Botswana as the safari destination
I’m not a big fan of safaris if I’m completely honest. It’s simply because I have a hard time sitting in a car for 7-8 hours a day – I feel bad after only a 3 hour drive. But Botswana… Botswana is really a whole different story!
I really had the most beautiful safari trip in Botswana so far. This time my good friend Felix accompanied me; he really wanted to do it.
I was very hesitant, because Botswana is the most expensive safari destination. Anyone who is more interested in this can simply contact me. We were just lucky that because of Covid the safari trip only cost half of the normal price.
You have to know that Botswana’s government is pursuing a “high quality/low impact” strategy. It means that a vacation to Botswana is expensive, but your safari experience can hardly be surpassed: a fascinating animal world and enormous variety all in one country!
Gaborone – Capital of Botswana
When I arrived in Gaborone, I immediately made friends with many locals. I felt very safe in the city and most of the time I walked from A to B whenever I could. In fact, I felt so safe that I jogged about 10 km around town every morning in Gaborone. As far as I know, Botswana is also one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa.
However, Covid also left its mark on the country economically and locals told me it got a bit more dangerous (even though my impression was very different from their warnings). I didn’t do much when I was in the capital, and hitchhiked a number of times in Botswana and felt very comfortable.
Maun – Gate of the safari tours
Maun is a small town in northern Botswana. It’s the jumping point for the beautiful and most incredible inland Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush wildlife habitat during the seasonal floods. And of course there is the Moremi Game Reserve, which is home to many wildlife animals like hippos, leopards, lions – you name it. The Delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is a massive inland delta located in the Kalahari Desert. The most fascinating fact to me is that the delta is formed by a river in a tectonic trough of the desert. It is basically an endorheic basin, in which water transpires and evaporates. The delta is covered by swampland vegetation and is inhabited by numerous colorful birds, phenomenal reptiles, interesting amphibians, beautiful fish and of course different mammals.
As I mentioned above I was very reluctant to board on this safari trip because the price was so much higher than what I paid back in Tanzania. But at the end of the trip I do not regret a single penny I spent on this trip.
Mobile tented safaris
Botswana is well known among safari lovers as Africa’s wildlife and wetland wonderland. The safari company we went with told us the British royal family came there quite often when Prince William and Prince Harry were young.
New to me were the mobile tented safaris. A mobile safari visits different areas but keeps the same guide and crew. This means if you move to a new area, the crew will go first and build the mobile tents, even with a toilet, which they make by digging a hole on the ground and then building your sitting toilet above the hole.
We saw so much wildlife. Listening to crickets and the hippos at nights, hyenas and lions roaring next to the camp fire. Starry nights above you. Elephants and zebras wandering near our camp. Fresh, tasty food cooked over a firepit, which gives you the feeling of being on a scout trip.
Our guide, Moagi, had an affinity and deep respect for nature that is extremely infectious. He had so much knowledge about wildlife and I can confidently assure you that he was the best wildlife guide I ever met. We bonded during the whole safari and had deep talks at night wrapped up in the most beautiful and authentic personal wilderness experience I’d had.
Morning and evening game drive
Every day we had a morning drive to see the sunrise and the animals hunting – or at least trying to. We’d come back at noon for a break before going out for another evening sunset drive. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were cooked by the kitchen crew.
We arrived during the luscious season at Okavango Delta. Our vehicle was crossing rivers and Moagi was such a good driver! Felix and I swore we could have never driven this safari by ourselves. The muddy roads were so dangerous, I am sure even a very experienced driver might have got stuck in these conditions. I did not have any expectations on the trip. Why? Because we were in nature! Seriously, there are a million other things that can go wrong on a journey in nature, so having a good attitude on the safari is always important.
Moagi asked me which animal I would love to spot on our trip. I did mention I wanted to see leopards but I told him it is what it is. Whatever we got to see, I’d be happy.
But then we saw quite a few leopards. A young leopard and another beautiful one sitting on the tree at sunset. I was just amazingly stunned by their gracious beauty. We were also extremely lucky to see wild dogs hunting!! I will share with you many pictures in this post which I think do not do justice to the real beauty of our safari trip in Botswana!
Another thing which surprised me is how well-nourished the animals look compared to those I saw in Tanzania and later at Masai Mara in Kenya.
Mokoro Boat on the banks of the Okavango Delta
We took one Mokoro Boat trip in the Okavango Delta. You may ask, what is a Mokoro? The answer: a 20-foot canoe with edges at the bow and stern. Usually it can only carry two people and the “driver”. So we took a Mokoro boat trip one morning and glided through the maze of channels while enjoying the beauty of the seasonal birds and water plants in the delta.
Random Fascinating Facts about Botswana
I would like to share with you facts I thought were fascinating when I talked with Moagi about Botswana, its nature and people. I admit some of them I had to look up if they are true but here we go:
- Botswana has Africa’s highest concentration of elephants. The best place to see them is in Chobe National Park.
- The semi-arid sandy savanna of the Kalahari Desert occupies over 70% of Botswana’s total area, and the Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the largest salt pans in the world.
- Rain in Setswana is “Pula”, and since it rarely rains in Botswana it is considered to be a blessing. And guess what the name of their currency is? “Botswana Pula”!
Also due to climate change droughts have become more severe in the past 5 years and are affecting most people’s lives in a negative way (I can’t imagine how it could be in a positive way, to be honest). The inhabitants of Botswana call themselves ‘Batswana’; in the singular it is “Motswana”. I always found it interesting how people in Botswana always end most of their sentences with “Eeeeeeh”, which I’ve heard from hardly any other countries.
- More than one third of the territory is protected as National Parks, reserves or sanctuaries.
- The country has one of the most beautiful sunsets in Africa during my stay on the continent in 2021.
- Mopane worms are a delicacy in Botswana, but I haven’t tried and I don’t think I would. But I recently read an article that said that insects and worms are among future alternatives when food consumption becomes more difficult for people around the world.
- Botswana is the world’s second-largest diamond producer.
Please sit with us
Anyone who has met me privately or is friends with me also knows that I am open and honest with different people of all cultures.
And no matter where I go, it is important to me to understand people, traditions and cultures. No matter where I am, I love making deep friendships with people, or at least one or two in the country. I like to share a meal with them, to get to know their families and understand their different life stories. All of this is more important to me than any money in this world. I firmly believe that world peace can only be achieved with understanding, tolerance and compassion for others.
Travel to learn to feel and to understand
And I love to travel, but even more I love to be in nature and to better understand the different ways of life and traditions of the people around me. As I see myself as a global citizen and always will be. What I am writing here is truly who I am and I don’t want to change that.
That’s why on my safari, I asked our cook and the whole kitchen team every day whether they would join me for dinner. Anyone who has seen me on my travels, especially on tours, knows that I like to talk to the crew and help them with cooking or other chores.
I insisted, but the crew always refused until the very last evening. Otherwise only Moagi, Felix and I would have eaten together. During dinner time I asked them if they had ever dined with any of their guests on the tours, and they very quietly said “no”. I was surprised to hear it, but it gave us all a more special and meaningful last evening together.
Moagi and Felix, if you’re reading this: I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the last beautiful evening on our safari trip with the whole crew and the breathtaking sunset. That will stay in my memory for a lifetime!
I traveled further to Kasane to cross the border to Zimbabwe in order to visit Victoria Falls. From Kasane you can also visit Chobe National Park to see the huge African elephant population.
Walking around town we got stopped a few times by locals who warned us about attacks from buffalos and lions. The first time I refused their help and kept walking. But when the third car stopped and begged us to not walk around, I gave up my on-foot exploration of the city and let the car drive me back to my hotel.
The day I exited Botswana, I hitchhiked to the border with Zimbabwe. I argued and discussed with the immigration officers at the Zimbabwean border for more than an hour just to reenter Botswana. Felix was totally annoyed by the officers, but I liked them. I knew that the country has been ravaged by one of the worst hyperinflations in human history, but my first impression of Zimbabwe was that the people were so kind and extremely funny! Therefore, I promised to myself that one day I would visit Zimbabwe, once the Covid entry restrictions for foreigners were lifted. Eventually few months later I did visit Zimbabwe, and no, I did not bribe the officers at the border as Felix suggested!
I changed my plan to: Zambia!
Do you want to experience an adventurous border crossing? Then cross the Zambezi to Zambia on the Kazungula Ferry. With its 150m length, it is the shortest border in the world and kind of cute haha.
Read in the next story why I deeply fell in love with Zambia and its people that I even teared up when I left the country (which rarely happens).
Ke a leboga Botswana!