Although vast, semi arid and empty, Botswana has prospered since independence and is comparatively well off in relation to its neighbours - especially those to the north. The economy relies on mining (Botswana supplies much of the world diamond supply), cattle ranching and tourism. Botswana is heavily reliant on South Africa for rail, air and sea links. The Okavango Delta in the north west of the country is a major attraction, the water levels rising and falling annually with the rivers originating in the Angolan highlands. Perennially short of water, the word for Botswana’s currency unit (one of the strongest currencies in Africa) is the same word for rain.
Okavango Delta Reserve
Some 1.6m hectares in area the Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world and known to the locals as ‘the river which never finds the sea’. Arising as a result of rivers rising in Angola (to the north) and flowing south and then dividing to form a natural wetland consisting of natural reed filled water channels, lagoons and islands. The Okavango consists of 4 parts: the Inner Delta, the Eastern Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango Panhandle.
The Okavango is best explored on foot and by mokoro (dug-out canoe) where ‘polers’ guide you through the labyrinth of channels, standing like gondoliers at the rear of the boat. An alternative is to fly over the reserve for a bird’s eye view. The Okavango is also very good for birders as huge numbers of waterfowl and raptors reside there, but you also find elephant, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, hippo, crocodile, lion and kudu here.
Chobe National Park
This park, 11,000 sq kilometres in size is located in the northern corner of Botswana near where the borders of Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe come together. One of Chobe’s main attractions is the 25000 strong elephant population – part of a huge ‘superpopulation’ that exists across the northern belt of Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Chobe River, its floodplain and nearby teak forest marks the heart of the park and it is there that animals come to drink and bathe. Besides elephant, you may also see antelope, buffalo, crocodile, lion, hippo and a number of birds including the African fish eagle.
When to travel
The dry season runs from mid April through to the end of October with the rainy or ‘Green Season’ from November through to mid April. The seasonal flood waters generally arrive in the Okavango Delta in June with the waters generally highest in July and Early August. The flood waters then start to recede from mid October onwards. Generally the best time for wildlife in the Delta is from May through to the end of October when animals are concentrated around the flooded areas.
October and November are the hottest months of the year with temperatures averaging 35 Deg C while June and July have cool nights with pleasant days in the mid 20’s.