Botswana in March 2011
People sometimes ask me about the best time of the year to travel in Botswana. - There is no quick and simple answer to this question. It depends, on what you would like to see and which areas you intend to visit. Most first-time visitors focus on the northern parts: The Okavango Delta, the Linyanti and Savute areas and the Chobe riverfront. Many will travel during high season, between June and October. From a game viewing point this is a very interesting time of the year. The land is dry and the main water bodies of the Okavango are in flood, thus the animals will concentrate along perennial rivers and lagoons, as well as near water holes that receive pump water. In my Northern Botswana gallery you will find images that have been taken during these dry winter months.
Between November and early May, large areas of Southern Africa receive their annual rainfalls. Some places become inaccessible for safari travel during this time. Botswana's north, however turns into a green paradise. During the green season, many water pans fill up and the animals spread out into areas they cannot remain in during the dry season. But still, there is a lot to see and if you don't mind the odd thunderstorm or rain shower, you will have less people, a greater variety of bird life and spectacular skies as a background to your images.
During our March 2011 trip, we visited two camps only: Duba Plains and Selinda. Both camps are situated on private conservation areas, adjoining the national parks and game reserves.
Approach to Duba Plains airstrip:
Duba Plains is a very special place with vast, open grasslands, parts of which are seasonally flooded. Most people used to come here for close up encounters with the rather impressive Duba lions, and the large herds of buffalo they stalk and prey on almost every day. Of course, Duba Plains has a lot more to offer than lion and buffalo interaction, as you will see in the gallery. During our stay in March 2011, besides the many herds of red lechwe racing through flooded grass plains, we saw Bat-eared fox, Aardwolf and even the rare and elusive Large grey mongoose. I also identified about 50 bird species over the course of three days. Among them summer visitors like Woodland kingfisher and Grey-headed kingfisher.
The Selinda spillway around Selinda camp:
Selinda is another fantastic area that has long had a special place in our heart. We first travelled to this very remote place on a self-drive excursion in 2004, and we have been back at the Selinda Reserve three times since then. To see its dry savannah bushland and riverine forests in the green season was spectacular. In addition to this, the Selinda spillway, the Zibadianja lagoon and the Savute channel now hold a lot more water than six or seven years ago. To give you an idea: A section of the Selinda spillway, where we saw two male cheetahs cross the water in a single leap has now turned into a wide, flowing river with three or four hippos at the centre, fully submerged. This time around, among all the fantastic sightings of plains game and birds (49 species identified), we particularly enjoyed the Southern carmine bee-eaters following our vehicle in slow flight, hunting for any grasshopper that might jump to "safety" from the Land Cruiser.
Both Duba Plains and the Selinda Reserve guarantee an absolutely fantastic experience of pristine African wilderness.
Our booking arrangements were made through Tailormade Safaris Ltd.
Patrick Meier, April 2011