A wild paradise, laced with palm trees, hidden gems & beautiful natural wonders.
A destination where so many game paths cross & people from all over the world pour in to experience the sweet life – safari, blazing sunsets, amazing wildlife & freedom.
These are my top picks…
Self-Drive. More and more tourists explore Botswana in a rental 4×4 vehicle. This is definitely the most adventurous way to experience the country, however: It is not for everybody. Driving can be challenging, especially after the rains. You most likely will get stuck. You will also encounter herds of elephants or bulls in musth. You will be driving in very remote areas, so you best be prepared for anything that can go wrong. I have witnessed shocking situations where tourists get themselves into highly dangerous situations. If you are unsure about self-driving, my advice would be. Don’t do it. Having said this: with the right attitude (“always stay on the safe side”), this is probably the greatest way to experience any country. I would however always combine it with a guided experience.
The traditional safari way: A mobile safari. If you don’t want to self-drive, but still wish to see as much of Botswana as possible, a mobile safari is the way to go! While you game-drive one area in the morning, the safari-crew will move your camp to the next destination, where you will arrive in the evening to a crackling fire, a hot shower and a delicious dinner al fresco.
Fly-in-Safaris. When it Botswana, it should be your definitive goal to see the Okavango Delta. However, to get to the prime areas around Chief’s Island, you will need to fly in. A scenic flight with the tiny Cessna airplanes is an incredible experience on its own, allowing you to fully grasp what the Delta is all about. Only from the air can you truly appreciate this stunning swampy landscape, with its game paths crossing through the papyrus like life lines of a hand.
If it is lodge accommodation you are after, I highly recommend African Bush Camps. Their stunning Khwai Tented Camp lies in the midst of the wildlife haven of the “Khwai Concession.” Although more and more popular with tourists, Khwai will fulfil all wishes you may have in terms of wildlife-viewing. Very good for leopards, too!
My tip: Khwai is not a National Park, thus guided bush walks with a rifle are an option here!
African Bush Camps offers great deals if you wish to move between their properties (Also across countries!). Make sure to ask Franks agency safariFRANK about this and they can get you great deals! African Bush Camps runs a second lodge in Botswana in the Linyanti swamps. Here you will get absolute serenity in a remote setting right on the edge of the endless swamps where countless elephants cool off during the hot hours of the day. A 20-minute-helicopter-flight over the swamps is included in your stay!
A great value for money and an incredible experience on top of this is Elephant Sands approximately one hour North of the town of Gweta.
This is definitely a self-drive-destination. Elephant Sands offers accommodation in chalets, but I prefer camping on the other side of the property. Why? Because this is where the well-established elephant pathways are located that lead to a waterhole slap-bang in the middle of the campsite. The restaurant and bar of Ele Sands are right next to the waterhole, promising unforgettable sundowners, and show-casing that elephants and humans can in fact live peacefully alongside each other.
Should you wish to linger in the laid-back town of Maun for a while, consider staying at the Otto Shack Airbnb.
Our favourite campsite in the National Parks of Botswana gotta be Xakanaxa in the Moremi Game Reserve. Please be mindful here where you store your food and how you dispose of rubbish! Apparently some of the elephants here have become a bit “too friendly” towards campers fridges…
Also great for camping is Nxai Pan – less crowded and spectacular for photographing the old elephant bulls around the waterhole. Tip: Get up first thing in the morning for sunrise and rush to the main waterhole – great chance to catch the lion pride here!
One word: MEERKATS! On the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt-pans awaits an incredibly fun adventure… Read the full article here.
Mokoros in the Okavango Delta. Paddle through the channels of the Okavango Delta in the traditional way: The – dug-out wooden canoes promise the most relaxing way to experience the wild. Please just be careful when selecting an operator. You want someone who knows what they’re doing to avoid the hippos in the deep channels.
My tip: If unsure, go with my friend Okwa Sarefo and his team! Okwa has been training many of the guides himself.
Chobe House Boat & Cruises. A great way to start or end your safari gotta be a boat cruise on the famous Chobe River. You have never seen so many elephants in your lifetime. The birdlife is great and the Namibian border right in the middle of the river… or isn’t it…? 😉
My tip: Hire a private boat with a roof and go out during lunchtime. Because of its close proximity to the town of Kasane with its big hotels and crowds of tourists, the Chobe can get very crowded in the afternoons because everybody wants to be out there for sunset. But in the midst of the day, you get just as much wildlife, plus many of the elephants will go for a swim to escape the heat. Best way to experience Chobe and avoid the crowds is to spent a few nights on a house boat.
Kubu Island. For spectacular star photography.
Lodges and mobile safari operators will be able to cater to all your needs – no matter if plant-based, gluten-free or carnivore! Just make sure you let them know of your dietary requirements before your holiday, as there are no supermarkets in the bush 😉
If you hang around in town for a few days, you will most likely either spent time in Maun or Kasane. My tips for both towns:
Il Pomodoro (REAL Italian Restaurant, great pizzas, fairly close to the airport).
Old Bridge Backpackers. (A classic where locals mingle. Try their bunless VEGAN burger!)
Tshili Farm. (Best place for breakfast. Their Ginger Coolers are to die for!)
French Connection. (Tucked away under shady trees in a relaxed garden. Really does have that French feel to it…)
Hilary’s Coffee Shop. (Different lunches every day, laid-back atmosphere)
Capello’s (Food is pretty average, but it’s open on a Sunday, has free wifi and is situated right across the airport)
For food shopping: Woolworth’s is right next to the SPAR and has a small supermarket-section in the back!
A bit tricky if you just want to have lunch or dinner somewhere. Try Thebe Lodge for dinner – the pizzas are quite nice. (You’ll need a car to get there).
For lunch, I’d suggest popping in at Chobe River Lodge. They have a buffet for their guests and you can join in for a fairly reasonable price.
Mingle with the locals. Granted: This can actually be quite a challenge in Botswana – which is a pity. Tourism here evolves very much around the untouched wilderness, sometimes excluding the locals who live alongside the animals a little. My friend Okwa can take you to his local village on his safaris – just inquire through safariFRANK about this. Other than that, it is up to you to make the effort. Batswana are fun and friendly people and will make it very easy for you to have a chat over the change of a flat tyre or the supermarket counter.
Consider rainy season. Especially if you are into your photography, the months of March-April could be perfect for you. Lush green colours and dramatic skies – maybe a bit challenging for self drive, but off-season rates at the lodges might make it worth your while to enjoy the luxury of star-quality-accomodation.
Respect the wildlife. Botswana is in many ways still the territory of the animals. Please be mindful and safe and always treat the wild animals with respect – that means especially not to get too close just to get a photo.