|Western Okavango Delta||£739|
Botswana has one overriding appeal for tourists: its stunning wildlife. Every permutation of the African safari experience is possible in this country: a Botswana flight in a hot air balloon across endless miles of the Kalahari desert, the traditional jeeps-and-binoculars game-spotting in Chobe National Park or floating in a canoe on the Okavango Delta in the tracks left by the animals.
The sparsely-populated land-locked country in southern Africa is well-developed for tourism, despite only gaining independence (from Britain) in 1966. At that time, the country was one of the world’s poorest, but the subsequent discovery of diamonds, along with booming tourism, has boosted the economy immeasurably. Botswana nowadays is something of a high-end destination with luxury game lodges abounding for travellers wanting a civilised spot from which to enjoy a sundowner.
The southeastern corner of the country, in and around Gaborone, is where most people live and the point of arrival for all international flights to Botswana. However, the Kalahari Desert is located in the centre of the country and the Okavanago Delta in the north, so travel across the country is essential to get to the big sights. Sit back and enjoy the journey, the scenery on the way – flatlands, deserts and plains – will be spectacular.
Botswana is hot all year round. The only relief is the cool, crisp nights between May and October. From April to October is the rainy season, and the country is best visited on the bookend months of those seasons.
July to October is the peak season, when there are the most visitors, little rain and it is easiest to spot the wildlife.
January to March is low season, when there is often rain and the humidity can become uncomfortable.
April to June and November to December have reasonable conditions and prices for accommodation and flights to Botswana will be lower than those at peak season. April and November are good months to visit for bird watchers.
Domestic Botswana flights are available within the country; the national carrier Air Botswana has the largest scheduled network. Charter flights are also available to more remote destinations. Most charter flights originate from Maun.
There is one train service.
Buses are cheap but infrequent and often unsafe. The roads are poor throughout the country.
(prices quotes are from London)