Botswana is a true paradise for lovers of Africa’s wildlife. This southern African country offers the best of both worlds- the classic savannah and a river ecosystem. All of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) can be found throughout Botswana across 14 different wildlife reserves.
While the vast majority of Botswana’s parks are held in very high regard, there are 4 specific reserves that are a must-visit for anyone looking for lions or just wanting to go on safari.
Chobe National Park
Northern Botswana is home to Chobe National Park, a place that is truly a gem among all of Africa’s reserves. Chobe National Park may only come in third place in terms of size alone (4,517 square miles) in Botswana but boasts one of the largest and most diverse populations of game out of all reserves in Africa.
Though Chobe is very small compared to some of the giant parks throughout Africa, this region gives visitors a taste of everything in both species as well as terrain. This park has four distinct ecosystems within it, varying from wetlands to woodlands.
Aside from the Chobe riverfront, there are two marsh regions in both western and northwestern parts of the reserve: the Savuti Marsh and the Linyanti Marsh. Predator lovers will find the Savuti Marsh to be a very beautiful setting to see everything from warthogs to wildebeest as well as lions and hyena, with the occasional cheetah moving through the area. Arrive at the right time and you’ll get to witness the zebra migration which entices prides of lions to move in.
Hippopotamus lovers should check out Linyanti Marsh instead. This area has quite the population of the species as well as very groups of lions and other predators, various antelope and giant herds of elephant. Look carefully along the water’s edge and you may be able to spot a crocodile.
The final four region of Chobe is in the middle of these two marshes known as the hinterland. This wooded grassland is very dry and much higher in temperatures than the marsh and riverfront, making it an ideal habitat for antelope like elands.
Due to the sheer diversity and high population of Chobe National Park’s wildlife, this park is truly a must visit. The wet season is a particularly good time to see nearly all of Africa’s famous wildlife thriving all in one location.
Moremi Game Reserve
At only 1,900 square miles, Moremi Game Reserve is fairly small but like many reserves in Botswana, its diversity is astounding. This reserve is wonderful place to visit anytime of the year since it butts up against the Okavango Delta, giving this location a much-needed permanent water feature. In fact, only 30% of Moremi is land, with 70% being the Delta.
In terms of wildlife, Moremi is an ornithologist’s utopia. This reserve has close to 500 bird species present throughout its border. The big game lover will be equally happy as this game reserve has popular wildlife such as elephant, giraffe, impala and rare species like the red lechwe. Predator-wise, Moremi certainly isn’t lacking in variety. You can find big cats like lion, leopard and cheetah, as well as hyena and jackal. One particular predator thrives in this reserve however- the African wild dog.
African wild dogs are a captivating predator with captivating antics and family structures. Since 1989, Moremi Game Reserve researchers have been studying the species which is why you will quite often see individual dogs with collars.
While you may visit Moremi Game Reserve anytime of the year, most will agree that the ideal time falls between summer and fall (after July and before October). Visitors will be able to travel either in a truck or other vehicle but can also walk on foot or take a canoe through the Delta.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Are you a lover of both Botswana and South Africa? You can enjoy both countries in one park- the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Kgalagadi is 15,000 square miles which roughly ¾ of it in Botswana with the other quarter in South Africa. This park is hot and dry, with vast majority of the terrain being desert as the Kgalagadi is within Kalahari Desert boundaries.
This park offers more than just amazing desert landscapes however. Some of Botswana’s toughest and hardiest wildlife make their home here. You will be able to find large migratory herds of hartebeest, wildebeest and antelope species traverse the sand dunes and scrubland. Birds of all types, about 200 species, can be seen but it’s the raptors and vultures that truly rule the skies.
Predators tempted by the large herds of prey meander around and seem to come out from all directions during the wet season. Cheetah and leopards live in Kgalagadi but it’s the lions that are the real treat. Kalahari’s iconic black-maned lions thrive in this park and can often be found relaxing in their prides or protecting their kills from pesky hyena.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is worth a visit if you don’t mind a more extreme temperatures or if you are able to visit during opportune times of the year. Rain is very rare and winter will easily bring below freezing weather. Summer can be scorching and suffocating so keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Kalahari is a name that most anyone will recognize and one that promises a breathtaking safari experience. Last on the least but possibly one of Africa’s greatest reserves is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This game reserve is massive, 20,380 square miles, and is the gem of Botswana’s parks and reserves. It actually covers almost a tenth of the countries land.
While the Central Kalahari Game Reserve doesn’t contain all of Africa’s famous Big 5, it is still worth a visit for wildlife lovers- particularly those who are interested in predators. Big cats are prevalent in this park, like the leopard, cheetah and lion. As mentioned earlier, Kalahari’s lions are famous for the black manes the males sport. The contrast in color makes these big cats quite beautiful and somewhat imposing. Other predators such as African wild dogs, hyena and jackals can also be found.
Antelope and gazelle of all species live in Central Kalahari, such as kudu, wildebeest and eland. Giraffe can usually be spotted quite easily. The flat landscape of this reserve really make it a great place to see wildlife as well as take amazing photographs of them.
The Bushmen of Kalahari, the San, are present in this game reserve and have been in the region for thousands of years. Luckily in 2006, Botswana made it illegal to evict any of the San from their home in Central Kalahari.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a must-see location for lion lovers as well as admirers of the Kalahari Desert. Visiting this reserve anytime of the year will be rewarding but like much of Africa, to see Central Kalahari at its peak you will want to visit during or close to their wet season.
Botswana is a stunning country and despite being landlocked, you will still be able to see wetland and marsh wildlife thanks to the Okavango Delta.
Where Is Botswana?
Botswana is situated just north of South Africa – a landlocked country rich in Wildlife, natural resources and filled with friendly people.
What type of Government does Botswana Have?
Botswana has a healthy pro-western multi-party democracy.