The Big, Beautiful Wildlife of Botswana

Peregrine's Classic Botswana is a short trip capturing the spectacular wildlife and pristine wilderness of northern Botswana. From Victoria Falls, venture into a land renowned for its bounty of big game, no more prevalent than in the lush wilds of the Okavango Delta.

Four nights in permanent camps in the heart of game-rich reserves deep within the Delta are great for viewing wild game and landscapes, especially from water level – aboard a quiet, slowly drifting mokoro, or dugout canoe. Observe further wildlife in the Khwai River river region from open-top safari vehicles and within Chobe National Park for astounding safari experiences, and get to see elephants, lions, leopards and cape buffalo. On this classic African safari you'll stay in beautiful tented camps, one even on an island within the delta.

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Camps, Cape Buff and Other Big Game

The unique tented camps we stay in have beautifully appointed decors and an ambience that evokes the romance of Africa. Lie on comfortable sheets beneath a thatched roof, listen to the wild night and shut your eyes for a decent rest…before a wonderful dawn game drive or a quiet float through the wildlife-rich delta.

The Okavango Delta’s vast braided system of channels, lagoons and swamps weave together the habitat of a vast array of African animals, including the largest and most sought after members of the Big 5. Some animals wade through the waters, while others slink in the grass along the banks or laze on the plains beyond – wherever you train your attention you’re sure to see some of Africa’s icons and be amazed at the wildlife experiences on offer. Here are a few details of the most sought after and recognised beasts:


Cape Buffalo

A robust, cantankerous, unpredictable tonne of heaving muscle and curved horn, the cape buffalo is considered the most dangerous animal in Africa. Though hippos and crocs also vie for the title, it’s often said cape buffalo directly kill more people in Africa than any other. They graze with the fearless countenance of the truly big, though the large males have a surliness about them one is wise to be wary of. Other than humans, they have no consistent predators and are capable of defending themselves against lions, even killing them if necessary. Lions do kill and eat buffalo, but it takes multiple, experienced adults to bring one down. Chased in these instances, buffalo herds will stick close together, making it hard for any one member to be picked off. Calves gather in the middle, but when surprised and caught, the rest of the herd will try to rescue them. Most of the time cape buffalo walk the savannah as superior grazing machines, subsisting on tall course grass clipped with their incongruously smooth tongues, moving from one fresh area to another as the undisputed king herbivore within the grand cycle of the savannah.

You’ll see them in the Okavango Delta and the surrounding plains, some covered in thick crusts of mud from wallowing, often tended by small birds riding their backs to feed on parasites. The herds are usually calm, but you best be careful near the lone males or those in small groups; these bachelors are known to be dangerous. That photo of one half hidden in long grass is not worth risking your life for!


Elephant

They sleep on their feet, stomp when they walk, use their trunk to drink, bath, pluck, carry and caress, and are said not to jump and never forget, but to see elephants on safari is an experience far beyond mere factoid. The iconic largest mammal on earth is extremely social, especially when congregating around water. Smaller groups from the savannah will coalesce into larger tribes to drink wash and cavort and make for some of the greatest single species safari spotting anywhere. Prime places to get up close to these wrinkly grey behemoths are Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, though many other parks have significant populations, especially near water; each elephant drinks over seventy litres a day and munches several hundred kilos of vegetation over the same period. To watch them walk in line, some trunk to tail, just in front of your safari vehicle or dugout while they stroll with elephantine grace is a spectacular sight, especially when baby elephants are involved. They keep under their mother’s bellies when behaving themselves, but when there is more than one they will play-fight and tumble like infant animals everywhere. That is, before their mothers call out and they get back in line. Wonderful wildlife and a safari highlight one never forgets. Sometimes bigger is better!


The lion

The only true social members of the cat family, and happy to spend days endlessly sleeping and lounging out on the open plains, lions are the easiest big cat to spot on most African safaris. And they’re an unforgettable sight: from the distinctive, regal mane of the male, to the exuberance of a pride’s cubs as the day loses its heat, to the prowling power of lionesses in the purple dawn light. Night is when they’re most active; predatory lionesses stalk the bush while males make territorial patrols of a pride’s area, guarding against nomadic young males looking to take over. A sunrise safari is perfect for spotting lions, especially in Chobe – it has a large lion population. You may even be able to catch sight of a pride working collegiately in pursuit of prey; an astonishing display of stealth, cooperation, and power. Surprisingly however, given their (fully justified) fearsome reputation, lions are also expert scavengers. When cheetahs and leopards make a kill, they need to be wary; lions are happy to lurk nearby, ready to claim the spoils.

And don’t worry about not hearing a lion while you’re on safari or laying in bed at night: an adult’s roar can be heard up to eight kilometres away.


Leopard

Solitary, reclusive and elusive – leopards may be relatively abundant in number but they are often the final piece of the wildlife jigsaw that safari-goers are left searching for. One of nature’s great adapters, leopards live in all sorts of habitat, from desert to swamplands. And they have the most varied diets of the big cats. A dung beetle here, a dove or two there, right up to giant elands and elephants – they’re not what you’d call fussy eaters. Even more remarkably, they often drag large kills up trees to help protect them from thieving hyenas or lions. Great Elands can be ten times a leopard’s weight, yet up they will go – this is one immensely powerful cat. Sighting a leopard involves patience, local knowledge and a bit of luck. You’re perhaps more likely to hear one – listen out for a distinctive rasping growl, usually likened to wood being sawn. During the day, look out among tree branches for the flick of a tail, which is about as active as they get in the afternoons. But as dusk approaches, you might just see a leopard stealthily slinking through the long grass, and if you’re very lucky, a display of its predatory speed: in pursuit of prey, they’re capable of brief bursts of nearly 60 kilometres per hour.


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