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Off the Beaten Track: Botswana

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Right in the heart of Southern Africa you’ll find Botswana, landlocked and dominated by the Kalahari desert, which accounts for around 70% of the territory. But that is by no means the whole story. In the north of the country, wildlife rules in the unique surroundings of the Okavango Delta and the vast wildernesses of Chobe National Park.

In 1966, when Botswana gained independence from Britain, it was among the poorest nations on earth. However, the people of Botswana have managed to reverse their fortunes and the country is now a celebrated success story. Politically stable and economically prosperous, Botswana is now among the top African nations in terms of GDP.

Aerial view of Giraffe in BotswanaWith a (human) population density ranking very low on the global list and a ‘low impact, high quality’ approach to tourism, Botswana is a great destination for those seeking untrammelled nature without the crowds. Safaris here are exclusive and although spending time in Botswana's beautiful landscape is not easy if you are on a tight budget, the extra spend is well worth it if you value authenticity and environmental responsibility.

Balancing the need to conserve and protect fragile ecosystems with the desire for a good income from tourism may seem incompatible, but the authorities have largely succeeded. Botswana is known for its intimate, luxury safari experiences and exclusivity of reserves. The model allows each safari provider to lease large tracts of land and with it the right to offer tours in that area. The resulting safari is a calm, unhurried and low impact experience which benefits both the participant and the wildlife.

TravelLocal have teamed up with local experts, who offer their expertise to help you plan and experience the finest that Botswana has to offer. Whether you are hoping to spend time with the big game in Chobe National Park, or meander through the Okavango Delta on a traditional ‘mokoro’ canoe, they can make it happen in style.

Zebra at sunset in BotswanaExploring the wilderness

Some of the finest lodges in Africa await you in Botswana, specifically around the area of the Okavango Delta, one of the richest wildlife habitats on the continent when in flood.

Our partner company offers both mobile camping and lodge safaris. They recommend a lodge safari for those seeking comfort and jaw dropping locations right in the heart of the nature you’ve travelled to experience. Many of the lodges offer the perks of a fine hotel, with pools, spas, sumptuous decor, convivial lounges and top quality food. But it is often the accessibility of the wildlife that makes these lodges stand apart.

Many are located on private concessions where the handful of game viewing vehicles are all from the same lodge, allowing for cooperation rather than competition and lessening the impact on the surroundings. The guides will often also have much less restricted access within the concession, which enables them to lead night drives and access off road areas if required.

A lion in the grass of BotswanaIn Botswana you can expect to see a wealth of flora and fauna, and it is a year-round destination. The standout attraction for many visitors is the Okavango Delta, a vast area of desert which is annually flooded by the runoff from rains in Angola which fall a month previously. The water begins to creep through the Okavango Delta around March, peaking in June. There is no outflow from the Delta so the water evaporates or is taken up by plants. The arrival of the water brings with it green shoots of vegetation which in turn attract animals from miles around to the Delta. You can expect to see bush elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, crocodiles, rhino, impala, antelope, springboks and even lions, cheetahs and leopards.

Of the 38% of Botswana’s protected landmass, 11,000 square kilometres of it compose the Chobe National Park. Here there is year round wildlife to spot, but the dry season (May to October) brings the largest numbers of game to the riverbank in search of water. You are almost guaranteed to see elephants in and around the waterfront, and large numbers of buffalo and antelope are often present too. Hippos, giraffes, zebras and warthogs are all present, and with all this prey around there are likely to be lions lurking in the vicinity.

Make it happen

Your luxury trip to Botswana is a breeze to organise with the knowledge and expertise of local partners. All they need from you to start with are a few details which you can send them now on our short enquiry form. From there they will liaise with you to create a bespoke itinerary to your specifications. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.

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