Kasane is a town situated in the far north-eastern corner of Botswana. It is conveniently located right near Africa’s “Four Corners” junction where neighbouring countries Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe all meet. Beautifully placed on the banks of the Chobe River, Kasane also happens to be positioned at the north-eastern boundary of the popular Chobe National Park, making the town the administrative centre of the Chobe District, creating a convenient access point for tourists to the park as well as for those wanting to visit the nearby Okavango Delta, the Caprivi Strip and Victoria Falls.
According to the 2011 census, Kasane has a population of 7 638 making it a small, yet bustling town. Filled with a number of garages, banks, shops and river lodges, Kasane also has an international airport just four kilometres outside of the town, adding tremendously to its tourism and business.
Kasane’s neighbouring villages are Kazungula and Lesoma. Kazungula is approximately six kilometres east of Kasane and serves as the border post between Botswana and Zimbabwe, as well as the landing for the Kazungula Ferry between Botswana and Zambia. The more distant members of the Chobe district are the Enclave villages and Pandamatenga. Kasane has a number of campsites and lodges, many of which offer day trips into the Chobe National Park and boat trips on the Chobe River. There are no boundary fences between the park and the village and, as a result, game such as elephants and hippos can frequently be seen wandering down the road and through the Kasane campsites.
Weather and climate
Kasane has a hot, semi-arid grassland climate with most of the area covered by grasslands (41%), croplands (34%), and floodplains (23%). Throughout the year there is little rainfall in Kasane; about 643mm of precipitation falls annually, most of which is in the month of January in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. Conversely, the driest month is July with little to no rainfall during the winter months.
The average annual temperature in Kasane is around 22 °C making it a very pleasant climate throughout the year. The warm season lasts from September to November, the hottest month being October, with an average temperature of around 27.1°C and maximum temperatures sometimes approaching the high 30s. The cold season lasts from June to August, where the coldest month of the year is June, with an average daily high temperature around 17.4°C.
The weather in Botswana is generally pleasant most of the year, and deciding when to visit Kasane is largely dependent on personal preference and what activities you would primarily like to do. The hot springs are usually enjoyed during the cooler months of the year whereas you may prefer the fishing and boat cruises during the summer months. January can be a bit hot for game drives as the animals tend to hide away in the shade and are usually less active in extreme heat.
Kasane – a great base for experiencing Botswana wildlife
Kasane is a town situated in the far north-eastern corner of Botswana, conveniently located nearby Africa’s ‘Four Corners’ junction where neighbouring countries Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe all meet. The town is situated on the banks of the Chobe River. It is also positioned at the northeastern boundary of the popular Chobe National Park, making the town the administrative centre of the Chobe District and creating a convenient access point for tourists to the park as well as for those wanting to visit the nearby Okavango Delta, the Caprivi Strip and Victoria Falls.
Kasane boasts a number of campsites and lodges, many of which offer day trips into the Chobe National Park and boat trips on the Chobe River. There are no boundary fences between the park and the village and as a result game such as elephants and hippos can frequently be seen wandering down the road and through the Kasane campsites. It’s a small, yet bustling town. Guests are able to access a number of garages, banks, shops and river lodges. Kasane also has an international airport just four kilometres outside the town, adding tremendously to its tourism and business. Kasane is a great base from which to view the wildlife in some of Africa’s most famous reserves. There are four main nature reserves in and around Kasane: the Chobe National Park, Chobe Forest Reserve, Sibuyu Forest Reserve, and Kasane Forest Reserve.
Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa and, by size, is the third-largest park in the country and also the most diverse.The reserve is most famous for its abundant elephant population: it is said that 45 000 of these enormous creatures roam the plains, along with lion, buffalo, leopard, giraffe and cheetah.
A photographer’s dream, the park is also home to over 450 species of birdlife, as well as the indigenous puku and Chobe bushbuck. Due to the proximity of the park to the town of Kasane, it is an absolute must-see for those visiting and looking for things to do. Most of the surrounding lodges and camps facilitate a wide range of activities, including daytrips to the park on a daily basis.
Chobe Forest Reserve
Chobe Forest Reserve is an enclave largely surrounded by the Chobe National Park. To the north-west of it are seasonal marshes, Lake Liambezi and eventually, Namibia. The Chobe Forest Reserve and the region to the north of it are areas designated for community-managed livestock and hunting.
The carefully managed hunting is administered by a company that owns a few small hunting camps in the reserve. The hunting aspect of the reserve should not deter guests from visiting, as the reserve contains good populations of wildlife that are managed sustainably.
Sibuyu Forest Reserve
Camping and walking enthusiasts will find the Sibuyu Forest Reserve an ideal destination for walking safaris, especially around the pans. To the ancient San hunters and gatherers, this was a land of plenty that teemed with game and held abundant water, wild fruits and vegetables. Today the only traces of human existence and pre-historic activity lie at the ruins at Nunga.
Kasane Forest Reserve
In this reserve, the Lesoma Valley offers campsites, walking safaris, and night game drives by local tour operators. The area has an abundant elephant population and legend has it that there is an elephant graveyard in the vicinity. Historically, it also served as a resting area for some of Botswana’s great past chiefs as they rested from the heat of the day during their hunting expeditions. The reserve teems with wildlife of all kinds that often passes through the area as they migrate from the Chobe River to the Zambezi River and the national parks of Zimbabwe.
The Chobe River
Visitors to Kasane must remember to include a trip to the Chobe River on their agendas. The river serves as a base for many excursions in and around Kasane. The region is a popular fishing area and its location and physical connection with the Kasai channel and the Zambezi means that there are many operators offering fishing excursions at all levels.
In addition, many of the lodges in the area offer excellent boat cruises into the Chobe National Park itself. Indeed, the boat trips should not be missed for their spectacular sunsets – some of the best Botswana has to offer – while game-viewing from the boat is picturesque as animals gather at the water’s edge.
Kasane Hot Springs
Another must-see local attraction is the Kasane Hot Springs. Surrounded by abundant wildlife, the springs are believed to hold medicinal powers, and the warm salty waters make an ideal relaxation destination from which to take in the expanse of Botswana at her best.
This natural mineral spring also serves as the wildlife corridor separating the neighbouring village of Kazungula, which make the springs a good point from which to view game. Locals and tourists alike are also able to enjoy fishing and birdwatching while surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
The next step: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
From Kasane, a visit to the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls makes infinite sense, so as not to miss out on the spectacular Victoria Falls, believed to be the largest sheet of falling water in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Falls were ‘discovered’ more than a century ago by explorer David Livingstone. He named them for the reigning British Monarch at the time, Queen Victoria; while the local Makalolo tribesmen who guided him to the Falls had their own name for the natural wonder: ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or the ‘smoke that thunders’.
From the moment they were discovered, Victoria Falls became the area’s greatest tourist attraction. Situated between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River, there is much to see and do in the region for adventurers and nature lovers alike, not to mention the rich and fascinating history shared by the Falls and the surrounding towns.
Livingstone is famously quoted as saying that ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’ when attempting to describe the beauty of Victoria Falls. Indeed, visitors to the Falls cannot help but be awed by the breathtaking vista. Arching above the spectacular view is the ever-present ‘rainbow’ that is created by the spray from which rises to a height of over 400 metres. Those who are lucky enough to time their visits with the full moon can expect to see a ‘moonbow’ in the spray – a truly magnificent sight. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe are well geared for tourism and the countries allow tourists to make day trips from each side; day visas are easily available from the border posts.
Other ‘not-to-be -missed’ destinations
The areas surrounding Victoria Falls are a dream come true for lovers of adventure sports and there is much to keep even the most demanding of adventure-seekers occupied. Perhaps the most famous of these outdoor activities is the bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge, a jump of 111 metres with the Falls in the background and the Zambezi River below. The bridge itself is one of the best vantage points of the area, offering 360 degree views from one side to the other.
White-water rafting is another draw card for adventure enthusiasts. Two-day, full-day or half-day trips are available, with 23 white-water rapids to negotiate amidst breath-taking scenery.
In fact, there is a vast array of outdoor activities on offer in the region, including game fishing, horse riding, kayaking, elephant and lion walks, canoe safaris, gorge swimming, abseiling and flights over the falls promising magnificent aerial views.
Of course, those wishing to view the Big Five will not be disappointed either. There are three national parks in the area: Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, the Victoria Falls National Park and the Zambezi National Park. The parks have a wide variety of game including elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, antelope, lion and leopard, as well as the hippos and crocodiles that are found in the river above the falls.
Current upgrading of international airports in northern Zimbabwe and Botswana will help facilitate increased numbers of tourist arrivals in these areas, a much-needed development that hoteliers will warmly welcome. These developments will also enhance efforts to ensure people have unique access to a double-headed holiday experience with a package that includes stays at both Cresta Sprayview in Victoria Falls and Cresta Mowana in Kasane.
There is currently an upgrade taking place at the Victoria Falls airport, which will take an estimated two years to complete. The overhaul includes the extension of the current runway as well as the construction of a second, 4 000m runway. In addition, a new car park, internal road network and terminal will be built. Both KLM and Emirates have announced their intention to launch long-haul flights directly to Victoria Falls, as opposed to commuting via Harare as is currently the case.
The overhaul will allow the airport to accommodate larger aircraft, and increase passenger capacity from 500 000 to 1.5 million. Botswana’s Department of Civil Aviation is also undertaking a project to increase the runway length at Kasane International Airport and to upgrade all facilities related to air and passenger services.
Victoria Falls and Kasane are able to handle significant increases in tourist arrivals without any infrastructure development, because most hotels have in recent years upgraded or expanded their facilities, and although tourism has improved, there is both a need for and an ability to cope with further improvement.