Together with Tanzania, Botswana is one of the African countries I love the most; it is a poorly inhabited country and where wild nature is predominant.
Here there are large protected natural areas where you can go on safari and where you can admire a primitive and uncontaminated nature; a large part of the country is occupied by the basin of the Kalahari Desert, a desolate territory that preserves some habitats in which many animal and plant species have adapted to live: the large salt lakes in the basin of an ancient lake, the vegetated dunes, the seasonal rivers, spring water pools, millenary baobabs and much more.
The ideal time for a trip to Botswana
In Botswana there are two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season; both seasons, given their characteristics, are perfect for a trip to Botswana.
The dry season is optimal for making safaris since the absence of rains causes the animals to gather at the only available water sources and the scarce vegetation facilitates sightings; the climate is mild, the days are hot and dry while the nights are cold.
The rainy season, thanks to rainfall, is the ideal time for birdwatchers because, in this period, there are also bird species that migrate here from the Northern hemisphere.
This is the ideal season even for those who love a more extreme journey and are not afraid of muddying or for those who want to admire the vegetation of the Kalahari desert in its heyday; the salt lakes receive enough water to turn into a mirror of salt water that houses one of the most important flamingos nesting areas of the African continent, as well as supporting different species of animals.
Planning a trip to Botswana
Botswana is a wonderful country but it is not very easy to plan and organize a tripfor those who do not already know the country.
The main roads of Botswana are paved, but this does not mean that they are in good condition, often the roads, that do not have a properly made ground, are ruined during the rainy season, when even deep holes are created; most of the secondary roads are unpaved, some in good condition, but many are corrugated or are sandy tracks or, during the rainy season, they turn into mud.
It is important to calculate travel times well if you want to do a self-drive.
The tracks in the national parks and in the natural reserves can be simple to cover or more complicated or sandy; it is very important to inquire about their condition and the necessary travel times.
In Botswana there are several national parks and nature reserves, it is necessary to decide your own itinerary in time to be able to book lodges or campsites; it is also possible to look for a close encounter with some populations like the San, or to visit the petroglyphs that are found in different places in the country and tell the life of man in these places during prehistoric times.
Self-drive trip to Botswana
It is possible to organize a self-drive trip to Botswanaeven if it requires both good planning, to carefully assess distances and travel times, and a certain ability to drive on sand and mud, depending on the season in which the travel happens.
You can rent a SUV or a 4x4 car and decide to stay in tented camps and lodges, but this means being ready to spend a large budget, especially in some natural areas, such as in the Moremi Game Reserve and in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve; alternatively you can rent a 4x4 car equipped with a tent on the roof or a bush camper, so you can camp in the various public campsites, but you need to book them well in advance and, often, it is not easy to receive answers and confirmations, especially for state camps.
Organized trip to Botswana
It is possible to travel to Botswana on an organized trip, in this case there are two ways: buy a package at a travel agency or rely on a local operator in Botswana.
In both cases you can decide to do a fly-in safari or a mobile safari.
Fly-in safari in Botswana
Taking a fly-in safari means reaching the various lodges and tented camps on board a small plane or helicopter; the facilities are all of a high standard and, consequently, the prices are high.
The structure where you are staying organizes all the activities, that are usually included in the cost, not only car safaris, but also boat safaris, walking safaris and more, this depends on where the structure is and the area that surrounds it.
Usually all meals are included in the price.
Mobile safari in Botswana
The mobile safari is the way in which I adore traveling in Botswana, traveling on a safari car and in the evening mounting the tented camp, inside national parks and nature reserves, on a campsite reserved for mobile safari operators, so there will be no other guest.
Usually there is a staff that precedes the guests and sets up the camp, setting up the tents, the services, the table, and preparing the dinner; the cost of these mobile safaris includes everything: entry to the parks, car, staff, meals, etc.
There are also mobile safaris where guests themselves take care of everything, they have to set up tents, cook and do all the activities, supported by a smaller staff; in this last case it is good to check what is included and what is excluded from the cost, often some items, such as meals for example, are extra.
Which means of transportation to use in Botswana
In Botswana the most used vehicle is the 4x4, be it a rental car, the car of a local operator or of a lodge or tented camp, being 4x4 is a fundamental requirement since as soon as you leave the main roads you are on dirt tracks often corrugated or sandy or with mud.
For safaris a 4x4 is indispensable, even if you are on the tracks already traced it is often necessary to ford a puddle or drive in the sandy bed of a dry river or tackle challenging routes.
To rent a 4x4 car and do a self-drive in Botswana you need to have a little practice driving on the sand and even mechanics, in case of some failure.
Another widely used vehicle is the plane, especially the small planes able to land on the dirt tracks found in the reserves.
By this type of aircraft it is possible to complete panoramic flights, such as the Okavango Delta, or to reach the various tented camps and lodges found in the various reserves, national parks or concessions; it often represents the only means for reaching them.
Undoubtedly, small planes are not a cheap means of transportation but, whether you want to take a panoramic flight or want to reach a tented camp in a remote area, the journey is worth the cost.
What to do in Botswana
For most of those who visit this country, Botswana means safariand how to blame them; here are among the most beautiful national parks and nature reserves on the African continent: the Chobe National Park, with its long river, the Chobe Riverfront, the Savuti and the Linyanti; the Okavango Delta where the Moremi Game Reserve and other concessions are located, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are just some of the wonders of this country.
But in Botswana it is also possible to admire landscapes and spectacular panoramas of places that have a millennial history: lakes and salty depressions of the Makgadikgadi Pans complex, huge baobabs, the Kalahari desert, the inner Okavango delta and much more.
Finally, in this wonderful country, you can visit one of the places where the petroglyphs of the Sanand other populations are found, such as the Tsodilo Hills, or you can visit a San village to learn more about their lifestyle and their culture .
Documents needed to enter Botswana
To enter Botswana it is sufficient to have a passport with a residual validity of 6 months and two free pages to be able to put the stamps; for European citizens it is not necessary to get a visa and you do not have to pay for entry.
For those who enter Botswana by land by car, it is necessary to pay a car fee, the amount covers a wildlife conservation fee, a car insurance and a road maintenance fee; the amount must be paid in Pula, the currency of Botswana, or with a credit card, as long as the POS works.