From the iconic rippled red-sand dunes of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari desert to the river oases of the Okavango Delta, Botswana encompasses diverse landscapes that are home to an incredible array of wildlife. A landlocked and sparsely populated country that experienced an economic surge in the second half of the 20th century, Botswana has evolved into a premier destination to experience some of southern Africa’s most enthralling environs. Luxury lodges offer fantastic opportunities to immerse yourself in remote wilderness, listening to the distant roar of lions, the twittering of hundreds of bird species, and looking up into the starry reaches of the infinite night sky. Go on self-driving or guided safaris, desert hikes, boat rides on the rivers of Chobe National Park and the clear channels of the Okavango Delta, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Vast expanses of red sand and scrubby vegetation stretch to the horizon, dotted with sparse stands of acacia trees. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, the Kalahari, which covers almost two-thirds of Botswana, is not devoid of life; ancient dry riverbeds and salt pans—like the seasonal wetlands of the Makgadikgadi pans—collect water in impermanent pools after rainfall, and abundant grasses and vegetative cover support a thriving ecosystem. The Kalahari desert is home to large predators, grazing herds of elands, wildebeest, and springbok, and many migratory birds, including thousands of flamingos in the rainy season. With an eye toward protecting the environment from overuse, upscale lodges and camps provide high-quality services and incredible access to wildlife in this remote and majestic landscape.
A striking contrast to the arid plains of the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana is one of the world’s largest inland river deltas, and spreads out in a vast, seasonally fluctuating marshland. Diverse ecosystems range from mopane forests, scrubby savanna, grasslands, deep lagoons, and permanent waterways, making this region an absolute paradise for wildlife and bird watching. Moremi Game Reserve covers part of the delta, and hosts the big five—rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and lions—which are only a few of the many incredible species that call the Okavango Delta home, including over 500 bird species. Well-maintained trails, exciting boat tours, endless options for guided or self-driving safaris, and an array of both luxury and low-key accommodation make visiting the Okavango Delta a surreal and unsurpassable experience.
Chobe National Park
This biologically diverse area in northeastern Botswana became the nation’s first national Park in 1968, and spans distinctive landscapes that make it one of the most exciting areas of the county to visit. The Serondela, the Chobe riverfront area, boasts the highest concentration of wildlife in the park, but the floodplains and forests of the Linyanti Marshes and isolated grasslands of Savuti also brim with dynamic fauna. Known for having incredible elephant herds, Chobe National Park has the full spectrum of mighty predators, grazing species, and more than 400 types of birds. Take a boat ride to be at the heart of this amazing landscape for the chance to see some of the world’s most iconic species up close.