Botswana?

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is the worlds largest inland delta ending in the sand plains of the Kalahari. The Okavango Delta has a total surface of 15.000 km?. The third largest river on the African continent, the Okavango River, ends here. The source of the river is in the Angolan Highlands meandering away from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caprivi Strip and eventually ending in a delta of lakes, lagoons and a labyrinth of channels. The entire delta contains 95% of the surface water from the entire Botswana.

The permanent water supply makes the region an excellent habitat for grazing animals and water birds. The presence of grazers logically attracts many carnivores.

The water is flowing slowly to the Okavango after the annual rainfall in Angola and together with the water, fertile sediment is coming to the region which stayed behind for many centuries.

Not all safari lodges can be reached by normal passenger vehicle but only by 4x4 vehicles which requires some experience to drive through the region. In other cases, lodges can only be reached by boat or small aircrafts.

Chobe National Park

World famous reserve, found in the 1960's and has the reputation to be the capital city from the African elephant. The reserve is the home of the largest elephant, zebra and lion population on the African continent, living in huge grasslands from the Savuti.

The question raise in 1931 to stop the intensive hunting by founding a reserve. One year later, an area of 24.000 km? was proclaimed to be a nature reserve. Another 31600 km? was added to the reserve in 1933 and by 1960 the name Chobe Game Reserve was given. Chobe becomes in 1967 the first national park in Botswana. The last human settlements were removed by 1975 and in the 1980's another 10.500 km? is added to the reserve. Chobe is a complex eco system from plains and forest from the Srondela in the northeast, the Savuti in the west, the Lynyanti Swamp in the northeast and the dry plains in the central area.

The dramatic annual zebra and wildebeest migration during the rain season is very spectacular. Once the water supply is dried out, the thousands of animals migrate back to the permanent water supply in the north. The Chobe water supply is attracting thousands of elephants and buffalo during the dry season. About 120.000 elephants live in Chobe, the most dense population on our planet with about 5 elephants per 5 km?. The elephant population in the region is even 3 times higher than human population in the area. The enormous elephant population (the elephants in the reserve are the largest in Africa) brings a lot of ecological problems, the pressure on the land is so high that scientists will have to take measurements to prevent total destruction of the landscape.

10Moremi Game Reserve

The ideal period to visit the Moremi Reservere are the dry winter months between July and September. It is during this season that the pans are drying out and because of that game is gathering around the few pools left. Game viewing is done by traditional 4x4 safari vehicle, motorboat or canoe.

The reserve had in 1976 a surface of 3800 km?, in de 1990's another 1050 km? was added to the reserve, wherefrom 20% Okavango Delta. The reserve can be reached from Maun and further in the northeast into the direction of Shorobe along a tarred road which ends up into a gravel road. The road becomes a deep 4x4 sand track past the Buffalo Fence and goes between mopane and acacia woodland. On less than 100 km from Maun, visitors reach finally the Moremi Game Reserve.

Kgalagadi Trans-Frontier Park

The reserve is an international agreement between South Africa and Botswana. It is the largest conservation area in the world. The Mabuasehube and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana were melted together with the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park on South African soil. This project reaching of both frontiers has a total surface of 38.000 km?. It is possible for visitors to migrate through both areas due to the international agreements between both countries.

The reserve is situated on 850 km southwest of the capital Gaborone and can be reached via the tarred road to Tsabong (about 550 km) and then further via another 310 km tarred road. Another road is from Gaborone to Hukuntsi on tarred roads (530 km) and further via a 171 sand road to the park. A 4x4 vehicle is recommended for both routes.

Centraal Kalahari Game Reserve

The reserve is one of the largest conservation areas in Afrika and the second largest in the world with a surface reaching 52.800 km?.

Typical for the area is the flowering after the annual rainfall between November and beginning March. The rainfall is on average between 170 to 700 mm. Visitors are recommended to have good driving experience with a 4x4 vehicle during this season, one has also to take care for own comfort, firewood, drinking water and food supply. The best period of the year to visit the region is between December and April.

Khutse Game Reserve

The in 1971 declared nature reserve has a total surface of 2500 km?. Typical for the region is dry savannah plains.

The Khutse reserve can be reached via Gaborone and Molepolole via a 210 km long tarred and gravel road. Visitors leave the tarred road near the Lethakeng Village (which has also the last petrol station). The area is bordering the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. A 4x4 vehicle is a must.

Makgadikgadi National Park

The Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans became famous because of Dr. David Livingstone. The Makgadikgadi and Xxai Pan National Park have an estimate surface of 12.000 km?. The region is famous for its annual revival after the summer rains and the enormous baobab trees. A 4x4 vehicle is a must.

The Makgadikgadi is technically not a single pan but many pans with sandy desert in between, the largest being the Sua, Nwetwe and the Nxai Pans. The largest individual pan is about 1,900 sq miles (4.921 km?). In comparison, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is a single salt flat of 4,100 sq miles (10.619 km?), rarely has water, and is generally claimed to be the world's largest salt pan.

At Makgadikgadi, the dry salty clay crust is seaonally covered with water and grass, and are then a refuge for birds and animals in this very arid part of Botswana. The main water source is the Nata River, called Amanzanyama in Zimbabwe.

General information on Namibia

Introduction text

Botswana achieved independence peacefully in 1966 and has boasted a stable democracy and economy ever since. The countries independence, which occurred when it was one of the world?s 10 poorest countries, happily coincided with the discovery of diamonds. They are now responsible for nearly ? of the country?s export earnings and Botswana?s gross domestic product is now on the of the highest per capita in Africa.

Botswana extends over 1.100 km from north to south and 960 km from east to west, and has an area of 582.000 km? (about the same size as Kenya or France). It?s bordered to the south and south-east by South Africa, across the Limpopo and Molopo Rivers; to the north-east by Zimbabwe; and to the north and west by Namibia. Near Kazungula, four countries ? Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia ? meet at a single point mid-stream in the Zambezi River. Botswana is entirely landlocked and over 500 km from the nearest coastline (in Namibia).

Much of the country consists of a vast and nearly level sand-filled basin characterised by scrub-covered savanna. In the lower elevations o the north-east are the great salty clay deserts of the Makgadikgadi Pans, the largest (about 12.000 km?) complex of saltpans in the world.
Coverning about 75% of Botswana, including the entire cental and south-wesern regions, is the Kalahari (known in Setswana as Kgalagadi). The Kalahari is a semi-arid expanse of wind-blown sand deposits and long sandy valleys and ridges stabilised by scrubby tress and bushes.

From Angola and Namibia, the Okavango River (the only river that flows into Botswana) soaks in to the Kalahari sands to form the Okavango Delta, nearly 16.000 km? of convoluted channels and islands.

Most of the country lies at an average elevation of about 1.000 m with the highest point ?Otse Hill? (1489 m), between Gabarone (the capital) and Lobatse.

Botswana boasts the largest number of elephants in the world with over 65.000 heads!

Climate and temperature

Although it straddles the Tropic of Capricorn, Botswana experiences a variable temperate climate rather than a tropical one. In the middle of winter (late May to August), the days are clear, dry and sunny but nights are cool to bitterly cold. In the Kalahari, temperatures below freezing are normal at night-time, especially in July and august, but can climb to over 40?C later in the year. In more humid areas, mainly in the south-east, frosts are common. The driest months are generally July and August.
Fortunately, this mostly desert country has a pronounced summer rainy season (November to March) when afternoon showers and thunderstorms bring pula (rain) ? which is so precious to the country. The annual rainfall averages about 450 mm, but this ranges from about 650 mm in the far north (around Chobe National Park) to less than 250 mm in the south-west (ie, the Kalahari). The wettest months are generally January and February.
The in-between periods are April/mid May and September/October, tends to be dry and pleasant, although September/October are the hottest and most humid time of the year in most of the country.

Currency

The unit of currency is the Pula (meaning ?rain? ? P) which is divided into 100 thebe (t). Banknotes come in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50 and P100, and coins in denominations of 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5.

Passports and visa

A valid passport is required to enter Botswana (at least 6 months valid on entry). Most visitors obtain tourist visas at the international airports and borders. Visas are valid for 30 days and up to 90 days if requested at the time of entry.
If travelling between Zimbabwe and Zambia to see the Victoria Falls, you should apply for a multiple-entry visa

Language

English is the official language of Botswana. The most common language is Setswana, a Bantu language in the Sotho-Tswana group, which is understood by about 80% of the population. It?s the language of the dominant Batswana people. The second Bantu language is Sekalanga, a Shona derivative spoken by the Bakalanga who live in the area around Francistown. A minority language is spoken by the San (Bushman) people. The remaining 55.000 San, about 60% live in Botswana, 35% in Namibia and the remainder are scattered throughout South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Transportation

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