If you’re considering a trip to Botswana and want to know what to expect, follow our travel expert Marlene on her virtual trip across the country. Marlene recently travelled across Botswana and shared her favourite moments captured as photographs with us. Read Marlene’s stories from the bush and immerse yourself in Botswana’s wild nature.
After you experienced this beautiful corner of the world through Marlene’s eyes, we’re sure you will want to come and see for yourself.
A rocking chair on the water: a mokoro safari
Imagine lounging in a deckchair, but the deckchair is moving. Or that level of comfort you would imagine while being driven around in a car, sitting in a “Maxi-Cosi” baby seat. Or maybe the feeling is more like being in a rocking chair on the water? It’s hard to explain. But pure relaxation the African way, that is what mokoros are for me. I would probably even say that floating along a river in a mokoro is the most relaxing activity you can do on the continent. Besides maybe lazing on a recliner with a bottle of wine in the middle of the desert, which is my second favourite activity.
The story from the bush this image tells is our mokoro tour through the panhandle of the majestic Okavango Delta. I still remember how I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the surrounding calmness. Our poler showed us many little frogs in the water, and at the end of our trip made a hat and a necklace out of water lilies for me. Better than any spa visit — and so much more beautiful.
A night on the Okavango Delta: a houseboat overnight stay
May I introduce you to “Ngwesi”, the houseboat pictured above. We reached Ngwesi by speedboat from Sepopa, which was already a lot of fun. I am not sure if our driver thought we had time pressure, but he was speeding through the waters. We were leaning into the curves and holding onto our bags, with our hair flying wildly in the air. When we arrived at the houseboat anchored somewhere in the untouched wilderness of the Okavango Delta, I knew immediately that this experience will be one of the stories from the bush.
In the afternoon, we had a little party with Savannah drinks and snacks on the quarterdeck. Just before that, I took this photograph of our Ngwesi glistening in the setting sun against the picture-perfect sapphire blue sky. The boat was huge, a real house, with eight en-suite cabins. Surprisingly, it was really stable. When I was lying in bed, I even forgot that I was on the water. The sunrise the next morning was incredible, and that feeling you have when you are in such a pristine place is hard to put into words. After breakfast, we went for a little cruise, which was quite different from our speedy boat ride the previous day. But it is hard to beat eating breakfast while the beautiful nature of the Okavango Delta moves past you. One of the best things to see and do in Botswana!
Too late for cold feet: having a guide by your side
This action shot was taken on our way to a camp in the Kwai Area. We travelled in April, at the very end of the rainy season, and this is a typical story from this time in the bush. That’s when Botswana is beautifully lush and green, but some camps might be hard to reach due to the rain. This image shows what flooding can look like. It might be hard to see in the photo, but the water reached up to the bottom of the car doors. This drive was definitely adventurous — but also lots of fun.
You could say that this is my personal story from the bush that illustrates why we offer guided tours for Botswana. Driving can be tricky here. It is impressive how untouched and wild the country is, but that also means that accessibility can be challenging. We had our experienced guide with us and were driving our special 4×4 safari vehicle, so I knew we would be fine. Not every 4×4 car can make it through such deep water. So we listened to our guide, lifted our feet and hoped that we would not get stuck — and made it to the camp without a problem.
A different perspective: helicopter safaris
This came as an absolute surprise but is one of the stories from the bush in Botswana that I will probably be telling for a while. We were having lunch at our camp in Kwai when our hosts told us that a helicopter was waiting for us outside. At first, we thought they were making a joke. But when they repeated several times that there was a helicopter outside, I put down my fork and followed them outside.
And outside the camp really stood a helicopter. They had taken the doors off; that is why you see Luisa’s hair flying in the photo. Three of us were crammed together with the pilot in this tiny aircraft and took a roundtrip over Kwai Village and the Kwai Concession. We saw elephants, hippos, antelopes, and an enormous crocodile from above. Even though the flight was only 15 minutes long, it felt like exactly the right amount of time. It was also very impressive to see how close the Wild is to Kwai Village. On the one side, you see a herd of elephants or buffaloes and on the other side, there are kids playing in the street of the village. Seeing an elephant from above was also really fascinating, I hadn’t seen big grey bums from above before. I am even afraid of flying, but this helicopter flight over the Kwai Area was an absolute highlight and an amazing thing to do in Botswana
The end of the world: the Makgadikgadi Pans
This is us in the middle of nowhere in Botswana, somewhere in the Makgadikgadi Pan area. When you listen closely to stories from the bush in Botswana, you will probably hear about several places in this wild country that feel like you are at the end of the world. But still, this seemed like a special place to me. Behind us lies Kubu Island, and as you can imagine from the photo, this is not your typical island. Rather, Kubu Island is an “island” of rocks, an elevated area, which is full of majestic baobabs.
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are incredibly impressive, which is not really a surprise as they are the largest salt pan area in the world. The vastness here reminded me of that feeling that I often get in the desert. But while the desert has dunes, the salt desert in the Pan area is just flat plains. I really like these kinds of areas, where there is absolute nothingness. I love the desert and salt pans. Seeing the bush in Africa is great, but I have always been amazed by the nothingness in some regions. The sunrise with its spectacular cloud formations and the void of the pan is simply incredible. Similarly, the night sky here is like nothing I have ever seen. You are so far away from any other civilization that it is just you, the darkness, and the stars.
The meaning of water: witness transforming landscapes
I took this picture out of the main tent of one of the most luxurious lodges in Botswana, Jack’s Camp. This was just before we went on our sundowner tour to the Makgadikgadi Pans. What you see in the background is actually one of the pans of the Makgadikgadi area. The salt pan was carrying water at the time we visited, which was in April. The photo tells the story of how the rain transforms Botswana’s bush into lush grasslands, which attracts many animals. During the rainy season, you can find over 300 bird species here, and flamingos come to visit, too. In and around the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, you can also experience the second-biggest migration of zebra and the only migration in Southern Africa. Around March, thousands of zebras, and herds of wildebeests and their babies come to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park to follow the water and feed on the grass. And we were sitting in the front row for this natural spectacle – an amazing thing to see in Botswana.
The other bush story this photograph hints at is the pure luxury of Jack’s camp. The tent I slept in was over 135 m2, which is bigger than my house, and had a luxurious outside bathroom and a private pool. We were getting spoilt here by the attentive staff and indulged in several course meals and all-inclusive drinks. I particularly enjoyed the high tea in their dedicated Persian-style “tea tent”, with pillows as seating arrangements scattered all over the floor and overall tasteful décor. But to be honest, my personal highlight was the meerkat colony that we visited nearby on that day. You are not allowed to touch them, but because they are very trusting and friendly little creatures, curious as they are, they sometimes actually climb humans. And it is a lot of fun being explored by a meerkat, trust me.
G&T and a beautiful sunset
This picture was me trying to be artistic. I took this photo on the same day as the previous one, this is when we watched the sunset on one of the vast Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. A sunset in Botswana is a story from the bush that never gets old, but this was particularly special. We were sitting around a bonfire and the camp had basically set up a full bar with Campari O, Whiskey Sour, red wine – everything you could wish for. In the picture, you see me enjoying a classic Gin & Tonic. As you already know, I really enjoy vast landscapes. But would I have been here alone; I might have wet my pants. I have no doubt that you can very easily get lost here.
Our hosts did an interesting exercise with us: They told us to walk 200 steps straight in one direction without talking to each other. Already, walking on the crusty salt pan is an interesting sensation. The very top layer of the pan is dry and somewhat hard. But because the rest of the pan is wet, you sink in slightly when walking on the surface, and it can be slippery in flip-flops. But it is not just the walking that is weird. When you stand here “alone” in the middle of nowhere, your surroundings also feel different. Admittedly, I felt like an idiot at first, just standing there waiting for someone to call me to come back. But then I started feeling small in the middle of this pure openness, where you can’t see where the world ends. And that is why I love to travel to Botswana. Here I can immerse myself completely in nature.
A surprisingly ingenious solution: the “manual ferry”
I took this photo towards the end of our trip, on our way to Maun. We spent the night at the Khumaga Campsite and had to cross the river to get back to the main road that leads to Maun. What you see in the photograph is how we got to the other side of the river – adventurously. A real story from the bush in Botswana, you could say. The river, which is called Boteti, was in itself already a highlight. Here we spotted various different animals and even saw some elephants refreshing themselves.
But the actual adventure began when we started crossing the river. What you see in the image above is what you could call a “manual ferry”. The ferry was manual in the way that it was operated by two guys, who were pulling the ferry across the river on a rope. This is what I love about travelling the continent: You often encounter something unexpected, which actually turns out to be an ingenious solution. So we manoeuvred our car onto the ferry and sat in the vehicle while watching these two men do their job. I was impressed by how professionally they steered the ferry past any obstacles and ensured that we stayed in deep enough waters. Only 10-15 minutes later, all of us passengers and our vehicle arrived at the other side of the river. At that point, Holger summed up our trip so nicely when he said, “Africa never disappoints”.
If you would rather experience these adventures yourself, we are more than happy to help you plan your trip to Botswana. Contact one of our travel experts, maybe you would even like to speak to Marlene, to find out what your own experience of this beautiful and wild country could look like.