Botswana is an enchanting country full of wild destinations and untamed beauty, but a few favourites really wowed me on my recent trip. Here are some of the best highlights from my budget safari in Botswana.
The Okavango Delta - Top of the Wow Chart!
I fell in love with the delta because of its remote wildness. It really did feel as though we were miles away from civilization (and we were).
I’m a real water-baby so the Okavango Delta immediately scored big points with me as an unusual safari destination. Exploring the watery channels added a refreshing element to the safari, complementing our other, mostly land-based, stops.
Moving quietly over the water in a Mokoro was simply delightful. Sitting back and watching the reeds and trees go by while my trusty poler did all the work felt so indulgent. It’s not often one gets to enjoy human-powered transport in old-fashioned style like royalty!
As we went gliding over the water I spotted various birds flitting about and marvelled at the giant spiders in their complex webs. The golden orb spiders strung up in the high branches aren’t poisonous, but the sight of them took some getting used to.
While in the delta the local polers took us to a safe swimming spot in the mokoro dugout canoes. Here we took a a playful dip in the clean waters of a channel where hippos don't wallow about. We were also poled to a walking trail near our camp for an interesting bush walk with the knowledgeable head guide.
The delta experience isn't all about seeing wildlife, although visitors do get lucky and spot big game sometimes. We saw plenty of the smaller creatures inhabiting the bush and heard the foreboding roar of a nearby lion at night.
Being surrounded by the tranquil delta was an experience of the kind that soothes the soul.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary - the Best Wildlife Sightings
Our game drive in Khama Rhino Sanctuary was totally packed with wildlife sightings. Seeing so many rhinos grazing in the wild was a real privilege - a touching honour given the endangered status of these large mammals.
We also saw my favourite animal, the giraffe, feeding on treetop leaves. We even witnessed one of these tall ungulates (hoofed animals) lying down, feet tucked under its body, for an evening nap. There were zebras and we saw an eland, the largest of all antelopes, which looks a bit like a cross between a kudu and a cow.
I've never been so close to a herd of springbok in my life! They came so close that we got to hear their strange bleating barks - very unbecoming of such petite little antelopes.
Of course we saw loads of impalas, which are very common in most of Southern Africa's game parks. We also caught sight of odd-looking hartebeest, as well as kudu resting and milling around in the grasses .
Chobe River Sunset Cruise - Stunning Scenery & Wildlife
This was an incredibly scenic boat trip along the lush green riverbanks and fringes of the reed-covered islands.
Motoring slowly along the great Chobe River we were treated to an array of rewarding wildlife sightings, from elephants, kudus and hippos to crocodiles, baboons and monitor lizards.
We cruised under looming rain clouds stacked impossibly high in the multi-layered skies. Now, I'm a real fan of the spectacular African skies and on this boat cruise we saw some of the most impressive clouds I've been lucky enough to ogle at in my time.
The bird lovers were in their element on the sunset cruise, getting up close to all sorts of feathery specimens. I'm not much of a birder, but it was lovely to see all these colourful and strange birds up close. I was lucky enough to get a fabulous shot of the regal African Fish Eagle beside the Chobe River.
I would return to Botswana in a heartbeat to revisit my favourite places as well as a few others, like Chobe National Park, the Makgadikgadi Pans and the Kalahari Desert. We did take an early morning game drive in Chobe, but it was rainy and we didn't have much luck with wildlife sightings... maybe next time.
For me gliding through the watery Okavango Delta, seeing white rhinos up close in Khama and cruising along the Chobe River were blissful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences!