We get it. Your dream bucket list trip to Botswana has been postponed. At the moment, all of our plans are on hold. That doesn’t mean that you can’t bring a little bit of Botswana magic into your home.
This list of proudly Botswana beats, books, flicks and photographers will not only satisfy those itchy feet for a while, but also prepare you for the adventures to come. Brush up on your beats, learn a little local lingo and get set for safari.
The Very Best of Botswana Beats
A wonderful way to transport yourself across the globe (and lift the spirits) is by listening to music. Did you know the Okavango Delta is home to an annual music festival? Inspired by some of those beats and visiting some Botswana classics, we created this Spotify playlist just for you.
Escape from reality? Check! Get up, groove and stay active? Check! Broaden your mind? Check!
For a deeper dive into Botswana’s music scene, do a little reading about the heavy metal rock and rollers.
These hell bangers of Botswana’s underground metal scene show a different side of Botswana. “We see ourselves as warriors and poets,” says Dumisani in the Huck article. “This is a calling. We use metal to speak to our social conditions as Africans: the struggles, the climate we operate in… It might be cheesy to you but, to us, metal is just another way of speaking about romance. To us, love is hardcore, yo!”. CNN has also reported how Africa is the last frontier for metal.
Botswana's Best Book Selection
Visit dusty village roads or get a behind the scenes sneak peek at the other side of safari by escaping into the pages of these brilliant books, all set in Botswana.
This series is a classic, easy read and offers a delightful insight into the way of life in Botswana. The New York Times dubbed it the ‘Miss Marple of Bostwana’ and writes how ”Obviously, Smith has read his Dinesen. And a quick check of his other publications reveals him to be the author of an entire volume on ”The Criminal Law of Botswana.” But in keeping with his interest in tinkering with stereotypes — about Africa and, it seems, the detective novel — he gives us a heroine who turns out to be interested less in building a conventional case than in following what we would call common sense and she calls old-fashioned Botswana morality.”
Detective Kubu series by Michael Stanley
Already a fan of Mma Ramotswe? You’ll likely devour this darker detective series. Fitting a relatively new literary niche called ‘sunshine noir’, local police detectives Kubu and Sam solve murders and other crimes committed to the backdrop fo the wild Kalahari.
Another thrilling fiction, this read opens with a (fictionalised) attempted roadside assassination of Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe. It’s a fast-paced read that will have you, dear reader, zipping through Namibia‘s Caprivi Strip and the OKavango Delta, the childhood home of the lead character, Sonja Kurtz.
Go Tell the Sun is an anthology of short stories set in Botswana. Molefhe’s stories explore more contemporary issues of culture and modernity in Botswana covering themes such as absent fathers, homosexuality and infidelity in marriages.
Escape to the floodplains of the Okavango Delta with these outrageous and comical anecdotes from a safari guide. This book offers a look behind the scenes. Expect tales of wild animals and even wilder guests. Okavango Memoirs bu E. Cronje Wilmot is another great read from an even earlier safari era, the mid-1940s.
An absolute classic. This autobiographical book looks at the lives of two young American zoologists, Mark and Delia Owens, and their experience studying wildlife in the Kalahari desert in the mid-1970s. If you’ve got a safari planned to the vast park that is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, you’ll want to read this before your game drive to Deception Pan.
Together with her husband, Charles Trevor, Ethnee started Chobe Safari Lodge in northern Botswana. Although this autobiography spans several countries, several chapters give a vivid description of Kasane in the late 1950s, during the construction of the Chobe River Hotel (as Chobe Safari Lodge was first known).
A delightful read for children, this book describes local superstitions as different tribes believed and lived by them. These stories have been traditionally imparted orally in the past, but Bonty’s aim is to preserve the culture and educate young people using these indigenous stories.
Even locals will love this thorough road-tripping companion to the sprawling Makgadikgadi Pans network. Did you know that Botswana’s salt pans are so immense they can be seen from space? Don’t be too intimidated. This is the perfect companion to your travel dreams of going off-the-grid.
The Best Things to Watch About Botswana
Prefer a more visual medium for escape? Take a virtual journey across Botswana with these breath-taking documentaries and inspiring films.
Into the Okavango
Into the Okavango chronicles a team of modern-day explorers on their first epic four-month, 1,500-mile expedition across three countries to save the river system that feeds the Okavango Delta, one of our planet’s last wetland wildernesses.
Eye of the Pangolin
Eye of the Pangolin is the story of two men on a mission to share the wonder of all four species of African pangolin on camera for the first time ever. Follow their extraordinary journey to remote locations on the African continent, from arid savannah and kalahari desert to exotic jungles. Become captivated by these extraordinary creatures as the filmmakers meet the people who are caring for and studying pangolins in a desperate attempt to save them from being poached and traded into extinction.
Okavango: River of Dreams
A wildlife documentary dripping with drama, this three-part series by Botswana’s most famous filmmakers will have you in suspense. Filmed by Dereck and Beverly Joubert (owners of Great Pains Safaris) this series presents Botswana’s unique ecosystem at its most beautiful. Following the tradition of their previous films, from The Soul of an Elephant to Lions and Hyenas: Eternal Enemies, the huge cast of animals’ daily struggle to survive is woven into a narrative illustrating just how inventive they must become in order to survive in this extreme environment.
Stream Okavango: River of Dreams on Amazon Prime.
Top Gear Botswana Special
This comical trio are at their best in this instalment of the old BBC motoring show. Each hosts is told to buy a second-hand car costing no more than £1,500. It must not be a 4×4 and must not be designed in any way to go off-road. Which is a problem. The struggles are sure to inspire all kinds of road trip wanderlust though.
A United Kingdom
A great watch for anyone visiting Botswana, this film looks at the history of Bostwana through the lens of love. The film is based on the true story of the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland, Seretse Khama of the Bamangwato people, who studies law in London immediately after World War II. There he meets an Englishwoman, Ruth Williams, whom he eventually marries, despite the protests of both their families and opposition from the British government, which is concerned about relations with South Africa and the stability of the entire region of southern Africa.
Stream A United Kingdom on Amazon Prime.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Based on the book of the same name, this charming series is set in Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, and follows the antics of Precious Ramotswe as she runs Botswana’s first female-run detective agency.
Stream The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency on HBO (you can get a seven-day free trial).
Best Photographers in Botswana
What better way to keep dreaming and simultaneously scout for the perfect locations than by flicking through photo galleries. These are our favourite photographer you can follow on Instagram.
Mike Sutherland is a freelance guide and works across Africa, but his sensational Instagram feed features plenty of pearlers from travels the jaw-dropping Okavango Delta.