Lodge Safaris in Botswana
Botswana is a true ecological paradise, and one that’s beginning to gain a reputation as a must-see destination for anyone planning a safari trip.
There are numerous national parks, animal reserves and private lodges, especially in the north of the country, and the wildlife found in this part of the world is second to none.
Few safari destinations can claim to have so many diverse ecological areas: from the Chobe River’s wooded edges to the Okavango Delta’s flood plains, the huge Kalahari grasslands and the dried-out plains of Makgadikgadi, the multitude of different habitats make for abundant and fascinating wildlife at every turn.
A safari in private camps may be the most authentic way to discover Botswana, presenting the country in an unedited light and tying you tight to the natural wonders on offer. But that isn’t for everyone, and if you prefer the comfort of a lodge to provide all the services and comforts of modern life, as well as restaurants with experienced chefs cooking exotic safari meats, luxury lodges are great option to explore.
From the banks of the Chobe River to the Okavango Delta, this is a guide to the best Botswana’s safari lodges have to offer.
In addition to a variety of safari options, many lodges or tented camps have an incomparable charm in Botswana, and ideally the best ones are located in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Chobe or Central Kalahari: these are some of the most beautiful areas in the world and prime spots for safari goers.
Between safari outings, visitors to lodges enjoy having a drink on luxury terraces overlooking the nature below, relaxing by the pool or reading a book in the library. Most lodges are kitted-out like luxury hotels with large soft beds, bars, private showers and full service available.
Despite the vastness of the country, the isolation in the wilderness and the constraints of being situated in the bush, all camps in Botswana combine inventiveness and technicality to be as glamorous as they possibly can be. Often upgraded to be even more attractive and to follow top of the range demands, you will find an elaborate kitchen, a good wine cellar, private swimming pools, and even services like massages on offer.
This is not unusual in Botswanan safari lodges as the country has focused on high-end tourism by limiting the number of visitors and focusing on being high end. Here, safaris are animal friendly with an emphasis on conservation, so the sighting is limited to a maximum of three vehicles around the animals. Apart from the animals themselves, there will be no crowd around you as you get up close and personal!
Chobe and Savute National Park
The national park, established in 1968, benefits from the permanent water supply of the Chobe River, which means there is a large animal concentration in the area.
The lodges are built along the river and offer four-wheel safaris in the park, as well as very pleasant boat trips on the river in the afternoon or at sunset where visitors can sail next to banks that bear the marks made by large groups of elephants who come willingly to bathe there. In fact, this region is particularly renowned for the density of elephants, and visitors can see them in quantity and all year round near the water. Some of the families migrate even in the dry season from Zimbabwe or from Zambia.
Predators such as lions and leopards are also here in large numbers as they find abundant prey and dense vegetation to hunt on the lookout. During the day, the river hosts hippopotamuses and crocodiles, while the surrounding forest is home to giraffes, zebras, lions, leopards and plenty more.
Chobe is particularly easy to reach as it is a ten-minute drive from Kasane Airport, or about two hours from the Victoria Falls, and this ease of access, as well as the presence of large lodges in Kasane makes the area very popular for tourists.
Chobe Safari Lodge
Located on the banks of the Chobe River, this lodge is right on the edge of the Chobe National Park and in close proximity to the large groups of animals that live within it. Here, there are other benefits to travellers too. This large top-end lodge, offers all the benefits of a luxury hotel with great rooms equipped with satellite TV, private patios and amazing views. A swimming pool, beauty salon and internet café, make your stay an experience by itself, but after the long days out in the bush discovering Africa’s nature, this is the perfect place for some rest and relaxation.
Game drives from the lodge offer encounters with the Big Five game animals and plenty of predators on the trail of their prey. Don’t hesitate to go for a river safari too, where the opportunity to see hippopotamuses and crocodiles up close is not to be missed.
North Botswana: Kwando and Linyanti
Often overlooked in typical programs that pass directly from Chobe to the Okavango Delta, this area of northern Botswana is extremely rich and has a wild side that we love very much, if only because it houses several families of wild dogs which are often so difficult to see as they can be very nomadic creatures.
Northern Botswana is made up of large private concessions and reserves, including Linyanti, Kwando, Selinda and Chobe Enclave and covers nearly 6,000 kilometres squared.
Spending some time here is a rewarding experience, and finding the lodge to suits your needs is a must in order to fully enjoy your safari. These private lodges are only accessible by plane, with an average flight time of 30 minutes from Kasane and 45 minutes from Maun and they each have a bush track perfect for excursions.
The private reserves in the North of the country are, by definition, not very frequently visited since they are reserved for the residents of the camps, which are few, but they are perfect for getting a real feel for the area’s wildlife. The landscapes are varied with savannah, forest, rivers and swamps, and a network of many tracks can vary the routes and the animals found within them.
Okavango Delta and Moremi
Safaris in the Okavango Delta and Moremi are full of opportunities with many safaris in local Mokoro canoes, on foot and in 4x4s.
The legendary Okavango Delta is a must-see during a trip to Botswana, mainly for the landscapes, the variety of activities and the very special atmosphere it creates. And no trip to Botswana would be complete without a ride in a Mokoro canoe on the waters of the Okavango Delta.
Camp Okavango in the Okavango Delta
Located on the remote Nxaragha Island in the Okavango Delta, the camp is only a 30-minute flight from Maun. The lodge offers a unique experience in Africa, in exceptional comfort conditions.
The region is best known for its elephants, offering visitors the chance to attend elephant meals and interact with these magnificent animals. Travellers can also practice their fishing and take 4×4 safaris to get close to some animals or travel longer distances in search of more.
The location of the camp also allows visitors to enjoy the waters of the delta for much of the year. Some water activities are hugely popular here and especially rides in Mokoro canoes if the water level is enough. Beautiful landscapes made of river bends, canals, islands, reeds, papyrus and palm trees are a must see here.
Located opposite Chief’s Island, in the southern part of the Okavango Delta, this camp is built on stilts within the permanent waters and the various buildings are interconnected by wooden walkways. The elevated communal areas are under two thatched-roof buildings facing the lagoon.
Very large tents are built in a semi-rigid way. Privacy is ensured by the vegetation between each tent, large beds, a private terrace, a sitting area, and a bathroom with outdoor shower and bath.
The camp offers a library corner, a shop, and a cleaning service included in the price. The dining room and bar are also fully open on the delta. The food is always excellent, hearty and healthy. The common table d’hôte system facilitates social connections and meals are often taken communally; there are so many anecdotes to tell when returning from safaris.
Okuti in the Moremi Game Reserve
Located in the Moremi Game Reserve, this lodge is a place full of charms that will create a unique experience. The Moremi reserve is one of Africa’s best safari areas.
Booking a stay at Okuti is the perfect choice for accommodation as it is a small camp with bungalows suitable for a family with lovely staff, simple and good food, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Nxai and Makgadikgadi Pans
The Makgadikgadi National Park and Nxai Pans are home to one of the last major animal migrations on the planet, zebras. Visitors will discover the atmosphere of the vast plains of the South Serengeti in the pans, as well as antelopes in the dry basins covered with short grass.
The National Park covers about 8,000 square kilometres and there are plenty of animals to see and discover here.
Leroo La Tau Camp in the Makgadikgadi National Park
Leroo La Tau is located about 140 kilometres south of Maun, overlooking the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in central Kalahari, Botswana. It is distinguished by rich pastures that attract thousands of species of animals.
Built on high cliffs overlooking the Boteti River, Leroo La Tau is ideal for wildlife viewing at the waterhole near the Makgadikgadi Desert. The camp offers desert hikes too and guests can also experience local culture by visiting some of the villages around the area.
The lodge is an invitation to relax after a day out exploring, with the restaurant and living room made of wood and thatch. This is the ideal place to observe the migration of zebras in summer, between November and May, and visit the Makgadikgadi Desert and its salt lakes. The lodge is built directly on the Boteti River where the local wildlife come to drink. Make the most of your stay here enjoying African bush whilst listening to the nocturnal sounds of the savannah over a delicious cocktail. The lodge also has luxury cabins with en-suite bathrooms and private terraces.
Choosing the camp or the lodges that will accommodate your family and friends is a big part of your trip. Do you want to focus on 4×4 drives through the heart of the savannah, or boat trips on the traditional Mokoro canoes? Whatever the answer to that question, each of these lodges will offer a chance to chill and unwind after a busy day exploring, but choosing the right one for your needs is the very beginning of the journey.