Planning a safari
The better you know what you want from your Botswana safari, the better you can “brief” us on the safari experience you expect.
To best fulfill your expectations - whether a real ‘back to nature experience', a luxury safari with all the trimmings, a family safari or a once in a lifetime African safari honeymoon, we need to know what you want out of your safari.
Here are some things to consider...
Luxury or budget?
Botswana's official tourism policy has been to encourage high quality low density tourism to provide maximum gain to the country while minimizing the extent of the environmental degradation that inevitably follows when tourism numbers are too high. As a result Botswana offers a large choice of luxury safari lodges throughout the best game viewing areas in private uninhabited areas. Accommodation is mostly in large walk in tents which have comfortable beds and en suite bathroom facilities consisting of shower toilet and basin. Food is also of high quality and all meals as well as drinks are provided. Most of these lodges also provide basic toiletries of shampoo, soap, body lotion and mosquito repellant.
Of late there are an increasing number of more affordable camps. These camps are generally in areas which are not in private concessions so you will experience a higher number of other tourists whilst on game drives. Accommodation is also likely to be more basic - smaller tented style accommodation perhaps with a bucket shower. A great example of a more affordable camp is Oddballs Camp.
If you dont have to travel in the peak travel months of July to October, you can save yourself a lot of money. Each season has its own wildlife benefits, the green season (cheapest time to travel) brings the rain and is the time all the plains game have their young which can be a fantastic spectacle... so do consider this when planning your holiday.
Fly in safari's, mobile camping safari or self drive?
Fly in safari's:
• Fly in safaris refer to a safari that incorporates staying in lodges that are in wildlife areas that are not easily accessed by road due to distance or road conditions. Many of Botswana's best safari destinations are in remote areas which are largely inaccessible by road, making light aircraft the easiest way to get around.
• This is how it's done: Guests fly into Maun, the safari hub of Botswana, on scheduled flights. You will be met at Maun airport (someone with your name on a sign board will be waiting for you). You will then fly onto your camp from Maun by way of light aircraft. Most camps within the Okavango Delta or Moremi National Park are about 20-30 minutes flying time from Maun.
• Light aircraft transfers between camps are usually done at midday to allow guests to enjoy a morning game activity before moving onto the camp. The exact time of the intercamp flights will be communicated between the airline and the camp so you dont have to worry about these details.
• We include and arrange all the light aircraft transfers you will need on your fly in safari whether it's flying to and from Maun or between camps.
Mobile camping safaris:
• Mobile camping safaris are the purest form of going on safari in Botswana and were the original way of going 'on safari'. There is nothing quite like sleeping under canvas in the middle of nowhere, with only animals as your neighbours. Guests sleep under canvas and travel from camp to camp in an open game viewing vehicle accompanied by a guide, often with a back up team who will set up camp in advance of your arrival.
• There are various levels of comfort ranging from ultra luxurious private safaris to inexpensive all-muck-in overland safaris. A good middle of the road option is a semi participation mobile camping safari, where guests are expected to help put up and take down their tents.
• There are usually set departure dates with set itineraries that one can choose from but should you prefer a private safari a tailor made itinerary can be created fo you.
• We use operators that use the HATAB wilderness campsites where possible. These private campsites are only available to registered Botswana safari operators. They are in pristine wilderness areas, well away from the ordinary camping fraternity, ensuring that guests will enjoy the peace of a true safari experience.
Traditionally the realm of the young traveller, we find that more and more “older folk” are wanting to take time out and experience this carefree and relatively inexpensive way of going on safari. Ranging from 7 nights to 6 months there are lots of choices on offer. Guests can even hop on and off the safari according to their time constraints.
Self drive safaris
• Botswana is 4x4 country. The major artery roads are well maintained and tarred, but roads through game reserves and wilderness areas are tough going.The distances can often be under estimated so its important that you dont over do the driving each day.
• We can arrange 4x4 hire, your own guide and even plan a self drive Botswana itinerary for you. Distances are great between destinations in Botswana. We have travelled through Botswana many times and if you havent got the time dont even consider this as an option as you will spend a lot of time getting there which will eat up your holiday time.
• If you want a camping experience we recommend a mobile camping safari, where you will get a guide, all the camping equipment that you will need and have your food cooked. You will also get to stay in campsites that you cannot book yourself as they are only available to select safari operators..
• If you want to self drive and camp in the public campsites these should be booked directly with Botswana Parks board. Be prepared to take everything along with you - even a braai/barbeque grid!
A typical Botswana fly in safari is about one week and would take in at least two camps in two different areas, such as a dry and wet camp in the Okavango or a combination camp in the Okavango plus a stay in Chobe or the Kalahari. Often a Botswana holiday is coupled with a a stay either in Victoria Falls or Cape Town which are easily accessible by scheduled flights.
Short stays to one destination (such one camp in the Delta or one lodge in Chobe) are becoming more and more popular . We do not recommend stays of less than two nights, with preferably three nights in one place as you simply will not have enough time to do the destination justice.
When to travel?
Game can be seen all year round but the numbers will differ from season to season and place to place as local conditions vary tremendously between the seasons and according to the availability of ground water.
• Winter: The dry winter months of Botswana are the most popular times for a safari. The 'best' time to visit the Okavango Delta and Moremi reserve is considered to be between the months July and September when the weather is cool and the floods have come down to it's fullest. The onset of the dry season between April and November brings an ever increasing number of animals into the floodplains, making these months great for game viewing.
• Summer: The early summer months of October and November are exceedingly hot and can produce exceptional game viewing especially if no rainfall has been experienced. Game viewing in the Delta and Moremi usually deteriorates during the summer rainfall months as water becomes more widely spread and the need for animals to stay close to permanent water reduces. The summer months however are peak game viewing time in the Kalahari.
• In March and April thousands of zebras and other animals migrate towards the Savuti area of Chobe National Park
• November and December are the calving months and can be a great time to see predators.
Birding in Botswana is always excellent but is most rewarding when the migrant species return from Europe and Central Africa join the resident species from September to March.
The camps in the Panhandle or north side of the Okavango Delta are best known for their fishing and birding. Fishing in these parts is nearly always good but the months of September to December can be exceptional when the barbel (Catfish) start to run. This is also a great time for Tiger fishing.
Where should I go?
• The most important wildlife destinations in Botswana are
The Okavango Delta a large part of which lies within the Moremi National Park
Chobe National Park which incorporates the Linyanti and Savuti
The Kalahari which incorporates the Magadikgadi
There are many private concession areas around the national parks which are held by safari companies such as Wilderness Safaris for the exclusive use of their guests. The number of guests in these areas are strictly controlled which ensures the quality of the guest experience.
• The Okavango Delta/Moremi should be on the top of any travellers list to Botswana, especially if you are a first timer to Botswana.
We recommend that guests visit a “water” camp” and a “land” camp to get an overall experience of Botswana's different habitats. If time is a constraint then a “combination” safari camp, where you can experience both water and land activities is the way to go.
• Chobe has excellent game and the elephant sightings are awesome. The downside of Chobe is that can get very busy in peak tourist month. To get around this we like to suggest places that are away from the main strip along the river.
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