Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Botswana, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.
1. Chobe National Park: At Chobe National Park, in a corner of African that evokes the game-rich continent of old, four countries come together: Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The 4,200-square-mile park teems with all kinds of wildlife but it best known for its incredible birds and also for its huge elephant population—in the dry season, it holds Africa’s highest concentration of them. Sunset boat rides along the Chobe River float you past herds of the creatures, along with yawning hippos, giant storks, and flocks of myriad waterfowl lining the banks.
- Where: Kasane Airport is 63 miles/100 km west of Livingstone, Zambia.
- How: U.S.-based Abercrombie & Kent offers scheduled safaris and customized itineraries that include Chobe. Tel: 800-323-7308 or 630-725-3400; www.abercrombiekent.com.
- Best Time: June-September for cooler, drier weather.
2. Jack’s Camp: Ostrich Jack—hunter, explorer, bush hero—fell in love with the magic of this remote corner of Botswana in the 1960s, pitched camp, and never left. Today an old-fashioned, permanent safari camp run by Jack’s son, Ralph Bousfield, stands on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans in the middle of the Kalahari, a desert bigger than the state of Texas. Jack’s Camp has a double life. When the rain comes, the salt pans—once the bed of a lake the size of Lake Victoria—sprout green and create an abundant water source for enormous flocks of flamingos.
- Where: 124 miles/200 km southeast of Maun.
- How: Uncharted Africa books trips to both Jack’s Camp and Planet Baobab. Tel: 267/241-2277; www.unchartedafrica.com.
- Best Times: April-October for dry weather; November-March for wildebeest and zebra migration in the wet season.
3. Okavango Delta (pictured above): The inland delta where the Okavango River meets the Kalahari Desert has been called the world’s largest oasis. The Okavango, a tributary of the mighty Zambezi, creates a unique “water in the desert” ecosystem the size of Switzerland, forming floodplains, lagoons, channels, and islands that all act as a magnet for wildlife. As a local brochure puts it, “If you see 10 percent of what sees you, it’s an exceptional day.”
- 62 miles/100 km north of Maun; 30 minutes by scheduled air charter.
- How: U.S.-based Natural Migrations offers customized safari itineraries, including to the Wilderness Safari caps. Tel: 866-988-7575 or 541-988-7575; www.naturalmigrations.com.
4. New Selinda Reserve: Lions, large herds of elephants, and packs of wild dogs are just part of what distinguishes the Selinda Reserve, a 320,000-acre private wildlife sanctuary in northern Botswana that links the outer reaches of the Okavango Delta in the west with the Linyanti marches in the east. There’s much more that makes this place spectacular, however, and the husband-and-wife team of Dereck and Beverly Joubert have captured nearly all of it over the past 25 years in their award-winning National Geographic documentaries. But it’s only since 2007 that the two have truly been able to share this gem with the outside world.
- Where: In northern Botswana, 30 minutes by air charter from Maun.
- How: U.S.-based The Wild Source provides customized itineraries featuring Selinda. Tel: 720-497-1250; www.thewildsource.com.
- Best Time: July-September when weather is drier and game is most abundant.
Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.