That’s right, this guide will give you the low down on each and every national park and protected area in Botswana. This country is full of natural beauty and the best way to appreciate it is to get out there and explore. It isn’t always easy to figure this stuff out on your own, so here is everything you have to know about these stunning destinations in Botswana.
Chobe National Park
Deemed the first national park in Botswana, Chobe has the most diverse concentration of wildlife and is the third largest park in the country. It’s located in northern Botswana and is divided into four distinct areas; the dry hinterland, the Linyanti Marsh, Savuti Marsh and the Serondela area.
History: While it became a national park in 1967, its original inhabitants were nomadic bushmen called the Basarwa. In fact, it was years before, in the 1930s that the area was proposed to be a site for conservation and took a while to get the law passed.
Animals: While visiting, you can get a glimpse of lions, buffalo, leopards and elephants. Actually, the concentration of elephants here is one of the largest in Africa.
Climate: The weather here is quite dry for most of the year except between December and May. During this time is the wet season, and animals are more difficult to spot.
Getting There: Get into the park from Kasane, or either side of the falls at Livingstone or Victoria Falls.
Fees & Permits: There is a fee to enter the park but it is typically covered in tour prices.
Where to Stay: Safari lodges and boats are situated all around the national park so you will have your pick.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
This park is located on the border of Botswana and South Africa. Much of the area is located on the Kalahari Desert and the landscape consists of dry riverbeds, sand dunes, and sparse vegetation.
History: Established in the 1930s, this park’s main function was to protect wild game from poaching. The two countries have worked together to conserve the area so that animals can roam freely. In 2002, these governments set aside a portion of the land for the native people, the Mier and Khomani San, to live.
Animals: The wildlife here is quite varied and visitors can expect to see Kalahari lions, Namibian cheetahs, hyenas, and leopards. There are also wildebeest, eagles, raptors, and buzzards.
Climate: There is hardly any rain in the park and the weather can get extremely hot, especially in January when it reaches around 40 degrees. However, in the winter the temperatures can go below freezing at night.
Getting There: You can get into the park from either Botswana or South Africa. If in Botswana, you can drive from Gaborone and enter by either Tsabong or Hukuntsi. If coming from South Africa, drive from Gauteng or Mpumalanga and take either Upington or Kuruman, Hotazel or Vanzylrus.
Fees & Permits: The fees vary depending on where you are from. However, foreigners must pay R160 per adult and R80 for children.
Where to Stay: There are both luxury and basic camping and accommodation options here.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Technically, this national park is considered a salt pan that is located in the northeastern area of the country. It was once a large lake but has since dried up and is now considered one of the largest salt pans in the world.
History: Archaeologists have found remains that suggest that homo sapiens once lived in this area. Scientists also believe that herded livestock lived here during the Holocene.
Animals: There is very little wildlife here but after a heavy rain, flamingos, zebra and wildebeest can be viewed.
Climate: It has both a wet and dry season.
Getting There: A 4X4 vehicle is suggested but visitors can drive to the entrance which is halfway between Nata and Maun on Francistown road.
Where to Stay: There isn’t anywhere to stay inside of the park but the towns around it offer accommodation.
Nxai Pan National Park Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Essentially part of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, this area is also a salt pan that sees a bit more vegetation than the former park. Much of it is covered in grasses and a scattering of Acacia trees can be seen throughout the landscape.
History: Originally a state land, the area was deemed a game reserve back in 1970. It wasn’t until 1992 that its boundaries were expanded and it was named a national park.
Animals: During the rainy season between November and March, the wildlife is plentiful. Visitors can see lion, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra, fox and the hyena.
Climate: The area is dry from May to September and experiences the rainy season between November and April.
Getting There: Visitors will need a 4WD vehicle to explore the area but transportation can be easily booked with local guides.
Where to Stay: There are two campsites within the park and one outside of the park.
Khutse Game Reserve
Located close to the country’s capital, it is a popular reserve for visitors. This stunning landscape is made up of pans, grasslands, and riverbeds.
History: This reserve is actually part of an ancient river system and was declared a protected area in 1971. In fact, it is only the second game reserve to be established on tribal lands in the country.
Animals: The most popular animals to view here are springbok, giraffe, wildebeest, jackal, lion, cheetah, and leopard.
Climate: Dry and hot
Getting There: Take the 240km drive from the capital where you will pass through a number of intriguing Kalahari villages like Molepolole.
Where to Stay: There are basic campsites on the reserve where you should bring your own tent. Many tourists rent a car with a roof platform so that they can put their tent on top. This makes people feel more secure while they are out amongst the natural habitat.
This swamp has formed where the Linyanti river changes direction and turns about 90 degrees. It’s quite remote and largely inaccessible, making it a favourite spot for adventurous travellers.
Animals: This is a great place to view hippos, crocodiles, zebra, buffalo, antelopes and elephants.
Getting There: Fly in from Kasane or Maun.
Where to Stay: There is lodging outside of the swamp about 5 to 10 km.
Mashatu Game Reserve
This reserve is part of Tuli Game Reserve and spans across multiple countries and national parks. It’s characterised by its biodiversity and wide open spaces. The reserve is also loved for its marshland, sandstone cliffs and riverine forests.
Animals: Guests here will have the chance to view the immense elephant population as well as eland and ostrich. Other animals on the site include cheetah, giraffe and zebra.
Climate: The weather is typically hot and rainy in the summer and warm in the winter, although winter nights can get quite cold.
Getting There: Visitors can fly in via Air Botswana from Johannesburg or take the five hour road trip from the city to the game reserve.
Where to Stay: The game reserve offers both a tented and main camp. They both offer necessary amenities although the main camp has more luxurious options.
Mokolodi Nature Reserve
This non-profit reserve is well known for not only its wildlife but also for its efforts to educate the public about conservation. They host children to teach them about the topic and also participate in re-breeding efforts for certain animals that are headed towards extinction.
History: Due to the creation of the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation, this nature reserve was established in 1994. It was once used for raising cattle but now is a place of great biodiversity.
Animals: Visitors here may see the southern white rhino, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, impala, elephant, leopard and the spotted hyena.
Getting There: Drive south from Game City for about 10km to reach the reserve.
Where to Stay: There are camping sites on the reserve.
Moremi Wildlife Reserve
Covering much of the eastern side of the Okavango Delta, this game reserve is characterised by distinct wet and dry areas which makes it quite unique. It’s diversity continues as it also features lagoons, thickly wooded areas and floodplains.
History: The reserve is named after Chief Moremi, the leader of the BaTawana tribe. It keeps the title of reserve instead of national park so that the local people were allowed to stay on site.
Animals: Visitors here will get a glimpse of hippos, giraffe, buffalo, lions, elephants, zebra, cheetah, rhino, wild dog, jackal and hyena.
Climate: From October until early December, the weather is very hot and from July to October, everything is quite dry.
Getting There: Fly in via the city of Maun and then take another short flight which will get you closer to the game reserve. From here, you will need to take a shuttle or get a driver to take you from your lodging.
Where to Stay: There are a handful of lodges and campgrounds inside the reserve as well as lodges on the outskirts.
This large, swampy delta is located inland from the Okavango River. It’s so large and impressive that the delta has been deemed one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. If that wasn’t enough, the area has also been named a World UNESCO Heritage site too.
History: At one time, the delta was part of Lake Makgadikgadi which dried up by the time the early Holocene period began.
Animals: There are both permanent and seasonal animals that frequent this area, making it a great tourist destination for wildlife viewers. Some of the most common sightings include; buffalo, elephant, hippos, blue wildebeest, crocodile, giraffe, lion, hyena, cheetah, antelope, rhino, warthog, wild dog and zebra.
Climate: The area here is actually quite arid with rain falling between December and March. December through February are hot and wet while the weather from March to May is much more comfortable. From June to August, the weather is warm during the day but falls quite dramatically into the evening.
Getting There: Majority of travellers will rent a car and start out from the city of Maun. However, visitors can also charter a plane to reach the destination.
Where to Stay: There are various camps and lodges surrounding the delta so visitors will have quite the choice. From luxury stays to budget options, you will be sure to find the right place for your visit.
Savuti Channel and Savute Marsh
These distinct areas are actually part of Chobe National Park. Actually, this area is said to be one of the best in the region for its wildlife viewing. After a good rain, the marsh will hold water for months which draws in the wildlife.
History: The famous explorer, David Livingstone, came across the marsh on his way to discover Victoria Falls back in 1851 and said that it looked like a dismal swamp. However, it went through a period during which it dried up before becoming what it is today.
Animals: Visitors here can see wild dogs, large concentrations of lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas.
Climate: November through April is the rainy season and during February, the humidity and heat are high. And, September though October tends to be extremely hot.
Getting There: It is located in the western region of Chobe National Park. You can get into the park from either Botswana or South Africa. If in Botswana, you can drive from Gaborone and enter by either Tsabong or Hukuntsi. If coming from South Africa, drive from Gauteng or Mpumalanga and take either Upington or Kuruman, Hotazel or Vanzylrus.
Where to Stay: Visitors can stay in the nearby safari lodges of Chobe National Park.
Wherever you choose to travel to in Botswana, you are bound to see some phenomenal wildlife and natural landscapes. Explore as many as you can to really take in the culture and beauty of this great country. Get in touch with us for more information.