Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Great For: Escaping the rest of the world and self drive safari.

Highlights: The great zebra migration, tracking animals around shrivelling waterholes.

An evocative desert that covers most of Botswana, the Central Kalahari is where you’ll find thrilling safari drama. There isn’t much to eat nor much water, so the animals are widely spread.

But if you seek adventure and have a little patience you’ll be bumping between waterholes, coming across all kinds of desert magic.

Check out the national park campsites as this is one of the best places in Africa for a self drive safari.

Best Time to Visit the Central Kalahari: January to April, during and after the rains will show the most wildlife although it’s hard to get around. May to August is also wonderful.

Also Consider: Etosha National Park in Namibia has a similar, wild desert feel.

Combine With: Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Caprivi, or destinations in Namibia.

Chobe National Park

Great For: Elephants, elephants, elephants. And lots of hippos.

Highlights: The world’s largest elephant population; river safari and budget mobile camps.

It’s possible to picture a herd of 15 elephants. Maybe you can imagine what 100 elephants look like. But 100,000? That’s how many reside in and around the Chobe forests and the experience is unfathomable.

Giraffe and hippos are also incredibly numerous, although the thick greenery makes it pretty hard to see the big cats.

River safaris provide a great introduction and you only need two days to really get a sense of what Chobe is about. Best of all, Chobe is really good value for such a unique safari, especially wild mobile camps in the forest.

Best Time to Visit Chobe: The dry season of May to November has the highest concentration of animals and it’s easy to get around; many of the herds disperse during the rains.

Also Consider: Nearby Linyanti and Selinda for a more exclusive safari in this region.

Combine With: Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta for a brilliant holiday week.

Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve

Great For: Celebrating the wonder of nature and being surrounded by wildlife.

Highlights: The landscape itself; water and walking safaris; getting lost.

Every year the Kalahari Desert floods, thanks to water that has spent three months snaking down from the Angolan Highlands. It creates one of nature’s great events, an oasis that attracts animals from hundreds of miles around.

Moremi Game Reserve is the game-rich heart of the Delta. More than a dozen concessions surround Moremi, each offering a fairly exclusive safari experience.

Just note that a Delta is difficult to get around so it can get expensive to safari here. In general, the further you go towards Moremi the more animals and the higher cost.

A mixed safari program is recommended as the Okavango is probably the best in Africa for a water-based safari and there are great walking and riding options.

Best Time to Visit the Okavango Delta: June to August is when the water is highest and is when the animals migrate here, but the Okavango remains a great destination throughout the rest of the year.

Also Consider: There’s nowhere else in the world like the Okavango.

Combine With: Chobe for a varied safari.

Selinda, Kwando and Linyanti Concessions

Great For:  Highly exclusive and intimate safari experiences.

Highlights: Everything; the landscapes, the guides, the activities and the chance to be alone with nature.

These private concessions showcase a mix of habitats, mingling Chobe-style forests with swamplands, grasslands, and floodplains. The safari experience is unparalleled but it’s also expensive and highly exclusive.

You’ll be paying upwards of USD 1000 per night and access to these concessions is restricted to just a handful of guests.

If you can afford such a premium it’s hard to find a better safari in the whole of Africa, given the abundance and variety of wildlife, plus the intimacy and diversity of experiences.

Best Time to Visit Selinda, Kwando and Linyanti: These destinations are superb all year around. July to October are considered the best months but the other months mean low-season price discounts.

Also Consider: Private concessions in the Greater Kruger.

Combine With: Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta.