Botswana is one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. Tourists love it for its wildlife and scenery, which features salt pans, the Kalahari desert, rivers, and plains. About 38% of the country has been set aside for reserves and game parks, setting the stage for a variety of exciting tourist experiences.
This article will discuss the top things to do in Botswana.
1. Game Viewing at Safari Lodges
Parts of Botswana like Linyanti, Lagoon, and Lebala are great for game viewing and will give you the chance to see predators like lions and wild dogs in action.
Staying at a private concession lodge during peak game viewing season will give you an up-close experience with wild animals.
For the best game-viewing experience, consider visiting between May and October, which is winter in Botswana. This is a dry winter, and animals are usually concentrated at the watering holes.
Staying at a good safari lodge can be magical. You’ll be taking dinner with elephants a few dozen meters away from you, as shown in the YouTube video below:
2. Mokoro Boat Trips on the Okavango Delta
Botswana is famous for its water activities, and one of the most popular ones is the Mokoro.
A Mokoro is a canoe traditionally made by hollowing out trees but now made from fiberglass to reduce the cutting down of trees.
A Mokoro boat trip involves a trip down the river in a Mokoro. Your feet will be mere inches above the water, and you’ll be in the company of hippos in the water and elephants and buffalo in the surrounding bushes.
It’s a relaxing experience interspersed with exhilarating hippo encounters.
3. Experiencing the Kalahari
Though the famous Kalahari desert spans three countries, the largest part of the desert is in Botswana and offers unique attractions, including:
- Night game drives. While night drives are not allowed in national parks, they’re one of the perks of staying in privately-run concessions within the Kalahari. A night game drive allows you to witness nocturnal wildlife in action.
- Stargazing. The night sky is usually crystal clear in the Kalahari, allowing unparalleled stargazing experiences. As a bonus, most lodges have guides to answer all your questions about stars.
- Nature walks guided by bushmen. The bushmen of the Kalahari have amassed vast knowledge about the desert and often accompany tourists on guided explorations.
- Mountain biking and hiking. Hiking or biking through the desert makes for a challenging and satisfying adventure with highlights like breathtaking scenery and wildlife encounters.
The video below shows what a night game drive is like:
4. Exploring the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
The Makgadikgadi salt pans cover an area almost the size of Portugal and offer a variety of fun activities, including:
- Getting intimate with meerkats. The meerkat is a cute furry animal known to climb onto tourists for a better view of its surrounding.
- Spending time with the masters of the bush. The Zu/’Hoasi bushmen have mastered the art of surviving in the harsh salt-pan environment, and you get to see them in action and learn from them.
- Quadbike riding. During the winter months of May to October, when the pans are dry, you can take a five-day quadbike safari and spend some nights under the stars.
- Horse riding. Experienced horse riders will love the thrill of riding through the vast pans, while newbies can take advantage of the open salt fields to grow their skills.
- Witnessing the zebra and wildebeest migration. In summer, some of the areas in the pans are filled with water, triggering a migration that’s only second to the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.
- Viewing desert-adapted wildlife. These include the aardvark, the aardwolf, the bat-eared fox, the brown hyena, and the bull elephant.
- Flamingo viewing. Both the greater and the lesser flamingo use these pans for breeding and the resulting stretches of pink can be a breathtaking sight.
The video below offers a snapshot of a stay at Jack’s Camp, located in the Makgadikgadi salt pans.
5. An Art and Craft Tour
In addition to its varied scenery and rich wildlife, Botswana has a vibrant culture that tourists can experience in art and craft tours. The typical tour will give tourists the opportunity to:
- See the women of Botswana weaving various products, from rich tapestries to baskets.
- Visit the Phuthadikobo Museum and learn about the local life and traditions of the Bakgatla.
- Enjoy local dishes.
- Witness the making of local pottery.
- Tour ancient rock paintings.
Batswana women weave beautifully, as shown in the video below, and you’ll find it hard to leave without buying a souvenir: