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Botswana

 
 

An interesting thing about Botswana is that it is a landlocked country, meaning the entire territory is bordered by land areas. Up to 70% of the country is the Kalahari Desert, and Botswana is blessed with great spectacles of wildlife. It is one of the best places that give the most rewarding safari experience.

 

General Information

  • Total area : 224,610 square miles, with 2.6% of it is water surface
  • Capital : Gaborone
  • Largest city : Gaborone
  • Government : parliamentary republic
  • Climate : sub-tropical, and semi-arid due to short rain season

 

Physical Features

The most dominant physical feature of Botswana is the semi-arid Kalahari Desert. It stretches across the country from Namibia to the west and South Africa to the south. Most areas are flat, but there are also some noticeable highlands such as the Tsodilo Hills, a rock formation dating back more than 100,000 years. For the most parts, Botswana is filled with unique physical features. Kalahari Desert is in the central and southwest; Okavango Delta is in the northwest; Makgadikgadi Pans are in the north-central. All three of them are different from each other, allowing the country to have distinctive landscape and geographical conditions. Diverse ecosystems and habitats are home to numerous wildlife species.

 

Safety Tips

Botswana is great for travelers not only because the country offers some of the greatest safari experiences on the planet, but also because it is modern and well-developed. Public facilities such as tap water and healthcare work well; you can drink tap water in most cities and towns, and there is no need for extra protections from yellow fever or cholera. HIV/AIDS are still serious issues anywhere, so you must understand how to protect yourself. In crime department, most cases do not extend beyond pick-pocketing or theft from parked cars. Biggest safety hazards in Botswana include driving in the bush and attacked by wildlife. With help from professional guide, however, those two issues should be avoidable easily.

 

Bird Life

With great efforts for conservation of wildlife, Botswana has become good destinations for bird watching. The country is home to more than 590 species of birds. Among those 100 species are still rare and 8 species are globally threatened. Summer months will serve the more casual birdwatchers well enough, but enthusiasts will want to concentrate in the Okavango Delta, as this place functions like a refugee for both common and rare birds during the dry winter. Permanent water sources in the delta provide ideal habitats for many bird species such as flamingos, storks, pelicans, darters, cormorants, ostriches, and spoonbills. Even the common ducks, geese, and swans find home in Botswana, too

 

Wild Beauty

Kalahari Desert is the largest unbroken land of sand on Earth. Your image of a typical desert is an almost empty land where live organisms are scarce, but Kalahari is an anomaly. Not only that it has abundance of wildlife, but it also has diverse ecosystems. It has Makgadikgadi salt pan located in the middle of dry savannah, Kubu Island filled with granite rocks, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with its wonderful wildlife, ancient baobab trees, Africa’s Big Five, and of course Okavango Delta to name a few. For a country mostly comprised of desert sands, Botswana has managed to come out at the top as far as tourism and safari are concerned.

 

People and Cultures

Botswana government does not recognize any ethnic group living in the country as indigenous. It also means that the government recognizes all citizens as indigenous. The most widespread groups include Tswana, San, and BaKalanga. Most tribes have different ways of greeting each other for example by specific hand-shake gesture or just by using verbal expression. Setswana is the common language in Botswana, but the official language is English.

 

Spiritual Destination

Of course everybody is entitled to opinions about what spiritual experience is. A scientist will consider the view of stars and galaxies million miles away through the Hubble telescope spiritual; an architect will consider building the highest skyscraper a spiritual experience; and if you are wildlife enthusiast, safari in Botswana is as spiritual as you want it to be. Let us not forget that somewhere in the wilderness of Botswana, you are provided with luxurious remote lodges and camps, putting you right in the middle of the scene and allowing you to absorb the surrounding wildlife atmosphere.

 

The Ultimate Camping

If your idea of camping is right at the backyard where you can still call pizza delivery anytime you want, please visit Botswana to experience what real camping actually is. You will not have to climb any mountain and backpack into dense forest; what you must do is to stay quiet. Don’t be surprised at night when you have to listen to roaring sounds of lions, grunts of leopard, thundering sounds of elephants, and feel the ground is shaking by the movements of big herds of buffalos. You can experience all of those in almost any campsite in Botswana. You are also allowed to use your own 4WD vehicle, so you can travel from one campsite to another at any pace you like. Gaze around at night, and you’ll find the right blend of both sound and visual treats from animals’ sounds and view of bright stars in the desert sky.

 

Most Popular Destinations

Botswana gives one of the representations of what a journey in Africa feels like. Many places in the country look and sound like they are not from the same world we live in. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Botswana are as follows.

  • Okavango Delta: to consider Okavango Delta extraordinary is an understatement. It is one of best nature’s creations comprised of lions, hyenas, elephants, leopards, water, trees, grass, and so much more. Okavango Delta is home to (approximately) 530 species of birds, 160 species of mammals, 155 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians, and 1500 species of plants. The Delta is strangely flooded during dry season, but all the animals and vegetation in the area have adapted to the peculiar seasonal phenomenon. As the flood subsides, Okavango is a safe haven for great numbers of animals migrating from the surrounding dry hinterland.

  • Moremi Game Reserve: about one-third of Okavango Delta is also the territory of the game reserve. Another good thing is that those areas are the most accessible corners of Okavango. You’ll come across two different landscape characteristics: dry and wet. Both sound quite common indeed, but Moremi has its dry land surrounded by wet lands. Such condition makes the environment distinguishable from anywhere else on Earth. It has lagoons, permanent waterways, floodplain, marsh, woodlands, and even dry savannah. Diversity of habitats leads to diversity of wildlife. Moremi Game Reserve is home to Africa’s Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinoceros. Especially for rhinoceros, they have only been recently introduced to the area.

  • Chobe National Park: although almost all national parks in Africa are proud of their elephants, Chobe National Park has taken the crown for quite a while now. Located in the northeastern corner of Botswana, the national park is popularly known for providing shelter for some of the world’s largest herds of gigantic elephants. Almost all known predators also live here along with more than 440 species of birds. Chobe Riverfront deserves to be highlighted; this place is where you can see the highest concentration of wildlife throughout the national park.

  • Tsodilo Hills: in most of its parts, Botswana is essentially flat country. Anything that protrudes to considerable height from the ground level would be instant highlight. Thankfully, Botswana did not grow just about any small hills, dunes, or mountain; it has the Tsodilo Hills. Unlike a typical hill, these rock formations are filled with simple traditional ancient visual arts, caves, shelters, and depressions. Standing in the northwestern part of Kalahari, Tsodilo Hills preserve more than 4,500 paintings in only less than 4 square miles area.

 

Botswana for Tourism

Botswana gives us all the Big Five, the Okavango anomaly, the bewildering Kalahari, diverse ecosystems, hills of arts, and then some. The seemingly endless horizon of salt pans and constantly changing dynamic life of wild animals make Botswana distinguishable among the crowd of African tourism countries.

 
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