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, 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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Popular Botswana Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

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Pangolin photography tour of Botswana

Immerse yourself in the wildlife and stunning natural beauty of the Chobe riverfront and pristine Okavango Delta as you capture nature's most spectacular beauty...

 | 6-day Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls Water and Wilderness Combo

6-day Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls Water and Wilderness Combo

Explore two of Africa's most popular World Heritage Sites in under a week...

 | 8-day Botswana premier safari collection

8-day Botswana premier safari collection

Choose our Botswana premier collection and experience a traditional big game wildlife safari in one of Africa’s top destinations. ...

 | Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience

Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience

Experience the smoke that thunders and enjoy spotting elephant, buffalo, lion and hippos at the Chobe River...

 | Botswana green season safari

Botswana green season safari

Experience three of Botswana's highlights – the Central Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Kwando Linyanti – wilderness areas that take you from arid desert to lush wetlands...

Wildlife  | Big Five safari combining Moremi Game Reserve and Selinda Reserve

Ultimate Botswana safari

Explore Botswana's Moremi and Selinda reserves on foot, in a safari vehicle or a mokoro for unforgettable wildlife encounters with big game and rare birds...

 | Botswana and Zimbabwe safari

Botswana and Zimbabwe safari

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – to the diverse game viewing at the Chobe National Park and ending at the thundering Victoria Falls...

Campfire | Popular Botswana Safari Through the Delta

Popular Botswana Safari Through the Delta

Experience the remote wilderness of Botswana on a safari that offers you luxurious game viewing like no other....

 | Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and Okavango Delta safari

Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and Okavango Delta Safari

Explore the famous reserve that offers exceptional game viewing and sight the elusive Sitatunga antelope...

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Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Saddle-up for a horseback riding adventure through the semi-arid thirstland of the Kalahari....