Botswana is arguably one of the best safari and wildlife destinations in Africa. What Botswana offers are miles and miles of unspoiled, pristine African wilderness covering a variety of unique ecosystems and prolific wildlife; from the smallest insects and colorful birds to the largest herbivores and the most elusive predators. Moonstroll safaris therefore, cover Botswana’s most iconic safari destinations including the Chobe Riverfront (Northern Chobe), Savute area (Southern Chobe), Khwai Concession (Moremi), Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The Okavango Delta, Africa’s last great unspoiled wilderness, is situated in the northern reaches of Botswana. It is a vast ecosystem created as the Okavango River spills over onto the shifting sands of the parched Kalahari Desert.
It then fans out to form the Okavango Delta, a 16 000 square–kilometre wilderness of papyrus swamps, shallow reed–beds and fertile floodplains, dotted with islands and laced with a network of channels and lagoons.
The Okavango Delta is therefore an unexpected oasis in an otherwise dry environment. It is known for its superb wildlife, with large populations of mammals and excellent birding particularly in the breeding season. Major species to be seen include: elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, hippo, crocodile, red lechwe, waterbuck, reedbuck, impala, kudu, wildebeest, tsessebe, lion, leopard, cheetah, along with an immense variety of birds – land and water, resident and migratory, some of which are rare and endangered.
Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. It covers about a third of the total land area of the Okavango Delta. At about 3900–square kilometres, Moremi as a reserve is unfenced, allowing free movement of animals within the Delta according to their seasonal migrations.
Moremi boasts of diverse ecosystems ranging from floodplains, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riparian forests, riverine to mophane woodland. Thus, with such a wide variety of vegetation comes a diverse spectrum of wildlife.
The floodplains of the Okavango Delta, dotted with well–wooded islands and shady termite mounds are ideal lion country as they provide excellent observation points. Lions, Cheetahs and the African wild dogs hunt in the open plains and grasslands of Moremi Game Reserve. It is on these open grasslands and floodplains where huge herds of buffalo, impala, tsessebe, zebras, wildebeest, and other prey species flock in search of food.
On the other hand, the rare Sitatunga and Red Lechwe (although somewhat less aquatic than the sitatunga) prefer the papyrus–fringed waterways of the Delta. Thus Moremi is a wilderness paradise, with great game viewing throughout the year.
The Khwai Concerssion, about 1800–square kilometres large, is situated in the northeastern Okavango next to Moremi Game Reserve. It is a wildlife–prolific and varied ecosystem dominated by a patchwork of lagoons, grasslands, permanent flood plains and large areas of Mopane woodland forests.
Khwai is undoubtedly one of the most scenic areas of the Okavango. It is a predator–rich area and as such has a marvelous selection of predators such as lion, leopard, serval and African wild cat.
Other resident species include elephant, buffalo, zebra, cheetah, wilddog, giraffe, eland, sable, hippo, hyena and various other nocturnal species.
Savuti is located in the southwest corner of Chobe National Park. It is a harsh, desert–like landscape that, it is believed, was once submerged under and part of an enormous inland sea the Makgadikgadi super–lake.
Geologically Savuti is characterized by the Magwikhwe Sand Ridge, the Mababe Depression, the Savuti Marsh with its dead trees, rocky outcroppings, and the Savuti Channel.
The Savuti Marsh is a vast expanse of grasslands dotted with dead acacia trees, creating an intriguing, almost ghost–like landscape.
Perhaps the strangest phenomenon of all about Savuti is the 100–kilometres Savuti Channel, which links the Savuti Marshes with the Linyanti Marshes and – via the Selinda Spillway – the Okavango Delta. Most perplexing about the channel, throughout history, is its mysterious patterns of flow that do not follow any laws known to man but flows only when it will. Thus at times it will stop flowing and remain dry for years at a stretch, probably due to underground tectonic plate movements. When the Savuti Channel recommences its flow, it changes the entire ecosystem, transforming the Savuti Marsh and Mababe Depression into wetlands and thus creating an oasis that provides water for thirsty wildlife herds and acts as a magnet for a profusion of water birds. However, Savuti Channel does not have to be flowing for wonderful wildlife experiences; for Savuti is a year–round wildlife destination. It is known for its predators, both big cats (lion, leopard and cheetah) and birds of prey–raptors, vultures and all manner of birds of prey that soar over Savuti’ landscape in search of food. Spotted hyena and their chilly cries are a norm, and many big bull elephants live out largely solitary years here.
Tucked up in Botswana’s far northeastern border with Namibia is the Chobe National Park–one of the great wildlife destinations of Africa. At approximately 11 700 square kilometers Chobe is made up of rich ecosystems and pristine landscapes consisting of savanna plains, river, swamp and scrub.
Winding its way through these beautiful ecosystems is the illustrious Chobe River with its yawning floodplains and surrounding riparian forest. The Chobe River provides a permanent water source and is therefore a hub of wildlife activity.
With such varied environments and habitats, Chobe National Park is wildly diverse and provides a magnificent array of wildlife. It is the ultimate haven for vast herds of elephant – as many as 120,000 of the animals depend on the Chobe River’s life–sustaining waterways when the dry season kicks in.
Of course, elephants are not alone in Chobe. Other resident game species are large herds of buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, the rare puku, roan and sable antelopes. These are normally trailed by the notoriously fearless lions of the Chobe, leopard and cheetah.
Birding is also excellent–over 460 bird species including Sacred ibis, Egyptian Geese, the cormorants and darters, Pel’s Fishing Owl, carmine Bee–eaters, members of the kingfisher family, the rollers, the unmistakable Fish Eagle, the Martial Eagle, and members of the stork family.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), situated in central Botswana, is part of the Kalahari Basin, the world’s largest continuous stretch of sand, stretching from the Orange River, South Africa up to Zaire. Covering about 52,800 square–kilometres, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a vast sand sheet characterized by extensive open plains, salt-pans and ancient riverbeds.
With its sheer magnitude, its overwhelming sense of remoteness and isolation, its ruggedness and unforgiving climate, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, indeed, has a wild and mysterious beauty; it is Africa at its most remote and untamed best.
The CKGR is home to fascinating species that have adapted to the harsh desert environment. Among the shallow valleys, tsamma melons and gemsbok cucumbers historically offer the main source of water for animals and Bushmen during the dry season.
After the life–giving annual summer rains, the plains and pans of the CKGR completely transform and fill with succulent grasses. These plains and pans therefore teem with wildlife. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe. Hence, predators such as the famous Kalahari black–mane lion, cheetah, leopard and jackals are normally around.
The Makgadikgadi Pans, in Botswana, span over 16 000 square–kilometers in the Kalahari Basin. They are the largest network of salt pans in the world. These vast, flat, endless, dusty, greyish, salt–encrusted pans are the remains of an ancient super–lake: Lake Makgadikgadi, which once covered an area larger than Switzerland, but dried up tens of thousands of years ago.
Technically, Makgadikgadi is not a single pan, but consists of a series of pans – the largest of which are Sua, Nwetwe and Nxai pans. Among the pans are large tracts of salt pans interspersed with sandy desert in between, palm islands, grasslands and savannah.
At night the vast Makgadikgadi landscape feels like a planetarium, with a 360 degree view of both the pans and star–filled skies, creating an amazing and simply unforgettable experience!
A combination of soaring temperatures and the extremely arid climate make this captivating wilderness quite inhospitable for most of the year. Surprisingly, however, you’ll spot flora and fauna here that has adapted to life in a desert.
After good rains this desolate, harsh, dry, salty landscape transforms into lush, nutritious wetlands. The pans are filled with water and the new grass attracts thousands of animals. These include large flocks of flamingos and a plethora of other migratory waterfowl such as pelicans, ducks, geese and many more, turning Makgadikgadi Pans into a real paradise for any bird lover.
MOBILE CAMPING SAFARI
What is a Mobile Camping Safari?
This is a tented camping safari whereby guests are transferred in four wheel drive vehicles from camp to camp. In case of Botswana, these safaris offer affordable African vacations and take guests to some of the best wilderness areas the country has to offer. They are privately guided and therefore usually consist of guests travelling in a small group with a professional guide and a staff complement made up of the safari chef and one or two camp assistants.
These safaris give some of the best safari experiences as they provide access to some of the prime wildlife areas and make use of the private, unfenced, natural campsites to be found within Botswana’s famous game reserves and national Parks.
MOBILE CAMPING SAFARIS
“It’s all about going back to the basics, back to the way safaris used to be―camping under canvas in the African wilderness, eating under the stars, moving from camp to camp and leaving nothing behind, apart from our footprints.”