Botswana Best Africa Safari; This beautiful vast land of Southern Africa is one destination you have to see. It’s massive area covers 581,730 sq km has just a population under 2.5 million. 70% of Botswana is covered by the Kalahari desert which stretches from the border of South Africa in the South and the west end of the country bordering Namibia. Further North lies the Okavango Delta.
Topographically the land is flat, with patches of hills and mountains far apart. The dominant acacia trees in all their species spread across the desert. It’s grass is usually dry except for a few days of summer when the land receives rainfall.
Botswana’s annual rainfall is as low as 400ml most years. The Kalahari sand does not retain much water as result crop farming is not viable. Most people rely on underground water sources and wildlife has to adapt to the daunting challenge. The greater part of Botswana therefore is under grazing areas for domestic animals like cattle, goats and donkeys.
The Okavango Delta is one of the World’s biggest inland deltas. Each year the Delta receives 11 cubic kilometers of water from the Kavango river. The Kavango river originates from the highlands of Angola near the equator. Flowing for 1,600 km the river descends into a tectonic trophy that forms the Delta. All the water either evaporates or transpires. The swampy Okavango Delta gives a lease of life to the much needed water in the dry desert. It has a buffer zone of close to 22,000 sq km.
Lake Ngami just outside the delta sometimes receives overflow of water from the Delta. A long dried lake Makgadikgadi is also a few kilometers from the delta. The lake dried up a long time ago when the Zambezi river is said to have changed its course. This was due to the movement of the tectonic plates that raised the place.
Today the Okavango Delta is the best destination to view wildlife. There are many islands divided by channels of water. This place is navigated by boats mostly and domestic flights at times by 4×4 powered vehicles during the drier months. The swamps here provide the much needed food for the ecosystem. Quite a huge number of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, lions, leopards, cheetahs are seen roaming and grazing in the Delta. Hippos and crocodiles are in far greater numbers and so is fish.
Botswana Best Africa Safari
A small town located just outside the okavango delta, Maun has become a prominent destination as an entrance point to the Delta. In recent years Maun has been growing at a much faster rate as many Batswana established the hospitality industry to cater for visitors from across the World. The place of reeds as it was popularly known, boasts of an International Airport, Hotels, lodges and campsites. It’s sudden growth in population has influenced establishment of broader services from banking to supermarkets, post offices and even car sales and automobile spares shops. A handful of companies around the Airport offer scenic flights on small 5-7 seater light crafts and helicopters.
The light crafts also ferry tourists into various Island Safari Lodges which have become synonymous with Okavango Delta.
Greater Moremi national park inside the Delta where wildlife still exists in the natural wilderness is hardly accessed by vehicles. Fly-ins and the traditional wooden canoes called the Mokoro navigate the channels of water. The local inhabitants of the delta still have villages sprouting on the islands and they still use the mokoro pushed by pollers.
There are about five ethnic groups which inhabit the okavango delta, with distinctive dialects. Hambukushu, Dceriku, Wayeyi, Bugakhwe and || amikhwe popularly known as the bushmen . These ethnic groups are found in and around the Okavango delta. Ghanzi is a town to the east of the Delta predominantly the Bugakhwe and || anikhwe tribes. Although much of the traditional hunting and gathering activities have since stopped, they still showcase their knowledge and skills on how to survive in the desert.
Central Kalahari National Park
The area from Ghanzi town to Nata has the Central KalahariNational park which covers an area of 52,800 sq km. Traditionally inhabited by the Bushmen, the Central Kalahari National Park is the second biggest reserve park in the World. It also lies outside the Okavango delta. There are many species of wildlife like zebras, giraffes, elephants, and antelopes like the kudu, eland, sable, gemsbok and many cats. With generally flat land and sand dunes mushrooming the reserve, it is a good place to view game in action.
The Makgadikgadi salt pans lie just outside the Central Kalahari National park. Lake Makgadikgadi is another place for a good hideout to view game as the salt pans attracts many animals for the salt mineral. Botswana Best Africa Safari in Southern Africa has the best experience of life in the wilderness. Quite a good number of camping sites and lodges are around these areas offering game drives that you will never forget. The sand roads add to the adventure of navigating the desert and for that you need a good 4×4 vehicle and a good driver.
As you head further east of Lake Makgadikgadi, you come to Nata, a small town around the Nata River. The Nata River originates from Matebelend province in neighboring Zimbabwe. During good rains the river feeds the lake Makgadikgadi attracting a variety of wildlife especially birds like storks and flamingos. A rare species of the brown hyena is often seen around the area of the salt pans here too.
Nata is also popular for the Elephant Sands, a lodge in the middle of nowhere with a waterhole that feeds thousands of elephants. Being the only source of water in this region elephants come from their grazing areas and take turns to replenish and cool down in different heads and families. The huge and calm mammals here do come around the camping grounds in a familiar fashion but the enormous size would scare one away. Elephant sands have good camping sites and safari tented lodges. It’s important to book way in advance as there are no other lodges closeby should you want to enjoy viewing these elephants and try to understand their behavior for a much longer time. Alternatively the town of Nata is situated 80 km away and has quite good accommodation facilities.