Tailormade Africa does not generally get involved with large, organised groups which tend to follow a set departure and itinerary. That said we very much encourage family parties or indeed intimate groups of friends to embark upon tailor-made Botswana group safaris put together by us with our care and precision. There is perhaps no better way to celebrate a family occasion than to travel to Botswana and Africa for a wildlife safari.
If the family group is big enough it may be that you will be able to have your own vehicle while out on game drives with your own personal and private guide. Often this scenario can end up being the most cost effective as you will be splitting the fees of a private guide and vehicle between a fairly large number of you.
If you are a particularly large, private group you may be able to book the whole lodge or camp, some of them only have 4 or 5 rooms; imagine the privacy and exclusivity you will then experience?
The smaller more intimate camps generally work best in this scenario, so certainly matching your party size to as close to the maximum number of rooms at a camp is always best. There are some safari camps and lodges in Botswana that excel at catering for group or private party clients and sadly others that are ill prepared, having knowledge of the very best camps across all budget ranges helps us to correctly match your party to the right camp.
The best thing to do at this point is to get in touch with us, preferably by phone, to allow us to get to know you a little and advise on the kind of group or private party safari that would give you all your trip of a lifetime experience.
A Botswana Safari is considered by many to be Africa's finest offering on the continent in terms of raw, unadulterated wilderness and most exhilarating experiences.
Clyde is your Botswana safari expert having spent many years working as a professional guide and also more recently countless visits to keep up to date with what is offered at the various lodges and camps across the country. If you would like honest advice contact Clyde or call him on +44 780972 6266 or email him on [email protected].
Whilst most of the country is swallowed up by the massive Kalahari Desert, the northern parts are crisscrossed by a rich network of beautiful waterways which makes for fantastic contrasts of different and varied safari adventures. The region is most famous for three things. First, its massive private concessions within safari areas where you will share your safari with very few other people. Secondly, a great variety of activities including, day and night game drives, walking safaris, boating and Makoro safaris. Finally the incredible concentration and diversity of wildlife.
There are six main areas of interest in Botswana where safari of the highest order takes place. The Okavango Delta is the primary focus of every Botswana Safari with its unique myriad of habitats, wildlife and birdlife. The Linyanti Reserve just a little north of the Okavango Delta, partly connected by the Selinda Spillway, where the larger herds of Elephant and Buffalo can be found along with extraordinary numbers of predator species and sightings. To the east of these Botswana Safari areas are the much-lauded Chobe National Park and Savute famous for insane numbers of Elephant and excellent dry season general game viewing both on land and along the Chobe River. Further south we have the Makgadikgadi which is made up of large expansive grassland plains and seasonal migrating herds of Zebra and Wildebeest.
Epic Landscapes complimented by very cool activities such as San Bushmen cultural experiences, Quad Biking over the baron salt pans and spending time with wild "too cool for school" Meerkats. Finally, we have the Central Kalahari. A region that is virtually the polar opposite of normal Botswana Safari Landscapes, being incredibly dry with little natural permanent water present. This sensational national Park provides the ultimate contrast and foil to the rich waterways of the Okavango Delta, Linyanti and Chobe National Park and affords the chance to see some unique wildlife and birdlife in a completely immersive ecosystem. Black Maned Lion, Brown Hyena, Caracal, African wildcat Bat Eared Fox, Pangolin and Honeybadgers, whilst not exactly commonplace, are much more readily spotted and available to you here.
We love Botswana for its all-out dedication to conserving and protecting its natural resources. Nowhere else in Africa will you see wildlife on top of the agenda as it is here. The original driving force behind their economy – diamonds - is set to dry up around 2026. In light of this, the government has taken the decision to truly focus on tourism as one of their main income spinners.
Although Botswana can be quite pricey in comparison to the rest of safari Africa you will be rewarded with access to massive wilderness areas that you will share with very few other people. There are ways of getting around these exceptionally high prices and many of our clients will choose to travel in the “shoulder season” in April-June and again in November.
The concentrations of wildlife are simply staggering in the dry season but the viewing remains fantastic throughout the year, so don’t write it off in the wet season! The habitats here are some of the most pristine anywhere on the planet. You simply have to experience places like this whilst they are still around for us to enjoy.
The Okavango Delta is the crown jewel of the country and every Botswana safari should include some time here. It is a massive fan-shaped wetland which provides its inhabitants with one of the most pristine habitats on the planet. The Okavango River system which feeds it begins its journey in the highlands of Angola before it is swallowed up by the sands of the Kalahari. The area generally experiences two flood periods – the early floods (January-March) and the main floods (April-June). The first is caused by local rainfall and the second is brought on when the floodwaters arrive from Angola.
The scale and magnificence of the Delta helped it to secure a position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. Although not a reserve as such, the wetland is surrounded by massive private concessions which are each home to very few camps indeed. Because of the nature of the terrain the area is accessed almost exclusively by fly-in safaris. This all equates to one of the most private and exclusive safari experiences available in Africa today.
Through our experience, we have found that it is very important to carefully select which areas you visit here. In general, the more water there is within an area, the less big game there will be. These wet areas are incredibly beautiful and will give you a taste of the classic Okavango but they must be combined with a drier area elsewhere in the Delta or even in the Linyanti region for an injection of big game.
We especially love the area around the northern side of the Delta (Duba, Vumbura, Kwara, Shinde) because the concessions here allow for a perfect combination of wet and dry activities (approx 30/70% mix). This also equates to an exceptionally diverse habitat which plays host to an incredible array of species. Further east, the Khwai concession still offers phenomenal game viewing with a much more affordable price tag due to the fact that it is not a private area. To the south-east the drier Chitabe/Sandibe concession offers possibly the richest big game viewing of all. Moving south and west, the concessions become more heavily inundated by the flood and the game viewing here becomes less reliable.
The classic Okavango activity is a makoro safari. The locals have for centuries used these traditional dug-out canoes to travel around the Delta and they will allow you to slide quietly through the lilies in search of some of the smaller creatures which inhabit the area. You should definitely try at least one whilst you are there! The walking safaris here also tend to focus on the finer details of the ecosystem whilst game drives will allow you to cover more ground and see more big game. Finally, boating safaris will allow you to get around and explore more of the pristine waterways and channels in the shortest time possible.
This massive region lies just north of the Okavango Delta and consists of 3 enormous private concessions – the Kwando, Selinda and Linyanti concession itself. The area is famous for the massive herds of elephants and buffalo which roam through here on their path between Botswana and Namibia. The concentration of predators is also exceptionally high and interactions between lions, leopards and hyenas are fairly commonplace. Perhaps the most special sighting to be had here though is that of the African Wild Dog. As this is Africa’s second most endangered carnivore, many people come here in search of this species alone.
We truly believe that this area competes with the Okavango Delta in terms of game viewing and at some times of the year even surpasses it! It is a place which has really captured our hearts. Few of the camps here are affordable but the high price tag will reward you with one of Africa’s most exciting and exclusive safaris. The one downside to the Linyanti is that it is dominated by mopane woodlands. In the wet season, these low bushes flush with fresh green leaves and this can make visibility a little more challenging from January to April.
The first concession to mention is Kwando, which is the largest in the area, measuring an impressive 550,000 acres. Only two camps share this enormous tract of land – Lagoon and Lebala, both operated by Kwando Safaris. These camps are certainly very comfortable but this company focusses on the safari experience itself above luxury. There is very little in it but we slightly prefer the style of Lebala, whilst Lagoon offers more varied activities.
Next is the Selinda concession, coming in at 320,000 acres. It is home to three main camps owned and operated by Derek and Beverly Joubert – world renowned National Geographic filmmakers. Under the Great Plains Conservation banner you will find Selinda Explorers (one of the most authentic camps around), Selinda Camp (a more classic style of safari) and Zarafa (which easily competes for the best camp in Botswana). Much further south Motswiri offers a great value for this area, where horse riders and more adventurous guests will feel right at home.
The Linyanti concession itself is operated by Wilderness Safaris, who have built a great reputation for themselves as one of Botswana’s leading safari companies. Kings Pool sits at the throne as the most luxurious premier camp, whilst Duma Tau and Savute camp are set at a more classic level. We love DumaTau in particular for its modern and dynamic design. There is just a very special atmosphere to be experienced here.
It is also worth mentioning an area which is actually part of the Chobe Forest Reserve but lies on the Linyanti River and has been partitioned off for the exclusive use of African Bush Camps. The Linyanti Bush and Ebony Camps here can also offer fantastic game viewing in the dry season and come in at a much lower price than the other camps in this area.
Within the Kalahari ecosystem lies a series of expansive salt flats protected predominantly by the Makgadigadi Pan and Nxai Pan National Parks. This area is exceptionally dry and arid, so game is usually sparse and difficult to find in the dry season (May – November). At this time of the year it is the smaller things which will fascinate you. Meerkats, aardwolfs, brown hyenas and aardvarks take centre stage whilst walking with the San Bushmen give you a real cultural injection. Some parts of this area are dotted with grass islands and salt-resistant palm trees but there are also places here which are so barren you may feel as though you have landed on the moon. In these parts there is an eerie silence. No insects chirp, there is no sound and if you look far enough you can even see the curvature of the earth.
During the late rainy season (March-April) up to 25,000 zebras migrate into the pans from the Okavango Delta – a round trip of some 360 miles . This well-kept secret represents the second largest movement of zebras on the continent which are also followed closely by their predators. Whilst the numbers of game are undoubtedly greater in the wet season, there is an argument to say that the dry season is the best time to experience the real essence of the pans.
The three most luxurious offerings in this area are operated by Uncharted Africa in a private concession to the east of the national park. Owner Ralph Bousfeld is one of Africa’s most renowned private guides and he personally ensures that his guides receive exceptional training. His father was a pioneer of safaris in Botswana and the flagship Jack’s Camp is named in his honour but we personally prefer the equally luxurious San Camp for its more light and airy feel. The comparatively simple Camp Kalahari offers a more affordable way to experience the unique activities on offer here.
The Boteti River forms the western boundary of the park and draws wildlife in from miles around. It is at its best from June – November when the river becomes a series of pools and animals are forced to concentrate around it. There are two options for exploring this area. Meno A Kwena is another adventurous camp with a decidedly quirky flair and is run by another old safari hand, David Dugmore. Leroo La Tau is a more luxurious lodge with a beautiful situation on the Boteti.
To the north, Nxai Pan National Park is a somewhat more subtle safari experience as the salt pans in this area are not quite as stark or expansive as Makgadigadi. The only camp here is operated by Kwando Safaris and can make for a great combination with the Delta or Kwando camps in the green season.
Many years ago when safari was a true pioneering venture of either the brave or the misguided, adventurers would explore Africa’s wilderness areas in mobile safari camps that moved every 3 or 4 days taking in as much as possible and being as close to nature as one could possibly get. Whilst things have moved on a bit since those glorious days to large luxury camps and permanent lodges, it is still possible to venture back in time and experience that quintessential truly authentic and adventurous safari with some of Africa’s top professional safari guides.
One of our directors is himself an ex-professional guide who feels very passionately about challenging guests to do safari by this medium and we enormously proud to support many of the remaining high quality mobile safari operators.
The magic of these mobile safaris is difficult to put into words. But, being in a small camp environment with its right in the heart of the bush feel, all the sights, sounds and smells are a hugely pleasant assault on your senses and take you back to a time when man and nature were at peace with each other and we belonged out in the wild. We believe, as we are all descendants from our African Mother all those centuries ago, that these mobile safaris more than any other form of Africa travel make most visitors feel as though they have returned home.
The safari days themselves run similarly to a more modern take on safari with a long morning activity followed by siesta and an afternoon/evening activity, however it is the flexibility that the guides who run these mobile safaris bring to the table that means anything is possible. That is the freedom mobile safaris offer.
In Botswana we feel that there are 4 or 5 top class operations that we would happily promote and proactively recommend to would-be adventurers. They all have their own variations of set departure and totally tailor made private trips which you can read about under each one’s portfolio below.
Mobile safaris of this nature are not for everyone and it is important that you have open and honest discussions with Tailormade Africa so that we may get to know you and help you ascertain whether or not you have the safari personality and sense of adventure to fully appreciate and enjoy this remarkable form of Africa safari.
Located in the remote far eastern corner of Botswana where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet, Mashatu Game Reserve lies in a vast landscape of open plains, grassland, riverine forests, rocky hills, marshland and majestic sandstone ridges. The reserve comprises 29,000 hectares (72,000 acres) of privately owned land in the conserved wilderness area known as the Northern Tuli Game Reserve and is where Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa meet.
Mashatu, translated as "Land of Giants”, takes its name from the locally-sacrosanct Mashatu or Nyala berry tree (Xanthrocercis Zambesiaca). These magnificent dark green trees, which are found along the rivers in the reserve, provide refuge, shade and food to a vast array of wildlife. Mashatu, which is one of the largest privately owned game reserves in southern Africa, is home to one of the largest herds of elephant on the continent and provides excellent sitings of Africa's big seven giants including the giraffe, eland, ostrich, the kori bustard, the iconic baobab tree and the king of beasts: the lion.
The Mashatu Game Reserve enjoys ecological biodiversity uncommon in other game reserves due to the diversity of the landscapes. Three members of the Big Five : leopard, lion and elephant are complimented by some lesser well-known, species, including the aardwolf (or “earth wolf”), the bat-eared fox, the African wildcat, the honey badger, the spotted hyena and the black-backed jackal. Mashatu is also home to more than 350 bird species, ensuring it is an alluring spot for those interested in bird life and bird photography.