Five steps to a perfect safari Botswana
Africa expert Jake Cook has spent two weeks on a trip to Botswana and can now see why it is considered to be the pinnacle of any safari-goer’s career. Here he shares with us five tips to get the most out of a safari in Botswana.
The country’s low density tourism ethos has created an unrivalled reputation for excellent year-round wildlife viewing among iconic landscapes, such as the Okavango delta and Kalahari desert. Naturally, a safari to Botswana is not cheap - lodges here are the most expensive in Africa – making it a once in a lifetime opportunity for many. So when you’ve decided to take the plunge and visit this extraordinary wildlife haven, take a minute to consider a few key points to ensure you get that perfect safari…
1. Plan ahead – Book now for next year. There is strict government legislation about the number of camps and beds allowed in each national park or private concession. Camps normally only have a handful of rooms so booking a year in advance is always highly recommended. Furthermore, due to demand, international flight costs can quickly escalate so aim to snap up the cheapest seat classes when they come on sale 11 months before your departure date.
2. Choose your safari areas wisely – Speaking to an expert really pays off here. There are a plethora of national parks, wildlife reserves and private concessions in Botswana, all with their own unique characteristics. Where you stay will largely depend on what you want to see and do, as well as time and budget. Try to fit in a stay in one of the semi-arid Kalahari regions before heading north into the Okavango delta and the Linyanti swamps, Savute Channel or Chobe National Park areas to get an optimum variety of landscapes, activities and wildlife viewing.
3. Time your visit – The peak season runs from the beginning of July to the end of October. These months are generally considered to be the optimum months for big wildlife viewing. December to March is the hot rainy season, but is an excellent time for general wildlife viewing in the Kalahari regions and for birdwatching in the Okavango delta. Rates are also up to 30% cheaper at this time too. June and November are traditionally considered shoulder season months, but in the recent past they have provided excellent wildlife viewing conditions and are great times to visit. You will also benefit from cheaper rates and quieter camps at this time.
4. Get equipped – The first thing that should be in your bag is a good pair of binoculars. Highly rated are the Bushnell H20 Roof Prism 10 x 42 Binoculars, which are available to rent as well as buy at the excellent The Safari Store who, incidentally, also sell high quality insect repellent and sunscreen (essential) as well as other bush-tested clothing and accessories. Also consider investing in a high quality bridge camera or a digital SLR camera. You are guaranteed to see some amazing sightings and need the equipment to capture those memories.
5.Save up – Of all the African safari destinations, Botswana is the one place to not try to do on the cheap. Many of the most rewarding camps are in private concessions, which are located in the most beautiful prime wildlife viewing areas and can only be accessed by light aircraft. Moreover, these concessions allow off road driving (for close up wildlife viewing) and night drives, which are not allowed in the national parks. Of course, this does come at a cost, with camp prices ranging in peak season from £200 to more than £1,000 per person per night, including all meals, drinks and activities.
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