Safari insider: Namibia or Botswana?
Namibia and Botswana are polar opposites in terms of safari destinations, so which one do you choose? Having travelled extensively in both countries, our Southern Africa Travel Specialists give their insights into where to go on an African adventure.
Magic of the Okavango
When deciding where to go on safari, there is so much choice, so many highlights and so much diversity that it can be daunting. Many people gravitate to what they think they know from lazy Sundays watching Sir David Attenborough in some of the most iconic wildernesses left on the continent. Botswana’s Okavango Delta is an obvious choice, for first time safari goers – huge concentrations of game, some of the best conservation areas in Africa and service levels so finely tuned that each and every moment of the safari is beautifully organised. Botswana’s reputation is rightfully world-renowned and for many people, I would encourage them to start their African love affair in this animal bonanza.
Etosha and the Namib Desert
Namibia, on the other hand, something so special that it is very hard to put into words. Namibia will open your eyes to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes you can witness in the world. It will redefine your sense of space and freedom, it will leave you not just with memories of a fantastic safari, but with tales of an epic adventure. Namibia is road trip country at its very best; vast, wild, emotive and importantly safe, friendly and welcoming. Wildlife is spread thinly in this desert environment and you will gain a new appreciation for the importance of water and how incredibly adaptive nature can be. The jewel in Namibia’s diverse crown of delights is Etosha National Park, which in my humble opinion provides the best game viewing anywhere in Southern Africa. Its waterholes, not only support a huge density of animals but give self-driving visitors some of the clearest views of majestic beasts anywhere in the wild.
Both countries offer amazing wildlife, cultural interactions and scenic pleasures, but the style of safari differs dramatically and this is where your choice comes in. Botswana is fabled for its flying safari; exclusive lodges in remote and wild places. Visitors will be swept from game drive vehicle, to poolside with cold drink in hand effortlessly. You will dine with other guests, your guides and lodge managers and talk of the day’s wildlife viewing and meet travellers from all corners of the globe. The guiding is second to none and you will learn bush skills, tracking animals by their behaviour and spoor, getting that all-important glimpse of Africa’s big cats. Fly between remote camps getting a vulture’s-eye-view of the Okavango’s waterways, the ‘hippo highways’ and ‘elephant junctions’.
In Namibia, in stark contrast, you take control of your own journey and you will write your own script. Take to the quiet roads, wind your way through mountains of rock and sand and arrive at unique and stunning lodges with a sense of accomplishment. Drink the ‘welcome juice’ and drown in the view. Take a sundowner drive as the desert transforms from baked moonscape to big night sky. Stroll along the Atlantic Coast as the heat of the day drains over gigantic dunes back out to sea. Head to the floodlit waterhole, with a blanket to ward off the evening chill and let Africa’s night come alive for your very own live documentary. In Namibia your adventure will be earnt; your luxury and comfort comes at the end of the day, when you are served exquisite meals, in romantic and intimate settings, by warm, hospitable people. Your journey through Namibia will stay with you forever and if you’re anything like me, you will want to go back…