Botswana

Botswana is undeniably a destination in the bucket list of many travelers. If these travelers just happen to be avid photographers, then Botswana is definitely a must!

Encompassing an area as large as France and with a population density extremely low,  Botswana 2 million inhabitants have a very low impact on the natural resources of the Country. As a result of Protected Natural Reserves making up about 40% of the majority of its vast territory, Botswana offers the possibility of safari throughout the year and each season features something unique and special.

Areas of main interest are scattered around the vast lands, each with peculiar territorial connotations, with different flavors; enchanting, breathtaking landscapes and therefore astonishing different experiences at hand.

Different approaches to Botswana:

Botswana is suitable for exploration in a wide variety of ways. If we drop self-driving, which is reserved to skilled outdoorsmen, we may categorize  boarding and lodging possibilities as follows: mobile camping trips and trips accommodation in lodges or permanent tented camps.

Botswana is a first class destination and during the peak season ( winter ) this shows into its rates, which may reach thousands of USD a person per night. It is a fairly wise idea to plan a visit to the Country away from the peak months.

Let’s not forget that Botswana is a land where water often sets the rules on exploration possibilities, and activities available in each area depend on the type of soil and season: water based activities, like boat safaris and mekoro safaris in the Okavango area, as well as horseback safaris are available depending on water levels; quad activities across the salt pans also depend on the season, with rainy months making them not viable (  lodges, as well, are open seasonally depending on rains ). Many destinations might become accessible through air only for a few months a year, while others remain completely inaccessible. Always consult a travel expert before making your plans, do not hesitate to email us!

Upcoming Tours

BOTSWANA – MOBILE CAMP 11-20 AUGUST 2018

Discover Africa like you’ve never seen it before

FROM CHOBE TO OKAVANGO

The Chobe River names the northern park of this stunning Country: 11700 sq. km form the world famous Chobe  National Park, renowned for its lush floodplains teeming with life, which lead down to the scorched Savuti Marsh.

Chobe National Park is one of the most famous parks in the world. Its abundant wildlife and scenery make it a must go for every visitor, and a paradise for photographers.The riverfront ( Serondela area ) can be explored both from land and from the water. Be on the calm waters of the River during winter and enjoy the sight of hundreds of elephants crossing the river, bathing and playing. An unforgettable show! Birding is amazing here all year round.

Savuti is famous for its mysterious and fascinating channel. It runs a distance of 100 kilometers from the Chobe River, through a gap in the sand ridge, to the Mababe Depression. This channel brings water from the Chobe to Mababe, creating a small marsh. Flowing in Livingstone’s time, the channel was dry in 1880, and remained dry for about 70 years. It flooded again in 1957. Savuti Marsh has been dry for the past 18 years and now it flows again!

The Linyanti Marsh is located at the Northwest corner of the park, adjacent to Linyanti River. In a landscape of riverine woodlands, open woodlands as well as lagoons, and the rest of the region mainly consists of flood plains. Here you will find large concentrations of lion, leopard, African wild dog, roan antelope, sable antelope, a hippopotamus pod and enormous herds of elephants. The rarer red lechwe, sitatunga and a bask of crocodiles also occur in the area. Bird life is very rich here.

Incredible birdlife, massive herds of elephants and big prides of lions and predators are the reasons why you ought to visit,  sure to experience an amazing, spectacular show that changes  every season.

Moving South we meet different concessions like Selinda, Kwando and Kwara, privately owned and managed in an impeccable way, with  great involvement in conservation. Lands of unparalleled beauty and vibrant with abundant wildlife. Paradise for photographers, also due to the fact that many lodges in these concessions are focussed on wildlife photography.

Going even more South, we are bound towards the majestic Okavango Delta: this area was the land of the Batswana tribe 10,000 years ago, and today is home to the Moremi Game Reserve. Lagoons and pools inhabited by hippos and birds interchange with thick acacia forests and plains with Mopani trees, where predators, kudu, lechwe, eland, giraffes and rhinos live together.

Khwai and Xaxanaka are 2 marvelous areas in the Okavango, absolutely worth a visit.

Chief’s Island is a very exclusive island and its surroundings are breathtaking, here we are at the heart of the Okavango

The Okavango River flows in from Angola and soaks into the sand, forming a 15.000 sq. km network of channels, lagoons, swamps and islands. This is something you really don’t want to miss from above, in fact, an helicopter flight or a hot-air balloon safari are warmly recommended in order to fully appreciate the beauty of this area.

KALAHARI AND PANS

The Kalahari Desert makes up for the 84% of the Country and extends far beyond Botswana’s western borders, covering substantial parts of South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

This desert, however, is not the pure sandy desert we might have in mind: it is in fact covered with vegetation including stunted thorn and scrub bush, trees and grasslands. The vast flat terrain is occasionally interrupted by gently descending valleys, sand dunes, large numbers of pans and, in the far northwest, isolated hills. Many of the pans have dune systems which vary in size and complexity.

The pans fill in with water during the rainy season and their hard surface layer ensures that the water remains in the pans and is not immediately absorbed, which makes them inaccessible for months. These pans are of great importance to wildlife, which are supplied with valuable nutrient, namely salt and grass. The Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pans are part of this system and are a sought after destination for landscape lovers who appreciate a little bit of adventure too!

The Central Kalahari dominates the central area of Botswana. It is for sure one of the least visited area of this Country, and an ultimate wilderness area. This is not a game destination, even though big game dwell here, with many species of herbivores and predators ( no elephants and buffaloes though ), but do not  expect the high density found in other areas of Botswana. The best way to spot lots of wild animals is to visit when the herds gather in the northern pans during the rains ( December to March ), attracting predators in the area. 

Recently two lodges opened in the Reserve, and a few others, bordering it, offer daily trips to this fabulous place. Not an easy place to go to if you chose to self drive, with the rainy season covering the roads in thick mud; many good campsites are scattered all around this huge desert area anyway.

The most visited area is the northern part of the reserve, with the Piper Pans as an ideal southern limit. Deception Valley, probably the bed of a fossil river, is the most famous and interesting location. It is covered in a surprisingly bright green grass throughout the rainy season and attracts a good number of wild animals. Other locations of interest are Sunday Pans, Leopard Pans, Tau Pan and Piper Pans. The wilderness and emptiness around you, will be the real highlight of your visit to this marvelous Reserve; the sense of total isolation a proper bliss.

TULI BLOCK

The Tuli Block and the Northern Tuli Game Reserve are embedded in the eastern part of the Country, bordering South Africa and Zimbabwe. Completely different from anything else you might have experienced in Botswana, this beautiful land is referred to as the Hardveld because of the rocky outcrops and the abundance of stones and pebbles of all shapes and sizes. The red sand of the Tuli area is an unforgettable trait, as well as the massive trees that grow along the banks of the Limpopo.

The northern Tuli is one of the largest, privately owned, game reserve in Southern Africa and it incorporates three major private concessions, among which we mention Mashatu Game Reserve, where unique and thrilling sightings of wildlife often occur. Just pay a visit to this spectacular area, also known as The Land of Giants. Discover our trip in Mashatu Game Reserve!

Matches perfectly with a South African tour and safari, it in fact borders with South Africa and is easily reachable from Johannesburg and the Greater Kruger area. Ask us about the possibility to set a trip between Mashatu and Mala Mala, the paradise of leopards.

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WILDLIFE

Wildlife is the main reason why photographers and travelers go to Botswana, so let’s have a look at what to expect!

Botswana has a healthy wildlife population, and everything can be seen, with  the exception of rhinos, quite hard to spot, even if they are being successfully reintroduced as of late.

Predators commonly spotted are lions ( large prides in Savute, where they used to hunt down elephants ), leopards, cheetah ( very good opportunities, unusual for this southern part of Africa ), spotted hyenas and numerous packs of wild dogs, which guarantee some of the best sightings in the whole Africa ( mainly in the Moremi area ).

Elephants and buffalos dwell in large herds in areas close to water, and spectacular massive herds may be seen in the Chobe and Kwando-Linyanti area during the dry season before they split again into smaller groups as the rainy season starts –  just try to be around the northern river fronts June to October!

Antelope are very well represented, with impala, springbok, puku, red lechwe and tsessebe, spread into different areas, which grant to have different sightings while exploring the Country.

Primates are also present: baboons, vervet monkeys and bushbabies, with the latter to be spotted at night.

Zebras are seasonally engaged in what can be considered a proper migration, as big herds group up in the Makgadigadi and Nxai Pans during the green season ( not always easy to encounter though ) before they move to the western side of the Makgadigadi Pan. Wildebeest seems to follow a similar pattern and hartebeest too, even if it’s not clear how they exactly move, their pattern being pretty unpredictable. In Central Kalahari animals are harder to find, but they group together in the green plains during the rainy season, offering some more chances.

BIRDLIFE

Birdlife in Botswana is spectacular, boasting over 550 recorded species of birds, with some of them restricted to very specific areas: swamps, open waters, riverine forests and drier areas.

Even though there are no specific endemic birds, many migrants land at the beginning of summer ( November ) after a long journey from Europe, but also from other African countries, and they will stay until April/May.

Among other notable birds there is the Pel’s fishing owl, the African skimmer, the African darter, the squacco heron, the melba finch and the long toed lapwing, to name a few. Raptors are well distributed as well as cranes, herons storks and egrets.

Fish eagles will delight your days with their calls reverberating across the waterways.

Special sightings of big flocks of greater and lesser flamingos are to be seen in the Makgadigadi Pans after the rains.

This is just a short list of the vast and marvelous fauna that inhabits Botswana, if you are interested in any special sighting, just send us an email and we will help you to find the right place and time to spot what is on your dream-bucket list!

WHEN TO VISIT

Botswana is a magnificent destination all year round, with different photographic opportunities during each season, which will make any type of traveler happily fulfilled.

The old belief that the dry season – April to October – is the best time to visit is still true with regards to some special sightings one might look for: during the winter, in the Chobe area, big herds of elephants cross the river every day, and it is easy to spot them playing in the water; all the game gather around the water sources, and that surely is a good thing, no doubts! It could get a little crowded at times, but we’ll be happy to advise you on how to enjoy this part of the Country also during the peak season.

All the areas down the Okavango ( Savuti, Moremi ) offer very good sightings too, with the winter low vegetation being the perfect frame for the numerous sightings which regularly occur. The water levels are surprisingly high during the dry season, as the water flows down from the North after the rains.

Many areas in the Okavango – which is at its utmost beautiful – can be reached only by plane, and all the water activities depend on the water level.

Skies are clear, rainfall scarse, pleasant temperatures during the day which may  drop close to zero at night – get prepared for cold morning drives!

A particularly beautiful light partly filled with dust will make for spectacular pictures.

Rainy months ( November to March ) visits to the Country are becoming more and more commonplace: first of all prices are lower, more affordable, which is, of course, a good point; beyond this, the big herds of antelopes giving birth are grasping more and more interest here in Botswana too ( in the Pans of Kalahari ) together with the fabulous birdlife that can be admired everywhere during this time of the year.

Some lodges close down December to April and rainy days are quite common – especially in Jan and Feb, so be prepared!

December to March offer the best sightings in the Central Kalahari, but a lot of rain shall be expected, and high temperatures too!

Clear air and bright light will make for great contrast with the cloudy and stormy skies; the colors of nature at their very best, what a great time to photograph!  ( useful reminder: protect your equipment from the rain! )

April and May are two great months for many different reasons.

September and October, with the latter being a little hot, probably offer the best opportunities though.

VISA AND TOURISM TAXES

All visitors to Botswana must have a passport valid for at least 6 months.

Valid entry visas for the countries that require them can be obtained from the various Botswana embassies and high commissions abroad. Allow at least 21 working days for visa processing.

Passport holders of certain Countries do not need a visa to enter Botswana; exempted Countries have been listed on the Government Visa page

Travelers should make sure that there are at least 2 blank visa pages in their passport for entry and exit stamps.

TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN

As of 1st of October 2016 minors of age traveling through Botswana’s borders are required to produce certified copies of unabridged birth certificates in addition to their valid passports. If the child is traveling with one parent, the other parent’s affidavit expressing consent to such travel should be presented. An affidavit is not required if the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate. 

Requirements for parents traveling with children below the age of 18:

  1. Valid Passports
  2. Certified unabridged birth certificate for all minors
  3. Letter of consent from the other parent should the minor be traveling with only one parent.

CONSERVATION TAX

Since 2017 Botswana has introduced a $30 tax on all tourists entering the country. The Levy is payable at all ports of entry including airports and border posts, starting 1st June 2017.

Payments are done at the ports of entry through electronic payment machines,  cash (US Dollars), debit and credit card. After the payment, a coded receipt corresponding to the passport will be automatically issued. The receipt should then be presented to Immigration Officials.

MALARIA AND VACCINATIONS

Malaria is the most dangerous disease in Africa, and Botswana is unfortunately no exception. Malaria is in fact pretty common all year round. The northern area is the one with the higher risk. It is paramount to take all possible precautions to prevent mosquito bites, with suitable clothes, mosquito repellent, mosquito nets. Please visit your travel clinic before your departure, in order to seek medical advise for your specific case from a specialized doctor, who may prescribe prophylactic tablets to prevent malaria.

Be aware that malaria can be contracted also when on prescription drugs  (prophylactic tablets), so in case of symptoms like headache, muscular and joint pains, fever, shacking chills and in some cases nausea, diarrhea and fatigue do not hesitate to consult a doctor and let him know you travelled to malaria infested areas.

Symptoms usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite, even if some kind of infection can appear up to 4 years after the original bite and malaria drugs may delay the appearance of the symptoms.

Vaccinations for Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio should be reviewed and updated if necessary. Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travelers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travelers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

MEDICAL INSURANCE

It is essential to have an adequate travel insurance coverage prior to your departure. This should cover any medical situation such as hospitalization, as well as cancellation and evacuation.

Usually lodges in the wildlife parks require guests to have a medical insurance.

CURRENCY AND PLUGS

Botswana currency is Pula, “P”, but US Dollars are widely accepted. We advise to change some money before your departure.

When traveling across Botswana you will be staying mainly in wilderness areas with no access to ATM or banks, except for city stops.

Due to different sockets and plugs that you might find around the country ( Type G, M and F ), we strongly recommend to buy a universal adapter before your departure.

The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

 

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