Blessed with some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, Botswana is one of the great safari destinations in Africa.
After crossing the border from Zambia, I ended up in Kasane which is the gateway to Chobe National Park. Chobe National Park in Botswana has the highest concentration of elephants in the world, it is no wonder that the country of Botswana is considered a premier wildlife destination under experienced safari guests who return year after year for an unsurpassed wilderness experience. After the border crossing, I shared a taxi with an Australian couple to get to Kasane.
From Kasane to Maun, I took an overnight bus. The bus departed around 21h00 and arrived in Maun at 04h00, so I had to take a cab to my host’s place and the sudden downpour made matters worse because I got drenched while waiting for the taxi.
The town of Maun is the third largest in Botswana. It is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native huts. There are shopping malls, banks, restaurants, a few hotels and some happening bars. Maun is the tourism capital of Botswana and the administrative centre of Ngamiland. It is also the headquarters of numerous safari and air-charter operations.
The main highlight of Maun has to be the Okavango Delta, a large inland delta and is one of the most popular Botswana safari tours destinations. This scenic natural wonder can be reached by road or air safaris that offer spectacular views of the Okavango Delta.
The mokoro is a traditional Delta dugout canoe. Poled along by an African gondolier, the mokoro is a unique and not-to-be-missed experience. Just sit back and go with the flow, soundlessly gliding among the reed beds and water lilies of a pristine wilderness teeming with frogs, dragonflies, bee-eaters and kingfishers. I had a go at steering the mokoro, but failed terribly because the boat swayed from left to right and could not go straight. I wandered how the boatman managed to peddle so effortlessly.
The crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta sets the scene for an unforgettable and unique safari. The delta is best explored on a leisurely mokoro dugout canoe cruise through the Okavango channels to witness the magnificent fauna and flora. The roamers at the Okavango Delta includes lion, cheetah, leopard, and African wild dog. However, due to the dry season when I visited, there were not many animals available for viewing. For those who have more money to spare, you can take a chartered flight into the middle of the delta and stay in a safari lodge, where it is guaranteed that you will be able to see more safari animals.
The best time to visit the Delta is when the floods come. Fuelled by the rains that fall in the Angolan mountains, they arrive just when they are needed most – in the middle of Botswana’s dry season, in the winter months of July and August.
My last stop in Botswana is the capital Gaborone. Gaborone is the capital of Botswana, and also the largest and fastest growing city in the country. Gaborone is an urban city, which is home to shopping malls and government buildings. On the outskirts of Gaborone lies the villages known as Phases and Extensions, ideal to visit for a first-hand cultural tour. The city features modern buildings and architecture and is developing at a fast pace. I made some good friends in Gaborone through couchsurfing who brought me out to explore the nightlife and to see some monuments during the day. From Gaborone, I took my flight to Paris where I would be spending Christmas week.
There are also some private game reserves in Gaborone for those who are keen to check out more safaris. Since I had already visited a number of safaris on this trip, I decided to explore the city. The city was almost dead on a Sunday when I arrived, so we went to The Central business district to pick up some groceries at the supermarket. Surprisingly, the supermarket did not allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays, which was strange.
In conclusion, Botswana may be considered as a more expensive country for traveling in the region as it caters mainly to the mature market. However, as a backpacker, I found intercity buses and arranged my own tours to Chobe, Okavango and still managed to get the wildlife experience. Botswana is also known for its safety and the people are friendly. From the guys who took care of my backpack at the bus station in Kasane while I went to walk around town to the new friends I had made in Maun, I definitely had unforgettable memories in this beautiful African country.