There are so many reasons why I fell in love with Beautiful Botswana!
One of the first things I learned about Botswana that made me feel an instant connection to it was that in 1966 when Botswana became an independent nation they adopted black and white stripes for their flag to represent harmony between people of different races and ethnicities. The stripes on the flag were inspired by the Zebra. The new President, Seretse Khama had been persecuted in the late 1940’s for marrying a white woman. By adopting the black and white strips of the zebra for the flag, he wanted to teach the young nation of Botswana and its neighbours that blacks and whites could live together in harmony . The two zebras which also adorn the Botswana coat of arms also show that the animal is a symbol of national unity.
What made this so relevant back then was that in neighbouring South Africa, people were divided according to their races and ethnicity, a thing that the founding fathers of Botswana did not want to see happen in their country.
Botswana has also taken a long term, forward thinking approach to wildlife conservation which includes a ban on Trophy Hunting for many big game species. With the freedom given to wildlife in Botswana it is the first African country I’ve visited where I have seen an elephant, giraffe or a flock of vultures feeding on a zebra, all on the side of the road outside a National Park. More information on Botswana’s Conservation and Tourism strategy can be found here.
Our first stop in Botswana was a remote bush camp where we were able to experience some time with the San People, commonly known as Bushmen. During the afternoon they took us out for a bush-walk and explained many different things about their lives to us from edible plants and medicinal plants to hunting. One of the most interesting thing we were told was how they protect themselves from predators like lions at night while they sleep. In order to keep safe at night a barrier is made with acacia thorns, and the most interesting part is they catch Honey Badgers for their urine. As no animal in its right mind, not even a lion will mess with a Honey Badger, the urine is put on the barrier as an added deterrent.
At night we were invited to hang out around the fire with them and participate in some dancing as well. Let me tell you, the old man put most of us to shame, as no matter what shape any of us were in it only took one song to have us ready to sit back down while he did about 12 straight. They are definitely born with a natural rhythm as well, even the baby crawled around the fire to the beat and seemed to know how close he could get without being in danger from the fire. Some time spent with the San is highly recommended on any visit to Botswana. It was one of my top experiences in this great country!
The next morning we headed towards Maun where we would spend a night before heading into the Okovango Delta the following morning. In the Okovango Delta I found a place nearly unmatched in all my travels for the peace and serenity found within it. The only two other places that have given me the same feeling are the Deadvlei of Namibia and pretty much anywhere in the mountains or near the ocean in British Columbia, Canada. After a boat ride up the river from Maun we were dropped off at the poling village where we transferred to Makoros for an hour and a half ride poling through the delta to our camping spot.
Once we reached camp and were set up for the night we spent a few hours on a bush-walk through some dry areas of the delta. There was potential to run into anything from lions to elephants. However, other then some wildebeest, zebra and waterbuck we did not encounter much wildlife. There were signs of elephant and hippo, but we did not spot any. After watching a gorgeous sunset from the plains in the delta we headed back to camp for dinner. Our guides Dylan and H sure knew how to cook on an open fire and since one of our group members had his 30th birthday that day we were treated to a red velvet birthday cake that was baked on the open fire for dessert that evening. We were also treated to some entertainment from the villagers who had taken us out into the Okovango Delta! The next morning we had to pack up camp and begin our journey back to Maun. It was really too bad we only got to experience one night in the Okovango Delta, but it’s a place I plan on returning to, and the next time will be significantly longer.
This isn’t my video, but it’s exactly the entertainment we got to experience! It makes me miss the delta everytime I watch it.
For a great scenic view of the Okovango Delta, I would also recommend the scenic flights from Maun which give a great and different perspective of its beauty.
Once we returned to Maun it was back on the road and we were off to Kasane and ready to explore Chobe National Park where I have had some of my best game viewing experiences. Once arriving and setting up camp we headed out for an evening river cruise on the Chobe River. During this cruise we were able to get up close and personal with elephants and hippo which were in the water as well as spotting everything from cape buffalo to monitor lizards on shore. We were also treated to a stereotypical amazing African sunset! There is just something special about an African sunset that I cannot explain, it’s something you just need to experience for yourself.
We awoke early the next morning for our game drive through Chobe National Park and little did we know about the rare encounter we were about to experience. The drive started out very slow with almost no wildlife to be seen. However, at one point we were told to hold on tight and we drove quite quickly. We knew we were headed towards something big. When we reached our destination we found a pride of lions feasting on a cape buffalo which they had killed a short while earlier. The males already had their fill and were nowhere to be seen, but all the lionesses and cubs were around. We were able to sit in our vehicles as close as 10-20′ from the lions as they ate. We spent most of our morning enjoying this encounter and it was more then enough to satisfy me. What an amazing experience to be so close to these magnificent cats as they ate.
After a morning spent in Chobe National Park it was time to pack up camp and travel to our next stop in Livinstone, Zambia.
I love nature and wildlife, both of which Botswana has a great amount to offer. Botswana is full of beautiful and amazing things from the culture and people to nature and it’s wildlife. Their philosophy towards both people and wildlife is special. I cannot say enough good things about my experience in Botswana and I can’t wait to go back. This is how I fell in love with Botswana. Till next time BEAUTIFUL BOTSWANA!