Praised across the world as a part of Africa for the rest of the continent to model itself on, Botswana breaks the mold with a long-successful democracy and seemingly comfortable standard of life. Unsurprisingly, that means plenty more expenses for the traveler, but - if you're looking for a stable corner of sub-Saharan Africa - the buck stops here. Especially once you've factored in the world-class selection of natural sights.
The Okavango Delta’s watery wonders are arguably Botswana’s best, and can be explored in rocky kayaks chopped directly from tree trunks, weaving terrifyingly close to hungry crocodiles and aggressive hippos, which your local guides skillfully avoid. Herds of elephant, antelope and buffalo also roam the ginormous open plans of what is undoubtedly one of the world's most impressive and notable safari destinations. A whole host of other game reserves offer an expansive variety of wildlife experiences, like the frantic annual migrations of zebra and wildebeast in the Makgadikgadi Pans, or the thousands of elephants on the riverbanks of the Chobe, viewed from a tiny, quivering speedboat. Plentiful shambolic jeep safaris through muddy terrain are available, too, and they can be absorbing but are often unreliable.
Away from the extensive wildlife, the animal-themed wall paintings of the rugged Tsodilo Hills are reminiscent of Australian outback art, while the Kalahari Desert – not a desert, but an undulating grassy plain – is best enjoyed from the back of a quad bike, wheel-spinning amongst crowds of meerkats, and is home to the clicking Kalahari Bushmen’s tiny villages and their survival focused ways of life. The Tuli Circle has another host of mesmerizing activities, such as mountain biking across the plains, riding on horseback through the dusty savannahs and taking low-level hot air balloon trips over herds of elephants and jumpy zebra.
Capital Gaborone is an uninspiring but pleasant stop near the South African border, with an interesting bushmen exhibit as well as national museums of history and art, but you’ll probably want to head straight for the national parks, where accommodations can be anything from rustic lodges to modern resorts with phenomenal views of Botswana’s golden sunsets. A haven for the wildlife lover that lacks Africa’s usual political difficulties and poverty, Botswana is a scintillating taste of the continent’s marvelous array of beasts.