Have your hair tussled by elephants, share your breakfast with baboons and climb into a traditional Mokoro canoe to spot the Big Five. Botswana has some of the best safari oppurtunities in Africa and the best lodges will let you sleep moments from migrating wildebeest and flocks of flamingo. Below we pick out five of the very best Botswana lodges and camps for meeting the local wildlife.
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge for the perfect setting
Tucked under the shade of palms and creaking fig trees on the edge of the grassy floodplains of the Okavango Delta, the stunning Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge makes the most of Botswana's most spectacular location. The curving walkways and hand carved decks swerve around ironwood trees and bridge lagoons before revealing sweeping views over papyrus fields or peeping above the tree canopy for vistas across the delta. The open fronted construction is built to offer serendipitous encounters with the blockbuster wildlife stars of the delta – and you can watch baboons swing through the branches at breakfast or spot elephants from the comfort of your own private plunge pool.
Find out more about Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
Belmond Eagle Island Lodge and safari by canoe
To get the most from the Okavango Delta you need to get your feet wet. The flood plains, papyrus swamps and Hippo pools are the drinking hole of choice for the Big Five and hundreds of other creatures great and small. Stay at Belmond Eagle Island and you can leave the Landrover at home and instead step directly into your very own wood carved Mokoro boat for a safari along the waterways. Pole wielding guides will punt you through the papyrus to spy elephants and giraffes lapping at the water’s edge. Back at base you can watch the sun sink from the al fresco dining room that stretches over the water.
Stay at the Belmond Eagle Island Lodge on our Botswana at its best tour
Sanctuary Baines’ Camp to make friends with the elephants
At Sanctuary Baines' Camp it’s all about getting up close and personal with the elephants. While other camps offer the thrilling opportunity to drive out and see the creatures, Sanctuary Baines' Camp actually has three semi resident elephants. Jabu, Thembi and Morula are orphans rescued by the charity Living with Elephants. The elephants are used as ambassadors to educate local schoolchildren about the history and ecology of the African Elephant, but guests at Sanctuary Baines' Camp also have the chance to meet the trio – have them rustle your hair with their trunks, watch them roll around in the water and even walk alongside them. It’s an experience like no other.
Jacks Camp to see the great migration
Botswana doesn’t start and end with the Okavango Delta. In the north east of the country you’ll find the Kalahari Desert, the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world, and the parched landscape of the Makgadikgadi Pans. But don’t let the desert tag fool you – when the rains sweep through this landscape unfolds into lush vegetation and tempts stampeding herds of wildebeest and zebra and the lions and cheetahs that hunt them. It’s also home to Jacks Camp. The safaris here are led in conjunction with local bushmen who live at the camp, which lends a local flavour to your introduction to the wildlife. The bushmen and women can also introduce you to traditional hunting and food gathering skills, show you how to make their ornate jewellery and find your rhythm with a traditional Zu/’hoasi dance.
Stay at Jacks Camp on our luxury Botswana and Victoria Falls tour
Kings Pool Camp for every sort of safari
With night and day safaris, bird and water hides and even a dedicated barge to take you down river, Kings Pool Camp in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve has all the options covered when it comes to finding the Big Five. There is even a dedicated sleep out deck where you can spend the night out under the stars trying to spot giraffes and elephants beneath the moonlight. The camp is a top to bottom tale of luxury, whether you are sinking into your four poster bed in your lodge or the leather sofas in the lounge.