Widely-regarded as one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Botswana is a wildlife enthusiasts’ haven offering some of the best game viewing on the Continent. One of the key aspects that really sets Botswana apart is the diversity of experience on offer, in large part because of the unique environments that there are to explore, with the <a style="color: #f2b618;" href="https://www.imaginetravel.com/imagine-africa/holiday-destination/botswana/places/okavango-delta-and-moremi" target="_blank">Okavango Delta</a> being one of the most impressive wildlife habitats in the world which can be explored by a variety of methods – whether on foot, by vehicle or on a boat cruise and the - recently becoming UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site – whilst <a style="color: #f2b618;" href="https://www.imaginetravel.com/imagine-africa/holiday-destination/botswana/places/makgadikgadi" target="_blank">Makgadikgadi</a> offers a truly unique landscape as the largest salt pan in the world, with game viewing to match.
Botswana's zebra migration
Botswana’s raw beauty will always be a massive draw for anyone seeking a true wilderness experience in Africa. Well known for its density of game and wildlife and the largest inland delta in the world, Botswana is often at the top of many peoples' list when seeking a safari in Africa yet competitive prices keep Botswana exclusive and untouched.
What many people do not know is that Botswana hosts the second largest zebra migration in southern Africa, behind the Great Migration of Tanzania and Kenya. This spectacular phenomenon occurs during Botswana’s green season when accommodation is cheaper and the vegetation is a little thicker which generally means it is more difficult to spot game. However, whilst out of season, the occurrence of the migration confirms it as an amazing time to visit.
Chobe - Nxai Pan Migration
Botswana’s migration takes place after the December and January rains have fallen and transformed the Nxai and Makgadikgadi Pan into lush grasslands and watering holes. The zebra travel down from two locations, the Chobe riverfront and the southeast of the Okavango. From the Chobe riverfront the zebra take a 500-800km journey to get to Nxai Pan National Park. After spending around 80 days in the park grazing and feeding, the zebra begin their return journey. Leaving around the end of February, or early March they take a further 80 days to get back from the northern riverfront area of Chobe National Park. Depending on the route, the zebra usually return to the riverfront area between April and June time, sometimes arriving as late as July. They will stay in this area until around December, at which point they begin their journey again.
Okavango - Makgadikgadi Migration
Elsewhere, in the southeastern region of the Okavango Delta, zebra move in their thousands towards the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park. In the 1950s and 60s fences were built throughout Botswana as a way of controlling an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, thereby preventing the zebra from making their annual migration. In 2004, the fences were removed and within three years the zebra in the southeastern Okavango started to migrate again. Remarkably, the zebra who resumed this migration route would have had no living relatives prior to the fences being erected, meaning the journey began again completely by instinct.
Researchers believe this journey coincides with the arrival of the rains in Makgadikgadi, starting around the end of November or early December and dictating when the zebra leave the Okavango. After a few weeks, the zebra reach the banks of the Boteti and the lush grasslands of the Makgadikgadi where they stay for around two and a half months before returning to the Okavango in March. They typically stay here throughout the dry season, which spans in its entirety from July to November. It is thought the zebra head to Makgadikgadi Pan National Park as the grasses have a higher protein and mineral content compared with those in the Okavango.
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