My friends always ask for my recommendation of what to do in Botswana, a small country in Southern Africa well known for diamond mines and a lush animal habitat. But truth is: while I visited Botswana quite a lot for work, I rarely made it out of the capital, Gaborone. So, this post is a summary of all my trips between 2015 and 2017. I would recommend a 7-day visit if you can arrange it. Here is the itinerary:
Two days (at most) in Gaborone
Before your visit, read a few episodes of the best selling No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series about a witty and funny Botswanese lady detective named Precious Ramotswe. You can actually find some locations mentioned in the book here in Gaborone.
On your first day:
- Visit downtown Gaborone and mingle with the locals in the Main Mall area. If you are adventurous like me, try a bite of the mopane worm.
- From there, walk up to the Parliament and the National Assembly.
- See the bronze statue of Sir Seretse Kharma, Botswana’s first President, in the same area. His statue was unveiled in 1986 to mark Botswana’s 20th year of independence.
- Check out the National Museum and Art Gallery (it is quite small so you can complete your visit within an hour or so)
- Visit the Three Dikgosi Monument, which features 5.4-metre tall bronze statues of three chiefs who played important roles in Botswana’s independence.
On your second day:
- Go for a rhino-tracking tour starting at 7am in Mokolodi Nature Reserve. It will take about 4 hours walking in the bush, following footprint and poops. Never in my life did I know that I could get so excited seeing a warm pile of shit. Seriously! Wear comfortable and sturdy long pants with a very good pair of walking shoes.
- Shop your souvenirs and support local artisans at Botswanacraft.
Me (face-timing with hubby from BotswanaCraft): Hey, thanks babe. I know you just got me a cool present.
Me: Because I’m wearing it.
(That’s how you get away with shopping when traveling).
- Start your drive to Madikwe Game Reserve (about 2 hours from Gaborone)
2. Two days at Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is actually in South Africa, but it was such a short drive from Gaborone. It’s the fifth largest game reserve and a lesser-known park in South Africa (meaning fewer tourists). The reserve’s grassland, forest and rocky hills are home to a variety of wildlife such as elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos, plus endangered wild dogs. You can also find hundreds of bird species here including ostrich, vultures and the large kori bustard.
Where to stay: Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge with 8 separate and luxury huts. The price includes everything: lodging, meals, two game drives per day (early morning and late afternoon). It is better to call as you will get a much better deal than the price online.
3. Three days in Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is the most biologically diverse park in Botswana. The park is located in northern Botswana, near the Okavango Delta. In addition, its town, Kasane, is the only place in the world that connects all four countries together: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Nambia, so you can visit all these countries in one visit. Bingo!
Where to stay: Chobe Safari Lodge. It was recommended to me by my good South African friend who spent his honeymoon there. Need I say more? You are welcome.
- When you arrive to the hotel, make sure you book a morning game drive and an afternoon boat ride right away. It was such an amazing experience! I had never seen so many hippopotamus in my life.
- You can easily spend two days in Chobe National Park and Kasane.
- Spend the third day visiting Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the largest waterfall in the world. Do rent a raincoat before entering as you’ll get very wet.
- Take a helicopter ride to see Victoria Falls from above.
This is me after realizing I’ve became a millionaire:
- Cross the Victoria Falls Bridge to visit Zambia. Here I am, one leg in Zimbabwe and one leg in Zambia. Can’t complain I have short legs anymore!
If you have more time, plan for a couple days in Okavango Delta (UNESCO’s World Heritage). Please share with me your tips if you go.
Have a wonderful trip!