The Okavango Delta is situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, and is often referred to as the jewel of the Kalahari. Shaped like a fan, the delta is fed by the Okavango River. Swollen with floodwaters from the summer rains, the Okavango River travels from the Angolan highlands, crosses into Botswana at Mohembo in the Caprivi, and later spills over the vast, fan-shaped Delta.
The Kgalagadi (Kalahari) is rich in natural resources. Covering a full 84 percent of Botswana’s land area, the semi-arid Kgalagadi terrain dominates most of the country. Its sweeping grasslands feed not only its wildlife populations, but also its swelling cattle herds; the Kgalagadi is intensely alive with an astonishing diversity of plant and animal life. It has a wide variety of vegetation, supporting several savannah types – grass, shrub and tree savannah. In a season of good rain, the desert is transformed, covered with lush, green grasses and flooded pans – a source of rebirth and rejuvenation for humans and animals. Many desert animals, including springbok, gemsbok, eland, and even the Kalahari lion, are supremely adapted to its semi-arid conditions, and can live without water, though they will drink if water is available.
Bahurutshe cultural village
This delightful diversion is a recreated Hurutshe village offering accommodation in traditional rondavels, arts, crafts and dancing, and Sunday brunch with local cuisine. Educational cultural tours for schoolchildren are frequently conducted.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
In Central Kalahari waist-high golden grasses seem to stretch interminably, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Wide and empty pans appear as vast, white stretches of saucer-flat earth, meeting a soft, blue-white sky. At night the stars utterly dominate the land; their brilliance and immediacy are totally arresting. During and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gather at the best grazing areas. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.
Chobe National Park
Whether you're arriving by air or road, the first glimpse of the river – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is always breathtaking. It appears as a swathe of brilliant, peacock-blue ribbon, winding its way through the tiny town of Kasane and the ensuing wilderness. The Chobe Riverfront is most famous for its large herds of elephants and cape Buffalo, which, during the dry winter months, converge upon the river to drink.
Gcwihaba Caves and Aha Hills
Gcwihaba is a fascinating underground network of caverns and pits, linked passages, fantastical stalagmite and stalactite formations, and beautifully coloured flowstones that appear like waterfalls of rock. Moving from the more commonly used northern entrance, you’ll first come across thousands of bats hanging upside down from the cave walls. The most common species are the Commerson’s leaf-nosed bat. Gcwihaba is part of the Kalahari ecosystem and its unique ecosystem of flora and fauna includes the namaqua fig (only found in these hills and easily recognisable by its long, trailing roots), the endemic aloe, tent tortoises, barking geckos, Ruepel’s parrot (also unique to this region) and barn owls, which live in the caves.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
In the Khama Rhino Sanctuary you can see black rhino and white rhino, as well as an abundance of other wildlife species.
Khutse Game Reserve
This reserve is part of an ancient river system that once flowed north-east to fill the prehistoric Lake Makgadikgadi. Khutse’s Pans and dry river valleys are remnants of this river system.
Kolobeng is the site of David Livingstone’s third and final mission station. It is classified as a National Monument, and you can only gain entry with permission from the custodian.
Linyati, Selinda and Kwando
Like the Okavango River, the Kwando River flows south from Angola across the caprivi Strip and into Botswana and slowly fills the Linyanti Swamps. The outflow from the swamps then fills the Linyanti River, which flows east into the Chobe River.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Makgadikgadi is part of the Kalahari Basin, and what is unique about it is that it contains one of the largest salt pans in the world. For much of the year, most of this desolate area remains dry and extremely arid, and large mammals are thus absent. But, during and after years with good rainfall, the two largest pans – Sowa to the east and Ntwetwe to the west – flood, attracting wildlife such as zebra and wildebeest on the grassy plains and spectacular flamingos at Sowa Pan and the Nata Bird Sanctuary.
This is the most visited rock-painting site in the Gaborone area. The paintings are spread over five separate areas of rock cliff face, and include images of giraffes, antelopes, human figures as well as geometric designs.
Legend says that the first ancestor of the Botswana, Matsieng – a giant, one-legged man – climbed out of a single hole, followed by his people, their domestic animals, and wildlife. You can visit the site of Matsieng's footprint and experience part of this enthralling creation story.
Mokolodi Nature Reserve
Mokolodi offers game drives, guided walks, horseback safari, rhino tracking, giraffe tracking, walks with trained elephants, and cheetah visits. It holds regularly scheduled lectures, as well as annual events, such as Easter and Christmas Day excursions for children, and the Mokolodi Photography Competition. Wildlife in the reserve includes kudus, warthogs, duikers, giraffes, steenboks, zebras, blue wildebeest, gemsboks, ostriches, impalas, springboks, waterbucks, baboons, vervet monkeys, mountain reedbucks, elands, bushbucks and leopards. Due to a highly successful white rhino reintroduction and breeding programme, there are now eight white rhino living in the reserve.
Moremi Game Reserve
The Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango, and includes the Moremi Tongue and Chief’s Island, boasting one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the continent. Moremi is a very popular destination for the self-drive camper, and is often combined with the Chobe National Park to the northeast.
Northern Tuli Game Reserve
The Northern Tuli Game Reserve straddles the Shashe, Motloutse and Limpopo Rivers, which serve as natural boundaries with Zimbabwe and South Africa. Most naturally occurring wildlife species are present, including elephants, kudu, zebra, impala, duiker, wildebeest, waterbuck, steenbok, and warthog. Large herds of eland often not seen elsewhere in Botswana are present and all major predators, including lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena, are present, and the birdlife is prolific. You can see the reserve by hiking, by bike, on horseback, and even from a hot air balloon!
Old Palapye is an important multicultural historical site that contains artifacts from the Middle Stone Age, the Late Stone Age, the Early Iron Age and contemporary times. Stone walls, middens (the stone remains of rondavels), rock paintings and the remains of a prison, market centre and historic graves (both European and Botswanian) can all be seen at Old Palapye. Some wild animals, such as baboons, vervet monkeys, porcupines, rock dassies and leopards, still inhabit the area. There are two cape vulture breeding colonies, the largest situated at Gootau, with more than 200 breeding pairs. Permission from the village headman is needed to visit this site, and you must take care not to disturb the birds.
The Lentswe-la-Oodi Weavers is a Swedish-initiated cooperative situated in Oodi village. The weavers – mostly women who now fully own the cooperative – produce handwoven wall hangings, tapestries, runners, napkins, cushion covers, jackets and bedspreads, all designed by the weavers themselves. The wool is hand-woven and hand-dyed. Most designs depict rural scenes, animals or geometrical patterns. You can order original designs.
Tsodilo is a sacred, mystical place where ancestral spirits are said to dwell. In earlier times, their ancestors performed religious rituals to ask for assistance and for rain. They also put paintings on the rock face, and their meaning and symbolism remain a mystery even today.