Botswana is a real wilderness country, comparable in size to France or Texas, situated in the center of southern Africa. It is a landlocked country surrounded by Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Large areas have been set aside for wildlife reserves and these include some of the finest in Africa.
The Chobe River runs along part of its northern boundary; the Nossob River at its southwestern boundary; the Molopo River at its southern boundary; and the Marico, Limpopo and Shashe Rivers at its eastern boundary.
The Kalahari Desert covers 84% of the country and extends beyond Botswana’s western borders, covering substantial parts of South Africa, Namibia and Angola. Most of the Kalahari is covered with vegetation such as stunted thorn and scrub brush. It also has gently descending valleys, sand dunes and large numbers of pans. These pans fill with water during the rainy season and are important to wildlife for the valuable nutrients in the salts and grasses of the pans.
The magnificent Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta system in the world, fans out across the northwestern corner of the country and creates a paradise of islands and crystal clear lagoons, teeming with birds and wildlife. In the northeast, the famous Chobe National Park and Linyanti area supports great concentrations of elephant and buffalo. The Makgadikgadi Pans is an extensive network of salt pans and ephemeral lakes where it seems unlikely that anything could survive.
Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories. Prior to independence in 1966, it was a British protectorate known as Beuchuanaland. Sir Seretse Khama was elected the first president and served until his death in 1980. It was one of the world’s poorest nations until the discovery of diamonds in the Kalahari shortly after independence. This discovery paved the way for economic prosperity and is now one of the richest countries in Africa.
After the military secured Botswana’s borders from poachers, the game concentrations within the country multiplied. This increase in game led to the development of a tourist industry in Botswana. The focus is on high quality/low volume tourism, while still preserving the environment, rather than mass tourism Tourism employs about 45% of the people who live in northern Botswana.
Botswana’s climate is semi-arid, being hot and dry much of the year. The rainy season occurs during the summer months.
The summer season begins in November and ends in March. The summer brings high temperatures and the rainy season. The winter begins in May and ends in August. This is the dry season when there is virtually no rain. Winter days are sunny and cool to warm with nights dropping below freezing in some areas, such as the southwest. The in-between periods from April/early May and September/October are dry with cooler days than in the summer months.
For tourists, the best visiting months are from April to October for both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife gathers around natural waterholes and borehole-fed dams and is most visible.
Setswana is the national language with minor difference in dialects. However, English is the official business language and is widely spoken.
The Botswana Tourist Board offers more information at their web site.