Despite being so sparsely populated and remote, Botswana is one of the safest countries to travel in Africa. The locals are curious and friendly and the main roads are paved. An occasional pothole aside, roads in Botswana are fairly well maintained. For those who love riding off-road, Botswana offers plenty of gravel roads and trails to enjoy, but remember to have a decent fuel range if you’re venturing off the grid.
Most roads in Botswana are long, straight and flat so don’t expect adrenaline-inducing hairpins. However, that’s a bonus in our book because motorcycle tours in Botswana focus on the incredible landscapes and wildlife rather than scraping the pegs. Keep your eyes peeled – ostriches, kudus and other wildlife often wander into the road, so ride with a little caution and enjoy the scenery around you.
To enjoy warm weather and see the most wildlife, the best time of year to ride Botswana is during the dry season between May and October. This is when the days are sunny and pleasantly warm (the nights in the Kalahari do get chilly however so pack a warmer layer!). It’s also when the water in the Okavango Delta attracts the highest amount of wildlife and creates those famous waterways, best viewed from a plane.
Forming over 80% of Botswana, the Kalahari Desert is an extraordinary place to ride. Technically, the Kalahari is a dry savannah rather than a desert, but the origins of the name – Kgala, or The Great Thirst in Tswana language – tell you just how vast and Mars-like the Kalahari really is. The dunes of the Kalahari Desert are the largest continuous expanse of sand on Earth, and riding motorcycles in the Kalahari is a truly incredible experience. The horizon is unbroken, save for a lone adobe village here and there or a bleached skeleton of a tree.If you’re after that feeling of ultimate solitude, a ride across the Kalahari will make you feel like you’re on another planet.
Botswana is one of the prime safari and wildlife destinations in Africa. Here, you’ll see the Big Five – lion, leopard, African buffalo, African bush elephant and rhinoceros, as well as huge flocks of flamingos, herds of antelope, giraffe and many more. During your motorcycle holidays in Botswana, visiting the country’s national parks is a must, but even if you don’t, you’re guaranteed to spot wildlife during the ride, especially in the Northern part. Make sure your camera is always at hand – you never know when a giraffe might decide to nibble on your handlebars while you’re stopping for a break.
Often called “The Land of the Giants” by the locals, Chobe National Park is arguably the most awe-inspiring part of Botswana. In complete contrast with the Kalahari Desert, the Park encompasses over 6,000 square miles of pure green wilderness and has the largest elephant population in the country with over 50,000 elephants roaming free around the Chobe River inhabited by hippos and crocodiles. Incredibly biodiverse, Chobe National Park is very close to the borders of Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia – just a day trip from the famous Victoria Falls – making it the perfect pitstop on the guided motorcycle tours in Botswana. If you have the time, Chobe National Park offers lodges, bush camps and luxurious stays if you plan to explore the Park over several days.
Named as one of the Seven Wonders of Africa, Okavango Delta is a sight to behold. A swampy inland delta crisscrossed with waterways, marshlands and seasonally flooded plains, the Okavango is a verdant paradise of wildlife, birds and ever-changing landscapes of shifting wetlands depending on the rainy season. Much like the Chobe National Park, Okavango boasts large elephant, lion and leopard populations and if you’re lucky, you may even spot one of the most endangered animals in Africa – the white rhino. Okavango Delta can be explored by foot or in a dugout canoe, but if you want to truly appreciate how spectacular Okavango is, it’s best to take a small aeroplane to enjoy a breathtaking aerial view of this unique place.
Motorcycle tours in Botswana would not be complete without learning a little about the country’s culture and people. Botswana is one of the least densely populated countries on the planet: nearly half of the country’s territory is dedicated to national parks and wildlife and there are just over 2 million people living here. The natives of Botswana were traditionally the San bushmen, nomadic hunter-gatherers who roamed this land before the European settlers. Some of the national parks in Botswana offer bush tours with the San for those who want to learn more about this fascinating culture and some lodges still employ San bushmen to track animals as they are so attuned with the land. Despite (or perhaps because of) being so sparsely populated and remote, Botswana is one of the safest countries to travel in Africa. The locals are extremely friendly and welcoming towards foreigners. As the country’s official language is English, you’ll have no trouble chatting with the locals during your trip