Why Our Travel Expert Bianca Loves a Botswana Safari

Discover the unparalleled allure of a Botswana safari in a captivating interview with Bianca Johnstone, one of our esteemed Travel Experts. Join us as she shares her first-hand experiences and unveils the distinctive qualities that set Botswana apart from other popular safari destinations.

Bianca in a game drive vehicle

Bianca visited Botswana earlier this year, staying at three Wilderness camps, Image Credit: Bianca Johnstone

Bianca’s Botswana Breakdown

We took our Travel Expert Bianca aside to learn more about why she fell in love with Botswana, as well as her hot tips about travelling here.

1. How Does Botswana Compare to Other Safari Destinations in Africa?

You cannot compare it to anything else really. It’s very unique and very different to any other safari destination. A safari in Botswana is very diverse, from Chobe National Park, Savuti, Linyanti and Selinda to the Okavango DeltaKalahari, and Makgadikgadi – it has an enormous diversity of ecosystems and activities.

Unlike the Kruger National Park, Botswana isn’t as saturated with Big 5 wildlife – but you can still see lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo (if you know where to go) along with quite a number of other unique species that are endemic to the region. Seasonally, it is also a spectacular birding haven.

Compared to countries like South AfricaZambia and Zimbabwe, I’ve found that a safari in Botswana is best done over a longer period with more locations to fully appreciate its boundless biodiversity. The guiding is also very authentic, with the guides having grown up there and are very tuned into the bush.

Antelope springing through shallow waters

Botswana offers an amazing array wildlife, making it one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Image Credit: Wilderness Duma Tau

2. What is the Most Underrated Aspect of a Safari in Botswana?

There’s nothing underrated when it comes to a safari in Botswana – it’s very highly rated! But, if I had to nit pick, I would say the Green and Shoulder seasons are “underrated”.

These lower-priced periods of the year still offer exceptional safari experiences, showcasing stunning landscapes, sunsets, expansive vistas, and incredible wildlife throughout. Having personally explored Botswana during these seasons, I can attest to their year-round allure.

Bianca taking a photo of the sunset

A safari in Botswana during Green and Shoulder seasons is just as magical, Image Credit: Bianca Johnstone

3. What Aspects of Botswana’s Wildlife Do You Find Most Compelling?

The birdlife – it’s just something out of this world. And the elephants swimming across rivers from island to island, which is very unique to Botswana.

Many elephants crossing the Chobe River

Botswana is famed for its thriving population of elephants, Image Credit: Chobe Game Lodge

4. What Advice Would You Give Someone Planning a Botswana Safari?

If possible, one must stay at a land and water camp on a private concession or a land camp and water camp combined in the Okavango Delta, if budget and time allow.

The Chobe region is also an amazing experience in the dry season. Here, you won’t want to miss those massive elephant herds, and the boating safaris are pretty spectacular too. Also, Linyanti would be a great add-on.

However, for me, the main focus will be the Okavango Delta and then add on other destinations based on budget, time and preferences – one MUST experience the boating in the channels. This is what really sets Botswana apart!

Mokoro safari in the Okavango Delta

The highlight of any Botswana safari is a Mokoro (a dugout canoe) trip, Image Credit: Wilderness Vumbura Plains

Bianca’s Take on the Camps

5. What Were Your Favourite Aspects of Each Camp You Stayed at?

They’re all totally different. Botswana is a very complex destination as some regions may be dry in March, but, come July, they will be swelling with water and so on. As such, the activities – in terms of water vs land-based safaris – may vary depending on the time of the year. However, here are my first impressions from my latest trip in March this year…

Duma Tau

Duma Tau is in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve (a private area connected to Savuti and Chobe) and has all-year water from the Linyanti Channel. The lodge sits on the channel and has sunsets like I’ve never seen before and the most amazing bird life I’ve ever encountered on safari (GREEN SEASON!). I saw seven different eagle species on one game drive. 

The area is much drier than the Okavango Delta but has water all year due to the Linyanti Channel. There are very few lodges in the area, so it feels very exclusive in this vast private reserve – like you’re really in the wild with nobody around.

Pool and viewing deck at sunset

Explore the Linyanti River by boat or barge, reclining on the cushions with a sundowner in hand, Image Credit: Wilderness Duma Tau

Vumbura Plains

Vumbura Plains is a massive private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in the extreme north of the Okavango Delta. It’s one of the few land and water camps available in Botswana (all year round). So, you can do the boating, mokoro and game drives throughout the year – the game viewing is absolutely spectacular, and the lodge is unique and beautiful.

Aerial view of Wilderness Vumbura Plains

Vumbura has a variety of habitats, wildlife and an enormous traversing area, Image Credit: Wilderness Vumbura Plains

Jao Camp

Jao Camp, in the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta, was just mind-blowingly beautiful. It’s one of the most amazing camps I’ve stayed at, and absolutely beyond incredible on all levels. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s benchmarked around the same price as Duma Tau and Vumbura, but this has to do with the game viewing opportunities – which were actually brilliant!

Lion sighting on a game drive

The wealth of wildlife at Jao Camp never fails to thrill, Image Credit: Wilderness Jao

However, I visited Jao Camp in the green season, so there was no flooding, thus no water around on the concession. But, come the dry season, it’s mainly just water-based safaris. That being said, in the wet season, it is essential to combine Jao with a land camp such as Vumbura Plains to get the best of both land- and water-based safari activities.

Pool deck

Botswana’s Jao is a sculptural marvel of natural and recycled materials, Image Credit: Wilderness Jao Camp

6. Were There Any Particular Wildlife Sightings That Stood Out for You?

Chasing wild dogs on the hunt for over an hour, very exciting, bruised butts and hips after – lots of laughter, and we did not see them take anything down, but the thrill was something else.

A group of African wild dogs in the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana

The African wild dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals

Conservation, Community, and Sustainability

7. Were There Impactful Initiatives at The Camps That Impressed You?

Duma Tau, Vumbura Plains, and Jao Camp all fall under the Wilderness Safaris umbrella. Wilderness is a non-profit travel organisation, and their entire modus operandi is the upliftment of communities, protection of wilderness areas and, of course, the wildlife.

You’ll see that all the camps are community drivers, and the concessions are all owned by local tribes who benefit from it. ALL staff are from Botswana, bar a few from South Africa, usually in management positions, with the purpose of training up local managers. ALL the staff come from the local communities and are uplifted by the lodges.

There are fewer bums on seats, which aids higher incomes for the staff and lessens the footprint in the area – it’s ALL about conservation.

Staff members at Duma Tau

Wilderness is determined to empower people from Botswana’s local communities, Image Credit: Wilderness Duma Tau

8. Are There Any Anecdotes from Your Trip You’d Like to Share?

Not that I can think of – a safari in Botswana is an all-encompassing and meditative experience, it’s very wild and very untouched, and it changes you from within. If you don’t have a “burst into tears” moment in Botswana, then that would be unusual. It can be so overwhelming that it can bring you to tears – but for me personally, any safari can do this.

Experience a Botswana Safari for Yourself

Ready to explore the wild, wild wonders of Botswana? Reach out to our Travel Experts, and let’s start planning!

Botswana landscape at sunset

Amboseli National Park: Where Giants Meet

Is it worth going to Amboseli National Park? Well, duh! It’s like asking if chocolate is worth eating or puppies are worth cuddling. Get ready for majestic views of Africa’s highest mountain as well as encounters with an incredible diversity of wildlife that will leave you saying, “Seriously, did that just happen?”. Here’s a taste of what to look forward to…

Elephant dusting itself

A close encounter with free-ranging elephants is Amboseli’s claim to fame, Image Credit: Angama Amboseli

Which One is Better: Maasai Mara or Amboseli?

While both Maasai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park hold their own unique charm, the choice ultimately depends on your preferences. Maasai Mara is renowned for its extensive wildlife population and the spectacular Great Wildebeest Migration, where millions of wildebeests and zebras traverse the plains. 

On the other hand, Amboseli offers a distinct landscape with a breathtaking backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. The national park is also famous for its large herds of elephants and up-close sightings of other creatures, making it a favourite among nature enthusiasts and photographers. 

Elephant sighting during a game drive

Close encounters with elephants are a common occurrence, Image Credit Tortilis Camp

What Makes Amboseli National Park so Special?

Amboseli National Park in Kenya holds a special place in our hearts for a multitude of reasons. Brace yourself for an enchanting experience as we reveal the unique features that make Amboseli an absolute gem!

First things first, let’s talk about the showstopper – Mount Kilimanjaro! Picture this: Africa’s highest peak, rising majestically above the sprawling savannah like a giant snow-capped wizard’s hat. It’s a sight that will leave you gobsmacked and reaching for your camera at every turn.

Woman taking a photo of Mount Kilimanjaro

Picture-perfect moments with Africa’s tallest peak, Image Credit: Angama Amboseli

But that’s not all! Amboseli is home to some of the largest elephant herds in Africa. Moreover, observing these massive marvels in their natural habitat, with the ultimate photo bomb from Kilimanjaro in the background, is not only a sight to behold but is also a visual composition that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Along with the Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park is the most frequented in Kenya, Image Credit: Angama Amboseli

Wildlife in Amboseli National Park

While elephants rightfully take the spotlight in the region, Amboseli National Park is a stage teeming with a captivating cast of creatures. Delight in the vibrant hues of diverse birdlife, witness the elegant strides of the Maasai giraffe and feel the pulse of the savannah as Thomson’s gazelles gracefully roam.

Additionally, Burchell’s zebra, lion, buffalo, cheetah, spotted hyenas, non-migrating wildebeest, and all other sorts of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians have chosen Amboseli’s embrace.

Zebra in Amboseli National Park

The diversity of Amboseli’s landscape is reflected in the diversity of the game, Image Credit: Angama Amboseli

Safari Activities in Amboseli National Park

With abundant wildlife and cultural treasures to uncover, we suggest you take full advantage of the myriad of experiences on offer. Set out on exhilarating game drives, informative wilderness walks with Maasai warriors, and engage in specialised birdwatching expeditions.

Wilderness walking safari with Maasai Warrior

Maasai warriors provide amazing insights into wildlife and the land, Image Credit: Tortilis Camp

However, what we love and what makes this region particularly special is the chance to immerse yourself in authentic Maasai culture. Visit a traditional village, and learn about their ancient customs, traditions, and way of life. Whether you’re a seasoned safari enthusiast or a first-time adventurer, the Amboseli experience promises endless thrills.

Cultural experience

Learn about local tribes and their way of living, Image Credit: Porini Amboseli Camp

Places to Stay in Amboseli National Park

To fully appreciate the beauty of Amboseli National Park, there are a variety of exceptional lodges available. These lodges offer comfortable accommodations and an array of amenities to enhance your safari adventure. From luxurious camps to eco-friendly lodges, you’ll find options to suit every preference.

Here are some of our favourites:

Waterhole and elephant with Tortilis Camp in the background

Amboseli National Park lodges offer an array of amenities to enhance your safari adventure, Image Credit: Tortilis Camp

Whether you prefer a more authentic, no-frills safari experience or a more luxurious retreat, the lodges in Amboseli National Park cater to diverse tastes and ensure that your stay is nothing short of extraordinary.

Interior of a elegant tented suite looking out onto the vast wilderness views

From sumptuous suites to luxury canvas tents, there’s something for everyone, Image Credit: Tortilis Camp

Ignite Your Inner Explorer in Amboseli

When it comes to experiencing the visual wonders of East Africa’s wilderness, Amboseli National Park in Kenya stands head, trunk, and tusks above the rest! So, pack your camera and reach out to our team of enthusiastic Travel Experts to start planning your adventure. Brace yourself for jaw-dropping views of Mount Kilimanjaro and some serious elephant shenanigans!

Massive herd of elephants traversing Amboseli National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background