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Botswana Travel Guide

Botswana Travel Guide

Botswana is the leader in low-impact, upmarket tourism. This eco-friendly approach promotes a true wilderness experience in this unspoiled country. The beauty of the Okavango Delta is best discovered by mokoro canoe, while abundant wildlife can be encountered in Chobe and Moremi parks.

Pros & Cons

  • Low-density tourism and eco-friendly lodges
  • Excellent wildlife viewing in northern parks
  • Beautiful and diverse scenery of dry desert, saltpans, savannah grasslands and delta waterways
  • Low population and vast, undeveloped areas
  • Political stability and safety
  • Expensive upmarket safaris with few budget options

Wildlife

Botswana has an abundance of big African animals such as elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo and zebra. Big cats aren’t as prevalent, but there are still plenty of lions to spot. Rhino is also making a comeback here. If you’re keen on seeing rarer animals, you can find endangered antelopes and African wild dogs in some of the country’s northern parks.

More about the wildlife

Weather & Climate

Humidity won’t trouble you in Botswana, but there are big changes in temperature from day to night. Winter (May to October) is a very dry period that starts off cool and gets very hot towards the end. From June to August you’ll need to rug up at night, when it can be freezing. Summer (November to April) is wet and hot, with the rain pouring down in January and February. The Kalahari is where you can expect temperature extremes to be at their greatest.

More about the weather and climate

Botswana has a subtropical desert climate characterized by great differences in day and night temperatures, and low humidity overall. It receives virtually no rainfall for six months of the year, with the wettest months being December to March. Winter and summer is at opposite times of the year as Europe and North America, and they correspond to the Dry and Wet season respectively.

Maun's climate compared to Botswana's parks

The climate of Botswana’s northern parks is similar to Maun, but in the Okavango temperatures are slightly more moderate due to the abundance of water. Parks located in the drier Kalahari environment will be more extreme – hotter during the day and colder or freezing at night. The south and west experiences slightly less rainfall.

Dry season –May to October – Winter

There is little to no rain during the entire winter and humidity is low, typically 20-40%. Animals will concentrate around waterholes and rivers when other water sources dry up.

  • May – The temperatures are relatively cool, typically 10°C/50°F in the morning and 28°C/80°F in the afternoon.
  • June, July & August – Be sure to pack winter clothing because morning game drives will be cold. The average morning temperature is 6°C/42°F. Night temperatures can drop below freezing, especially in the dryer Kalahari areas. Afternoons will be more pleasant, with temperatures around 25°C/78°F.
  • September & October – The heat gradually builds, and it can get very hot in October (38°C/100°F), but the average temperature remains around 34°C/93°F in the afternoon.

Wet season –November to April – Summer

  • November & December – Clouds start to appear, bringing cooler temperatures and an occasional late afternoon shower. This pattern of change continues in December, with typical temperatures between 20°C/69°F in the morning and 33°C/91°F in the afternoon.
  • January & February – These are the wettest months, characterized by torrential downpours in the afternoon, and sometimes continuous rainfall for days. Daytime temperatures are around 32°C/90°F, and the humidity is between 50-80%.
  • March & April – Rainfall decreases and it steadily cools. This trend continues through April, which has lovely, clear weather and few clouds. The nights tend to be cooler, but the days are very temperate at 30°C/87°F.

Best Time to Visit

The Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe are Botswana's most popular parks. The best time to visit them is from May to September, during the Dry season and winter, resulting in more moderate temperatures. In addition, the Okavango is flooded from June to October. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, but this can differ for some parks. See below to learn when to visit which park.

Best Time June to September (Okavango, Moremi, Chobe) March to May (Other, drier parks)

High Season July to October (Will not feel too crowded, except for Chobe)

Low Season December to April (Some lodges and camps close down)

Best Weather April and May (Moderate temperatures, little to no rainfall, and few clouds)

Worst Weather October and November (Very hot) January and February (Peak of Wet season)

May to October –Dry Season – Winter

  • Less vegetation and animals concentrate around water, making them easier to spot
  • The skies are clear, rain is rare, and there are fewer mosquitoes
  • Even though most tourists visit during the Dry season, the parks still feel uncrowded, except for the bustling Chobe riverfront area
  • Early morning and evening drives are cold in June, July and August

November to April –Wet Season – Summer

  • The scenery is greener, and there are lower rates during this season
  • Although wildlife is easier to spot in the Dry season, you’ll still see plenty
  • There are many newborn animals and migratory birds
  • Except for January and February, rains seldom interfere with your trip
  • During January and February, the rains can be continuous for days
  • It gets very hot in October and November
  • Some lodges and camps close down during part of the Wet season

Best Time to go to Botswana by Major Park

Moremi, Okavango and Chobe are most popular and offer year-round wildlife viewing. They are at their best during the Dry season when wildlife is easier to spot, and the Okavango is flooded. The other, drier parks are best to visit during, or just after, the Wet season when fresh grasses attract wildlife.

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