Don't be fooled by its stable democracy, its thriving economy, and its peace-loving citizens: Botswana is a dog-eat-dog world ruled by ruthless savages. You're in Safari Country now, Toto.
Botswana is no-frills wildlife country where game reserves account for one fifth of the country - that's an area the size of Iceland.
Almost devoid of infrastructure, it is impossible for humans to get in and destroy anything. Most of Botswana really has remained unchanged since the dawn of time offering you a true African wilderness experience.
The highlight of Botswana is the extraordinary Okavango Delta - a boundless network of channels, islands and plains the size of Israel. The Kavango River meets its end in a fan-shaped watery wilderness that is the veritable Garden of Eden for wildlife and birds. Remote, inaccessible and serene, the delta as seen from a mokoro (a rudimentary African version of a gondola) is the quintessential Botswana experience.
Next on the list of essential Botswana attractions is Chobe National Park in the far north-east. At a shade over 10,000 sq km this is no petting zoo in size yet it boasts one of the largest concentrations of plains wildlife in Africa. Chobe National Park features the full spectrum of African wildlife and scenery with diverse habitats including the riparian forests along Chobe River, the lush Linyanti Wetlands and Savuti with its mix of marshland and open woodland plains.
The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park on the northern edge of the Central Kalahari, encompasses Nxai Pan, Makgadikgadi Pans, Ntwetwe Pan, Nata Bird Sanctuary, Kubu Island and Baines' Baobab. During the rainy season – December to March – the second largest migration in Africa occurs as hundreds of thousands of Zebra migrate to the fresh pastures of this vast basin. During the dry winter, the cracked salt pans are a spectacle of solitary beauty.
Central Botswana is dominated by the Central Kalahari Game Reserve – the world's second largest reserve (after Selous in Tanzania) weighing in at 52,800 sq km. With almost no facilities, the reserve is wonderfully unspoilt and the focal point is a place called Deception Valley; many private reserves dot the fringe of the Central Kalahari with excellent game viewing and scenic activities.
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Maun. A town in northern Botswana. A town on the banks of Thamalakane River. To the San people, the place of short reeds. To today's tourists, the hub, gateway, meeting place and launch bay for the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe River. It's a tiny outpost really, halfway between the juicy delta and the parched salt pans. This is Botswana's tourism capital.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The big attractions: wilderness, wildlife and the San hunter-gatherers. With such vast expanses of uninhabited land you're about as remote as you can be on planet Earth without putting your life at risk. Explorations barely scratch the perimeter of this savanna wilderness and the wildlife roams far and free.
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Look. There. Miles in the distance. What is that? It sure ain’t no fire burning. No smoke on the water. It’s mist. Deep, deep, misty mist. With the river running through it. But it’s no babbling brook. No siree. It’s so noisy the Kololo called it Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘the smoke that thunders’. Sheesh, what a racket.
South Africa is the best of both worlds: it is Africa with its beautiful scenery, glorious weather and relaxed attitude, which manifests itself in the people who are friendly and easy-going; it also has a modern infrastructure making it an easy country to visit with plenty to see and do and plenty of ways to get around.
Zimbabwe is a small country and its diverse attractions are packed into short easy drives or even quicker, easier flights. Expect beautiful waterfalls and rivers, exceptional wildlife safaris and spectacular scenery from classic African plains to vast river valleys, mystical hills and misty mountains.
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