Trippin: Botswana

Botswana is one of the least populated countries in Africa, while traveling to the country there might be days where you aren’t meeting any human, but when it comes to animals, it is one of the most densely populated. So much that you can easily avoid the National Parks and just drive the main roads, and the probability is very high that you will see at least three out of the big 5 animals. But of course visiting the National Parks is mega much highly recommended or actually the reason to go.

Botswana for me was very good or better said very soft starting point, as a first timer in Africa. It is a great place for acclimatizing and accustomizing to the continent. We took our car/home in Kasane and that is where our adventure begun. The initial plan was to stay just five or six days, but we extended to eight. Little did we know that we were supposed to extend it even more, but this is the conclusion after every visited country.

Our journey started around Kasane at he Chobe Safari Lodge, perfect camping spot, in terms of amenities, but still more on the city side rather than the wild side. It was getting dark so, we didn’t want to spend our night in the wild. It was very convenient starting point for the Chobe National Park, probably my most favorite park from the whole trip, maybe because we were so lucky, and saw so many animals in the first hour, including six graceful lionesses.

In Botswana you know when you start, but you don know when you are arriving. I am still in awe that on some days we would drive 10 hours, but just 100 kilometers. Thats like taking a walk on the wild side, and that is where the adventure is happening, even if you are scared in the first dew days. You’ll appreciate it later. Another part of the Chobe National Park was Savuti, one of the most remote places in Botswana, the camping options are very limited and the higher class accommodation options as well. But that camping feeling, almost as if you are in the direct wild. In this part of Botswana we didn’t see that many animals, except for elephants, but the trampoline road adventure, oh em gee. And after 24 hours of no people in sight we arrived in Mbabe, where we had the first real chat with the locals, both sides were super happy about it.

The Next destination was Maun, fourth largest city in the country after Gaborone, Francistown and Molepolole. We stopped there for the usuals: market and gas station, and then we spotted a bar with locals so we joined for a beer and Savannah. The accommodation of the night was Gweta Lodge, first time in a room since the beginning of the trip.
We chose this location, since our itinerary was having Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and the Nxai Pan National Park. We only managed to get to Makgadikgadi, unfortunately not in the best visiting season, as the pans were dried out. What we managed to see there were numerous colorful birds.

The way out of the Makgadikgadi Park which translated means very dry, was way more interesting at least for me. On our route to Rakops, we managed to spot more than 20 elephants in their daily doings, a lioness chilling softly, and few impalas, running as if someone very dangerous was chasing them. Magical sunset while waiting for the ferry was crossed off too. Extra magic added by Cream Amarula.

We entered Kalahari with high expectations especially related to the Leopard pan, and low amount of gas and water – not your proper campers. On our day one there we saw many disappointed explorers, that like us were making endless loops in order to spot the Leopard. Luckily the next day in the very early morning right after the sunrise at 5AM, we sat a group of lions right on the road, some kilometers further a group of elegant Cheetahs, and the rest of the day Oryxes, impalas and all the other “regulars”. Sometimes we were so focused on searching for the big five, we were not appreciating enough the appearance of the other animals.

After Kalahari we continued to Francistown. Reason number one Covid test, reason number two, to get the city feel in a bigger city. The hospitals are spread throughout the city, the malls are concentrated in one central place, but it still didn’t have that city center feel. Our friend was very happy to introduce us to Spur, south African steak restaurant, and we are forever grateful for that. We tried to find some in the city but still more in the nature kind of things to do, but we couldn’t and the second night in Francistown we went camping on the premises of the five stars Cresta Marang Gardens Hotel. They had all the amenities, so it was a great find.

Of course that eight days are not enough for Botswana, but with the right organization and discipline, you can see a lot. My highlight is definitively Chobe Safari Park, but I can imagine that every other park will give equal amazing views, campsites and adventures.

We said we really want to come back here, in a not so fast paced adventure, maybe combined with Namibia because we still have the Okavango Delta and the Moremi game reserve left, then the Tsodilo Hills and the capital Gaborone. I mean we have much more left to see, but speaking of the non hidden spots these are on the top of the list, and maybe his majesty the Leopard will decide to appear.

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