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Why Travel To Botswana

Botswana is Africa’s shining light. True democracy, peaceful people, honest politicians, positive GDP growth and money in the bank are part of the reason why they are a successful nation. With an area of 581,730 square kilometres, Botswana is virtually the same size as France, Kenya or Texas. Situated in the centre of Southern Africa, it is a landlocked country, with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbors. Botswana lies at an average of 950 metres above sea level and is more than 600 kilometres from the nearest coast. The Tropic of Capricorn bisects Botswana.

With the exception of the eastern part of Botswana where the great majority of Botswana live and where the summer rainfall is slightly higher, three quarters of Botswana is technically a desert. This is what makes the Okavango Delta even more remarkable. It is a wonderful wetland within a desert, getting its waters from rain falling in central Africa over a 1000 km away. Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories. Prior to independence in 1966, it was one of the world’s poorest countries.

When Colon Bell and Jim Brett started leading trips to Botswana in the early 1980s, very few people who lived outside Botswana had even heard of the Okavango. In those early days East Africa was “king” of the safari circuit. Botswana was undiscovered and was only visited by a few hardy adventurers. “How clearly I remember my early days in Botswana with Colon and my intreped travelers. I love to sit by the campfire in the evening and recall our overland travels without the comfort and convenience of private chartered aircraft. Around every bend in the track one came to expect a new and terribly exciting adventure!” Jim Brett.

Today wildlife and tourism employs about 45% of all the people who live in northern Botswana. This has been accomplished through one of the continent’s most sensible land plans ever devised. Much of the country’s most productive wildlife land lies outside the parks. This land has been surveyed over the past 10 years and has been divided into private reserves (locally called concessions) that are leased out to safari companies. Nearly 40% of the country has been set aside for wildlife. The safari companies have to manage their concessions within strict guidelines to prevent overcrowding. These companies have to train and employ local people and they are obliged to pay large amounts to the communities or the Government for the privilege of being there. Communities are now being brought into the mainstream of the wildlife industry. While most of the country’s best wildlife experiences are in these private reserves, the country still has areas for the general public to visit. Following is further description of the special regions of Botswana included in TREKS guided and planned, unguided safaris.

The Okavanago Delta

Botswana’s Okavango Delta has to be Africa’s most unique wildlife and wilderness sanctuaries. We love the water world of the Okavango--a wetland paradise without comparison. We can’t get enough of it. Each year floodwater flows into the Okavango from headwaters in Angola. Floodwaters from the Cubango River flow from their catchment southwards and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife. The heart of the Okavango is the Moremi Game Reserve. All the major habitats and ecotones of the Okavango are preserved here. To make the experience even more enjoyable many varied activities are available. Safaris by boat and dugout canoe (mokoro) are the best way to see the water areas, while game drives and night drives by vehicle are best for tracking the animals. Walks give the best feel for being in touch with nature and hides offer a great way to enjoy game viewing and birding, especially during those midday siesta hours.

The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans

The grasslands of the Kalahari together with the lunar expanse of the Makgadikgadi salt plans complete the Wilderness footprint in Botswana. They are in total contrast to the verdant, game-rich Okavango and Linyanti regions and are a must-see for all visitors to Botswana who are interested in the country’s diversity. The desert experience focuses on species unique to the area such a Brown Hyena, Meerkats (Suricate), Gemsbok (Oryx), Springbok and the great black-maned Kalahari Lion; as well as the geology, archeology and anthropology of the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi. The Makgadikgadi is a relic of an ancient superlake that covered much of southern Africa, which dried up thousands of years ago. For a few months each year, the Makgadikgadi transforms into one of the most important wetland sites in Africa. When the rains come, the pans fill with water and they become a breeding ground for huge flocks of flamingo and other migratory birds. The rains also regenerate the grasses which attract the last surviving migration of Zebra and Wildebeest in southern Africa. Wilderness’ Kalahari focus is on Jack’s Camp and San Camp, the best Makgadikgadi experience. Treks will launch its Kalahari Adventures late in 2004 at Jack’s Camp and San Camp. A visit to the area is essential for anyone interested in evolution, the origins and explanation of the Okavango Delta and Botswana’s big picture. Contact us for highlighted information on the Kalahari experiene. For those who are prepared to travel off the beaten track and take a step back in time, a wealth of sensory experiences awaits you – from 1940s safari style luxury to giant, ancient baobabs and prehistoric beaches.

Linyanti Wildlife Reserve

To the northeast of the Okavango Delta are the Chobe and Linyanti Game Reserves. These areas are renowned for their predators and large concentrations of game, particularly Elephant. Dereck and Beverly Joubert made the region famous in their National Geographic films. “Eternal Enemies” is a classic and chronicles in detail the interaction between Lion and Hyena. There are many varied habitats within the Chobe and Linyanti parks, marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands and the world famous Savuti Channel. The Savuti Channel is a “waterway” that connects the Linyanti River from Zibadianja Lagooon, with the interior of the Chobe National Park at the Savuti Marsh. The Savuti has only ever flowed intermittently and dried up for the last time in 1980. Today the Savuti Channel is an open grassland and home to a variety of different animals. The Linyanti Wildlife reserve is a 275,000-acre private reserve on Chobe’s Western boundary.

 

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