Botswana has been hailed as 'Africa's best kept secret' and is one of the world's top game viewing destinations. It is a large and often roadless wilderness of savanna, desert, wetlands and saltpans offering a challenging self-drive experience. Its roads are made up of a growing network of tarmac and many rudimentary sand tracks. This is a country where you must have a 4x4 and should always travel in convoy with another vehicle. Most of the national parks and game reserves only offer basic camping facilities with cold showers (and the option of lighting your own donkey boiler!) and long-drop lavatories, but this is slowly changing. In some areas, such as the Central Kalahari there are no facilities at all and you must create your own bush camp with portable shower or bucket and dig a long-drop lavatory with a view! Wherever you are, you must be totally self-sufficient.
None of the national parks and game reserves in Botswana are fenced and the wildlife moves freely through the camps.
THE OKAVANGO DELTA
Moremi Game Reserve
Wet Season: November to March is the hot rainy season and the roads can be quite bad. The advantage of this time of year is that most of the animals give birth, providing a wonderful game watching experience. The landscape is lush and green and there is an abundance of wild flowers.
Dry season: April to October is the dry season and the drier it becomes the easier it is to spot animals close to permanent water holes. At this time much of the Okavango dries out, apart from permanent rivers in Moremi Game Reserve and the northern reaches of the Okavango. The heat starts to build in earnest from October onwards.
OKAVANGO and MOREMI SPECIALITIES
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
The Chobe River originates in Angola and enters Botswana as the Kwando River before becoming the Linyanti River. On the southern banks of the Linyanti the Linyanti Marshes and the private Linyanti Wildlife Reserve can be found . Here marsh subsides into lagoons and leads to open grasslands and dry inland wooded areas. The Linyanti River finally becomes the Chobe River.
The Chobe National Park is dominated by the riverfront and its great wildlife concentrations as well as the pristine wildlife habitats of the Savuti Marshes and Mababe Depression, which support extraordinary numbers of birds when they contain water.
Rainy season: November to March with a peak during January and February. Rains often only begin in mid-December. Travelling through areas of clay soil can be very difficult at this time, but much of the Chobe River area is accessible. These are the warmest months with temperatures and humidity high and mosquitoes abundant. The wild flowers that emerge during the rains are quite stunning and bird life is abundant. Many animals give birth during this period of abundant grazing and if you are prepared to negotiate some mud, the rainy season in Chobe is a delightful time.
Dry season: May to October is dry and as the months progress and water dries up inland, animals congregate in huge numbers along the river. Game is at its most dense and easily visible during the dry season and most visitors come at this time. October is the hottest month and although it is the best for game viewing, it is also the most uncomfortable as the expectation of rain is high and the heat can be oppressive.
This is a malarial area.
MAKGADIKGADI PANS NATIONAL PARK
This reserve includes a portion of the enormous Makgadikgadi Pans as well as beautiful savannah country and nutritious grasslands that attract thousands of animals.
The Makgadikgadi Pans boast a landscape like no other on earth. Here desolate pans and shimmering heat mirages destroy all sense of space and direction, and create an experience of true isolation.
Rainy Season: November to March the pans fill up and retain water until April or May. Much of the Makgadikgadi Pans area becomes inaccessible during the rainy season and the only way to see the spectacular flamingo flocks is by aircraft. It is extremely dangerous to venture into the pans during the rainy season unless you are with a guide experienced in the area. During a low-rainfall year, May, October and November are also acceptable. This area gets very hot during the day (40°C), but is mild and pleasant at night.
Dry season: April to September is the dry season with strong winds from August to November.
MAKGADIKGADI PANS SPECIALITIES
The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park covers an area of 1,891 sq. miles (4,900 sq. km), but the pans outside the national park are the largest salt pans in the world exceeding 4,633 sq. miles (12,000 sq. km).
NXAI PAN NATIONAL PARK
This is a true Kalahari landscape dotted with clusters of umbrella trees. It comes alive during the rains when the pans become covered in grass and vast herds of plains game come to visit.
Rainy Season: November to April is the hot wet summer season and the time when Nxai Pan is at its best. Game is abundant from December to April but if the rains have been heavy the roads may be difficult to negotiate.
NXAI PAN SPECIALITIES
Nxai Pan National Park covers an area of 810 sq. miles (2,100 sq. km).
CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE
This is the second largest game reserve in the world. Its remoteness, unforgiving climate and harsh terrain have kept it pristine and only the fully self-sufficient traveller can venture into the reserve alone.
Rainy season: Summer rains are expected to fall on northern CKGR between November and March, but as rainfall is erratic this is by no means certain. Rainstorms are frequent but fast and roads can become very muddy and a fully equipped 4x4 vehicle is essential.
Dry season: May to October is hot, dry and dusty in the Kalahari with little water and limited animals. October is the hottest month.
CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE SPECIALITIES
CKGR is the largest game reserve in Botswana covering 32,808 square miles (52,800 square kilometres).
The Tuli Block comprises privately owned Mashatu and Tuli Game Reserves. This is a wildlife rich region with landscapes of open grass plains, rock kopjes, marshlands, riverine forests and archaeological sites.
Rainy Season: Rain falls any time between September through to May and the area turns green and many of the antelopes give birth. Mid-summer months are December, January and February.
TULI & MASHATU SPECIALITIES
The Tuli wildlife areas are all under private management, so all visitors must have prior bookings.
If you would like to download a PDF File with more detailed information, please click the link below.
Information courtesy of the Game Reserve website
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