Botswana is a land of dramatic contrasts – from the crystal-clear waters of the Okavango Delta to the large elephant herds in the Chobe National Park and the unpredictable Savute Channel, which runs dry and floods seemingly at random. Blessed with some of Africa’s most beautiful reserves and an array of exceptional wildlife, Botswana is an unforgettable safari destination.
Southern Eagle Travel & Tours offers exceptional safari packages to the following Botswana wildlife reserves:
- Chobe National Park
- Savute Game Reserve
- Moremi Game Reserve
- Okavango Delta
- Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Chobe National Park
The Chobe National Park, which is the second largest national park in Botswana and covers 10,566 square kilometres, has one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the African continent. Its uniqueness in the abundance of wildlife and the true African nature of the region, offers a safari experience of a lifetime.
The park is divided into four distinctly different eco systems: Serondela with its lush plains and dense forests in the Chobe River area in the extreme north-east; the Savute Marsh in the west about fifty kilometres north of Mababe gate; the Linyanti Swamps in the north-west and the hot dry hinterland in between.
A major feature of Chobe National Park is its elephant population. First of all, the Chobe elephant comprise part of what is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population.
The Chobe elephant are migratory, making seasonal movements of up to 200 kilometres from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park, to which they disperse in the rains. The elephants, in this area have the distinction of being the largest in body size of all living elephants though the ivory is brittle and you will not see many huge tuskers among these rangy monsters.
Savute Game Reserve
Often described as one of, if not the best, wildlife-viewing area in Africa today. Savute boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife left on the African continent. Animals are present during all seasons, and at certain times of the year their numbers can be staggering. If you allow yourself adequate time here you will probably see nearly all the major species: giraffe, elephant, zebra, impala, tsessebe, roan, sable, wildebeest, kudu, buffalo, waterbuck, warthog, eland and accompanying predators including lion, hyena, jackal, bat-eared fox and possibly even cheetah and wild dog.
Savute is famous for its predators, particularly its resident lions and spotted hyena populations. Sometimes you will have them uncomfortably close, as both they and marauding hyenas do wander through the campsite. Almost certainly you will hear lion at night.
Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi, hunted by the Bushman as long as 10,000 years ago, was initiated by the Batawana tribe and covers some 4,871 km2, as the eastern section of the Okavango Delta. Moremi is mostly described as one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Africa. It combines mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons. It is the great diversity of plant and animal life that makes Moremi so well known.
Moremi is best visited in the dry season and game viewing is at its peak from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and the wildlife concentrates on the permanent water. The winter months of May to August can be very cold at night, but pleasantly warm, under clear blue skies, during the day. From October until the rains break in late November or early December, the weather can be extremely hot – both day and night.
The reserve enjoys a wide diversity of habitat and is well known for the height of the trees in the Mopane tongue, which covers the central area. However, the mainland part forms only about thirty percent of the reserve and is, in many ways untypical – the remaining area being part of the Okavango Delta. Birdlife is prolific and varied, ranging from water birds to shy forest dwellers. Elephants are numerous, particularly during the dry season, as well as a range of other wildlife species from buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyaena, jackal and the full range of antelope, large and small, including the red lechwe.
Rhino, both black and white, were here in the past, but most of the few remaining have been sought out for translocation to the protection of a sanctuary, away from the attentions of illegal hunters. Wild dog, whose numbers are so rapidly dwindling elsewhere, are regularly sighted in the Moremi. It is claimed that the Moremi area contains about thirty percent of all living wild dog.
The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland water systems, the only inland delta of its kind and a unique oasis of life in the centre of the Kalahari Desert. It stretches over 16,000 square km and supports a staggering variety of animal, plant, fish and birdlife. The water was once thought to have reached the sea, but this is no longer the case. After a series of tectonic uplifts and earthquakes running along geological fault lines, the land at the edge of the Delta now lies lower than that of the surrounding area. Hence the water very rarely flows further South than Maun.
Once the rains begin, around November, the floodwater begins its 250km journey downstream from the Angolan highlands towards Maun. Because of the gentle slope of the Okavango Delta floor (1: 36,000) the floods take approximately six months to travel to their eventual destination.
The hottest month is October with mean maximum temperatures of 30 Degrees Celsius. The coldest months are June and July with a mean minimum of 60C. The rains usually fall between November and April with the heaviest downpours occurring in January and February.
The Okavango Delta consists of a multitude of main channels, smaller tributaries and lagoons as well as floodplains, islands and mainland areas. The watercourses are constantly changing due to annual flooding as well as a combination of sediment transport, seismic activity, the construction of termite mounds, and the continual opening up of new channels by feeding hippopotami and the closing of others by new vegetation growth. There are two fairly distinct areas of the Okavango Delta – the permanent swamp, which is inundated with water all year round, and the seasonal swamp, which is flooded annually and dries gradually with the onset of summer.
The vegetation of the permanent swamp includes groves of wild date palm, swathes of papyrus, islands fringed with forest and lagoons covered with floating water lilies.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
To the south-east of the Okavango Delta and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert is Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. It is technically not a single pan as its name suggests, but many pans interrupted with sandy desert in between, the largest being the Sua (Sowa), Ntwetwe and Nxai Pans. (Baines’ Baobabs and Kudiakam Pan are also part of Makgadikgadi). The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park area covers some 16,058km².
The name Makgadikgadi implies of a ‘vast open lifeless land’. The pans are located in large areas to the south, east and north-eastern regions of the park. Widely believed to be one of the largest salt flats in the world, it is not always dry. Torrential rains fall from mid-November filling the dry, salty, clay crust with water and grass, which is retained until April or May. The ‘vast open lifeless land’ now becomes a fascinating refuge for birds and animals.
Very little wildlife can exist at Makgadikgadi during an inhospitable dry season of strong hot winds and (only) salt water. Once the season changes, the ‘thirst-lands’ are transformed into huge, flat sheets of water. This attracts a sensational variety of waterbirds and the pan becomes a major habitat for migrating animals. Wildebeest and a huge zebra population, journey from the Boteti River across to Ntwetwe Pan. Resident desert-adapted creatures include aardwolf, African wildcat, caracal, genet, honey badger, spring hare, jackal, kudu, meerkats, yellow mongoose, porcupine, ground squirrel, steenbok and occasionally lion. The shy and elusive brown hyena, suricates, aardvarks and small bustard species also remain permanent residents of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
Birdlife is excellent at Makgadikgadi particularly in the wet season when the pans are home to a massive number of migrant waders. During the dry months, bird species include large numbers of white-backed and lappet-faced vultures, bateleur, tawny and martial eagles, black-breasted snake eagle, lanner and red-footed falcons, gabar and pale chanting goshawks. There are also, red-billed and orange river francolin, ostrich, secretary bird, guinea fowl, black and red-crested korhaan, kori bustard, crowned plover, double-banded courser, spotted dikkop, all species of sandgrouse, giant eagle and pearl-spotted owls, lilac-breasted and purple rollers, large numbers of hornbill, larks, cisticolas and pipits. In the wet season, sandpipers, ruffs, greenshank, stilts, pratincoles, wattled cranes, storks, egrets, lesser and greater flamingos, spoonbills, terns, teals, ibis, Montagu’s and palid harriers, brown snake, steppe and Wahlberg’s eagles, lesser and rock kestrel, swallows, swifts and martins.
Reptiles such as tortoises, rock monitor, snakes and lizards, including the endemic Makgadikgadi spiny agama, can be found on the grassland fringes of the pan.