At the end of January I was fortunate enough to head up North into Botswana for a week to view some of the Wilderness Safaris properties that I will be using in our Botswana Packages. In order to celebrate the addition of these magnificent packages to our portfolio, the month of February will focus on a variety of travel related aspects in Botswana. Over the next couple of weeks I will be covering the following aspects of travel in Botswana:
- Botswana Travel Diary | Days 1-3 | Chitabe & Jao
- Botswana Travel Diary | Days 4 – 6 | Little Vumbura and Kings Poool
- Botswana FAQ’s and General Travel Information
- The Okavango Delta | The Story Behind The World’s Largest Inland Delta System
- Fully inclusive travel packages to Botswana (Premier Packages & Classsic Packages)
- We will also have some amazing SPECIAL OFFERS for South African Residents
The aim of this post is twofold. The first objective is to provide some answers to the most common or frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) around travel in Botswana. The second, is to provide you with a platform for asking questions which you may not have found the answer to, so please feel free to leave your question as a comment at the bottom of the post and I will do my best to get the correct information for you. I hope that this will be a valuable resource!
What makes Botswana so special?
In all my years of guiding and travelling in Africa, I have never been so awe-inspired by the natural beauty of an area. Botswana’s government has adopted a high quality and low volume tourism policy which now employs a large percentage of its population whilst still preserving the environment. It is this policy which has seen Botswana take centre stage as one of the few true wilderness regions left in the world. Add to this the fact that the Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta system in the world (covering an area of 15 000 square kilometres) and you have an absolute haven for wildlife viewing.
When is the best time to visit Botswana?
The “peak season” (and most expensive time to travel) in Botswana is generally regarded as being between July and October, with the “Low” or “Green season” being from December through until May. June and November are generally regarded as the shoulder seasons which break-up the Peak and Low Season. The main attraction in Botswana is to experience the concentrations of game which dominate the flood plains of the Okavago Delta during the winter months, when floodwaters flow from their catchment areas in the moist central African highlands over 1000km away and spill onto this massive flood plain.
This does not mean that the low or green season is not good for game viewing!
On the contrary, the green season is a great time for birding and wildlife viewing (click here to see our travel diary for a trip conducted in January 2011) and there are many special offers and reduced rates to be enjoyed for travelling over this period. The only down side (in my opinion) is that these are the wettest months in Botswana with afternoon thundershowers being a regular occurrence. The result is that the bush and grass becomes very thick – making game viewing challenging from around February/March.
Can I see the BIG 5 in Botswana?
Botswana is home to all of the BIG 5 (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino) BUT rhino are restricted to Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta.In my honest opinion, the sheer scale of the wilderness regions coupled with the diversity and abundance of wildlife makes up for the localised distribution of rhino in Botswana.
What camera gear should I take with me when travelling to Botswana?
Photographic opportunities abound in this area! My recommendation is that you have at least one versatile telephoto lens (like a 80-400mm or 100-400mm for example) for wildlife and birds, coupled with a good wide angle lens (10-20mm or 17-85mm for example). The wide angle lens will allow you to capture the fantastic landscapes whilst out on drives or boat trips as well as some incredible aerial views whilst flying between camps. Remember to take a large memory card (16GB) or portable external hard drive with you so that you don’t run out of storage space! A polarising filter will come in handy when capturing landscapes and for removing glare and reflections from the water.
Are the lodges and camps in Botswana child friendly?
Most of the lodges and camps in Botswana will only take children under the age of 12 if you make use of a private vehicle at an additional daily rate.
What wildlife/Game Viewing Activities are on offer?
This is where Botswana really shines! Activities at the lodges will vary according to the season and their location.
Camps are generally classified into one of three categories:
- Land Based Camps (offering walking and game drives)
- Water Based Camps (offering boat cruises, fishing, canoeing, and mokoro trips)
- Combination Camps (offering a combination of water and land based activities depending on the season)
Camps in the Savuti region are land based as there are no channels or rivers to navigate, whilst camps in the Linyanti region offer seasonal water activities in combination with game drives. Most itineraries will provide a combination of camps and activities in order to give you the full Botswana experience.
Which is the best region to visit in Botswana?
This is a very difficult question to answer as Botswana is such a diverse country which ranges from the central kalahari region in the south of the country, to the Okavamgo Delta in the North West. To further confuse things, wildlife or game viewing activities (ranging from game drives through to boat cruises) also vary according to the camp/concession that you are visiting. I personally believe that the best way to experience what Botswana has to offer is to opt for a package which combines a variety of camps in different regions (each with their own specific activities and eco-system). Click here and we’ll put together a bespoke package which will cater for your ever need.
How do I get to the camps in Botswana?
As you can imagine, many of the camps are only accessible by light aircrafts and/or small motor boats (depending on the time of year). Most itineraries will feature Kasane (in the North Eastern Corner of Botswana), Livingstone (Zambia) or Maun (just south of the Okavango Delta) as the starting and/or ending point. Itineraries generally include all of the light aircraft transfers between camps and back to one of these main centres. International flights from Johannesburg can be arranged to Maun (approximately 2 hours) , Kasane or Livingstone (approximately 2 hours).
What travel documents do I need?
All visitors to Botswana must have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months beyond their intended departure date from Botswana. Visitors to southern Africa must ensure they have enough blank VISA pages (not endorsement pages) in their passports. We recommend at least 3 pages (or even 4 if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey). If there is insufficient space in the passport then entry into a country could be denied.
What kind of medical precautions to I need to take?
We recommend that you consult your physician or health department for the latest health and anti-malaria precautions.
What is the climate like?
The weather in this region is generally pleasant throughout the year – warm to hot days, and cool to warm nights. During the winter months however (May to September), it can get really cold at night and in the early morning, particularly when on safari, so pack accordingly – very warm clothing including an anorak/winter jacket, a beanie, scarf and gloves are recommended.
Summer is from November to the end of March and usually brings very high temperatures. It is also the rainy season and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down, although only usually for a short period of time. The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas. The in-between periods – April/early May and September/October – still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter.
Why does Moya Wa Tenga use Wilderness Safaris properties in Botswana?
Wilderness Safaris is a responsible ecotourism and conservation company that believes in protecting the pristine wilderness areas of southern Africa. Their ethical approach to conservation and tourism, coupled with their excellent service levels fit in well the high standards that I have set for Moya Wa Tenga Safaris.
I feel safe in the knowledge that all my guests that are sent through to Botswana (should I not accompany them as a private guide) will be looked after in the same manner that they would when under my personal care here in South Africa. Wilderness Safaris also own and manage properties in some of the most pristine and sought after concessions in Botswana. Their low density approach to tourism means that one can really experience a true african wilderness without the continual hassle of other vehicles and groups.