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Botswana – Top 5 Things to See
Following on from my other ‘Top Things to See’ features, here is the shortlist for the top 5 things to see in Botswana. It’s a fascinating place, and while most of the attractions listed below are primarily centered around wildlife, there’s much more to this stunning country if you have time to explore.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Kalahari Central Game Reserve, home to the San Bushmen, is the largest game reserve in Botswana. Its dry conditions are often considered inhospitable; however, when the summer rains reach the Deception Valley, the plains come alive and offer visitors a fantastic safari experience. Grazing species such as gemsbok, springbok and other antelopes, predators such as lion and cheetah and an abundance of other wildlife are all found here. Some consider game viewing in the Central Kalahari during this time to provide an experience similar to that of the migrations in nearby Tanzania and Kenya. The habitat is also a favorite for reptiles, scorpions and insects as they have been able to adapt to the unstable conditions of the area.
Learning more about the traditional San people of the Kalahari is an incredibly interesting experience and allows the visitor to learn more about how these nomadic people live side by side with their environment.
Chobe National Park
The second largest national park in Botswana, Chobe has some of the largest concentrations of wildlife found in Africa. Perhaps most famous for its large population of migrating elephants (somewhere in the region of 120,000 individuals!), the park also boasts a large number of other animals and is also popular with migratory birds.
Chobe National Park is diverse and has much to appeal to all visitors, with four distinct ecosystems visible within its boundaries. You can experience the lush and dense forests of Serondela on the banks of the Chobe River, the swamps around the Savute Canal, the Linyanti Swamps and the hot dry plains in between.
The park is a great destination all year round, although game concentrations are particularly high during the driest month, generally between April and October.
Makgadikgadi Pan began life as a large lake, but many years ago the water evaporated and left behind a glistening pan encrusted with salt. Today, this amazing natural feature consisting of two large salt pans, Sowa and Ntwetwe and a number of smaller pans, is thought to be the largest salt pan in the world. The Makgadikgadi Pan and the surrounding grasslands are home to a large number of raptors and antelope species. Large flocks of breeding flamingos flock to the pan as do many other bird species.
While the wildlife here is fascinating, it is the remoteness and uniqueness of the pan itself that is the main attraction. The sunset over the Makgadkigadi Pan is not to be missed as the changing light casts wonderful shadows against the shimmering surface of the pan and makes for some breathtaking photographs and images to treasure.
Moremi Reserve Game
Covering the eastern side of the Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve offers visitors a great mix of floodplains, forested areas and open savannah plains. Such habitat provides shelter for around 500 bird species as well as other wildlife species including leopard, giraffe, lion, cheetah, hippopotamus, hyena and red lechwe. In addition, the reserve is home to a large percentage of Africa’s wild dog population – catching a glimpse of these beautiful endangered ‘painted’ creatures is certainly something special.
Taking a mokoro ride is a must here and allows the visitor to observe the wildlife from a slightly different perspective as it traverses the lagoons and canals. You can also explore by vehicle or on foot. Visit during July to October to see peak game when the pan starts to dry up and the wildlife focus their attention around the permanent water.
One of the largest inland water systems in the world, the Okavango Delta is a highlight for many visitors to Botswana. The famous delta floods are created by the rains of Angola and a number of other tributaries that flow through Namibia and into Botswana to create the body of water for which the area is famous. At its peak, the Delta covers an area of about 16,000 km, shrinking to less than 9,000 km in the dry season.
The delta is home to large animals and birds, including large numbers of crocodiles, sitatunga, elephants and cranes, to name a few. Ornithologists should time their visit during the rainy season (November to May) for the best bird-watching, while animal life is most prolific along the floodplains between May and October, when vegetation has begun. to dry.
Choose to explore the Okavango Delta in a vehicle, on foot, on elephant back or in a mokoro (a traditional type of canoe)!
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