9 Must-Have Experiences In Botswana

Starry nights over the Makgadikgadi, feisty fishing, and a landmark baobab in the Kalahari Desert.  
Baobabs Botswana
Baobabs and boulders cover Kubu Island in the Makgadikgadi. Photo: Aaron Huey

Desert Island

Botswana is home to geological oddities, including an outcrop of boulders and baobabs in a sea of sand. Known as Lekhubu, or Kubu Island, it once sat in a vast lake that covered much of the Makgadikgadi salt pans. Locals watch over the site, where they also run a campground for travellers.

Woven Wares

Traditional Botswana baskets are renowned for their tight weaving and patterns; a single basket can take weeks to complete. Some of the best, fashioned with young fronds of the mokolwane palm, can be found in the craft shops of Maun, a safari hub.

Gone Fishing

When the waters of the Okavango Delta recede in September, fly fishermen rejoice. Giant catfish gather in papyrus reeds, slapping the water with their tails to stun baitfish—an action that attracts feisty tiger fish that in turn offer anglers an exciting catch-and-release experience.

Starry Night

Evenings in Botswana bring a cosmic show. Guests at San Camp, by the salt flats of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, are treated to the Milky Way splashed across a sky free of light pollution. Visitors to the private Mashatu Game Reserve can join night drives, which search for nocturnal animals such as caracals.

Elephants Botswana

The elephants in Chobe National Park migrate between its floodplains and salt pans. Photo: Ann and Steve Toon/Alamy Stock Photo

Art Haven

You’ll find artwork depicting Botswana’s cultural heritage, wildlife, and more at the Thapong Visual Arts Centre, in the capital city, Gaborone. The centre hosts workshops and provides studio space for artists. Also in the capital: the National Museum and Art Gallery, with its own exhibits of Botswana art.

Bush Telegraph

Long before GPS there was Chapman’s Baobab, a monumental tree used as a landmark by 19th-century travellers crossing the Kalahari Desert. It also helped move mail: Travellers tucked letters into its hollows for other explorers to find and relay to family and friends back home.

Pedal Power

Want to do good while biking your way into great shape? Join the annual Tour de Tuli, a multi-day mountain biking adventure. The tour traverses terrain in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa to support Children in the Wilderness, an organization that works to inspire and educate Africa’s next generation of conservation leaders.

National Pride

On September 30, 2016, Botswana will mark 50 years of independence from Britain with grand festivities, including cultural events, processions, and arts performances.

Pachyderm Party

One of Africa’s largest concentrations of elephants lives in Chobe National Park, migrating seasonally between the park’s floodplains and salt pans. For prime elephant-viewing, visit the Chobe River area in October. Guests at the Chobe Game Lodge gather on the lodge boardwalk for sightings of these largest of land animals, along with zebras and other wildlife.

Also See The Last Sanctuary: 5 Ways To See Botswana’s Stunning Wildlife

Appeared in the March 2016 issue as part of “Botswana: The Last Sanctuary”.

  • Costas Christ , National Geographic Traveler (U.S.) Editor-at-Large, writes and speaks about sustainable tourism.

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