Botswana remains Africa’s best-kept secret and is home to some of the finest and most pristine and well-preserved wilderness areas in the world.
Africa's finest sustainable tourism model
Botswana is one of Africa's greatest safari success stories. The country is blessed with a stable government, magnificent game reserves and national parks offering the most exclusive safari experiences on the continent and it remains focused on delivering the finest and most authentic wildlife experience. Most of the safari camps that A2A Safaris recommends are located in exclusive and private reserves.
From the wetland paradise of the Okavango Delta to the plains and woodlands of the Linyanti and Selinda, to the vast emptiness of the Makgadikgadi Pans and the endless Kalahari Desert, Botswana offers guests a diverse and well-rounded safari for both first-timers and veterans. Safari activities range from heart-stopping game drives in some of the richest big game areas in Africa to canoeing peacefully along the channels of the world's largest inland river delta.
Botswana's wildlife-rich north
Vast and thinly populated northern Botswana is home to two legendary safari destinations: the dynamic Okavango swamps and the drier Chobe National Park flanked by vast private reserves. Many of the wilderness reserves made famous by National Geographic's films - Savuti, Moremi, Khwai and the private concessions operated by the top safari companies in Africa - can all be found here.
The magnificent Okavango Delta fans out across the northwestern corner of the country and creates a paradise of islands and lagoons teeming with wildlife and birds. This miraculous creation spills for more than 7,000 square miles across the northern Kalahari, creating a vast oasis of crystal clear lagoons, waterways and palm-fringed islands. This oasis contains one of the densest populations of big game on the continent – especially lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and the endangered African wild dog.
The Linyanti and Kwando river systems in northwest Botswana are home to four iconic private reserves (Linyanti, Selinda, Kwando and Chobe's private area) which harbour some of the biggest concentrations of predators and large mammals in Africa. These reserves offer wilder, more exclusive safaris on par with the neighbouring Okavango Delta. This is high density predator central – the lion population is flourishing, leopard numbers are high and cheetah manage to eke out their niche. Endangered wild dogs are usually found denning in these reserves from June to August.
The Tsodilo Hills, a short helicopter flip from the Okavango Delta, contains around 400 well-preserved rock art sites with more than 4,000 individual paintings created by the Bushmen dating back 100,000 years, and is fondly called the “The Louvre of the Desert”.
The magical Kalahari Desert
The vast expanse of semi-arid land known as the Kalahari Desert dates back some 500 million years. Its landscape inspire an authentic sense of adventure. The Kalahari is not a true desert in the strictest sense of the word, as it receives between 5 and 10 inches of rainfall annually and is able to sustain vast numbers of wildlife and birdlife.
The Makgadikgadi Pans, once an ancient super lake larger than Switzerland, now lies saline and empty – a huge expanse of glistening whiteness – the largest salt pan in the world. During the summer green season, it plays host to the second largest zebra migration in Africa and the shallow flooded pans offer seasonal breeding conditions for an abundance of flamingos and other water birds. Other highlights include giant baobab trees over 1,000 years old, semi-habituated meerkat clans, quad bike expeditions into vast areas of nothingness, and the opportunity to walk with the indigenous San Bushmen and discover how they survive in such a hostile environment.
The Central Kalahari, particularly its game-rich Deception Valley, was made famous by Mark and Delia Owens' classic book ‘Cry of the Kalahari’. Covering over 50,000 square kilometres, it is a massive game reserve. Visiting the Central Kalahari early in the year when it is lush with vegetation and attracting thousands of springbok and gemsbok is an unforgettable experience. The reserve is also one of the best places in southern Africa to view cheetahs and the majestic black-maned lion.
Land of the giants
The Mashatu Game Reserve lies in the wild and remote eastern corner of Botswana known as the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. Mashatu's 29,000 hectares of private land boasts a wide range of ecosystems including savannah, riverine forests, marshland, open plains and sandstone outcrops which support some of the healthiest populations of predators, elephants and other mammals in the country.
The reserve is also known for its cycling, horseback and walking safaris, and its photographic hides attract wildlife photographers from around the world.
Botswana is home to several of Africa’s most exclusive safari camps, lodges and safari experiences. Layer on Africa's largest elephant population, robust African wild dog packs and all of Africa's big cats in large numbers, it is not a surprise when safari enthusiasts refer to safaris in Botswana as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of African safaris.