When To Go
Botswana is a year-round destination with three distinct seasons.
- The Green summer season (December to March) is wet and warm and a time when young are born, migrant birds arrive and the landscape is lush and beautiful. This is also the optimum time in the desert salt pans as game heads south in search of water. There are many good deals to be had at this time of year although it is important to note that some camps close for annual maintenance.
- The Dry winter months (June to October) are characterised by warm days, cold nights and large herds gathering around water sources - this is the optimum time in the Okavango, Moremi and Chobe when the greatest concentration and variety of wildlife can be seen and prices are at their peak.
- The remaining months are classed as the shoulder season (April, May, November)- a time of transition between seasons where you should expect the unexpected.
December to March – The Green Season
Botswana’s summer season is when most rain falls. As its name suggests, the landscape comes alive as plants sprout and grow and flowers bloom. Because the floodplains of the Delta are still comparatively empty, they become vibrant meadows of green offering excellent feeding to the grazing animals. Morning game drives are pleasantly warm and the heat of the day can be enjoyed from the shade of your veranda or by the pool. The rain tends to fall in thunderstorms and downpours created by the heat, a spectacular and dramatic end to the day.
Camps in the heart of the Delta will still be surrounded by permanent lagoons, giving the true Okavango Delta, but in other areas the floodplains will be dry and offer a different game-viewing experience. In the Kalahari it’s a wonderful time, with dry rivers starting to flow, bringing life to the arid ground.
It is during this period that most animals give birth, giving their young the chance to adapt to life while there is an abundance of water and food. This offers the chance not only to see many young, but also the predators who are on the lookout for an easy meal. It’s also an excellent time for bird watching, with many species nesting and fledging their young.
The other advantage of the Green Season is price, allowing you to stay in some truly memorable camps at a price greatly reduced from the peak season.
Shoulder season: April- May / November
It takes several months after the rains start for the waters to fill the Delta. Most of it travels down from the Angolan Highlands. In April and May the rains have stopped, and the floodplains have started to fill up. It is a time of transition - temperatures start to tumble and migratory birds move on. In certain places the game starts to congregate in areas where they know there will be water.
Early November is the opposite. Temperatures reach their peak and everything is at its driest. Large herds are still in evidence as everyone waits for the rains to arrive. Many camps and lodges will have suspended boat activities depending on water levels in the Delta.
The Dry season: June – October
This is Botswana’s winter - a dry, cool period. By June, known as 'high water month', the newly fallen rain has found its way down through the labyrinth of channels and lagoons and filled the Delta to its maximum. Here it stays, the Okavango being the largest river in the world that does not flow into the sea. The landscape is as you imagine the Okavango to be; vast areas of wetland, with islands and a unique ecosystem of animals, birds, reptiles and fish. The game congregates around its edge. In other areas, such as Linyanti, the vegetation is either grazed or dies back, offering great sightings of the animals including the main predators and especially the wild dog which den during the dry season months.
In summary, the Dry season is coolest and when the Okavango is at its fullest. The Green season is the warmest and wettest, but offers the best photographic light and shows Botswana at its most lush and beautiful. The shoulder months are times of transition, offering a little of both.
What To Do
Botswana offers a vast amount of space and a variety of ways to explore from 4x4 safari and bush walking to canoe and horseback safari. Being more than twice the size of the UK but with a population of under two million, you'll find plenty of wilderness.
Much of Botswana's land comprises of harsh, inhospitable terrains of desert and arid plains but there is also plenty of habitats that are home to a vast array of African wildlife and some fascinating cultures.
Botswana's unique attraction is the Okavango Delta and the stunning safari opportunities it offers. The vast majority of visitors will plan to stay at least a few nights in the Delta. The Delta is formed by the Okavango River, which rises in the Angolan Heights before flowing into Northern Botswana. Here it becomes trapped in low-lying areas and the waters slowly evaporate and soak away in the burning sun. It is the largest river in the world not to flow into the sea and instead its waters create an incredible network of lagoons, channels, marshes and wetlands.
The waters are at their peak during the dry season from June onwards, as by then the water has meandered its way down through the channels to reach the floodplains and grasslands. Even during the summer, however, there is plenty of water in the permanent Delta, many camps sitting year round on islands in the lagoons. With the water comes a huge array of colourful flora, which in turn attracts a huge variety of animals and birds. It is a landscape unique to Botswana and a must visit on any safari holiday there. To get the most from your holiday we recommend combining different areas - those surrounded by deep water, as well as the wide open plains. This will offer you the opportunity to see how diverse the wildlife is.
The best way to explore the watery channels is by "mokoro", a traditional local canoe hollowed out of the trunk of a single tree. Most camps within the Delta offer game-viewing by mokoro, each punted along by expert handlers. It is also a perfect place to go on a walking safari. There is lots to see and nothing brings Botswana alive more than a walk through its wilderness escorted by an expert guide.
Around the Delta itself are other areas and private concessions that form part of the greater Okavango ecosystem. Moremi, Selinda and Linyanti all offer excellent game-viewing and allowing you to combine the watery environment of the Delta with the open grasslands of Chobe.
Another world-famous attraction in Botswana is Chobe National Park, located in the North East of the country. This area of wilderness, fed by waters of the Chobe river is home to some of the largest elephant herds in Africa, often over 100 strong. You can enjoy safari here also by boat, although because of the river's deeper waters it tends to be by electric boat. As well as several lovely lodges on the banks of the river, Real Africa offers smaller more remote camps as well as a small, exclusive riverboat that cruises the river.
In complete contrast to these areas is the Kalahari, a huge area of desert, famous for its harsh landscapes, dry rivers and fossil beds. Game-viewing is combined with enjoying landscapes, Namibia-style, and it offers a completely different insight into this amazing country. It is the second largest nature reserve in the World and home to the San, the bushmen, who still wander its lands as nomadic hunters. We recommend that our clients visiting Botswana visit the Central Kalahari to appreciate the incredible contrast between here and the lush wetlands to the north.
Why We Love
Botswana is a premier safari destination offering a great diversity of wildlife and activities. Because much of the land is protected or divided into private concessions visitor numbers are carefully monitored. Many camps tend to be accessible only by light aircraft flight, occupying truly stunniing, often remote locations. Camps are small, catering for only a handful of guests at a time and as such the overall safari experience feels very personalised, special and exclusive.
Botswana lends itself perfectly to a dream safari holiday - you can explore several different habitats like the Okavango, the desert pans and Chobe before relaxing at a river lodge near Victoria Falls, a perfect place to start or end your adventure.
There are many different circuit suggestions but the beauty of a tailor-made itinerary is that you can build, with our help, the trip to suit you.