenty of money and were able to kit ourselves out with enough clothes for at least a week, and the local representative provided sleeping bags etc.

The following morning we flew to Maun (rhymes with "town" as our guidebook informed us, or Mou-ooon, rhymes with tow-ooon as our local rep. jokingly informed us) in Botswana. Our baggage had now reached Windhoek. We then met up with an English honeymooning couple who were apparently with our group and the four of us, and two pilots flew in a Cessna low over the beautiful scenery and startled animals towards the Okavango Delta. This really is a wonderful way to see the plains of Africa and the amazing spectacle of the Delta itself. The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta and has no outlet to the sea, so there is seasonal flooding of the Kalahari Desert, forming shallow lakes and islands that change constantly. We landed at a tiny, dusty landing strip near where we were going to be camping and were picked up by the main guide, who took us by Land Rover, then boat to the island we would be camping on, stopping off a couple of times for a spot of game viewing on the way. Our baggage was now in Maun.

One of the "Airports" we flew to:

The Okavango Delta

The rest of the group, six Australians, were already there, the campsite erected and the campfire burning with our "chef" already hard at work preparing dinner. An absolutely fabulous setting surrounded by water and animals, including hippos and crocodiles. The two-man tents were basic, but lion-proof (well that's what the guides said anyway) There were showers and toilet tents already in place as well. Everything needed to be temporary, both for environmental reasons and because of the constantly moving water and animals.

Exploring the Okavango Delta

The next few days consisted of exploring the area, mostly in "dug-out" canoes (made of fibreglass, but quite realistic) being punted slowly through the shallow water, but also occasionally in larger motor boats in the deeper water or in the Land Rovers. The canoes were a wonderfully tranquil way to travel, gliding between the tall reeds, making almost no noise at all. We stayed in the shallow water because the hippos are visible there, whereas in the deep water they can be grazing underneath you and you really do not want to be over a hippo when it surfaces. They may be vegetarian, but they have enormous mouths, easily big enough for a medium sized tourist. One afternoon was spent fishing in a larger metal boat, in the hope of catching enough for dinner. We caught one fish between the 10 of us, but the chef was quietly sitting on the riverbank reeling them in. He buried his catch, wrapped in leaves, and then built a fire on top. Delicious.

See separate Okavango Delta Article...

Chobe National Park

The second leg of the journey was through the Chobe National Park, which is quite a different, very dry environment, but with far more of the big game traditionally associated with safari. Our luggage was still one day behind us, with the local travel company making every effort to get it to us. Again we were camping, but erecting our tents at each new impromptu site, as we made our way across the national park. There were of course no facilities at all, but the "chef" dug a new toilet at each venue, round which he erected a tent. He also made a wonderful shower, consisting of a bucket with a huge shower attachment on the bottom, hanging from a tree, filled with enough hot water, warmed on the fire, for two good long showers. Each day we would head out for at least two game-drives, usually early morning and evening as the sun went down. It was surprisingly cold, considering the temperature at midday, but obviously this is when the animals are most active. The rest of the day would be spent relaxing and reading under a huge canopy near the tents, unless something interesting wandered past, in which case we would jump into one of the cars and go in pursuit. A leopard wandered through the camp causing an absolute cacophony from the monkeys and birds on one occasion, but he sneaked off before we could get the tempermental Land Rover started.


The main guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, university educated in Botswana in subjects associated with ecology, zoology and tourisms. Having a good guide really does add to the experience. On the game drives we saw a huge variety of wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, jackals, elephants, many different antelope and a huge variety of birds. The most memorable sight was perhaps watching the sun go down near a waterhole as the elephants drank and thousands of small birds swooped past. As seems to be the tradition on safari in Africa, sundowner drinks were served as we watched this glorious sight. Despite camping, this really was frightfully posh.

More Reading - Some amusing books set in Botswana

This series of books written by Alexander Mccall Smith make some amusing light hearted background reading.

Camping in Africa

During the evening we would sit round the fire exchanging travel stories with the other tourists, and lion mauling stories with the guides while eating the delicious food prepared on the fire. Jungle etiquette dictates that the lions will not attack unless you run away and they certainly won't come into your tent (probably) One night however a lion decided to sit outside my tent purring, which was annoying as I was desperate to use the toilet. The following night my traveling companion wandered out of the tent, after everyone had gone to bed and met a hyena face-to-face. Not one of those cute cartoon hyenas that laugh all the time, but a big, long-legged one with an intimidating smile. He couldn't remember the jungle etiquette for meeting hyenas, stood for a while, and then eventually said, "shoo" and it trotted off. Hyenas are nasty things that don't really play the game. If you leave your shoes outside the tent they will steal them. They love the smell. If you put them inside the tent they will come in to get them and possibly eat you too. I was terrified for most of the time in Chobe, but I loved the experience.

And on to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Victoria Falls

After traveling across Chobe, and a brief game-viewing excursion into Zimbabwe, we arrived at Victoria Falls, for a short stay before being reunited with our luggage and our flights home. There are various things to do here, such as shopping and bungee jumping off the bridge above the falls, but it is a wonderful place just to relax and enjoy that incredible waterfall. The thundering noise was deafening, and we got completely soaked in a short time as we approached the falls. Helicopter flights from Zambia, just over the border a few miles away were significantly cheaper, so we took a flight over the falls, from the Zambian side, including some more game viewing from the air. It gives a stunning view of the falls and is certainly worth doing.

Essential Photographic Equipment

If you are going on safari and don't already have an SLR camera and a long lens, it would be a good idea to get one, because a compact camera will not get such good results in many situations. Typically a zoom lens going up to at least 300mm would be ideal.

I have written a more detailed recommendation of cameras here:

Nikon DSLR Cameras

I have also written a review of the best digital digital compact cameras:

digital compact cameras

but here is some good kit for a safari:

Abundant Birdlife

Southern Africa is also a wonderful place to visit if you are an ornithologist with an abundance of birds of so many varieties; the beautiful kingfishers are common, vultures watch menacingly, herons and egrets occupy the river banks, the ostriches strut around and the owls snooze quietly during the day... This will have to be the subject of another lens.

Conclusion

I would definitely recommend Botswana. It is a wonderful place for a safari holiday and the Okavango Delta is very special and quite unique. It is more expensive than some other, more touristy countries in Africa; even for a two-week camping trip it could cost £2,000 ($4000) each, but offers a huge variety of experiences. Camping with lions and hyenas is however a frightening experience and these days I would probably opt for staying at a good lodge rather than in a tent.

Summary: Wonderful. Even better than Namibia

See my Namibian Safari article

and a few of my other travel articles:

USA National Parks in an RV

Borneo Jungle Adventure

Canada. Vancouver and the Rockies

The Rocky Mountaineer

Explore China

Please leave some feedback

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      Reminds me of two favorite movies, The Gods Must Be Crazy I & II. They take place in Botswana.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I'd love to go...and go and visit my homeland, Zimbabwe

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Botswana is known to me through the novels of Alexander McCall Smith. I wish I can visit this place one day.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 5 years ago

      I just recently returned from a 10 day safari to Botswana and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Love your photos....they brought back many great memories. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Ah, can I carry your bags to Botswana for a safari??

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

      What a great life you are having!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I would love to visit here. Blessed!

    • profile image

      Tamara14 6 years ago

      I've never been to Africa and this is the first destination I'd choose. Thanks for making such a clear guide with useful tips. Angel blessed!

    • profile image

      RedSportNiac 7 years ago

      Nice choice of pictures. Looks like a wonderful place to hang out.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Wonderful stories and gorgeous photography! Thank you for sharing both with us.

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 8 years ago from Australia

      I want to go! I want to go! Imagine seeing my wild cousins! P.S. I will steer clear of the hippos

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to The Nature and the Outdoors Group

      Lizzy

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 8 years ago

      Now as much as I love to camp, I would not be comfortable in the bush, at night, with the predators, mambas, etc. I observed from an open land rover on my African Trip. We were strongly urged not to leave our lodge at night after being escorted there after the evening festivities during our Safari. Makes for a great story and some great photography though. 5* and faved

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Jewelsofawe is right. You need to do a book. Your pictures are incredible.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 9 years ago

      Just Beautiful, I am so envious of your travels. Great job.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 9 years ago

      According to your description of the size of hippo's mouth one could swallow me without blinking - since I'm less than medium-sized...lol

      I SO enjoyed this lens!

    • profile image

      Mayflowerblood 9 years ago

      you can write a book on travel =]

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 9 years ago

      You should do photo journalism books of your travels. You have awesome stuff!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 9 years ago

      You should do photo journalism books of your travels. You have awesome stuff!

    • anthropos lm profile image

      Lamar Ross 9 years ago from Florida

      OK, Andy, the more of these lenses I see of yours, the more jealous I get. Their great.

      Thanks for joining ”Anything and Everything Travel” Group. We look forward to seeing your other travel related lenses in our group. Keep up the good work.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Excellent lens and excellent photography. Amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I don't think I'd feel too safe around hyenas & lions roaming around my camp site either. Love the photo of the elephants and birds, that's a great shot. I have a one in a million photo I need to add to one of my lenses before I add it to your new group Wildlife Photography, you'll love it. Thanks for the invite! I'll polish up some of those stars on this lens!!!

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 9 years ago from Covington, LA

      Beautiful photos and interesting text. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.

    • profile image

      coopd 9 years ago

      Great information and pictures!! 5* Thank you for joining my Nature Lovers group :)

    • Ges LM profile image

      Ges LM 9 years ago

      Great lens with some fantastic pictures! You wouldn't have any spare Honey Badger photos you'd like to donate to my Honey Badger lens, would you? I'm struggling to find any decent pics in the public domain.

      Ges

    • estherjane13 lm profile image

      estherjane13 lm 9 years ago

      Nice lens. 5*. Love the photos!