An incredibly well preserved country dedicated to conservation, wildlife and superb safaris, Botswana has so much to offer.
Below, we’ve detailed the 20 best things to do in Botswana as well as what to do in Botswana besides safari excursions.
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Botswana regions to visit
Cities and places of interest in Botswana
Botswana has a population of 2.35 million people, with the capital Gaborone home to 10% of the country. It is often the point of departure and arrival for travellers looking to get to Botswana thanks to its international airport (GBE) and road tripping visitors due to its proximity to the South African border.
Located in the south-east, close to the border with South Africa, the city has museums, five-star hotels, quality restaurants, and a buzzing nightlife.
Amongst the best things to do in Gaborone are a walking tour exploring the city, encountering the Three Chiefs’ Statues along the way as well other gems and a trip to the nearby Mokolodi Nature Reserve is a must see.
In the north-east, visitors will find Francistown, the second-most populous city in Botswana, home to the incredible Birds and Game Animal Orphanage. The city is also well positioned providing access to the Okavango Delta, Maun, Kasane and Chobe National Park.
Maun lies in the north-west, Botswana’s tourism center. Maun is officially a village, however it has a population of 55,000 people, with access to Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango. Visitors can explore the area via mokoro (canoe) rides or helicopter trips.
Kasane is located on the northeastern corner of Botswana, near the borders with Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, providing easy access to Victoria Falls and Chobe.
The Caracal Biodiversity Center is a must-see in Kasane, rehabilitating injured animals including honey badgers, tortoises and meerkats. Serowe in the centre of Botswana sits close to the wonderful Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Botswana safari: The main event
Things to do in Botswana: A global safari destination
With four national parks and numerous wildlife reserves, concessions, parks and other conservation areas as well as two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Botswana is an unsurprising favourite for safari tours and honeymoon safaris.
With an abundant and varied fauna, breathtaking landscapes, welcoming locals and a pleasant climate, safari lovers are in their element in this incredible country.
Our comprehensive Botswana Safari Guide is a helpful resource in planning visitors plan their trip.
The 3 Best Parks and Reserves to Visit in Botswana
All the parks and reserves in Botswana have their own unique draw and offer something different and unique. However, a safari visitor should definitely take in the following best Botswana parks on their safari trip:
Often described as one of the most beautiful areas in Africa, the vast Okavango Delta at 2,300 sq. miles is one of Africa’s most famous destinations and offers a true wilderness experience with superb big 5 wildlife viewing and rich fauna, attracting more than 400 bird species.
With a high density of predatory mammals as well as sparkling lagoons and meandering channels, visitors can get up close to wildlife in numerous ways from mokoro (canoe) safaris, walking safaris to horseback safaris for the adventurous.
Chobe National Park
Botswana’s first national park and its third-largest protected area at 4,517 square miles. Named after the Chobe River and forming the border with Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, Chobe is famous for its biological diversity, wildlife, lodges and water activities.
Home to the big five and Africa’s largest elephant population at around 50,000, Chobe also hosts large numbers of lions as well as African painted dogs, blue wildebeest, Cape buffaloes, civets, crocodiles, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, leopards and pukus.
Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi Game Reserve (GR) is a beautiful protected area in Northern Botswana and at 1,900 square miles, it covers almost 25% of the Okavango Delta.
The reserve is renowned for its spectacular game drives, landscapes, pans, grasslands, bird watching and lush animal habitats in seasonally flooded plains and viewings of buffaloes, elephants and zebras arriving from the dry Kalahari Desert in search of food and water.
Understanding the best time to visit Botswana is useful as this can impact safari prices and availability.
Other places of interest in Botswana
Other places worth a visit on your trip to Botswana include:
Kalahari Desert & CKGR
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is one of the most remote reserves in southern Africa. In the dry season, the reserve becomes a hive of activity for large herds of plains game such as springbok and gemsbok as well as giraffes, cheetahs and the legendary black-maned lion.
The reserve is well-known for providing awe-inspiring star gazing experiences as well as for its most notable attractions such as Deception Valley, the Sunday and Leopard Pans, Passage Valley and Piper’s Pan.
Car rental in Botswana is an excellent way to tour this stunning park and see the incredibly diverse range of Botswana animals and scenery.
Although technically part of Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, the Nxai Pan National Parks were created as an extension to expand the conservation area. A national park and wildlife reserve in its own right, Nxai Pan is a 40 square kilometre fossil lakebed.
During the rainy season from November to April, the lakebed becomes lush and green, playing host to the incredible wildlife including lions, giraffes, kudu, springbok, impala, ostriches, jackals, bat-eared foxes and birds.
In 2001, the Tsodilo Hills were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famed for its religious significance, it consists of rock paintings, shelters, depressions and caves with over 4,500 cave drawings found throughout the site.
Lying in the Makgadikgadi Pans in central Botswana, visitors can explore Kubu Island’s granite rock surface, stained white with fossilized bird droppings and riddled with other prehistoric artifacts.
A shallow lake at the southwest corner of the 4,000-square-mile Okavango Swamp in northwestern Botswana, the swamp and the lake are fed by the Okavango River meaning it is rich in birdlife and contains barbel fish.
Other activities in Botswana
Botswana also has many other activities that visitors can add on during their safari vacation. Carrying a small amount of Botswana currency, the Pula (BWP) is useful when tipping or paying for smaller items.
A traditional canoe used by locals as their way of transport, a fun and relaxed way to discover nature.
Luxury safari lodges
With excellent wildlife viewing and lodges with incredible design and décor, Botswana is home to some of the African continent’s most supreme luxury lodges with beautiful, modern suites, well trained staff and excellent food.
Sleep under the stars
This extraordinary, experiential sleep out, under the stars on the vast Kalahari Salt Pans is a truly amazing encounter. Many of the river valleys are fossilized with these salt pans and guests can sleep on them in tents under the stars.
The main focus of a Botswana eco friendly safari tour to preserve the environment and reduce the carbon footprint of the traveller with Botswana safari lodges offering their own gardens from which they grow their own edibles supporting the local community and going on guided tours with local bushmen.
Hot air balloon
Float soundlessly over the incredible Northern Tuli landscapes and see the wildlife from the air, a very unique perspective.
Explore the wildlife and wilderness via a guided walking tour, an authentic means of exploring Northern Tuli.
Quad bike/ATV safari
Swap sandy plains for salt flats, and jeeps for quad bikes in Botswana, a fun safari experience on different terrains.
Starting from $49.50 per person, visitors can choose a boat cruise. Departing from Kasane, with regular morning and afternoon departures. For the more adventurous, try a white water rafting trip on the mighty Zambezi river.
Find your way back to nature on a 7-day yoga safari retreat in the Northern Tuli GR combining a unique wilderness experience with a yoga retreat and practicing meditation whilst exploring the surrounding nature.
What to do in Botswana besides a safari
Botswana offers a range of different activities besides safari including:
- Walk with bushmen discovering nature
- Botswana horse safari across fence-less landscapes in the Okavango, Makgadikgadi Pans or Mashatu Reserve viewing the beautiful Baobab trees and wild dogs
- Mountain Biking in Mashatu
- Tour a HBO TV set around Gaborone, a series based upon a young Botswana woman who opens the country’s first female-owned detective agency in ‘The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency’.