“Only the tortoise knows what is hidden in its shell.”
– African saying
Characterized by pristine natural beauty and enormous areas of virgin wilderness, Botswana boasts spectacular African landscapes as well as some of Africa’s most remarkable and diverse ecosystems.
As we like to say, its appeal is a high density of game and a low density of us. The entire country has a population of two million, smaller than that of Chicago, in an area about the size of France. The number of tourists allowed in its game viewing areas is strictly limited. It is in Botswana that one can best sense the physical enormity of Africa.
Roaming and roaring within the diverse landscapes and ecosystems (there are seven distinct eco-regions) is a plentiful bounty of wildlife in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Wild species can be observed in all modes of feeding, hunting, resting, socializing (or not), nurturing offspring, and just surviving.
One of the last great tracts of untouched Africa, boasting some of the best game viewing in Africa, Botswana calls to us and we hear it, viscerally, deep within.
Botswana’s call is as hushed as the sound of the reeds of the Okavango Delta as you quietly glide and weave through them in your dugout canoe. It’s as mighty as the nighttime roar of a lion asserting control over his turf, as vast as the densely-illuminated nighttime sky, and as delicate as the call of the bird. For those who seek a wild Africa, completely untamed, Botswana is all the more poignant.
Perhaps we feel Botswana’s pull even more profoundly because of our connection to ancient humankind: at the rarely-visited UNESCO World Heritage rock art site of Tsodilo Hills. For those who are interested, we can arrange an “up close and personal” encounter with the San (Bushmen) people in the arid Kalahari Desert. Depending on your preference, this may or may not include trance dancing.
It’s impossible to overemphasize the power and beauty of the sound of the Okavango River as it flows from the Angola Highlands to the arid Kalahari Desert, where it fans out to form an immense and spectacular inland delta of lagoons, channels, and palm-filled islands. Once a year, as the floods come down from Angola, this fragile and unspoiled ecosystem is flooded and transformed into a magical waterscape that attracts an astounding diversity of animal and bird life. You will take it all in as you glide through the reeds, propelled by the powerful oar of your dugout canoe.
At night, in the absence of ambient light, watch thousands of brilliant stars appear, brighter than you will ever see anywhere again. It is quite a show, and if you happen to be on the vast salt pans of the Kalahari with a member of the San community while you are gazing at the constellations, he may tell you to listen hard. And if you do, you can hear the stars sing.
Botswana’s call will resonate deeply with stargazers and photographers, bird lovers and seekers of big game. But it calls out to everyone, so make sure you are listening.