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< BACKGeneral Information - Botswana

Much of Botswana is remote and remains accessible to only a small number of visitors, thus making the country an ideal Botswana wilderness safari experience. Travel on safari here is very safe and relatively uncomplicated; the infrastructure is excellent with well-maintained main roads, frequently situated fuel stations and a wide variety of shops.

Botswana is bordered by Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and at the extreme North Eastern tip by Zambia. The country sits on the Great African Plateau and the landscape is mostly flat or gently undulating at an average altitude of 900m. Botswana's underlying rock formations are some of the oldest in the world with the granite gneisses in the east being formed around 3500 million years ago. Deposits of copper and nickel are present as well as small amounts of gold, manganese, iron ore and coal. Also present are the extensive diamond reserves on which the countries' wealth is founded. Botswana is the ideal destination for a remote wildlife safari.

The climate in Botswana is continental tropical with rainfall across the country averaging out at 475mm per annum. Approximately 90% of the country is classed as savannah and the dominant soil type is Kalahari sand.

The Kalahari Desert itself dominates the south and west, although with an average of 250mm rain per annum it is less a true desert and more a savannah grassland. Botswana safaris through the Kalahari can yield extraordinary wildlife sightings and stunning sunsets. The little rain that falls in Botswana arrives in the summer months of October to April, usually as tropical thunderstorms, the cloud generally building in the early afternoon and the rain falling as a steady curtain a few hours later. The importance of water to Botswana and the Okavango Delta is obvious - the local Tswana name of the currency - "Pula" - means rain!

The vegetation across the country varies considerably from acacia dominant savannah in the south and central regions to Mopane, silver leaf and Zimbabwean teak in the north and marula and baobab on the salt pans. The Okavango Delta offers a stark contrast to the Kalahari Desert with lush green swathes of papyrus and towering palm trees, the perfect place for a safari. There are around 200 desert species in Botswana which have been classified as edible and these include plants such as the Tsamma melon and the wild cucumber which store significant amounts of water within their tissues.

These plants sustain a wide variety of animals in the Kalahari Desert area including springbok, hartebeest, gemsbok, eland and many smaller species. The plants are also sought by the San Bushmen who still live in small numbers in the Kalahari Desert area. Safaris can be organised to areas where the San still live a relatively traditional lifestyle and visitors can learn a little of this ancient way of life.

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