Skip to main content

Desert vs Delta – Where to Travel in Botswana

March 4, 2024  By: Gretchen

Botswana is a country of many wonders. Incredible wildlife, warm and welcoming people, the vast Kalahari Desert and the lush Okavango Delta are all draws for travelers. Many travelers are unsure of which area to visit on their safari. Today we’ll break down what the desert and the delta have to offer.


Kalahari Desert

The name Kalahari means ‘a waterless place.’ Covering around 350,000 square miles, the Kalahari is a land of extremes – days can be scorching, especially in summer, while in winter, nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing. Despite its seemingly inhospitable environment, myriad birds and wildlife thrive in the desert. Different areas of the Kalahari support antelope such as oryx, springbok, wildebeest and kudu; along with meerkats; brown hyena; the famous black-maned Kalahari lions and many more species.

elephants in Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari is also home to a massive, dried up ‘super lake’ that left behind huge, flat salt ‘pans’ as it evaporated. These pans are an attraction for travelers for many reasons – including huge seasonal wildlife migrations; incredible, otherworldly scenery including huge ancient baobabs; breathtaking night skies and unique camps.

ATVs in the desert

Activities in and around the pans include game viewing (day and night), including spending time out of the vehicle with meerkats (only available from certain camps) and the chance to spot some rarely seen species such as brown hyena, aardvark and African wildcat. Exploring the pan on ‘quad bikes’ (ATV’s) is a unique (seasonal) experience as well and you can even have a sleep out in the pans for what might be the best stargazing of your life.

elephant in water

Okavango Delta

Visiting the lush Okavango Delta is a totally different experience. Made up of various reserves – some private, some not – a wide variety of activities and experiences are on offer that vary from place to place. It’s very important to work with an expert to ensure you have the right information to plan the trip you are hoping for. Some activities are highly seasonal as well.

mokoro ride

When we think of the Delta, we think of quietly skimming along the water in a mokoro (wooden canoe), floating by reeds, lilies and any number of birds, miniscule frogs and even big game on the banks of the river or channel – all of which your guide will help reveal to you. Around every corner is another surprise and there is no shortage of breathtaking beauty.

man fishing

Guests can choose from camps that offer activities that might include day and night game drives, mokoro excursions, motorboat safaris, walking safaris, fishing and more. Horseback safaris are also available at some camps. Many of these activities can be seasonal – be sure to talk with your AAC Journey Specialist to understand what is offered when.

two lions

When out exploring with your guide, there is the opportunity to see all sorts of game – from a huge variety of antelope species including the sitatunga – a water-adapted antelope, to elephants, big cats and even wild dog. The Delta also has more than 400 bird species including some rare birds that are difficult to spot elsewhere.

leopard cub

Given the diversity of these two areas as well as the diversity of the activities on offer, we recommend that travelers visit both! The combination of Botswana’s desert and delta makes for a rich and exciting safari that cannot be experienced anywhere else.

Are you ready to plan your own customized desert and delta safari? Contact one of our Journey Specialists to get started and subscribe to our newsletter below to keep in touch.


* indicates required

Photos courtesy Wynand Uys, Jack’s Camp, Chris Koelewijn, Felix Dorn, AAC Marketing Director Beth McCabe and AAC Livingstone Club member Lynn R.