traveling botswana best and worst

Traveling Botswana

What we loved…

Okavango Delta – The Okavango Delta offers a totally unique Safari experience in one of the world’s most interesting ecosystems. Whether you fly over it, take a motorboat deep into it, or take a traditional makoro dugout boat through it, you’d be mistaken to skip this magical place.

Uncrowded – With just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. It offers a much needed break from the horn-honking, air pollution, litter, and crowds of the more densely populated regions of Africa. Not only are there few locals, there are also few tourists, so it’s a nice place to just chill out, reconnect with nature (hopefully on safari), and enjoy some “me time”.

Well Governed – Managing smaller groups is always easier than trying to wrangle bigger ones, but that doesn’t guarantee the job is done right. Botswana, however, is doing a great job handling their sparse population. It is clearly well governed. Their cities are clean, their wildlife is protected, their tourism is regulated, their roads are nice, and their public transport isn’t over crowded (and actually sticks to schedule). Even taxis are regulated here – which is practically unheard of in Africa. But best of all, the people of Botswana seem happy and well taken care of.

What we didn’t love…

The Heat – Traveling Botswana can be quite a sweaty journey. This is heat beyond description – inescapable paralyzing heat that you can see rising from the earth’s surface. We’re talking so hot that the sensor in our 1-year old camera baked to death in our tent one afternoon. Botswana packs some serious heat!

Nothing There – Botswana has the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert. There are a handful of other places to go on Safari, like Chobe National Park, but other than that, Botswana is a dry sea of nothingness. I mean you can drive for hours without seeing anything other than the heat dancing on the pavement.

Hitchhiking – OK, ok, this is obviously an isolated incident (I hope), but a story worth telling nonetheless.

What happens when your bus drives directly into a herd of goats crossing the highway? No this isn’t a bad joke. I’ll tell you exactly what happens. The bus driver thinks his grill guard will protect his front end. He doesn’t even attempt to slow for the easily avoidable goats. One big goat slip through and cracks the radiator cracks. All the coolant leaks out, leaving you stranded in the most middle of nowhere imaginable.

Did I mention there’s no shade and it’s 105 degrees out? Standing on the hot blacktop with all your stuff, you have to try to flag down a ride? After an hour stranded on the side of the road, a van finally ‘makes room’ for the remaining trip. 18 hours and buckets of sweat later, you make it to Johannesburg, South Africa safe and sound…and exhausted. I’m sure you’ll have better luck than us when traveling Botswana, and won’t be forced to hitchhike in the hottest heat conceivable.

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