Your New Year’s resolutions and bucket lists probably look a little different this year given the upheaval that was 2020. The global pandemic brought conventional travel conveniences crashing down, but forced us all to appreciate home and embrace uncertainty.
Here in Botswana, liquor sales are suspended again, a curfew has been reinstated, and neighbouring South Africa shut her land borders, cutting off self-drive safari-goers departing from the country until 15 February.
No matter. There is still some light on the horizon. COVID-19 vaccines are starting to roll out giving travellers hope. Instead of making concrete travel plans for 2021, perhaps you’re seeking inspiration instead? Our round-up of 10 unique things to do in Botswana will remind you why little matches a safari to the extraordinary Kalahari.
1. See flamingoes in flight at Nata Bird Sanctuary
Usually home to arid ebony salt pans, Nata Bird Sanctuary bursts into life with summer’s first rains. This season we witnessed an extraordinary amount of rain, with some experts predicting a very wet year for 2021.
When the Nata River fills the great Sua Pan, Nata Bird Sanctuary transforms into a flourishing breeding ground for a festive throng of clamouring water birds, including pelicans and flamingo in their thousands. It sure is a magical time to visit the Makgadikgadi!
Stay here: Located on the fringes of this unique environment and just 10km from Nata Bird Sanctuary, Nata Lodge provides a shady refuge. Choose from luxury chalets with ball-and-claw baths or go glamping below towering palms. Either way, your birding base is sorted.
2. Mokoro the Okavango waterways
Inhabitants of the Okavango Delta have used mekoro for transport and fishing throughout Botswana’s history. Traditionally, these dugout canoes are used for moving through the lagoons and reed-clad waterways to find food and productive fishing grounds as the floods ebb and flow. Today, they’re employed by practised and qualified polers to steer guests on a water-level silent safari. Settle done into a fibreglass mokoro and enjoy this slower, quieter wilderness experience that has endured the test of time.
Stay here: Each of the Okavango Delta camps in the Kwando Safaris portfolio is situated in a private concession, offering an exclusive safari experience with a light-on-the-earth footprint. Get in touch with our team to get the most up-to-date information on water levels and active mokoro sites.
Please note: Gunn’s Camp is currently closed for maintenance.
3. Bush walks through the Okavango Delta
Much like mokoro, a walking safari takes you to places inaccessible to the four wheels of a game drive vehicle. It adds another, far more sensory dimension to the Botswana safari experience. Professional guides know how to track, detect, and comprehend wild animals in the natural Okavango habitat to ensure close, but safe encounters with the plentiful wildlife. Sniff out elephants, tell the difference between a hyena and big cat paw prints, or marvel at the magnificent flora and its many traditional uses with our local guides.
Stay here: Moremi Crossing is an exemplary Okavango walking destination. Accommodation consists of 16 large Meru-style canvas-walled chalets set on raised wooden decks. Each unit has a private veranda, en-suite facilities and a comfortable bed screened by a walk-in mosquito net.
4. Camp wild in Moremi
Complement the magic of a mokoro ride and the endless wonders of a walking safari with a night out camping comfortably. Sleep out in the wild Okavango Delta in small tents, already raised and pegged into the earth like the intrepid safari-goers of old.
Under the protection of expert guides, you’ll arrive at an exclusive campsite already set up. Luggage sits on the comfortable stretcher, along with warm blankets, soft linen and towels plus a torch ensure a relaxing evening ahead around the fire.
Stay here: Contrast Okavango Delta lodge comforts with a night of simple camping outside in the wild. Whether staying at Moremi Crossing or Gunn’s Camp, you can enjoy this extraordinary wilderness adventure.
Please note: Gunn’s Camp is currently closed for maintenance.
5. Hop onto an unforgettable chopper ride
Departing at dawn from any Kwando Safaris camp, a trusty pilot from Helicopter Horizons will whisk you across the waking animal world of Botswana’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta. Keep your eyes peeled for buffalo hordes, look out for elephant gatherings and seek out Red lechwe as they leap across the winding river channels. Photographers can choose to have a ‘doors off’ experience, allowing for maximum visibility and snapping.
Stay here: We can arrange flights from any of the camps in our collection. Speak to your booking agent for the most up-to-date rates.
6. Get hooked on tiger fishing
Dubbed the lion of the riverine realm, the feisty tiger fish is always a fun outing and make a fantastic relaxing alternative to days out on game drives. The best time to fish in the Chobe is from June until August. Fishing occurs on a catch-and-release basis. No fishing is permitted in Chobe during January, February and March because it is tiger fish spawning season.
Stay here: Avid anglers have flocked to Chobe Safari Lodge for decades in the hopes of landing a trophy catch. It remains an excellent base for fishing the rapids of the Chobe River.
7. Learn a little Setswana
Kwando Safaris and Under One Botswana Sky are 100% citizen-owned and take their employment and empowerment policies very seriously. All the friendly faces you will see in the camps and lodges are locals – we believe Botswana’s people should show you Botswana.
8. Spot leopards at sunset from the Chobe River
The Chobe River is an abundant wildlife source with incredible game viewing because it is protected as part of Chobe National Park. See the continent’s greatest concentration of elephants from the water on a sundowner cruise or seek out big cats coming down to drink on a private boat ride in the early morning.
Stay here: Kasane’s oldest tourism offering, Chobe Safari Lodge is a landmark establishment on the border of Botswana’s first and oldest national park. It’s also easy to tick off another bucket lister from here – the mighty Victoria Falls lies less than 100 kilometres away.
Please note: The border post between Kasane and Victoria Falls is currently closed due to lockdown in Zimbabwe.
9. Watch the sunset over the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
Botswana remains a unique safari destination mostly thanks to its watery paradise. However, it is also a land of contradictions. Appreciate this stark contrast best out on the Makgadikgadi. While commonly referred to as such, the Makgadikgadi is not a single pan, but many pans with sandy desert and palm islands dotted in between. Sua, Nwetwe and Nxai Pans are the largest salt pans. The easiest way to appreciate the immense spectacle is sundowners on Sua Pan’s edge inside the Nata Bird Sanctuary.
Stay here: Nata Lodge provides the most straightforward access to the salt pan network and offers daily sunset drives.
10. Meet the largest zebra migration on Earth
Did you know? Botswana is home to the longest mammal migration. Every year, plains zebra depart Chobe and make their way to Nxai Pan National Park searching for the tasty new grasses that sprout up after the summer rains between December and March each year.
Stay here: Our sister properties Kwando Safaris run the only permanent lodge in Nxai Pan National Park. This Kwando Safaris camp consists of nine environmentally-considered chalets that provide the perfect base for observing the prolific zebra migration during summer. Don’t forget to make a pitstop at the park’s famous ancient Baines’ baobab trees.
All Under One Botswana Sky lodges, plus our sister properties at Kwando Safaris, are open for business and have incredible deals for SADC travellers available right now. Get in touch to start ticking off these bucket list reasons to travel to Botswana.
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