Nuts and Bolts of a Botswana Safari
When to go, where, for how long, and what it might cost
Whittling down a Botswana safari comparison can be confusing. Itineraries vary, and rates even more. Should you traverse the fabled Okavango? Or strike inland at the Kalahari or Tsodoli Hills? Costs range from $5000 to $15,000. Why the huge variance? Dry season or green?
Simple answer: Think
mode of transportation
Timing and location
Rule of thumb for Africa safaris: dry season is optimal for game viewing on open plains. Water sources dry up and wildlife congregates at remaining watering holes. Grass is shorter making it easier to spot game.
Botswana is an anomaly. Consider that the Okavango Delta is a major draw for a Botswana safari. Okavango's inland seasonal delta creates a unique ecology and superb wildlife viewing at eye level from a boat, or better, a dug out canoe. Unique camps located on marooned delta islands make Okavango the ultimate Africa escape. It’s important to time your safari to take in the delta as well as Botswana’s plains. As any safarian worth her safari boots knows, dry season (August-Oct) isn’t the best time because the delta dries up. Neither is green season (late Nov-April) due to high water.
We find optimal visiting time when intermittent rains have begun, but not enough to flood the delta. Although the delights of Okavango are endless, three nights is usually enough. Then we move to open plains of Khwai and Linyanti for spotting predators.
The best time then is during the interlude between dry and wet season or late Sept-end November. The dust isn’t so bad, it’s good value in shoulder season, and fewer visitors help in communing one-on-one with wildlife.
A good duration is 11 days to cover the best of Botswana: 3 Okavango, 2 Moremi, 2 Linyanti, 2 Chobe, 2 Victoria Falls.
You go to Africa to get away from it all. You don’t go be part of a crowd at a buffet or craning their necks from circling jeeps around a lone lion. For an up close encounter with the sights, sounds, and smells of Africa, say yes to remote wildlife camps of not more than 12-15 camps. The downside is that the more remote the setting, the higher the cost. In the Okavango, where camps are seasonal, rates are even higher. But good value can be found. While budget may be too basic (DDC or dig-drop-cover toilets), top-end luxury is a waste as you'll be on game drive for much of your stay. Choose small, deluxe and ambient accommodations with tons of charm and personal service.
A safari should be all-inclusive deal – accommodation, meals, game drives, activities and often times alcoholic beverages included. Where else in the bush to transact for these amenities? A safari might initially seem expensive but in fact it’s good value considering you do not touch your wallet once you set off.
So, down to $ and cts
Expect to pay at least USD 500 pp a day and up for a decent safari in deluxe accommodation. Anything more expensive will involve luxury accommodation and possible fly in options, and is considered luxury.