Places of Interest
This section deals with some of Botswana's better known tourism areas and brings attention to some of the activities available in these areas as well as some of the more popular sites.
Chobe is probably Botswana's best known National Park and comprises an area of some 11700 sq. km and was recognised as a game reserve as early as 1939, although it only became a National Park in 1968. Chobe is divided into four main areas, namely:
By far the most commonly visited areas are Serondella and Savuti.
Situated along the banks of the Chobe River with it's typical Zambezi Valley Vegetation, Serondella boasts great game viewing all year round. Bordering alongside the town of Kasane (only 85 km from Victoria Falls) Serondella is one of the most easily accessible areas in Botswana.
Activities include both game drives and boat cruises along scenically beautiful stretches of river.
The Ngwezumba River is situated some 60 km South of Serondella and the Tchinga and Nogatsaa pans in this area are aesthetically attractive surrounded by their forests and riverine bush. The vast Mababe Plains are to the South-west and at times these are prolific with game.
Situated around the Linyanti Swamps, this beautifully forested area is difficult to get to and is not a common destination for park residents. This is probably the reason it appears to be so wild. On the outside of the National Park are some luxury lodges and camps, and their residents make up a large proportion of the visitors to this area.
Savuti was put on the map with the help of wildlife movies like "the Stolen River" and "Eternal Enemies". The film "the Stolen River" refers to the Savuti Channel which was linked to the Linyanti swamp area. This river last flowed in the 1979/1980 period, prior to this time it flooded annually creating the marsh, since then Savuti has dried up. Savuti comprises of an extensive area on the western side of the Mababe Depression, surrounding lands known as Savuti Marsh and is situated in the South-western part of Chobe. Most of the year the resident fauna of Savuti rely on man-made watering holes to quench their thirst, but during the wet season this area regains it's past beauty. Botswana's zebra migration passes through Savuti twice a year and is a sight to behold.
Beginning it's trek across sub-Saharan Africa on the Benguela Plateau in Angola, the Okavango River flows southwards through 1300 km of Kalahari Sands eventually entering Botswana just to the north of Shakawe. Guided between two parallel faults, the Okavango flows South-eastwards for a further 80 km before getting the opportunity to expand into the typical Delta shape.
Covering an area of some 16000 km.sq, the Okavango is a unique wetland ecosystem, a wildlife paradise nestled in the heart of the otherwise inhospitable landscape of the Kalahari Desert.
Moremi Game Reserve
Comprising some 4800 sq. km on the Eastern side of the Okavango Delta, Moremi in my opinion is the best Botswana has to offer. When first established in 1963, it covered only the Eastern part of the present day reserve. In the 70's it was extended to include Chiefs Island and in 1991 it's borders were extended again to it's present size. The Boro River which traverses the centre of the Okavango is Moremi's
Western boundary, and the Chobe National Park forms part of the Eastern boundary. The Western section is mostly swamps with some large islands, an example of which is Chiefs Island. The Eastern section on the other hand is mostly dry land with some areas of swamp. This part of the park is accessible by road. There are three main areas of attraction in this Eastern section, namely:
Xakanaxa, Third Bridge
These two campsites are only 14 km apart, they are both almost entirely surrounded by swampland and at times some of their roads are inaccessible. Another distinct feature in this area is the Mopane Tongue which is a forest that begins at the edge of the swamps and extends out in a South and Westerly direction. During the rainy season the pans in the mopane woodland hold water and game such as elephant and buffalo are attracted to these. When these pans dry out the game returns to the permanently watered areas and it is at this time of the year that Xakanaxa and third Bridge are unbeatable for game. For birders, this area is always a paradise.
Activities in this area include both game drives and boat cruises.
North Gate / Kwai
This part of Moremi is bordered on the Northern side by the Kwai River and it is this rivers flood plain that is so attractive and appealing to game, birds and people alike. Kwai compliments the Xakanaxa area because as it usually happens, when Xakanaxa is not so prolifically inhabited with game species, Kwai usually is.
Nxai Pans National Park
As early as 1970, the northern part of this park, an area of about 1600 km.sq was considered to have a potential for tourism and was proclaimed a Game Reserve. In 1992 the reserve was proclaimed a National Park and was enlarged to include areas to it's South and today covers an area of over 2500 km.sq.
Nxai Pan National Park is situated largely to the north of the main road and half-way between Maun and Nata. Nxai pan itself is 30 odd km north of the main road and has two campsites, one on it's Northern edge and one on it's south. Due to the lack of surface water for most of the year, a watering hole has been provided for wildlife. You will find that this area seems very similar to Namibia's Etosha Pans.
Bains' Baobabs which is found between Nxai pan and the main road is a rewarding sight and was painted by a traveller named Thomas Bains in May of 1862. The baobabs have not changed much in the intervening 130 years.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
This is a much larger Park and also began as a Game Reserve, it covers an area of 4900 km.sq and the salt pans themselves cover a small area of the park. The majority of the park is rolling grassland that at times attract large herds of game. It would be difficult for one to have experienced all Botswana's variety without having spent time in one of these areas.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Found in the centre of Botswana and covering an area of 52800 km.sq, this immense reserve must be one of the worlds largest and remotest wilderness areas.
This reserve was created in 1961 principally for the San or Bushmen to live their traditional lives in, and until recently was closed to the public because of this reason.
This huge semi-arid region, the Kalahari, conjures up images of heat and dust, of wide open spaces, endless grass plains and acacia trees standing alone above small and empty pans. In the dry season this is quite often true, but when the rains come......
.....the pans fill up to overflow, the trees and scrub bloom in the brightest of colours and the endless grass plains are lush and green and the game looks fat and healthy. And for a short time the Kalahari surpasses even the Okavango in it's beauty.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
This small sanctuary of only 4300 ha is a community project and is located only 32 km to the North-east of the historical village of Serowe. In it's beautiful setting of hills Serowe, established in the early 1900's is still the tribal headquarters of the BaNgwato tribe. Serowe boasts a small historical museum and a semi-rural and traditional atmosphere. The Ngwato Chiefs graveyard is situated behind the Kgotla, a Batswana court and meeting place where tribal matters are discussed and decided upon.
The sanctuary itself, although small, boasts a collection of desert game such as zebra, eland, impala, gemsbok, giraffe, wildebeest, hartebeest and of course rhino. This is one of the few places rhino can be seen in Botswana and are almost guaranteed. Small mammals like Ground squirrels, bat-eared foxes, blacked-backed jackal, brown hyaena and aardwolf are also present as is a bird list of over 300 species.
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