THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO SEE BOTSWANA
BY JAMES WESTRIP
BY JAMES WESTRIP
And there are many different ways to see some of these incredible safari destinations. A 40-minute light aircraft flight with Mack Air (small, soft bags only please!) will take you to Motswiri Camp on the banks of the spectacular Selinda Spillway, a watercourse that links the Okavango and Kwando-Linyanti floodplains in northern Botswana. The camp operates exclusively on 120 000 acres (50 000 hectares) of private land. The camp has just five classic ‘tents’, permanent tented units on raised timber decks, complete with viewing deck, full bathroom and electricity, but take a torch (or head-torch) as the lights are quite dim due to the solar power source. The main section of the lodge overlooks the Spillway, is very comfortable, with an honesty bar and limited wi-fi. It’s an amazing spot to sip a beer before dinner, which is usually set up al-fresco around the fire (known locally as ‘Bush TV’) – proper Africa!
What makes this camp different is that not only can you safari in the traditional manor, on foot or in a customised 4×4 safari vehicle, but they also have full stables and offer daily horseback safaris. Accompanied by experienced and professional guides (lead & back-up), on specially acclimatised horses and guides. Maximum group size is 6, riding experience and competency is required, and riders must be older than 12 years old.
Another light aircraft flight onto the Khwai Community Area, bordering the Okavango Delta, for start of an even more adventurous type of safari – a genuine tented mobile safari. Tents are 3x2m, permanent beds with high density foam mattresses, and an ensuite ‘bathroom’. The bathroom is a good old fashioned bucket shower (a suspended aluminium bucket, with a shower head and tap welded on), and a deep hole in the ground covered by a plastic toilet & seat (a bush toilet), complete with pot of dirt/ash to ‘flush’. The canvas wash-hand-basin at the front of the tent (with mirror), completes the ablutions. Basic lighting inside the tent, so make sure you have packed that torch.
A mess tent and camp fire completes the camp, but that’s only the start of it. A guide & 3 camp assistants, one of whom is the chef, make this a very comfortable experience. The fridge on the safari vehicle ensures that all drinks are cold & that ice is available for the sundowner G&T, and the bush oven is simply fantastic. Fresh bread, pizza, beef wellington – there’s roughing it, and then there’s roughing it.
The days are long, lots of time in the safari vehicle. The travel days are longer still, but then lunch in the bush in the shade of a large tree, is hard to beat. And it’s all about the safari. 3, 6 or 9 nights are available, scheduled departure or private departures.
And finally there is the Okavango Guiding School, about 1 hour’s drive from Maun. The Okavango Guiding school is owned and operated by the Reed brothers, Grant and Brent, who featured in ‘Safari Brothers’, which aired internationally on National Geographic Wild. The Okavango Guiding school is the first private guide training school registered in Botswana to provide training for guides on both the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) and the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) platforms.
Imagine approaching Big Five game on foot and observing them at close quarters. Tracking buffalo herds from island to island. Motorboating or canoe-paddling through wild delta channels. Navigating deep water crossings and heavy sand by 4×4. Swapping campfire stories under the African stars. You can do all this and more on the popular 28-day Nature Guide training course, aimed at aspiring professional guides, but also travellers seeking a unique, life-changing experience in a remote African wilderness. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is simply a cheaper substitute to an expensive safari. As a learning experience, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and stretch yourself hard to earn your stripes! And for every four-week course that is conducted, a local guide is sponsored.
A 28-day Trails (walking) Guide course is also available. And for those shorter on time a 7-Day Bush Skills course is available (no qualification attained) – but you have to start somewhere.
But these are just some of the ways to enjoy this incredible country, so please look at the Botswana section of our website, or send us an enquiry, and we would love to arrange your wildlife holiday of a lifetime.
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