Everyone knows Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta and the main tourist spots, but Botswana has so much more to offer than that. This remarkable country has a few hidden gems that offer what you’re looking for before you know it yourself. Whether it’s more adventure and excitement or more privacy, peace and quiet, Botswana offers it all.
Selinda Adventure Trail
Only a limited number of people are allowed on the trail at a time, so if it’s exclusivity you’re after, this one is definitely for you. The Selinda Spillway links the Okavango Delta to the Linyati Swamps, creating a quiet, wildlife rich area in between the surrounding riverine forests, floodplains and vast open wilderness. The varying water levels create interesting patterns and provide some perfect photo opportunities. The trail can be taken either on foot or a combination of walking and canoeing through the waters. The Selinda Spillway is known for its breathtaking landscapes and wide variety of game and the Selinda Adventure Trail is one of the best ways to experience this.
The Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the world’s largest salt pans (covering over 5000 square kilometres) and is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Botswana. This vast expanse of seemingly desolate land can make finding something picturesque rather difficult, but that is why Kubu Island is so spectacular. It’s not literally an island, but is an ancient outcrop of rocks that seem to be in the middle of nowhere and date back over 200 million years. Rocks may not seem so special but when you consider that these rocks reach heights of over 20m high and span an area of over a kilometre wide against the backdrop of the infinite salt pans, they become quite impressive.
The word ‘kubu’ comes from a Setswana word meaning hippopotamus, as the island was surrounded by the giant creatures before the land dried up. It has been known for tourists to find fossils that show evidence of life. Other popular things to see are the African star chestnut tree and the off-looking baobab trees, whose branches resemble roots making the tree look upside down.
Mashatu Game Reserve
Mashatu Game Reserve covers 40% of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve and shares unfenced borders with both South African and Zimbabwean national parks, which means that the animals are free to come and go as they want, ensuring a diverse wildlife population. The Reserve is known as the land of giants, as it is the home to the world’s largest flying bird (the kori bustard), the largest flightless bird (the ostrich), the largest land mammal (the elephant), the largest antelope in the world (the eland) and the tallest living animal in the world (the giraffe). Mashatu is one of the less crowded safari destinations and is an oasis among the seemingly endless wilderness.
Mashatu is a haven for tourists looking to see predators and big cats, with a healthy predator population. It is one of the prime spots for leopard, as well as the spotted hyena, cheetah and endangered African wildcat. Birdwatchers will be in paradise with a record 366 bird species recorded in the area.