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Guide to Planning a Safari to Botswana

Going to Botswana on Safari - choosing your trip

Choosing the best safari for you is of course the first step. With so many options to choose from this can be one of the hardest parts of the safari preparation process! 

Time & Money Matters - set your parameters

Working with the budget and time you have available for travelling to Botswana is a good place to start. You can search for tours with us according to price range and duration, from a few days in Botswana to about two months across Southern and East Africa, including Botswana.

Here are the over 100 Botswana Safaris available with us.

Another factor that will have an impact on your budget it the type of safari you decide on - camping trips are mostly cheaper than accommodated tours. Overlanding safaris are generally more affordable than exclusive budget and small group tours. 

Deciding Where to Go in Botswana - finding the right places

Here are some of the top safari destinations and regions in Botswana - the real Must Sees

Chobe Park, Linyanti & Savute

The Chobe region is the prime game viewing destination in Botswana, offering one of the best traditional wildlife safari experiences in the world.

Highlights:

  • Chobe is famous for hosting the largest elephant population in Africa
  • One of the highest concentrations of wildlife found in Africa
  • Boat-based game viewing along the Chobe River in northern Chobe
  • Prime game viewing in the Savuti Channel area, hosting numerous predators
  • Annual zebra migration in the Savute and Linyanti areas 

The best time to visit Chobe is during the dry season from about May to October. For the zebra migration in Savute and Linyanti the best times are November to December and February to March.

Check out Chobe Safaris or find out more about Travel to Chobe.

Okavango Delta & Moremi Game Reserve

The pristine Okavango Delta is the top wilderness destination in Botswana, home to diverse wildlife and bird species. This is an incredibly scenic part of Botswana, incorporating a range of habitats.

Highlights:

  • An untamed natural environment offering a wild safari adventure
  • Game viewing and exploring by traditional mokoro (dugout canoe)
  • Bush walks in the unspoilt delta and exploring by motorboat
  • Scenic flights over the world's largest inland delta
  • Abundant predators in Moremi, a wild dog stronghold 
  • Remote camping and crowd-free game viewing

Best visited in winter, when lodges and camps are accessible, malaria risk is lower and temperatures are cooler.

Check out Okavango Delta Safaris or find out more about Travel to the Okavango Delta.

Makgadikgadi Pans & Nxai Pan

The salt pans are one of the most unusual and distinctive safari destinations in Botswana.

Highlights:

  • The vastness of one of the largest salt flats (pan systems) in the world
  • Migratory game (zebras, wildebeest and more) and predators after the rains
  • Birdlife including ostriches, flamingoes and migratory species in the rainy season
  • Uninhabited space in an untamed place, free of human development and crowds
  • Surreal landscapes stretching out endlessly in solitude and silence and stargazing

Best time to visit Makgadikgadi Pan for some game and bird spotting is December to April, in the wet season.

Kalahari Desert

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second biggest game reserve in the world, covering a vast region of ancient desert lands.

Highlights:

  • Remote and wild place ideal for solitude away from the crowds
  • Silent and pristine desert of open landscapes and sparse vegetation
  • Spectacular sunsets and dazzling stars at night
  • Game viewing to spot rare and unusual desert-adapted animals
  • Famous black-maned Kalahari lions and Deception Valley
  • Meet the traditional San or Kalahari Bushmen communities

Best time to visit is from December to April, when the Kalahari is less dry.

Check out Kalahari Desert Safaris or find out more about Central Kalahari Game Reserve Travel.

Bucket List Activities & Highlights - the Must Do's

  • Mekoro Trips - glide through the winding channels and secluded lagoons of the Okavango Delta in a traditional canoe, poled along by a local guide
  • Game Viewing - explore Chobe, Savute, Linyanti and Moremi on open-vehicle 4x4 game drives and boat cruises on the Chobe River
  • Bush Walks - walk in the untamed wilderness of the Okavango Delta, Moremi, Kalahari Desert and southern game parks
  • Scenic Flights - fly over the watery delta to spot game and take in the sheer size of this vast natural wonder from above
  • Desert Experiences - head into the Kalahari in central Botswana for empty spaces and harsh terrains inhabited by hardy creatures
  • Cultural Encounters - meet the Kalahari San (Bushmen) and learn about their unique culture and way of life in the harsh desert environment

Before You Go to Botswana - the pre-trip groundwork

Once you've booked your safari you will want to draw up your check-list of things to do before you go. The following items serve as a guide for preparing your Botswana Safari:

Apply for Visas and Check your Passport 

If you're travelling on a passport as a citizen of South Africa, United Kingdom or United States you do NOT need a visa for Botswana.

For passport holders from several countries visas will be required - see the list of countries for which a visa is required. This is the list of countries that do not require a visa for Botswana. Remember, if you're travelling to other countries too you need to check the visa requirements for those destinations too.

In terms of passports you will need a passport valid for at least six months and it must have three or more unused pages in it.

Book your Air tickets and Confirm Airport Transfers

When you buy your air tickets to the starting point and from the ending point of your safari be sure to check what time the safari starts and ends. Sometimes you need to arrive the day before the trip and book departure flights for the day after the safari ends.

Booking your flights a few days in advance of your safari and a few days after it ends gives you time to explore the starting and ending point destinations. The cities and surrounding areas are often worth visiting, especially in cases such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Livingstone and others. You can book short tours in and around many of the starting and ending destinations, such as Kruger Safaris from Johannesburg and short Victoria Falls tours. For advice about pre and post tour options and accommodation contact African Budget Safaris.

Check what airport transfers are included in your itinerary. Most tours include pick-up and drop-off at the International Airport where your tour starts and ends. Alternatively your pre or post tour accommodation will be able to arrange airport transfers for you. It is best to arrange and confirm airport transfers in advance, to ensure stress-free travel and avoid unnecessary transfer expenses.

Take out Mandatory Travel Insurance 

Travel insurance is compulsory for all safaris so you will need to get cover. Only medical cover is required, but full cover (comprehensive travel insurance) is highly recommended to cover for more eventualities.

If you have medical aid then first speak to your provider and find out what cover they can offer you. They usually provide you with a travel letter which covers you for medical emergencies and limited medical expenses. The medical aid cover is however not enough in most cases as it does not cover you for cancelled flights, personal accidents, baggage loss and so forth. Additionally, most medial aids require that you pay for incidents first and only claim later. Thus it is best to get travel insurance too.

These are two reliable travel insurance companies that we recommend to our clients going on safari:

Get the Yellow Fever Shot & Other Required Inoculations 

required for travellers coming from – or who are in airport transit for more than 12 hours within – a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission.

Go for a yellow fever inoculation at least 10 days before your trip starts. The yellow fever certificate and inoculation is valid for 10 years. In South Africa there are numerous places that you can go for the shot, including the yellow fever vaccination clinics on NetGlobers.

Depending on your planned destinations you may need other vaccinations and certain routine vaccinations are advised. Check out the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers for advice and ask your doctor about 4-6 weeks before travelling.

Take Anti-Malaria Medication 

You will need to start taking anti-malaria pills before departing on your safari and continue taking them during and after your trip. Botswana is not considered a very high risk malaria area, but malaria is present in the central and north-western regions. Malaria risks are higher in the hot, wet months of summer.

Ask your doctor for advice about which malaria prophylaxis to take. Some of the anti-malaria medication includes side effects such as sensitivity to the sun, which is not ideal for a safari. If you are already taking medication for other conditions then it is especially important to research which malaria drugs to take, as some should not be taken in conjunction with particular medications. Options include Atovaquone-proguanil, Doxycycline and Mefloquine.

An important factor in preventing malaria is to avoid being bitten, so take mosquito repellent, cover up with long sleeves at dusk and dawn and use mosquito netting on tents and at lodges.

Exchange Local Payment to Local Currency or US$ (where necessary)

If your safari requires a Local Payment then this amount will be payable on arrival in the currency stipulated. Often the local payment is made in US dollars, but check beforehand and exchange your money at a bank or currency exchange bureau like Travelex.

Be Prepared for Your Botswana Safari - You Might Want to...

  1. Buy a good DSLR Camera or upgrade your Lenses - you won't be sorry when you are in the bush trying to capture the scenes and wildlife of Botswana
  2. Shop for some basic gear - neutral tones, lightweight fabrics that breathe, a brimmed hat, day bag, comfortable shoes, mosquito repellent etc
  3. Read the fine print - read the terms and conditions of your trip and your insurance policy, as well as reading your itinerary carefully to be sure of what's included (meals, activities etc.)
  4. Check weather conditions - winter temperatures in the Kalahari can dip to around zero, summer is the rainy season which affects travel in the delta and summers get very hot
  5. Get your hands on binoculars - rent or buy binoculars for wildlife watching and bird spotting (binoculars are often available on game drives but then you need to share and wait your turn)

To search our tours by destination, duration and type simply fill in the search criteria and our website will filter your results.

Having planned your safari, get ready for some real adventure!


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