Best Botswana Camping Safaris 2023

Published on: November 24, 2022

For many Africa safari aficionados a camping safari in Botswana remains the ultimate wildlife safari experience and consistently delivers outstanding wildlife encounters. In July 2022 our group of 6 travelled from Maun to Kasane on a small group Botswana camping safari through Moremi, Khwai and Savuti and were lucky enough to see Lions, Leopards, Cheetah, African Wild Dogs, Honey Badgers, African Wild Cat and Serval. We also saw multiple antelope species, huge herds of Cape Buffalo and enjoyed amazing birding at some of the best private campsites in Botswana.

Best places for wildlife in Botswana

Best Botswana camping safaris. Morning Coffee by the lake
Anyone for coffee?

We have been organising Botswana safaris for more than 10 years and if your main focus is a big cat safari and the chance to see African wild dogs, then you will see that the three locations which are most commonly recommended for a Botswana safari, are Moremi, Khwai and Savuti; some times written as Savute. Moremi is adjacent to the famous Okavango Delta and is known for its lions and leopards, whereas Khwai is famous for African wild dogs and nocturnal leopard sightings; as you are allowed to take game drives here at night. Savuti featured in a famous David Attenborough documentary, where huge prides of lions had learned to hunt elephants at night. However, for us, Savuti provided not only beautiful sightings of African wild dog cubs outside their den, but we were also lucky enough to see the start and conclusion of a hunt by the same pack of wild dogs – simply thrilling.

Botswana safari. Photo of a lion by the bridge at Moremi
Lion crossing at Moremi game reserve

Why you should drive from Maun to Moremi game reserve.

Maun is very much the gateway to a Botswana wildlife safaris and many different tour companies are based here to meet and greet their clients, whether they are camping specialists or experts at horse safaris. Many of the bush plane operators are also based in this cool town and I was amazed at how many people arrived and then simply flew into Moremi, Khwai or Savuti; but that is to miss out on the overall Botswana safari experience. When you drive from Maun to Moremi, the sealed road only lasts around 20km and then you are onto a wide unsealed road, which elephant, giraffe and zebra frequently cross. This area is dominated by Acacia trees and there is always the chance of seeing many different species of birds and antelope as you travel towards the south entrance of Moremi game reserve. We certainly don’t recommend a day trip here – that’s basically 7 hours on the road and only a few hours actually in the reserve itself; but as a start to a two week Botswana camping safari, this certainly builds up the excitement and you would miss a lot by just flying.

African wild dog safari in Botswana. Photo of adults and puppies.
Kids are tiring sometimes!

The magic of private wild camping in Moremi, Botswana

One very important point to make is that if you are on a self-drive Botswana safari holiday you cannot stay inside the park. Only local Botswana tour companies with qualified guides and naturalists can book these and there is a world of difference between staying outside the park at Moremi South structured campsite, compared to a private lake side camping spot inside the game reserve just for your group.

The first point to make is that although night time safaris are not permitted in Moremi when you start your game drive at 06:00 it is still dark, so in effect you have 30 to 40 minutes of a nocturnal drive, when animals like lions, leopards and striped Hyena are still on the move. In fact, we had our tents ‘open’ (fly screen still in place!) and we could see Hyena moving through our camp. This is repeated again in the evening  because when the day trippers or self drive clients have to be punctual when leaving the main gates, we are only slowly moving back to our camp and one night in the fading light we could see three lions waiting in the long grass to ambush a Cape Buffalo out of a herd numbering close to two hundred. They missed out – but the wait certainly got the adrenalin coursing through our veins, and we returned the short distance to our camp for a very enjoyable evening drink and discussion.

Best place to see Leopards in Botswana. Photo of a leopard in Moremi game reserve.
Beautiful male leopard walks through the Moremi grasslands

Best places to see African wild dogs – why you must visit Khwai in Botswana

We have been organising private and small group Botswana camping safaris for many years and on top of many peoples wish list is the chance to see African wild dogs on safari. Yes, there are some other great locations in Botswana to see this beautiful, social pack animal, but one of the best locations to see African wild dogs is definitely Khwai. For our particular trip in July we had a very unusual situation, where a lone wild dog was being seen on a regular basis in the open area not too far from the air strip and everyone was puzzled why he was not with a pack. African wild dogs are very well known for their ability to look after all members of the pack, even those who are injured and can no longer hunt.

Despite searching this area over three full days we only had one brief sighting in the distance and since at that time we did not know about the ‘active den’ in Savuti, we genuinely thought that we had missed out on our best chance to see them. However, we were more than delighted to add two more wild cat species to our mammal list while on safari in Khwai, with an excellent sighting of Africa wild cat just a short distance from our lodge accommodation during a night drive – which is one of the big reasons people visit Khwai concession. In addition, we had a superb encounter with an elegant Serval in the grasslands close to the beautiful Khwai river;  as it actively hunted in its ideal habitat.

African wild dog seen in Savuti on our Botswana camping safari
Stop chewing my ear off!

Want to book this small group Botswana camping safari for 2023?

To conclude, it you want to experience one of the best Botswana camping safaris at a reasonable price – where the entire operation is built around maximising your time on game drives and ensuring that you are comfortable and well fed despite the very remote locations of the camps – then our small group Botswana camping safari is definitely for you and we have 2 dates in August 2023 for you to choose from. Please contact Allan and africa(at) for more information or call us on 0044 1946 841495.

About the Author

Allan Blanchard

Allan Blanchard is the founder of Wildlife Trails, a biologist, and conservationist. He studied animal behaviour and has a passion for using real time data to pick the ideal time to see endangered flagship species. Whether that be Snow Leopards in India, Gorillas in Uganda, or Jaguars in Brazil. 27 years of continuous recces to the best safari destinations in the world, is both a privilege and a huge advantage when curating award winning wildlife holidays for Wildlife Trails.