Botswana is a vast land of contrasts and is landlocked between South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. Roughly the size of France with a population of only 1.3 million, it has dedicated 17% of its land to game sanctuaries with sound management policies to protect this rich asset.
The majority of the country is covered by savannah scrub and the dry, arid Kalahari sands, broken by the breathtaking Okavango Delta, the salt pans of Makgadikgadi and the swamps and flood plains of the Chobe River. Collectively these areas constitute a range of ecosystems unparalleled in Africa and are abundant in bird, plant and wildlife.
The Okavango River rises in Angola and enters the north of Botswana where its fast flow is checked by the thick Kalahari sands. The waters are forced to disperse forming the veins of the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland deltas. Spilling over the desert floor it creates a myriad of serpentine channels, lagoons and islands and is Botswana’s prime wildlife location. To the eastern side of the Delta lies Moremi Game Reserve, an area that and combines permanent water with drier areas, making for some startling, and unexpected contrasts. In the north the Chobe River / Chobe National Park support an exciting array of mammals and bird life.
Savuti, which lies within the National Park, is much more arid but contains large populations of lion. North of Savuti is Linyanti, a beautiful and relatively undiscovered area that boasts papyrus-lined waterways, lush riverine forests and a great variety of game. The harsh central Kalahari Reserve is inhabited by the San people – hunter/gatherers who still reside in traditional dwellings.
The animals in the region have had to adapt over the years to cope with the unforgiving conditions of the land. The Makgadikgadi Salt Pan is a relic of one of the world’s super lakes which dried up thousands of years ago creating the largest salt pan in the world. In the wet season it fills with water attracting flocks of flamingos and one is able to see a migration of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra followed by their feared predators.
In the south the Tuli Enclave is an attractively rugged area that is unlike the rest of the country. The Limpopo River cuts its way through granite outcrops and dense forests that sustain a variety of wildlife and bird life. Fascinating archaeological sites abound and iron-age settlements are still being discovered and excavated. Botswana is a true wilderness area, untrammelled and essentially unchanged since time immemorial.