Lonely planet’s Matt Phillips is just back from a wildlife adventure in Botswana. He reflects on the once-in-a-lifetime safari experiences he had – from tracking elephants in a private reserve to taking a traditional canoe trip through the Okavango Delta and quad biking through Makgadikgadi, the largest network of saltpans in the world.
Blessed with some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, Botswana is one of the great safari destinations in Africa.
The Okavango Delta – there’s nowhere quite like it on earth. This is a place where wild creatures roam and rule, where big cats and much bigger elephants walk free in one of the world’s last great wildernesses. The delta is a byword for abundance – for animal numbers, for the variety of species, for the birdlife, for floods of Biblical proportions.
And it is also a place of singular and unparalleled beauty where safari possibilities can seem as endless as the waters themselves.
Stark Desert Beauty
The Kalahari Desert, the largest unbroken stretch of sand on the planet, is not your ordinary desert. From the salt pans of Makgadikgadi, the baobabs of Nxai Pans, and the spare magnificence of Kubu Island in the north, to the wonderful wildlife of Kgalagadi in the south, this is a desert of exceptional variety.
Throw in the fossil river valleys, swaying golden grasses, black-maned lions and the echoes of the indigenous San people in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and there are few more beautiful deserts on Earth.
Exclusive Travel’s Spiritual Home
Botswana didn’t just turn its back on mass tourism and all the potential pitfalls it can bring. It ushered in an era of utterly exclusive safari experiences, the likes of which no other country on mainland Africa can match. These are sumptuous lodges and remote tented camps, especially in the Okavango Delta and surrounds, that are sometimes contemporary in style, and at other times awash in safari nostalgia.
Best of all, they provide a front-row seat for fabulous wildlife spectacles that you may just have all to yourself.
Africa’s Best Camping
You can experience Botswana by renting your very own 4WD vehicle that doubles as an ingenious camping home away from home. This is about experiencing wild Africa at your own pace, travelling from one campsite to the next, where you may lie awake at night listening to lions roar their bone-trembling roar, or hippos, elephants, or the chilling saw-like grunt of a leopard.
Build a campfire, gaze at the stars and feel at one with this gloriously beautiful country.