Botswana is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife destinations and home to some of the last great wilderness areas left on Earth. Defined by the desert of the Kalahari and the delta of the Okavango River, Botswana is home to abundant wildlife, including the world’s largest concentration of African elephants.
Botswana is a stable country with democratic leadership and a strong focus on conservation. It is a large country that is one of the most sparsely populated in the world – allowing space for thriving populations of large game. In 2013, the then President of Botswana declared, uniquely in Africa, that the protection of the country’s natural resources would be a core priority of its military, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). As a result, Botswana currently operates a robust defence of its wildlife.
Clockwise from top: The indigenous San people of the Kalahari Desert have a profound connection with the land. The piercing cry of the African fish eagle is often heard in the Delta. The Chobe River supports up to 50,000 elephants during the dry season.
Annual floods in Angola send 10 trillion litres of water surging into the Okavango Delta in the dry winter months
The Okavango Delta is a near-unique phenomenon: a vast delta in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. Each January, rains in the Angolan Highlands send deluges surging 1,250km down the Okavango River into Botswana.
Here, the water does not flow into any sea or ocean. Instead, when it reaches a flat, depressed area of around 15,000 sq km, it simply spreads across a vast, flat floodplain. Contained by two faultlines, it backs up and creates a magnificent swamp, known as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
The floodwaters reach their peak between June and August, when the delta expands to cover an area up to three times its summer extent. Reed-fringed channels, riverine forests and rich grasslands attract animals from vast distances, resulting in some of Africa’s densest and most diverse concentrations of wildlife.
Rhinos were once abundant in the region and the Delta is prime rhino habitat. Surrounded by water, and with the protection of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ Anti Poaching Unit and the Botswana Defence Force, it has until recently been the perfect safe haven into which to reintroduce rhinos.