Breathtaking Botswana

By | Category: Travel destinations

Diamonds are not forever sadly, but their legacy may just be. First discovered in Botswana by industrious termites (yes, really) in the late 1960s, the gems have allowed one of the world’s poorest countries to turn itself into an international player. The government, now Africa’s longest continuous multiparty democracy, has seen minimal corruption and has responsibly spent billions of dollars of mining revenue on healthcare, education and infrastructure. The good governance has also carried over to the vast tracts of sublime and unparalleled wilderness, which has ensured that the Botswanan safari industry has a wealth of iconic wildlife to wow visitors. Add to that a population of charming and peace-loving people, and tourism will always have a role in Botswana’s future success.


Best time to visit
May to September (dry season) for classic safaris; November to April (wet season) for birds

Top things to see

• A procession of trunks crossing the Chobe River, each a lifeline to the elephant lurking in the depths below

• The grasses of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve coming to life with the rains

• Africa’s forgotten great migration, which brings thousands of zebra into Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

• The sandstone landscape of the Tuli Block set alight by the setting sun

• San rock paintings that date back millennia, particularly in the remote Tsodilo Hills – where the natural gallery of rock formations is equally riveting

Top things to do

• Wake to sunrise on the blank, bleached canvas that is Makgadikgadi Pan

• Skirt between the reeds that line the Okavango Delta’s myriad channels in a mokoro (traditional canoe)

• Rise before dawn to share your morning with the vast amount of wildlife in Moremi Wildlife Reserve

• Spend time understanding San culture in D’kar

Getting under the skin

Read: Serowe Village of the Rain Wind by Bessie Head for an understanding of Tswana culture and village life

Listen: to Franco and Afro Musica, a 12-piece kwasa kwasa band

Watch: The Gods Must Be Crazy; or The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Eat: leputshe (wild pumpkin) atop bogobe (sorghum porridge)

Drink: the stiff concoction from fermented marula fruit

In a word
Dumela (Hello, in Tswana) – extra marks if it’s done with a ‘special’ handshake (place your left hand on your elbow while shaking

Meerkats; the Kalahari; San (aka Bushmen); the world’s largest inland delta; luxurious safari camps; diamonds; free anti-retroviral drugs for citizens with HIV/AIDS

Random fact
There are more elephants in Botswana than anywhere else in Africa


Extract taken from the brand new edition of Lonely Planet’s internationally bestselling landmark title, The Travel Book (£40; out now)

The Travel Book pop-up photography exhibition
From Monday 7-Sunday 20 November, Londoners and visitors to the city will be able to see The Travel Book brought to life at a special photography exhibition in London’s Boxpark in Shoreditch. Lonely Planet will be taking visitors on a journey across the world through a selection of stunning images from The Travel Book, every one of which is guaranteed to fill the viewer with wanderlust.

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