Botswana is one of the least known countries in the world. I bet that if you take a poll around you, very few people will be able to name a town of this country or simply locate it on the map. It was my case before I got interested in African wildlife and Safaris.
The purpose of this gallery is to provide you some background informations about this unknown country and some clues about what can a Safari look like in Botswana.
A few link that can be helpful :
If you look for a company to organize your safari in Botswana, BushWays must definitively be on your short list http://www.bushways.com/
). The company is managed by Heiko and Marc who are responsible, knowledgeable and friendly persons. Each of the three safaris with them was the experience of a lifetime. For French people : you can contact Vie Sauvage ( http://www.viesauvage.fr
) or Objectif Nature ( http://www.objectif-nature.com/
) which are the best Safari tour operators in France.
To get a maximum profit of what you will see during your safari I will recommend to you the “The Safari Companion – A guide to watching African Mammals” by Richard D.Estes that is not just another species identification book but a striking approach of African mammals behaviours.
The best guide book for Botswana is certainly the Bradt Travel Guide of Botswana by Chris McIntyre.
Botswana is a pretty large country located at the northern border of South Africa. With 580.000 km2 and only 1,6 millions habitants it has a very low population density due to the large and mainly unhabited Kalahary desert that covers 3/4th of the country. Political stability is a major asset for Botswana and therefore for tourism in this country. Botswana is highly regarded by the world community. It has maintained one of the world's highest growth rates since independence using its diamond revenues to change from one of the world's poorest countries into a prosperous "middle income" country. The local currency is pula (pula means "rain" in setswana because rain is very scarce in Botswana and therefore valuable) with 1 US dollar equals approximately 6 pulas. Capital is Gaborone but the most renowned town for tourists is Maun which is the entry town to the Okavango Delta and north Botswana national parks .
The 3 major ressources for the country are : diamond mining (with the most produtive mines in the world beating South Africa), cattle and tourism.
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The main areas for Safari are first the northern area with the famous Okavango Delta. There you can find 2 large National parks : Moremi national Park and Chobe Natioanl park. Both are excellent for game viewing. Moremi is the major land area next to the Okavango so you can take advantage of both the Delta wildlife (crocs, hippos, wetland birds,...) and the usual plain/savanah fauna (cats, antelopes, elephants, giraffes, zebras,...) with some great specials such as Wild Dogs, Red Lechwe, Wattled Cranes, Malachite Kingfisher,... Chobe National Park is the best place for watching Elephants in Africa with the largest concentration for the species wandering and migrating back and forth to the Chobe river. Not to miss the Great safari cruise opportunities on the Chobe river. At North of Moremi the Kwando and Linyanti private concessions are highly praised for large predators and wild dogs spotting. South of those main touristic areas Nxai or Makgadikgadi pans present drier environment where other species can be found such as : meerkats, springboks, ardwolf along with more classical characters. Still further south the Kalahari desert is the place to meet the San people.
Concerning tourism, Botswana has implemented a "high revenue low volume"strategy. The idea is to develop a low impact tourism with few traffic, minimum technology and facilities on the sites and less stress on the environment thus preserving the authenticity of the place and making it attractive for high budget visitors. And this worked miraculously. That is great but the only drawback for visitors is that the price for a safari there is generally pretty high specially for parks entry fees and lodges.
Nonetheless, you can manage to visit the country on a smaller budget provided you are ready to go for camping. Not only you will save money but you will live a real adventure. You can either choose public camping or private camping sites (provided you book it early enough). Those private camping sites (Hatab) are located in the middle of National Parks with no special facility except what you (or your Safari organiser) bring with you. But some companies as Bushways can do much with few. And in a mere hour a wild place will become your home with your private igloo tent (supplied with confortable mattress), a sheltered area for your diner and social activities and even toilets and shower set for you. Nothing is missing even a tasty cote de boeuf grilled on the campfire...
The most exciting part is that you are deep in the wild, where the action is taking place, close to the game that is roaming around your tents. Your safari doesn't stop when you make your daily stop. If you mind not to waste a minute of your stay and to be constantly surrounded by african wildlife, scents and feelings, this is for you. And no need to precise how it looks like at night while you hear lions roars, hyenas howlings, antelopes runs, and other unidentified "threats". Even shaving can be an adventure.
Roof tent is an other solution to get some distance with the potential threat of wandering critters.
If you mind for more confort you can choose to stay in lodges. We don't speak here of tens of tents or rooms such as in Kenyan or South African National Parks. The usual size for a lodge in Botswana is 8 to 10 units with power provided by generator and parafin lamp giving a minimum but inspiring light.
Even with this housing type you will stay at short distance of the game. You can see on this photo the evidence of an elephant path 10 meters far from the tent.
The show is still going on while you are back to your lodge. Here at Savuti Safari Lodge, the terrace is a place where you could spend all your stay watching for the numerous mammals coming at the waterhole for drinking or a bath. Specially during dry season (june to november). Savuti is the place where the Jouberts have worked on their award winning documentary films. From the late 1970s, they began an intense study of lion behaviours in the Savuti and on the ongoing and forceful battles between lions and hyenas.