It is estimated that more than 130,000 elephants call Botswana home, making the country home to approximately one-third of Africa’s total elephant population.
How many Elephants are left in the world?
Following the introduction of a hunting ban in 2014, elephant populations in Botswana have gradually increased, and the country’s efforts have won praise from conservationists all around the world.
However, the lifting of the ban has generated a lot of discussion and debate. Botswana is one of the elephants’ last strongholds, and it serves as a sort of talisman for Africa as a whole.
If Botswana can’t protect its elephants, what hope is there for the species elsewhere on the continent?
Even though their numbers have risen to the extent that the government now claims that elephant populations are generating increasing human elephant conflicts, which lead to fights.
Botswana’s wildlife tourism sector is almost entirely reliant on wildlife viewing, and the more people who visit the country’s beautiful places, the more important those creatures become.
Botswana’s elephants are scattered across the country, but there are a few hotspots where your chances of seeing these gentle giants are particularly good. Here are some of the best places to see elephants in Botswana.
1. Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is one of the best places to see elephants in Botswana. The elephant is the mascot of Botswana, and Chobe National Park is its permanent home. Its year-round inhabitants, which include enormous herds, attract a large number of visitors. It’s one of Botswana’s finest national parks, with the opportunity to observe an African elephant.
|Number of Elephants:
|35,000 (the largest population in Africa)
The best time to see elephants on the Chobe River is from late May through mid-November. During these months, many of the surrounding water holes have vanished, and the Chobe River is many of the animals’ only remaining source of drinking water. So, the elephants congregate along the riverbanks in large numbers.
Due to its location, The Kasane/Chobe area can be a lot busier than other parts of Botswana so it’s important to take this into account when looking for the right camp or lodge for you.
From my own experience I can recommend Ngoma Lodge and Muchenje Safari Lodge, which are located away from the hustle and bustle, these are also great for a Botswana family holiday.
2. Okavango Delta
Okavango Delta is the best place to see savanna elephants in Botswana. Elephants inhabit the Okavango Delta year-round. You would be quite unlucky to go on a game drive from any of the campgrounds and not see a significant number of animals. It is one of the best walking safaris in Africa, where watching Elephants is the norm.
|Number of Elephants:
|18,000 (all savanna elephants, considered one of the species’ last major strongholds)
The Okavango Delta is a massive inland river delta in northern Botswana. It’s one of the world’s largest inland deltas and is fed by the Okavango River, which originates in Angola. Every year, between June and August (the dry season), the river floods the delta, creating an oasis in the middle of the dry Kalahari Desert. This annual phenomenon attracts a large number of animals, including elephants, which come to drink and feed on the abundant vegetation.
The best time to see elephants in the Okavango Delta is during the dry season (June-August). During this time, many of the surrounding water holes have dried up, and the Okavango River is the elephants’ only source of water.
Small family herds of 5-30 African elephants or enormous bulls are more common than the large herds found in the Chobe and Linyanti regions.
In the Okavango Delta, some of my most memorable interactions have occurred while I was out walking or sitting at a waterhole.
This is especially true in the Khwai Community Concession to the north of Moremi. In the afternoon, a group of us decided to set up a picnic under a tree and watch the elephants drink at a nearby watering hole. For the next two hours, we observed the elephants coming in to drink as one group talked with another. In my opinion, this is the best method to see elephants in the wild.
Elephant sightings are common in Botswana’s Okavango and northern regions, so you won’t have any trouble spotting one.
If you’re planning a trip to Botswana, I recommend staying at one of the many luxury lodges located within the Okavango Delta. Some of my favorites include Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, Kwara Camp, and Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge.
However, I believe the key to a memorable encounter with an elephant is taking your time to observe its behavior and how it interacts with others.
3. Linyanti Wildlife Reserve
Those looking for a safari in a more isolated setting will find this undiscovered vastness to be ideal. For this, Linyanti is one of the best safari destinations in Botswana. It is a region of extensive floodplains, grasslands, and woodlands bordering on the Chobe National Park in the north and west.
|Number of Elephants:
|Calculated as part of Chobe
|N/A (there are mainly websites for the different camp sites)
Linyanti also supports a healthy population of elephants. The best time to see elephants in Linyanti is from June to October, when many of the waterholes have dried up and the elephants congregate along the Linyanti and Selinda Rivers.
The Chobe and Linyanti river systems present in northern Botswana are both included on the preliminary list of potential World Heritage Sites, where elephants congregate. You would see a lot of elephants playing there in the water or even coming to the river’s edge to graze.
Additionally, these river systems are an important part of the elephant migration route in Africa. The Kwando River and the elephant-rich marshes that surround it offer a more uncharted experience of Botswana.
Both of these features are located on Botswana’s border with Namibia. It is also possible to see the critically endangered African wild dog in the Linyanti region, which is one of the best sites to do so. The Linyanti swamp is a good place to look for all animals really.
The best way to see the elephant herds that congregate along the Kwando-Linyanti river system is to get a room at one of the accommodations that were built on the riverbanks.
Most of the camps and lodges in Linyanti are located on private concessions, which means you’re likely to see fewer people on game drives and walking safaris. This is a great place to get away from the crowds and really experience Africa’s wild side.
If you want to see African elephants in their natural habitat, Botswana is the place to go because of their large population of elephants.
The Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta, and Linyanti are all great places to spot these majestic creatures. With a little bit of luck, you may even get close enough to snap a picture or two!
Frequently Asked Questions about Elephant Safari in Botswana
No, you cannot ride elephants in Botswana. There are many sanctuaries and rescue centers where you can interact with elephants, but riding them is not allowed.
The best time to see elephants in Botswana is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. This is when the elephants congregate around the waterholes and are more visible than during other months.
There are three main places where you can see elephants in Botswana: the Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta, and Linyanti Wildlife Reserve.
The total population of elephants in Botswana is around 130,000. However, it also includes the elephants roaming in the wilds of Botswana.