When it comes to safaris, Botswana offers the best of the best. (And I’m comparing it to my experiences in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa.) The only challenging thing is stomaching the high price point of the lodges and safari companies. Let’s just say Botswana is not known for its budget-friendly options.
Luckily we stumbled upon Okavango Expedition’s Botswana Adventurer Safari – a 7D/6N group participation safari which takes you to the choicest animal viewing parks and most unique landscapes in the country, including Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta and Makgadigadi Salt Pans. Admittedly, the tour was fast paced to be able to pack that much into one week. But having seen as much as we did, we now know where we want to revisit and we will definitely be back.
Game viewing in Chobe National Park was especially spectacular with the lions stealing the show - we saw lions mating, sparing as well as 9 baby cubs. Instead of visiting Moremi Game Reserve, our guide opted for nearby Khwai. While we didn’t see as much in the park on our day game drive, the campsite was unreal. We had elephants walk meters from our tent and over dinner could hear the guttural roar of two male lions who must have been no more than 10 meters away. In the morning our guide found tracks of leopards and hyenas.
Of course to make this awesome safari affordable you do have to put in a little work. In terms of what a participation safari means, you pitch and tear down your own tent, help pack up the trailer, set up the ablutions and take turns with the dishes. It is not a lot of work but this safari isn’t a free ride. We had a 77 year-old on our safari who was doing chores and hoping in and out of the truck with the best of us which was motivation enough to do our part. The best part of being on a group safari like this, though, was the diverse group of travelers we became friends with over the course of the week; our tour included people from South Africa, Australia, Japan, Norway and Peru. The food was pretty good for camping and made by the super friendly Gift. We also had the option of showers almost every day.
As a word of advice, definitely bring warmer clothes including something to cover your face. You will be in an open-air truck for the entirety of the tour and during Botswana’s winter months (May – September), which is also the best time to visit, it is very cold in the morning and at night, especially when you are driving.
If you are looking for luxury this may not be the tour for you. But if you want a true adventure that lets you see the real, wild Botswana at a reasonable price we highly recommend Botswana Adventurer Safari. We booked direct through the Okavango Expeditions website but apparently the company goes by the trade name Lewis Safaris as well and promotes this tour through a number of different travel agents including Jollyboys Hostel in Livingstone.