How to Visit Botswana!

I am a budget traveler, but I have to tell you, we found out that to visit Botswana we would need to step out of that comfort zone.

Every child, young and old, wants to do a safari in Africa. It was our dream, and we realized it in five of the southern countries with most of our time spent in the stunning country of Botswana. We didn't just see the big five, we saw it all! Click here to see more animal shots and learn how to self-drive your own safari!................... boat tour | safari | cruise | boat safari | guide | things to do | african wildlife ~ReflectionsEnroute

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As we were preparing to plan for our trip, there was just too much to see and figure out.  I came across a great website, Drive Botswana, and gave them a call.

We really wanted to visit Botswana…

The conversation went something like this:
Me:  I would like a quote on a self-drive tour that possibly could include the entire country of  Botswana, seeing not only the Big 5 animals, but all of the others as well.  Oh, and I would like to keep this as inexpensive as possible.
Andy:  No problem, when would you like to come?
Me: In three weeks.
Andy: Choke! Wheeze!  Cough!  Three weeks!?  We’re normally starting this process at least a few months beforehand…but I’ll see what I can do (now that I’ve caught my breath).

Boy did Andy come through. The price, well let’s just say…not inexpensive, but, as the commercial goes, the experience was priceless! He had asked me to call him back a couple days later, then sent me a tentative itinerary. We worked out some of the kinks like my having to visit Tsodilo – the one and only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country, and voila! I was ecstatically embarking on  a trip of a lifetime to a new continent, new country, and an entire slew of new and exciting experiences. At this point, we trusted Andy with our entire trip. He set up our rental truck, accommodations, food, and some activities. When we were on site, the people there all knew Andy quite well and if there was a question of what was included or how to pay for something, they didn’t bat an eye. He is well-respected at all the places and we, in turn, received right royal treatment.

Botswana Elephants

Our itinerary went something like this:

Fly to Livingstone, Zambia to visit Victoria Falls. Wet, hard to photograph, funny bamboons, wet, beautiful birds, hilarious people, gorgeous, awe-inspiring…oh, and wet!

Andy then sent a hired van to pick us up, take us to the river crossing, then drop us off at Kubu Lodge in Kasane, Botswana at our first accommodations. There we picked up our truck and were basically on our own for the remainder of the trip. While in Kasane, we took an evening Chobe river cruise, something that I’d read mixed reviews about online. Therefore, I was a little apprehensive about it, but it turned out to be one of the best wildlife viewing excursions of the trip. We also drove through the next day, which in retrospect, I wish we had allotted more time for, because the abundance of wildlife was astounding. We even saw lions, albeit they were covered in dried blood and flies from eating their lunch, so they weren’t as majestic as I had imagined. I loved the camaraderie of the fellow drivers as we shared info on this sighting and that sighting.

Visit Botswana

From Kasane, we moved on to the Caprivi Strip in Namibia for only one night. Again this probably would require more time, but if you don’t have the time, don’t bother. The best part of the drive were the views, and the best view was from the customs house border crossing.

After our brief jaunt into Namibia, we got on to our main goal, visit Botswana, so off we drove to Seronga.  This was one of the most out-of-the-way, and hardest places to get to.  We had to try and get gas and then take a ferry over. Once there, we took a tour of the Okavango Delta in a mokoro. These squat, kakhi-colored boats convince you that you could not possibly be closer to the water. Our guide was a funny man that had lived in the delta his whole life and told us story after story about the people and animals found there. At one point, he took us to where a bloat of hippos liked to hang out. Apparently, he had made friends with one of the more curious females. He took his pole and slapped the water to call her, and she came to visit. A male, her male, the male…anyway this guy didn’t like her behavior and anytime he felt she was getting too close, he’d called her back. I don’t think his language is fit to print, but I have to admit, I didn’t really like her getting too close either. I was just as happy that he kept her back where she belonged, safely out of our reach, or more truthfully, we were out of her reach!

Visit Botswana

The next day we were headed for a camp way out in the bush. At this camp, we could do another delta boat ride, or drive to Tsodilo. Because this World Heritage Site is so far off the beaten track, we only saw one other group the entire day. The San people that run the site and museum were friendly and knowledgeable. I asked question after question, and our guide was more than happy to answer. The area driving up to the site is flat and dusty, but the Tsodilo hills appear and you can see why it became such a spiritual spot for the San. Here, where it has been inhabited for over 30,000 years, you can see tons of rock paintings.

Our next stop was Mankwe Lodge. Talk about luxurious! I think this ranks up there as one of the most exotically pampering places in all of our travels. Needless to say, we loved it, and we loved the camp director, Christopher. Around the campfire that night, he regaled us with stories about everything from leopard encounters to his stint in the British SAS somewhere in Indonesia. While there we also had a couple of guided safaris, one at night and one in the daytime. Then upon leaving, we drove ourselves through the reserve.

Visit Botswana

One of the final things we did was stay at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. We were looking forward to this stop, because we had only seen one rhino before this, and were anxious to have a better look at them. We were more than rewarded when right away we sighted a female white rhino and her calf. This was really our last stop in Botswana, we had driven and driven and driven, so even though we took a couple rides on the tracks, we also spent an entire day at one of the pans. It was like watching the live version of the “Lion King”. Taking turns, all different kinds of animals came to the pan to drink. If the previous slurpers weren’t quite finished, the next ones would wait quietly in the brush until the pan was vacated. Other drivers came up and saw us there, asked us what we had seen, waited for a few minutes, then left without seeing much. In one day, we saw so much wildlife, our Botswana dreams had come true. Amazing! It was a great goodbye to this beautiful country.

Ok, so the question is, what animals did we see? This is not a comprehensive list, but here goes:  elephants, giraffes, rhinos, lions, crocodiles, antelopes galore (everything from bushbuck to kudu), a myriad of birds (bee-eaters to fish eagles), buffalo, mongoose, warthogs, wildebeest, water buffalo, ostriches, hippos, and zebras.

This was a fantastic mix of following the trusted route that Andy set up for us, having wonderful accommodation along the way, and yet being able to spend more or less time, depending on our own style, wants, and needs. All we had to do is show up in our safari gear, so we just followed this list and we were set. We loved it. We can’t wait to go back. Botswana, for me, ranks up there as one of my favorite trips…ever!

Would you like to visit Botswana?  Have you? Got any tips?

Pin it for later!

Every child, young and old, wants to do a safari in Africa. It was our dream, and we realized it in five of the southern countries with most of our time spent in the stunning country of Botswana. We didn't just see the big five, we saw it all! Click here to see more animal shots and learn how to self-drive your own safari!................... boat tour | safari | cruise | boat safari | guide | things to do | african wildlife ~ReflectionsEnroute

25 Comments

  1. Hi! I would like to swap links with your site. My blog is http://www.travelocafe.com. I’ve already added you under my “Links” section on my page. Please send me the description you favor for your site. Thank you!
    I’m also looking for guest bloggers. Please let me know if you’d be interested in being featured on Travelocafe.
    Regards, Laura

    1. Laura, Thanks for your comment. I’ll add you right now. I would certainly be a guest blogger at some point. Have a great August! Corinne

  2. Corinne,
    Nice article. I have a blog focused on safari travel with emphasis on Chobe NP and Botswana call http://www.ChobeSafri.com. I would love to add your story to the the travel experience articles at my site and also include your images. Of course I would give full copyright recognition to your text and photos to you. I usually also include a short bio of the author. If interested, send me an email at [email protected].

    BTW, I always stay at Kubu Lodge when in Kasane. I have found it’s a great value and nicely located relative to the river, town and the pak.

  3. One more comment: I usually rent my vehicle in Jo’berg. I use Bushlore as I find their vehicles have been equipped and maintained well for the bush. I prefer the Toyota HiLux and theirs has an extended range fuel tank. They also allow pick-up in Bots, but at a cost.

    We drive to the Nata area on day 1 and spend the night. A great and thrilling choice is Elephant Sands which has camping as well as chalets. There is a water hole next to the lodge so the entire camp encounters elephants and other animals through the evening. It’s great to sit near the boma, look at the zillion stars above and watch the ellies emerge from the bush to the water.

    Buddy

  4. Buddy, Thanks for your comments and the hints on where to rent vehicles. It is by far the best way to see southern Africa. I love your website. Chobe is one of my all-time favorite destinations.

    1. Jennifer, I think with kids, self-drive is the way to go. In group safari trucks you will be with other folks and you won’t be able to stop, play, etc. as much. I say yes!

  5. This sounds like an epic Botswana trip, everything you did, all the animals you saw, and this Andy guy sounds like a champ 🙂 Botswana is on our bucketlist for sure!

  6. Looks like an amazing journey, and I think that if you were looking for a place to splurge, you picked the right one! We are so anxious to do some proper safari’s but with a 5 year old and a 2 year old in tow, we need to wait until they can properly be quiet and not scare away all the game 🙂

    1. Kevin, I agree with you. It is about being quiet and patient. One day we sat in one place for hours. It paid off viewing-wise, but would have been super boring for small ones.

  7. That is quite an impressive list of animals you saw. Sounds like an amazing trip. I am not sure I would be comfortable driving there, but I am glad you were. (Oh, and I giggled at your Priceless comment, as I am not writing for that campaign.)

  8. I’ve only visited Gaborone many years ago. Keen to see more of Botswana. Also, keen to see Gaborone again with more grown-up eyes (and after having read about Mma Ramotswe 🙂 )

  9. Good to know that you need to plan this sort of thing ahead of time! I’m a last minute traveler – glad Andy was able to plan everything for you with a short turnaround time! Also your photos and animal list is seriously impressive! I want to make it over there as soon as I can!

  10. What an adventure doing a self drive! This post makes me nostalgic for Africa, even though I have never visited Botswana. I would love to do the Chobe and am glad to hear you enjoyed it depsite the mixed reviews! I’m hoping to take a more extensive trip across Southern and Eastern Africa in the not too distant future so will certainly PIN this for future reference!

  11. Wow! Everytime I read an article about a country I am unfamiliar with, I always immediately want to go. It sounds like Botswana is an incredible country to visit. Thanks for sharing your itinerary.

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