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Most visitors to North Eastern Botswana head straight for Chobe National Park. The Chobe River which runs along the country’s border provides resources for a large amount of wildlife which means that the park is a great location for wildlife viewing.
There are a number of other attractions in this part of the country which shouldn’t be missed. The Makgadikgadi Pans are an amazing sight and makes visitors feel like they are on another planet! There are also a number of villages that make interesting stopping off points in this area of the country including Orapa, Kasane and Savuti.
Covering an area of around 11,000km², the Chobe National Park, the second largest park in Botswana, contains some of the most varied wildlife in the country. The Chobe River threading its way through the park is incredibly beautiful and offers visitors great opportunities for some amazing photographs.
Chobe National Park is an ornithologists dream – over 450 bird species have been recorded here – including Pel’s fishing owl, kingfishers galore, carmine bee-eaters, Egyptian geese and various members of the stork family. There should be something to please everyone. When the depression is filled with water, the waterbirds in the Savuti marshes are a sight to behold.
Wildlife includes, large herds of elephant and cape buffalo, waterbuck, lechwe, puku, lion, leopard, jackal, hippo, giraffe, impala, warthog, bushbuck, baboons and crocodiles.
There are a number of local attractions that can be easily visited from Chobe National Park including the Hot Springs between the villages of Kasane and Kazungula, the Seboba Water Rapids, the community based Kazangula Snake Park and the forest reserves of Sibuyu, Kazuma, Maikaelelo and Kasane.
Extending from the Boteti River in the West to the Ntwetwe Pan in the east the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park covers an area of around 5,000km².
Game viewing is particularly good during the wet season especially when the Boteti river is in free flow. It is sometimes possible to see large herds of wildebeest and zebra on their journey west to the Boteti region. During the dry season, wildlife continues to congregate around the shallow pools of the Boteti river as it is the only permanent water source within the reserve. Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve is home to a number of species including wildebeest, zebra, gemsbok, red hartebeest, springbok, elephants, brown hyena, giraffe and a number of predators.
Some of the largest Pans are actually located outside the park boundaries. These include Ntwetwe and Sowa Pans.
Kubu is a small island, despite being only about 1km long it is rich in archaeological and historical remains. Stone age tools and arrowheads are still being found on the island to this day. The stunning baobabs that can be seen from the fossil covered beaches are simply stunning.
Nata Sanctuary is a community based conservation project which is run by residents from four local communities – Nata, Maphosa, Sepako and Manxotae. It is a great example of local people appreciating that retaining wildlife can give them greater rewards.
The sanctuary covers an area of around 250km², and whilst it is a haven for many mammal species – it is birds that are the main attraction here and in particular waterbirds. Over 160 species have been recorded here including carmine bee-eaters, kori bustards, Cape teals and white and pink-backed pelicans. During the rainy season the Nata River becomes a carpet of pink with greater and lesser flamingos congregating on the area. There is an elevated hide which gives visitors a great view over the pans.
The Nxai Pan National Park covers an area of around 2,000km². Wildlife viewing here is best during the rainy season, December to April tends to be best time to catch sight of animal herds migrating from the south. The park is home to a number of antelope species as well as lion, cheetah, hyena, elephant and wild dog.
These three concessions are located at the extreme northern reaches of Botswana, with Caprivi lying opposite. During the dry season, the rivers flowing through these concessions are a big draw for wildlife and it is often possible to see huge herds of elephant, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra making the most of the water supply. A number of antelope species and large predators can also be found here, including waterbuck, kudu, the rare sitatunga, lion, leopard, cheetah and caracal.
Thomas Baines immortalised the baobabs here in paint some 150 years ago. The seven huge, twisted baobab trees are set on an island overlooking the white Kudiakam Pam below. It is fascinating to see that the scene has hardly changed since Baines completed his painting all those years ago.
© ecoTravel Africa 2011