The country of Botswana is a landlocked country that sits just north of South Africa. It is fairly flat, about 70% of the entire country located within the Kalahari Desert. Because of the large expanse of desert, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It was once one of the poorest countries on the world dating back to the 1960’s. Since then their economy has exploded with growth. Industries like tourism, cattle and mining have created many opportunities for the country.
Botswana’s first national park is the Chobe National Park in North East Afriica. It is a 4500 square mile park with a diverse ecosystem consisting of four different sub-ecosystems. Serondela area in the north east is the primary home to Elephants, giraffe, antelopes and other larger animals. It is the most visited portion of the park due to it’s proximity to Victoria Falls. The Savuti Marsh makes up the western region of the park. There used to be a fairly large lake here but it was cut off many years ago due to the shifting of tectonic plates. The Savuti Marsh are has a wetlands area that is thriving with over 450 varieties of birds. Beyond the marsh is the grasslands area where you can see herds of elephants, packs of lions, zebras, hyenas and sometimes cheetahs. Linyanti Marsh which lies in the northeast corner of the park is close to the Linyanti River, to the west is the Selinda reserve and the Kwando River and two national parks. This area has large populations of hippo’s, lions, sable and roan antelope, African wild dog and very large herds of elephants. Between the Savuti Marsh and the Linyanti Marsh is the Nogatsaa grass woodlands area where there are several man-made watering holes. If you are looking for a really cool experience be here when the elephants arrive. You can be within just a few feet of them while they are drinking.
If elephants is your thing, then Botswana is a great place to come to. With over 50,000 elephants, it has the largest concentration anywhere in Africa. The herds make the 125-mile migration to the southern portion of the park during the rainy season.
As I am writing this article we have learned that the last remaining male White Rhino has died. Sudan, the 45 year old Rhino has been sick for several years and eventually stopped eating, couldn’t stand any longer and had to be put to sleep. I urge you to take a minute from reading this post and read how tourists can help prevent wildlife trafficking and poaching.
There are many safari companies that provide, safe, memorable experiences but keep in mind that many of these excursions can be on the spendy side. Because of the popularity if the safari’s in recent years it has driven up the prices. That being said, you are not sleeping in a sleeping bag under a tree. Most of the companies provide an excellent experience with great hospitality.
Many of the tours have ad-on features that will take you to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is a world-renowned destination famous for it’s size and beauty. It is considered the largest waterfall in the world because of its combined width of 5604 feet and its height of 354 feet. It is made up of 5 different falls known as Rainbow falls, Horseshoe Falls, Main Falls and The Devils Cataract in Zimbabwe and the Eastern Cataract in Zambia. It was first seen by Europeans in 1855 by explorer David Livingstone. He was brought by canoe by locals to the edge of the waterfall, the natives called it Mosi-oa-tunya which means ‘The Smoke That Thunders’
Here is a short list of some of the Safari tour companies in the Chobe National Park area:
Things to remember while you are here:
Police are not as lenient as they are in the US. Respect their laws.
These animals are not domesticated, you need to treat them with respect, keep your distance an never go beyond the eye of your tour guide.
Occasional car jackings happen in bigger cities. Just let them take it. It’s a rental and it can be replaced.
Avoid talking on your cell phone while walking. Theives can take them right out of your hand and run off. Wait until you are stationary somewhere.
Malaria is real serious here. Use plenty of inset repellent.
Botswana is probably the safest country in Africa to travel to but make sure you check the US Department of State’s travel advisory board before planning your trip.