BONA SAFARI SERVICES
Africa - Botswana
Prime wildlife & wilderness areas
Prime Wildlife Areas in Botswana:
Savute, further south in the park, is untamed and dry except for a few weeks following rains when the khaki-coloured bush turns to emerald-green, attracting zebras and, inevitably, the lions which prey on them. Rich in wildlife, Savute has wide open plains that were once a marsh. This area is well-known for its highly successful hyaena population. In the remote west of the park is the Linyanti area, also game-rich, and deep in the interior is the little-frequented Nogatsha area where one is surprised to see another vehicle.
This northernmost park, covering nearly 11 700 km², has unrivalled game- viewing, especially along the Chobe River front in the drier months of the year, though big game can be seen at any time of the year. This is elephant country par excellence, with some 45 000 elephants and Africa’s biggest herds: from June to the first rains – usually in November – breeding herds of 200+ may be seen in the vicinity of the river.
The best known tourist destination in Botswana and one of Africa’s Special Places. The 15 000km² delta, a mosaic of channels, lagoons, dry and inundated flood plain, papyrus, reeds and exotically vegetated islands has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is unique, the world’s largest and wildest inland delta, formed by a major river – the Okavango – that has its source over a thousand kilometres away. A river that looses itself in the Kalahari sands to the south, and never joins another river or makes it to the sea.
The Okavango Delta is a favourite destination of travellers wanting pristine wilderness and a variety of experiences. Depending on the location and camp/lodge chosen, these include 4x4 game drives, motorboat rides, trips in “mekoro” (canoes poled by a local guide), fishing, walking on islands, elephant-back riding, bird-watching, simply relaxing and soaking in the enchantment of the place. Most camps and lodges in the delta are accessed by light aircraft; those on the periphery are accessed either by aircraft or by vehicle (usually the former, to save time).
There is the remarkable phenomenon of the annual flood in the Okavango Delta. The new floodwater (from Angola) arrives in the northern,”Pan-handle” section of the delta around November (peaking in February or March), reaches the central part around April/May (peaking in June/July) and arrives in Maun around July. More than 95% of the Okavango’s water evaporates before it reaches the town of Maun.
No two floods are ever the same. The flooding is a slow, steady and gentle process.
This Garden of Eden is noted for its variety of wildlife which may be viewed by boat, mokoro, on foot, on horseback, or even from the back of an elephant.
The delta supports, amongst other animals, the large cats (lion, leopard, cheetah), a variety of antelopes (including the specialist flood plain-dwelling Red Lechwe), zebra, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, hippo, crocodiles and, increasingly, elephants. The delta is the last great refuge of one of the shiest and most aquatic of all antelopes, the seldom-seen sitatunga. These antelopes spend much of the day partly submerged in water where they eat aquatic vegetation. They are able to swim with just their nostrils protruding above water level and hide up in papyrus and reeds. They are more prevalent in the central and northern parts of the delta, but are nowhere common. It's a real luck, being able to see, let alone photograph, one of these antelopes.
The Okavango Delta is renowned for its bird life and is a mecca for bird-watchers. Some 450 species have been recorded in the delta and the birding is always good. It is at its best from November to March when migratory species descend there from the northern hemisphere. The peak breeding time is October to December. Species of special interest include:
For sheer seductive beauty (encompassing 20% of the Okavango Delta, clear flowing channels, lagoons, floodplains, grasslands and vast forests) Moremi comes out tops – anywhere in Africa.
This is a real gem of a park with wonderful viewing of a whole range of big game species: lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, many antelope species, buffaloes, hippos, to name some of them.
Small mammals and birds abound, too.
This 52 150 km² game reserve is the largest in Africa (nearly six times bigger than Yellowstone National Park in the USA) and covers a massive portion of the classic dry Kalahari semi-desert. There is no permanent water here, and thus no elephants, buffaloes, and other water-dependent creatures; but there are lions and other large predators, including Brown Hyaenas, and other desert specialists like Bat-eared Foxes, oryxes (gemsboks), hartebeests, springboks, ostriches….
Fossil river beds, endless Kalahari scrub and grassland, pockets of stunted acacias, sandy tracks, the call of barking geckos mingling with the evocative, wavering cries of jackals at nightfall – all these will be indelibly imprinted on your mind after a safari to the supreme wilderness that is the central Kalahari.
We can arrange lodge-based and camping trips to this destination.
These, the world’s biggest salt pans, are made up of two giant pans, Ntwetwe and Sowa. There is not much game in and around the pans, but bird life, following rains, can be spectacular. At Sowa, subject to sufficient rainfall, tens of thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingos breed in the shallow waters in the early part of the year.
A good place to observe these flamingos and other aquatic species such as pelicans, ducks, geese and waders, is from Nata Sanctuary at the northern end of Sowa Pan. Access to the hide in the sanctuary may be impossible in the rainy season.
This park has recently been created by the amalgamation of two adjoining sanctuaries, the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. The two parks are now run as one entity. The Botswana side, utterly remote, larger and less developed, covers an area of 28 400 km². This very dry area is notable for its red Kalahari sand dunes, seasonal grasses and thornveld. In this immense wilderness, relatively seldom visited, the best game viewing is probably between January and April when you can expect to see, amongst other animals, desert-adapted antelopes (gemsbok, springbok and eland), lion cheetah and jackal, and, with luck, in the evening or early morning, Brown Hyaena, Bat-eared Fox and leopard.
We retain the long-established and better known name "Kalahari" in favour of its more recent (and less employed) rendition as "Kgalagadi".
There are chalets and a campsite on the South African side and basic camping facilities on the Botswana side of the park.
The area is famous, too, for its prides of lions, herds of Cape Buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, varied antelope species … and for supporting the country’s richest bird life.
The only place in southern Africa where the Puku antelope occurs is along the northern stretches of the Chobe River.
Game drives are highly productive and a boat trip, especially in the late afternoon, is a must.
There is no better game viewing by boat anywhere in the world than along the Chobe River in the dry season.
The world-famous Victoria Falls, one of the planet's grandest natural spectacles of all, are only an hour and a half’s drive from the town of Kasane at the northern edge of the park. Day trips to the Falls can easily be arranged. If you are staying in the north Chobe/Kasane area, don’t miss out on this chance to see one of the “seven wonders of the natural world”.
At the Falls you can visit the crocodile farm, bungi-jump over the historic bridge (around 100 m!), do white-water rafting down the Zambezi rapids below the Falls (judged to be the finest one-day white-water run available anywhere), ride on elephants or horses, fly over the Falls in a fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter or even in a microlight. You may want to relive the grand old days a bit and take High Tea at Africa’s grandest colonial Hotel, the Edwardian-style Victoria Falls Hotel.
This park (5060 km²) is a vast area of open plains and scrub country in the northern part of the great Kalahari sand basin. From shortly after the first rains (Nov/Dec) to May, large herds of game – springboks, zebras, wildebeests – stand out in relief against the flat or gently rolling landscape. These attract lions and other large predators. Various creatures seek refuge and shade in the many “tree islands” that dot the landscape. The park borders the great Makgadikgadi salt pans (the largest of their kind in the world). These pans are the remnant of a huge lake that covered a large part of northern Botswana thousands of years ago. Now they are mostly dry, but in years of good rainfall will hold water in certain places, thereby attracting great numbers of aquatic bird species.
There are Government campsites in the park and lodge accommodation not far from its boundary.
A group of giant, prehistoric trees – baobabs - attract many visitors here. They were painted by explorer-artist Thomas Baines in 1862 and are most picturesque, overlooking Kudiakam Pan, usually dry, but holding water after good rains. They are known as Baines’ Baobabs.
There is a new lodge close to Nxai Pan. There are campsites near the waterhole and at Baines’ Baobabs.
Green antelopes represent some private nature reserves and prime wildlife consessions.
Blue bird marks the Nata Sanctuary - in some years incredible birding spectacle on the salt pans, breeding of thousands of flamingo and great variety of other species.
Accommodation in and adjacent to the Chobe National Park varies from luxury lodges (President Clinton stayed in one of these during his 1998 safari) to more simple, but comfortable, hotels/lodges/camps.
Fishing and mokoro (canoe) trips can be organised in the river.
The beauty of the delta is legendary:
this is one of Africa’s most enchanting places, a huge oasis set in the desert.
-White-backed Night-Heron -Yellow-billed and Saddle-billed Storks -African Pygmy Goose (world’s smallest duck) -Western Banded Snake-Eagle -Hobby -Greater Painted Snipe -African Skimmer -African Mourning Dove -Coppery-tailed Coucal -Pel’s Fishing Owl -Giant Kingfisher -Carmine Bee-eater -Southern Ground Hornbill -Bradfield’s Hornbill -African Golden Oriole -Black-faced Babbler -Greater Swamp Warbler -Chirping Cisticola -Rosy-throated Longclaw -Swamp Boubou -Paradise Flycatcher -Brown Firefinch
The ability to glide amongst game in a mokoro is one of the great naturalist experiences, as are the guided game walks on islands.
The lush aquatic scenery, contrasting with the surrounding dry Kalahari bushveld, the wildlife, the ebb and flow of the flood, the sheer uniqueness of the Delta make it one of the planet’s special places.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
One of the smaller game reserves of Botswana (2550 km²) typified by gently rolling Kalahari savanna and pans. Wildlife here is somewhat seasonal, and depends on rainfall – hence the best months for game are usually December to March. Dry-country antelopes, lion, leopard and cheetah may be seen in Khutse which adjoins the southern part of the immense Central Kalahari Game Reserve. There are simple Government campsites in Khutse.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Kalahari Transfrontier Park
The former Mabuasehube Game Reserve is now part of the Kalahari Transfrontier National Park. A network of pans, holding water for some months after good rains, gives this area a special aspect, and game viewing in the rainy season can be good, with a variety of antelope species, lions and Brown Hyaena.
Moremi is served by several private lodges and also has basic government-run campsites. The centre of game-viewing activity is at Xakanaxa in the west side of the mainland section of the reserve, and at Khwai in the northeast. This reserve is a favourite of many people. Being relatively small, it is easy to assimilate. Boat trips along the Okavango Delta’s waterways can be undertaken from Xakanaxa and Mboma and are highly rewarding.
In the southern section is a rocky ridge, an island studded with baobabs, and surrounded by an endless, featureless, flat “panscape”. This island, known as Kubu (Lekhubu) has a unique atmosphere that touches everyone who is intrepid enough to visit it (travelling across the pan by 4x4). There are archaeological remains on the island, notably a stone wall which may be two or three hundred years old.
Bona safari services can arrange a camping expedition to this magical spot, truly in the middle of nowhere.
(2490 km²). Now integrated with Makgadikgadi Pans N.P. , this park can provide great game viewing at certain times of the year, especially after good rains during the period December to early April. Then you may see herds of springbok, impala, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, eland, giraffes, elephants … and their attendant predators, lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs. The charming Bat-eared Foxes are a fairly common feature of Nxai Pan.
In the dry season the game disperses, though there are always hangers-on because during this time the Wildlife Department pumps water into one waterhole. A pride of lions resides near the waterhole waiting to ambush game that comes to it to drink. There is a good chance of seeing a lion kill here in the morning; you just need to wait patiently by the waterhole. Only bull elephants displace these lions at the water….
Nxai Pan has depressions which fill up after rains, at which time the whole area greens up. Like most of northern Botswana the landscape is flat with numerous stands of acacias and patches of mopane trees.
The famous IMAX film "Roar" abot lions was filmed almost entirely at Nxai Pan by Tim Liversedge.
On the left you can see a male lion walking between springboks and zebras.
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(Google map of the Okavango Delta - here) (Google map of the Okavango Delta - here) (Google map of the Okavango Delta - here)