The 10 Best Places to Visit in Botswana
Botswana is one of the most popular countries for travellers visiting the African continent. With incredible national parks, all of the famous big five animals and a diverse mix of scenery that ranges between desolate salt pans and marshy wetland, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a lot of the natural landscapes that Africa is famous for and with everything from river cruises to walking safaris.
At almost 600,000 square kilometres however, there’s a lot of Botswana to get around. Unless you’re planning on spending a month in the country (and honestly, you still might not get around everything) then your trip will probably focus on a couple of key tourist attractions.
To help you decide what to see in Botswana on your travels, here are ten of the best places to visit in the country.
1. Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is one of the most-visited places in Botswana by travellers who are looking for a wild Okavanga Delta tour experience of the African plains. Many people refer to it as the ‘jewel of the Kalahari’ because of the variety of wildlife and habitats found within over 2 million hectares of land that makes it the largest intact inland delta in the world.
Several critically endangered species live in the Okavango Delta, including the African wild dog, cheetah, white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros. It’s an incredibly popular part of the country to come on a safari to try and spot these animals and all of the others that make their homes across the wetland and grassland, particularly between July and September when many of these species migrate across the area. It’s one of the most beautiful and diverse natural spaces in all of Africa, and if you’re looking to explore the best of Botswana’s wilderness then there’s no better part of the county.
2. Moremi Game Reserve
Many people describe the Moremi Game Reserve as one of the most beautiful protected areas in the whole of Africa, making it high on most people’s lists of where to visit in Botswana. Spread across the centre and the eastern side of the Okavango Delta, the reserve was first set aside by the local BaTawana people in 1962 and maintained for many years so that the wildlife living here could flourish.
Despite the relatively small size of this game reserve, the density of different species is very impressive. Birdwatching is a common pastime for those visiting because of the hundreds of different types that live here, but all of Africa’s ‘big five’ can also be spotted on a safari along with other native animals like hippos, antelopes, giraffes and hyenas.
3. Makgadikgadi Pans
The Makgadikgadi Pans in Kalahari are the largest collection of salt pans in the world, making them a top Botswana tourist attraction. Formed by an ancient lake that has now dried up to nothing, the huge stretches of shimmering, crumbling ground stretch on for miles and offer an almost otherworldly experience of the landscape in the northeastern part of the country.
In the dry season, the Makgadikgadi Pans are deserted and barren, offering a perfectly flat surface to enjoy walking, quad biking or camping, as well as the chance to find fossils of the creatures that would have been living in the water millions of years ago. When the rains come the pans fill with water and attract zebras, wildebeest and flamingos as well as the creatures that live here all year round, so it’s a great place to come and watch groups migrating across the country.
4. Chobe National Park
Chobe is the second largest national park in Botswana, covering 10,700 square kilometres from the northern tip of the country right down to the edge of the Okavango Delta. If you’re looking for a place to visit in Botswana that will give you a glimpse into all of the natural habitats found in the country then this park is ideal containing four different eco-systems including rivers, flood plains, marshland, grasslands, savannah and woodland.
The Chobe River is a highlight of this area, running along the northern border of the national park and offering a fantastic route for a river cruise or safari between April and October when the dry season is in full swing and plenty of animals can be spotted at the water’s edge. In the southwest area of the park there’s Savuti, which is also often referred to as ‘The Kingdom of the Lion’ because of how many big cats live there and is great for private game viewings if you really want to see the king of the jungle in the wild. Chobe is most famous for its elephant and buffalo populations however, both of which can be spotted in their hundreds.
5. Central Kalahari Game Reserve
If you’re looking for top Botswana tourist attractions then the Central Kalahari Game Reserve comes high on the list. As the second-largest game reserve in the world at 52,800 square kilometres right in the middle of the country, it’s an incredibly remote place for a safari which is ideal if you’re looking to experience Botswana’s wildlife and scenery without bumping into any other travellers.
This part of the country is largely unpopulated, with most inhabitants either belonging to the private reserve camps or part of tribes of bushmen who have been living in the area and off the land for thousands of years. The reserve was originally created to protect a space where these people could continue their traditional way of life, and now only a small number of visitors are allowed into the park every year to preserve the landscape and maintain the natural balance of life.
6. Nxai Pan National Park
The Nxai Pan National Park is found just north of the larger Makgadikgadi Pans, offering a similar experience to the beautiful salt pans that were formed when a humongous lake dried up thousands of years ago. Whether you visit in the dry season, when the land crumbles underfoot and the baobab trees stand out against the endless stretches of landscape, or in the wet season when water pools across the pan and green vegetation springs up everywhere, it’s a really beautiful part of Botswana that should definitely be on your itinerary.
A highlight of this tourist attraction are the famous Baines Baobabs; seven huge baobab trees located right on the edge of the Kudiakam Pan in the national park that are over 20 meters tall and are thought to be over 1000 years old. If you’re coming to the country in the high season then the Nxai Pan National Park makes a great alternative to the Makgadikgadi Pans which can get quite busy in the popular months for a holiday.
7. Tsodilo Hills
One of the most iconic Botswana landmarks is the Tsodilo Hills; imposing rock formations which erupt out of the otherwise relatively flat landscape in northwest Kalahari. These hills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are often referred to as the ‘Louvre of the Desert’ because they are home to thousands of ancient cave paintings thought to have been on the stone for over 30,000 years.
There are cave paintings in over 200 locations around the Tsodilo Hills, so we recommend that you visit on a day when the weather isn’t overwhelmingly hot so that you can take your time wandering between the rock formations and piecing together the stories told by the artwork. This location is a place of spiritual significance to the local Hambukushu and San communities in the area who view it as a place of worship and as a place where their ancestors’ spirits live. If you’re looking for things to do in Botswana to learn more about the country’s culture, you should definitely take a trip here.
8. Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park used to be Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park and South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, before the two countries began a joint conservation effort and formed the world’s first Transfrontier Park. Located right in the north of Botswana, its remote location means that this is one of the country’s less popular national parks, but it’s well worth the effort to visit if you want to enjoy a truly wild expanse of protected land without lots of other visitors.
One of the things that Kgalagadi is most famous for is the red sand dunes and dry riverbeds that are home to hundreds of fossils showing the life that once lived in this huge expanse of desert and salt pans. The name of the park translates to ‘place of great thirst’, so expect a lot of dry and sparse and starkly beautiful landscape where lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas all roam.
9. Savuti National Park
If you’re looking for places in Botswana for a safari then Savuti National Park is one of the highest recommended destinations. Found right in the western corner of the Chobe National Park, it’s an area of around 5000 square kilometres that has plenty of safari accommodation options ranging from classic camps in the desert to luxurious lodges with their own hot tubs overlooking the plains.
One of the most famous parts of this national park is the Savuti Channel, which has a really interesting history. This thin stretch of the landscape has periodically flooded and dried up outside of the expected rainy seasons in Botswana, attracting many of Africa’s classic wildlife to come and drink or hunt beside the water and live in the empty area left behind.
10. Linyanti Wetlands
Many people refer to the Linyanti Wetlands as Botswana’s hidden gem, so if you’re looking for somewhere to visit in the country that is a little off-the-beaten-track, this is a brilliant option.
The wetlands are found between the Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, combining marshy wilderness with large areas of grassland which means you can enjoy the best of both worlds. The range of wildlife that lives in the Linyanti is brilliant, and many safari enthusiasts choose this location over all the others in Botswana because it provides such a diverse range of scenery and animals as well as being quiet all year round, allowing for a much more authentic experience of the country.
What is the capital of Botswana?
The capital city of Botswana is Gaborone, with a population of around 230,000. Gaborone is situated in the southeast corner of the country, 15km away from the border it Garborone shares with South Africa.
What is the currency of Botswana?
The currency used in Botswana is the Pula (BWP) which is represented by the symbol P. One Botswanan Pula is equal to 0.065 Pound sterling or 0.090 United States Dollars.
Where is Botswana situated?
Botswana is found in the southern half of the African continent, right in the centre between Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.