Must see attractions in Botswana & Namibia

  • Top ChoiceSights in Namibia

    Sossusvlei

    Sossusvlei, a large ephemeral pan, is set amid red sand dunes that tower up to 325m above the valley floor. It rarely contains any water, but when the Tsauchab River has gathered enough volume and momentum to push beyond the thirsty plains to the sand sea, it’s completely transformed. The normally cracked dry mud gives way to an ethereal blue-green lake, surrounded by greenery and attended by aquatic birdlife, as well as the usual sand-loving gemsboks, and ostriches. This sand probably originated in the Kalahari between three and five million years ago. It was washed down the Orange River and out to sea, where it was swept northward with the Benguela Current to be deposited along the coast. The best way to get the measure of this sandy sprawl is to climb a dune, as most people do. And of course, if you experience a sense of déjà vu here, don’t be surprised – Sossusvlei has appeared in many films and advertisements worldwide, and every story ever written about Namibia features a photo of it. At the end of the 65km 2WD road from Sesriem is the 2WD car park; only 4WDs can drive the last 4km into the Sossusvlei Pan itself. Visitors with lesser vehicles park at the 2WD car park and walk, hitch or catch the shuttle to cover the remaining distance. If you choose to walk, allot about 90 minutes, and carry enough water for a hot, sandy slog in the sun.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Skeleton Coast

    Cape Cross Seal Reserve

    The best-known breeding colony of Cape fur seals along the Namib coast is in this reserve, where the population has grown large and fat by taking advantage of the rich concentrations of fish in the cold Benguela Current. The sight of more than 100,000 seals basking on the beach and frolicking in the surf is impressive to behold, though you’re going to have to deal with overwhelming piles of stinky seal poo. Bring a handkerchief or bandana to cover your nose – seriously, you’ll thank us for the recommendation. No pets or motorcycles are permitted, and visitors may not cross the low barrier between the seal-viewing area and the rocks where the colony lounges.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Namibia

    Deadvlei

    Although it's much less famous than its neighbour Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is actually the most alluring pan in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – it's arguably one of Southern Africa's greatest sights. Sprouting from the pan are seemingly petrified trees, with their parched limbs casting stark shadows across the baked, bleached-white canvas. The juxtaposition of this scene with the cobalt-blue skies and the towering orange sands of Big Daddy, the area's tallest dune (325m), is simply spellbinding. It's an easy 3km return walk from the Deadvlei/Big Daddy Dune 4WD parking area – follow the waymarker posts.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Skeleton Coast

    Sandwich Harbour

    Sandwich Harbour, 56km south of Walvis Bay in Dorob National Park, is one of the most dramatic sights in Namibia – dunes up to 100m-high plunge into the Atlantic, which washes into the picturesque lagoon. The harbour is now deserted and a stirring wilderness devoid of any human settlement. Birdwatchers will have a field day and Sandwich Harbour 4x4 facilitate half- and full-day trips down here. Sandwich Harbour historically served as a commercial fishing and trading port. Some historians suggest that the name may be derived from an English whaler, the Sandwich, whose captain produced the first map of this coastline. Still, others contend that the name may also be a corruption of the German word sandfische, a type of shark often found here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Botswana

    Chapman’s Baobab

    About 11km south of Green's Baobab is the turn-off to the far more impressive Chapman’s Baobab, which, until it crashed to the ground suddenly on 7 January 2016, had a circumference of 25m and roots that extended 1km out into the surrounding area. It was historically used as a navigation beacon and may also have been used as an early post office by passing explorers, traders and travellers, many of whom left inscriptions on its trunk. If anything, the fallen version of the tree is even more impressive, allowing you to clamber atop and inside this vast fallen life force.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Botswana

    Kuru Art Project

    This fabulous art project provides opportunities for local artists (14 at last count) to create and sell paintings and other artwork; it’s worth spending an hour or two leafing through the various folios of artworks. Some of the artists here are well known around the world and their works hang in some of the world's most prestigious art spaces, including the Smithsonian Institute. It’s well signposted along D’kar’s only road, close to the turn-off to the Ghanzi–Maun highway. There's also a small but well-stocked curio shop and there's sometimes a chance to sit down and watch the artists at work.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Namibia

    Sesriem Canyon

    The 3km-long, 30m-deep Sesriem Canyon, 4km south of the Sesriem headquarters, was carved by the Tsauchab River through the 15-million-year-old deposits of sand and gravel conglomerate. There are two pleasant walks: you can hike upstream to the brackish pool at its head or 2.5km downstream to its lower end. Check out the natural sphinxlike formation on the northern flank near the canyon mouth.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Namibia

    Hidden Vlei

    This unearthly dry vlei (low, open landscape) amid lonely dunes makes a rewarding excursion. It's a 4km return hike from the 2WD car park. The route is marked by white-painted posts. It’s most intriguing in the afternoon, when you’re unlikely to see another person.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Windhoek

    Christuskirche

    Windhoek’s best-recognised landmark, and something of an unofficial symbol of the city, this German Lutheran church stands on a traffic island and lords it over the city centre. An unusual building, it was constructed from local sandstone in 1907 and designed by architect Gottlieb Redecker in conflicting neo-Gothic and art nouveau styles. The resulting design looks strangely edible, and is somewhat reminiscent of a whimsical gingerbread house. The altarpiece, the Resurrection of Lazarus, is a copy of the renowned work by Rubens. To view the interior, pick up the key during business hours from the nearby church office on Peter Müller St.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Swakopmund

    Jetty

    In 1905 the need for a good cargo- and passenger-landing site led Swakopmund’s founders to construct the original wooden pier. In the years that followed, it was battered by the high seas and damaged by woodworm, and in 1911 construction began on a 500m iron jetty. When the South African forces occupied Swakopmund, the port became redundant (they already controlled Walvis Bay), so the old wooden pier was removed in 1916, and the unfinished iron pier – a starkly beautiful thing – was left to the elements.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Swakopmund

    National Marine Aquarium

    This recently overhauled waterfront aquarium provides an excellent introduction to the cold offshore world in the South Atlantic Ocean. Most impressive is the tunnel through the largest aquarium, which allows close-up views of graceful rays, toothy sharks (you can literally count the teeth!) and other little marine beasties.

  • Sights in Botswana

    Central Kalahari Game Reserve

    The dry heart of the dry south of a dry continent, the CKGR is an awesome place. If remoteness, desert silences and the sound of lions roaring in the night are your thing, this could become one of your favourite places in Africa. Covering 52,800 sq km (about the size of Denmark), it's one of Africa’s largest protected areas. This is big-sky country, home to black-maned Kalahari lions, a full suite of predators and a wonderful sense of the remote. In the heart of the park, gemsboks, springboks and bat-eared foxes are common, as are lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals and brown hyenas; wild dogs are also possible. Estimates by research scientists working in the reserve suggested minimum 2016 populations (including the contiguous Khutse Game Reserve) at around 800 brown hyenas, 500 lions, 300 leopards, 150 African wild dogs, 100 cheetahs and 100 spotted hyenas. If that sounds like a lot of predators, remember, however, that the desert environment ensures that wildlife densities are far smaller than in places such as Chobe or Moremi and you may spend a week in the reserve and see very little of note. Then again, while you need patience to see the wildlife here, the reward is that whatever you do see, you might just have to yourself. Birds are numerous around the ancient river valleys, with sightings of larger species such as ostriches and kori bustards (the world's heaviest flying bird) almost guaranteed. Desert-adapted species are other drawcards, with the Kalahari scrub robin, a common visitor to campsites, a much-sought-after prize for twitchers. Deception Valley The CKGR is perhaps best known for Deception Valley, the site of Mark and Delia Owens’ 1974–81 brown hyena and lion study, which is described in their cult-classic book Cry of the Kalahari. Deception Valley's appeal also owes much to the variety of its landscapes. This broad valley, lined on its eastern and western shores by light woodland climbing gentle hills, is all about swaying grasslands, tight clusters of trees and roaming gemsboks, springboks and the occasional predator. It's a beautiful spot around sunrise or sunset, while Deception Pan, at the southern end of the valley, can feel like the end of the earth at midday. Deception is one of four fossil valleys in the Central Kalahari – the others are the Okwa, the Quoxo (Meratswe) and the Passarge – that were carved out by ancient rivers, bringing topographical relief to the virtually featureless expanses. The rivers themselves ceased flowing more than 16,000 years ago. Passarge Valley Passarge Valley is far quieter than Deception Valley – we spent an entire afternoon driving along its length one July and saw not one other vehicle. On the said afternoon, we did, however, see a male lion, a cheetah, gemsboks, bat-eared foxes and a honey badger. There is a waterhole (artificially pumped to provide water for animals throughout the dry season) at the southwestern end of the valley. Northern CKGR The 39km from the Passarge Valley waterhole to Motopi Pan takes you through classic Kalahari country with rolling dune-hills covered in thorn scrub, acacias and light woodland, with some lovely views out across the plains en route. Motopi Pan itself is a lovely spot late in the afternoon, with the waterhole regularly visited by gemsboks, giraffes and ostriches, with lions never far away. The low hills that separate the three Motopi campsites include some of the CKGR's more varied topography and on one visit we spent an entire morning with a pride of lions around here before another vehicle appeared over the horizon. The Western Pans Some 26km southwest of the main loop through the central section of the reserve, Piper Pans is well worth a visit; you'll pass through here if you enter the reserve at Xade Gate and plan to head towards Deception Valley, or if you're completing a north-south (or vice-versa) crossing. The appeal here is a series of interlocking pans encircled by good trails, lightly wooded surrounds and the last of the good wildlife watching if you're heading south. We've seen cheetahs and kudus around here, have heard reports of lions, and you're almost guaranteed to see wildebeest and good birdlife around the waterhole, even in the heat of the day. Tau Pan is, as the name suggests ('tau' means lion in Setswana), reasonable for lion sightings, while we also saw cheetahs and aardwolves when we were last here. Both San Pan and Phokoje Pan are similar, with bat-eared foxes, gemsboks and hartebeest all possible. The Far South You're a long way from anywhere down here. Xade Gate and its campsites inhabit the site of the old San settlement that was based around Xade Pan, although nothing remains in evidence. Wildlife is generally scarce all across the south, although a pride of lions with cubs was centred upon the Xaxa waterhole when we visited. The landscapes here are generally flat with golden grasslands, fewer salt pans than further north, and thinly scattered vegetation such as the acacia thorn and Kalahari apple-leaf everywhere. The main campsites are Xade, Xaxa and Bape. And as far as the trails are concerned, remember that they involve some of the more challenging conditions in the CKGR. Due to its remoteness and the fact that only a trickle of traffic passes through here (you may travel a whole day or two without seeing another vehicle), the trails aren't as well maintained as some others, with plenty of overhanging branches grabbing at your vehicle as you pass. The stretch between Xade Gate and the turn-off to Xaxa waterhole is deep sand in parts, particularly at the western end, and you may need to reduce tyre pressure to avoid getting stuck. As always, driving in the early morning when the sand is colder and less loose tends to make for easier going.

  • Sights in Namibia

    Etosha National Park

    Etosha National Park, covering more than 20,000 sq km, is one of the world’s great wildlife-viewing venues. Unlike other parks in Africa, where you can spend days looking for animals, Etosha’s charms lie in its ability to bring the animals to you. Just park your car next to one of the many waterholes, then wait and watch while a host of animals – lions, elephants, springboks, gemsboks etc – come by not two by two but by the hundreds. Etosha's essence is the vast Etosha Pan, an immense, flat, saline desert that, for a few days each year, is converted by rain into a shallow lagoon teeming with flamingos and pelicans. In contrast, late in the dry season, everything, from the elephants to the once-golden grasslands, seems cast, spectre-like, in Etosha’s white, chalky dust. And what wildlife there is! Even if you’ve had a taste of African wildlife watching previously, you are likely to be mesmerised by it here. Etosha is home to 114 mammal species as well as 340 bird species, 16 reptile and amphibian species, one fish species and countless insects. The opportunity to see black rhinos is a big draw here; they are usually very difficult to spot, but as they come to some of the waterholes around the camps by night, it couldn’t be easier! Depending on the season, you may observe elephants, giraffes, Burchell’s zebras, springboks, red hartebeests, blue wildebeest, gemsboks, elands, kudus, roans, ostriches, jackals, hyenas, lions and even cheetahs and leopards. Among the endangered animal species are the black-faced impala and the black rhinoceros. Etosha is Namibia's most important stronghold for lions, with more than half of the country's wild lions – 450 to 500 of them, according to the last estimate by peak conservation NGO Panthera (www.panthera.org). The park’s wildlife density varies with the local ecology. As its Afrikaans name would suggest, Oliphantsbad (near Okaukuejo) is attractive to elephants, but for rhinos you couldn’t do better than the floodlit waterhole at Okaukuejo; we've also seen them by night at the waterhole at Olifantsrus and Halali. In general, the further east you go in the park, the more wildebeest, kudus and impalas join the springboks and gemsboks. The area around Namutoni, which averages 443mm of rain annually (compared with 412mm at Okaukuejo), is the best place to see the black-faced impala and the Damara dik-dik, Africa’s smallest antelope. Etosha is also home to numerous smaller species, including both yellow and slender mongoose, honey badgers and leguaans (water-monitor lizards). In the dry winter season, wildlife clusters around waterholes, while in the hot, wet summer months, animals disperse and spend the days sheltering in the bush. In the afternoon, even in the dry season, look carefully for animals resting beneath the trees, especially prides of lions lazing about. Summer temperatures can reach 44°C, which isn’t fun when you’re confined to a vehicle, but this is the calving season and you may catch a glimpse of tiny zebra foals and fragile newborn springboks. Birdlife is also profuse. Yellow-billed hornbills are common, and on the ground you should look for the huge kori bustard, which weighs 15kg and seldom flies – it is the world's heaviest flying bird. You may also observe ostriches, korhaans, marabous, white-backed vultures and many smaller species. The best time for wildlife drives is at first light and late in the evening, though visitors aren’t permitted outside the camps after dark. While self-drivers should definitely wake up at twilight, when animals are most active, guided night drives (N$600 per person) can be booked through any of the main camps and are your best chance to see lions hunting as well as the various nocturnal species. Each of the camps also has a visitor register, which describes any recent sightings in the vicinity. You'll find maps of Etosha National Park across the country and at the shops at most of the park gates. NWR's reliable English-German Map of Etosha (from N$40) is the pick and also most widely available. It has the added bonus of park information and quite extensive mammal and bird identification sheets. Etosha's three main entry gates are Von Lindequist (Namutoni), west of Tsumeb; King Nehale, southeast of Ondangwa; and Andersson (Okaukuejo), north of Outjo.

  • Sights in Okavango Delta

    Moremi Game Reserve

    Moremi Game Reserve, which covers one-third of the Okavango Delta, is home to some of the densest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. Best of all, it’s one of the most accessible corners of the Okavango, with well-maintained trails and accommodation that ranges from luxury lodges to public campsites for self-drivers. Moremi is also unusual because it’s the only part of the Okavango Delta that is officially cordoned off for the preservation of wildlife. It was set aside as a reserve in 1963 when it became apparent that poaching was decimating wildlife populations. Named after the Batawana chief Moremi III, the reserve has been extended over the years and now encompasses almost 5000 sq km. Moremi has a distinctly dual personality, with large areas of dry land rising between vast wetlands. The most prominent ‘islands’ are Chief's Island, accessible by mokoro from the Inner Delta lodges, and Moremi Tongue at the eastern end of the reserve, which is mostly accessible by 4WD. Habitats in the reserve range from mopane woodland and thorn scrub to dry savannah, riparian woodland, grassland, floodplain, marsh, and permanent waterways, lagoons and islands. With the recent reintroduction of rhinos, Moremi is now home to the Big Five (lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and rhinos), and notably the largest population of red lechwe in Africa. The reserve also protects one of the largest remaining populations of endangered African wild dogs. Birding in Moremi is also incredibly varied and rich, and it’s arguably the best place in Africa to view the rare and secretive Pel’s fishing owl. Entry fees to the reserve should be paid for in advance at the DWNP office in Maun, though they can be paid at the gate if you have no other choice. Self-drivers will, however, only be allowed entry to the reserve if they have a confirmed reservation at one of the four public campsites. The village of Khwai has a couple of shops that sell basic supplies. Otherwise, petrol and supplies are only available in Kasane and Maun.

  • Sights in Namibia

    Fish River Canyon

    Nowhere else in Africa will you find anything quite like Fish River Canyon. Whether you're getting a taste of the sheer scale and beauty of the place from one of the lookouts, or hiking for five days to really immerse yourself in its multi-faceted charm, Fish River Canyon is a special place. At one level, the numbers don’t lie: the canyon measures 160km in length, up to 27km in width and the dramatic inner canyon reaches a depth of 550m. But as impressive as these numbers are, it’s difficult to get a sense of perspective without actually experiencing the enormous scope of the canyon, something best done on the monumental five-day, 85km hike that traverses half the length of the canyon and follows the sandy bed of the river (it should contain water in May or June). The reward is nothing less than an unforgettable relationship with one of Africa’s greatest natural wonders. Fish River Canyon is part of the |Ai- |Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, one of an increasing number of ‘peace’ or cross-border parks in Southern Africa. Straddling southern Namibia and South Africa (and measuring 6045 sq km), it boasts one of the most species-rich, arid zones in the world. It also encompasses Richtersveld National Park (in South Africa) and the Orange River valley. At the northern end of the national park, there's the Hobas Information Centre, picnic sites, campgrounds, walking trails and access to some of the best viewpoints in the canyon. From Hobas you can walk the five-day Fish River Hiking Trail to Ai-Ais, at the other end of the canyon. At the southern end, Ai-Ais is a pleasant hot-spring oasis. The springs, which are piped into swimming pools and spas, apparently relieve rheumatism and nervous disorders. Ai-Ais has campsites, bungalows and caravans.

  • Sights in Okavango Delta

    Chief's Island

    The largest island in the Okavango Delta, Chief’s Island (70km long and 15km wide) is so named because it was once the sole hunting preserve of the local chief. Raised above the water level by tectonic activity, it’s here that so much of the delta’s wildlife retreats as water levels rise. As such, the island is home to what could be the richest concentration of wildlife in Botswana. It's the Okavango Delta as you always imagined it. The combination of reed-fringed waters, grasslands and light woodlands makes for game viewing that can feel like a BBC wildlife documentary brought to life. Not surprisingly, the island is home to some of the most exclusive lodges and tented camps in Africa.

  • Sights in Botswana

    Chobe National Park

    Chobe National Park is one of Africa's great wildlife destinations. Famed for its massive elephants and enormous elephant population, Chobe, which encompasses nearly 11,000 sq km, is itself the size of a small country and an important epicentre of Botswana’s safari industry. The park encompasses three iconic wildlife areas that all carry a whiff of safari legend: Savuti, Chobe Riverfront and the Okavango-like Linyanti Marshes. Chobe has everything from campgrounds for self-drivers to luxury, fly-in lodges and tented camps. Chobe was first set aside as a wildlife reserve in the 1930s and became Botswana’s first national park in 1968. In addition to some of Africa's largest elephant herds, a full suite of predators and more than 440 recorded bird species, watch also for roan antelope and the rare oribi antelope. Of the three major wildlife-watching areas of the park, Chobe Riverfront supports the largest wildlife concentration in the park, with predators, hippos, elephants and more. It’s also the most accessible and lies within easy striking distance of the gateway town of Kasane. The extension of the sealed road from Kasane as far as Kachikau has brought the predator-rich Linyanti Marshes that much closer to civilisation without losing its remote Okavango feel. Hippos and even African wild dogs are highlights here. And soulful Savuti, which can be reached from Maun or Kasane, is almost the Riverfront’s match when it comes to wildlife and has a wonderfully remote feel. The miraculous return of waters to the Savuti Channel has restored the region to its former glory.

  • Sights in Botswana

    Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

    In 2000 the former Mabuasehube-Gemsbok National Park was combined with South Africa’s former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park to create the new Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The result is a 28,400-sq-km bi-national park that is one of the largest and most pristine arid wilderness areas on the continent. The park is also the only place in Botswana where you’ll see the shifting sand dunes that many mistakenly believe to be typical of the Kalahari. Kgalagadi is home to large herds of springboks, gemsboks, elands and wildebeest, as well as a full complement of predators, including lions (official estimates put the lion population of the park at around 450), cheetahs (200), leopards (100), brown hyenas (600) and spotted hyenas (375). More than 250 bird species are present, including several endemic species of larks and bustards. Mabuasehube Section The eastern Mabuasehube section covers 1800 sq km and is the easiest area of the park to access from the Botswana side of the border. Here, a series of salt pans, separated by classic Kalahari scrub vegetation, makes this section of the park a worthwhile destination in its own right. That said, if you restrict yourself to Mabuasehube and surrounding pans alone, you'll miss the exceptional breadth of Kalahari landscapes that is a feature of this park. The two largest pans, Mpayathutlwa and Mabuasehube, are also the most beautiful, surrounded as they are by low hills from where there are some gorgeous views early in the morning or late in the day. There are 4WD trails that circumnavigate both pans. Mpayathutlwa Pan, 12km west of the park gate, has a waterhole at the northern end (some of the best views are to be found close to where the trail leads down the hill to the waterhole) and two appealing campsites on the western side. Mabuasehube Pan, around 10km north of Mpayathutlwa, is similarly superb, with marvellous views from all along the southern edge and parts of the eastern and western sides; the trail heads off into the bush at the northern end, but there is a fine lookout around halfway around. Mabuasehube Pan is used as a salt lick by migrating herds in late winter and early spring. The other, smaller pans – Lesholoago, Monamodi and Bosobogolo – are also worth exploring. On the northern side of Khiding Pan, 11km west of Mabuasehube Pan, meerkats are a real possibility if you go quietly. Two Rivers Section Although you can reach the Two Rivers section from either Kaa or Mabuasehube, access is still easiest from South Africa. However you get here, the pools of rainwater that collect in the dry beds of the Auob and Nossob Rivers provide the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Here you'll also come across Kalahari dunes and camel thorn–dotted grasslands. We recommend spending at least three days in this area of the park, slowly making your way back and forth along the riverbanks and dipping down to the river's edge where possible, but allowing time also for watching and waiting from the shadows as wildlife comes and goes. Look up also into the trees for horizontal branches that might just provide a vantage point for a sleeping leopard. There's a lot of ground to cover – it's 161km from Two Rivers to Nossob, and a further 61km to Polentswa and this section offers the best wildlife watching - and that's just along the Nossob River. Over on the Auob River, it's 121km from Two Rivers to Mata Mata, which will take around 2½ hours, or even longer if you stop along the way, as you will in all likelihood. And don't neglect the trails that connect the two rivers – it is a little-known fact that lion prides thrive close to river confluences, and this is classic Kalahari lion country. Getting There & Away The Two Rivers Section is accessible from the south via Two Rivers and Twee Riverien and from the north via Kaa. Access to the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park is via Twee Rivieren. Both are about 53km north of the Bokspits border crossing. The border crossings to Namibia at Union’s End and Mata Mata are closed because traffic disturbs the wildlife. To get to Mabuasehube Gate, most travellers coming from the Botswana side take the sealed road from Kang, southwest to Hukuntsi (108km). Just before Hukuntsi, a potholed road branches left (south) to Lokgwabe (11km). From Lokgwabe, an unsealed road (which was re-graded in 2016 but remains sandy in patches) runs south, then east, then south again for 136km to Mabuasehube Gate. The gate is signposted at various points along the way from Lokgwabe. Allow for three hours' driving from Kang to the gate. To reach Kaa Gate from the Botswana side, make your way to Hukuntsi, pass through the town and take the reasonable unsealed road heading southwest. From Hukuntsi, it's 59km to the small settlement of Zutshwa then a further 73km to the gate. Mabuasehube Section is possible from the south (via Tshabong), north (via Tshane) and east (via Werda). Getting Around You’ll need your own 4WD vehicle for getting around the park, although some of the camps are accessible by 2WD. Two 4WD trails connect the Two Rivers and Mabuasehube sections of the park, but only the southernmost of the two (which connects Nossob and Bosobogolo Pan, 171km away and 20km southwest of Mabuasehube Gate) is open to the public. The northern Mabuasehube Wilderness 4x4 Trail (155km) must be pre-booked through the DWNP in Gaborone or Maun.

  • Sights in Botswana

    Khutse Game Reserve

    This 2500-sq-km reserve, which is an extension of the southern boundary of the CKGR, is a popular weekend excursion for Gaborone residents, but it’s still deliciously remote and crowds are rare, especially from Sunday to Thursday. It has all the attractions of the Kalahari, including good (if low-density) wildlife watching, well-maintained trails and around 60 mineralised clay pans that once belonged to Africa’s largest inland lake. Leopard and lion sightings are possible, while gemsboks and giraffes are also commonly seen. Khutse Pan The crowds of visitors, such as they are, tend to congregate around the Khutse Pan network close to the park entrance. There's a waterhole here, just a few hundred metres before the turn-off to the Khutse Pan campsites, where we've seen leopards, giraffes and gemsboks. A 7km loop skirts the southern sections of the pan (it's signposted to the left as you approach Khutse Pan, and before you reach the waterhole) and, unusually, has some elevations that allow for fabulous views close to sunrise and sunset. The Western Pans The pans at the western end of the reserve provide good wildlife watching thanks to the artificially supplied waterholes, one at each pan. Moreswe Pan is delightfully remote and stands in the heart of some pretty Kalahari grasslands-and-pans country. We were kept awake all night by roaring lions on one visit here. Molose Waterhole (24km northeast of Moreswe) is busier, but still good for wildlife. The most direct (but least interesting) trail from the reserve’s entrance gate to Moreswe is 62km in length (one way), but the longer (72km one way) northern loop takes you past a series of pans and is much better for wildlife. If taking the northern route (ie via Mahurushele Pan), you'll pass a sign marking the Tropic of Capricorn. The Northern Pans A series of pans – Galalabadimo, Sutswane, Khutse 2, Motailane, Tshilwane, Mahurushele, Sekushwe and Khwankwe – lines the main northern trail from the entrance gate all the way northwest to where the trails forge on north into the heart of the Kalahari. In fact, much of what is called Khutse, including the last three pans mentioned above, actually lies within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, although it is administered as part of the Khutse Game Reserve. Khankwe Pan, 26km northwest of Khutse Pan, sees very few visitors beyond those heading north into the CKGR and is well worth exploring for a taste of Kalahari immersion.

  • Sights in Damaraland

    Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings

    Twyfelfontein (Doubtful Spring), at the head of the grassy Aba Huab Valley, is one of the most extensive rock-art galleries on the continent. In the ancient past, this perennial spring most likely attracted wildlife, creating a paradise for the hunters who eventually left their marks on the surrounding rocks. Animals, animal tracks and geometric designs are well represented here, though there are surprisingly few human figures. Many of the engravings depict animals that are no longer found in the area – elephants, rhinos, giraffes and lions – and an engraving of a sea lion indicates contact with the coast more than 100km away. To date over 2500 engravings have been discovered, and Twyfelfontein became a national monument in 1952. Unfortunately, the site did not receive formal protection until 1986, when it was designated a natural reserve. In the interim, many petroglyphs were damaged by vandals, and some were even removed altogether. A significant amount of restoration work has taken place here in recent years, a welcome development that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the international community. In 2007 Twyfelfontein was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, the first such distinction in the whole of Namibia. Guides are compulsory; note that tips are their only source of income.