20 Things To Know Before Camping In Botswana

20 Things To Know Before Camping In Botswana

Going camping in Botswana with And Beyond is a once in a lifetime experience.

My first safari ever was in Botswana. Though I had read a lot about safaris, and a few of my friends had been on one before me, I didn’t know what to expect before going. All I knew was that there is a lot of wildlife in Botswana, and that in order to raise the (already very high) chances of seeing animals, it would be better to go camping in Botswana.

I surely didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see all the animals. Thus, for my Botswana holidays I decided to opt for a mobile safari, where I stayed in tents and as close to nature as it gets. It was a fantastic experience, during which I discovered the gorgeous, untouched landscape of this country; I had the opportunity of meeting new people that became friends for life; I got to admire the starry African sky every night; and I learned heaps about the mighty animals that populate Botswana.

Yes, I wholeheartedly recommend going camping in Botswana for a once in a lifetime experience.

This post sums up 20 things to know before camping in Botswana. The list is – quite evidently – not exhaustive.

Camping in Botswana

Camping in Botswana means seeing a lot of wildlife

20 Things To Know Before Camping In Botswana

There is a constant change of scenery

Camping in Botswana means moving around the National Parks and the game reserves. This means that there is a regular change in the scenery, with views that go from the lush landscape around Chobe, to sweet hills of Savute, to the floodplains of the Okavango Delta. The change in landscape means a change in the wildlife that can be admired. All for the best, in my opinion!

A good guide is everything

Driving through national parks it is common to come across other vehicles whose passengers are enjoying their Botswana holidays. Some of them are self-drives – people who rent fully equipped cars and go around in search of animals by themselves. I appreciate the adventure aspect of this, and I am sure it is a fun experience, but on a Botswana safari, having a good guide is everything, and I wholeheartedly recommend joining a guided safari rather than traveling independently.

Driving a 4×4 is only one of the skills a good guide on any Botswana safari should have. While this is an easy (well, sort of) enough skill to match for any traveler, there is no way that just anybody can be as trained as a guide into recognizing the signs of animals, knowing when and where to find them (and despite this, not finding them!), following their tracks, listening to their sounds, and explaining about their lives.

I was fortunate enough to have KD as my guide during my And Beyond safari when I went camping in Botswana, and he proved to be a great source of information, a fantastic leader and a great friend.

Camping in Botswana

KD proved to be the best guide while on a Botswana safari

And so is a good car

A 4×4 vehicle is a requirement when driving around the bush in Botswana. Roads are little more than tracks on the uneven sandy terrain, and a day on the road means being bumped around. More importantly so, it is fundamental during a Botswana safari that the vehicle is functioning perfectly, and starts promptly when needed (in case running from a charging elephant is needed!).

It is a fully sensorial experience

Camping in Botswana means staying as close to nature as it gets. Driving around the bush in search of animals, sitting at the camp in the hottest hours of the day, or during the night, alert all human senses.

While camping in Botswana, seeing animals in their natural environment is only one of the experiences. Animals make their presence very clear also with their smell – either that of a putrefying carcass that is being eaten by a big cat; or that of elephant droppings (just to give an example).

The smell of the bush during a Botswana safari is very peculiar. It is a mixture of moist air, wild basil and savage, so unique that it stays with whoever ventures in the savana.

Yet, my favorite thing about camping in Botswana is actually hearing the animals. While on my Botswana safari, under the guidance of my excellent And Beyond guide, I learned to recognize the distinctive, deep sound that lions make – so loud that I was convinced the lion was close to the camp, though the guide explained that in fact, a lion calling can be heard for up to an 8 km radius.

Among other animals whose sound can be enjoyed while camping in Botswana are the baboons, who roam around the parks during the day; vervet monkeys, who live up in the trees and make themselves heard at sunrise and sunset; elephants, who can be heard sweeping the bush in search of their favorite leaves and grass; and hippos, who enjoy chit-chatting at night.

camping in Botswana

Seeing a lot of wildlife is part of the experience when camping in Botswana

Animals do roam freely

Camps are typically set up in areas of the park deemed suitable by the park authorities; and are not fixed. One thing that those who intend to go camping in Botswana should know is that the camps are not enclosed. This means that animals can actually go near or even through the camp if they wish; and sure enough they do so.

While camping in Botswana, it is not uncommon for vervet monkeys to jump around the tents, or even on the tents, while they play in the early hours of the day. Occasionally, hyenas get close to the camp at night – I thought I heard one, one night, and sure enough the day after we found her prints. And once, when my group and I went back to the camp for lunch, we found an elephant peacefully grazing at a mere 5 meters from the tents.

It was all part of the experience of a Botswana safari, and sure enough I found it very entertaining!

But at times they simply don’t show up

One thing that has to be clear before going on a Botswana safari is that seeing animals should not be taken for granted. They show up when and where they want, and sure enough not by appointment. Yes, the chances of spotting all cats are very high; but some animals can be very skittish, and despite the best efforts to follow their tracks by the guides, at times they are impossible to find. One example? I heard hyenas by the camp one night; the guide recognized the prints and followed the tracks, yet we were unable to find them. It’s the bush, baby!

There’s less bugs than one would expect

It may be because I visited in May, so during Botswana winter, but camping in Botswana doesn’t have to be a gross experience in terms of bugs. Perhaps, I was well trained after visiting Costa Rica, where cockroaches are literally everywhere; but the worst I saw in Botswana was a massive group of bees flying near the camp one afternoon, making a heck of a noise but nothing more.

With regards to mosquitoes, malaria can be an issue in Botswana. Yet, doing a Botswana safari in the winter means that the chances of being bitten are much lower. In any case, good practices to protect oneself from mosquitoes (other than taking malaria prevention medications) are: wearing long sleeves and pants after sunset thus leaving as little exposed skin as possible; applying a mosquito repellent (better if with DEET) in the exposed areas.

Botswana safari

Dining al fresco is a must when camping in Botswana

All meals are al fresco

Camping in Botswana means eating all meals al fresco. Whether it is a earthy breakfast eaten at the crack of down, a midmorning coffee (real coffee, by the way, and not the terrible instant stuff!) and snack lunch in the bush while moving from the Chobe to the Okavango Delta, or dinner at the campsite, meals are a great time to socialize with other members of the group and of staff.

Don’t think sandwiches, salads, and anything quick and basic! And Beyond chefs manage to put together the most incredible meals, even when they have to cater to dietary needs, like my lactose intolerance. My favorite? Fresh bread, which was never missing. I certainly wasn’t expecting this when I decided to go camping in Botswana.

And so are the drinks

Who said that while camping in Botswana one is unable to have a good drink? Sure enough, I enjoy a good glass of wine (I went all the way to Stellenbosch, in South Africa, to have some). Needless to say, I truly enjoyed each and every drink I had while on my Botswana safari: sipping a glass of wine while admiring a sunset in the Okavango Delta, or while observing a bull elephant eat from a tree, is a priceless experience!

Nights are for star gazing

As there is no electricity and hardly any light, whenever the sky is clear, star gazing becomes a must when camping in Botswana. I admit that most of the time I was so exhausted from the exciting day, that I would crash moments after dinner. But the times I stayed up a little longer, I sure enjoyed the show!

camping in Botswana

Getting “close” to elephants while on my Botswana safari

There is no such thing as sleeping in

Even though they are meant to be holidays, forget about sleeping in during Botswana safaris. The best chances to see animals, especially cats, are early in the morning before they hide from the heat of the day. The typical day when camping in Botswana actually starts well before the sun rises.

It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable

Who said that camping in Botswana isn’t comfortable? And Beyond camps and tents are actually much better than most hotel rooms. Tents are so large that they fit a king size bed (or twin beds); there’s shelfs and a bed side tables (where the light is powered by solar charged batteries). There’s an outside bathroom area, with a bucket shower that is filled with water dragged from the river and warmed up; there’s a basin and, separate from this area, a flush toilet.

The nicest touch? A hot water bottle placed under the covers, to keep it warm against the cold night. One certainly wouldn’t expect this level of comforts and attention when camping in Botswana.

It is eco-friendly

One of the good things about camping in Botswana is that there’s hardly any footprint left. And Beyond camps are run in a fully environmentally friendly way: there is no electricity other than the dim light produced by solar charged batteries; all beauty products used are eco-friendly and biodegradable; water consumption is kept very low as there is no running water.

There is no phone reception, and no wi-fi

As an internet junkie, I must admit that the complete lack of phone reception and wi-fi when camping in Botswana is a welcome, and in fact blissful change. This is the time to put aside any work-related worry; to take that much needed nap in the middle of the afternoon; to go to bed early and actually talk to your neighbor at the dining table, instead of staring at the screen of a smartphone.

Botswana safari

Friendship – one of the perks of camping in Botswana

It’s a chance of making new friends

Speaking of talking at the dinner table, in fact simply taking any opportunity to talk to other members of the group, is one of the best things when on a Botswana safari. I was very fortunate to meet other like minded travelers, and we filled every moment with chats and anecdotes. On long days when we over-landed from one camp to the other, it distracted us from the bumpy road.

The average airport staff is an impala

Most of the transfers on a Botswana safari are on wheels. Flights are occasionally needed to move the the most remote parts of the country. However, do not think of airport, security checks and baggage allowance. Small (up to 12 seater) planes take off from airstrips in the middle of the bush. The only security check needed is done to make sure that there are no animals on the strip (impalas, warthogs, kudus and occasionally lions love hanging out there), so that the plane can land and then take off safely.

Tipping is recommended

Most Botswana safaris are all inclusive, so the only cash one needs is for tipping the staff. There are no ATMs in the bush (ahem!!), so make sure to carry enough change for the duration of the trip. Operators typically give recommendations on how much their crew should be tipped.

camping in Botswana

Packing warm clothes is a must when planning to go camping in Botswana

What to pack when camping in Botswana

I went camping in Botswana at the end of May, so my packing list is applicable to anybody traveling there in the winter. In general, I recommend keeping luggage to a minimum. There are no laundry services in the camps, but some basic washing (which will be necessary as it is very dusty!) can be done on a daily basis on the basins and using the ecological laundry soap provided.

Here’s what I recommend packing for a Botswana safari:

When To Go Camping In Botswana

I went on my Botswana safari in May, at the very beginning of winter in the Southern hemisphere, which goes from May to September. This is the dry season, when temperatures are mild during the day and it gets quite chilly at night. The good thing is that there are less mosquitoes; there’s much less chances of rain; and it is easier to spot wildlife around waterholes and rivers.

Getting To Botswana

Botswana has 3 main airports: Gaborone, the capital; Kasane, which is near the border with Zimbabwe; and Maun, which is in the Okavango region. All of them are international airports, but not intercontinental ones. Most people who go on Botswana holidays fly into Johannesburg and then take another flight to Kasane, which usually is the starting point for safaris.

There are various border posts between Botswana and Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, which typically open between 6:00 and 8:00 am and close between 4:00 and 6:00 pm, with some of them closing a bit later.

People holding passports from Australia, the United States, Canada and one of the countries of the European Union can get a visa on arrival.

Have you ever been camping in Botswana? What did you like the most about it?

Further readings about Africa

Are you planning a longer trip to Africa? Make sure to read my posts:

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Where To See Wildlife In Botswana

Where To See Wildlife In Botswana

There are many places to see wildlife in Botswana. Rumor has it that this is one of the best countries on the continent to observe animals in their natural environment, and to do so in a completely responsible manner. I was curious about it, but knew nothing about this country nestled between Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

People who had been to Southern Africa before me suggested that I should visit Botswana. It made sense to insert it in my itinerary, since I would be going to South Africa and to Namibia already. I did a bit of research then, and that’s how I concluded that my friends were right: Botswana national parks looked like the perfect places to see Botswana wildlife, and I surely was up for that. That’s why I went camping in Botswana.

To read more about my experience camping in Botswana, check this post.

wildlife in Botswana

Lions are among the most beautiful wildlife in Botswana

Is Botswana The Ultimate Ecotourism Destination?

But you know me. For as interested as I may be in Botswana animals, I tend to be wary when animals are involved in the tourism industry. I am afraid that they may be exploited or that they may be endangered, just for the sake of my entertainment, much like I saw happening in some places in India and Sri Lanka. Rather than be the cause of animals’ suffering, I’d go out of my way to seek alternative places where I can see animals in a responsible way (so I went all the way to Gal Oya, in Sri Lanka, to see elephants).

Read more about the use of animals in tourist attractions on this post.

Upon further readings, I learned that the local authorities in Botswana have been making a serious commitment to protect and conserve the country’s natural environment and its wildlife. This is a country that has been successfully implementing anti-poaching measures, where trophy hunting has been completely banned, and where a whopping 38% of the territory is protected. Botswana national parks are many, they are huge and Botswana wildlife is thriving.

Ecotourism is the second biggest source of revenue in Botswana. Ecotourism attracts increasing numbers of travelers to Botswana each year. This kind of approach to tourism has been so successful there, that the country went from being one of the poorest in Africa, to having a growing middle class and an ever increasing GDP. All the more reasons for me to visit Botswana.

wildlife in Botswana

Impalas and other beautiful antelopes can be seen in the top places to visit in Botswana

Joining A Wilderness Safari in Botswana

So, I decided I’d go on a wilderness safari in Botswana. The safari I went on was my first ever. This is to say, I do have a limited experience in Africa. But I doubt that it can get any better than that. Because really, I saw many more animals than I had hoped for! Visiting Botswana national parks and going on a safari with And Beyond was an incredible experience.

I spent 9 full days traveling across the country – mostly overland, but I also took a couple of those tiny planes to reach the most remote places to visit in Botswana. Trying to write down my experience isn’t easy, because for as many words as I may use, there’s certain things that simply don’t translate well on paper, things that are too amazing for me to express properly.

Words simply can’t describe how thrilling it is to hear lions call in the middle of the night; or what it is to listen to a hyena walk around the campsite, calling. For as much as I write, I will never be able to explain what the air feels and smells like in Botswana – the mixture of bush, wild basil and sage, and the smell of the carcass of an animal that’s been killed a few days prior. Words can hardly describe the starry sky, or the thrill when spotting a leopard for the first time. One really has to visit Botswana to understand!

One thing is for sure, though: I will do my best to show the beauty of the country and all that it has to offer. This post will focus on the top places to see wildlife in Botswana, with a few insights on the animals that are typically spotted.

wildlife in Botswana

Chobe is one of the best Botswana national parks to see elephants

Where To See Wildlife In Botswana

Chobe National Park

In brief

Chobe is the third biggest of Botswana national parks, but the one that is most biologically diverse. The Chobe river marks the border between Botswana and Namibia on the north, on what is known to be Namibia Caprivi Strip. Among the species to be seen in Chobe there are: crocodiles, hippos, elephants, impalas and kudus, spotted hyenas, lions, leopards and cheetahs. No doubt this is one of the nicest places to see wildlife in Botswana.

Botswana wildlife in Chobe

Chobe may not be the biggest among Botswana national parks, but it’s the first that the country ever recognized, and it definitely is one of the best places to see wildlife in Botswana, hence why I recommend  doing a safari in Chobe. It was the first stop on my Botswana itinerary – I arrived from Kasane, after crossing the border from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and had I stopped right there, I would have still been pleased with my trip.

My exploration of Chobe started with a boat ride on the river. The slow moving boat proved to be an excellent vantage point to admire some of the best Botswana wildlife. On any given day, along the Chobe, a great variety of animals can be spotted. The bird life along the river is thriving; and it’s easy to come across crocodiles laying in the sun. But there’s more.

There’s many hippos on the Chobe, though during the day they typically lay under the surface of the water, only their ears, eyes and nose sticking out, and only come out of water at night. They make the funniest of sounds – almost pig-like. It’s interesting to know that these seemingly peaceful animals are actually quite aggressive and among the most dangerous wildlife in Botswana (actually, they are among the most dangerous animals in Africa, killing each year an average of 2900 people).

Yet, one of the most impressive Botswana animals sighting in Chobe is elephants. There are so many that it is easy to see why this is thought to be the best of Botswana national parks. These are truly impressive creatures, not only for their size (they are the biggest mammal on land) but also for their very interesting social structures.

wildlife in Botswana

A female lion spotted in the early morning in Chobe, one of the nicest Botswana national parks

Elephants can be spotted at any time of day living either in large groups – females and the cubs; small bachelor groups; or lone males. They are generally peaceful, though it can happen that, if they feel threatened, they charge against a jeep. Elephants love and need water – that’s why Chobe is a great place to spot this and other wildlife in Botswana.

Indeed, elephants can be seen pretty much in any place where there is water. Along the banks of the Chobe, they can be seen drinking and, more interestingly so, bathing – either rolling on the mud and then getting in the water, or walking along the river in and out of the water. Seeing them in large groups, playing, eating and drinking is impressive.

As if this is not enough to make Chobe one of the top Botswana national parks, there’s other species that can be seen in the area. Antelopes such as impalas and kudus are common; there’s buffalos and then there’s the lions.

Lions definitely are among the most impressive wildlife in Botswana. These big cats are night creatures. That’s when they go hunting, or roam around, roaring: this is a way to mark their territory by signaling their presence. Their very deep call can be heard for up to an 8 km radius. Hearing their call in the middle of the night is a thrilling experience. The best time to actually see lions is either in the early morning hours, before they look for a spot in the shade to rest and stay away from the heat, or right around sunset, before they set to hunt.

If lions have a prey that they have been feeding on for a day or more, the smell in the air is quite distinctive – that of rotting meat. If the meat is rotting, chances are there will be more Botswana animals around, typically scavengers such as hyenas, but also jackals and vultures.

wildlife in Botswana

It’s not just wildlife in Botswana: the sky is gorgeous

Savute (Chobe National Park)

In brief

Savute is a remote corner of Chobe, going from the northern boundaries of the park to the Linyanti river. Here, the Savute Channel flows and dries up regardless of rainfall. What makes Savute one of the top places to see wildlife in Botswana is the variety of animals to be seen. Here, there’s lions and hyenas, but there’s also massive, old bull elephants, giraffes and thousands of zebra.

Botswana wildlife in Savute

Savute is actually a part of Chobe, one of the top Botswana national parks, and a great place to see Botswana wildlife. For around 30 years the area was mostly dry – to the point that animals were sustained by artificial waterholes and lions resolved to hunting elephants (which they wouldn’t normally do!). However, in the last few years the Savute Channel has started flowing again: the nature is as lush as it could be here, and there are a lot of animals, to the point that it is thought to be wilderness heaven.

Aside from the many lone elephant bulls that are easy to come across in this part of Chobe; there’s various lion prides, a result of the split of the larger prides that used to live in the area during the dry years. But lions are not the only Botswana wildlife that can be spotted in Savute.

Indeed, Savute now proves to be one of the nicest places to visit in Botswana to spot zebra, who come here during their annual migration in the rainy season, between January and February, and can be seen roaming around at any time of day. There’s also large amounts of wildebeest, impalas, kudu, buffalos, lots of birdlife such as the kori bustards and the large batelieur eagle, and there’s the beautiful giraffes.

Botswana wildlife

Aren’t giraffes some of the most beautiful wildlife in Botswana?

Giraffes can reach 5 meters in height, and they are among the most beautiful wildlife in Botswana. I saw my first one in Savute. Seeing their heads peak through the thick vegetation (by the way, those that most people think are horns are actually part of the skull and not made by keratin); observing them walking ever so slowly; admiring them while they graze on the tallest branches and watching them bending down to drink from the river is a fabulous experience. Giraffes can be spotted at any time of day.

Yet, it is big cats that I find the most attractive and one of the reasons I am glad that Savute was included in my Botswana itinerary with And Beyond is that this part of Chobe has quite a bit of them. Here it is possible to admire leopards: I saw a female one, who was up on a tree feasting on an impala (that’s the typical diet of leopards), and her cub, who later on joined the party. Much like lions, leopards are night creatures: hunting at night, resting in the shade, in the bushes or up a tree, during the warmest hours of the day.

But that isn’t all. Savute is also home to cheetahs, some of the most amazing wildlife in Botswana, the fastest animals on earth. Cheetahs are solitary animals. Females can typically be seen with their cubs; whereas when there’s two of them, these are typically male brothers. Contrary to other large cats, cheetahs don’t have night vision, and thus hunt during the day. The thick dark tear marks actually to protect them from the glare of the sun when they are out hunting.

The fact that cheetahs are day hunters doesn’t mean that they can be easily seen hunting. Much like other felines, they tend to hide from the sun during the warmest hours of the day, at most browsing around to see if there’s a prey in the vicinity. It’s easier to see them move around towards sunset. I suppose that the beauty of observing wildlife in Botswana is also knowing that animals live according to their rhythm!

Cheetahs are also observed in South Africa, especially at Phinda Game Reserve. To read more about it, check out this post

places to visit in Botswana

Cheetahs are by far some of the most incredible wildlife in Botswana

Moremi Game Reserve (Okavango Delta)

In brief

Moremi Game Reserve is the only proclaimed reserve located on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta, and it is one of the nicest places to visit in Botswana. Here, the vegetation is rather thick and the presence of water (only 30% of the reserve is actually on land, most of it actually within the Okavango Delta, composed of lagoons, floodplains and islands) makes it a great place to observe wildlife in Botswana. Animals that can be spotted at Moremi include lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, zebra and much more.

Botswana wildlife in Moremi Game Reserve

The Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world, is one of the most amazing places in the world – so unique that is has been enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is by far one of the top places to see wildlife in Botswana. Known as “the river that never finds the sea,” Okavango is unique for it sinks into the Kalahari Desert, creating a series of oasis, floodplains, lagoons and small islands that are the perfect habitat for Botswana wildlife.

Moremi Game Reserve makes up for about a third of the Okavango Delta. Among Botswana national parks, this is an area of incredible contrasts: dry areas leave way to tall palm trees and permanent waterways to create a fantastic environment for Botswana wildlife. One can really appreciate these contrasts and the presence of animals on board of a small tourist plane. Needless to say, the views from the sky are fantastic.

wildlife in Botswana

Botswana national parks are perfect for spotting zebra

This is one of the best places to visit in Botswana to spot hippos. There are several observation points from where it is possible to admire these huge animals as they play in the water while being very vocal and, once the sun sets, get out to feed, leaving their marks on the wet land. Accompanying the sound of hippos there’s also that of the many frogs that populate the region: bell frogs produce a constant, delicate and relaxing bell-like sound.

Other wildlife in Botswana that is best spotted at Moremi is large groups of elephants, especially bachelor heads or lone bachelors. With so much water year round, at Moremi it’s easy to find places where these majestic mammals stop to eat their favorite grass throughout the day, ripping it off the ground and shaking it intensely to clean it off earth before eating it. Just as it is not uncommon for them to get close to the campsites as they eat their way around the bush.

Giraffes are quite easy to spot at Moremi, making it one of the nicest Botswana national parks for that. Lions, spotted hyenas, cheetahs and leopards, as well as wild dogs live in the area too. I was not so lucky to see any during my two days in the area, but that’s part of the beauty of visiting a country where animals are protected.

Indeed, those who plan to visit Botswana should be aware that though wildlife in Botswana is easy to come across, animals won’t be chased or put under stress just so that visitors can leave the country with a full portfolio of pictures.

Last, but definitely not least, Moremi Game Reserve is birdwatchers’ paradise: around 500 species of birds live in the area, from water birds to forest dwellers. One more reason to include it among the top Botswana national parks.

wildlife in Botswana

Hippos are among Botswana wildlife that is easy spotted in the Chobe and Okavango Delta

Nxabega Concession (Okavango Delta)

In brief

The Nxabega Concession is a small area located at the center of the south-western area of the Okavango Delta. It’s one of the best places to see wildlife in Botswana, and the presence of open floodplains makes it a wonderful place to explore on boat. The area is rich with lion prides, leopards and cheetahs, as well as wild dogs.

Botswana wildlife in Nxabega Concession

Nxabega may well be one of the nicest places to visit in Botswana. Floodplains are typically flooded between May and September, and they are dotted with small islands that are fun to travel across on a mokoro boat (one of the traditional modes of transportation in the region) – this is a great way to observe elephants from a different point of view, as well as other small animals, like tiny frogs hanging on grass in the water.

Waterways are lined with miscanthus grass and papyrus; water lilies can be seen on the clear waters, and a sunset boat ride along them is an excellent opportunity not only to enjoy the beautiful light at that time of day, but also to admire some of the most unique bird species in the country. It’s easy to see why Nxabega is one of the nicest places to visit in Botswana.

Among the Botswana wildlife that it is possible to come across in Nxabega, there are giraffes and zebras, elephants, hippos (whose loud sounds provide great company at night), impalas and kudus, wildebeest, baboons and vervet monkeys (who love hanging out around the tented camps and causing a bit of a commotion especially around sunrise). As in other parts of the country, there’s several bird species too.

wildlife in Botswana

The best time to spot wildlife in Botswana is sunset: that’s when the leopards go out!

However, what makes Nxabega one of the top places to admire wildlife in Botswana is the presence of several lion prides, hyenas, leopards and even wild dogs. Leopards and their cubs can be seen feeding on impalas right under or up a tree at sunset time; female lions face a challenge to protect their cubs from the spotted hyenas that roam around the area; and male lions make their presence loud and clear at night with their roars.

Yet, the cherry on the cake at Nxabega is seeing one of the most endangered species in the world: wild dogs. These animals live in small prides (typically a female and two males, and sometimes their puppies) and are some of the fiercest hunters in Africa, managing to run very fast for a long time when they are chasing their preys and literally biting them off while they are still running. They are absolutely fascinating animals. It was one of my best spotting of wildlife in Botswana, one I wasn’t even hoping for!

Botswana national parks

Wild dogs are among the most endangered species in the world, and one of the most incredible wildlife in Botswana

Best Time To Go To Botswana

I visited Botswana in May, when I did a 9 days / 8 nights mobile safari with And Beyond. The best time to go to Botswana is between May and September, during Botswana winter. This is the dry season: the temperatures are milder during the day (it is chilly at night, though, so pack some warm clothes); there’s less mosquitoes (and thus there’s a much lesser risk of getting malaria); rain is rare; and the sky is mostly clear. Dry weather also means that it is much easier to spot Botswana wildlife around the waterholes and rivers.

Most people visit Botswana during the dry season, but Botswana national parks are so vast that they never feel crowded. The only one where there may be more visitors is Chobe.

How To Visit Botswana

I went to Botswana on a guided safari with And Beyond, and I am glad I did so. Though it is possible to go on a self-drive, renting a 4×4 and sleeping in assigned camping areas within Botswana national parks, this is a country where having a good guide does make a difference. My And Beyond guide, KD, made the difference during my safari, so knowledgeable he is about Botswana wildlife.

Guides typically know where to find wildlife in Botswana; they can recognize the sounds they make and where they are coming from; they know how to follow animal tracks and they communicate among each other via radio to give tips and clues on animal sightings; they know their way around and provide reliable safety advice too. Those who plan to visit Botswana are better off investing a bit more money to join a guided safari and get more out of their time there.

How To Get To Botswana

The 3 main airports in Botswana are those of Gaborone, the capital; Kasane, near the border with Zimbabwe, and Maun, in the Okavango region. Although all of them are international airports, they only offer flights to other African countries. Those who want to visit Botswana typically fly through Johannesburg, where they may have a long layover.

Check out my post on the things to do in Johannesburg on a layover.

People holding passports from one of the countries of the European Union, Australian, the United States and Canada can get a visa on arrival when they visit Botswana.

Further readings about Africa

Are you planning a longer trip to Africa? Make sure to read my posts:

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of And Beyond during my trip to Botswana, and I wish to thank them for the incredible experience. Needless to say, all the views expressed in this post are mine and unbiased.

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Discover where to see the best wildlife in Botswana - via @clautavani