“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”
~ Karen Blixen ~
Botswana is probably one of the best safari destinations in the world. There are plenty of National Parks to choose from, however, my favorite one is Chobe National Park.
Botswana is known for its abundant wildlife and is home to the Big Five game animals including lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos and elephants. Amongst many other animals in Botswana are the giant Nile crocodiles, giraffes, antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, monkeys and baboons.
Botswana has four National Parks (Chobe, Gemsbok, Makgadikgadi Pans, and Nxai Pan). Chobe National Park has the world's largest population of African elephants! Over 120,000 elephants live there. The national animal of Botswana is the zebra and the national tree is the marula tree.
My top favorite attractions include the Tsodilo Hills, Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Interesting facts about Botswana:
1. Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa and borders with Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
2. The capital city is Gaborone (with population 289.221) and this is also the largest city of the country.
3. The country is one of the richest and most peaceful countries in Africa; it has a high standard of living, crime levels are incredibly low, and the country enjoys enduring and stable governments.
4. Botswana is home to about 2.6 million Tswana people.
5. The official language of Botswana is English, however, most people speak Setswana as home language.
6. The currency is called Botswana pula and one pula is divided into 100 thebe, which would be 0,075$. Interestingly, the term pula means 'rain' in English and as rain is scarce in the country is considered a blessing to have.
7. The climate of Botswana is semi-arid, there is a rainfall season from November to April, when some rain is expected especially in the northern regions.
8. The best time to visit Botswana is during the dry winter months of May to October when game viewing is at its peak. During these months, animals are concentrated at water sources.
9. Botswana is mostly flat with some hills in the eastern parts of the country.
10. The Tsodilo Hills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of rock art, rock shelters, and caves in southern Africa. One of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world, Tsodilo has been called the ''Louvre of the Desert''.
11. The Kalahari Desert covers 84% of the country.
12. Botswana is the second largest diamond producing country in the world - after Russia.
13. The main foods in Botswana are maize, sorghum and millet, as well as vegetables and fruit such as cowpeas, okra, marula or melons. Meat is eaten often, especially beef and chicken, as well as mutton.
14. The traditional dish of Botswana is called Seswaa. This is a slow cooked meat stew made over fire that only uses beef, mutton, chicken or lamb, onions and peppers as ingredients.
The motto of the country is: Pula! which means 'Let there be rain!
Tip: If you want to experience a different side of Chobe National Park, take a boat cruise down the river. Seeing the animals from the water is pretty cool and you can often get quite close without disturbing them.
14. Once you’re in Botswana, it is worth visiting the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most unique scenery in Africa.
15. There are lots of lodges in the area, some of which are on the islands deep inside the Delta, only reachable by plane or helicopter. But to travel more easily near lodges or if you’re camping, you can travel around by canoe or boat.
16. The Okavango Delta region also hosts two of my favourite safari destinations, Moremi Game Reserve and the Khwai Concession, which can be reached by road from Maun. You can also organize boat trips on the waterways from the lodges and campsites here.