12 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Botswana

Jul 22, 2021

Botswana is located on the southern tip of Africa and, despite being so close to other major tourist destinations, has long been a popular destination for travelers, especially wildlife enthusiasts and safari enthusiasts.

Botswana's main cities, Gaborone and Maun, are destinations in their own right, but can only be part of the overall experience. Botswana has spectacular natural beauty, from the savanna and vast wildlife-filled plains, to the crystal clear Chobe River and the mopane woodlands of the Okavango Delta.

Beyond the excitement of the safari itself, Botswana's top attractions draw fans of film and television, animal lovers, and those looking for the ultimate outback experience. With so much to offer, Botswana's top attractions include our list of the best places to visit in Botswana.

Chobe National Park

Photo of Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park: en.wikipedia.org

On the savannahs of Botswana, life in Chobe National Park is free-roaming and not governed by fences or cages as in many parks. Animal numbers are kept low by poaching and poaching attempts. The Kalahari is the home to the world's second largest single water source: the Chobe River, which is navigable all year round, and is ideal for canoeing. The abundance of wildlife is unsurpassed anywhere in Africa. Of prime interest are the abundance of wildebeest and oryx and the hoofed antelope, warthogs and zebras. There is no question of safari being confined to game viewing, but guided safaris and cruises on the Chobe are available. In Chobe National Park are also a number of lodges and camps where visitors can stay and fish or canoe in the Chobe River.

Ghanzi

Photo of Ghanzi
Ghanzi: en.wikipedia.org

Ghanzi, set amid the arid plains of northern Botswana, lies a one-hour drive from the major city of Gaborone. Unesco World Heritage site Chobe National Park, with its big skies and plains, lies around two hours to the south and Nxai Pan National Park lies just a few kilometers away, where you can visit a variety of wild animals. Ghanzi is also a good base for exploring the Chobe River area. Doing what Ghanzi was originally built for, wildlife-watching, is one of the main activities in the area. While it can be difficult to see most wildlife in the arid conditions, you can try viewing the elephants, rhinos and lions in the nearby Chobe River or Chobe National Park. The best time to see these animals is in the evening, with fewer of them feeding at midday. In Ghanzi itself, try out one of the town's excellent lodges, such as Chobe Game Lodge, which has well-kept tented camps. Among the best places to base yourself in Ghanzi is Sam's Guest House, which is run by the charming 'Ghanzi Lady' Marjorie Benyon, who is one of the region's most experienced guides.

Chobe River

Photo of Cuando River
Cuando River: en.wikipedia.org

Home to the world's largest concentration of elephants, Chobe River is a tourist draw for its wide, quiet beaches and safari camps, game parks, and Chobe National Park. The once impassable 40 km (25 mi) long Chobe River flood plain (especially during wet seasons), which was formed following the August 2005 eruptions of Chukungwe volcano in Northern Botswana, has transformed into a marshy ecosystem. Despite this, the area remains free of major human development and it is mostly used for wildlife conservation. Chobe River is the departure point for river cruises on the Chobe River and is the departure point for a number of game parks and wildlife reserves.

Namibia's Game Reserves

Photo of Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert: en.wikipedia.org

A real adventure experience, to see wild life and birding in one of Africa's unique reserves, you can visit Sabi Sand Reserve in the Okavango Delta in northern Namibia. This is a low-lying, swampy area with rich fauna, including the renowned waterbuck, on which the reserve's name is partly based, and diverse birdlife. A no-frills safari tour will take you into the reserve, past the waterhole-rich Nyati Game Reserve and through the private concession of Nxai Pan, where you'll stay in a simple tented camp. Game drives take place at the end of each day, when visitors can try for an encounter with wild animals like the giant white-backed vulture or an elephant.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Photo of Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Central Kalahari Game Reserve: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the far northeastern corner of Botswana in the southwestern corner of the Kalahari Desert, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is remote, rugged and one of Africa's great and least visited national parks. Its principal attraction is Chobe National Park, home of elephants and lions and an undoubted must for wildlife enthusiasts. Stretched for many miles along the top of a high escarpment is the vast Great Kalahari. Centred on Thamalakane River, a tributary of the Chobe River, the central plain stretches for more than 50 km. Towards the southern boundary of the game reserve is a forest known as the Makaleng Nature Reserve. A number of magnificent dry riverbeds flow through the park, including Chobe, a fast-flowing river that is one of the world's most scenic. Elephant population in the park is increasing rapidly. Waterholes near the Chobe River, in particular, are very popular, though others are likely to be more difficult to find. Bushman settlements in the park are quite visible, though there is some reluctance on the part of the inhabitants to have foreign visitors, especially American and European. Namib-Naukluft Park, an area of dry grassland to the south, is less than 1 km from the border of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Moremi Game Reserve

Photo of Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi Game Reserve: en.wikipedia.org

Moremi is the largest privately owned game reserve in Africa and is an excellent place for wildlife lovers to come and explore without the crowds of other more popular and established reserves. The reserve is situated in the far north of Botswana, close to the Namibian border. As an ecotourism facility it consists of a private concession called the Moremi Game Reserve, with a network of 17 camps and lodges covering about 2,500 square miles (7,200 sq km) of grasslands, woodlands, wetlands and dune plains.

Makgadikgadi

Photo of Makgadikgadi Pan
Makgadikgadi Pan: en.wikipedia.org

Set in the heart of the arid Kalahari in southern Botswana, the unspoiled desert town of Makgadikgadi, or "The Place of the Driest Point on Earth," is unique. Since it's the northern-most point in Botswana, Makgadikgadi experiences fewer clouds than anywhere else in the country and receives around 3 inches of precipitation annually. As if this wasn't enough to set Makgadikgadi apart, travelers who visit can soak in the feeling of being in an alien desert on the world's driest land and the surrounding area. While you're in Makgadikgadi you'll be close to Namibia and Namibia's Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and the seaside country of Zimbabwe.

Ngamiland

Photo of North-West District (Botswana)
North-West District (Botswana): en.wikipedia.org

Although Ngamiland is not a destination in the traditional sense of the term, its landscapes of starkly rugged, variegated granite monoliths, and water sources and wildlife attract serious travel and photography enthusiasts. About 60,000 people live in the area and work in nearby diamond mines, but more than half of the area remains undeveloped, with vast expanses of grasslands, some old-growth trees, and waterholes, most of which lie in the region's 18 protected areas. Wildlife in the area includes elephant, roan, greater kudu, eland, lion, puku, and cheetah. Hiking, camping, fishing, and sightseeing are the main activities in this unique area.

Gaborone

Photo of Gaborone
Gaborone: en.wikipedia.org

Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, is situated in the Makgadikgadi escarpment. It is characterized by a myriad of natural beauty. The average temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. Gaborone is also one of the most agreeable cities in the country due to its mild climate. The city is built mostly of brick, which was shipped to Gaborone from all over the country. Many foreign visitors choose Gaborone as a vacation destination. A popular attraction is the northern wildlife reserve where one can see a variety of wild animals and birds. The reserve is characterized by seasonal migration of many species of birds. There is a lot of bush walking in this reserve and game viewing is one of the main attractions in the area. The best time to visit this reserve is between November and May. Guides are not needed for those visiting the northern wildlife reserve as most of the places can be reached on foot. However, an official park guide is needed in the western and southern wildlife reserves. It is easy to get there as the roads are accessible to all. Visiting is not expensive as it will only cost you about US$1 per person.

Nxai Pan National Park

Photo of Nxai Pan National Park
Nxai Pan National Park: en.wikipedia.org

Nxai Pan is a wide and shallow reservoir with a highly contrasted topography. The southern shore of the reservoir is a high plateau covered with montane grassland and seasonal flowers and trees, and it is one of the main habitats of the black-necked cranes. The dam is located in the Savuti Game Reserve, one of the best preserved remaining habitats of the recently re-established elephant and rhino population, a World Heritage site and home to more than 2,000 square kilometers of sand and mixed desert-grassland. The best months for visits are September to December and March to May.

Maun

Photo of Maun, Botswana
Maun, Botswana: en.wikipedia.org

Maun is the second largest city in Botswana, in the far north of the country, but is known as a tourist destination in its own right. For tourists, it offers the chance to see the best of Botswana's wildlife reserves in the northern Okavango Delta. The reserve itself is home to many animals, most notably the wildlife expert known as the Big Five (cheetah, leopard, lion, rhino and elephant). A typical day spent in Maun involves driving through the Okavango Delta to the start of a game drive in the protected areas. The traditional Motswana city of Kasane is also close by, as well as the city of Gaborone and the sprawling Sani Safari Lodge.

Kasane

Photo of Kasane
Kasane: en.wikipedia.org

Kasane's the place to get away from it all and enjoy nature. The area boasts numerous waterfalls, some of which are visible from the Kasane River, and serene camping, hiking, and wildlife-watching opportunities. Lake Narunguna is a large and natural swimming and fishing area and has no barbed wire. One of the best fishing locations in the world, it's an excellent place to catch fish from a watercraft, such as an all-terrain vehicle or a motorboat. There are no sights to see, but those with an interest in the history of the area will be interested to visit the location of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. If you are planning on trekking to Kasane, make sure to register with the Border Post at the South African side of the border. Do this at least three days in advance, and bring your passport as well as a visa to enter Botswana. Kasane is served by several flights to and from Gaborone, Gabarone, Francistown, and Francistown airport, and local busses leave throughout the day. The camps are set on land owned by the Kasane Tourism Trust.