Botswana, this vast, most savegely beautiful ancient land, offers the modern traveller the ultimate safari experience.
The Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park offer a variety of wildlife, magnificent landscapes and a real challenge to 4×4 drivers. Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans are an experience in vastness not to be missed and a paradise for bird lovers in the rainny season. The wilderness of the Tuli Block guarantees good game viewing. The Kalahari will take you as close to the original pristine Africa as it is possible to be.
Seeing how mass tourism has damaged, degraded and forever destroyed the environment in many countries around the world, Botswana’s tourism authorities promote high-income, low-volume tourism.
Botswana has an upmarket oriented policy that promotes high cost, low volume tourism that discourages an influx of low-income tourists whose impact can cause irreparable damage to ecosystems. The policy targets the high income, and presumably high spending, segments of the tourist originating markets, who are more likely to utilise existing permanent accommodation given their higher purchasing power. Such bold attempts to balance the country’s objective of maximising revenue earnings from tourism, while taking into consideration the fragile ecology upon which the industry is based are in line with the country’s National Conservation Strategy.
Why Explore Botswana?
For many years the word swamp was attached to a wildlife paradise called Okavango, conjuring up images that had nothing whasoever to do with the miracle of nature that is the Okavango. You see, it is in fact a deliciously clear and pristine inland delta, a vast system of seasonal waterways alive with rich and varied African wildlife, and the miracle of it, is that it sits in the midst of an essentially semi-arid country, called Botswana.
So what is it, exactly, that makes the Okavango so special in terms of a safari experience? Well, two things. First, an inland delta is extremely rare and secondly, it’s the sensation, the feel of it. There just isn’t anywhere else where you can sit back in a mokoro, which is what the locals call their dug-out canoes, and listen to Africa. There’s no engine running; no sound of footsteps or panting; your guide gently, quietly steers and poles you through the crystal water of the channels. You hear the birds, the crickets, the gentle breeze in the grasses. You hear and feel the rhythm of Africa and it is absolutely sensational. Literally.
To preserve this rare and distilled pleasure, the safari operators of Botswana aimed almost exclusively at high-end tourism for decades, wanting to keep the lid on this jewel and touch as lightly as possible on their Okavango paradise. But this approach is easing, and some comfortably rustic camps now operate at a more competitive price level. Botswana has another big wow safari factor, namely the Kalahari Desert. It’s not a desert in the Sahara sense; in fact it’s quite green at times. But it has that same huge atmosphere, that openness, the feeling that you can fill you lungs and your spirit and you can see forever because the horisons are so wide, so far. The air is clean and sweet and the light is a photographer’s dream come true. Both areas – the desert and the delta – are abundant with big game, and logistically it’s quite easy to move from one to the other, so a combination of these two experiences in one safari is pretty well perfect.
A quick word on Botswana is warranted … though it deserves so much more; it’s a safari pick well worth investigating. It sits on South Africa’s northern border and yes, it’s the setting for the popular ‘No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ series. The Last Lions was shot here, and its safari lodges and camps are numerous and diverse. The Chobe reserve in the north has long been ‘the’ place to see vast elephant herds and it still holds true today. In the south, the Tuli area is a well-established safari hot spot that’s popular with South Africans. The whole country, roughly the size of France, holds a mere 2 million people and it’s a very homogeneous society, all of which makes for great stability politically, which in turn makes it highly desirable for tourism.
In short, Botswana is a wildlife Eden with a block-buster double-feature combining an unusual inland delta and the famed Kalahari desert, both of which are must-haves for lovers of Africa. It’s a match made in safari heaven.
Standard Time: Botswana standard Time is two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 2), one hour in advance of central European winter time.
Travel Documentation: Passports must be valid for at least six months.
For entry requirements to Botswana, please contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Botswana. It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
Botswana Facts & Figures:
Full Name: Republic of Botswana
Area: 600,370 sq km (231,803 sq miles)
Language: English (official) and Setswana (national). English is spoken in all all main safari and travel destinations.
Currency: The Pula is the currency of Botswana and is subdivided into 100 thebe. Pula literally means “rain” in Setswana, because rain is very scarce in Botswana – home to much of the Kalahari Desert – and therefore valuable. Pula also means “blessing” as rain is a blessing to these desert people. Thebe means “shield”.
Best Travel Currency: USD
Health & Malaria: Malaria exists in the northern parts of Botswana, particularly during the rainy season. Before travelling to this area, you should consult your doctor about suitable medication, and on arrival ensure that you take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Southern Botswana is not affected by Malaria.
Be aware of the existence of HIV/AIDS in the country
Anyone intending to camp or walk in the bush should be cautious of tick bites.
N.B. We are not medical professionals and do not take any responsibility for how this advice is utilised. If your are in any doubt as to your condition then always consult your doctor.
Travel Seasons: The dry winter season between April to September is best for wildlife areas. October and November is the start of the early rains, while December to March is regarded as the “Green Season” – the time of most rainfall, high temperatures and humidity, however this allows for some fantastic seasonal offers.