Just as you step into Botswana there is general feeling of warm welcome from the people here. Very kind and soft spoken honest people who will always take their time to get everything straight. No hurry really and you will soon discover why. For most travelers from Africa, Americas and Europe you don't need a visa to enter into Botswana isn't that amazing. So you just get at the border and have entry stamp on your passport and you are set to enjoy the Africa's safari paradise.
Before we even delve into safari there is a lot a visitor has to know about this country for one to enjoy it fully. Did you know that the population of Botswana is a merger 2,25 million inhabitants. The indigenous people of Botswana are the khoisan people who make up 3% of the population today. They hunted, gathered and traded over long distances. The cave paintings in the region have been found to date back to 73 000 years ago.
The first bantu-speaking people moved into the region of Botswana as far back as 600 AD from the North and they settled in areas neighboring Zimbabwe, Domboshaba and Mapungubwe. The ancestors of the present day Kalanga found in Zimbabwe and Botswana were also the architecture of the Domboshaba ruins and the Mapungubwe all similar to the Great Zimbabwe ruins.
Botswana is the birthplace of modern day humans as far back as 200 00 years ago according to archaeological findings. there is also overwhelming evidence from archaeologists that hominids settled in Botswana 2 million years ago. Stone tools, fauna remains found here dates back to 400 000 years ago. This is amazing Botswana.
Botswana is a vast inland country sharing its borders with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It covers an area of 581 730 sq km making one of the least densely populated countries in the world. The land is moistly flat and 70% of it covered by the Kalahari desert which stretches into the Namib Desert in the South-west parts of the country. In the North there is the Okavango delta with a buffer zone of 22 000 sq km, the biggest inland delta in Africa.
The Kalahari sand-desert is the dominants landform giving rise to the dominants of acacia woodlands across the country and other species resistant to the heat and low rainfall like the baobab and the algae species of trees. However its predominantly an animal country as cattle raring became so dominant in a country where crop farming is a challenge. The vastness of the forests as well made it possible for wild animals to breed and increase significantly.
Travelling through Botswana is always satisfying in the sense of long drives through the dry forests of short bushes and shrubs passing dry rivers. The small villages scattered so further apart usually close to areas with supply of water. Domestic animals predominantly donkeys, goats and cattle are seen across the country. As the heat takes its tole during the long dry summers carcass of dead animals can be be seen especially on the region of Ghanzi driving towards the delta.
The Okavango delta provides a huge trough of water and abundance of food to animals in the desert. The water here is not rain water in Botswana but rather from the Okavango river which flows from the equatorial region of Angola and Zambia where tropical rains are abundant. The 11 cubic million liters of water that flows in the delta annually either evaporates or transpiration by plants in this desert but still far enough to sustain the huge wildlife population in the region which makes Botswana that amazing safari country.
I would here outline my journey through one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, Botswana. It's the most calm peaceful potentially rich and already rich in nature and culture. My usual entry into point is kazungula border post , the border between neighbouring Zimbabwe. A stone throw away is the border between Botswana and Zambia. This confluence of the Chobe river from Inside Botswana and the Zambezi river which marks the border between Zambia and Namibia here would form the point of quadritom, a rare point that marks intersection of four countries in the World.The island between Zambezi river and the Chobe river is the pot-handle on the Namibia map known as the Caprivi Strip. Usually what you should be aware of the borders process going forward is of course the paperwork and small forms that you would be asked to complete. Read more on visa requirements and other regulations in SADC.
Once in Botswana, 5km drive and you get to Kazungula border town. Its a bit busy here as is the case with many border towns. A stop to change money as i would need pulas in Botswana although debit cards can be used in most transactions on most shops. You just may need to check with your bank as to the charges you may incur.
My campsite is 10km away in Kasane at Thebe river lodge. I like the campsite just on the banks of the Chobe river. After check-in i pitched my tent as close to the river. My afternoon even though it's as hot here i off for an afternoon game drive in Chobe national park. Just ontime midday i meet my guide my name sack Justice is on the 4x4 open safari vehicles as we set off.A few guidelines from my guide and we are off to the park.
The national park is 11 000 km² situated on the periphery of the Okavango Delta. Most wildlife congregates here on the park due t the availability of water and plenty of food on the Chobe river as well as the the Delta. In Fact the Chobe national park form part of the KAZA (kazungula Zambezi Transfrontier region) which covers parts of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Angola. The Kaza transfrontier is home to 205 000 african elephants. It is an epic 3 hours of game viewing and it never got boring. Mots of wildlife here.
At 3pm I'm dropped off at the jetty where i will go on river cruise on the Chobe river which is also situated on the national park. on the side of the river is the Island that belongs to Namibia. Many more sightings along the river as wildlife comes to cool down from the heat of the day. But most of all getting as close to the hippos and crocodiles. I have already seen many elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopard, a cheetah family, kudus;, giraffes, impalas, roens, elands and many more. As for birds all sorts of species, different colours and sizes. Notably the Southern ground hornbill, bateurliar, vultures, fish eagle and the ugly mora boa stocks. The sunset as we make our way to the jetty and i must say if you are looking for a game drive that is so exciting count on this one.
Back to my tent the night passes by with the noise of hippos from the river and the laughter of hynaes from a distant.
The next day I start off early as i head to Nata a village 350km away.That drive is just as good as a game drive . Along the way many elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, and antelopes like kudus. Baboons and velvet monkeys are always a common sight here, I stopped at elephant Sands another campsite 80 km from Nata. The campsite has a unique source of water in this dry region. its the only source attracting scores of elephants that would not give other species of animals to drink. It was so amazing to observe the different groups of elephants come and go and how the martyr command authority for the different herds. Elephant sands is never run short of elephants.
The village of Nata is situated around the Nata river with a population of just under 7000. The Nata is the major river that feeds the Makgadikgadi pan. The Makgadikgadi pans is one of the largest salt pans in the World. The lake dried up tens of thousands years ago. A visit to the pans was really intriguing. Historically modern homosapiens are said to have lived here 200 000 years ago according to archaeological studies. I was lucky to see one of the rare sightings in my journey as a guide and that's the brown hyena. In this kalahari desert it's always impressing to see wildlife; the lake had so many birds. In the rain season there is more life and wildlife activities.
The next morning I set off in the morning heading westwards to Maun again 350 km from Nata. The road was not exactly maintained as i would have thought for a highway but well i managed to drive safely; Just 80 km drive i came to Planet Baobab. a lodge and restaurant just outside Gweta village. On many occasions driving down here i have always stopped to talk about the baobab tree which is dominant in this region going to Zimbabwe. The thorn trees of different species are prominent here scattered around the mopane woodlands stretching back to Nata. The rocky landscape, the sounds of crickets usually on a hot day welcomes you here.
The next part of my journey is through Xai Xai pans. Herds of elephants , zebras and giraffes are common as you drive through the natural reserve. It is mostly quiet and peaceful in this veld. Its outside the Delta so it's also very good for wildlife sighting; There are campsites and lodges and of course game drives if you would like to spend quality time in nature. 50 km from Maun there is a checkpoint for Foot and Mouth disease control. In most regional boundaries of Botswana there are foot-and -mouth control points. The purpose is to stop the transfer of the disease from one region to another. Botswana's economy is mostly supported by cattle farming and in country with loads of wildlife especially buffaloes it is important to take extra care to preserve the market