The small town of Xhumaga is situated in north-central Botswana and rests on the western bank of the Boteti River, flanking the Makgadikgadi National Park. The Boteti is the last finger of the Okavango Delta, reaching down to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.  Years have passed without the river being fed a drop at all; becoming a long sandy riverbed with shrinking waterholes, where zebras jostle for space under high-flying sheets of dust. At other times, the Boteti swells up fat and full, spilling into saltpans hundreds of kilometers from its source before evaporating into thin air.

This is the place to watch plains game crashing through sharp acacia trees, gathering under lofty palms and lurking in the shade of the riverine woodland, keeping close to the water.  When the Boteti River is full, big elephant bulls can often be found playing in the water and browsing in the reeds while the sun sets on the day.

Sunsets here sink slowly through the sky, growing pink and red the closer they drop to earth. Here, you can watch the sun hit the ground from almost anywhere, with only an acacia tree or two lying between you and the horizon.

Although the park’s eastern edges touch the Makgadikgadi salt pans, its unlikely you’ll see them during your stay.  Where the saltpans are about landscapes, the Boteti is about a more traditional safari experience. Explore the banks by game drive, drift along the river by boat (when water levels allow), or wait for the wildlife to pass by from the sanctuary of a hide.

Once the rains arrive (October – November) the zebras and wildebeest abandon the Boteti, migrating to the saltpans and only returning in the winter (April – May).  During the green season the Boteti’s banks become a quiet green landscape of technicolour sunsets and an explosion of birdlife.

Good To Know

Best Time To Travel

  • April – September: traditionally dry season, game is abundant along the river course
  • Dry season heralds the huge herds of Zebra moving from the pans towards the water
What To See

  • Herds of Zebra & Wildebeest
  • Kudu, Elephants, Lion and Hippo’s
  • Amazing birdlife, predominantly Raptors

What To Do

  • Game drives within the park
  • Some of the lodges offer, Village tours and a Bushman experience which is sometimes conducted by members of staff that now work within the tourism industry, but wish to   keep their culture and traditions alive.
  • Boating is possible if water levels permit
  • The Hide & Floating Hide
What Makes This Area Unique

  • One of Botswana’s hidden gems, final tributary from the Okavango
  • One of the only remaining natural water sources for hundreds of kilometers south & east of Okavango in dry season
  • The Boteti River is a lifesaver to an entire ecosystem and attracts an exceptional wildlife density from the pans and the Central Kalahari Desert as soon as these regions receive their last drop of rain every year.
Expert Travel Tips

  • The lodges in this region sit opposite the park within community areas and on tribal land. There is a fence separating these areas with the National Park and this can cause a challenge with Domestic Animals.
  • This location works as a perfect combo with Okavango and / or Khwai regions
  • Although bordering the Makgadikgadi National Park, the Boteti River is far from the salt pans themselves, so do not expect to see them on a game drive.
  • In peak season this area is ideal for an ‘Armchair Safari,’ the game comes to you, just relax on the decks of the lodges or park up along the river course and watch
  • Self-Drivers, accessibility from Maun is easy, but no fuel in the vicinity. 4 x 4 essential within the park.
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