Being poled through the reeded waterways of the glittering Okavango Delta in flood, its islands teeming with herds of game and their majestic predators, is one of life’s truly unforgettable experiences. Watching lion stealthily stalk their prey in the grassy plains of the Moremi; seeing elephant bathing lazily in the mighty Chobe River at sunset: no other country offers such diversity. Guests stay in comfort in a scattering of small, luxurious wilderness lodges – such exclusivity comes at a cost, but boy, is it worth it.
CHOBE NATIONAL PARKCHOBE NATIONAL PARK
Botswana’s first national park, Chobe is a watery paradise for elephant lovers, including large prides of lion which have learned to hunt these huge prey. At 11,000 sq km it is vast, with a small collection of lodges along the river and Savuti Marsh.
The ancient salt-pans of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert present a total contrast to the Delta, their arid landscape offering a unique wilderness experience. In the far north, the remote Central Kalahari Game Reserve teems with wildlife after the rains.
LINYANTI CONCESSIONLINYANTI CONCESSION
This remote private reserve runs along the north east border of the Okavango Delta, with game able to roam freely between both areas. Offering a truly exclusive wilderness experience, the area is famed for its big game and huge elephant herds.
The gateway to the Okavango Delta, Maun is easily reached by direct flight from Johannesburg. A small town replete with tour companies and bush airlines, it makes a perfectly pleasant overnight stop before or after venturing into the wilderness.
MOREMI GAME RESERVEMOREMI GAME RESERVE
A third of the Okavango (nearly 400 square miles) is protected within the Moremi Game Reserve, right at the heart of the delta. The dry Mopane Tongue and Chief’s island offer exciting high game densities, surrounded by picturesque lagoons.
OKAVANGO DELTAOKAVANGO DELTA
A spectacular network of rivers, channels, papyrus swamps and floodplains, the Okavango Delta supports a staggering array of species from elephant, lion and cheetah to thriving packs of endangered wild dog and both black and white rhino are seen.
OKAVANGO PANHANDLEOKAVANGO PANHANDLE
Birdlife is the main draw of the Okavango Panhandle, the narrow strip of swampland that funnels floodwater into the delta. Egrets, kingfishers, Pel’s fishing owl and the African skimmer just a few of the 350 species on offer, along with superb fishing.<
Browse through our suggested itineraries for inspiration. These are just a starting point for your plans – remember that all our itineraries are tailor-made to your specifications.
Botswana Fly-in ExplorerContrasts the enormous salt pans of Makgadikgadi National Park with the outstanding big game of the lush Moremi Game Reserve, the lagoons and islands of the Okavango Delta and the elephant-rich Chobe Riverfront. Fly between camps in light aircraft, with spectacular views of the ever-changing landscape from the air. With time to see Victoria Falls before flying home, this once-in-a-lifetime holiday encapsulates everything which makes Botswana so incredible.
Botswana Summer EncounterThis small group set-departure tour offers an experience of the diverse, untouched habitats of Botswana, from desert to delta and plains to rivers, all in one of its most abundant and remarkable seasons. Explore the Kalahari Desert when sporadic summer rains attract a plethora of wildlife and see the floodplains and channels of the Okavango filled with game and predators in great numbers followed by a cruise on the Chobe River. The journey ends at...
Great Wilderness Journey – BotswanaThis small group set-departure tour explores Botswana's contrasts in scenic areas on a game-viewing adventure reminiscent of the days of the great African explorers. On this great journey, you’ll encounter the world-famous Victoria Falls on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River and explore Botswana's scenic northern areas: from the blue-green wetlands of the Okavango Delta to the Linyanti and Chobe River systems renowned for their predators and large concentrations of game.
Botswana & Vic Falls – Luxury CruiseCombine a cruise aboard the most luxurious small ship currently sailing the Chobe River with a superb lodge stay on remote Impalila Island, allowing guests to experience the unparalleled riverine wildlife and scenery and also to meet local people for an understanding of traditional ways of life. Also enjoy a night in Johannesburg with a guided tour of Soweto, and end on a high with a visit to the world-famous Victoria Falls.
Planning your trip
Itineraries to Botswana generally start in Maun, reached via a direct 11 hour overnight flight to Johannesburg then onward 90 minute flight. Most visitors use the country’s network of light-aircraft routes to get into the delta and beyond, but there are few formal airports so the light aircraft usually land at bush airstrips.
It’s also possible (and often more cost-effective) to explore as part of a vehicle-based mobile-tented safari, with a private driver/guide. Botswana is hard to visit as a self-driver as the delta creates a physical barrier to driving without a specially adapted 4×4 with lots of extra kit and preferably a back-up vehicle.
Quick country facts
- Recommended airlines
BA or South African Airways via Johannesburg then South African Airlines or Air Botswana to Maun.
- Flight time
Around 14 -16 hours depending on the length of connection.
- Time zone:
- Visa requirements:
No visa required for 90 day stay (UK passport)
Accommodation and costs
Botswana has pursued a low-volume, high income strategy for tourism in an effort to protect its precious natural resources from over-development and mass-tourism. Huge environmental levies and tight restrictions on building mean lodges are sparse and generally expensive, especially in the Delta. There are one or two more reasonable places to stay in Maun, Chobe and the Okavango Panhandle but anyone wishing to visit the Delta itself should prepare for a minimum spend of £470 per person per night in low season /£630 in high season stretching up to £1200 per person per night for the best lodges. This can mean a holiday to Botswana is sadly not within everyone’s reach. Surprisingly, mobile tented safaris, where a private luxury camp is created just for you, accompanied by an expert guide, can actually work out cheaper, with average rates around £450 per person per night all year round, dropping to £390 pp for a party of four.
How long to stay
With the time taken to get here, a week would be the minimum we’d normally recommend in Botswana, with two weeks an ideal length of stay. The average itinerary visits around three different parts of the country, with 3 night stays in each. Botswana also makes a great combination with Namibia or Victoria Falls.
Weather and when to go
The best time to visit Botswana varies depending on what you would like to see. Weather plays a role, as do animal movements, the flood pattern of the Delta and visitor numbers.
If you are visiting primarily for the Delta then June to October will be the best time to go, as this is when the flood waters start making their way through. During these months most Delta camps can offer mokorro (canoe) safaris which is always a highlight of any trip to Botswana. Game becomes concentrated on the islands and islets when the Delta is flooded, whereas once it’s dried out again the animals tend to move to the edges of the Delta to graze, taking their predators with them. It’s winter in Botswana so expect dry, clear days with little to no rain, but chilly mornings and evenings warming up during the day.
There are parts of the Delta with permanent water sources so even outside of these times it’s possible to find lodges offering mokorro safaris. April and May often bring lovely weather and game is also fantastic in the drier parks. At this time prices are lower and parks like Chobe won’t be as busy, making this a great option for those looking to avoid peak season.
October can start to get very hot, with temperatures hitting 40C at times. This gives way to a wet season which starts any time in November and is at its heaviest in December, January and February when it may frequently be overcast or experience a thunderstorm. Occasionally it can rain for days on end. Some lodges close down at this time, however, it’s still possible to see lots of game, with newborn antelope and migratory birds adding an extra dimension. Rates and visitor numbers are at their lowest too.
- NOT ADVISED