The best way to get round in Botswana, from 4WD safaris to canoe excursions

Botswana is famed for its monumental expanses of pristine wilderness which were given over to fence-free nationwide parks and personal sport reserves, permitting its ample wildlife to roam free. However what’s the easiest way to discover the nation?

Public transport will solely get you to date. To get to lodges or campsites in nationwide parks, sport reserves and personal concessions, you’ll must self-drive, be pushed in a 4WD or hop on a lightweight plane. Here is what that you must find out about getting round Botswana.

Get trusted steering to the world’s most breathtaking experiences delivered to your inbox weekly with our e-mail publication.
Spot wildlife on safari in Moremi Wildlife Reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta © guenterguni / Getty Photos

A cellular safari will get you up near wild nature

For those who lengthy to be surrounded by the rustle and hum of the wilderness, a cellular safari can’t be overwhelmed. 

Be part of a small group 4WD tour, and also you’ll arrange camp in numerous bush places, eat underneath the celebrities and go away no footprint. All of them embrace a driver-guide and cook dinner, entrance and tenting charges, meals and actions. The ultimate price ticket is determined by the bells and whistles, and there’s no restrict to luxurious in Botswana.

For those who’re completely satisfied being palms on, a participation safari is a budget-friendly choice, the place you’ll pitch in to arrange meals, wash the dishes, and assist to dismantle and arrange camp. Carry a sleeping bag, and also you’ll share your two-person tent, the bush rest room and bucket bathe, in addition to spending much less time at every campsite and extra time on the highway.

Improve to a totally serviced cellular safari, and all the pieces is finished for you. Your walk-in tent comes with camp ­beds and an ensuite lavatory, a bonus once you’re not allowed to depart your tent till daylight. With two or three nights at every campsite, you could have extra time to take a seat again and savor your environment, and it’s nonetheless a fraction of the worth you’d pay to remain at an upscale lodge.

For bigger, extra wallet-friendly excursions, hop on an overland truck and keep at a mixture of campsites and lodges. For those who’re low on price range and/or time, you’ll be able to all the time e-book a half- or full-day sport drive from Kasane or Maun.

4x4 safari vehicle driving on a dirt road
You have to be well-prepared to journey round on a self-drive 4WD safari © poco_bw / Getty Photos

Self-driving may be a good way to discover

On a self-drive safari, you’ll be able to transfer at your personal tempo by Botswana’s huge and assorted landscapes. It’s the final word wilderness journey and never one for the fainthearted or the unprepared. You have to be assured behind the wheel of a 4WD, up for getting off the grid and prepared for shut wildlife encounters.

4WD campers come outfitted with folding rooftop tents and absolutely fitted kitchens. Wild tenting is prohibited, however if you happen to pay a bit extra, rental firms akin to Drive Botswana will tailor-make your itinerary, deal with campsite reservations and get nationwide park permits for you.

For those who resolve to go solo, plan your route (campsites and park permits should be booked prematurely, particularly from June to September), let a trusted contact know the place you’re going and obtain an offline map akin to Tracks4Africa. Even if you happen to’re utilizing an area SIM card, a sign isn’t assured, so think about renting a satellite tv for pc cellphone for emergencies. Be sure you’re outfitted with spare tires, a jack, sand ladders and a tow rope and that you understand how to remain secure in a sticky scenario.

You may refill on provides of consuming water, meals and gasoline in main cities, akin to Kasane for Chobe Nationwide Park and Savuti and Maun for Moremi Recreation Reserve.

Let the aircraft take the pressure

Distances in Botswana are big, and infrequently the one method to attain probably the most far-flung lodges and camps is to take a constitution flight on the nine- and 12-seater Cessnas that ferry passengers round like bush taxis. These flights are often organized by your tour firm, and also you’ll thump down in the midst of nowhere, the place wildlife wanders throughout the runway and the arrivals terminal is a wood bench underneath a shady tree.

Air Botswana operates the scheduled community, with direct flights from Maun to Kasane (for Chobe Nationwide Park and Victoria Falls), Gaborone and Johannesburg in neighboring South Africa.

Tourist watching an elephant in Botswana
Get out on the water for a distinct wildlife viewing expertise in Botswana © Tiago_Fernandez / Getty Photos

Get a distinct view of wildlife from the water

For a hippo’s-eye view of the Okavango Delta’s shimmering waterways, a visit in a mokoro (a standard dugout canoe, now typically product of fiberglass fairly than wooden) is a should. As you skim throughout the water, the one sounds are the splash of the pole and the swish of reeds. Metallic blue malachite kingfishers flit by, and majestic fish eagles circle overhead.

One other spotlight is a ship safari on the Chobe River, particularly at sundown when the water turns to liquid gold. As you chug gently alongside, look out for elephants utilizing their trunks like snorkels, herds of gruff-looking Cape buffalo and colossal Nile crocodiles basking on the banks with jaws agape.

BOTSWANA Southern Africa Okavango Delta Horse safari with tourists riding through water marshes
Head off on a horseback journey to journey round Botswana © Eye Ubiquitous / Alamy

Saddle up for a low-carbon horseback safari

Whereas some lodges are bringing in electrical autos and boats – Chobe Recreation Lodge was among the many first – for an much more environmentally pleasant choice, skilled horseback riders can canter by spectacular surroundings. From arid desert-scapes to delta wetlands, horses can go the place 4WDs can’t, with none jarring engine noise, getting you up near long-lashed giraffes, dazzles of zebra and skittish wildebeest.

Hop on the bus to journey between cities and cities

Buses are an inexpensive method to get between main cities and cities in Botswana and a good way to fulfill the locals, however journeys may be lengthy, noisy and uncomfortable, they usually received’t get you wherever distant.

Seabelo is a long-distance bus firm with common providers from Kasane, Maun and Gaborone. It’s extra prone to keep on with the timetable, go quicker and cease lower than the combis (minibuses) that ply the identical paved routes.

Accessible journey in Botswana

Vacationers with restricted mobility can request specifically modified autos for transfers, sport drives, river cruise boats and mokoros. Some include hydraulic lifts, and wheelchairs may be locked to the ground. Vacationers with listening to and imaginative and prescient impairments have choices, too. Endeavour Safaris is a specialist in accessible safaris, and operators can advocate appropriate lodging. 

For extra data, see Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Resources page.

Why cellular safari is my favourite method of getting round Botswana

For me, shifting from camp to camp is the true that means of a safari, which implies “journey” in Swahili. Distances may be big over bone-jangling filth roads, nevertheless it gave me a really feel for the vastness of the nation, its numerous ecosystems and wild inhabitants.

Tenting in a nationwide park means no finish to wildlife watching. People could also be given designated areas to sleep, nevertheless it’s not all the time revered by the resident wildlife, from elephants looking for the tastiest tamarind to the spine-tingling sight of a powerful male lion loping by.