The reviews of the parks on this page are my own subjective opinions based on the limited time I was there. In each case, I indicate the dates I was in the park and I offer a short description. I also give each park a rating of "G" (Good); "VG" (Very Good) or "E" (Excellent).
Botswana was the first country I visited in Africa and it therefore holds a special place in my heart. The country offered a great variety of wildlife and terrain. Botswana limits the number of people who can visit each year, making it much less crowded than the parks of Kenya or northern Tanzania. We never experienced the semicircle of 10-15 vehicles surrounding a scene, as we often did in Kenya. Botswana offers several other advantages to the traveler. The vehicles are very open (not the minivans found in the east Africa) and in some places it is possible to take night drives (when many animals are more active) and to get out and walk.
Botswana is primarily a flat country and would be largely desert (mostly Kalahari) but for several rivers. When I was there (June 1998), winter was approaching in the southern hemisphere. The early mornings and evenings could be quite cool (30s to 40s Fahrenheit), but the weather warmed up quickly once the sun was up (shorts and a T-shirt were quite comfortable). The weather was remarkably clear throughout – to the point that we never saw a single cloud, let alone a drop of rain. The nights were also very clear, allowing spectacular views of the southern sky.
Chobe was the first park I visited and it turned out to be an excellent introduction to Africa. It offered a bit of everything, with both river and forest environments. Here we saw large herds of buffalo, impala and elephants (in fact the park suffers from an overpopulation of elephants), plus lions, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, warthogs, kudu, a sable antelope, red lechwe, giraffe, chacma baboons, mongoose, and numerous birds. It was in Chobe that we also saw a dead elephant (from natural causes) and a pride of lions feeding on a cape buffalo. In Chobe, we stayed in a mobile tented camp (bucket showers and chemical toilets) set up in the midst of the park. There is also the very luxurious Chobe Game Lodge just inside the park for those who don't care to "rough it" out in the bush. If you visit Chobe, make sure to take the boat ride on the river.
The Moremi Wildlife Reserve, in the Okavango Delta, is a fascinating mixture of water and dry, dusty areas. It is hard to believe that the area can be so dusty given its proximity to the water. Here it can be readily seen what the landscape would look like without the waters of the delta. In Moremi, we had particularly good luck with leopards, spotting a large male, a female in a tree, and a year-old male. We also saw quite a few lions, warthogs, cape buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, hippos, giraffe, impala, ostrich, fish eagles and other birds. In Moremi, we stayed at the Mombo Trails tented camp, which was very nice, offering facilities that seemed downright luxurious after the mobile tented camp. Moremi was one of my favorite places.
The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta. It is formed where the Okavango River, flowing from the highlands of Angola, meets the sands of the Kalahari Desert and is ultimately absorbed. The area offers an opportunity to travel by "mokoro" (dugout canoes, which today are made of fiberglass to preserve what large trees remain in the area). The main attractions of the Okavango are the species that thrive near the water: a large variety of birds, hippos, crocodiles, and various antelope, including the very shy sitatunga. We stayed at the Zepa Trails Bush Camp, which offered flush toilets and running water, but otherwise was pretty basic. If you visit, you will get a chance to try your skills at poling a mokoro through the remarkably clear waters – while you are standing! It takes a bit of practice.
The Savuti area is part of Chobe National Park, but offers a different experience. Here much of terrain is wide-open "marshlands" in addition to mopane forest and acacia woodlands. The "marsh," however, has been dry since 1981 and now looks like a vast open grassland. There are several manmade waterholes throughout the area that attract game at different parts of the day. Elephants, in particular, are common around the waterholes. When they are drinking they tend to monopolize the area. In addition to elephants, we saw plenty of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe as well as some hyena, several jackals, ostrich, hornbills (red-billed, yellow-billed and ground) and tsessebe (an antelope called "topi" in Kenya). We stayed at Lloyd's Camp, which was very nice (but has been slated for removal so it may no longer be possible to stay there). It was very cold here (near freezing) in the early mornings, but after the sun was up one would be comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt.
For reviews of game parks in other countries see: Kenya Game Parks, Namibia Game Parks, South Africa Game Parks, Tanzania Game Parks, Uganda Game Parks, Canoe Safari in Zambia and Zimbabwe Game Parks.