ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF
ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF

What are you looking for?

ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF
ZAR
USD
EUR
GBP
CAD
AUD
CHF
Hello traveller!

It's in Cape Town now.

We're sorry. Our safari planners aren't available now. Our office hours are 08:00 - 19:00 (GMT+2).

Call us to speak to an experienced safari planner.


Alternatively, we recommend...

travel-form-icon

Complete our travel enquiry form to connect with a safari planner

ENQUIRE TODAY
Email us
(optional)

The Big Five of Botswana: Where to Spot Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos, and Buffalos

Team Member Headshot

Devryn Panaino

Safari Travel Planner

Safari Enquiry
 Devryn Panaino

Author: Devryn Panaino - 16 June 2023

Last Update: 30 January 2024

From open grasslands to riverine forests and desert landscapes to papyrus-lined canals, a safari in Botswana offers the very best in land and water-based safari experiences. The country’s low volume, high cost approach to tourism and commitment to conservation makes it a paradise for both first-time and experienced safari-goers.

African elephant in the Chobe river at dusk, Botswana.
African elephant in the Chobe river at dusk, Botswana.

Visitors here can combine luxury with adventure thanks to some stunning lodges in truly remote locations. Botswana is teeming with wildlife, among them the famous Big Five. Keep reading to find out the best places to spot these magnificent creatures. 

Lions

Africa’s largest predators, lions can be seen throughout Botswana but are perhaps most commonly found in the main northern areas of Chobe, Linyanti-Kwando, and the Okavango.

Lions basking in the sun, Botswana.
Lions basking in the sun, Botswana.

They also roam across the Kalahari, the Nxai Makgadikgadi areas, and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. In the northern reserves, where there is plenty of prey, the prides are much bigger and it’s not uncommon for them to take down juvenile elephants.

Leopards 

The most solitary and secretive of Africa’s big cats, leopards hunt at night and rely on stealth and power. Some of Botswana’s bush offer the perfect habitat for these incredible creatures, such as plenty of thickets, bushy cover, and big trees.

Leopard mother and her cub in Khwai Community Area, Botswana.
Leopard mother and her cub in Khwai Community Area, Botswana.

The riverine woodlands in Chobe, Linyanti-Kwando, and the Okavango are favorite hunting grounds. Games drives around dusk and early evening in the private concessions will often yield good leopard-spotting results. Seeing a leopard is a highlight of Big Five safaris in Botswana

African Elephants 

The world’s largest land animal, African elephants are intelligent and social creatures. Elephants are common in northern Botswana habitats ranging from deserts to rainforests but require access to drinking water and trees. The Chobe National Park, Kwando-Linyanti, and Okavango areas are all good places to spot elephants.

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana.
Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana.

As the dry season progresses and the waterholes run dry, small groups gather together into larger herds and head for the rivers and the Delta.

Rhinos 

The black rhino is the more prolific of Africa’s two rhino species. Black rhino enjoy a wide range of habitats, from dense woodlands and bush to arid semi-desert. White rhino are less aggressive and prefer open grassy plains.

Rhino in Botswana.
Rhino in Botswana.

They can often be found in small groups. For the best chances of a sighting, head to northern Botswana and especially the Moremi Game Reserve

Buffaloes

The Cape, or African, buffalo is a highly social, ox-like creature that lives in a herd. It enjoys well-watered savannah but also occurs in forested areas. Common in sub-Saharan Africa, buffalo in Botswana is limited to the north of the country where there’s enough water for the herds.

Buffalo in the Chobe National Park, Botswana.
Buffalo in the Chobe National Park, Botswana.

During the rainy season from December onwards, buffalo disperse into the mopane forests and drier areas of the northern Kalahari. In the dry season, smaller herds come together and gather around permanent water sources like the Chobe, Kwando, and Linyanti rivers and all over the Okavango Delta.


What Our Guests Have to Say?

Read recent reviews from travellers who have planned and booked their trips with us
Well organized, responsive and knowlegable.
Excellent Service!

9-Day Botswana Safari Review

Patricia, United States
03 Nov 2022
Absolutely amazing itinerary put together by Matthys and the team. Everything was...

South Africa & Zimbabwe Safari Review

Ian & Elaine Fursland, United Kingdom
28 Sep 2022
Planned and executed well to the last detail.

Family Safari Review

Kathleen, United States
20 Aug 2018
Blew Expectations out of the water!!!

Four African Country Trip Review

Mike, United States
11 Jun 2018
A trip that was easy to organise and hard to forget.

Honeymoon in Madagascar Review

Lexi Spheris, South Africa
09 Jun 2015