Located in southern Africa, this landlocked country is full of tribal culture and desert scenery. It’s home to one of Africa’s most beautiful wetland, and many other diverse landscapes. There are miles of beautiful national parks, sparkling waterways, and spectacular wildlife. If you want to visit Botswana there’s no shortage of things to do. Here’s our list of top Botswana attractions and activities to get you started.
Chobe National Park
This is Botswana’s prime location to view elephants. They wander around this national park in the hundreds and can be seen grabbing a drink or taking a bath in the water. The park features woodlands, grassy plains, and plenty of watering holes. Giant crocodiles and submerged hippos can be seen in the waterways. And, visitors can get a glimpse at roaming giraffes, puku antelope, and wild dog. The bird life here is also extremely impressive. It’s a hot spot for bird watchers, especially in November. Birders can expect to see Fish Eagles, Pel’s Fishing Owl, and African Skimmers.
Serving as a gateway to the Okavango Delta, this is Botswana’s primary tourist hub. It has everything you need to explore the country from campervans and tour guides to pilots and adventure lovers. There’s a nice lineup of restaurants and cafes as well as some riverside views. Visitors can do some shopping or check out the nightlife too. If you need a base for booking your tours and safari drives, Maun is a great spot to do it.
This is the second largest city in Botswana and offers plenty of places to eat and stay when you first arrive in the country. There are a lineup of great supermarkets so that you can pack a lunch before heading out to the reserves. It also has a lively nightlife so that you can interact with the locals and other tourists while slinging back a few cocktails. There’s not too much to do otherwise but it does make a great base before exploring the landscape of Botswana. If you do happen to spend some time, make sure to check out the Supa Ngwao Museum which offers plenty of info on the history and culture of the city. Tachila Nature Reserve is also located nearby so that you can enjoy a more low-key sample of Botswana’s natural landscape.
These salt pans are one of the most beautiful sites in Botswana. They can be found near the Okavango Delta and have expanses of desert in between them. They cover an area of about 6,000 square miles as there was once a giant lake here. Most of the year they are covered in a salty, dry crust. However, water and grass occasionally take up residence here. During this time, the area turns into a sanctuary for birds and other animals. Visitors can expect to witness zebra and their predators from December to April. The salt pans are also a great place to go quad biking if you are looking for excitement.
This famous delta remains dry for most of the year. However, annually, it completely floods with water drawing in all sorts of wildlife. The waters spread around 1,000 kilometers and set life in motion on the delta. The Moremi Game Reserve also occupies part of the delta so visitors can go on safari. It’s common to catch sightings of lion, leopard, rhinos, and giraffes. A popular activity here is to take a tour in a dugout canoe and ride past hippos, crocodiles, and elephants.
This region is made up of ancient floodplains and an array of woodland habitats. Its top features are the Selinda Spillway which connects through to the Okavango and the Savute Channel which used to be dry but now flows with abundance. The Linyanti is also known for its mopane woodland, riparian forest, and floodplains. It’s also a favorite spot for elephants to roam. Visitors may also see wild dog, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and roan. This area is a top choice for a safari.
Nxai Pan National Park
The scenery here is quintessential African safari. There are towering sand dunes and rows of baobab trees. Some say that this is one of the best places in Botswana to take a safari. Visitors can see the vast salt pans and when the area floods, they can view birds and larger game animals. Once the grasslands start to grow in, there are plenty of zebra and wildebeest that roam the area. It’s located close to Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta so it’s a convenient stop for most trips around Botswana.
Take a Road Trip Around Botswana
The best way to see all of Botswana’s best sites is to take a road trip. Plus, traveling the country by car is an adventure within itself. If you want a great route, start right below the Okavango Delta and drive east on the Trans Kalahari Highway. Your drive will be surrounded by vast, African wilderness and beautiful landscapes. Along the way, visit the small village of Motopi to see the real lives of the locals. Then, head to the area around Boteti River and stop off for some coffee to take in the views. The Trans Kalahari Highway will pass through Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi National Park. You may want to stop overnight to rest. However, the next day, get on the infamous Elephant Highway and start looking out for these magnificent creatures in the distance. End your trip in the safari town of Kasane to rest and view even more animals.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
This park is best visited from January through April when the rainy season brings wildlife. The park is huge, covering 38,000 square kilometers. It is comprised of two national parks, Gemsbok National Park on the Botswana side and Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa. Wildebeest and antelope tend to migrate here which brings along plenty of their predators. The area can be pretty difficult to get to so you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle. Self-sufficient camping is also an option. You may want to hire a local guide to help you explore this area.
While not very industrious, this local village has a ton of charm and culture. Actually, it is home to a few workshops for glassmaking, pottery, and metalwork. The Pottery Factory in Gabane can actually be toured by visitors and is a great place to pick up some locally-made souvenirs on your trip to Botswana. While this is certainly a reason for people to visit, the prime activity in Gabane is hiking. There are plenty of trekking trails for people of all levels. It’s a great way to explore the natural scenery without being on a safari.
This area is usually just a quick stop on the way to other Botswana attractions. However, it’s definitely worth a visit. A special species of bullfrog live here and can be seen when it starts to rain. They usually stay hidden in the sand, but visitors may still catch a glimpse of them if they look hard enough. This destination was named Gweta because it’s the sound that the bullfrogs make.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Established in 1992, this sanctuary was built to help save the rhino population in the area. Not only did this help the animals, but it also helped the local community to benefit from the tourism industry. This sanctuary can be found around the Serwe Pan which is a prime watering hole within the Kalahari Desert. Visitors can take game drives and walks, as well as go on a self-driven safari. Guests can also take nature walks or visit the education center to learn about the landscape. If you think you’ll be in Botswana for an extended period of time, you can look into doing volunteer work at the sanctuary too.
Bordering Zimbabwe and South Africa, this eastern part of Botswana is rich in wildlife. Animals love the Shashe and Limpopo rivers which serve as primary watering holes. The area used to be made up of private farms but has been transformed into a wildlife sanctuary over the past few decades. The area is home to several reserves, including the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. This area consists of savannah, groves of baobab trees, riverine forests, and several rivers. Visitors are pretty much guaranteed a wildlife sighting no matter what time of year they decide to visit. Expect to see cheetah, lion, large herds of elephant, and leopard. The land is private so they allow walking safaris and night drives that are led by a local guide.
Mokolodi Game Reserve
This private reserve is located just a short distance from Botswana’s capital. It makes a great day trip if you happen to be exploring the city. Mokolodi is dedicated to both preservation and education so there are often school children on field trips roaming the area. In fact, visiting this reserve is a great way to give back to the local community since many people cannot afford to pay to get on the reserves. This allows local people in Botswana to learn more about the animals and plant life in their country. Rhino tracking is one of the main events and it’s well-known for being one of the only places where you can see the white rhino. They also run a breeding program that has stopped the white rhino from becoming extinct. Visitors can take private safari walks and night drives with a guide.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
This reserve stretches for 10 million acres and offers some of the most beautiful views of the desert. It’s one of the largest protected areas in Africa and is home to a diverse collection of wildlife. In fact, the Kalahari is the largest, unbroken expanse of desert in the world, and the reserve is right at the center of it. Rainfall comes between January and March, giving the grasslands plenty of space to bloom. This also brings in an annual migration in which zebra, gemsbok, wildebeest, and springbok come to gather. Their predators come along too so visitors can get a view of lions, hyena, and cheetah. Birders will also love this area as it draws in 220 species of birds. Expect to see Southern Pied Babbler, Violet-eared Waxbill, and Crimson-breasted Shrike.
Located close to the Namibian border, this area of Botswana is little known to tourists. It’s full of incredible rock formations that are both stunning and rare in this area. The gigantic rocks are said to represent mother, father, and child. The local San people have viewed these hills as spiritually significant for years. They believe the formations are a sort of resting ground for their ancestors’ spirits. Visitors will get a glimpse of ancient San rock paintings that display thousands of years of history for the local people. To see this area, it’s best to take a guided tour. This may involve a road trip and some overnight camping in nearby areas. It’s a great way to get off-the-beaten track in Botswana for a while. There’s a museum at the foot of the hills which makes a great start for learning about the history in the area.
While this is the country’s capital, there isn’t too much going on here. It’s a lot of political buildings and urban areas. However, it makes an interesting stop if you have plenty of time to spend in Botswana. Plus, a visit here can shed some light on what it’s really like to be a local in this country. Visitors can get a look at the mosque, various monuments, and the university. There’s also the National Museum and Art Gallery, as well as shopping malls for a little retail therapy. Plus, the Gaborone Game Reserve is nearby so you can just make this city part of your trip.
Botswana is one of the most diverse landscapes in Africa. It’s absolutely brimming with wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery. Visitors could spend weeks exploring the desert and spotting wildlife from their car windows, by foot, or by boat. If you want a wildlife experience that you won’t find anywhere else, Botswana is the place. Get in touch with us today to start planning your holiday!