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Botswana — a veritable treasure trove

For those wanting to discover Africa, Botswana is a veritable treasure trove. Only Botswana can offer the mysterious water world of the Okavango delta, the harsh wilderness of the Kalahari, the vast saltpans and the ancient rock paintings of the Tsodilo hills. Some of the highest concentrations of elephants and game anywhere in the world can be found in Chobe. There are up to 600 species of birds to tempt the most demanding ornithologist. And man has left his mark in Botswana too, in rock paintings, ancient pottery and stone tools.

Botswana is veritable treasure trove for the traveller who wants to explore virtually undiscovered Africa. Most of the country is covered by the sand based wilderness of the Kalahari. The land is dry, arid, gaunt and harsh — a veritable wilderness in the heart of the continent. Its wide horizons reveal Africa in all its majesty. Over 37% of the total land area is given over to wildlife management and conservation. Most of the country is virtually untouched by man.

Botswana has a dramatically diverse ecological system. It varies from the unique flood waters of the Okavango to the almost surreal, sun-baked saltpans of the central Kalahari; from the game-rich Chobe National Park, to the majestic waterways of the Chobe, Linyanti and Okavango rivers; from the specialised private conservation concessions in the Tuli block to the rugged Tswapong Mountains.

The Okavango is the largest inland delta in the world — a magical water world formed by lagoons, lakes and streams. It rises in the highlands of Angola and spreads in the shape of a panhandle into 15,000 km of papyrus swamps, reed beds and flood plains. It is simply unique. The waters linger limpidly over a near-flat surface. Some streams slide silently down ancient faults in the earth's crust! Other streams simply melt into the sands of the Kalahari. Nowhere else so beautiful in Africa can the tourist glide along such still waters in traditional Mokoro canoes and see the treasures of Africa at water level.

The Kalahari desert covers most of the country. It contains the remains of a huge inland lake convulsed by geological movements over time and now almost totally dried out and covered with sand, scrub, grass and trees. Here, where the herd animals gather after the rains, man has left his mark with tools, paintings and pottery dating to the Stone Age. In central parts the Makgadikgadi salt pans stretch over 10,000 sq km with the white salt glittering in the sun from one horizon to another, under the gnarled silhouettes of the baobab trees.

Apart from the abundant animal life in the national parks and the game reserves there are enormous private reserves offering remote and undisturbed safaris in areas where animals roam freely. In three private reserves — Kwando, Selinda and Linyanti — the riverfronts are a permanent attraction to big game such as elephant, buffalo and wildebeest. The indigenous red lechwe with its specially adapted, widely splayed hooves can be seen leaping across the marshes and the shy, rare sitatunga maybe hiding nearby.

More concessions specialising in different aspects of conservation can be found in the Tuli block in the east.

All Africa's Big Five game animals can be found in one part of Botswana or another. Elephants and buffalo gather in some of the biggest herds in Africa. Lions, leopards, giraffes are plentiful. There are even some rare rhino. The Okavango features some the best wildlife viewing anywhere in Africa, where the game is plentiful and safari vehicles at a minimum. The Chobe River offers the highest concentration of elephants and is also famous for its buffalo, kudu, zebra, and warthogs.

Up to 600 species of birds exist in Botswana's diverse ecology including the exotic, brightly plumaged malachite kingfishers, saddle-billed storks, carmine bee-eaters, coppery tailed coucals, owls and a host of rare varieties for the ornithological connoisseur. The Tuli block is one of the best bird watching spots in southern Africa because of the diversity of habitats in a small area.

Man has lived in Botswana for thousands of years. The San (Bushmen) eked out a Spartan livelihood from the harsh Kalahari tens of thousands of years ago leaving an indelible imprint of their art and culture. Stone tools dating from the Stone Age can be found where man first lived. San art covers the rocks of the Tsodilo hills in what the famous author, Laurens Van Der Post described as the 'Louvre of the desert filled with treasure.' Some San rock paintings date back at least 25,000 years, others have been painted in comparatively recent times. In the eastern Lepokole hills where the San people took refuge, they left evidence of occupation through their paintings, ancient pottery and tools.

Botswana's diverse environment, flora and fauna is replicated in the activities that it offers the tourist. It is one of the few places where man can walk and talk with the elephants or ride them to watch game. Other safaris are organised on horseback so tourists can ride like frontiersmen of the 19th century, or go by modern day mountain bike or even walk, in safe areas, protected by experienced guides. And for the young at heart, quad bikes can be tested out on the Kalahari sands.

Whether for the luxury tourist or the humble backpacker, there is always something different in Botswana's treasure trove.

 

source:discover-botswana.com

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Botswana>A birder's dream

Bird Watcher's dream Botswana's diverse habitats from the harsh wilderness of the Kalahari to the lush waterways of the Okavango produce over 530 different bird species. The country is a veritable bird watcher's dream with scope for the experienced ornithologist as well as the eager amateur. Rob Clifford reports. Throughout the year, a range of dry grassland birds dominates the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, in the centre of the country. Among them larks, pipits, ostriches and korhaans are co ...
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Botswana>Adventure safari activities

A different kind of holiday Botswana tempts tourists with a wide range of unusual adventure activities. Visitors can walk and talk with the elephants, cycle across the bush, tackle the Kalahari Desert on quad bikes, ride like cowboys in the Tuli block, or even play golf at Chobe. Here are just a few of Botswana's unusual adventure holidays. Mokoro Safaris A trip by mokoro, the traditional dugout canoe carved from a single piece of wood, is a must in Botswana. To save valuable timber many ...
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Kalahari>Botswana Untamed Africa

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Okavango Botswana

Okavango — a Garden of Eden Botswana's Garden of Eden is the Okavango delta, a magical water world set in a lush environment. The crystalline waters spreading into flood plains, shallow reed beds, lily ponds and papyrus swamps are unique in Africa, and the world. The visitor can glide silently through the clear waters in mokoro canoes and watch the birds and the fish and the animals as they come down to the waters to drink. It is an experience which lifts the spirit and enlightens the hea ...
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Tuli>Land of giants Botswana

Tuli Block — Land of the giants A safari in the Tuli Block — the land of the giants — will arouse the explorer in you. Under the guidance of experts, you can walk or ride way off the beaten track. The private concession owners offer visitors their intimate and specialised knowledge of the animals, birds and dramatic scenery entrusted to their care. Tuli has a fascinating frontier history and is renowned for its curious geographical features — Solomon's Wall and the Tswapong and Lepokole hills ...
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Chobe Botswana

Chobe — safari country Chobe is renowned for its teeming game. The Chobe Reserve and the riverbanks have some of the densest concentrations of elephants, zebra and lions anywhere in Africa and the animal migrations provide a fascinating spectacle. Over 450 species of birds have been identified in the region. The reserve has a wide range of habitats including the mysterious Savuti River that flows and dries out over the ages leaving the geologists scratching their heads! The Chobe Natio ...
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botswana chobe safari lodge activities

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