Botswana is not just a pit stop on the Amazing Race — although it’s chances for adventure travel are just as exciting. Boasting wildlife spectacles to rival the Lion King, Botswana is the place to go for an authentic adventure travel experience. Whether you’re driving through the Kalahari Desert or floating a boat down the Okavango Delta, this colorful country offers front row seats to nature’s bounty. And best of all: You are more likely to see a lion than a fellow traveler! So, roar into top gear of your adrenaline meter and hop on down to one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. Find your next great story on adventure travel programs in Botswana!
Landlocked, Botswana may seem like it is mostly desert, but there are attractions on different ends of the spectrum. Animals roam free and nature extends into golden horizons. Here, nature does not simply survive; it thrives and has any nature enthusiast foaming at the mouth.
Africa’s fastest growing city and Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, is a sprawling urban center. As much as the rest of Botswana is nature in its prime, Gaborone is a modern city with no tribal ties. However, despite its busy activity, it is relatively tranquil, offers more transportation options than there are antelopes in the savannah, and serves as a stable base for most nature excursions.
Most of Botswana is covered by the Kalahari Desert. Dry riverbeds from long ago turn into standing pools during rain season, but the sun reigns over this region most of the year. Nonetheless, a variety of flora and fauna, as well as Bushman tribes, call the desert home. Explore the Gcwihaba Caves and Aha Hills by navigating underground labyrinths decorated with stalagmite and stalactite formations.
Perhaps one of the best places to see wonders during adventures in Botswana is the Okavango Delta. Water and greenery are not the first things that pop into mind when one thinks of Africa, yet that’s exactly what greets adrenaline junkies here. To get to the largest inland delta of the world, hop into a dugout canoe (mokoros) and weave your way through hippo herds and elephant families. Spend the night on one of the delta’s many islands, many of which have so much salt on them that no trees can grow there except for palm trees!
If you want more pachyderms in your life, skip on over to Chobe National Park. This reserve has one of the largest game concentrations in Africa and covers three iconic wildlife areas: the Chobe riverfront, the newly accessible Okavango-like linyanti marshes, and remote Savuti.
The Moremi Game Reserve, as one the most beautiful reserves in the world, was created out of concern for the depletion of wildlife due to hunting and poaching. It’s protected under law and boasts conservation significance. It’s home to diverse ecosystems: woodlands, dry savannahs, grasslands, floodplains, marshes, waterways, lagoons, and islands.
Adventure Travel in Botswana
Comprised of more animals than people, Botswana has plenty of wild ways to entice and thrill. Whether you’re into wildlife or landscape, the opportunities for goosebumps are many under the African sun.
Travel in Botswana by going on safaris. There are many ways to watch and interact with animals without endangering them (and yourself): by land, water, or air. A lot of programs offer guided safaris, be it in a vehicle or on horseback. Indulge in a photographic safari by shooting (with a camera; poaching is illegal) all sorts of animals as you drive past.
There’s also the option to take a river cruise down Chobi, floating among crocs and ‘pos. Experience a mokoro ride; these dug-out canoes might seem like a rather flimsy contraptions at first, but they allow for the ultimate bonding experience with nature and intimate wildlife observation opportunities. If you’re comfortable with paddling, you can even take a kayak out on your own. Just remember not to feed crocodiles on the way!
If you’d rather have a lordly view over the myriad wildlife, take a plane ride over the plains and the delta. Alternatively, take an eco tour around the country and indulge in the wonders that nature has to offer. Interact with the Bushman to learn the ancient way of living off the land and pick up some traditional cooking tips.
The best time to find adventure travel programs in Botswana is during the dry season or winter; remember that the Okavango floods from June to October. The roads are highly dependent on the weather and necessary precautions need to be taken as to avoid being stranded.
Costs & Affordability
While Botswana itself is a relatively poor country and the cost of independent living is minimal, organized adventure activities can add up quite a bit. Balance tours out with local living, and make sure that the price tag is going to a good cause!
Daily expenses while traveling in Botswana are not expensive. A meal out at a restaurant costs about $5, and there are many market options that add up to less (and are loaded with even more flavor!). Transportation across town can be paid with a quarter, and sleeping arrangements in a hostel or low-key hotel can be found for less than $10. However, there’s something for everyone. If, at the end of the day, you’ve had your share of bugs and cold water, there’s fancy restaurants and luxurious villas that cost and offer more.
You might think that looking at a few animals won’t stretch your pocket, but it very much can. Accommodations, mobile safaris, and helicopter rides can set you back several hundred dollars. Make sure to check all that is included: many adventure travel programs in Botswana include transportation, food, and accommodation in the final price. If you have a very low budget, you might want to travel between the months of December and March. Many organizations use the money to fund conservation projects or aid traditional tribes; make sure that your tour is ethical and its attention is dedicated to the right place.
If costs are a major concern, you might be interested in making use of crowdsourcing fundraising sites such as FundMyTravel. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Accommodation & Visas
Although Botswana is a not a developed tourist destination, there is an increasing amount of accommodation options that fit any kind of interest and budget. Do your research before setting off, clear all expectations, and then dig in!
For the true safari experience, you might like to drive by yourself and stay at public campsites. After all, as a fearless adventure traveler, the concept of sleeping under millions of balls of gas, with the growl of lions far-off (or not so far-off…) on the horizon should be a pretty good selling point. For those that prefer comfort, stay at one of the hotels or luxury lodges. There are also cheap guesthouses and safari camps available.
Travelers from the US do not require a visa to travel in Botswana; travelers from other destination can check if they are on the visa-waiver list. Further information can be found in GoAbroad’s Embassy directory. Make sure to check current health notices as well, although it’s always a good idea to bring extra bug spray into the wild.
Benefits & Challenges
With wildlife aplenty and ecosystems that’s incredibly varied, Botswana provides safari experiences like none other. Between lions stalking the plains, leopards hanging out in trees, and antelopes skipping around, the chance for wildlife encounters is aplenty.
Be warned: if you are on a self-drive safari, don’t get stranded. Gas stations may not be available between cities, so make sure to stock up on all necessities and amenities. Stay aware of your surroundings and routes! Know the rules for animal interaction, respect game reserve rules, and always have a backup travel route planned.
As much as the cities of Botswana have caught up with the modern world with increasingly fast developments and a stable economy, the true treasure of adventures in Botswana is the land of pristine wilderness and thriving wildlife. Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, a thrill seeker, or a casual camper, the beauty and variety of Botswana will leave you breathless.