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The republic of Botswana is a landlocked country with roughly 1.7 Million people, neighboring South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has the same size as France. In its North West there is the famous Okavango Delta, a unique inland delta that attracts a variety of wildlife, not only in the delta itself, but also in the adjacent parks.
Travelling in the Botswana wilderness will be guaranteed for adventure and pure African wildlife. The policy of the Botswana Government is to preserve this habitat and they do that by keeping safaris an exclusive event. Access to the parks, camping fees etcetera is expensive. And that is just the start. So you will not see the herds of tourists and safari vehicles as you may have seen in Tanzania or Kenya. And although the facilities in the parks have been upgraded the past two years, they are minimal. You will travel deep into the bush, being remote from whatever form of civilization and thus a refrigerator, stove or shower are to be brought along. Going in by yourself requires planning your adventure well ahead, renting appropriate equipment and vehicle, booking the sites and parks.
Booking trips with local operators has the advantage to be able to camp outside the public camps, which are usually fully booked before you know it. Some safari companies are member of HATAB and/or BOGA (Botswana Guide Association). With a HATAB and BOGA listed safari company you will camp in areas that are not open to public, truly in the middle of nowhere. Under the rule “take nothing, leave nothing” these members are allowed to setup camp, spend the night(s) and when you are gone, the place should show only your footprints as evidence that you stayed there.
Also travelling with a BOGA company you will be sure to be on the track with local safari guides that were born and raised Batswana. They know the territory very well, are licensed by the DWNP (Department of Wildlife and National Parks) and frequently trained in medical rescue. Although “requested” sightings of animals can never be guaranteed, the guides know where to find the wild dog, leopard or specific bee-eater.
Botswana is the place where you can be sure to see as much and diverse wildlife as you would expect in Africa. But then also still in the true African habitat. The Okavango Delta is a bird watchers paradise, both on and off the water. The Moremi Game Reserve in the delta is still officially the best game reserve in Africa and has much to show for. Almost all species converge here: hippo’s, elephants, waterbucks, zebra, impala, birds of prey, croc’s, cheetah, wild dog, hyena, baboon, honey badgers, lion, leopard, giraffe. You name it, it will be there. Although, rhino’s will be hard to find in the Moremi Tongue. For those you might consider the Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe, a very nice park, perfect in between Johannesburg and Maun if you would be driving up from SA.
And this is just a few things you can encounter in the Okavango, there is much more to see, on the water, in the water, at night. Consider spending a night camping on one of the many islands and take a bush walk… well, go there!
write by Grainne