From the heart of southern Africa, the Okavango River branches like veins spilling the lifeblood of Angola’s highlands across Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. Summer rains attract over 200,000 animals to the wetlands dense with palm groves and lily pad-layered lagoons. Hosting over half the continent’s elephants during the flood, the Okavango Delta offers a front row seat on the best African safari, with the chance to spot lions, zebras and migratory herds.
A haven for species facing extinction, the delta welcomes relocated rhinos brought into the politically stable country by conservationists and is home to one the continent’s largest populations of endangered African Wild Dogs. The Bushman, an ancient tribe and one of the world’s oldest remaining cultures, found its last refuge and battles for survival in this gigantic oasis.
The country’s rustic campsites and luxury lodges are located on permanent waterways with safaris, motorboat tours and eco-friendly accommodations. Although travelers with deep pockets now access remote camps with helicopters, one of the best things to do in Botswana is navigate the game reserves’ floodplains on a mokoro. Gliding between riverbeds, the traditional dugout canoes minimize the ecological impact of tourism while revealing the closest thing to Eden left on Earth.