The 2019 wish-list (continued): bedazzled by Botswana

Thinking of a holiday to Botswana? Here’s what you need to know!

Botswana, in a nutshell offers:

  • small camps, most often in private concessions
  • a range of activities  including 4×4 safaris, walking, horse riding, canoeing and boating, fishing, birding, mobile/fly camping
  • a fantastic array of wildlife, including the opportunity to see many rare and endangered species
  • diversity of landscape –  combine the arid salt pans of the Kalahari Desert with the islands and channels of the Okavango Delta

Five Rivers Bots NxaiPan2Also in Botswana’s favour is the negligible time change – it’s just GMT + 2 hours.

For those seeking some R&R pre or post Botswana safari we recommend the beautiful river lodges close to Victoria Falls but there are additional options, depending on budget, for example you can combine Botswana and South Africa very easily.

K&D Bots sundownersBotswana Okavango Delta smallThe question of budget

If you are looking for pristine wildlife areas to explore with very few other guests and vehicles, along with quality guiding and lodging then Botswana delivers. This is a destination which prides itself on low density, high quality eco-tourism.

Travelling out of high season (the dry winter months of July to September when wildlife densities are at a peak) will give you access to lower rates. Best rates and availability can be found during the Green Season (lush summer months of December to March), although not all camps are open throughout this period.

Safari packages are all-inclusive,  from food and drink, activities and guiding to your laundry so the cost of your holiday is all paid before you leave home.

You can see further sample safari itineraries and explore price guides here.

shutterstock_203430058Getting there

Botswana’s reputation for exclusivity comes largely down to accessibility – small luxury camps/lodges hide away in wonderfully remote locations and many are only accessible by light aircraft/helicopter, either from the main gateways of Maun and Kasane or as inter-camp transfers, which we arrange for you as part of a safari package.

There are currently no direct flights to Botswana – the vast majority of our clients fly direct to Johannesburg in South Africa, from where there are good reliable connections with SA Airlink on to Maun or Kasane. As a very rough guide, you should budget c£675-£1100 per person for economy flights via Johannesburg to Maun, depending on season, availability and special offers.

It is also possible to arrive into Victoria Falls with c3 hour road transfer to the Chobe lodges,  via Kasane. Because Chobe is accessible by road it is the most popular (and the most economical) of Botswana’s key attractions.

 

Zarafa_GuestTentExteriorSunset_May2009 XUDUMa-botswana-safari-at-andbeyond-xudum-okavango-delta-lodge-23.jpg.950x0 WEBshinde leopard cubs ker and downey mar 15Why Botswana excels as a safari destination

Private Concessions – low density, high quality safari experiences

Visitor numbers are strictly limited in private concessions. Individual camps normally have less than a dozen or so camps/rooms. This means very few vehicles, minimal erosion/vehicle tracks in the bush and little environmental impact. These factors all contribute to the quality of guest safari experience.

Conservation 

Botswana has enjoyed more than 50 years of independence and in this time it has stood out for its consistent commitment to conservation and eco-tourism, particularly in the last decade with the leadership of President Ian Khama.

Khama, a keen conservationist,  introduced a ban on sport hunting in 2014 to help safeguard large species, however the policy is being reviewed by the new President.

Botswana has shown that given space and safety, rare species thrive, including critically endangered black rhino, wild dog,  black maned Kalahari lion, lechwe, puku, sitatunga, pangolin and aardvark.

  • Spotlight on Black Rhino

The ambitious rhino relocation to the Okavango Delta is just one compelling reason to travel to Botswana. The Moremi Game Reserve on the eastern edge of the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta and the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site, is now a place that guests can see all the Big Five once again thanks to the efforts of conservation partners.

It’s a real privilege to be able to observe black rhino in the wild with only around 5,000 remaining in Africa. Guests can add a new dimension to their travels by enjoying a behind-the-scenes conservation experience – at certain camps it is possible to meet rhino monitoring teams to learn more about the rhino’s return to the Okavango.

Through our Explorers against Extinction charity campaign we have supported the work of Rhino Conservation Botswana, funding and equipping two rhino protection dogs, Primaa and Savas.

WWDumaTau_2014-06-99 GameDriveEles CGL 10134 MokoroGuests Xak 10392Activities

A fantastic diversity of activities from 4×4 game drives, by day and night, to walking and horseback safaris and boat excursions help guests get under the skin of Botswana.

Float serenely by mokoro down the Okavango Delta’s maze of papyrus edged channels, safari in Chobe National Park, dubbed ‘Land of Giants’ where more than 120,000 elephants roam, canoe the remote Selinda Spillway, fly camping on deserted islands as you go, walk with San Bushmen in the desolate Kalahari, the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, marvel at magical starry southern skies, visit the mysterious Savute region or witness the zebra migrations from the Chobe River and the border with Namibia to Nxai and Makgadikgadi pans,  the longest-known terrestrial wildlife migration in Africa.

Desert or Delta?

The ideal safari combines both desert and delta experiences.

The vast Kalahari Salt Pans include Tau Pan, Nxai Pan, Makgadikgadi and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. As a general rule these areas start to blossom following the summer rains which tend to arrive in November/December time and last until March.

The Delta encompasses the Okavango, Chobe and Moremi and can be visited year-round although wildlife densities peak in the winter months of July-September as the water sources dry up. Most of our guests travel between April and October.

Chobe is split into three main areas (Riverfront; Savuti and Linyanti). The Riverfront and Forest Reserve (above the river) can be accessed very economically by road from Kasane (as noted above). Most other destinations are accessed by light aircraft transfer.

Safari inspiration

To explore a whole range of different safari holidays in Botswana, as well as those combining Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe/Zambia with Bostwana please click here.

Camps/Lodges

There are many different camps/lodges – you can stay in seasonal mobile camps with a real stripped back ‘explorer’ feel, permanent tented camps or more traditional lodge style accommodation with thatched/reed roofs, doors and windows – some of these will also offer air-conditioning.

Combining the camps/lodges of one ‘brand’ into a circuit tends to offer best value – these include but are not limited to Ker & Downey, Kwando, Desert & Delta, Wilderness, Great Plains, Under One Sky, African Bush Camps, Machaba.

Splash-Camp_Pool kadizoraballoon_crop600x400 Cheetah Moremi K&D IMG-20170129-WA0028-800x533What’s new in Botswana going into 2019?

Splash Camp opened in 2018 and is the newest addition to the Kwando family of camps (Lagoon, Lebala, Kwara, Little Kwara).

Ker & Downey’s Kanana Camp will re-open in April 2019 with a brand new look. The camp is currently enjoying a refurbishment. Dinaka opened in 2018 giving guests the option of combining properties in the Okavango (Okuti, Kanana, Shinde) with the Kalahari (Dinaka).

Wilderness has been busy expanding and enhancing its portfolio in Bostwana, particularly its Premier Camps. Jao Camp is the latest to receive a makeover and will be upgraded complete with new Jao Villas, opening in June 2019.  Mombo/Little Mombo  unveiled its brand new look last year in addition to luxurious King’s Pool, Linyanti. At last count there were over 20 Wilderness camps in Bostwana giving incredible choice at this luxury level.

Machaba Safaris are a new addition with Machaba, Gomoti Plains and Sable Alley.

Hot air ballooning is brand new for the Okavango, from Kadizora Camp.

We also have some fantastic new family safari options including a trip with Kwando, staying in family configured tents. Other family options include Desert and Delta and Ker & Downey (both offer 2 bedroom tents/units). These are great for families with children over 7 years old.

Explore Botswana in more detail using our information pages here.

Speak to someone with first-hand experience and in depth knowledge – call 01603 964 730 or email paul@realafrica.co.uk

To see our excellent client reviews please click here.

Coming next…Zambia.