WATCH: Botswana vs South Africa | Discover Africa Safaris
Blog article

WATCH: Botswana vs South Africa

discoverafrica 14 August 2018
Part of the South Africa Safari Collection
Back to the Blog
Discover Africa Safaris

Trying to choose between Southern Africa’s most prolific wildlife destinations is no easy task.

South Africa and Botswana are neighboring countries that both offer superb wildlife sightings and top class camps and lodges, but there are a number of differences to keep in mind when choosing one over the other. We’ve compiled some of our top highlights for each country. Take a look:



While South Africa offers the perfect combination of beach, city and bush, Botswana’s treasured wilderness is a source of national pride. Which would you choose?


South Africa

  • Big Five in abundance, with rhinos having been reintroduced into Northern Botswana quite recently
  • Endangered species such as the red lechwe and wild dog are heavily protected
  • National parks and reserve unfenced, which allows for greater movement of species
  • Game viewing good all year round
  • Zebra migration is the second largest of its kind on the planet
  • Big Five concentrated in bigger parks such as the Kruger National Park (and surrounds), Phinda Game Reserve and iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  • Parks are fenced off, resulting in higher concentrations of big predators such as leopard and lion
  • Game viewing is great all year round too
  • Striking and abundant marine life including the Marine Big Five (Cape fur seal, Southern right whale, dolphin, African penguin and Great White Shark)
  • Multiple photography-geared safari tour operators with specialised photographic knowledge and experience
  • Preferred destination for wildlife photography
  • The ‘green season’ or ‘low season’ can be a barrier to wildlife photography during the spring and summer months
  • Both landscape and wildlife photography is excellent due to the variety of ecosystems and landscapes
  • Heavy rainfall during summer in the Kruger National Park can hamper photography
Type of traveller
  • Group travel with friends and family (although malaria is a risk)
  • Adventurous travellers will enjoy the Makgadikgadi Pans
  • Couples/honeymooners who prefer solitude
  • Value-for-money and luxury travellers
  • Geared towards serious safari-goers and return visitors
  • Preferred destination for family travel due to low-risk and malaria-free options. Fun activities for the whole family
  • Self-drive enthusiasts who want adventure and stunning scenery
  • Solo travellers due to the cosmopolitan nature of the country
  • Great for first-time visitors to Africa
  • Several premium and luxury lodges; can be pricey but settings are unrivalled
  • Renowned for service excellence
  • An equal mix of budget to luxury accommodation options
Language, culture and history
  • A stable economy and relatively peaceful political history
  • Less of a divide between social groups
  • SeTswana is the official language, but English is spoken almost everywhere except in extremely rural areas
  • Ancient San culture reflected in archeological discoveries
  • Tumultuous political history
  • Very diverse array of cultures and people
  • Eleven official languages with English being the main language of communication. Almost everyone can communicate in English
  • Multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites and areas of great historical, archeological and paleontological significance
  • Landlocked so beach safaris are not possible, but the magnificent Okavango Delta and Chobe River allows for water-based safari activities
  • Photographic safaris
  • Big Five safaris
  • Birding
  • Walking safaris
  • Honeymoon safaris
  • Bush, beach and city experiences. There is never want of things to do
  • Big Five safaris
  • Birding (particularly in the Kruger National Park and Garden Route)
  • LGBT tours
  • Walking safaris
  • Self-drive adventures
  • Camping and road trips are very popular
  • Romantic, honeymoon safaris are preferred
Best time to travel
  • Best experiences somewhat limited to the dry season between July and October
  • Travel is great all year round due to the variation in climate throughout the country
  • Remote so fly-in transfers are a must as the roads are prone to flooding and are not as well developed as in South Africa
  • Ideally positioned for extended vacation at prime destinations like Victoria Falls
  • Excellent self-drive facilities as well as adequate public transport available
  • A variety of airports make international as well as national travel easy and efficient
Malaria risk
  • Medium to low risk in the southern regions
  • High risk in Northern Botswana
  • Malaria present in the east, including Kruger National Park
  • No malaria present in the majority of the country

Try these safaris:


Having trouble deciding? Contact us for travel advice about how to create an itinerary that will take you to both destinations. 

Our African Travel Expert

Free safari planning advice from destination experts

Get Travel Deals & News to your Inbox

We have the best safari and Africa travel news around & we even have the occasional mind blowing travel deals.
Sign up and get our monthly newsletter.