In this second installation of your burning questions about Botswana, we’re covering all you need to know about making the most of your Botswana safari. If you missed the first part, see our previous blog post to get up to date. Without wasting time, here are some of the questions you wanted to know.
Is the zebra migration in Botswana worth the hype?
People often compare the annual zebra migration in Botswana to the famous Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania and southern Kenya. However, these spectacles really can’t be compared. Let’s start with a brief overview of the zebra migration.
Little researched, and almost unnoticed for decades, the zebra migration was only quite recently declared as a second African migration due to the fact that the pathways these animals take were historically inaccessible to people. However, recent studies have established that the Botswana zebra migration is the longest African migration, while the Great Migration involves the most animals (wildebeest). Scientists measured the zebra migration to span a distance of 10 000 kms, a much further distance for these zebra and accompanying plains game travel compared to the wildebeest in Serengeti migration.
Seasonal movements involve three distinct groups of animals. During the dry months, these groups begin their journey from the Chobe River, Moremi Game Reserve and the Kwando-Linyanti wetlands respectively. These groups then move towards the Nxai and Makgadikgadi Pans during the wetter season.
The first study conducted about this migration involved the group that moved from the Chobe to the Nxai pans. Taking about 80 days in total, this herd begins their journey during the dry season of July to October. The return journey begins during the wetter season from November to March. The Makgadikgadi zebra migration also follows the same seasonal pattern, although they take a different route.
So is this migration worth travelling to Botswana for? This depends on the season you’d like to travel in. The green season between November and end of March offers lower rates and less crowds compared to the high season. Knowing this, it is easier to plan your trip to a particular park or reserve that you’d be most likely to witness this spectacle that offers great wildlife interaction during the low season. Take a look at this affordable green season Botswana safari.
2. What activities can I expect to experience on safari in Botswana and will I have to pay for extra activities?
Botswana is made up of intriguing landscapes that offer unique experience depending on the region you visit. Most safari lodges and camps offer two safari activities per day, either day or night game drives or walking safaris (this will depend on whether you are staying in a private game reserve or a national park). Cultural and historical excursions are also available in heritage-rich areas like the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The waterways, rivers and marshlands of the Okavango Delta, Chobe river and Kwando-Linyanti wetlands offer a variety of water-based activities such as:
This is a relaxing way to view the intricate watery wilderness of Botswana. A traditional, dugout canoe is paddled by a professional safari guide.
Sunset boat cruises
This is a great, relaxing and somewhat whimsical way to enjoy the unique sunsets in Botswana, with a cocktail or glass of wine at hand.
Some lodges offer this activity during certain times of the year. Many reserves limit this activity to prevent overfishing and disrupting the breeding cycle of the fish. However, this is a highly recommended activity, both for the thrill of a big catch and for the game viewing from the vantage point of the river.
Activities that fall outside your itinerary will carry an additional cost (such as horseback riding, hot air ballooning, etc). However, many lodges and camps allow you to ‘swap out’ one activity for another. Contact our safari experts should you wish to include or exclude an activity based on your itinerary.
3. I want to visit Botswana and another African country. Which one do you recommend?
There are a variety of safari packages available that transverse up to three countries, but this will be determined by the season you travel in, as well as your budget. You can tailor-make your safari to include any destination, or view ones that are already on offer here.
We recommend sticking to surrounding countries of Botswana like Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. One comment we often hear is the regret that one didn’t travel to Victoria Falls after their Botswana safari.
4. Where is it safe to go for malaria-free safaris in Botswana?
While southern Botswana has a lower risk of malaria, it is still recommended that you take anti-malaria medication no matter where you visit. This map from Fit for Travel shows you high to low risk malaria areas in Botswana to give you some context:
You can opt for a malaria-free safari here.
5. Will an international SIM card work in Botswana?
Mobile SIM cards will work anywhere in the world provided that you have an international roaming contract. This will be costly, however. We recommend using a local service provider to reduce roaming costs.
There are three main service providers in Botswana, all of which offer similar services, with the only difference being the coverage range. You only require a passport to purchase a SIM and there are outlets available everywhere, from retail stores to corner shops. Please make sure that you test your new SIM card before leaving the store as some dealers sell fake SIM cards. Finder.com has an extensive breakdown of each mobile service provider’s pros and cons and is worth a read. Find this information here.
Please note that some remote areas in Botswana have no coverage ranges. Please check with your safari expert to find out whether you will have access to wireless or roaming services at your camp or lodge.
That’s it for this installment of your safari questions answered. There is no such thing as a stupid question and we are here to help assist you with your safari experience of a lifetime.