Family holidays in Botswana are more accessible than ever without losing any of the unique character which makes the country one of Africa’s wildest and most rewarding safari destinations.
It’s not a budget break and game reserves have rejected mass tourism in favour of more natural, authentic experiences often with personal guides and tailored activity options. So while you will find several places with excellent facilities for younger children, Botswana is best of all for older kids and an unforgettable adventure for over 12s and teenagers.
There are direct flights from London to Johannesburg all year round and flying time from Johannesburg to the Botswana capital, Gaberone, is one hour.
The herd of over 70,000 elephants in Botswana’s Chobe National Park is the world’s largest.
Internationally recognised as one of the safest countries for family safaris, Botswana has an outstanding visitor infrastructure but no mass tourism.
The Okavango is the world’s largest inland delta and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Almost the entire Kalahari Desert is in the south of the country and home to the indigenous Basarwa people.
Stunning coral reefs
Botswana is landlocked and shares borders with South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Family-friendly safari experiences with excellent accommodation, activity packages and exceptionally high safety standards are available in all Botswana’s
Where to go
Botswana is one of the most politically and economically stable African countries. Independent since 1966, it has a flourishing niche tourism industry and a well-deserved reputation for the high-quality, safety and comfort of its safari holidays. Several travel companies are Botswana specialists and tailor experiences for families in areas with good accommodation, accessible viewing, reliable transport and kids activity programmes with local guides. So the first step is choosing where you want to go in this bio-diverse, magnificent and adventure rich country.
Moremi Game Reserve
At the heart of the Okavango Delta, Moremi is Botswana’s best reserve for the big five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). It’s also home to the country’s finest game lodges and almost all the iconic on-safari-in-Botswana experiences. Annual floods in May cover the delta with a network of rivers, lakes and lagoons. Oddly this is during the Okavango dry season (April to October) so it’s a particularly spectacular time to visit.
Reserve experiences include horseback expeditions, mokoro sails in dugout canoes and traditional safaris with expert, local guides.
The reserve is a national park and contains the Khwai River and Xakanaxa Lagoon.
Rare African wild dogs can be spotted here along with zebra, wildebeest, impala, antelopes and over 400 different bird species.
Good to visit all-year-round, September to November are best for birds and December to May is the season for incredible lightening storms, wildflowers, new born wildlife and big cats.
Chobe National Park
Botswana’s large, northern game reserve covers over 11,000km² and 70,000 plus African elephants make their home here. This is a must-do for kids and there are several luxurious family-friendly lodges and camps in both the north east and west of the park.
Western Chobe has a dense and varied population of wildlife and drive safaris here during the rainy season are incredible.
Chobe is in northern Botswana and crossing the border into Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls is a popular activity.
Apart from the astonishing elephants and other wild beasts roaming around in abundance, Chobe has everything from a 9-hole golf course to scenic flights, river sailing and cultural expeditions to traditional villages and local celebrations and events.
Chobe Riverfront and the town of Kasane is where the majority of the park’s hotels and lodges are found.
With the exception of the vast Kalahari (53,000km²) this is one of the least developed reserves and has considerably fewer visitors than nearby Chobe to the east. The wildlife here is remarkable and it’s one of the best places in the country to see plain’s predators hunting smaller species.
Good for day and night game drives, walking safaris, bird watching and canoe safaris during the flood season (May to September).
Famous for its superb game hides and bird watching.
Resident wildlife here includes: elephants, zebra, antelopes, lions, cheetahs, hippo and crocodiles.
What to do with kids in Botswana
Chief’s Island, Moremi Game Reserve This is the largest island on the Okavango Delta and has Botswana’s highest concentration of spectacular wildlife – it’s also home to Africa’s most exclusive safari lodges and camps. Chief’s Island
Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Serowe One of the world’s most successful conservation programmes for both black and white rhino this is a fascinating experience with an excellent kids education centre and a range of fun, guided adventures in the bush. The sanctuary has over 30 rhinos and a successful breeding programme. Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Mokolodi Nature Reserve The closest nature reserve to Gabarone, Mokolodi is privately owned and very kid-friendly. Mokolodi Nature Reserve
Scenic Flights, Moremi Game Reserve The most incredible way to see the entire magnificent expanse of Moremi and the Okavango Delta. Moremi Scenic Flights
Chobe River Cruises, Chobe National Park Dawn and sunset cruises are a spectacular way to see Chobe’s elephants. Chobe River Cruises
Game Drives, Chobe National Park The most popular and rewarding way to see the big five and dozens of other wild beasts in small, 4 x 4 vehicles. Game Drives
Victoria Falls Day Trip, Kasane Surprisingly, one of the easiest and most affordable ways to see Africa’s legendary falls is on a day trip to Zimbabwe from Kasane in Chobe National Park. Victoria Falls
Gabarone Game Reserve, Gabarone At only 5km² this is a mere wildlife garden compared to the likes of Moremi and Chobe, but it’s packed with beasts and one of Botswana’s most popular. Gabarone Game Reserve
Dombo Hippo Pool, Moremi Game Reserve Another thrill in this fantastic reserve is the hippo collective on the eastern side of the delta – excellent viewing hide. Dombo Hippo Pool
Rhino Tracking, Mokolodi Nature Reserve An unforgettable walking expedition tracking rhinos across this amazing nature reserve. Suitable for 14 years and over. Rhino Tracking
Educational value for kids
Bio-diverse Botswana is filled with guided and self-guided opportunities to learn about the environment.
Seeing the Big Five is thrilling but smaller wildlife is no less fascinating – the Makgadikgadi salt pans are mobbed with Meerkats.
Visit local communities respectfully to see traditional lifestyles and learn how people have survived for millennia in inhospitable environments like the Kalahari.
Use local guides whenever you can, nobody knows more about remarkable Botswana.
Before you head off, prepare kids for what they’ll see on safari. Botswana is not a sanitised, wildlife park version of the experience and witnessing a large predator taking down cute prey can be shocking.
Northern Botswana borders Zimbabwe, day trips are thrilling for kids and available from Chobe National Park.
Many family safari specialists have kids activity programmes where children can learn anything from bush skills to animal tracking.
Getting around with kids in Botswana
Most game reserves and national parks have scheduled flights from Gabarone and a wide range of excellent transport from 4 x 4s for drive safaris to river boats and private jeeps. Self-drive is always an option but the distances in Botswana are huge, enormous stretches of the country are uninhabited and both the landscape and weather can be challenging, especially with kids.