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Botswana is synonymous with large and untouched wilderness areas teeming with wildlife. It is also an incredibly diverse country, ranging from the lush Okavango Delta to the seemingly desolate salt pans of the Kalahari Desert. Due to the diversity of habitats it exhibits an incredible range of biodiversity with impressive mammal and bird lists. As such there is a wide array of birding and wildlife options to choose from, which are summarized below;
The swamps of the Okavango Delta in the north of the country have amazing year-round birding and wildlife opportunities. The swamps are best explored by boat, and on these boat cruises we hope to find African Pygmy Goose, White-backed Night Heron, African Skimmer, Slaty Egret, Lesser Jacana, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Coppery-tailed Coucal, and Long-toed Lapwing, as well as mammals such as African Elephant, Red Lechwe, the rare swamp-dwelling antelope Sitatunga, and perhaps Spotted-necked Otters. In the rank vegetation surrounding the swamps we should find Hartlaub’s Babbler, Swamp Boubou, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, African Barred Owlet, Holub’s Golden Weaver, and Senegal Coucal. The surrounding woodlands play host to African Golden Oriole (summer), Meyer’s Parrot, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Red-billed Spurfowl, and many others.
Chobe and Savuti National Parks
These large and impressive national parks in the north-eastern corner of Botswana are well worth a visit and are particularly well-known for their good numbers of large game. African Elephants are common and conspicuous throughout the parks, with the lush floodplains providing good grazing opportunities for African Buffalo, Red Lechwe, Puku, Southern Reedbuck, and Waterbuck. The large quantities of herbivores attract a number of different predators, including Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, and African Wild Dog. However, these animals generally stick to the woodlands, where cover is easier to find. Large game aside, there is also some fantastic birding to be had in these parks. The woodlands offer the chance of finding Arnot’s Chat, Red-necked Falcon, Dark Chanting Goshawk, White-crested Helmetshrike, Meves’s Starling, and possibly family groups of Southern Ground Hornbills. In slightly more open habitat we will search for Burchell’s and Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Abdim’s Stork, Kori Bustard, Collared and Black-winged Pratincoles, and in the summer months Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers.
Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
For those wanting to venture off the beaten track a little we can visit the vast wilderness of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This reserve is massive (52,000 km2) and is one of the most remote in southern Africa, resulting in relatively few visitors each year. In this massive wilderness we can expect to find large numbers of game, including Gemsbok (Southern Oryx), Springbok, and Southern Giraffe. As always, predators are less evident; however, a couple days in the reserve should produce sightings of Lion, Cheetah, and perhaps even Brown Hyaena. Birds to look for in the dry river beds and open plains include Southern Pied Babbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Violet-eared Waxbill, Temminck’s and Double-banded Coursers, Kori Bustard, and Eastern Clapper Lark.
To the north-east of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve we can visit the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, which offers some great birding too. The edges of the pan host Burchell’s and Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers, Double-banded Courser, Northern Black Korhaan, Kori Bustard, and many more. We can also visit the nearby Sua Pan, where the tens of thousands of breeding Greater and Lesser Flamingos are a spectacle to behold.
We can very easily arrange a private, comprehensive tour of Botswana for you at any time. Please contact us for details.