If there’s anywhere to get in touch with nature and witness planet Earth at its most pure and beautiful, Botswana is the place. Located in Southern Africa, it’s unsurprising that Botswana is widely regarded as one of the best safari destinations in Africa, with the country boasting iconic landscapes in various guises, freely wandering wildlife and heaps of cultural and historical significance.
One of these significant areas and a major draw for tourism are the Tsodilo Hills in the Ngamiland District of Botswana. The hills consist of caves, rock art and rock shelters, and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 due to the record they have kept of humans over the millennia through rock art and settlements, and its specific spiritual significance to the San People of the Kalahari, who believe that the hills are the resting places of spirits of the dead, and that is anyone hunts or causes death near the Tsodilo Hills they will bring misfortune to them. The site has been called the ‘Louvre of the Desert’, with over UNESCO reporting over 4,500 paintings preserved in an area of the Kalahari Desert covering just 10km²!
Nearby lies the Okavango Delta, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site (in fact, the 1000th site to be inscribed on the list in 2014). The site is the world’s largest inland delta, with breathtaking vistas, and is home to a wide variety of both permanent and seasonal wildlife, including elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, lions, zebras, rhinoceroses and baboons, among many others. Due to the clear draws for tourists, there are a variety of safari experiences to choose from when visiting Okavango, considered among the best in Africa, focusing on both the waterways and aquatic wildlife, and the land animals and desert surroundings. These safaris can last from a few days up to 10 nights, meaning you could spend your entire holiday experiencing the majesty of nature in this part of the world.
Yet another popular safari destination is Chobe National Park, the most biologically diverse park in Botswana with one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. Chobe National Park is perhaps best known for its incredible elephant population, containing an estimated 50,000 elephants that can roam in herds of up to 400. There are three areas for wildlife-watching: Liyanti Marshes, famous for their predators; the Chobe Riverfront, with the largest concentration of wildlife; and Savuti, a more remote area yet still rich in wildlife.
For entirely different scenery, yet equally astonishing scenery, travel to Kubu Island, a dry granite rock island in the Makgadikgadi Pan area of Botswana. The indigenous people consider the site sacred, and the entire island is a national monument which offers awe inspiring sunsets and a seemingly never-ending landscape of flat salt pans, almost giving the sense that you’ve left Earth entirely. It’s important to note that you must have a 4×4 to reach the island, and it is essential to carry extra water and petrol, as well as a spare tire due to the remote location of the island. There are three traditional taboos on Kubu Island: no hunting of wild animals, no collection of wild fruits and no taking away of particular rocks.
Lake Ngami is a “shimmering lake, some 80 miles long and 20 wide” as described by David Livingstone who visited the lake in 1849. For reasons that are still not completely understood, a few years after Livingstone’s visit the lake entirely disappeared, and then briefly reappeared at the end of the century. Heavy rains in 1962 meant the lake reappeared again, yet mysteriously disappeared once again in 1982, only to appear again in 2000! Since then the lake has been partially filled due to heavy rains, however it could dry up again at any point, so make sure to catch a glimpse of it in person, as well as the wildlife of flamingoes, eagles and kingfishers (along with much more) before Lake Ngami performs its vanishing act once again!
Suggested safari sunglasses:
Are you bewitched by Botswana?