Where to See African Wild Dogs in Botswana
Author Dominic Chadbon
Big cat sightings are the highlight of any African safari but there’s another predator who always steals the show: the African wild dog.
As sociable as lions, as fleet-footed as cheetah and with a leopard’s dazzle of colours, wild dogs are bewitching creatures. They communicate in bird-like chirps and clicks, their intelligent faces are topped by huge radar ears; their bodies lean and muscled.
With a hunting success rate of 80%, African wild dogs are the continent’s super-predators and a sighting usually means action. And although they are also super-rare, the best place in Africa to see wild dogs is Botswana. From the Chobe River to the Kalahari, the country’s sprawling, unspoilt reserves are home to around a third of Africa’s remaining wild dogs. It’s of course impossible to guarantee a sighting but with a bit of luck, here’s where to see African wild dogs in Botswana.
Xakanaxa, Moremi Game Reserve
Set where the Okavango Delta meets dry land, Xakanaxa (pronounced Ka Ca Na Ka) is a stunningly beautiful area of tall forest, vast floodplains and yellow grasslands. Resident herds of antelope make it ideal for year-round wild dog sightings, and several packs have been recorded. It’s also great for leopard, the bird watching is excellent and you’ll always encounter elephant, giraffe and hippo.
Stay at Xakanaxa Camp, one of the area’s longest established and most-loved tented camps. It’s good for families with older children and there are water-based activities too.
Khwai River, Private Concession
There is indeed a bridge over the River Khwai and it takes you to a community-run concession that borders Moremi. It’s here that river finally sinks away and its broad green floodplains are packed with game. No wonder there are three large wild dog packs that include them in their hunting territory. And since you’ll be on private land, your guide is allowed to track the dogs off road as they hunt.
Khwai’s affordable option is offered by Sango Safari Camp – a six-tented traditional safari camp that also encourages you to meet the locals; Khwai River Lodge is more luxurious, featuring grand tented suites, massages and a pool.
Savuti, Chobe National Park
Savuti (also spelled Savute) is the wild heart of Chobe. A sweep of grassland surrounded by trackless woodlands, the area is nurtured by the Savuti Channel whose permanent water assures great game viewing all year round. Savuti’s lions and elephants are the stuff of Nat Geo documentaries but dog-watchers should book a trip in early summer (December to mid-January) when the resident impala give birth en masse and a zebra migration passes through, making Savuti irresistible to wild dogs.
Stay at comfortable Savute Safari Lodge, whose tented and thatched chalets are perched over the channel or treat yourself to an air-conditioned splurge at Savute Elephant Camp, one of Chobe’s most luxurious lodges.
Linyanti & Kwando, Private Concessions
Follow the Savuti Channel upstream and you’ll find its origins: the Linyanti wetlands. Here there is permanent water but the surrounding savannah heaves with animals and at no time more than during Botswana’s crushing late dry season (August – October). Thirsty herds stick close to the water, turning the Linyanti into prime hunting territory for wild dogs. Private concessions assure safari exclusivity and the area is known for wild dog dens complete with pups.
Stay at Savuti Camp – don’t be puzzled by the name: this classic safari camp lies on the Savuti Channel but in the private Linyanti Reserve. Here you’ll enjoy off-roading as well as night drives and guided walks.