Botswana and Victoria Falls 2002

Safety What to take When to go Health Travel Accommodation


The only real hazard in Botswana is the wild animals, remember to give them maximum respect and they always have right of way on the roads. The advice in the National Parks is never to leave your vehicle and anyway most animals are used to them so you can drive up real close. However as soon as they see a human shape they will run off, apart from Elephants, Lions and Hippos. More people are killed each year by Hippos than any other animal so always give them plenty of room. Elephants will flap their ears and stomp about and will let you know they are unhappy. They will rarely charge unless really provoked or feel their young are threatened. We didn't see a single snake in four weeks travelling.

Zimbabwe is a different proposition, especially with the current political climate. Victoria Falls was fairly safe but take care with money and valuables.

What to take

See my other 'what to take' advice pages, take as few clothes as possible. If you are flying into the Okavango Delta you are limited to 12kg of luggage as the flights are on tiny Cessana six-seaters. We left some bulky items at the Delta Air office in Maun for a few days.

We both have Opticron 10 x 42 binoculars - the 'High Resolution' and Sequoiah models. On this trip I also took my Opticron Piccolo Telescope with 30x WA eyepiece and a Cullmann Video tripod. In hindsight the tripod was unnecessary as I used a beanbag most of the time.

We used the second edition of SASOL birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair, Hockey and Tarboton. The Third edition has just been published which looks even better. Also a Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa by Chris and Tilde Stuart was handy. The Lonely Planet guide to Watching Wildlife in Southern Africa was useful for planning the trip, and the Shell Tourist Maps of Botswana, Moremi and Chobe National Parks are absolutely essential if you are driving yourself.

When and where to go

We decided to go in October which is the end of the dry season. The Game tends to congregate at the water holes and migrant birds are just arriving. Also the roads are passable, with soft sand in places. In November the rains start and the sand gets compacted but the soil gets sticky and marsh roads get flooded.

However at this time of year the water is very low in the rivers, so the Victoria Falls aren't as spectacular and we encountered difficulties at Oddballs Camp in getting a decent mokoro trip


Malaria tablets are required although we hardly got bitten at all


We flew Manchester - London - Johannesburg - Victoria Falls, British Airways all the way. At Victoria Falls we picked up a Land Rover TDI110 which had a tent on the roof and a fridge in the back. This was to be our home for two weeks and we were very lucky not to get lost or stuck in that time. We drove 1500km, mainly on sand tracks.

A big thank you to Meregan Turner at Safari Drive for making all the arrangements and to Adam Slater at Dalestrax for a one-day off-road driving course which was essential.


We stayed at a wide range of accommodation varying in price and quality - the two not necessarily going together ! 

Victoria Falls - The Sprayview Hotel was cheap and cheerful but very average food. It did have a pool though and was about 20 minutes walk into town. Get a taxi to the Boma restaurant at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge for a fantastic meal with entertainment for about $15 US, or the Victoria Falls Hotel for High Tea - we couldn't afford to stay at those two though.

Kasane - The Chobe Safari Lodge was in a delightful setting by the river with nice rooms, buffet style meals and they could arrange Game Drives, Boat Trips etc.

Camping - We stayed at the following Public Camp Sites in the National Parks - advance booking is essential. Savuti was dry and dusty, North Gate was nice, Third Bridge had a terrible problem with Baboons which arrive at around 8:00am and wreck tents, steal food etc. South Gate was very nice in a shady wood but not much Game around, and Nxai Pan South was the nicest by far.

Xakanaxa Lodge - luxury tents , marvellous food and very welcoming. They also do Game Drives and boat trips. Set in the heart of the Delta and surrounded by wilderness and animals this is a fantastic place - at a price though.

Audi Camp - a few kilometres from Maun but comfortable tented accommodation , very good food and a pool - all for a reasonable rate.

Oddballs Camp - very pricey for poor service, tinned food and a rip-off mokoro/camping trip which only lasts one hour on the water then a lot of walking. Pity as the camp itself is in a lovely location but I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend it.


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