Botswana is one of Africa's - if not the world's - greatest wildlife destinations. Find pristine wilderness, animals galore and fascinating Bushmen culture
The southern African country of Botswana is a combination of desert, delta and diamond mines. Standing head and shoulders above many of its neighbours, it is one of the wealthiest and most stable countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and has all the ingredients of a fantasy safari: abundant wildlife, blood red sunsets and enough wide open spaces to bring an agoraphobic out in a hot sweat.
Here you can get your fill of the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, black rhino and buffalo – and sneak a peek at slinky cheetahs, elephants, meerkats, hippos, Nile crocodiles and rag-tag packs of wild dogs.
Botswana can be pricey and hard to get around but, thanks to some admirable responsible tourism practices, you can experience ancient rock art, captivating boat trips and prime game viewing minus the crowds.
What are you waiting for?
Kalahari bushmen (Shutterstock)
Botswana has it all – bushmen, boababs and big wildlife. And Graeme Green saw it all, from the dry salt pans of the north to the 'second greatest' wildlife migration on earth.
Dale Morris, on the other hand, went to the central Kalahari with one thing on his mind: lions. The Central Kalahari Game reserve is one of the best places to see them, with luxurious digs, and the chance to explore the bush – and spot lions – from the back of a horse. If a self-drive safari is more your thing, Mark Eveleigh tackled the same part of the Kalahari with his dad with a 4WD.
Claire Foottit went in search of the Kalahari's legendary Bushmen and found them clinging to their traditions in the remote corner of the Molapo region.
For something completely different, Chris McIntyre suggests visiting Botswana in the wet season. You'll get drenched, of course, but the region is teeming with wildlife then and, best of all, you'll have it pretty much all to yourself.
Bushmen, boababs and big wildlife – Graeme Green
Botswana's Central Kalahari: Lion Kingdom – Dale Morris
Kalahari dreaming – Mark Eveleigh
Last of the bushmen: Botswana – Claire Foottit
Botswana: a penguin in the desert – Chris McIntyre
Sunset on the Delta (Shutterstock)
The Okavango Delta is one of nature's greatest spectacles. After making it's way from just north of Angola's northern highlands, the Okavango river hits the vast, flat plains of Botswana and fans out, creating a multitude of rivers that in turn create hundreds of side channels and lagoons. Between February and June, when it is in flood, it covers an area bigger than Wales.
With the water comes a cavalcade of wildlife and African expert Chris McIntyre knows the best places to find it and film it.
Tim Ecott, on the other hand, visited in the low season and found the plains still lush, the wildlife still plentiful and the prices mercifully low.
Whatever season you choose to visit the Delta, one thing is for sure: make sure you canoe it. Dale Morris paddled the Selinda Spillway and came upon swamps, lakes and the occasional bathing elephant.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana – Chris McIntyre
Green Season in Botswanna's Okavango Delta – Tim Ecott
Canoeing the Okavango Delta – Dale Morris
Lion in Botswana (Shutterstock)
With the abundance of animals and birds in Botswana, your chances of getting a good shot of the local wildlife are pretty good. But why not use the opportunity to get a great shot? Our resident photography guru, Steve Davey is on hand with a selection of top tips to make it happen. The key is field craft, he says, not the size of your lens.
If it’s inspiration you’re after, then look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels in Botswana. They are truly amazing.
Top tips for photographing wildlife – Steve Davey
Kalahari bushmen in Botswana (Shutterstock)
Ready to start planning your trip? Our Botswana Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Botswana Essential Info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Botswana too.
If you have a particular question about Botswana, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Botswana. The answer to yours might already be there.
Botswana Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team
Botswana Essential Info – Wanderlust Team
Sunset in the Kalahari (Shutterstock)
Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From desert adventures and wildlife safaris to in-depth explorations of Botswana's wonderful waterways, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.
Main image: Canoeing in the Okavango Delta (Shutterstock)