Overview of Botswana
With an area of almost 600 000 square kilometres, Botswana is virtually the same size as France or Texas. Situated in the centre of southern Africa, it is a landlocked country, with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbours. Botswana lies an average of 950 metres above sea level and is more than 600 kilometres from the nearest coast. The Tropic of Capricorn bisects Botswana.
The most striking features of the country are its flatness and aridity. With the exception of the eastern part of Botswana where the great majority of Batswana 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, 1000km away.
Botswana is one of Africa's success stories. Prior to independence in 1966, it was one of the world's poorest countries. When we started to work in Botswana in the 1970s, very few people who lived outside Botswana had even heard of the Okavango. It was undiscovered, only visited by a few hardy adventurers. But South Africa's first democratic elections began a change in the area. Within Botswana, there were big changes, too. Diamonds were discovered in the Kalahari shortly after independence and this kick-started the economy. Sir Seretse Khama was the country's first post-independence president. He was a wonderful leader and one of the most pragmatic and far-thinking presidents any country could ever hope for. Seretse laid the foundations that Botswana needed to propel itself forward, without compromising democracy; the result is a booming economy in a stable country.
On the wildlife front, Seretse's son, Ian, is one of the country's unsung conservation heroes (and currently its president). When he became head of the military, he positioned his troops to secure Botswana's borders from poachers. The game concentrations within the country multiplied overnight. Many people owe their jobs and careers to his actions.
The country abandoned mass tourism and focused on high quality / low volume tourism as the best way to create a sustainable industry that would employ a large percentage of its people, while still preserving the environment. Today wildlife and tourism employs about 45% of all the people who live in northern Botswana.
Chitabe Camp is a luxurious 8-roomed, tented camp built on one of the most beautiful islands in the Okavango Delta, in a private area that is bordered on three sides by the Moremi Game Reserve. The camp is located in a diverse area incorporating mopane woodlands, acacia, floodplains and the perennial delta, all of which provide a variety of wildlife. Accommodation consists of eight spacious East African style tents that are built on elevated wooden decks, beneath the lush tree canopy.
Tubu Tree Camp is situated in the 60,000 hectare Jao Reserve which borders the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana's Okavango Delta. The camp is a traditional style tented safari camp built on raised wooden platforms to take best advantage of the beautiful view over the floodplains. Tubu Tree camp accommodates guests in 5 large, comfortable tents, each with a small, private deck in front. The tents each have en suite bathroom facilities as well as a private outdoor shower.
Savuti Camp is situated in the Linyanti Concession along the Savute Channel in northern Botswana. The site of the camp is about 17 kilometres 'downstream' from the Zibadianja Lagoon - the source of the Channel. Between 1980 and 2008 the Channel stopped flowing and became an unusual and productive ribbon of grassland that served as a corridor and feeding ground in the surrounding woodland for a wide variety of herbivores. In 2008, the Channel once more became a deep, clear waterway harbouring hippo and aquatic life with myriad varieties of