A new year means new travel resolutions, and in 2015 we suggest a trip to Botswana. To simplify your travel plans, we’ve mapped out a ‘Bucket List’ for this gorgeous country; a list of destinations we recommend you check off when travelling to Bots.
1) Go on a Hot Air Balloon Safari
A hot air balloon is one of the best ways to enjoy a safari in Africa, and it is still a rarity in Botswana. With a hot air balloon safari adventurers have the unique opportunity to gaze upon the African wilderness from a fresh, extraordinary perspective. While often pricey, this means of safari will be the experience of a lifetime.
With the stillness of the balloon, numerous wildlife sightings are possible, including sightings of: elephant, wildebeest, giraffe, Kudu, sable, rhinos, and even the endangered African Wild Dog. What’s more, there is definitely something magical about the notion of experiencing a hot air balloon ride, with its panoramic views and open-air spirit of adventure.
To book this incredible safari experience, visit the reception/activities desk at your hotel/lodge. 2) Bask in the unearthly beauty of the Makgadikgadi Pans
The Makgadikgadi Pans – comprising an area of 12 000² kilometres – are the largest salt pans in the world. Located in northeastern Botswana, they are the remnants of a massive lake (roughly the size of Switzerland), which dried up thousands of years ago. Now, the flat, dry terrain stretches to infinity, eventually fusing with a milky-blue horizon. The effect is mesmerising, and a reminder of the vastness of the African continent.
For most of the year the area remains extremely arid and waterless, however, in years of good rain, the two largest pans – Sowa and Ntwetwe – flood! This attracts hordes of wildlife, especially zebra and wildebeest. Excitingly, flamingos flock to the area, and their numbers often run into the tens, and sometimes hundreds of thousands.
While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Kubu Island – a dry granite rock island engulfed by a sea of white sand. The entire island has been declared a national monument and is sacred to local inhabitants of the area. Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson described the island as “just about the most astonishing place [he’s] ever been,” when they filmed there in 2007. 3) Camp Out at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Set up in 1992, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary was created to protect the highly endangered rhinos of the region, and simultaneously to re-introduce wildlife into an area, allowing the local community to benefit from tourism.
The sanctuary is centred around the Serwe Pan, a grassy depression complete with naturally occurring water holes. As well as black and white rhinos being protected, over 30 other animal species are protected, and 230 species of birds.
This is an eco-safari destinations, and sustainable tourism is encouraged. As such, accommodation in Khama is limited. However, there are basic campsite and chalets on offer to provide the opportunity for an uncomplicated, idyllic stay in this historic haven.4) Visit the Moremi Game Reserve
In 1962, the BaTawana people of Botswana set aside a third of the Okavango Delta for future protection. This, they called the Moremi Game Reserve.
With a high density and extraordinary variety of wildlife, the Moremi is a small reserve in the eastern Okavango, bordering Chobe National Park. With both Black and White Rhino having both been recently re-introduced into the reserve, it is now a ‘Big Five’ destination. Excitingly, the rarely-sighted African Wild Dogs are regularly spotted in the reserve!
The Moremi Game Reserve is an ideal destination for the self-drive camper seeking adventure, and a tranquil safari experience. The rustic Third Bridge campsite is a favourite for many, found near the Sekiri River. 5) Go on a game drive in the Chobe National Park
While this seems like an obvious choice, a trip to Botswana would no doubt be incomplete without a game drive in the incredible Chobe National Park. Proclaimed in 1968 and covering an area of 11700 km², the park gets its name from the mighty Chobe River, which forms its northern border. Located in north-east Botswana, this park is probably best known for its enormous elephant population, one of the largest in Africa. There are an estimated 70,000 Kalahari elephants in the Chobe National Park, and a game drive is more often than not complete with several elephant sightings.
The Chobe floodplains, in particular, are where hordes of wildlife congregate during the dry season. Incredibly, it is normal to see over 1000 elephants on the floodplains at any one time during the dry winter months. Apart from elephants, a drive along the river provides the chance for buffalo, giraffe, waterbuck, zebra, Kudu, sable and impala sightings. If you’re lucky, you might just catch a sight of a lion or leopard too!
For luxurious accommodation in the Chobe National Park, book a stay with Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa. As well as offering top-class accommodation in gorgeous surrounds, booking with Cresta Mowana will also enable you to organise your game drive with ease.