Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during the seasonal floods. The massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with its fossilized river valleys and undulating grasslands, is home to numerous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs. The point of interest are the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park & Maun.
Experience the stunning beauty, the unimaginable vastness, the isolation and worldliness, the astoundingly prolific wildlife of the best kept African secret. Botswana’s principal tourist attractions are its game reserves, with hunting and photographic safaris available. Other attractions include the Okavango Delta region, which during the rainy season is a maze of waterways, islands, and lakes. Botswana offers the traveller a choice of accommodation options from top class tourist hotels, luxury lodges and safari camps, to budget guesthouses and camping grounds. The major tourist areas have a choice of private lodges, safari camps, and public camping sites.
A variety of cuisines are served in hotels and restaurants from local favourites and game meat, to continental and Asian dishes. There are also plenty of fast food outlets and small restaurants/takeaways offering local dishes.
Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is in northern Botswana near the vast, inland Okavango Delta. It’s known for its large herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, which converge along the Chobe Riverfront in the dry months. Lions, antelopes and hippos inhabit the woods and lagoons around Linyanti Marsh. The floodable grasslands of the Savuti Marsh attract numerous bird species, plus migrating zebras. Whether arriving by air or road, the first glimpse of the river – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is always breath-taking. It appears as a swathe of brilliant, peacock blue ribbon, winding its way through the tiny town of Kasane, and ensuing wilderness.
Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalled anywhere else in the country.
Over 460 bird species have been recorded in the park, making it one of Africa’s premier venues for bird Safaris. Common species to be seen include the Sacred ibis, Egyptian Geese, the ubiquitous cormorants and darters, Spur-winged Geese, pel’s Fishing Owl, carmine Bee-eaters, most members of the kingfisher family, all the rollers, the unmistakable Fish Eagle, the Martial Eagle, and many members of the stork family.
The Chobe River rises in the northern Angolan highlands, travels enormous distances before it reaches Botswana at Ngoma. Like the Okavango and Zambezi rivers, the Chobe’s course is affected by fault lines that are extensions of the Great Rift Valley. These three mighty rivers carry more water than all other rivers in Southern Africa.
Maun is a town on the Thamalakane River in northern Botswana. It’s the jumping-off point for the vast inland Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush wildlife habitat during the seasonal floods. In the delta, safari camps dot the Moremi Game Reserve, which is home to hippos, lions and rhinos. In the town, the Nhabe Museum features local art, plus history and culture exhibits about the surrounding Ngamiland region. Porpula attractions in Maun are Maun Education Park, Nhabe Museum, The ancient bridge, Botswana Quality Baskets, Okavango scenic flights
The community is distributed along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe can still be seen grazing next to local donkeys, goats and cattle. Maun is a gateway for exploring much of northern Botswana; for example it is the natural hub for visitors from outside the region to explore the Tsodilo Hills and the Makgadikgadi Pans. The Thamalakane River discharges to the Boteti River, whose seasonal high flow reaches the Makgadikgadi.
A journey to the Okavango Delta – deep into Africa’s untouched interior – is like no other. Moving from wetland to dryland – traversing the meandering palm and papyrus fringed waterways, passing palm-fringed islands, and thick woodland, resplendent with lush vegetation, and rich in wildlife – reveals the many facets of this unique ecosystem, the largest intact inland delta in the world.
The Okavango Delta is situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, and is often referred to as the ‘jewel’ of the Kalahari – deep within this thirstland – seems remarkable. Shaped like a fan, the Delta is fed by the Okavango River, the third largest in southern Africa. It has been steadily developed over the millennia by millions of tonnes of sand carried down the river from Angola.
There are three main geographical areas:
• the Panhandle
• the Delta
The Panhandle begins at the Okavango’s northern reaches, at Mohembo, extending down for approximately 80 kilometres. Its corridor-like shape is contained within two parallel faults in the Earth’s crust. Here the river runs deep and wide and the swamps are perennially flooded. The dominant vegetation is vast papyrus beds and large stands of phoenix palms. The main tourist attractions of the Panhandle are fishing, birding and visiting the colorful villages that line its western fringes.
At Seronga, the fan-shaped Delta emerges, and the waters spill over the Delta, rejuvenating the landscape and creating stunning mosaics of channels, lagoons, ox-bow lakes, flooded grasslands and thousands upon thousands of islands of an endless variety of shapes and sizes. Many of the smaller islands are grandiose termitaria built by fungus-growing termites, one of 400 termite species in Africa, whose fantastic structures are a source of refuge and food for many animals.
The Delta region of the Okavango can vary in size from 15 000 square kilometers during drier periods to a staggering 22 000 square kilometres during wetter periods. Its dominant plant species are reeds, mokolwane palms, acacia, sycamore fig, sausage trees, rain trees and African mangosteen.
At the Delta’s lower reaches, the perennial swamps give way to seasonal swamps and flooded grasslands. To the southeast the third vegetation region becomes evident, as it changes to true dryland. There are three major land masses here: the Matsebi Ridge, Chief’s Island and the Moremi tongue. Here the vegetation is predominantly mophane, acacia and scrub bush and the land is dotted with pans. It is to this region that large numbers of mammals retreat during the dry winter months.
Major tourist attractions in the Delta and the dryland areas are game viewing, birding and boating, often in the traditional mokoro. The diversity and numbers of animals and birds can be staggering. A recent overview of the Okavango records 122 species of mammals, 71 species of fish, 444 species of birds, 64 species of reptiles and 1300 species of flowering plants. A successful rhino reintroduction programme in the Okavango now puts the population of White Rhino at approximately 35, and Black Rhino at 4.
Gaborone is the capital city of Botswana. It’s known for the Gaborone Game Reserve, sheltering native animals like wildebeest and impala, plus resident and migratory birds. To the city’s southwest, rhinos and giraffes inhabit the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Footpaths lead to city views at the summit of Kgale Hill. In the city center, the National Museum and Art Gallery displays art and cultural artifacts. Botswana, Gaborone is a young metropolis that experienced most of its boom with the discovery of diamonds in the 1970s. Its downtown. Monkeys and birds call out from the wetlands of Gaborone Game Reserve, and Kgale Hill delights with panoramic views. Gaborone is a buzzing and tempting city that is bursting out of a nutshell.
The tolerant mind-set of Gaborone derives from the gathering of the many different cultures and the thousands strong individual minds. The beautification of the edginess inspires, provokes opportunities and creates an intersection where two extremes meet each other and therefore become indefinable.
All neighbourhoods have two things in common: a warm friendly people and a rich experimental food culture. Gaborone boasts a range of hotels, and a choice of cinemas and casinos. Restaurants are numerous and varied, nightclubs often host live music by local artists. The National Museum is situated near the centre of town and houses important collections of traditional crafts and southern African fine art.
Gaborone is host to some of Botswana’s impressive attractions such as the Three Chiefs’ Statues, Mokolodi Game Reserve, Gaborone Game Reserve, Hare Krishna Temple, Thapong Visual Arts Centre and the National Museum and Art Gallery. Other places of interest include the Kgale Hill, which provides stunning views of the city and surrounding areas at an altitude of about 100m. Visitors climbing the hill are advised not to stray off the path so as not to be attacked by baboons. Another must-see location is the Otse Village (locally referred to as “Letsekela”). It is a village surrounded by hills which provide perfect breeding ground for vultures. So if you’d love to catch a view of these endangered vulture species, Gaborone is the way to go.