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How to Plan a Botswana Safari: Frequently Asked Questions

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Herd of elephants along waterways of the Chobe River in Botswana

Herd of elephants along the Chobe River in Botswana

Planning an African safari where you have a choice not only of the style of safari but the chance to discover a unique safari destination makes Botswana a top contender for the ultimate safari experience. Forested parks and scenic waterways, open savannas and vast desert landscapes make up this country’s safari landscape.

Considering when to go and how to get there, plus in-destination questions, are all part of the planning process and we have put together some answers to the most frequently asked questions as you consider your safari plans.

Is Botswana open to American travelers?

Last Reviewed:  September 15, 2021

All travelers over the age of 5 years old must arrive in Botswana with proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test performed no more than 72 hours before departure. Upon arrival, travelers will undergo screening, and those showing symptoms will be taken for testing and quarantine at the traveler’s expense. Zicasso travel specialists can assist in arranging testing before your return flight to the United States.

Related: Countries Open to American Travelers

How long should I spend on safari in Botswana?

Many safaris include more than one destination, and spending five to ten days is the perfect amount of time for a Botswana safari as it will give you plenty of time to explore more than one game park or reserve. A three-night stay in the Chobe area, followed by some time exploring the Okavango Delta over a five-day period, creates the perfect Botswana safari program.

Some visitors do spend less time in Botswana, combining their safari with neighboring destinations, such as Namibia, South Africa, or Victoria Falls. Our Zicasso Botswana specialists can arrange the safari that suits your schedule and guide you regarding the number of days to spend in each place.

What are the regions of Botswana?

Botswana comprises contrasting regions that cover lush waterways and vegetation in the Okavango Delta to a park vibrant with large herds of elephants and incredible animal spotting from the water on the Chobe River. Then there are the vast salt pans of the Makgadikgadi and the haunting Kalahari desert. The Linyanti and Savuti regions present a rich wildlife habitat, with prolific birdlife and elusive characters such as leopards, which may make an appearance.

Related: Must See Destinations - Botswana

How can I experience the wildlife?

Depending on where you choose to safari, your wildlife experience may take place via an open 4x4 vehicle, a boat, or a mokoro, which is a traditional dugout canoe. In Chobe National Park the drives take you through open landscape and forested elephant-filled habitat, with the option of taking your game viewing to the water for more wildlife delight. Elephants swim across the river, while hippos bob up and down near the water’s edge and crocodiles laze on the banks.

A Poler will steer you down the Okavango Delta as you make your way through the channels, eyes peeled for creatures large and small among the reeds and in nearby trees. Some lodges and camps may offer walking safaris too and private concessions can provide a night drive, opening you to a world of unique wildlife sightings.

Related:  How to Get Around on an African Safari

How can I ensure I see my favorite animal?

Seeing wildlife on safari is incredible and it is understandable that you may be longing to see your favorite. However, it is important to know that sightings are never guaranteed, yet your qualified guide will be sure to show you the key areas of the park and reserve where animals gather or have been spotted, and in general, your day in the bush will be phenomenal. Every animal, big or small, is a delight.

What is a day on safari like?

No two days on safari in Botswana are the same, yet a typical day will include game drives and downtime at your lodge or camp. A day on safari involves a pre-dawn alarm followed by coffee or tea before you head off on your first game drive. After returning to the camp or lodge for brunch or lunch, there will be time to relax during the hottest part of the day. Enjoy a second safari activity with a sundowner at a key viewing point. Thereafter you will enjoy a delish dinner and have the chance to reminisce after the day’s incredible activities. Early to bed and up the next day to do it all over again.

Related: What a Day Is Like on a Safari

What is the difference between a camp and a lodge in Botswana?

A lodge is a more permanent structure than a camp, with larger public areas and, in most cases, more rooms. In Botswana, lodges are perfect for groups who tend to combine Chobe National Park with some time in nearby Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Lodges in the Okavango and elsewhere tend to be much smaller and ecological, leaning more towards tented lodges made from wood and canvas. Safari camps in Botswana are luxurious, intimate and unique, true spaces in the wilderness with canvas walls that help connect you with the bush. Locations for lodges and camps are always carefully chosen and guests are assured of a high level of service no matter where they stay.

Related:  3 Types of Safari Accommodations and How to Choose

How many days should I stay at each camp or lodge?

A minimum of three days is recommended to fully embrace and enjoy the incredible bush and all lodge or camp facilities in that specific region. With two game experiences on offer each day, a longer stay will ensure you have the opportunity to sit one out and enjoy a lazy morning or relaxed afternoon, perhaps watching animals come up to a nearby water hole or to take the time to listen to the sounds of the wilderness around you. If you do a multi-park itinerary that includes time in the Okavango Delta it is a great idea to combine a land and water camp experience.

When is the best time to visit Botswana?

The best time to visit Botswana is during the dry, winter months of June to September when wildlife viewing is at its best and the days are mild, with cool evenings. It is peak season and the bush is alive with activity as game drive vehicles, boats and mokoros wander through the wilderness. The off-peak month of May is quieter and a great time to start your Botswana adventure. If you are looking for a birding experience, consider January and February.

How does Botswana’s climate change during the year?

The rains start to fall lightly in November and December, with heavier rainfall during January and February, eventually easing off at the end of March. The long grass means the safari scene is quieter in April. However, the weather starts to cool down and the wilderness prepares for the upcoming winter. The peak safari season kicks in as the dry season begins in June and all the way through to the end of September incredible game viewing can be had. October is hot, super-hot, and many safari-goers may give this month a skip when planning a safari in Botswana if it is the only southern African destination on their itinerary.

How does the safari experience change during the different seasons of the year?

Early May to September are the best months to see wildlife as it is the dry season and during this time water levels recede, with qualified guides knowing where to search for wildlife. The winter months also mean shorter grass and with the vegetation not overgrown, it is easier to see animals near and far. Birthing season takes place during the wet months of January and February, which coincides beautifully with the birding season.

How should I fly in and out of Botswana?

Maun (MUB) and Kasane (BBK) are the southern and northern hubs for the safari circuit, with flight connections to Johannesburg, a major hub in southern Africa. There are connections to Cape Town too, making a Botswana and South Africa combination itinerary easy to create. Maun and Kasane also serve as the main airports from which light aircraft or safari circuit air transfers operate, connecting various regions with a few lodges and camps operating their own airstrips, in addition to those used for access to the national parks. Your plane may touch down at one airstrip to drop off four passengers before continuing to your concession.

Can Zicasso help me with flights?

Zicasso Flights is an international air-ticketing service that eliminates the stress of finding and booking the right flights for your upcoming vacation. By employing the same personalized service you can expect from planning a trip with Zicasso, our competitive flight pricing, 24x7 service and support, and complimentary consultation of Routing vs. Pricing with an expert flight specialist make finding the perfect flight for your trip effortless.

Is Botswana safe for travel?

Botswana is safe for travelers, with the country governed at a first-world standard. It is considered one of the most advanced and stable countries in Africa. Standard security practices are recommended in lodges and camps, and it is always good to be aware of your surroundings when in cities and towns.

During your game drives, your guides will be sure to communicate at all times and adhering to their guidelines is key, as they know how to read the bush. All lodges and camps will provide a safety briefing so you understand where you can go without a guide or a member of the lodge team.

Can I get around Botswana if I have a mobility issue?

In Botswana, there are specific ground-handlers who operate safaris for safari-goers with mobility issues. Their vehicles are adapted to accommodate guests who require a wheelchair to get around and, in general, ease of entry for all guests is considered. Lodges and camps offer specific rooms that are adapted to accommodate visitors with mobility issues. Working with your Zicasso safari specialist will ensure your mobility needs are met.

Are there any health concerns in Botswana?

While there are very few mosquitoes during the dry season, which significantly reduces the risk of malaria, a malaria prophylactic is recommended when experiencing your safari in Botswana. There are no yellow fever concerns, which is great, and all water will be bottled as it is advised not to drink the local tap water in the bush.

Does Zicasso help with travel insurance?

You’ve booked your dream vacation, now protect it with travel insurance. A wide range of factors can leave your vacation in limbo. Medical emergencies, inclement weather and unexpected cancellations can cause turmoil for your trip, so in the unlikely event of a disaster, get the travel insurance coverage that provides peace of mind. To get a quote, visit our travel insurance page.

What should I pack for a Botswana safari?

Most domestic flights in Botswana have a strict 33lb per person luggage limit and require soft-sided bags to be used, so that does need to be considered when packing for your safari. Light clothing, both in color and material, is ideal, with a light jacket for the evenings. You will want to consider taking gloves and a scarf for the early morning starts if traveling in winter. No hiking boots are required, so packing comfortable walking shoes is perfect.

Related: What to Bring on an African Safari: 6 Tips to Pack Your Bag

Is Botswana good for family safaris?

By combining water and land camps in the Okavango Delta or perhaps a stay just outside the Chobe National Park, then spending a couple of nights in the Delta or Makgadikgadi Pans provides a varied safari experience, bringing excitement for the whole family. Kid-friendly lodges and camps educate and ensure fun is had by children who embark on a Botswana adventure.

Related: 7 Tips to Plan A Perfect Family African Safari

Is Botswana good for senior travelers?

Taking it slow is key and perhaps considering some road transfers, combined with one light aircraft flight to a Delta delight, will ensure travel throughout Botswana’s safari circuit is comfortable and incredible. Letting lodge and camp staff know about any medical requirements or preferences helps and they will then ensure your comfort is a priority. There will be a fair amount of movement involved if combining several regions and lodges, or extending to other southern African destinations. However, the rewards of a safari experience are well worth it.

Is Botswana a good destination for romantic safaris?

The Okavango Delta has to be one of the most romantic destinations on the African safari circuit and with intimate and unique lodges and camps set amongst stunning landscapes teeming with wildlife, Botswana is most definitely a top contender for a romantic break in the bush. Private dining, breathtaking sunsets, and various safari activities all culminate in the perfect romantic adventure.

Related: Top 10 Romantic Places to Honeymoon in Africa

Ready to Experience Your Botswana Safari?

Discover a safari destination like no other as you move through Botswana’s various game-viewing destinations and uncover wildlife treasures at every twist and turn. With a few unique and exciting ways to experience it all, the destination can be enjoyed over several days, ensuring an overall kaleidoscope of an experience. Your Zicasso safari specialist will work with you to plan it all. Get started by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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