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Why Botswana is the perfect luxury safari experience

A diversity of wildlife, landscapes and luxury lodges is what makes Botswana such a special destination. Also, it is amongst the most stable of African countries and has imposed tight controls on its huge, natural national parks. These controls are vital to protect its safari-based tourism and guarantee a good, mainly upmarket, experience for its visitors.

The largest game park in Botswana, the Chobe National Park incorporates two very different territories, the lush vegetation beside the Chobe River that flows through the northern part of its 11,000 square kilometres and the often arid Savute region to the west. Bordering this national park is the famous Okavango Delta where the popular Nxamersi Island is situated in the middle of its multitudinous channels. A variety of transportation here, safari jeeps, biplanes, helicopters, boats and the traditional mokoro add a dash of adventure to a holiday in this country.

Chobe National Park is home to thousands of elephants. During the rainy season large herds roam the two main areas of this game reserve, the northern area bordered by the Chobe River and the Savute area further south. As the Chobe River provides a constant source of water throughout the year the population of wildlife increases during the dry season as the rivers and water holes of Savute dry up. Prides of lions, large herds of elephants and huge groups of baboons are a regular sight here whether exploring in a jeep or cruising along the river. Snouts of the many crocodiles resident here pepper the waters of the Chobe River and hippos snooze in riverside pools. The great variety of wildlife here also includes the giraffe, zebra, jackal, warthog, kudu, impala and buffalo.

Chobe Game Lodge, on the banks of the Chobe River, is the only lodge inside this national park. Legislation forbids the construction of lodges inside the park but this lodge was there before the area became a designated national park. Staying in this five star lodge has the advantage of early morning game drives in one of its eleven safari jeeps before anyone else can gain entry before the park opens. Guests can also partake in the excellent sunrise and sunset cruises along the Chobe River. Offering a variety of accommodation in sixty-eight rooms and conveniently close to Kasane Airport this lodge is the ideal place to start a safari in Botswana.

The vastness of the Chobe National Park entails a flight to the Savute area which also boasts a river – when it chooses to flow. Savute Marsh relies on the waters of the Savute Channel to support the wildlife here. But this source of life-giving water is unpredictable and has been known to disappear completely when the marsh dries up. After receding in the early 1980s it re-appeared in 2009 and the marsh was restored. Nevertheless, thanks to its permanent waterholes this area is good for game viewing. In particular, Savute is home to a large pack of wild dogs, often seen sleeping in the shade of the trees around the den, home to the dominant female.

Twenty-four-hour game viewing is a feature of the Savute Safari Lodge. This lovely lodge was completely re-built in 2024 and its twelve lodges form a crescent around a section of the Savute Channel. These individual lodges, constructed in wood and thatch, include a private outdoor shower and temperature control for the hot, summer months. In the centre of the crescent of lodges the dining area features a viewing platform on two levels looking out over the waters of the Savute Channel. Large herds of elephants come here to drink and once they have moved on impala, kudu and nervous giraffes may take their place.

The incredible channels and wetlands of the Okavango Delta offer a completely different safari experience. A short flight begins the journey to the solid ground of Nxamersi Island. This is followed by a land transfer to the banks of the delta and boat journey through the channels of the Okavango Delta. The magic of the delta begins here – gliding through the Pan Handle Channel, reeds on one side, papyrus on the other and exquisite water lilies floating between the two guarantees an enchanting experience.

Brilliant plumage of beautiful birds including the Lilac Breasted Roller, Malachite Kingfisher and Little Bee-eater contrasts with the stark white feathering of pond herons and egrets plus the majestic African fish eagle. The possibility that a hippo or an elephant may make an appearance and a crocodile may be lurking in the reeds adds excitement to any boat trip here, especially when travelling in the traditional mokoro or dugout canoe. The delta is renowned for its bird watching and excellent fishing – especially the tiger fish.

Sundown boat trips are a popular activity from the Nxamersi Island Lodge. Extensively refurbished at the beginning of 2024 this lovely lodge on a private island offers eight exclusive chalets and a newly installed spa – the first in the Okavango Delta. The service and food, supplied by a team of cheerful and efficient staff, are excellent in this five star lodge. Little extra touches, like hot water bottles on cold nights and chilly early mornings add that extra special feeling here. If visitors hear noises in the night, it is probably the black faced vervet monkeys playing in the tree canopy above the chalets or hippos grunting in the waters below the viewing platforms outside each chalet.

Nxamaseri Island Lodge, is situated within a UNESCO heritage site and has close ties with a second UNESCO heritage site here. The quartzite rocky faces of the Tsodilo Hills are decorated with over 4,500 ancient paintings some of which date back as far as 100,000 years. Tours to this unique site can be arranged for guests who will be transported to the site via boat, safari jeep and helicopter. A variety of trails weave their way amongst the four main hills at Tsodilo Hills and a local guide is available to lead the way and tell the stories of the paintings and these sacred hills.

Everything you need to plan your trip in 2024

🌟 Luxury hotel deals from Booking
🏡 Vacation rentals from VRBO
✈️ Flights from KIWI
🛫 Private jets from Private Jet Finder
🅿️ Airport parking from ParkVia
🛋️ Airport lounges from Priority Pass
🚖 Airport taxis from Welcome Pickups
🚫 Flight cancellation help from AirHelp
🚗 Car rentals from Discover Cars
🚐 Luxury RV rentals from RVshare
🚴 Two-wheelers from BikesBooking
🚅 Trains from Trainline or Rail Europe
🚢 Cruises from Cruise Direct
⛵ Yacht charters from SeaRadar
🛥️ Ferries from Direct Ferries
🎫 Attractions tickets from Tiqets or Klook
🎭 Events tickets from Ticketmaster UK
🏞️ Tours from Viator or GetYourGuide
🌮 Culinary experiences from Eatwith
🏖️ Packages from Expedia US/CA or UK

🛡️ Travel insurance from Safety Wing
🏥 Medical insurance from World Nomads
📸 Vacation photos from Flytographer
🧳 Luggage from Case Luggage
🛅 Luggage storage from Stasher
📚 Travel guides from Lonely Planet
🗺️ Books and maps from Barnes & Noble
📕 eBooks from Kindle Unlimited
🎧 Audiobooks from Audible
🎬 Movies from Prime Video UK
🎵 Music from Amazon Music UK
💶 Travel currency from Wise
📱 SIMs from SimOptions
🌐 VPNs from ExpressVPN or NordVPN
🛂 Visas from iVisa

💸 Earn with Travelpayouts
📨 Seen a broken link? Please contact us!

Valery Collins

Valery started travelling nearly 30 years ago when, during a gap year, she discvoered the joys of travelling as a tour manager. Since then she has worked on copy for travel brochures, written 4 travel books, created her own website and written for 5 other travel websites. Her passion for travel covers all things related to travel from luxury safaris to sylish ski goggles.

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  1. So far we’ve been more than happy with our safaris in Kenya and South Africa. Very willing to give Botswana a go to see if it can do even better.

  2. I agree, I have also had some great times on safari in Tanzania and Kenya but I did enjoy the little luxuries included in my Botswana safari such as sundown game drives and boat trips (drinks included) and also the absence of large numbers of jeeps all racing to view the same animals. Controls are very tight in the Botswana game parks.

    1. I doubt that I wouldn’t do any safari where sundowners weren’t part of the routine.

      All joking aside, you’re right about getting away from herds of jeeps.

  3. I’d love to have a Biggles moment in a biplane. I’ve never flown in a biplane and high in the Botswana sky would be the place to start. Or am I showing my age too much?

  4. I knew very little about Botswana as a safari destination before I read this post, in fact I knew virtually nothing about Botswana.

    I never realised that the country had such diversity of habitats and species.

  5. Hi Greg – thanks for taking the time to comment. It was a revelation to me too – I had heard of the Okavango Delta but did not realise what a large and diverse habitat this area is. A fascinating fact – it does not run into the sea as most deltas do but runs into an arid area and dries up.

  6. Some friends have been on the lookout for a “bargain” safari as they said they didn’t see the need for luxury.

    I tried to explain to them that an economy safari would be a false saving. They’d be tracking down wildlife along with lots of other vehicles and that with just a driver and no spotter they’d get to see far less wildlife.

    Besides the sundowners and luxury lifestyle has always been so much of the true Safari experience.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to comment Rose. Maybe your friends should consider the less well-known game parks that are not so popular, not crowded and cost less. Or maybe a safari under canvas – closer to the wildlife. But you are right luxury safari experiences could be seen as a throw back when only the privileged could afford to go on safari.

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