A Detailed Guide to The Great Zebra Migration in Botswana
The annual zebra migration in Botswana is a wild spectacle that is hardly unknown outside of this country in southern Africa. Thousands of zebra move from one grazing area to another, kicking up clouds of dust as they do so. It is the longest single animal migration that has ever been documented.
This guide will outline the ideal locations in Botswana to view this phenomenon as well as the ideal seasons to travel there for the greatest potential experience. This is our comprehensive guide on the great zebra migration in Botswana.
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Forget about the massive migrations and vast movements of wildebeest that have long attracted tourists on African safaris. The migration on the continent is new, far more fascinating, and far less well-known. It’s also in Botswana.
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The Great Zebra Migration in Botswana
Botswana experiences a twice-yearly mass zebra migration, in which zebra herds travel first from north to south and then reverse directions. They travel according to the weather and the seasons in search of new grazing pastures. During its migrations, the zebra will travel over 300 miles across vast swaths of terrain. At any given time, up to 30,000 animals will be in motion. Although not the largest migration in Africa, it is the biggest in southern Africa.
It is a very rare phenomenon, yet one that has just lately been “found.” Even larger than the well-known Serengeti migrations, some of Africa’s greatest migrations once took place in Botswana. However, as population numbers decreased and fences cut off traditional paths, these migrations were mostly stopped as a result of poor land management and farming regulations.
However, towards the middle of the 2000s, scientists noted that the zebra in Botswana were moving in an unusual way. They started to realize that the herds traveled great distances across the wide Kalahari Desert to occupy specific pieces of land at specific times of the year. The zebra were once again migrating, and for what may have been years, one of the longest animal migrations in the world had gone completely unreported. Now, you can witness this natural phenomenon in all its splendor if you travel to the appropriate Botswana regions during the appropriate season.
The Great Zebra Migration Seasons
As the seasons change, the zebra migrate to locate new grazing places. There are distinct rainy and dry seasons in Botswana. The Kalahari Desert, which makes up a large portion of the interior of the nation, is dry, barren, and semi-arid; there, life can only be sustained during the stormy wet season. The more productive Okavango and Chobe river deltas, whose watering holes and rivers are still full of water throughout the dry season, are located in the north of Botswana.
In Botswana, the wet season lasts from November to March, and the dry season lasts from April to October.
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The Zebra Migration’s route in Botswana
The zebra will spend the protracted dry season in the northern wetlands of Botswana, taking advantage of the ample river water. The zebra will start to migrate from the north to the south as the dry season draws to a close, traveling the same paths these animals have traveled for thousands of years.
To find greater grazing farther south, they traverse the storm-battered Kalahari Desert plains. In the dry season, the immense Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are lifeless and devoid of water, but now they are teeming with flora. They stay here for the remainder of the rainy season before heading back to the northern deltas by the beginning of the following dry season.
The zebra will be in Botswana’s north from May until November. The zebra start their lengthy migration toward the interior of the Kalahari Desert as the rain starts to fall at the end of November and the beginning of December. They won’t stop moving until they get to Makgadikgadi’s salt pans in January. They will remain there until the end of March when they will undertake the lengthy return trip once more in order to reach the wet north in time for the start of the new dry season in April and May. The best time to travel to Botswana may be to learn more about it here.
The ideal time and location to observe the Zebra Migration in Botswana
The zebra migration in Botswana is technically visible all around the country. However, a substantial portion of the road travels through a difficult to traverse, inaccessible, and mainly unpleasant land. It just so happens that the migrations begin and end in two of Botswana’s most beautiful national parks: the north’s Chobe National Park and the south’s Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, which is located deep inside the country.
You might be fortunate enough to witness the zebra migration at the end of the wet season in Chobe National Park and along the Okavango Delta, along with all the predators that pursue them south. However, the long grass and thick vegetation in this damp area make it easy for it to flood, and the stunning sight of these striped animals galloping through the landscape might be hidden by them. Due to the state of the terrain, traveling in the area at this time of year might sometimes be hazardous and occasionally even impossible.
It is preferable to travel south and to do it at a time when the majority of other tourists will be entirely leaving Botswana, rather than trying to view the migration in the north. The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is the ideal location to view this beautiful migration, and the optimum months to view it are December to January and March to April, when the zebra are arriving or departing.
Being in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans National Park to watch the Zebra Migration
The ideal time to witness the zebra migration is during the wet season when you visit Makgadikgadi Pans. Tracking and detecting the herds is simpler on the empty plains than in the crowded river deltas to the north because of the expansive, clear views of the surroundings. You might even get to see the horrifying sight of zebra herds being followed by the big animals that hunt them. At this time of year, it’s usual to witness lions, leopards, and cheetahs sprinting across the saltpans in pursuit of their food.
It’s a spectacular time of year to travel, and it’s likely that you will go on a safari and see the enormous herds of zebra that are currently grazing in the Makgadikgadi Pans. However, travel at this time of year may be unpredictable, so be ready for muddy, rainy conditions that might suddenly become bad. To ensure that you have access to the greatest local knowledge of the area, for safety reasons as well as to enhance your chances of seeing the most animals, it is advisable to travel with a guide or on an organized tour.
Things to bring and expect
The wet season is the ideal time to view the zebra migration in Botswana. This implies that a torrential downpour is very likely to occur, and you can count on being soaked and dirty as a result. Pack a lightweight waterproof coat because it will be hot and muggy in addition to being rainy. Don’t forget your camera, and bring some binoculars if you have them. When not in use, however, make sure to store your equipment securely in a dry bag.
Despite the scorching temperature, you should pack a few warm clothes and make an effort to keep them dry because a morning downpour could leave you feeling chilly when you go on safari.
In order to encounter wildlife in its most natural state, you should be ready to make last-minute itinerary modifications, deal with road closures, and rise early in the morning. The weather can make for an unexpected travel experience. Learn more about what to bring on a safari here.
The zebra migration in Botswana is one of the continent’s remaining undiscovered sights. The migration may not be the largest on the continent, but it is the longest and unquestionably the most fascinating. Few other tourists ever had the opportunity to witness thousands of zebras grazing across the landscape. The zebra migration is a spectacular sight to see in Botswana’s stunning, undeveloped landscapes.
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