Bucket List Botswana: Top 3 Reasons You Should Go

Travelling to Botswana Should be On Your Bucket List – and Here’s Why

local girls watching okavango delta sunset in Botswana

Botswana would get a gold star if it was in grade school and writing a test on how to be a brilliant travel destination.

It’s blessed with two notable wilderness attractions, the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert, but this country doesn’t just rely on its pretty looks to get by. Botswana has a lot more going for it than just two world-famous game reserves appealing to all types of travellers.

After spending four weeks on a self-drive overland journey through Botswana, I’ve reflected back on my trip and come up with three primary reasons why you should book a trip to Botswana for your next vacation.

And no, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex possibly moving to Botswana did not make the list!

Let’s get started.

1. It’s Safe

In the 2018 Global Peace Index, Botswana was ranked again as one of the world’s most peaceful countries. With a ranking of the 29th most peaceful country out of 163, Botswana outranks all five of the United Nations Security Council permanent members: UK (57), France (61), China (112), USA (121) and Russia (154).

Gold star for Botswana!

While travelling through Botswana I enjoyed a worry-free, zero-stress environment. Feeling so free and safe, I was able to really sink into vacation mode and focus on meeting locals and seeing as much of the country as possible.

Wild camping in Botswana was a breeze, and we felt safe setting up camp pretty much anywhere. The capital city of Gaborone was modern with every necessity and shopping demand met, and easy to navigate. It’s also close to nature, and you can be cooking over the fire at a campground or wild camp spot just a thirty minute drive out of the city.

local people drinking at sunset in Maun Botswana
Locals enjoying some sunset drinks in Maun

2. Responsible Wildlife Management

With approximately 130,000 elephants, which is a sizeable number compared to neighbouring Namibia, who has closer to 22,000, Botswana is one of the world’s premier destinations for wildlife viewing. In fact, Botswana has an astounding 1/3 of Africa’s total elephant population! (I think that’s another gold star for Botswana!)

How does a country evolve to become as elephant friendly as Botswana? Having responsible government-led initiatives definitely helps.

In 2014 Botswana’s then-President Ian Khama – a self-proclaimed conservationist – introduced an elephant hunting ban when he noticed a significant decline in the species’ population.

But lately, critics of the elephant ban are claiming the number is much higher, a reality that has been negatively affecting family farmers for the last few years, due to a fight for land resources and the destruction of crops. As a solution, the current government is lifting the hunting ban and promises it will be done in a manageable and ethical manner.

Healthy wildlife populations, hunting regulations, and the relationship between animal conservation and agriculture are concerns affecting virtually every country in Africa. Botswana’s government stands out amongst the rest though, as one who’s willing to make the crucial decisions required to protect the future of its wildlife.

When Elephants Without Borders reported the number of elephant carcasses found in Botswana had increased, which is an obvious sign of poaching, Botswana’s government didn’t shy away from the report. A CNN story stated government officials admit poaching remains an issue. Based on it's history of wildlife management, we can bet Botswana will be working hard to eradicate poaching.

Botswana has conserved 17% of its land as National Parks and Reserves, and an additional 22% as Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's). Compare this to Canada’s goal to protect 17% by 2020, and one realizes we should be the ones looking to Botswana for advice on how to conserve wildlife populations.

If you’re looking for an outstanding safari experience, consider choosing Botswana for it's reputation as a sanctuary for elephants and other wildlife.

3. Two World Famous Wilderness Attractions

The last point is a great lead-in to discussing Botswana’s two world-famous wilderness regions, the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert. I think Botswana would be incredible with just one notable park, but the fact that it has two, adds a lot of credibility to the country’s reputation as a wildlife destination.

When visiting Botswana, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Can’t decide between exploring a lush wetland or an expansive savannah (the Kalahari technically doesn’t qualify as a desert) - thankfully, Botswana has both!

The Okavango Delta is a maze of waterways weaving through lush vegetation and overgrown islands, and is best explored on the quintessential Okavango boat, the mokoro. The Delta’s incredibly talented guides will lead you to a herd of elephants or buffalo on the move, and direct you to look closer, pointing out the diversity of flora and fauna thriving with life below the surface.

After getting your feet wet, you’ll want to head back to Maun to resupply before driving to Botswana’s second internationally recognized wilderness region, the Kalahari Desert.

Visiting the Central Kalahari Game Reserve provides ample opportunity to sit in a state of solitude and watch an intricate ecosystem play out before your eyes. You won’t find crowds of tourists here, simply because there’s so much space to explore. In fact, the sheer size of the Kalahari will leave you speechless.

The stunning landscape of the Kalahari begs to be photographed, so consider going on a photography safari. Not a photographer? You’ll be plenty happy with a wilderness safari.

However you decide to explore these wilderness regions, they should be on the top of the list of reasons why you head to Botswana on your next vacation.

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