Fun things to do in Botswana

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Botswana

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    Elephants, elephants and more elephants

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    During our African trip elephants were probably the animals that we spotted most frequently. We saw them in Etosha and Okavango delta, but it cannot compare to the numbers we saw during the Chobe cruise. Herd after herd of elephants going to the river, drinking water and playing with water. After these few hours I have no doubts that Chobe has the greatest concentration of elephants in Africa. In fact the population is growing steadily - from a few thousand in 1990 to today's 50 000. The number of elephants in Chobe is so high that culls were consideed, but luckily have been rejected.

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    Bee-eaters

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    I know next to nothing about birds so although both the Okavango delta and the Chobe national park are great destinations for bird watching ( over 440 different bird species have been recorded here) I focused rather on other animals than birds. But little green birds caught my attention during the Chobe cruise. A group of them looked very picturesque against the muddy river bank. They were hiding in the holes made in mud and again going out, making a lot of fuss. At home I found some information about them and they turn out to be a very interesting species.
    White fronted bee-eaters are endemic to Africa. They nest in colonies counting up to 200 individuals, and dig nesting holes in the banks of rivers. As the name suggests, bee-eaters feed mainly on bees but also on other flying insects.
    They have one of the most complex societies of all birds with colonies consisting of clans. Within each clan there are some families, each consisting of a breeding pair and 1-5 helpers. The helpers are usually the offspring of the breeding pair.

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    Chobe Riverfront

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    In the afternoon we get on a boat with about 30 other tourists and set on a cruise along the Chobe riverfront. Just after a few minutes we stop near the river bank to see our first crocodile. It lies motionless near the water and after a few moments we start to doubt whether it is alive. But suddenly its mouth begins to open to show a full array of its teeth. Even in the safety of theat I get the creeps.
    We continue our cruise. The pictures change before our eyes: here a herd of kudu antelopes, there a group of baboons, lots of different (unknown to me) birds ...

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    Visit Chobe National Park

    by magor65 Written Feb 18, 2011

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    Chobe national park is our last destination in Botswana. Next we are going to head for the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the organised part of our trip will be over. Sitting on the truck I'm thinking of all fantastic places we've seen so far and those ahead of us.

    The Chobe National Park is the second largest in Botswana. It was declared a national park in 1967. Its boundaries were altered several times and now its area covers over 10 000 square km. The park is world famous for its abundance of wildlife, especially the highest concentration of elephants in Africa. The number of elephants in Chobe is estimated at 50 000.
    The park is divided into four distinct parts, each with a unique eco-system. The most popular with tourists and the best accessible is the Chobe Riverfront. The other three: Savuti, Linyanti and Nogatsaa are harder to reach as you need either 4WD or fly-in.

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    Sunrise ... sunset ... in the Okavango delta

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    We get up early enough to see the sunrise in the Delta. The mokoros glide almost soundlessly across the water and we can contemplate the dawn. The sky is painted with all shades of pink, the shapes of palms emerge slowly against the horizon and suddenly the river is lit up and sparkles with hues of silver.
    We go on another island in hope of spotting more game. Bad luck - apart from the skull of a giraffe, there's no trace of any animals. We come back a little disappointed and spend a lazy few hours in the camp. Then I and my sister-in-law ask one of the polers to go for a walk with us - we are not going to repeat the mistake from the previous day when we left the camp alone. The walk is great - the young man turns to be a great and knowledgeable guide and he speeks good English. We can see a big group of zebras and a lone wildebeest. Again they are so close - they seem to be waiting for us to come even closer and in the last moment graciously run away.
    In the aftenoon another mokoro trip this time to the hippo pool. Our guide doesn't want us to feel disappointed and says that we might see no hippos at all. But as we come closer to the pool we hear the characteristic sound of snorting and then we catch a glimpse of hippos in water. They are swimming next to the river bank, from time to time emerging from water for a moment too short to take a good picture. We have to stay in the safe distance but we spend about half an hour watching them.
    Then we return to the camp and on the way admire our last sunset in the Okavango delta.

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    Bush walk and other activities

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    In the afternoon we are divided into small groups and each group is to follow their guide (one of the polers) for the bush walk. We are told to behave quietly and follow the guide in line. Not far from our camp the guide suddenly stops - he senses something that we are not aware of yet - but after a moment we see an elephant behind the bushes, just a couple of metres from us. Oh, it feels so different from the Etosha Park - there we could observe the animals from the confinement of a vehicle or the safety of the camp - here we are almost face to face with them. To my horror I realise how stupidly I and my sister-in-law behaved an hour before. We left the camp and went for a short walk without notifying our guide. What would we have done if the elephant had crossed our way? From now on we are going to take all precautions and obey all the rules.
    The walk is very interesting. We see another couple of elephants, lots of zebras and antelopes.

    In the night I suddenly wake up. There is a loud splash of water as if some enormous body emerged from it. Then I hear the rumbling sound of the steps - quite near the tent! I feel the ground shaking. Is it a dream? Halina is asleep. How can she be sleeping in such a moment? I don't know what to do. Why isn't there any action? Why don't they chase the "monster" away? Then the steps fade in the distance ...
    In the morning they find the traces of an elephant next to our camp.

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    Camping in the Okavango delta

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    We stop at one of the numerous islands in the delta. It's to be our home for two nights. We are told to pitch our tents next to the river bank on an uneven terrain of a very modest size. In result, the 15 tents ( there are 16 people in our group plus the polers) are so squeezed that there's hardly any space to walk between them. We are surprised. The island is so big - why can't we camp in a more spacious place? We are to find out the answer later - it's for safety reasons. They show us the toilet - a hole in the ground surrounded by some bushes. Everybody must think about the same - how to use it without being disturbed by others? The first impressions are rather discouraging. I think to myself: " What am I doing here? I didn't use to be a girl-guide and never regretted it. It's not for me".
    In the meantime our guide and cook in one person makes a meal for us; it's delicious, as usual. The polers wait till we have finished and then start cooking for themselves. Yes, the atmosphere is like on the scout camp.

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    Okavango Delta from the mokoro

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    We come to the harbour from which we are to be taken on the mokoro ride. The polers are already there. After a few minutes of confusion because we don't know what to do, a young boy grabs our bags and leads us to his mokoro. His boat looks a bit older than others and has some puddles of water at the bottom - but it's too late to withdraw. We sit on the mattresses folded in such a way as to make seats with a back. He pushes the boat onto the water and the 'cruise' begins. We notice anxiously that the boat is in water almost up to the edge. Seeing our apprehension, the poler calms us down and explains that his mokoro is made from the sausage tree while others are of fibre glass. So we are lucky to travel in the traditional version of the boat. We look around - the view is beautiful and serene. The river looks like a water meadow full of reeds and papyrus and dotted with beautiful pink and white lilies.
    It seems unreal - so far away from noise and stressful life that it's beyond comprehension. We immerse in the tranquility and silence broken only by splashing water. Suddenly we hear a cry from one of the boats - it's our guide swearing because an enormous spider crawled onto his face. Yes, there are some drawbacks to this idyllic ride - spiders and tiny flies are omnipresent. So after three hour journey we are happy to set foot on shore.

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    The adventure begins

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    Equipped with basic necessities like a 5-litre bottle of water, torch, toiletries and warm clothes, we set off on our 3-day trip to the Okavango delta. We know that we'll be camping in the bush having no facilities like showers or toilets. We load our tents, matresses and sleeping bags on a 4wheel drive open truck and off we go. It will take us about an hour to get to the point where mokoro polers are waiting for us. We leave Maun behind and go off the road passing on the way some tiny settlements consisting of a few traditional rondavels - cylindrical huts with a conical thatched roof.

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    Maun - the gateway to the Okavango Delta

    by magor65 Written Feb 18, 2011

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    Maun is the fifth largest town in Botswana and the tourist capital as it's hard to imagine any trip to this country without visiting the Okavango Delta. Although it's home to 30 000 inhabitants, it feels rather like a big village. But on the other hand, it's a great place to do shopping before 'leaving civilisation behind'. There are some chain supermarkets, like Spar or Nandos, banks like Barclays offering foreign exchange facilities. In numerous travel agencies and safari companies you can book tours not only to the Delta but also to other parts of Botswana. Scenic flights over the Okavango Delta are one of the attractions on offer, but the price (about 130 US dollars for half an hour in the air) was too high for us to afford.

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    Meet the San people

    by magor65 Updated Feb 18, 2011

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    In the evening we are invited for a tribal dance by the San people. The San are indigenous to Botswana (and Namibia) and have been living here from time immemorial. Traditionally, they were nomadic hunter gatherers. Having no possessions or animals they were very mobile and could easily move in search of food and water in small family groups counting 20-30 people. Today there are about 55 000 people left with 60% living in Botswana. Most of them have been relocated from their ancestral lands to new government settlements. However, many of of the San cannot accept the modern way of life and make every effort to preserve old traditions.

    We sit around the fire waiting for the performance. The evening is cold - each of us is wearing a warm jacket. A few metres from us the group is getting ready for the dance. They are dressed in animal skins just covering their private parts. The dance begins - the women are sitting, clapping their hands and humming. The men are moving in circles with their legs bent and bodies leaned forward. Each piece is similar to one another, monotonous voices and clapping with hardly changing rhythm, the similar moves with feet stamping against the ground. We, the visitors from a different world, are not able to fully appreciate the traditional dance presented by our hosts.

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    First impressions

    by magor65 Written Feb 17, 2011

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    We spend our first night in Botswana on a campsite near Ghanzi. Getting there from Windhoek (the capital of Namibia) took us about 8 hours, which is not too long considering the distance of over 500 km. But the road is really good, mostly tarmac, and the traffic scarce. The landscape is monotonous - flat and featureless with some bushes and grassland on both sides of the road.

    Finally, we drive off the main road and after about 15 minutes along a bumpy pathway we get to the Ghanzi Trail Blazers camp. Again we have to pitch our tents in the dust - how much I miss the grass. .. There's a possibility of upgrading for a hut with a bed but somehow it doesn't look very encouraging, The thought of all insects in the straw roof and the sight of the dirty matresses on beds put me off. So yet another night in our small tent in the dust and sand.

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    Chobe NP and the Okavango Delta

    by MikeBird Updated Jun 30, 2010

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    Chobe NP in Botswana is about an hours drive from the Zimbabwean border at Victoria Falls. You'll need to check out what the situation is regarding the border facilities. Chobe is one of the best places in Africa to see Elephant in large numbers. You can do your game viewing from the hotel or from a boat on the river or on a game drive. All the other game is there but it's the elephants that are truly wonderful. We were watching a herd once when a youngster got separated from its mother. When the mum realised the youngster had wandered off she went chasing after it and gave it a whack round the head with her trunk as if to say 'how many times have I told you not to run off'! A great game viewing moment.

    August in the Okavango Delta is a really good month to visit because the water levels will be high. Don't expect to see huge numbers of game at this time though. With the area well nourished with water their food and drink is plentiful so the game are well dispersed. However getting out on a dugout mekoro and being poled through the channels by one of the locals is such a fantastic experience that you'll not be disappointed. The vegetation and the birdlife is exotic - lookout for Fish Eagles and the cute little Pygmy Geese.
    You can take a walk guided by your poler but again don't expect to see large numbers of game - you are on foot after all - but to come close to Impala or Kudu just by chance is still very exciting. There are always the birds as well. The ground is very sandy and is surprisingly hard work so after a three hour trek in the bush you'll welcome a rest back in the mekoro.
    Enjoy it.

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    Places to visit around Gaborone

    by MikeBird Updated Jun 30, 2010

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    I was in Botswana for 6 years back in the 1980s so things may have changed since then but ....

    If you haven't got much time and cannot go too far from Gaborone there's Mochudi village nearby which had an interesting Museum and I recall you can get a terrific view over the village from the site where it's located. It's near enough to get a taxi from Gaborone.

    Another place a little further and to the south is Lobatse where you can visit the weavers of Tiro ya Diatla. - Great for presents, if a little pricey.

    There is a Game park near Gaborone - though it had only just opened when we left.

    Oh and don't forget to read the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency before you go. It's very true to life or at least it seemed that way to me. Mochudi, the village named above is where Mma Ramotswe was born.

    Image of Mochudi taken from Wikipedia
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    MY FRIEND – MR. BUCKET

    by DAO Updated Oct 17, 2009

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    This is my highly versatile friend – Mr. Bucket. Before you think I have gone totally mad, just read on. I may be mad, but this is a friend you need for any sort of stays in Africa. So what can Mr. Bucket do for you? Well, Mr. Bucket holds water. So he can keep water for emergency drinking, putting out campfires, washing out toilets/ground, and for washing clothes. He is also indispensable for taking a bath when the water stops running. He can even store his own water. On top of all this Mr. Bucket can help you when he’s dry too. He holds things for you to carry or store. He’s great for storing liquid containers like cleaners and alcohol that could leak out. Yep, Mr. Bucket – leave home with it! When you are finished with Mr. Bucket please leave him for a local person to use.

    Mr. Bucket is available at fine stores, and no so fine stores, all over Africa for about 50 US cents - $2. Now that’s a bargain. The first pictured Mr. Bucket started with me in Ghanzi and went along for the ride to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa & Lesotho. I gave him to another traveller in Johannesburg.

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Botswana Things to Do

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