Unmissable Outdoor Attractions in Botswana
Botswana is a wild and unspoiled country, home of the famous Kalahari desert, as well as grasslands, savannahs and the capital city of Gaborone. There is also the largest inland delta in the world, the Okavango, and a wealth of wildlife to discover. Here is our guide to Botswana’s 20 unmissable attractions.
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
One of the largest salt pans in the world, Makgadikgadi was once a lake covering a vast 10,000 square kilometres of north-eastern Botswana, but for thousands of years, it has been the dry and inhospitable terrain you’ll discover today.
Chobe National Park
A truly beautiful sight to behold, the Chobe National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Africa and makes Botswana a must-visit destination. Located in Kasane, the park comprises of swamps, floodplains and woodlands, and is home to a wide array of wildlife and birds. This is the best place in Botswana to see buffalo and elephants.
In 2001, the Tsodilo Hills were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famed for its religious significance, it is comprised of rock paintings, shelters, depressions and caves. Over 4,500 cave drawings have been found throughout the site.
Although technically part of Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Nxai Pan was 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 that migrates through the area. Nxai Pan is open to visitors all year but the rainy season is arguably the best time of year to go, as visitors are more likely to see a wide range of wildlife including lions, giraffes, kudu, springbok, impala, ostriches, jackals, bat-eared foxes and birds. The pan reserve is surrounded by indigenous forestry and the waterhole is a popular attraction. Currently there are no lodges available within the immediate area, but there are plans to open two in the near future.
Gcwihaba Caves and Aha hills
The caves located in the Gcwhihaba valley are home to a fossil river feature and a cluster of low-lying dolomite hills. Gcwihaba literally means “hyena’s hole” in the language of the San people. The Aha Hills are located 50 kilometres from the Gcwihaba caves, along the border between Namibia and Botswana.
Manyelanong Game Reserve
This incredible game reserve is home to a large population of the endangered Cape Griffon vulture; a colony of around 140 birds. The name “Manyelanong” literally means, “where vultures defecate” in Setswana and refers to the guano-covered cliffs where the vultures live. This is one of only three places in the whole country where you can see these vultures.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Established in 1992, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary plays a key role in the conservation of one of the most endangered species in the world. Both white and black rhino can be found here, with around 35 white rhinos making their home in the sanctuary.
The David Livingstone Memorial
This site is located 40 kilometres from Gaborone where Dr David Livingstone and his family once resided. The site is comprised of a church, remnants of his house and clinic, and the family graveyard. At the time of his death, Livingstone is believed to have travelled over 80,000 kilometres through Africa over 40 years.
Moremi Game Reserve
Covering one third of Okavango Delta in Botswana, the Moremi Game Reserve, also known as the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, is home to a dense concentration of African wildlife. It was the first reserve in Africa that was established by the Batawana tribe when Chief Moremi III’s wife proclaimed Moremi as a game reserve in 1963. It is also the only officially protected area in the Okavango Delta. The park is accessible and has well-maintained trails, plus a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Rhinos have recently been reintroduced and it is also home to the largest red lechwe population in Africa.
If you travel north of the capital city of Botswana for 35 kilometres, you’ll discover the Matsieng footprints. Legend has it that thousands of years ago, a giant known as Matsieng emerged from a waterhole in this area and left behind these footprints while the earth was still soft.
Every year, tourists seeking a holiday unlike any other come to the Okavango Delta for the experience of a lifetime. The Delta, declared the thousandth UNESCO world heritage site, was formed where the Okavango River meets the Great Plains at the end of the Kalahari Desert.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is one of the most remote reserves in southern Africa. It is also the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. CKGR was established in 1961 with the sole aim of providing the San people with a place to live and preserve their traditions and culture.
The gorge has been the subject of many folktales and legends. Located in the central part of Botswana (east of Palapye), it’s a fascinating and awe-inspiring walk through the hills to the national monument, where the sound of crashing water surrounds you with the three cascading waterfalls in the gorge.