Botswana Information - Great Safaris

Botswana Information

Botswana is two-thirds desert and Kalahari sand. The Okavango Delta fans out across the north-western region, making a maze of islands, waterways and lagoons teeming with birds and wildlife.

Northeast, the Savuti Channel area is famed for its lions and Chobe National Park has great herds of elephant and buffalo.

National Parks

Seventeen percent of Botswana has been given over to National Parks and Game Reserves, with the largest reserve being the Central Kalahari (51,800 square kilometers, or some 20,000 square miles). Other reserves include Chobe National Park (11,700 square kilometers, or some 4,517 square miles), Moremi Wildlife reserve, Gemsbok National Park, Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve, and the Nxai Pan National Park.

The famous Okavango Delta measures 15,000 square kilometers (5,792 square miles), some 1,800 square kilometers (695 square miles) of which is part of the Moremi Wildlife reserve. The Okavango River itself rises in Western Angola, and ultimately flows into the Kalahari.

The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s most baffling mysteries. Born among the mists and lushness of Angola’s fertile highlands, far away to the northwest, the Okavango River bursts its banks and millions of liters of water flow into the scorched desert instead of the sea. The web of channels created by this odd quirk of nature never stays the same because no two floods are ever the same.

The Delta is set in the Kalahari basin. The floodwaters travel 1,300 kilometers to revitalize a vast network of plant and animal life. This unusual environment is home to 36 species of mammals, 200 species of bird and 80 species of fish.

The Chobe National Park is located in the north of the country, about 80 km from Victoria Falls. Here you’ll find an abundance of wildlife concentrated in relatively small areas. Chobe is famous for its elephants. Like clockwork, the elephants travel along their well worn paths to drink on the shores of the Chobe River.

Savuti is a unique part of the famous Chobe National Park. This reserve is truly unique – in the dry season, the game concentration is so vast that one can see 3,000 buffalo at one sitting, a pride of lion 20 strong following the buffalo and wildebeest and zebra in their thousands.

The Last Lions
In Botswana’s Okavango Delta, an ostracized lioness and her two cubs must fight alone to survive – overcoming all manner of hazard, from the raging wildfires on the Delta, to the jealousy of sister lionesses, to the marauding males who kill her mate, to the prey that becomes predator. Their only defense is to escape to Duba Island and with that, an unknown future.

The setting for this epic tale is one of the last regions where lions can live in the wild. Faced with dwindling land and increasing pressure from hunting, lions – like our lone lioness and her cubs are approaching the brink of extinction.

In celebration of National Geographic’s new film, The Last Lions, we are pleased to offer this special travel package

Great Safaris, Botswana – The Lions Last Refuge

Capital: Gaborone

Independence: 30 September 1966

581 730 square kilometers (224 607 square miles), nearly 17% of which is protected wildlife area.

The climate is semi-arid, with the rainy season being from October until April. Rainfall in the south averages 15 cm, and 38-51 cm in the east The winter starts in May. Temperatures can range between 27 degrees Celsius and 38° Celsius.

About 2 million people.

Language: The official language is English and the national language is Setswana.

Currency: Pula and Thebe (one Pula = 100 Thebe).

Botswana is made up of a number of tribes; among them are the Bakgatla, Bamalete, Bamangwato, Barolong, Bangwaketse, Bakwena, Batlokwa, Batawana, Bakalanga, Basarwa, Bakgalagadi, and Maun (16 000). Eighty percent of the population of Botswana are rural inhabitants. The main ethnic groups are the Batswana (descendants of iron-age immigrants from Central West Africa), the Basarwa (San, indigenous hunter-gatherers. Pre iron-age), and the Herero (pastoralists).

The semi-nomadic San people were Botswana’s earliest inhabitants. Bantu-speaking tribes from the north moved into the area before the first millennium, and European missionaries arrived in mid-19th century. In 1885, to counter Boer expansion from South Africa and Ndebele incursions from the north led by Mzilikazi, Botswana came under British protection.

By 1895, Rhodes’ British South Africa Company hoped to annex Botswana, prompting three Batswana chiefs to persuade Queen Victoria to keep their land under British control.

The British administered the Bechuanaland Protectorate until 1966 when it granted the Batswana full independence under the leadership of Sir Seretse Khama. Diamonds were discovered in 1967, which brought rapid growth to Botswana. Today, the country boasts healthy foreign reserves and is considered one of Africa’s economic success stories.

Botswana is a multi party democracy, governed since independence by the Botswana Democratic , Party. Since the retirement of Sir Ketumile Masire. Mr. Festus Mogae is president of the Republic. Ten other parties are recognized, the strongest of which is the Botswana National Front. Elections are held every five years.

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