Author Archives: safariblogger1

When to visit Botswana!

If there’s a question we get asked all the time it’s “when should I visit?” or “what’s the best season?”. The truth is, Botswana is one of those incredible destinations that offers something special all year round, it just depends what you want to experience.

November – March

Botswana’s rainy season, or ‘secret season’ as we like to call it! The national parks are peaceful, there’s less crowding at wildlife sightings and you get more one-on-one focus from your guide because of this. It’s also the most affordable time of year to visit. Being rainy season, it can rain! But if you’re prepared for that then you’ll find that it shouldn’t impact too much on your safari. The lodges are flexible with activities if the weather is affecting it.

Game viewing is definitely quality over quantity. Many young are born at this time allowing for unique sightings, as unfortunately predators are never far behind. Birding is spectacular, as many migratory birds arrive, and the landscape in general is just a burst of color as everything comes to life with the much needed rainfall.

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April – May

The rain has usually stopped, save some possible sporadic late rains in April, and the temperature is mild. It’s an amazing time of year for the Kalahari as many migratory animals are still present. The Okavango Delta floods tend to arrive in May, transforming the landscape and reinstating water based activities such as mokoro trails and boating.

May is the start of winter which means the evenings and mornings are quite cool, a pleasure for those looking to travel when it’s not so hot.

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June – August 

It’s winter and dry season, so temperatures can get low (potentially down to about 5 degrees Celsius). Game viewing is at some of it’s absolute best as the vegetation thins out and wildlife become easier to spot. Dry season activities are available including quad biking on the salt pans, boating in the Okavango and scenic flights.

The Okavango Delta is in full flood, often a focus for many visitors to Botswana. To witness this phenomenon is a must. July – October is the most costly time of year to visit, but it’s worth every penny.

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September – October 

This is the hottest time of the year and it’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach 40 degrees Celsius. If you can withstand the heat it’s the best time to visit for game viewing. As the dry season nears it’s end many animals are found congregating around the last remaining waterholes, allowing for incredible sightings. This is also the time of year where Chobe is the setting for hundreds of elephants coming down to the Chobe River to drink… simply magical.

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Luggage restrictions on light aircraft

Most guests visiting Botswana will at some point enjoy a light aircraft transfer in to one of the remote safari lodges, an amazing experience ensuring a totally exclusive safari experience!

In order to be prepared and avoid possibilities of re-packing on the spot at the airport, please ensure that you are fully aware of the luggage restrictions pertaining to your charter company.

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The below is a general overview of the restrictions, but for absolute clarity please contact us and we will advise specifically for your booking.

Small aircraft allow a maximum of 20 kg’s per person for luggage (inclusive of hand luggage). 

Bags must be SOFT and easy to handlePlease note that large, hard suitcases and heavy luggage will not be accepted on light aircraft. Suitcases, oyster cases, and soft sided bags with trolley handles, metal frames and wheels do not constitute as soft bags and can not fit in the luggage pods of the aircraft.

Hard covered, rigid bags make it exceptionally difficult to load and unload in the aircraft luggage compartments.

Luggage dimensions should not exceed 25cm (10 inches) wide, 30cm (12 inches) high and 62 cm (24 inches) long. Anything larger and the luggage will unfortunately not fit in the aircraft’s baggage compartment.

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Should passengers have excess luggage, arrangements can be made to store the excess for the duration of their stay in Botswana. Please let us know and we will be happy to assist you!

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Botswana – the ultimate family holiday

Botswana is fast becoming a popular family destination as it is safe and stable, plus many lodges and safari companies have relaxed their minimum age requirements and are offering lower prices for children.

Safety in the bush is an important factor for families and this is emphasized greatly in pre-trip briefings and lodge orientations, but it is always the parents who are ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of their children.

Some activities are restricted for children under 12 years and booking of a private vehicle is often required (and recommended) for families with children between 6- 12yrs. This allows ultimate flexibility for a family, with no concerns over inconveniencing other guests if your little one gets bored early or has his 5th toilet break!

Many lodges have dedicated family rooms which consist of two rooms with a connecting bathroom, or others will offer extra beds/mattresses in the room to accommodate the children. When it comes to meal times, because the lodges in Botswana are so small they are often very flexible and happy to accommodate early dining or special kids meals.

Certain lodges have also devised special “kids programmes” where especially trained guides show the children how to track, identify spoor, pole a mokoro and share many other bush stories and experiences. For most families it is a hugely memorable and educational experience that is so totally different from their normal lives, and one they will remember for many years and that will make you want to return time and again.

Certain areas of Botswana work better for children than others and we can recommend the best options for your family. The Okavango Delta, Moremi, Savute and Central Kalahari Lodges normally have a minimum age of 6 years, but other Lodges in Kasane , a great base for Chobe, have no age restriction , so this area is best for younger families.

Mobile camping safaris also work well for families with children over 8 years old, being less expensive and more personal for a family unit. Guides are excellent at showing the children the ‘small 5′ and teaching them bush knowledge such as tracking and spoor identification.

For a family safari of a lifetime, consider Botswana as your destination of choice.


“A young explorer” – Would you take your ‘little ones’ on safari?

On many occasion I get asked “Would you take young children on a safari to Botswana?” and In one simple word and with no hesitation, I would always say “Yes!”

Having lived my own childhood between Maun (a one horse town at the time) and the bush, I had a childhood only many would dream of. Most school holidays were spent on safari – either in camps, out on a mobile safari or a weekend away with Dad camping… being on “safari” was the norm. Today, my own kids are certainly as much a “bush baby” as I was.  Although we don’t spend enough time in the bush as I would like because of so much more to do in town these days, we still pack up the tents and fuel the vehicle or hop on a charter flight going into one of the camps and head off every opportunity we do get. Every trip to the bush for our kids is an adventure full of experiences that differ every time.. creating lasting memories!

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Now I am not saying “Camping” with small children is an easy task.. but the excitement of putting up tents, building a campfire and chasing monkeys from your cooler box is always a fun experience! Most Campsites within the parks are not fenced as many will know so wildlife does and will roam through the campsite day and night.. it does get the heart racing at times so for the slightly less bush experienced mum, I would always recommend considering a mobile safari or possibly better still – a lodge to lodge safari with the little ones!

Most of the lodges within Botswana are now considered “child friendly,” with Botswana offering some of the best guides in the safari industry and the Batswana culture being very family orientated – being on safari with your professional guide will give yourselves and your little ones experiences and memories never to be forgotten! Folklore tales, Wildlife sightings big and small, bush skills, games and so much more.. escaping the world of modern technology and kids being kids all barefoot and dirty – makes for one of the best family holiday options out there!

Contact us to find out more about the many family friendly options available within Botswana and using our first hand experience as “bush parents” to tailor make your Child friendly safari plans.

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How to plan the ULTIMATE Botswana self-drive safari

Botswana has increasingly become a favourite destination for self-drive fanatics, eager to explore the untouched wilderness, prime camping spots and incredible game viewing that the country has to offer.

But, where do you start? How do you choose your route? Which are the places not to be missed?

As an on the ground tour operator based in Maun we can assist with campsite bookings, DWNP permits and route recommendations, as well as up to date road and weather conditions.

WHEN TO GO:

  • November – March: if you are brave enough to travel during rainy season you should prepare for water crossings, some wet tents and mud. However, you can also prepare yourself for Botswana’s best kept secret…our spectacular GREEN SEASON! Watch the environment come to life with the much needed rainfall and the influx of migratory birds. You should be confident with 4×4 driving and expect challenging conditions.
  • April – June: a lovely time of year to see the Central Kalahari, as many migratory animals are still present. The rains have usually stopped and the temperatures pleasant, by June the nights will be very cold. Road conditions generally normal.
  • July – August: an incredibly popular time to travel so advance bookings are vital. Wildlife are much more easily visible and game viewing impressive. It is still Winter, so temperatures are cold at night and early in the morning.
  • September – October: the end of the dry season and arguably the best time for game viewing in Northern Botswana. The Kalahari is extremely hot during this time so we recommend avoiding this area unless highly desired. Due to the heat, expect thick sandy roads which can make for slow drives.

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WHERE TO GO:

  • Moremi Game Reserve: this vibrant reserve lies on the Eastern tongue of the Okavango Delta and generally offers great game viewing all year round. South Gate is the campsite located at the entrance to the park – ideal for those only spending a couple of nights in the reserve. 3rd Bridge and Xakanaxa are located deep inside the reserve and offer thrilling game viewing in a beautiful area. If you’re looking for a bit more comfort, 3rd Bridge also hosts a tented camp where you can enjoy self-catering in en suite meru tents.
  • Khwai Concession: Khwai is located on the border of Moremi. It’s location outside the park does not hinder the game viewing and allows for more flexibility for activities – there are no restrictions in place regarding driving at night or walking.
  • Savuti: an incredibly popular campsite during dry season due to it’s position close to the channel. Savuti is widely known for it’s famous predator sightings and high concentration of wildlife in the area.
  • Linyanti: a beautiful area home to abundant elephant populations. It can offer extremely challenging road conditions during the rainy season and it slightly off the beaten track, so recommended for confident 4×4’ers.
  • Chobe Riverfront: whether you stay at Ihaha Campsite or within Kasane itself, this area is a beautiful inclusion. The riverfront boasts beautiful views and great game sightings.
  • Central Kalahari: best viewed just after the rainy season in April/May – it offers much wilder camping experiences. The Kalahari experiences extremes in temperatures and can get incredibly hot in October, and incredibly cold in July.
  • Makgadikgadi National Park: for a Salt Pans experience, visit during dry season when activities are fully operating. For travel between May – October, also witness the incredible Zebra/Wildebeest migration.

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WHAT TO PACK:

  • A 4×4 vehicle equipped with spare tyres, long range fuel tank, camping equipment if required and breakdown items.
  • Map of Botswana or Satellite Navigation system with “Tracks For Africa” loaded
  • Satellite Phone (no cell signal in the parks!)
  • All food, drinks and supplies for your time in the reserves.

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WHEN TO BOOK:

  • Well in advance! It’s no exaggeration to say that National Park campsite bookings get booked up early, often as much as 1 year in advance for travel during peak season. We recommend at least 8 – 12 months to pre-book to avoid disappointment.

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A Typical Day On Safari

Your safari activities are often geared around dawn and dusk, the optimum time of  day for game sightings and also the coolest time. This means that the heat of the day is usually at your leisure to relax and siesta back in camp.

Of course every lodge has a slightly different routine best suited to its activities on offer and whether it is located inside a National Park, but the below timeline can be used as a guideline on the type of routine to expect while on safari in Botswana.

05:00 – 6:30 am

Dependent on the time of year (determining sunrise and the weather/temperature) your wake up time will vary but usually takes place between 5:00 am and 06:30 am. Many camps and lodges offer hot tea and coffee in your room to help start your day. This early wake up might not feel like your idea of a holiday at the time…but trust us that these early morning activities are often the setting for your most thrilling wildlife sightings!

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30 minutes later

Meet in the communal area with other guests for a light breakfast, usually consisting of cereals, yoghurts and rusks before heading out on safari.

07:00 am – 10:30 am

Morning safari activity, and the perfect time of day for game viewing as predators are active and it is not yet too hot. The light at this time of day is also beautiful, making for some perfect photograph opportunities.

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10:30 am

Return to camp and have some time at leisure, perhaps freshen up or have a cold drink while excitedly remembering the morning’s adventures.

10:30 – 11:00 am

Brunch / Lunch is served, often consisting of either a full cooked breakfast or a cold lunch with side salads and bread.

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12:00 – 15:30

Siesta. During the heat of the day, this is the perfect time to unwind, catch up on sleep, read a book or just take in the beautiful vistas.

15:30

Afternoon tea is a safari tradition in Botswana! Enjoy hot chocolate, tea and coffee or a cold drink alternative, with delicious cake. Some lodges put on an extravagant selection of both savoury and sweet options.

16:00 – 18:30/19:00

Head out on your afternoon activity. Again this is the perfect time of the day to see wildlife as the temperature has now cooled so the wildlife are more active.

If the lodge you are staying at is in a National Park then you will return to camp before sunset due to the restrictions in place. But if you are staying in a private concession then you can enjoy bush sundowners before night driving back to camp with a spotlight, on the lookout for nocturnal species.

19:00/19:30

Dinner is served back at camp after a busy day on safari. Finally, retire to your room before a restful sleep and a new day begins with new memories to be made.

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Our Top 5 Romantic Lodges – Valentines Special

It’s Valentine’s weekend and a time to celebrate all things about love! Botswana does romance like no other…we are talking private candlelit dinners, bubble baths under the stars and champagne bush breakfasts to name but a few. To celebrate this weekend, we’re highlighting our top 5 romantic lodges which push out all the stops to celebrate romance. If you’re lucky enough to be on safari this weekend, we hope you are thoroughly spoilt!

1. XUDUM OKAVANGO DELTA LODGE (OKAVANGO DELTA)

Xudum is a small, intimate lodge in the Okavango Delta which offers absolute luxury in the bush. Each suite is complete with a private plunge pool and elaborate en suite bathroom. It also has its own upstairs lounge, perfect for relaxing afternoon siestas or to sip a glass of wine, cuddle up and take in the beautiful views. Returning to your room after dinner you might find the bubble bath freshly run, or your bed turned down with a bottle of sparkling wine waiting for you. We won’t ruin the surprises too much, you’ll just have to come and see for yourself!

Photo: &Beyond Xudum

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2. PELO CAMP (OKAVANGO DELTA)

What could be more romantic than spending your holiday on a heart shaped island?! The word ‘Pelo’ means ‘Heart’, and so everything about this lodge is themed around that. As an entirely water based camp, activities are focused on Mokoro Trails, Boating and Walking safaris. This allows you to get extremely close to nature and will surely give you and your loved one an exclusive safari experience. With only 5 safari tents Pelo is able to offer lots of personal touches and is the ideal destination for those looking to escape the rush of everyday life.

Photo: Wilderness Safaris, Pelo Camp

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3. SAN CAMP (MAKGADIKGADI SALT PANS)

Located on the incredible moon-like environment of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, San Camp offers breath taking luxury accommodation in idyllic white tents. With nothing to see but miles and miles of salt flats, this is the perfect destination to spend some quality time with your loved one. Whether its candlelit dinners under one of the most incredible star spangled ceilings of all time, or perhaps enjoying some fun photo opportunities with the semi-habituated Meerkats, San Camp go the extra mile to offer special experiences for guests.

Photo: Uncharted Africa, San Camp

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4. BAINES CAMP (OKAVANGO DELTA)

Baines Camp prides itself on attention to detail and exclusive, romantic experiences for guests. A popular activity is the “star bed” where you can sleep under the stars on your deck, with only a mosquito net between you and the wild. If you’re celebrating your honeymoon or a special occasion, open air bubble baths can be arranged. Baines Camp is also able to offer the incredible and unique experience of walking with elephants which is something that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Marvel at these majestic animals as you walk alongside them and interact with them.

Photo: Sanctuary Retreats, Baines Camp

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5. ZARAFA CAMP (SELINDA)

Zarafa oozes luxury and style, offering a high end service to guests. The camp is located in the Selinda Reserve, just North East of the Okavango Delta and a unique wildlife area. With décor in earthy tones, inviting private plunge pools and decadent lounges, the suites offer comfort like no other. Due to the small size of the lodge, personal touches are a frequent feature. Enjoy private bush dinners under the stars with the whoop of hyena as your soundtrack, or perhaps a glass of wine overlooking the sunset on your private deck. There are more surprises too, but we won’t give those away just yet…

Photo: Great Plains, Zarafa Camp

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SPECIALISED SAFARIS- there’s more to safaris than game drives!

There is no denying that game drives and boat cruises are a spectacular way to get up close to wildlife and enjoy great game viewing. However, as safari travel destinations have expanded over the years, there are now more and more specialised safaris which provide an equally unique experience!

WALKING SAFARIS

Without a doubt there is little that beats a walking safari, to feel the crunch of the ground beneath your feet without the rumble of a vehicle in the background. Many lodges in private concessions within Botswana are able to offer specialised walking safaris with experienced, qualified walking guides. Walking safaris allow you to get close to wildlife in a way that a game drive just can’t compete with, and it also allows you to see the smaller things that are so often missed. Whether it is the lion tracks in the sand, a unique plant that has medicinal purposes or the tiny ants which build giant termite mounds, the smaller things on safari are sometimes some of the most fascinating. Ultimately, on a walk every single one of your senses are heightened, and the thrill of being so close to wildlife is heart pumping.

Photo: Desert & Delta Safaris, Xugana Island Lodge

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HORSE RIDING SAFARIS

Most horse riding safaris within Botswana, especially within the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt pans, are aimed at experienced riders who can ride at all paces. The thrill of riding so close to wildlife is incredible as most plains game (such as antelope and giraffe) are incredibly relaxed and see you as another animal. Many horse riders will delight in the vast open spaces which are ideal for long canters. To graze alongside Kudu, stand within metres of a curious Giraffe or silently wait as a herd of elephant cross the water in front of you will leave even the most seasoned safari travellers speechless.

Photo: African Horseback Safaris, Okavango Delta

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CANOEING SAFARIS

Canoeing within Botswana has become widely popular for adventure enthusiasts, although many lodges stress that while a level of fitness is required it is not extremely physically demanding. One of the most common places to canoe is the Selinda Spillway which lies just North East of the Okavango Delta. In terms of your safari experience, wildlife viewing is spectacular as the riverbanks attract a variety of species. The tranquillity of the waterways, not to mention the vast array of birdlife, will connect you to nature like no other.

Photo: Great Plains, Selinda Canoe Trail

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While the usual safari activities are certainly a highlight and not to be missed, if you have a particular interest or hobby then perhaps look at some specialised safaris, it might just give you the trip of a lifetime!


SEBA CAMP – our lodge of the month

Seba Camp is located in the diverse and game-rich Abu concession in the Okavango Delta and offers a personal safari experience in a great game viewing area. While our visit to Seba was now several months ago, we often find ourselves reflecting on fond memories of a welcoming, kind lodge and a thrilling safari…and this is why we have chosen it as our lodge of the month.

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Personal Touches

Seba is home to wonderful staff who are always friendly and willing to help. The managers ate dinner with us and set the table alive with stories and laughs from their adventures in the bush. Special surprises are an unexpected delight, like driving home from our game drive and stumbling across a beautiful sundowner spot with lanterns lit and Gin & Tonics poured.

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Spacious Rooms – Perfect For Families

Accommodation at Seba consists of spacious, en suite tented rooms with beautiful views of the Delta waters. There are also 2 family units which are perfect for children or close friends travelling together, consisting of separate en suite bedrooms connected with a corridor and sharing a veranda and plunge pool. The room décor is inviting and relaxing – our room had an upstairs balcony with a seating area, perfect for an afternoon siesta overlooking the elephants below!

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Great Game Viewing and a Variety Of Activities

Seba offers a combination of land and water based activities (seasonally dependent) which maximises your game viewing opportunities. Game drives and night drives are perfect for seeking out predators and travelling further from camp, while boat cruises and mokoro excursions allow you to experience the peace and tranquillity of the Okavango Delta. Game viewing in general is impressive as the environment suits well to a variety of species. Leopard sightings are frequent while impressive herds of elephants are also a common feature. During our visit we were also blessed with vast herds of Zebra and Wildebeest.

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For all these reasons and more, Seba has kept a little place within our hearts! It’s rustic charm is so refreshing to see, so if you’re looking for an authentic safari experience then Seba could be the perfect destination for you.


Why Botswana should be your travel destination of choice in 2016

Botswana was recently named by the Lonely Planet as the number one place to visit in 2016 and we couldn’t agree more! Blessed with some of the last remaining unspoilt wildernesses in the world, culturally rich and home to contrasting ecosystems, Botswana has endless reasons to be your number one holiday destination in 2016.

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  1. DIVERSE LANDSCAPES

Home to one of the largest inland Delta’s in the world, the vast expanse of the Kalahari Desert, the phenomenal moon-like environment of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and an abundance of spectacular river systems, you don’t get more diverse than Botswana. Whatever time of year you visit there is always something magical to see. The lush, influx of life to the Kalahari during rainy season, the myriad of waterways in the Okavango Delta when the floods arrive or the overwhelming sight of Elephants in their thousands drinking from the Chobe River during dry season, there are very few countries which can offer this incredible variety of destinations.

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2. CULTURE

Culture has increasingly become an important part of a tourist’s wish list and Botswana does not disappoint. An educational walk with the local Bushmen in the Kalahari is a popular option, allowing guests to learn about traditional hunter/gatherer methods as well as local practices including natural medicines. Many lodges or safari companies also offer local home, school or village visits to see how the people of Botswana really live. While Botswana can take great pride in it’s abundance of wildlife and spectacular scenery, at the end of the day the local people are at the very core of what makes this country special.

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3. COMMITMENT TO CONSERVATION

Botswana has shown an impressive commitment to preserving it’s natural habitats. Focussing on high value / low impact tourism, the attraction of remote, exclusive and luxury safari camps is symbiotic with the promise to preserve these landscapes. Coupled with a strict ‘no tolerance’ for poaching and hunting, the desire to protect the country’s natural environments is commendable.

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For more reasons as to what makes Botswana so special, visit it for yourself, you will not be disappointed!