Simply mentioning wildlife and Botswana safari in the same sentence can generate mental depictions of the vast Okavango Delta that span hundreds of miles with papyrus-flanked canals teeming with all manner animal life from the elephant, lions and thousands of more species that can’t be mentioned in this small article.
There is a predator selection like few places on earth, birdlife that is equally unique and then there are wildebeest, cheetah, African Hunting Dogs, leopards and all this just before noon while touring through anyone of Botswana’s beautiful wildlife reserves.
But there is much more to Botswana than the Okavango, Following is a list of the most significant wildlife reserves found in Botswana. The results are presented in no particular order.
1. CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE
The Central Kalahari is a place of great serenity and connection with the world far greater than the technological paradise that surrounds most humans in their day to day lives. The immensity wilderness can shrink you to the size of a grain of sand and shower your head with star canopy at night like nowhere else in the world.
This game reserve is the second largest of its kind in the entire world and spans over 51,000 square kilometres. This was the original brooding ground for the famous writers Mark and Delia Owens who produced “ the Cry of the Kalahari” which made this region famously almost three decades ago.
This region is best accessed in a reliable 4×4 to navigate the firm, but sometimes tricky roads. Further to the north things are easy to navigate but are sandy in the south and the wet season can make navigating the roads a bit more surprising. Don’t expect to find too many “facilities” here in the deep desert, while there are a few campsites they are pretty primitive.
2. MOREMI GAME RESERVE
As far as impressive landscapes, spectacular sunrises and a great variety of animals, nothing compares with what awaits in Moremi Game Reserve. The terrific landscapes and unique wildlife are present year round, making this one of the most popular reserves in Botswana. Bird watchers in particular will be most impressed with the wide variety of birds especially the crowning attraction, the White-Faced Duck.
Best season to visit the Moremi Game Reserve to witness the feathered display, is between June and November when the wet season is winding down and the wildlife is closely packed at the water’s edge. This beautiful reserve covers over a third of the Okavango delta and includes the Mopane Tongue as well as many forests, plains, lagoons and rivers.
This Reserve is one of the few wildlife reserves that was initially established by a tribe of conservation conscious people, the BaTawana People. In addition to the great variety of birds, there are buffalo, elephant, sitatunga and many big cats as well.
3. KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK
The Transfrontier park is located in southern Botswana and covers a sprawling 37,000 square kilometres, making not only one of the largest reserves in the world but one of the largest unspoilt ecosystems in the world. The red sand dunes and dry river valleys of this incredible land are like something from another planet. The tall strange-looking acacia trees add to the off-world feeling in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
This strange world is home to many kinds of antelope including gemsbok, eland, springbok, giraffe and blue wildebeest. There is also a local big cat population that is thriving as well. Lions, leopards and cheetahs are commonly spotted throughout the Kgalagadi park.
But it is the smallish predators that make the park a truly unique place. The small birds, insects and mammals that live in this park attract the brown hyena, honey badger, wildcat and the black-backed jackal. There are also meerkat or suricate as they are actually known.
4. KHAMA RHINO SANCTUARY
During the 1980s, poachers hunted the white rhino to the verge of extinction. It wasn’t till the 90s when a community trust was initiated that would create a park that would safeguard this vanishing species. Now the diminishing numbers of black and white rhino are making a comeback in this sanctuary.
This community project is now under the protection of the Botswana Defence Force and a team of dedicated conservationists. This sanctuary is on 4,300 hectares of the Kalahari desert. Along with the rhino, many other species have found a comfortable home in this sanctuary. Giraffes, bat-eared foxes, wildcats and even Linx are at home in the Khama Rhino reserve.
In Conclusion— The wildlife and sanctuaries of Botswana are home to the most spectacular inhabitants that enjoy living in a realm so unlike what most humans experience. This is what makes the African safari experience such a singular delight to the visitors who come across the globe to witness the wealth of wildlife and pristine landscapes.