in Botswana · Map of Botswana
country occupies 581 730km2 on a flat plateau with an average
elevation of 1000 m. The population of 1.3 million is concentrated
mainly in the eastern part of the country. Gaborone is the capital
with 190 000 inhabitants.
annual rainfall during the single rainy season (November to March)
produces 500mm or more of annual rain in the north and east. The
Kalahari Desert receives about 200mm annually but the rains fail
some years. The protected areas make up 17 % of the land. Botswana
was a British Protectorate (Bechuanaland) until 1966. Dr. David
Livingstone (1813-1873) visited Ngamiland (Bechuanaland) in his
early exploration trips from Kuruman to Lake Dow, Lake Ngami,
Khwai, Linyanti, Chobe and Mosi-oa-Tunya.
Okavango Delta: The Okavango
River originates on the Benguela plateau in Angola, a high rainfall
area of 1200 to 1500mm per annum. The river is known as the Cubango
River in Angola and the Kavango in northern Namibia. The river
flows for 1300km in Angola before it reaches Botswana. For the
first 100km in Botswana it flows as a single channel which is
guided by two parallel fault lines and then it divides and sub-divides
to form a unique inland delta.
The water arrives in Maun in June or July, about five months after
the height of the rainy season in Angola. Most of the water is
lost through evaporation and only 3 % of the water reaches Maun.
The water level in the delta is declining over the past several
years and certain river channels and lagoons (lediba) have dried
of the wildlife is concentrated in the north east area of the
delta which is part of the Moremi Game Reserve.
Game Reserve: (4872km2) The reserve was proclaimed in
1963, under the Batawana tribe governed by Mrs Moremi, widow of
Chief Moremi III. June Kay, a local resident of Maun was appalled
at the massacre resulting from the “white hunters”
on the Khwai plains and was instrumental in the declaration of
Moremi as a game reserve. June is now living in England and her
book, Starlings Laughing, (June Vendall Clark) is an interesting
account of her life in Africa and the birth of the Moremi Game
During the dry months of September to November, the congregation
of species along the permanent rivers make Moremi one of the most
unforgettable wildlife experiences in Africa.
Marsh: The dead Camelthorn (acacia erioloba) trees on
the marsh are the result of drowning and this is closely related
to the flooding and drying up of the Savute Channel. The marsh
was covered by a huge lake which has dried up. Watching the sunset
on the eastern part of the marsh is an experience remembered by
travellers for many years.
Channel: The Channel has a fascinating history of flooding
and drying up independently of good rainy seasons and flood levels
elsewhere - a mystery that has intrigued geologists and other
researchers for many years. The Camelthorn trees (acacia erioloba)
tell a story of long non-flowing periods. The channel dried up
in 1885 and started flowing again in 1967 until the end of 1982.
Since 1982, the channel has been dry. The old public campsite
was built on a river bend and visitors could observe hippo and
crocodile from the camp.
National Park: The park is named after the river Chobe
which forms the northern boundary of the park. The river has its
origins in Angola, where it is known as the Kuando. After entering
Botswana, the Kuando River becomes the Linyanti and only near
Ngoma Gate it becomes the Chobe. The Chobe meets with the Zambezi
River near Kazangula at the border of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Chobe River supports the largest concentration of elephant
found anywhere in Africa. The elephants leave the river for the
southern region of the park during the rainy season (December
to March) at the time when food and water is freely available
is also famous for it huge herds of buffalo, the Chobe bushbuck,
and for being the southern-most point where puku can be seen.
The sunsets are exquisite during the winter months (June to August).
the 3rd November 1855, Livingstone and 114 porters left the Linyanti
River to follow the Zambezi to its mouth on the east coast - a
journey of 1600km (1000 miles). On the 16th November, the explorer
and his entourage arrived at the Mosi-oa-Tunya Falls or “the
smoke that thunders”. Half a mile (800m) from there Livingstone
changed his canoe for a lighter dugout manned by natives who were
well acquainted with the rapids. The explorer late wrote in his
diary this powerful description - “scenes so lovely must
have been gazed upon by angels in their flight. He named these
waters “Victoria Falls” as a mark of respect for his
sovereign, Queen Victoria. The falls, so rugged in their beauty
and brilliance, are one of the wonders of the world.
& Nxai Pan National Park: Established at the same
time, these two areas about 100km (60mi) east of Maun effectively
operate as one national park. The southern area, Makgadikgadi
Game Reserve, is a 4000 sq km (1600 sq mi) tract of pans, grasslands
and beautiful savanna. Wildlife is plentiful, though not as dense
as at Chobe. There are antelope, lion, hyena, cheetah, and hippo,
as well as a stunning array of birds, but no elephant or buffalo.
There's a campsite at the park with a toilet, cold shower and
drinking water. You'll either need to join a tour or rent a 4WD
to get there.
The northern part of the park, Nxai Pan, takes in another 4000
sq km (1600 sq mi). The southern part of Nxai Pan is a complex
of mini salt pans. This is one of the few areas in Botswana that's
more interesting during the rainy season - when huge herds hit
Nxai's grassy pans. The numbers can be staggering; wildebeest,
zebra and gemsbok appear in their thousands, along with large
herds of other antelope and giraffe. Lion, hyena and wild dog
come to take advantage of the expanded menu, and this is also
one of the few places you'll see bat-eared fox. In the south of
Nxai Pan, Baines' Baobabs comprise a hardy clump of large baobab
trees, rendered immortal in 1862 by painter Thomas Baines, a member
of Livingstone's expedition. If you've seen a copy of the painting,
you'll notice that only one branch has fallen off in the last
100 years. There are no facilities at Nxai Pan's campsites, and
you'll need a 4WD to get here. The park is about 500km (310mi)
north of Gaborone.
Wildlife Reserve: This area is best known for its enormous
herds of Elephant, which move down to the Linyanti River at the
start of our winter months and only retrace their steps inland
once the main rains arrive. Sable and Roan Antelope occur, as
well as Lion, Leopard and Wild Dog. The marshes are home to Red
Lechwe, Sitatunga, Hippo, Crocodiles and wonderful birdlife. Moving
along the fringes of the waterways, guests can see Kudu, Zebra,
Buffalo, Waterbuck and Impala. The region's key feature is the
Linyanti River and marshes, which are complemented by the contrasting
dry woodlands inland. Massive lagoons and steadily flowing rivers
abound with papyrus and phragmites. The heavily forested riverine
fringes blend into dry countryside further inland, away from the