The diversity of wildlife, landscapes and luxury lodges is what makes Botswana such a special destination. Also, it is the most stable of African countries and imposes strict restrictions on its large, natural national parks. These controls are important to protect its safari-based tourism and guarantee a good, primarily upmarket, experience for its visitors.

The largest game park in Botswana, Chobe National Park comprises two very distinct regions, the lush vegetation along the Chobe River that flows through its 11,000 square kilometers in the north, and the often dry Savute region to the west. Bordering this national park is the famous Okavango Delta where the popular Nuxmersi Island lies in the middle of its multiple channels. Here various types of transport, safari jeeps, biplanes, helicopters, boats and traditional mokoros add a dash of adventure to a holiday in this country.

Chobe National Park is home to thousands of elephants. During the rainy season large herds move into the game reserve’s two main areas, the northern area bordering the Chobe River and the Saveut area further south. As the Chobe River provides a constant source of water throughout the year, wildlife populations increase during the dry season as rivers and waterholes in the Sawut dry up. Prides of lions, large herds of elephants and large groups of baboons are regular sightings here, whether exploring in jeeps or strolling along the banks of the river. Many of the crocodiles that live here have their snouts dead in the waters of the Chobe River and the hippos snooze in the riverside pools. The wide variety of wildlife here includes giraffe, zebra, jackal, warthog, kudu, impala and buffalo.

Chobe Game Lodge, on the banks of the Chobe River, is the only lodge within this national park. The law forbids building a lodge within the park but the lodge was there before the area became a designated national park. Staying at this five star lodge has the advantage of an early morning game drive in one of its eleven safari jeeps before the park opens before anyone else can enter. Guests can also take part in excellent sunrise and sunset cruises along the Chobe River. Offering a variety of accommodation in 68 rooms and close to Kasane Airport, this lodge is the ideal starting point for a safari in Botswana.

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The vastness of Chobe National Park includes a flight to the Savute area that also boasts a river – when it chooses to flow. Savute Marsh relies on the waters of the Savute Channel to support the wildlife here. But this source of life-giving water is unpredictable and disappears completely when the marsh dries up. After it fell down in the early 1980s it reappeared in 2009 and the marsh was restored. However, the area is good for game viewing due to its permanent waterholes. In particular, Savute is home to a large pack of wild dogs, which are often seen sleeping in the shade of the trees surrounding the cave, home to the dominant female.

Round-the-clock game viewing is a specialty of Savute Safari Lodge. This beautiful lodge was completely rebuilt in 2024 and its twelve lodges form a crescent around a section of Savute Channel. Built in wood and thatch, these individual lodges include private outdoor showers and temperature control for the hot, summer months. In the middle of the lodge’s crescent is a viewing platform on two levels overlooking the waters of the Savute Channel in the dining area. Herds of elephants come here to drink and once they have moved on the impala, kudu and nervous giraffe can take their place.

The amazing channels and wetlands of the Okavango Delta offer a completely different safari experience. A short flight begins the journey to the solid land of Nxamersi Island. This is followed by a land transfer to the banks of the delta and a boat journey through the channels of the Okavango Delta. The magic of the delta begins here – gliding through the pen handle channel, reeds on one side, papyrus on the other and exquisite water lilies floating between the two guarantees an enchanting experience.

The brilliant plumage of beautiful birds including the lilac-breasted roller, malachite kingfisher and little bee-eater contrast with the white plumage of the majestic African fish eagle, as well as lake herons and egrets. The possibility that a hippo or an elephant might be spotted and a crocodile lurking in the reeds adds to the excitement of any boat trip here, especially when traveling in a traditional mokoro or dugout canoe. The delta is famous for its bird watching and excellent fishing – especially tiger fish.

Sundown boat trips are a popular activity at Nxamersi Island Lodge. Extensively renovated in early 2024, this beautiful lodge on a private island offers eight exclusive chalets and a newly installed spa – the first in the Okavango Delta. The service and food provided by a team of cheerful and efficient staff at this five star lodge is excellent. Little extra touches, like hot water bottles on chilly nights and chilly early mornings here add that extra special feeling. If visitors hear sounds at night, they may be black-faced vervet monkeys playing in the tree canopy above the chalets or hippos grunting in the water below the viewing platforms outside each chalet.

Naxmaseri Island Lodge is located within a UNESCO Heritage Site and has close ties with another UNESCO Heritage Site here. The quartzite rock faces of the Tsodillo Hills are decorated with over 4,500 ancient paintings some of which are 100,000 years old. Tours to this unique site can be arranged for guests who will be transported to the site by boat, safari jeep and helicopter. Various trails weave their way between the four main hills at Tsodilo Hills and local guides are available to lead the way and tell pictures and stories of these sacred hills.

Valerie Collins

Valerie started traveling almost 30 years ago when, during a gap year, she experienced the joys of traveling as a tour manager. Since then she has worked on copy for travel brochures, written 4 travel books, created her own website and written for 5 other travel websites. Her passion for travel encompasses all things travel-related, from luxury safaris to Silish ski goggles.

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