#A spectacular nature
Botswana is undoubtedly a very large safari destination. Wild fauna and flora are king and wildlife shows can only be compared in a few other countries. The vastness of the natural territories, with their very varied landscapes, allows the traveller to immerse himself completely and open his senses wide. The country's very low population density (about 3 inhabitants/km²) and the low volume of tourism policy guarantee a privileged observation of wildlife. Here, it happens that we do not see a single other vehicle of the day in the various reserves of the country. The Okavango Delta, Moremi, Chobe, Makgadikgadi, Central Kalahari, Tuli Block are monuments of African nature.
A surprising diversity of landscapes :
Despite its relative platitude, Botswana is also a country of contrasts and surprises. The Tsodilo Hills contain some of the most beautiful rock paintings on the planet. The salt basins in the centre of the country - Sowa, Makgadikgadi, Nxai and Ntwetwe - offer landscapes of a vertiginous emptiness where the eye encounters absolutely nothing on the horizon. The Tuli Block region has a very rugged relief with its chaotic ochre and orange rocks. The gentle landscapes of the semi-desert of the Kalahari invite you to rest, the plains of the Chobe River plunge the traveller into the classic images of wild Africa just a few dozen kilometres from the Victoria Falls of the Zambezi River. Finally, the Okavango Delta unfolds its magnificent and fragile landscapes in the labyrinth of the channels of the mythical river.
A safe and comfortable destination
While Africa sometimes frightens travellers because of political instability or extreme poverty, Botswana is at the opposite end of the spectrum to this image of the continent. The country is economically prosperous and begging is almost non-existent. Democracy is part of the traditional way of life of Botswanans who can be proud to live in the most peaceful and secure country there is. Travelling to Botswana is also a comfortable experience, whether camping or staying in hotels. The art of camping is pushed to perfection and the most reluctant are happy to convert. On the catering side, since culinary culture is not very developed in Botswana, the meals are mainly of European influence and quite tasty. It is an ideal destination for a first African experience, a trip to consider in all serenity.
A multitude of activities
This incredible fauna, flora and landscapes constantly call out and remind travellers who want to approach them in every way possible. Botswana allows this multitude of approaches, by car (game drive, day and night), on foot, by plane, by helicopter, by motorboat, by mokoro, by horse, by bicycle and even under the protection of a friendly elephant! Every effort is made to enjoy this wilderness as intensely as possible.
A proud and smiling people
Botswanans, of quite diverse ethnic origins but now well integrated, form a united and proud people. This explains why begging is absent, even in disadvantaged villages. In addition, if the Batswana are not extroverted like some West African peoples, the open traveller will receive warm greetings and smiles at every encounter. Children are always welcoming and willing to respond to the signs of the passing traveller's hand.
If fauna and flora are the stars of this destination, the curious traveller will be delighted to discover the many facets of Botswana's culture. It is now possible to visit a bayei village in Okavango or basubiya in Chobe, to meet a San group through a multilingual interpreter or to discover Tswana cultures. The diversity of customs and peoples is an asset that is increasingly being exploited by the tourism industry.
A sharp craft
Botswana does not have a considerable artisanal diversity, but its specificities are pushed to the level of excellence. This is the case with the basketry that women practice throughout the country and particularly in Ngamiland. Baskets, round or flat, closed or open, always finely decorated, are superb decorative pieces. The San arts, widely promoted in the Ghanzi region, are also noteworthy. Their leather and ostrich egg shell necklaces and bracelets are of the highest elegance.
Hospitality and tourist professionalism
The professionalism of the tourism sector is remarkable in Botswana. Tour operators offer quality services. The accommodation is in line with Western standards while keeping their African soul and the various activities are carried out in such a way as to ensure the safety of travellers while allowing them to benefit as much as possible from the experiences offered. On the Chobe River, for example, elephants are approached by boat a few metres away and crocodiles a few centimetres away! In Okavango, you can walk in the bush and approach a herd of buffalo while staying downwind. The guides are committed to taking the traveller as far as it is reasonable to go while putting his safety first. To fully enjoy the country, planning your trip in advance is essential. Most travellers organise their journey with a tour operator who is responsible for meeting the requirements of its customers perfectly. That said, more and more travellers want to discover the country on their own. This option requires a lot of preparation; be aware that it is also possible to be accompanied by a tour operator who will make sure to give you the tools and itineraries of your trip, and to keep in touch with you. The Internet is well developed in the country and the majority of professionals have an e-mail and a website. Consulting experts well in advance is the key to a successful trip.
The adventure of your choice
If the tourist is looking for adventure, in Botswana he will find it both in nature itself and in meeting the people of Botswana. The choice is great: walk in the Okavango savannah while predators roam, cycle through the Tuli Block Reserve, go on a horseback safari, go up a small channel of the Okavango in Mokoro, explore the vastness of the Salt Pan or the fossil valleys of the Kalahari, learn about San survival techniques, or get to know the other ethnic groups in the country: Bayei, Basubiya, Tswana.
Ecotourism, conservation and development
Travelling to Botswana is above all about having fun, immersing yourself in an absolutely spectacular wilderness and enriching yourself by meeting its people. In doing so, the traveller contributes to the conservation of this otherwise threatened fauna and flora and contributes to the proper development of village communities. A comprehensive programme to protect nature while directing the benefits of ecotourism to the most disadvantaged communities is underway in Botswana. By visiting the country's natural reserves, travellers contribute to the dynamism of their third economic sector and increasingly encourage their inhabitants to protect and enhance this natural and cultural heritage.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette