A to Z of Adventure Travel: B is for Botswana

20 01 2009

 

 

 

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“Don’t call me Big Nose…Big Nose!”                               (Chobe, Botswana)

 

Botswana is one of Africa’s greatest countries for safari. Situated in southern Africa and bordered by Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa, although a popular destination for travellers it offers unique and uncrowded wildlife viewing in its parks and vast wilderness.

 

The Okavango Delta is one of the country’s biggest draws. A sweeping region of more than 15,000 square kilometres, it teems with elephant, hippo, lion and a spectacular variety of birdlife. The great watershed is created as the 1,600 kilometre-long Okavango River dissolves into the sands of the Kalahari desert leaving a vast network of islands and waterways. The region can be explored by vehicle in the dry season, on foot, or from the traditional poled dugout mokoro canoes that silently explore the channels. Accommodation ranges from isolated campsites on secluded islands to luxury tented camps and lodges that offer more than the comforts of home.

 

In the country’s northeast corner sits Chobe National Park which offers one of the largest concentrations of game in all of Africa and is rightly renowned for its elephant viewing. The park is situated along the Chobe River which forms the border with Namibia, and it is this water source that attracts the vast herds. The park also offers great opportunities for viewing lions and wild dogs and its luxury lodges have long been popular with celebrities and jet-setters including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who stayed there on one of their several honeymoons. One of the best ways to explore Chobe is by taking a daily sunset cruise along the river.chobe-6-mw

 

For the more adventurous, it is possible to pack all the necessities of life in a 4WD, leave civilisation well behind and venture deep into the Kalahari desert or to the vast Makgadikgadi Pan. Any possible hardship will be more than compensated for by the very real sense of being alone in blissful isolation amid nothing more than the wonderful sounds of the night, a spectacular ceiling of stars and perhaps a visit by the local San people – or Bushmen.

 

Botswana was the setting for Sir Laurens van der Post’s classic “The Lost World of the Kalahari”, Mark and Delia Owens’ bestselling “Cry of the Kalahari” and the current chart-topping “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series of books by Alexander McCall Smith. It also has one of the highest per capita GDPs in all of Africa.

 

Although Botswana’s capital Gaborone boasts an international airport, most travellers headed for the game parks start their journey in Maun or cross in by road from Victoria Falls or South Africa. Botswana is a worthy destination on its own, but is often combined with one or more of its neighbours as part of a larger safari.

 

 

Photo and post by:  Simon Vaughan

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