Botswana off-the-beaten-track

Am I alone on this planet?

There are few things as alien to our day-to-day experience than a night out on the salt pans of the Makgadikgadi. Not an animal, not an insect, not a sound, except from your travelling companions. These overnight trips are undertaken during the dry season and are combined quad biking and a visit to a meerkat family. Your camp is set up before you arrive on the vast spaces of the salt pan. Hot meals, comfortable bedroll, bush toilets and just you and nature at its most silent. This is Bucket-list stuff.

While the Okavango Delta (excluding the Moremi National Park) is well-known and has many lodges, it is so large that the chances that you see people from another lodge are almost non-existent. It is for this reason that I have included it as an off-the-beaten-track experience.

The Linyanti, which at times of the year resembles the Okavango Delta, is much less travelled. With a generally superior wildlife experience to the Okavango Delta, what it loses in scenic beauty, it more than makes up for in the quality of its wildlife sightings. When the Linyanti River floods, it forms a water wilderness than can be explored by mokoro. The main river is great for boat game safaris and the dry land for safari drives. This area is well-known for its wild dog sightings.

The Botswana side of the Kagalagadi is definitely a road less trodden. With no lodges and only rudimentary camp sites, you will need all your own camping equipment and a 4×4 vehicle. These double track roads are sandy and can be tricky to travel on. You however do not have to worry about oncoming traffic as they are one-ways and form a circular route.

The Central Kalahari has a couple of luxury lodges on its northern border that traverse into the park itself on safari drives.The deep interior is, at this stage, is the play ground of self-drives and have a few designated camping sites with no facilities. More off-the-grid you will find hard to get.

The Mashatu Game reserve is included in this category, not because it is hard to get to, but because it has only a handful of lodges and is off the main tourism track and radar. Camping here is not allowed and your stay in the self-catering or fully catered lodges will leave you wondering why this area is still so untrodden. Originally the private hunting grounds of Cecil John Rhodes, the hunting guns have long fallen silent and only the oldest of the large elephant herds may remember these days. Home to enourmous Baobab trees, it also offers some of the most interesting multi-day horse safaris.

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