Apart from the capital, Gabarone, Botswana is largely a roadless wilderness (at least what first world people would classify as roads). That wilderness consists almost entirely of desert except for the transformative power of a few rivers – in particular the Okavango, the water of which has been poetically said to literally “float on a saturated sea of sand”.
This endless stretch of natural beauty makes Botswana the ideal location for your next adventure. Here are just five ways to experience this wilderness wonderland from Destinations Africa.
1. Enjoy a mokoro safari
The very first must-do activity in Botswana has to be a mokoro safari. A mokoro is a traditional dugout canoe designed to navigate the Okavango Delta shallows. It is propelled forward by a long pole rather than an engine and so allows you to enjoy the profound peace as you slip silently through the mantle of water lilies.
2. Ride a quad bike across the Makgadikgadi
Even my husband, who paid regular visits there from his nearby boarding school as a child, cannot spell its name. But that is not the only surprise the Makgadikgadi has to offer.
Dry season takes on a whole new meaning when you can see forever across the salt-pan and into the night sky, with the nearest electric light 150km or more away! It is probably the safest place in the world to experience quad bike riding, which is one of the activities on offer at Jack’s Camp. The camp is an experience in itself and about which I can say no more as we were sworn to secrecy about other surprises this very remote, and yet luxurious camp, keeps in store!
3. Take a helicopter ride over the Okavango
Given that Botswana is largely roadless, tourist travel is mostly in light aircrafts, which affords you an aerial perspective of the terrain. A helicopter flight is less utilitarian and focuses specifically on the unique topography of the Okavango Delta. One of our favourite camps, Eagle Island (owned by the Belmond Group, formerly called Orient Express) is currently offering a free 30 minute helicopter ride to guests who stay at least four nights.
4. Go game viewing in Moremi
Moremi, proclaimed a game reserve in 1963, has one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the African continent including floodplains, grasslands, savannahs, forests, deep and shallow water channels, islets and lagoons.
In Moremi you are likely to find some lechwe prancing about in the wetlands or, perhaps like us, engaged in a fight for dominance. If you are very lucky, you might happen upon the rather rare sitatunga, an amphibious antelope native to Central Africa. Among the over 400 bird species that frequent this area, twitchers need to keep an eye out for the very shy Pel’s owl, a native of Botswana. Finally, Moremi is one of the better places to encounter wild dogs, arguably Africa’s most efficient hunter.
5. Visit the elephant capital of Savute
An uncrowded corner of Chobe National Park, Savute is sometimes referred to as the elephant capital of the world. ‘Savute’ which means ‘unpredictable’ certainly lives up to its name – the Savute Channel, having lain dormant for nearly 30 years, suddenly and mysteriously sprang back to life a few years ago. It is an area of stark contrasts from parched earth and tree skeletons to rich grasslands which spring back to life following the summer rains, giving rise to a Southern African zebra migration.