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  • Photograph of African Wild Dog

    African Wild Dog in Botswana by Marie-France Grenouillet.

    BOTSWANA

    Best Wildlife in Botswana

    Mammals
    Lion (including black-maned ones in Central Kalahari GR), Leopard, Cheetah, African Elephant, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Spotted Hyaena, Burchell's Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, African Buffalo, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Bat-eared Fox, Spring Hare, Sable, Roan, Eland, Greater Kudu, Red Lechwe, Topi (Tsessebe), (Red) Hartebeest, Impala and Springbok. Also a chance of African Wild Dog (especially Jul-Oct), Caracal, Brown Hyaena, Aardwolf, Gemsbok, Sitatunga and Honey Badger.

    Birds
    The near-endemic Slaty Egret, Ostrich, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, African Fish Eagle, Secretary Bird, Black and Goliath Herons, Saddle-billed Stork, Hamerkop, Kori Bustard, Wattled Crane, Pel's Fishing Owl and White-backed Night Heron, as well as African Pygmy Goose, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, African Darter, Rufous-bellied Heron, African Spoonbill, vultures, Bateleur, Martial, Steppe and Tawny Eagles, Black Crake, Grey Crowned Crane, Spotted Thick-knee, Blacksmith and Chestnut-banded Plovers, White-headed Lapwing, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, African and Lesser Jacanas, Temminck's Courser, Greater Painted Snipe, African Skimmer, Burchell's and Double-banded Sandgrouse, Meyer's (Brown) Parrot, Coppery-tailed Coucal, owls including Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Red-faced Mousebird, Narina Trogon, kingfishers including Giant, bee-eaters including (Southern) Carmine (nesting colonies usually occupied Sep-Nov), Swallow-tailed and White-fronted, Lilac-breasted and Racket-tailed Rollers, Hoopoe, hornbills, Southern Ground Hornbill, Retz's and White-crested Helmetshrikes, Grey-breasted and Sulphur-breasted Bushshrikes, Crimson-breasted and Magpie Shrikes, African Paradise Flycatcher, Arnot's Chat, Groundscraper Thrush, starlings, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, sunbirds, Pink-throated Longclaw, Scaly-feathered Finch (Scaly Weaver), weavers and waxbills. Also a chance of African Finfoot, and Bronze-winged and Burchell's Coursers.

    Reptiles
    Nile Crocodile.

    Other Natural Wonders of Botswana

    Okavango Delta A seasonal 15,000 sq km (5800 sq mile) world of water, waterbirds and mammals in the Kalahari Desert. It usually takes six months for the water, which originates in the Angolan highlands, to wash across the 250 km (155 miles) from the north to the south of the delta, which is also about 150 km (90 miles) across, and water levels usually reach a peak between June and August (in the dry season).

    Kalahari Desert A 900,000 sq km (350,000 sq mile) region which covers much of Botswana. Most of the Kalahari is not true desert and receives sufficient rainfall to support enough vegetation to attract a wide variety of wildlife.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Botswana

    Best Times for Wildlife in Botswana

    The driest period of the year is usually May-June to October and May to August is the peak time to visit to look for mammals, because as the waters of the Okavango start to recede the animals begin to concentrate around the remaining water, making it easier to see them. July to September is usually the best time to look for African Wild Dogs because they usually den then, and September-October, which is almost as good for mammals, is one of the best times to be in Botswana because (Southern) Carmine Bee-eaters are usually busy at their nesting colonies at this time. When the rains come, usually in November, mammals and birds start to disperse, and the wet season usually lasts until March-April.

    Recommended Books etc. for Botswana

    Bradt Travel Guides: Botswana Safari Guide by C McIntyre. Bradt, 2014 (Fourth Edition).

    Travellers' Wildlife Guides: Southern Africa by B Branch et al. Interlink Books, 2013.

    Bradt Travel Guide: Southern African Wildlife by M Unwin. Bradt, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Watching Wildlife: Southern Africa by M D Firestone et al. Lonely Planet, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Stuarts' Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa by C and M Stuart. Random House Struik, 2015 (Revised Edition).

    The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2015 (Second Revised Edition).

    The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2016 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Botswana by P Hancock and I Weiersbye. PUP, 2015.

    SASOL Birds of Southern Africa by I Sinclair et al. C Struik, 2011 (Fourth Edition).

    Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by I Sinclair and P Ryan. C Struik, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Newman's Birds by Colour by K Newman. C Struik, 2011 (Third Edition).

    Newman's Birds of Southern Africa by K and V Newman. C Struik, 2010 (Tenth Edition).

    Roberts Bird Guide edited by H Chittenden. Africa Geographic, 2007.

    Southern African Birdfinder by C Cohen and C Spottiswoode. New Holland Publishers, 2005.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Mammals of Southern Africa

    The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals.

    Audubon African Wildlife.

    SASOL eBirds of Southern Africa.

    Newman's Birds of Southern Africa.

    Roberts Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa.

    Where to watch birds in Africa by N Wheatley. Helm, 1995.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in Africa? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Botswana

    Many trip reports, some for Botswana, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Botswana. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Botswana' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Botswana

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Botswana

    Some Organized Tours to Botswana

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Botswana include the following.