I love going to properly run zoos and aquariums. That being said, nothing compares to seeing an animal in its natural habitat. But seeing a wild elephant on the Prairies of Canada is incredibly unlikely. That’s one of the reasons Botswana is on my travel bucket list.
There are few places in the world with the level of biodiversity that Botswana has. It has numerous parks and preserves designed to protect its wide range of wildlife. This is the place to not only spot the big five but so many other animals that make Africa what it is.
Heading out on safari
Many people seem to be caught off guard by Botswana being on the top of a lot of African animal tourism lists these days. Traditionally, countries like Kenya, Malawi, and Namibia usually pick up that kind of honor. As they say, things change.
For years, Botswana has employed an impressively aggressive approach to maintaining its valuable biodiversity. As of 2014, there is no commercial hunting in the country and there’s a standing shoot-to-kill order for poachers. Wildlife is serious business.
All of this has started to pay off with safaris in this country being some of the best in Africa. There are absolutely no guarantees as to what you will or won’t see, but experiencing the big five in the wild is quite likely here. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial wildlife iceberg.
The range of life to be seen in this country is absurd. In addition to having the world’s largest concentration of elephants, it’s also home to one of the few remaining large populations of endangered African wild dogs. Plus, it’s a haven for birders.
Location, location, location
Keeping in mind that a good portion of the country is desert, the remaining amount of Botswana has largely been devoted to various sanctuaries, parks, and reserves. There are a lot of spots to choose from and all of them have their own draws.
Chobe National Park is high on my list due to the large numbers and diverse range of wildlife in it. But I also want to check out Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai National Park, and Khutse Game Reserve.
Also on the itinerary is checking out the Okavango Delta, a swampy inland semi-forested area teeming with life. Unfortunately, over-grazing is causing the Delta to dry up but there is work in progress to mitigate that issue.
For obvious reasons, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a priority. Moremi Game Reserve, the Nata Bird Sanctuary, and Gaborone Game Reserve have reputations as great stops for birding. Honestly, there’s just too much for me to choose from, though I know choices will have to be made.
Botswana just seems amazing
Nowhere is perfect. But from the outside looking in, Botswana seems like a really great place to visit. Well, unless you’re a poacher. They really, really don’t seem to like poachers there. Fortunately, the only shooting I plan on doing is with my camera.
But I also want to see more of Africa. There are more countries to visit, each one with something different to offer. I don’t consider Botswana to be a “starter country” when visiting this diverse continent at all. At the same time, it also feels like the right place to start my journey.
There are so many spots in Africa that need to be visited. Marrakesh has a mysterious allure. Luxor is at the core of history. And Nairobi looks like an incredible city. But I want to start my time in Africa in Botswana as it’s one country I would be upset to miss out on.
It is one of those places that I just feel drawn to. Africa as a whole is an overall draw but Botswana in particular is somewhere I want to spend time. And hopefully, I’ll get to see some of the greatest wildlife the world has to offer while I’m there.