In spite of fears expressed by numerous natives that a trip to Botswana’s vast inland river delta in northern Botswana, The Okavango Delta could result in bankruptcy, mosquito bites, being mauled to death by a lion, getting eaten by a croc or simply pulling a disappearing stunt, our crew recently conquered this UNESCO World Heritage Site to demystify all the speculative fictions. Thanks to Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) for bringing a glimmer of hope by preserving the community’s commitment to local tourism affordability.
On account of BTO, we were happy to lodge at Wilderness Safari’s two camps; Savuti and Kingspool. Our visit of the wildlife of the Okavango Delta (Moremi, Savuti and Chobe) was nothing short of a lifetime superb experience.
Despite the fact that we had to survive without modern amenities such as phone or internet (Wi-Fi) for our entire stay, cut off from the advanced world – this disconnect however helped us connect with Mother Nature. Botswana continues to be rated amongst the best tourism destinations around the world.
“The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in 2016 was BWP6, 278.9mn (3.9% of GDP). This is forecast to rise by 8.5% to BWP6, 815.1mn in 2017. This primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation. The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP is expected to grow by 5.1% pa to BWP11, 208.0mn (4.3% of GDP) by 2027,” according to Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017 Botswana.
With an estimated 2 million tourist arrivals annually to this 582 000 km2 semi-arid land, there’s no doubt that tourism plays a big role in the economy of the country, contributing largely to the country’s GDP. According to Minister of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama the visitors he said, consists of about 60 percent from the US market, 30 percent European market and the remainder coming other parts of the world.
Our memorable Botswana tourism experience was made possible by Wilderness Safaris – an ecotourism enterprise that specializes in creating memorable journeys in some of the remotest and pristine areas in Africa. The company operates in seven African countries with Botswana having the most facilities. Also, worthy of note about these two camps – Savuti and Kingspool is that they are an hour’s drive apart. However, the type of animals and vegetation at each of these camps are different.
While the structures and interiors at Savuti are leaning towards a 4 Star hotel, Kingspool on the other hand is a premium resort in the group decked with a hot outdoor shower, indoor swimming pool, fully-stocked bar fridge. There also have walkie-talkies in the event of any emergencies. Our crew spent a night at Savuti and just like their tag line, ‘indeed their journey has changed my perspective’. This is where one will come across the jungle rule, when you go on a game drive – ‘survival of the fittest’ unfolding right before one’s eyes.
During one game drive, we came across a lazy but seemingly satiated male lion resting under a cool tree shade and just a kilometre away we spotted a pack of African wild dogs tearing apart and devouring a small impala. However, the wild dogs’ triumph was short-lived as they soon started running for their dear lives as the same lion we spotted a few minutes ago started giving chase. This is how quickly and crazily life changes in the bush.
Besides us seeing and experiencing almost all the wild animals first hand, we were happy to learn that Wilderness Safaris have on-site researchers who work alongside the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, to ensure that all information given by the various guides is accurate and verified. And oh! The menu here is to die for. Let me just say I realised I’ve gained 4kg. The safari has four meals a day all served as buffet, so you can imagine all the indulgence.
The intriguing part about our meals though was the fact that each time we’d settle for a true safari experience where our meals were served in the middle of a halcyon jungle – either under a full moon or simply around a crackling and sizzling fire.
Several stories were shared around the fire, however myself distressed that the king of the jungle could be lurking somewhere in our purlieu. However, my dreads were supressed when our guide said with the fire crackling, no predator would dare come close by. We soon retired to our sleeping quarters at Kingspool.
My greatest highlights was riding a mokoro (canoe boat), through the Delta. I must say this is one of the most beautiful and peaceful journeys one could ever endure. The wild camping with our great hosts and guides is yet another unforgettable experience.
With the festive season looming and most citizens planning to experience and explore Botswana, we can only hope that you’d continue to add to the country’s coffers by promoting local travel. Until our next travel, Merry Christmas and Have a blessed 2018.