Botswana vs South Africa

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. South Africa lacks the rugged remoteness of Botswana, but for those eager to see a maximum amount of wildlife in a short amount of time, private concessions like those in South Africa’s Sabi Sands are a reliable option. Unlike Botswana, South Africa’s game reserves are all fenced. This has the effect of limiting the natural migration of animals within the ecosystem but results in a higher concentration of game, especially big cats.

Wildlife is prolific throughout both South Africa and Botswana

Botswana’s game viewing, while excellent, can be unpredictable at times, as animals migrate according to the seasons. South Africa has a number of private concessions that offer a very exclusive, intimate safari experience on par with Botswana, but these areas are much smaller so guests do not get exposed to the same variety of habitats in Botswana. South Africa has very few unfenced camping areas, making it safer for families camping with children, but disappointing for those seeking a wilder camping experience. South African campsites, such as those in the Kruger National Park tend to be crowded, especially during school holidays. South African game reserves are mostly accessible by car and few require a 4x4 vehicle, while a 4x4 is absolutely necessary to negotiate the thick Kalahari sand tracks in many of Botswana’s wild areas. Because Botswana has a no fences between its national parks and outlying areas, it is completely normal to see elephants, buffalo, lions, giraffes, or even a pack of wild dogs padding along the country’s main highways.

The intrepid leopard botswana wildlife safari

Botswana, with its simpler infrastructure and small remote towns, has a charming ‘real African’ feel while the plentiful shops in South Africa, even within the Kruger National Park, make stocking up on supplies very convenient. A South African safari is generally the cheaper route with more choice when it comes to mid-range accommodation options. Botswana, on the other hand, only offers two options – camp or stay in a luxury lodge, and most luxury lodges are only reachable by light aircraft so it is important to pack light. Booking for a camping safari in Botswana needs to be done at least a year in advance as campsites are limited, whereas you are far more likely to get away with a last minute bookings in South Africa, although booking ahead is always the wiser option.


Our Recommended Itinerary

South Africa and Botswana safari

day 1 to 4

day 5 to 6

Lion Sands Game Reserve

day 7

day 8 to 10

Okavango Delta

day 11

Departure

View Full Itinerary

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A Botswana safari cost

Botswana is an expensive holiday destination in comparison to neighbouring safari country, South Africa. Lodges and camps charge high prices, and additional activities, private guides, exclusive use of lodges or game viewers come at a fair price too. Domestic flights and national park fees add to costs. That being said, the value of the experience is superior given the pristine wilderness…

Cash and payments in Botswana

Botswana’s pula The currency in Botswana is Pula, which is a Tswana word meaning “rain”. Rain is cherished and welcomed because it brings life to the Kalahari. Pula is used throughout the country and is the accepted form of payment in restaurants, shops, and at hotels or lodges; however, most places in Maun, Kasane, Francistown, Gaborone, and other major towns accept international…

Shopping and markets in Botswana

Every major town in Botswana has at least one shopping centre or mall, which includes major supermarkets, liquor stores, clothing, furniture, homeware, and electronic shops, in addition to local banks and ATMs. In terms of gift stores and curio shops, some safari lodges stock their own locally made woven baskets, jewellery, wooden carvings and bowls, and these items are usually…

Travelling to Botswana

The easiest and fastest way to travel to Botswana is a connecting flight from Johannesburg International Airport (O.R Tambo) in South Africa, although there are also connecting flights from Cape Town and Windhoek (Namibia) available. Currently there are no international carriers that fly directly to Maun Airport. Transport in Botswana is relatively efficient. Getting to your lodge or…

Rock paintings of Gubatsaa Hills

Bushmen rock art in the small hills surrounding Savuti was first discovered in March 1968 by Tim Liversedge who was a warden of Chobe National Park. The latest of the paintings is thought to have been done in around 1810. Although the paintings are all of a similar style and outlined in red-ochre (similar to the nearest rock paintings found at Tsodilo Hills) they seem to have been done…

Chief’s Island in Botswana

Chief’s Island, in the heart of Moremi Game Reserve, is a massive sand island or “sandveld tongue” that covers 1,000 km2 of the central Delta region. On the northwestern tip of Chief’s Island lies one of the Okavango’s most famous game viewing areas, the Mombo Concession. Mombo is known to BaYei locals as “the place of plenty” and arguably the most fertile land of the…

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