An Africa Expert’s insights into Bountiful Botswana

David Wong, the Product Manager of the Africa and Middle East department recently returned from his bucket-list trip to Botswana and shares some insight into this amazing country.

How did you get to Botswana?

On South African Airways. It’s a non-stop 14 hour, 40 minute flight from New York City (JFK) to Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by a 2 hour connecting flight from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana. The 2 hour, 50 minute connection in Johannesburg was seamless. Best of all, the schedule allows clients to avoid a forced overnight in Johannesburg and get into their safari destination right away.

Where did you go in Botswana?

The Moremi Game Reserve, the first reserve in Africa that was established by local residents in 1963. I also went to the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta and the 1000th site to be officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2014); and Chobe National Park, home to one of the highest concentration of elephant in all of Africa, if not the World.

What were some of your highlights and why?

The waterfront at Chobe National Park. While extremely busy with other boats and operators, the wildlife we saw was phenomenal in the couple of hours that we spent in the afternoon on the Chobe River. Massive herds of elephants had come down to the water to drink and bathe; crocodiles were basking in the sun on the banks of the river, as well as swimming throughout the River; pods of hippo were sleeping and resting in the river, oblivious to the surrounding animals and heavy traffic on the River; and a troop of adult baboons with their babies were sitting, perfectly relaxed beside a flock of Egyptian geese and their goslings. We were fortunate enough to also see a lioness guarding an elephant carcass by the river (sadly, the elephant had been sick and went to the river to die), and the queue of animals including crocodiles, Marabou storks, and vultures that were waiting their turn to feast on the elephant’s remains once the coast was clear.

What interesting excursion or itinerary would you recommend?

The early morning hot air balloon safari at Kadizora Camp. It is the only area in the Okavango Delta that offers this activity. Goway exclusively offers this balloon safari complimentary for clients staying a minimum 3 nights, between May 1 and September 30. Clients are able to drift away across the flood plains, watch the sunrise and the animals waking to begin their day. Upon landing, clients celebrate their flight with champagne and snacks and receive their first flight certificate from the pilot before heading back to camp.

What kind of traveler would you recommend visits Botswana?

A second or third time visitor to Africa. Considered a high cost, low-impact destination, close to 40% of the country’s surface is dedicated to protected areas and consequently a very high per person per night rate is charged at the camps & lodges. Botswana also differs from the private game reserves in South Africa. For example, at the Sabi Sand in South Africa, guests get the most “bang for your buck” in that all the “Big 5” animals will more likely be seen on one single game drive in the bush. Botswana offers the opportunity to explore more water-based animals and birds that are not part of the Big 5, but are just as spectacular, such as the hippopotamus and crocodile.

If you could go back, what would you like to see/do?

I’d go back to the Okavango Delta when the water has fully arrived from the highlands of Angola and fully floods the 250km by 150km Delta. This creates the full water levels that the Delta is known for and allows the use of a mokoro (dugout canoe) through its crystal-clear waterways, narrow channels, and pristine lagoons. When I had visited in late November/early December, the rains had not started and it was still dry. Fortunately, I was able to partake in the mokoro excursion at a permanent water source while staying at Kadizora Camp in the Okavango Delta.

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