Why choose Botswana for your safari?
It’s a beautiful country, the longest stable democracy in southern Africa and it has the biggest population of elephants on the planet. It has a good road network, and it focuses on sustainable tourism. These are just some of the reasons to go here.
Where to start your Botswana safari?
There are several options to start your Botswana safari from. We choose Johannesburg as our starting point, so we could also visit some South-African parks and since renting a 4×4 was significantly cheaper there at the time. Other starting options are Gaborone, Francistown, or Maun, all in Botswana. Depending on your starting point your itinerary will look slightly different.
Khama Rhino sanctuary is a good place to start your safari from, it’s 2 hours from the South African border, 3 hours from Francistown and 4 hours from Gaborone. If you start in Maun you can probably skip the sanctuary depending on your luck with spotting some rhinos in the national parks.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a great place to see some rhinos, there are both white and black rhinos there. Since it’s relatively small it won’t be difficult to find all the different animals by yourself but it’s still large enough to give you the reward of finding the animals. It also gives you the opportunity the practice your off-road skills without the danger of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Ntewetwe salt pans
The salt pans provide an unreal mirror world in the dry season, where it’s easy to lose your sense of direction in the seemingly endless salt plane. A beautiful place to experience the full beauty of this place is Khubu island. This baobab filled island surrounded by the pans provides magical sunrises and sunsets.
Maun is the gateway to the Okavango delta and a good place to stock up on food, gas, and supplies. It’s also the place to get in an airplane and see the Delta from above. Some people say this is the highlight of their travel experience in Botswana, I wouldn’t go that far, but it certainly is a great addition to any safari.
Moreni National Park
From Maun it’s just a short drive to the south gate of Moreni NP, a good first camp site to explore the park from is Third bridge camp site.
Drive east to Khwai North gate camp site. From there it’s easy to explore both sides of the Khwai part. The Eastern part of Khwai offers great opportunities to watch hippo’s and crocodiles as you ride along the Khwai river.
Savuti National Park (Chobe National Park)
Exit the park through the north gate and head towards Savuti. It’s a long day’s drive to Savuti camp site at the northern edge of the park. Take the marsh road during the dry season since it crosses more interesting places. Savuti offers a wide array of animals, we saw elephants, jackals, hyenas, lions, giraffes, zebras and many more. Go to Bushman hill for some ancient rock art.
Chobe riverfront is your best chance to see any animal, it’s packed to the brim with animals as all come the drink and feed on the banks of the Chobe river. Expect to see lions, leopards, etc. Best place to stay is Ilaha camp site as it’s situated inside the gates, giving you the freedom to go out whenever you want. But you’ll have to be lucky to get a place here, as places are booked well over a year in advance. The other option is to stay in nearby Kasane, and which is just a 15 min drive away. It’s said that the park doesn’t open for people not staying inside before 9am but we arrived at the gate well before sunrise (6am) and could drive through without any problem.
Kasane is a great base both for river excursions on the Chobe river, a great way to get up close and personal with the different animals. It’s also the place to book a day trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Nata bird sanctuary
For a change of scenery and the opportunity to spot some birds instead of mammals visit the Nata bird sanctuary. What to expect? Tens of thousands of flamingos and the accompanying smell. Also, ostriches and packs of wildebeest.