Botswana: Land of desert and water

by Fran
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Summer brings welcome rains to fill the Okavango Delta plains.
Summer brings welcome rains to fill the Okavango Delta plains.
  • Whether you visit during the wet or dry season, Botswana guarantees excellent wildlife experiences.
  • The dry season brings large concentrations of wildlife, while in the rainy season, wildlife roams wider areas, even disappearing in the lush green scenery.
  • Botswana's winter / dry season is also their peak tourism season, thus safari prices are usually lower during summer / wet season.

Botswana is one of the few remaining countries in the world where you can experience and witness the sheer beauty, but also cruelty, of nature.  Every year, Botswana undergoes a majestic transformation: from desert to water-filled plains.  The anxious wait for the rains to arrive, bringing relief to the tired and thirsty conglomerate of wildlife.  And as the waters arrive, Botswana blossoms into a paradise.  If you opt to stay longer and travel slower, you can witness this exceptional nature event.  Regardless of when you visit, Botswana is a much-loved safari destination and undoubtedly one of Africa’s best safari destinations.

The Great Okavango

The Okavango River, known as the river that never meets the sea, runs through the Kalahari Desert and serves as Botswana’s lifeline.  The river feeds the Okavango Delta, another of Botswana’s natural wonders!  The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta – and not just any inland spot but the great Kalahari Desert.  As the river flushes towards the desert plains, the Okavango Delta is transformed into an intricate system of lagoons, islands and waterways. No wonder wildlife from across Botswana and southern Africa flock towards the Delta oasis during the rainy season!  And hence why Botswana is home to some of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.  You will also be treated to exceptional birding as both resident and migratory birds make the most of the Delta.       

Botswana weather & time to visit 

Botswana is all about weather changes – and every season is unique.  Botswana’s winter is the dry season, usually between April and October.  During this time, wildlife accumulates around dwindling water sources.  This means easy game viewing for visitors, although the mood is somewhat tense as the animals fight over fast disappearing water.  And then Spring arrives and the first thunderstorms bring welcome rain, transforming the dusty landscapes to beautiful green scenery. Although the wet season (November to March) is even hotter, witnessing the joy and peace as wildlife stroll through waterways and green fields is a special experience.  As one can imagine, the first rainfall is a muddy occasion.  Trampled desert sands quickly turn into mudplains, and for this reason visiting during the early flood season can be slightly inconvenient.  Although Botswana is known for its seasonal flooding, rainstorms quickly pass and rain rarely lasts for several consecutive days.  An added advantage of visiting Botswana during the wet season is the option of boat cruising along the Delta, offering a pleasant alternative to the traditional open vehicle safari. 

Botswana’s wildlife

Sadly, Africa’s lions have lost as much as 75% of its range, but in Botswana, lions are still roaming in steady numbers.  Teaming up to hunt buffalo and even hippos, lion in the Botswana rate among southern Africa’s highest concentration of Kalahari lions.  But apart from the Delta, Botswana also offers the arid Kalahari region with a completely different wildlife scene.  From antelope to the fish eagle, Botswana is home to all of Africa’s great wildlife, and more.  The dry season forces all species together, and even lion are known to catch some of the fish in distress due to drying water sources.    

Botswana is an incredibly special safari destination.  An added advantage is the luxury safari lodges and tours available.  The fact that Bostwana is a safe country with no political instability, is another major draw factor.  But in the end, it remains the wildlife that attracts, and the Okavango and Chobe wildlife are among Africa’s best wildlife troops!

Sources and credits

Photo credits: some rights reserved by Wildlife Travel via flickr [Creative Commons]

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