Destinations

What Animals can I see in Botswana?

what animals am i likely to see in botswana?

A Botswana safari is a fantastic choice seeing the big game of Africa for a number of reasons, but principally because its natural features help to concentrate vast numbers of fauna as the dry season intensifies between June and October and water becomes increasingly scarce. The country’s exceptionally low population density and high proportion of protected areas also ensure that there is limited encroachment on habitats vital to the sustained health of the populations of lions, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, rhinos, hippopotami, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, primates, bat-eared foxes, wild dogs and antelope such as the kudu, impala and lechwe. And this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Therefore, providing you go in the dry season you are likely to see plentiful wildlife - though exactly what you see will depend on the specific area you visit. The riverine environments of the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park tend to attract the biggest number and widest range of wildlife, but the Makgadikgadi Pan and the Kalahari also attract an eclectic cast of beasts and birds. Naturally, luck also plays a part, but the knowledge of our experts on the ground will, of course, help to maximise your chances of seeing the biggest and best wildlife Botswana has to offer. 

Here’s a brief species-ticking tour of what to expect from the various areas of this fauna-rich country.

The Okavango Delta effectively functions as a wildlife funnel. During the wet season the waters of the Delta spread out like the roots of a tree, but as the dry season bites the waters begin to recede, pulling many migratory species and their predators back towards the north-western corner of Botswana, and leaving many others to roam a maze of island havens further out in the Delta.

The Moremi Reserve’s floodplains and waterways dominate the central and eastern areas of the Okavango Delta. Here, the Mopane Tongue and Chief's Island stand out as the major landmasses – and they are veritable animal magnets in the dry season. It is here that you are most likely to see the Big Five, as well as rare antelope such as the swamp-swimming sitatunga. Chief’s Island is also the prime place to see rhino and big cats – lions, leopards and cheetahs are all regularly sighted here.

Just north of the Moremi Reserve are the Duba Plains, where a National Geographic team observed a pride of lions predating on a herd of buffalo over a two-year period. According to the report, every month the lionesses of the Tsaro pride killed on average 22 buffalo (from a herd of more than one thousand animals) – literally running straight at their prey in the gathering gloom of night.

To the east of the Okavango Delta, the Savuti Marsh area of Chobe National Park – with its savannahs and grasslands – is also an outstanding place to witness the real wonders of the natural world. Here, during the dry season, there are regular sightings of the thousands-strong elephant population rumbling through the lush landscape, as well as warthogs, wildebeest, zebras and hyenas. Baboons and vervet monkeys also range across Chobe and into the Okavango Delta. Be warned that the vervet monkey tends steal the primate limelight, courtesy of its bright blue scrotum!

During the rainy season, the rich birdlife of Botswana comes colourfully to the fore in Chobe and on the Okavango Delta. Nearly 600 different types of bird can be found in Botswana – among them the ostrich, flamingo and the cattle egret with its slicked ginger Mohawk. Flamingos are also regularly seen in the Makgadikgadi salt pan during the rainy season, while during the dry season on the salt pans and in the Kalahari you may also see meerkats, porcupines, black-backed jackals and aardwolves – an insectivorous, sticky-tongued relative of the hyena.

So we can guarantee you sightings of many animals on your safari in Botswana – but exactly what you see is down to the itinerary you choose and the caprices of Mother Nature at her most splendidly bountiful.

best time to visit botswana for mammals and reptiles

December - January

Crocodiles are nesting so they are often more visible and they protect their nests on sand banks or in the sides of river banks. Baby animals also start to appear so it is a great time for predators to do what they do best...prey on the weakest. 

December offers good shoulder season rates, is a beautiful time to travel and still has high quality wildlife viewing and therefore should definitely be considered. 

February - April

Having survived the wetter months, most of the grazers are in good condition as they have had plenty of greenery to eat over the last few months. 

May - June

Still quiet in regards to lodges being full. The large herds start returning to areas such as Chobe. A great time to profit from shoulder season rates when wildlife viewing is good and getting better every day. 

July - August

 
Leopards are fairly regular at this time of year during the twilight hours as it is still cool enough. As you progress into the hotter month of October leopards wait until later at night to show themselves when it is cooler. 

September - October

Huge herds of elephant and buffalo are now forming as water sources are scarce and they congregate around the few permanent water sources that are left. Herds reach into their hundreds which is quite a sight, especially in the Chobe National Park area. 

November

Usually still a great time for wildlife viewing as the rains have not quite arrived yet and the wildlife densities are extraordinarily high. Midday temperatures can be high as the rains have not arrived however this does vary year upon year. Another good time to travel to Botswana as travellers benefit from shoulder season rates.

best time to visit botswana for birds

February - April

Occasional nesting flamingos in Sua Pan, ostriches on the Pans of the Central Kalahari, breeding plumage is on display from species such as red bishops and yellow billed stalks. 

April - June

Young birds are around as they leave their nests. 

March - July

Wattled Cranes take advantage of the floods in the Okavango Delta and snap up various drowning reptiles and insects. 

August - October

Storks, egrets and herons make the most of dwindling water sources as fish are left stranded.

November

Migrant waders appear and carmine bee-eaters start to reside in riverbanks.

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