Outstandingly dramatic, Botswana encompasses striking salt pans, diamond-rich deserts and fertile flood plains which teem with game. The north, in particular, offers superb wildlife-watching opportunities, making this one of southern Africa's top safari destinations.
A sizable proportion of the country - over 40% - is given over to national parks, reserves and private concessions, where tourists crane their necks out of jeeps to check out the roving animals. But Botswana's policy of favouring low-impact luxury tourism ensures that even the most famous game-viewing areas rarely feel crowded.
The jewel in Botswana's crown is, without a doubt, the Okavango Delta - the largest inland delta in the world. Its seasonal lagoons and waterways are crammed with hovering birds, while zebras and giraffes amble across vast grass flats. Northeast of here is Chobe National Park, home to gigantic elephant herds, some of them 400-strong.
Botswana is one of Africa's success stories. Since gaining independence in 1966, it has achieved steady economic growth through successful exploitation of its agricultural potential and its enviable diamond reserves. It has not escaped controversy - the HIV/AIDS pandemic and alleged maltreatment of the Kalahari Bushmen have caused international concern - but it remains a peaceful and stable nation of remarkable natural beauty.