Travel in Botswana

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South Africa's discreet northern neighbour, Botswana is undoubtedly the pearl of southern Africa . This quiet, sparsely populated country has avoided civil wars, post-colonial racial tensions and conflicts endured by most of its neighbours. What's more, since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, Botswana has held democratic elections - a rarity on the Africa continent. The result is a peaceful country, where life is generally good and provides a pervading optimism that rubs off on its visitors. From a geographical point of view, it's a land of contrasts where heavy rainfall and drought co-exist. Thanks to the great rivers of North Linyanti and Chobe and the Okavango Delta in the north, the country has an extremely varied plant and animal life, whereas the south houses the arid Kalahari Desert, which stretches as far as the capital, Gaborone. A country with as many contrasts as there are wonders. So, are you ready to discover Botswana ?

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Guide to travelling in Botswana

Botswana; that rare combination of jaw-dropping landscapes, fascinating history, majestic wildlife, and rich culture, and yet a travel destination that remains blissfully-untouched by mass tourism. In fact, home to only two million inhabitants and covering over 360,000 square miles (slightly larger than the UK), Botswana has one of the lowest population densities in the world. This landlocked country lies in the heart of the African continent, surrounded by Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa. Diversity is the key word here; to the south west of the country you’ll find the Kalahari Desert, and in the north east, you’ll be able to see one of the world’s largest salt pans; the Makgadikgadi Pan. Much like its neighbours, Botswana’s predominant pull for tourists remains its world-renowned safari opportunities, but whatever your reason for visiting, there’s no better way to take in Botswana’s wealth of sites and experiences than with the help of an experienced local travel agent who knows their destination like the back of their hand.

Planning a holiday to Botswana with one of Evaneos’ carefully-selected local travel agents will also give you an insider’s perspective on the climate and the best time to visit particular areas, providing you with the best insights for planning your perfect tour. Above all, they can be your on-the-ground support for everything, whether you need a translator, tips on the best national parks for spotting wildlife, or you’re experiencing a problem. With so much to see and do in Botswana, from photographing lions to spending the day learning about the customs and lifestyle of a local tribe, a local agent is a sure-fire way to pinpoint what interests you most and to ensure that you don’t miss it.

Best things to see and do in Botswana

What to see in Botswana

As you might have guessed, most travellers are initially convinced to visit Botswana to tick that universally-popular category off their Bucket List: embarking on a safari in Africa. That’s not all you’ll find on a holiday in Botswana, though, and while wildlife frequently featured in David Attemborough’s documentaries might be the country’s biggest tourist attraction, many travellers end up making return trips to this charming southern African nation for its extraordinarily-friendly people and exquisite scenery. For the sake of helping you narrow down the sites to include on your itinerary, here’s a quick travel guide to the top highlights of Botswana:

  • National parks: extraordinarily, national parks make up more than 17% of Botswana's landscapes, making it the ultimate destination for nature lovers. Visit Chobe National Park, located along a river and home to a huge elephant population as well as some of the continent's best-known animals and big game species. Kalahari Plains Camp is the place to go to see eagles, which can be spotted with the help of a local guide, along with many other species. Nxai Pan is an enormous un-fenced park that makes up an area around the size of Portugal, and is undoubtedly the best option for adventure lovers looking to hop on a 4x4 off-road tour.
  • Lakes and riversLake Ngami, a huge evaporating lake in the Kalahari Desert, has an unbelievable amount of birdlife thanks to the many conservation efforts that have been taken here. Even if you’re not an avid bird-watcher, the lake is a great spot for photography. Possibly the most iconic and popular site in Botswana, the Okavango Delta, is a giant oasis in the middle of a vast arid area, located in the north of the country. The river basin is featured on most postcards and images you'll see of Botswana, boasting luscious surroundings and plenty of animals to take in from a boat tour or river safari.
  • Hills and mountains: Tsodilo Hills make up a vast orange and sometimes red-coloured rock face that has captivated visitors for centuries - it's no wonder this place was considered as sacred in the ancient culture of the area. Be sure not to miss a visit here during your trip to the Kalahari Desert. Botswana is also home to other dramatic mountains and hills, the most famous being Kgale Hill, Monalongong Hill and Otse Hill. For walking enthusiasts, these all double up as amazing sites for hiking, trekking, and exploring Botswana's natural world.
  • Deserts and salt pans: the Kalahari Desert is one of Botswana’s most famous sites and its vast empty landscape, impressive colours, and alien quality make it an amazing place to visit no matter you interests. Taking a guided 4x4 tour through the desert for the day can make for a fun detour during your trip. Alternatively, Makgadikgadi and Nxai are huge areas of salt pans in the north of the country that are great to visit if you have a few days to spare in your itinerary. Finding yourself in the middle of such a huge expanse of land is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience that should definitely make it onto your to-do list.
  • Islands and lagoons: Botswana’s islands and lagoons are just one component of what makes this country’s landscapes so unique. Lekhubu is an island in the huge salt pans of the north east, and is a relatively-small area covered in trees and scrub. This weird and wonderful formation in the middle of nowhere is truly a sight to behold. Guma Lagoon, on the other hand, is a place that seems as though it was designed for fishermen, bird watchers, and wildlife fanatics. From here you can stay in cabins, explore rivers by canoe, and sign up for a guided fishing or wildlife tour.

What to do in Botswana

Now that you've had a glimpse into the best things to see in Botswana, it's time to turn your attention to what activities and excursions you should include in your trip. Botswana might be the dream destination for honeymooners, but that doesn't mean that romantic, wind-swept safaris at sunset are all the country has to offer travellers. So, without further ago, here's a quick list of some of the most popular things to do in Botswana:

  • Go on safari: visitors travelling to Botswana for a week will be keen to indulge in Botswana’s single most popular activity: a classic safari tour. As well as being home to the 'Big Five,' Botswana boasts large numbers of Africa's most lovable animals including giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, migrating zebras, hippos, and more. The country's huge range of national parks and game reserves means you'll be spoilt for choice as you explore desert plains, grasslands and watering holes. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a great choice for animal-spotting, and has the added bonus of containing fossilised river valleys which make for great photo opportunities. Khutse Game Reserve is also full of some of Botswana’s rarest species. In the south, Mokolodi Game Reserve specialises in giraffe and rhino-tracking, so you'll have a much greater chance of coming up-close to these animals here.
  • Take a canoe trip: a trip to the Moremi Game Reserve offers visitors the unique chance to navigate the rivers in dugout canoes, on the lookout for hippos, elephants, and crocodiles. This is definitely not your average river cruise, and goes down fantastically-well with travellers of all ages! Canoe trails can also be found at Selinda Reserve for those looking to experience a safari as authentic as they come. These trips make a nice change from safari resorts and are perfect for smaller groups, couples or families.
  • Visit Victoria Falls: this staggeringly-powerful and dramatic waterfall can be found just over the border in Zambia, and remains one of the world’s most impressive natural sites. It's impossible not to feel tiny as you stand before the 1,708m high falls, listening to the sound of 'African Thunder' - the aptly-given name attributed to the water hitting the ground below with breath-taking force. If you have a couple of days to spare and are looking for short excursions to fill gaps your trip itinerary, this is definitely one to consider.
  • Visit a local village: learning about the customs and lifestyles of others is arguably the best way to really 'see' a destination. For a taste of authentic local culture, why not stay in one of Botswana’s villages for a few days during your holiday? It's the perfect solution for families in search of an authentic experience abroad, solo travellers wanting to see the real people of Botswana, or anyone seeking to broaden their own horizons. Mothabaneng or Sexaxa Village are great examples, where you can try your hand at traditional weaving, hear about local folk tales and history, and volunteer with Botswana's warm and welcoming local people.
  • Camp out under baobab trees: last but by no means least, anyone travelling to Botswana to see the oountry's famous Baobab trees should head to the site of Baines Baobabs. It might not be the first tourist attraction to come to mind, but it remains a firm favourite for honeymooners and couples. Here, you can camp under the expansive canopies and look up at the clearest night sky you will ever have seen (cue the romantic music).

For the best tips, information, and inspiration to plan your holiday to Botswana, ask the experts: Evaneos' hand-picked local travel agencies based there. As well as providing unparalleled local knowledge including access to hidden gems and advice on how to avoid tourist-traps, they'll organise the trip of a lifetime for you based around your needs and interests.

Best time to visit Botswana

Deciding when to go to Botswana will depend on what you would like to do and see during your trip. The most popular time to visit (the high season) is generally between June and October, since this is the period that is best for wildlife and safari tours. During this period the weather in Botswana is fairly dry and the temperature is consistently hot so the animals are easy to spot due to the lack of vegetation. Less rainfall also means that the skies are clear and that there are far fewer mosquitoes. The low season starts in November and continues until May, with more rainfall and some lodges closing down until peak season restarts. The rainfall and lower temperatures mean that grass and vegetation begins to cover the plains during this time and so the landscape only becomes more stunning. The prices during this season are also often much lower, meaning that despite the rain there are many benefits of travelling during this off-peak season.

Travel tips and advice for travelling to Botswana

Safety in Botswana

Safety in Botswana is something that many visitors want to investigate before leaving for their trip. Like any foreign country, Botswana has its share of crime, but armed with a few simple tips you can ensure a hassle-free holiday. Firstly, Botswana is known as one of the safest countries in Africa, and it really is. All you need to do is avoid leaving valuables in sight when walking around and avoid carrying large sums of money. Try to avoid walking at night if possible too. Provided you exercise basic common sense during your trip, it's unlikely that you'll encounter any difficulties. 

Visa regulations for Botswana

All EU citizens are actually exempt from needing to obtain a Botswana visa for their trip. It's one of the many benefits of choosing this beautiful African gem as your next holiday destination: a simple and hassle-free process.

Vaccinations for Botswana

It is recommended that all visitors get booster injections for all the basic vaccinations before their trip, as well as ensuring that they organise several other injections for Botswana specifically. You will need to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Cholera and Rabies.

When to go in Botswana?

The best time to travel to Botswana is between May and September. At this time, the days are hot, and the animals stay near the watering holes: they're easy to spot. Summer, which lasts from October to April in Botswana, is much less appealing: the heat is stifling and rain is frequent and heavy.
See when to go

Traveller reviews of their trip to Botswana

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Family trip to Africa
Family trip (2 adults and two late teenage children) to ***********. Evanos handled accommodations, tours and transfers. I made all flight reservations.
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