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Botswana is a country for adventure and discovery, a land of outstanding natural beauty, abundant wildlife, endless horizons, dry savannahs and sparkling wetlands. It is a world of striking natural contrasts - from the rich, verdant aquatic grasslands and waterways of the Okavango Delta to the immense open spaces of the Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Pans – a magical and unforgettable combination of wilderness providing the visitor with the ultimate in authentic safari experiences.
In spite of the fact that over 80% of the country is semi-desert, Botswana is home to some of the best game viewing areas in Southern Africa with most of the large mammals being found here - lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant (some 150,000 at the last count!), giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, buffalo, hyena and many species of antelope. It is also a birders’ paradise with over 550 regularly occurring species. A Botswana wildlife safari offers a great adventure for everyone who enjoys the wonders of African wildlife.
For a country of its size Botswana is quite sparsely populated, with the main proportion of its 1.7 million people concentrated in the south east, leaving the rest of the country as an untamed, fenceless wilderness within which visitors can experience and enjoy an unparalleled African safari holiday. In fact, Botswana boasts the largest percentage of land given over to wildlife in the world, a remarkable 17% of the country is national park, which when added to the huge private game reserves and smaller, less well known concessions that have been set aside and dedicated to wildlife, makes a staggering total of 38%.
Hartley’s Safaris have a very special relationship with Botswana, forged by the fact that for over twenty six years, David Hartley owned and operated Xugana Island Lodge, Xugana Mokoro Trails and Tsaro Elephant Lodge in the spectacular Okavango Delta. This allowed Hartley’s the privilege of gaining a deep insight and understanding of this magnificent country, its many camps, diversity of wildlife and habitats and vividly contrasting environments. Throughout the years we have constantly drawn upon this invaluable knowledge to help us design and construct luxury safari holidays for our clients that fully complement and fulfil their individual needs, desires and expectations.
Essentially, Botswana can be divided into three contrasting habitats, each of which offers a wide range of safari options that allow the visitor to experience the land and its wildlife from different perspectives.
Safari camps and lodges in Botswana are scattered throughout the wilderness areas in and around the reserves and national parks. They tend to be intimate affairs of small thatched-roof lodges and well-appointed tented camps that offer luxury and comfort combined with the sensitivity of design to have the least amount of impact on the environment. All are located in protected reserves that offer the best wilderness wildlife and native cultural experiences. Most accommodate between six and twenty four guests in private well appointed rooms with canopied mattress beds, en suite facilities including flush toilet and hot showers, and sometimes a swimming or plunge pool.
All camps are managed by teams of dedicated African safari specialists and fully experienced local guides who will ensure that you will receive the highest levels of personal service and be exposed to the best experiences the country has to offer. Typically your Botswana wildlife safari will offer you thrilling day and night game drives, interpretive bush walks, tranquil mokoro (dugout canoe) and boat excursions and some of the most exceptional bird watching in Africa.
In addition to catering for all your individual needs, you will find that whichever camp you select, food is always of outstanding quality. Menus are mostly European with an African influence with some lodges cooking traditional local dishes as a mouth-watering alternative.
Due to the remoteness of their locations and the fact that there are few roads in Botswana, safaris rely heavily upon on a highly organised system of light aircraft flights to fly guests from camp to camp, thus allowing a variety of areas and experiences to be included in any itinerary. These low level flights afford incredible aerial views of this unique terrain and add tremendously to the holiday. The main gateway airport for Botswana is Johannesburg from where Air Botswana flies to Maun for the Okavango Delta and Kasane for the northern Chobe National Park. Alternatively, private charters from Johannesburg to Maun are available and are an economical alternative for parties of six or more. From Maun or Kasane you will then be flown by light aircraft to the individual camps.
WHEN TO GO
Botswana is a year round destination with an enviable climate that is mostly fine and dry, the prime game viewing months being June to November. The best time for birding trips is the wet season – there are over 550 different birds in Botswana making it both exciting for bird and animal lovers.