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Ask any safari lover where to go on safari, and many will say Botswana.

The landscapes are spectacular, the lodges are stunning, and the opportunities to see animals in the wild are amongst the best in the world. Lucky visitors will see all of the Big 5, as well as many other popular African safari animals like cheetah, wild dogs, hippos and thousands of species of bird too.

It’s the chance to head out on a water-based safari that makes a trip to Botswana really special. Guests can traverse the serene waters of the Okavango Delta in a dug-out canoe, or take to the Chobe River in a motorised boat to watch the elephants drink and the hippos play. But lovers of traditional game drives need not despair, as they’re in for a treat at Moremi, Linyanti and Savuti.

Botswana’s position in southern Africa, and the fact that most international travellers will need to transit through South Africa in order to reach it, means Botswana is a great place to pair with a safari in Kruger National Park. But, equally, it makes a fantastic safari destination all on its own.

This travel guide to safari in Botswana tells you everything you need to know, from where and when to visit, to the best places to stay and how to get around.

Botswana National Parks, Game Reserves & Wildlife Destinations

If you’re heading to Botswana for the wildlife, no trip is complete without visiting the Okavango Delta. But make sure you don’t overlook the smaller, lesser-known destinations to enjoy a more exclusive but just as exhilarating safari. Here’s our pick of the best national parks and game reserves in Botswana to visit.

Chobe National Park

Herd of elephants drinking from Chobe River in Botswana

Many safaris in Chobe National Park centre on the Chobe River. During the winter months when water is scarce, many animals line the river to drink, making it a popular area for predators to hunt, and for tourists to visit too. Chobe is perhaps most famous for its population of Cape Buffalo and almost 50,000 African elephants. The rest of the Big 5 are never far away, either.

Okavango Delta

There’s nowhere quite like the Okavango Delta to go on safari. This vast area of wetland is home to huge numbers of African prey species who feed on its lush vegetation, as well as the predators that hunt them. Visitors can see all of the Big 5 on game drives here, while canoes and boats can treat lucky guests to unbelievable sightings of water-based animals.

Moremi Game Reserve

A leopard lying down with its face turned towards the camera in Moremi, Botswana

The Moremi Game Reserve makes up a quarter of the Okavango Delta and is thought to be home to the most biologically and environmentally diverse areas in the country. In a single game drive, safari-goers could visit lagoons, forests, savannahs and more, making for exceptional game viewing and stunning backdrops. Moremi is also one of the best places in Botswana to see leopards.

Linyanti

An African wild dog in portrait, looking towards the camera

Lovers of big game, cats and predators are in for a huge treat at Lanyanti. With vast areas of grassland populated by antelope, zebra and giraffe, sightings of wild dogs, lions and leopards hunting are frequent but very special. The wetlands of the Linyanti reserve draw hundreds of mature elephants, many babies and very young calves too, to congregate around the river to drink.

Savuti

A lone bull elephant traversing the plains in Savuti, Botswana

Savuti forms part of the Chobe National Park, but is lesser known than the area around Chobe River. This makes it a more exclusive place to view wildlife, including the huge herds of elephants that Savuti is famous for. Thanks to the diverse habitats of grassland, forests and watering holes, the wildlife is just as varied, from warthogs and lions, to kudu and francolins.

Central Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

A family of meerkats keeping watch in the Makgadikgadi pan in central Kalahari, Botswana

The open plains of the Central Kalahari game reserve are home to huge herds of imapala, oryx and many other antelope. This potential feast draws powerful lions with black manes, as well as large numbers of cheetah who prosper in the open areas. In the north Kalahari, the wild Makgadikgadi salt flats attract hardy species like meerkats, brown hyena and aardvark.

When to go to Botswana

WIth mild temperatures and sun virtually all year round, there isn’t a bad time to visit Botswana. That said, the time of year you choose to visit may be influenced by prices, lodge availability and the likelihood of seeing certain animals.

Best (June to September)

Widely considered to be the best time to visit Botswana, the dry season between June and September brings high water levels in the Okavango Delta and beautiful weather. However, this time of year is also the most expensive and most popular, meaning lodges book up quickly and wildlife sightings are rarely exclusive.

Good (May and October)

The months directly before and after the ‘good’ months are known as the shoulder season, and is a perfect compromise between warm days, cool nights and, often, lower prices.

Fair (November to April)

The summer and autumn months of the southern hemisphere can bring showers and, with it, smaller crowds and cheaper prices. Animals can be more difficult to spot as drinking water is more plentiful rather than limited to watering holes, and lush plant life provides more cover to hide. Be aware that some lodges do close for some winter months to allow the environment to regenerate. Make sure you check your ideal reserves and lodges before setting your heart on visiting at this time of year.

Where to Stay in Botswana: Safari Lodges & Camps

It’s hard to choose a bad place to stay in Botswana. Accommodation here is renowned for hospitality and attention to detail, so wherever you book to stay, you’re in for a treat. Luxury all-inclusive safari lodges can be found in wildlife-rich reserves, while camping grounds offer a budget option in Botswana’s national parks. Below are just a few of the best reviewed camps and lodges, but for more inspiration, visit our dedicated Botswana lodges post.

How to Travel in Botswana

A country the size of Botswana may seem overwhelming when planning transportation. But with so much of Botswana’s economy coming from tourism, it’s incredibly easy to get across. Road transfers and self-drive routes are available between the major towns, but distances can be long and tiring.

The national airline, Air Botswana, transfers tourists between South Africa and Botswana, so is your best bet for arriving into the country. From there, airlines such as Mack Air connect Botswana’s international airports with airstrips in the reserves and parks, while chartered helicopter flights are common between luxury lodges for a spectacular extension to your safari from the air.

Opt for an organised safari through a tour company, where absolutely everything from your accommodation to your flights and transfers are included. This is definitely the easiest way to travel across Botswana!

Things to do in Botswana

Most visitors to Botswana fill their time with non-stop safaris. But if you’re after something a little different, consider joining a city tour, adrenaline sport or excursion to Victoria Falls.