Visiting Botswana isn’t about beach life, nightlife, Michelin-starred fine dining or mega-shopping; it’s about the wonders of the natural world in a setting mostly unchanged for countless millennia. The skies are unbelievable both day and night and the vast vistas convey without a doubt the idea that humans are a very small part of Planet Earth. Activities are all about seeing and appreciating rather than doing, and it’s hard not to leave changed by the experience.
Wildlife watching, exploring the supreme, seasonal beauty of the landscape and delving into mankind’s early beginnings are the main things to do in Botswana. Experiencing the sounds of the African night from a camp in the wilderness overlooked by a myriad of glittering stars, or deciphering the world’s oldest rock art is as good as it gets.
The Okavango Delta lies on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and is the largest inland delta on earth. The landlocked Okavango River disperses into a labyrinth of hidden channels, lagoons and lakes covering 6,500 sq miles before burying itself in the desert sands. The irrigation of the vast plain during the rainy season sees the landscape erupt into colorful life and draws massive herds of wildlife including the rarest of species. Native Escapes offers tours of the region, including a flight over the entire delta for breathtaking views.
The Northern Tuli Game Reserve, set on the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe in Botswana’s easternmost region, is small by comparison to the huge reserves in the central region, but unique for its topography and historical heritage. Located on the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers, it’s known as the Land of Giants for its massive, iconic baobab trees and its population of Tuli elephants and diverse bird species. This area is bushman land, with thousand-year old settlements dotted around the region’s sandstone ridges and hills. Tuli Lodge offers game viewing and drive trips into the wilderness.
The Kalahari Desert, despite popular misconceptions, isn’t just never-ending miles of red sand dunes. Its northern region receives seasonal rain waters from the Okavango River delta and its edges and surrounding areas support three major game reserves: the Khutse, Central Kalahari and Kgalagadi, home to some of the rarest species in Africa. Even in the heart of the desert, hardy plants survive on the minimal amount of annual rainfall. Kaie Tours offers desert safaris guided by authentic Kalahari Bushmen who intimately know the lay of the land and give an overview of their traditional hunting and food-gathering lives.
The Tsodilo Hills in the northwest of Botswana are a UNESCO World Heritage site for their spiritual and religious significance to the Bushman tribes with a unique record of early habitation. Overlapping the edges of the Kalahari, the three named hills of Male, Female and Child are believed to be a refuge for the spirits of the dead, as well as the gods, with violence and hunting forbidden within their vicinity. The magnificent rock faces are decorated with over 4,000 prehistoric paintings, and 500 settlement sites have been identified. African Overland Safaris offers four-wheel-drive camping tours.