Exciting Wildlife to Spot in Botswana

A trip to Botswana is special. From the waterways of the Okavango Delta to the vastness of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, there is a landscape and an activity to kindle all interests. What’s more, because of its many rich ecosystems and the protection they receive, the country is arguably home to some of the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa. With over 530 species of birds, 160 species of mammals, 155 species of reptiles, and over 1,500 species of plants, it’s no wonder Botswana is at the top of most people’s bucket lists to visit and that, while here, you will have some truly incredible sightings. Below are a few of my favorite Botswanan animals to spot:



Botswana boasts one of the largest populations of elephants on the continent. They are found throughout the Okavango Delta and even in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. They play an important role in building and maintaining the Delta’s ecosystem. From creating channels as they walk through the reeds, to dispersing seeds along different migratory routes, their movements assist in the establishment of new flora and fauna life. A fun way to view elephants while in Botswana is visiting a photographic hide, like those at Mashatu, Sable Alley, and Tuludi  camps. The pachyderms can also be seen in and around many of the camps found along the Delta. The country is truly an elephant lover’s paradise!



As Africa’s largest carnivore, the lion is often at the top of most travelers “must see” list. And thankfully, these gorgeous cats are found in great numbers throughout Botswana. They are exceptionally social animals, so you are likely to see an entire pride of lions—a group usually consisting of multiple lionesses with cubs, and possibly one male. They’ll be playing, grooming, or sleeping in the morning or afternoon sun. If you listen closely at night, you may also hear the deep bass of a male lion’s roar as he patrols his territory. A few notable camps where you can see lions are Selinda Camp, Wilderness Kwetsani, and Jack’s Camp.



Lechwe are considered masters of navigating the waters of the Okavango Delta. Their back legs, which are noticeably longer than their front, give them additional power and allow them to jump through the channels and waterways more easily than other antelopes. A favorite meal for the wild dog, Lechwe are stunning animals,  with a reddish coloring and males sporting long antlers. Duba Plains and Chitabe are two great places to see this antelope in large numbers, but, as a Botswanan staple, you’re likely to encounter them at most properties.



This critically endangered animal is one of my favorites to find while on safari. Wild dogs are expert and skilled pack hunters, whose strategy is magical to watch. If lucky enough to encounter a chase, you will likely see the lead hunter rotate, with one stepping up while others fall back to regain their energy. The goal being to fully exhaust and then run down their prey. Another very social species, you can often see the wild dogs communicating amongst themselves, playing, and interacting with each other. Duba Plains, Kwando’s Lagoon, Lebala, and Kwara, as well as DumaTau are some places where wild dogs can be seen.



The leopard, one of Africa’s ‘big five,” is another animal I love to encounter. Notoriously elusive, you may spend hours tracking one, only to look up and find one watching you from a nearby tree! Most leopards are relaxed around safari vehicles, and you might even have the opportunity to watch one hunt for its favorite prey: the impala. They are found throughout the Delta, and Wilderness Tubu Tree, Wilderness Mombo, and Wilderness Chitabe are just a few places you can hope to see these beautiful cats. I highly recommend a minimum of nine nights in Botswana to increase your chances of finding leopard!

Botswana is home to so much incredible wildlife! No matter which camps you choose to visit or what time of year you opt to travel,  you will have some incredible and unforgettable game drives! And for those interested in the birds of Botswana, our blog “Birding in the Okavango Delta” has additional information about species, equipment, and much more.