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August 30, 2018

Can you truly be a Responsible Traveller?

Filed under: General News — Tags: — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 10:02 am

Food for thought on being a responsible traveller by our Marketing Director, James Wilson. 

A new term, although a phenomenon that has existed for decades, is that of “Overtourism.” Rising tourist numbers continue to damage vulnerable environments around the world by plundering their resources. Quite often they bring significantly less revenue to the economy of the places they visit than they should, because the infrastructure in place to bring these tourists and cater for them, is often foreign owned. A classic example would be the big cruise ship industry. Renowned for what can only be described as a “dump & go” tactic — as far as both their passengers and emissions into the ocean are concerned. If you haven’t read Overbookedby Elizabeth Becker, you really should. A very sobering insight into the state of global tourism.

Responsible Tourism, on the other hand, aims at using tourism to improve places to live in (for the local community) and make them more appealing places to visit (for the travellers). I’ve had the privilege living in Botswana, Southern Africa, for the last seven-years and can quite confidently say that tourism here is in a great place. If one looks at the positive impact the company I work for, Desert & Delta Safaris, has had and will continue to have on the region, its easy to see that you canbe a Responsible Traveller. To explain why, we need to understand how tourism in Botswana developed.

Responsible safaris at Camp Xakanaxa

Aerial view of Camp Xakanaxa in the Moremi Game Reserve

A history of tourism development in Botswana

When Botswana took independence in 1966 it was one of the poorest countries in the world, even by African standards. Colonialism did not reach Botswana, largely due to the lack of resources. Probably a blessing, because ironically, one year after the country declared itself an independent nation from the protectorate (a partially governed and protected nation but not colonised) of Britain they discovered diamonds. In just over 20-years the diamond industry grew to make up over 50% of Botswana’s GDP and became one of the world’s largest diamond producers.

Where did that leave tourism? As the diamond industry was flourishing by 1990, only trophy-hunting was the popular form of tourism for wealthy people from around the world. Hunters would pay thousands of dollars to claim their piece of Africa. Apart from the odd overlander and adventure traveller, in 1990, tourism in Botswana as we know it today was still very much in its infancy. Desert & Delta Safaris, one of the most established tourism companies in the country, was only just born in the mid 1980’s.

Those who did travel to Botswana for a photographic safari (non-consumptive/non-hunting safari) were rewarded with one of the most unique travelling experiences in the world. Pure, untouched wilderness. Untainted by human development with massive areas of migrating wildlife, unique ecosystems and some of the largest concentrations of wildlife on the continent.

Hotels and lodges were being built all over the continent and infrastructure was put in place to bring travellers to help grow the industry. Botswana recognised that racing to claim their piece of the growing industry would compromise the uniqueness of the natural heritage they possessed — the very allure that attracted the first few travellers. As a result, trophy-hunting would eventually be banned and tourism in Botswana would grow in a measured and sustainable manner labelled by the government as a low volume, high revenue approach.

Guided bush walk in Botswana's Okavango Delta

On a guided bush walk in Botswana’s Okavango Delta

A Responsible approach to Tourism development 

Considering the economy was so young, developing a responsible tourism industry didn’t come without its challenges.

At this stage in 1990, Desert & Delta Safariscomprised of just two properties, Camp Moremi and Camp Okavango. Built by an American investor, skilled labour was outsourced to expatriates and management was foreign run. Our owners recognised at the time that while protecting the natural resources was fundamental to a sustainable tourism industry, developing the human resource of the nation would be the main focus of the company. Why? Simply because without including the local community you wouldn’t have a sustainable industry. The wealth of this high value, low volume tourism approach had to trickle down to the local population. In doing so, only then could Botswana pride itself in both protecting the natural wilderness and developing the economy.

The first Botswana run luxury tourism company

Fast-forward from 1990 to 1997, and under the limited company, Chobe Holdings, Desert & Delta Safaris formed part of the first tourism enterprise to be listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. A few years later and Desert & Delta Safarisbecame the first company of its kind to be managed entirely by Botswana Citizens.

Not only are these luxury camps run exclusively by Batswana, today the majority of the senior management at these properties comprises of women. Given the current state of female empowerment and local ownership in tourism in Africa, this is a significant benchmark.

What stands out is, along with likeminded colleagues and a sensible government approach, Desert & Delta Safarishas managed to both protect the natural heritage of the country, as well as develop the human potential of the nation in a responsible manner. And without photographic tourism to protect our wilderness areas, they could be under threat from other consumptive industries such as agriculture or mining.

So yes… you can be a Responsible Traveller!If you seek out a company like Desert & Delta Safaris, you are not only being a responsible traveller, you are actively helping to protect the natural heritage of our country while developing the people of our country’s livelihood. And you will do so while enjoying a safari that will leave you with memories of a lifetime and a burning desire to return again!

To have achieved this is largely attributed to the wonderful people of our country and the amazing people that are involved with Desert & Delta Safaris. I would encourage you to watch the below videowhich is dedicated to those people.

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August 14, 2018

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy – Our Environment

Filed under: General News — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 5:50 am

Today we are excited to release the third and final video on the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES philosophy. This video highlights our commitment to protecting our environment and minimising our footprint on the precious resources we manage.

If you missed the first two videos you can watch and read about them here:

  1. Introducing the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy
  2. The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy – Our People

Travelling with us, you are more than just a Responsible Traveller. You are an active contributor to protecting the natural heritage of some of Africa’s last remaining wilderness areas.

Botswana is widely recognised as one of Africa’s most diverse and pristine natural environments with a large percentage of the country under national parks and protected by wildlife concessions. As custodians of this natural heritage, Desert & Delta Safaris understands the role we play in conserving and protecting the areas in which we operate.

Desert & Delta Safaris is active in our endeavours to raise awareness and further funding for the Botswana Rhino Relocation and Reintroduction program, an initiative which involves key Government departments together with the private sector, working together for the protection of the countries rhino population. Our Leroo La Tau Rhino Package is a tour that has been promoted to our traveller network for over 10-years and has consequently helped raise hundreds of thousands of Pula in facilitating the a growing population of Rhino in a remote area of Botswana.

In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, Desert & Delta Safaris, through Chobe Game Lodge, has introduced Africa’s first fleet of electric powered CO2 emission free vehicles and safari boats to the Chobe region. Offering a quieter and superior safari experience for our travellers, the vehicles and boats have dramatically reduced our usage of fuel and significantly lowered our carbon emissions at our largest property. Our solar projects extended beyond Chobe Game Lodge when we build a solar plant at Camp Okavango ensuring the newly built lodge runs entirely on solar energy.

As members of Botswana Tourism, several of the Desert & Delta Safaris camps and lodges are EcoTourism rated, the highest status recognised by Botswana Tourism for sound sustainable tourism initiatives. This includes the usage of grey water treatment plants, careful waste management protocols as well as the use of sustainable building materials wherever possible.

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy

Desert & Delta Safaris is at the forefront in developing a sustainable tourism model and this film shares with you the role we, with the help our travellers, play in protecting the environment and Botswana’s natural heritage for future generations.

For a full overview of the CARES Philosophy download the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy Fact Sheet.

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August 8, 2018

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy – Our People

Filed under: General News — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 5:14 pm

Earlier this week we launched the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES philosophy. If you missed the first post you can read it here – Introducing The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy. Today, we are highlighting the people element of our CARES philosophy with the launch of our second video.

Developing the human potential of the people of Botswana is fundamental to creating a tourism industry that protects our fragile natural environment and ultimately a sustainable industry. We are proud that the Desert & Delta Safaris properties are managed exclusively by Botswana Citizens and 55% of the senior staff are women.
This video gives you an insight into the journey both our staff and guests have taken in developing such a leading Responsible Tourism company.
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The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES philosophy covers several aspects relating to our people and the citizens of Botswana.

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The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy

C – CAREERS & COMMUNITY:

Through a variety of initiatives, Desert & Delta Safaris supports local communities, focused on creating career opportunities in the tourism industry.

Offering bursaries for tertiary education, the Leaders for the Future initiativeis helping develop Botswana as a leading tourism destination. To date, approximately BWP380, 000 has gone into assisting students with their tourism studies. Students who have successfully completed their studies through the program are guaranteed work placements and career opportunities within the local travel industry.

With several of our camps and lodges within close proximity to communities, we create career opportunities in our organization for individuals from within those communities. Through ongoing training and development, staff members within our camps can expand their knowledge, forging a career within the Botswana travel industry.

The Youth Development Program focuses on creating work place opportunities for youth from disadvantaged social environments. Working closely with the Khumaga Primary school, we offer career guidance, education assistance, day trips through the Makgadikgadi National Park, as well as lectures for the youth of the Khumaga Village. The Tsidillo Stimulation Centre offers direct aid and support for the children of Maun with learning, mental and physical disabilities.

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A – ADVANCED HEALTH PROGRAM: 

Desert & Delta Safaris employs over 500 staff members within the eight safari lodges. Owing to the remote location of our properties and the amount of time staff members spend living and working in the camps, access to medical care is a challenge. In light of this and in an effort to better support our staff members medical challenges, Desert & Delta Safaris employs a full time company doctor.

Run as a family practice, the company doctor conducts regular visits to each of the properties within the circuit allowing him to get to know the staff members individually to understand their specific medical needs, not only administering a GP service but ensuring that the best medical advice and mentoring for all our staff is freely available.

Offering HIV/AIDS testing, ensuring anti-retroviral treatment is effectively administered as well psychological support are critical functions of the doctor, all done with complete confidentiality to ensure job security. All medical treatment supplied by the company doctor is funded by Desert & Delta Safaris.

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R – RESPONSIBILITY TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Coming up in our next post

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E – EQUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE: 

As a Botswana owned and registered company, equality in the workplace is of fundamental importance to Desert & Delta Safaris. The Botswana safari industry is one of the country’s biggest contributors to GDP but has historically offered limited opportunities for Botswana citizens in senior positions within the industry.

Through an annual training schedule, the Desert & Delta Safaris Citizen Development Program educates, trains and mentors Botswana citizens to help them acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to attain employment as camp managers. Owing to the ongoing success of the program, the Desert & Delta Safaris camps have been managed exclusively by Botswana citizens since 2014. An achievement which has had a profoundly positive impact on our business by creating career goals and growth for our staff.

Further to creating more employment opportunities for Botswana citizens, Desert & Delta Safaris is committed to promoting gender equality by actively addressing the gender divide that exists within the travel sector. With this in mind, the current camp management group has a 55% female representation, highlighting the important role women play in management positions. Female empowerment is also brought to the forefront with Africa’s first all-female safari guiding team at Chobe Game Lodge.

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S – SOUL & SPIRITUALITY:

At the heart of Desert & Delta Safaris is the Staff Wellness team who are committed to ensuring the well-being of our staff. This includes a deep understanding of the cultural and spiritual challenges our staff face working in remote locations away from home.

To ensure a healthy work environment, the staff wellness team are dedicated exclusively to coordinating regular visits from the company Pastor and spiritual leader. During these visits guidance talks, family advice and motivational classes and religious sermons are offered to the staff within the work environment. This support structure ensures a healthy, happy and welcoming soul while solidifying bonds between our staff by creating a work environment that is conduction to a small family business.

Our people are fundamental to the on-going success of Desert & Delta Safaris as a leading lodge operator in Botswana. Recognising the human potential within our business, the Desert & Delta CARES philosophy places our people at the centre of our organisation.

Our final blog on the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES philosophy  showcasing our many environmental and responsible tourism initiatives will be released next week Tuesday (14 August).

Read the next post – The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy – The Environment

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August 6, 2018

Introducing the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy

Filed under: General News — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 2:29 pm

Established in 1982, Desert & Delta Safaris is one of the most successful safari operators in Botswana. Our philosophy and core values in supporting our people, protecting the natural heritage of Botswana and creating lifelong memories for our travellers, is at the forefront of how we run our business.

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy explains the very foundation upon which our company was built 35 years ago – what we have achieved over the years and our vision for the future.

The word CARES is important to us as it clearly portrays our philosophy in caring for our people, the environment and our travellers.

We care about each one of our staff members who all play a fundamental role in creating memorable experiences for our travellers. We care about their health, their well-being and their future potential as individuals. We care about their families and the communities they come from. Finally, as a Botswana born and registered company, we care about our citizens and developing the future potential of our people.

Owing to the nature and location of our business in pristine wilderness environments, we care about our natural heritage. We care about being eco-conscious, driving sustainable and innovative initiatives within our daily operations which protect and limit the impact our business has on the areas in which we work.

As a lodge operator responsible for crafting memorable, often once in a life time experiences, we care about our guests and the experiences they have in Botswana. With over 35 years in the safari industry, we know that by caring for our people and our environment – we will ultimately ensure our guests leave having enjoyed an all-encompassing Botswana safari. Furthermore, by practicing our CARES Philosophy, our travellers can be assured that their travel spend with us is being utilised in an accountable and responsible manner.

Most importantly, Desert & Delta Safaris cares about Botswana and our philosophy is one which incorporates all our efforts and aspirations which will ultimately benefit the future of our country and Batswana people as a whole.

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy

This video is an introduction to the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES philosophy. More videos highlighting our philosophies in caring for our people and the environment will be released this week so please check back on our blog for updates. A Desert & Delta Safaris CARES philosophy document is also available for download.

Read the remainder of the Desert & Delta Safaris CARES blog posts on human development and environmental protection:

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy – Our People

The Desert & Delta Safaris CARES Philosophy – The Environment

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March 15, 2018

Lakidzani Twiimone (Lucky), Promoted to Staff Wellness Coordinator

Filed under: General News — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 9:11 am

Lakidzani Twiimone (a.k.a Lucky) is no stranger to our camp staff having joined Desert & Delta Safaris over 10 years ago. Last week however, she visited the camps for the first time in her new role as our company Staff Wellness Coordinator.

Owing to her extensive experience within Desert & Delta Safaris as well as her commitment and passion for training and education, Lucky was recently promoted to the vacant role in our Maun head office. As Staff Wellness Coordinator, Lucky will be responsible for implementing and developing our comprehensive staff wellness program which was first implemented in 2002. The program is focused on improving the lives of our staff through a host of initiatives. These include several on-going community & career development projects, our advanced health care program (incorporating physical, mental and spiritual health) as well as our successful citizen management program to name a few.

Walter Smith (Desert & Delta Safaris Director) shares his comments on Lucky’s appointment;

Without our people, we actually do not have a company- ensuring our people are cared for, especially through our staff wellness programs, is a priority to our operations in Botswana. Apart from her experience in the camps and Lodge’s, combined with her management experience, Lucky is a trained counsellor. She is familiar with our operations, knows many of our staff and therefore is the perfect person for this job.
Lucky - Desert & Delta Safaris Staff Welness Coordinator

Lucky with Walter Smith (Director) and Munihango Limbo (Human Resources Manager) at Camp Okavango

Here is an outline of Lucky’s journey to her new role at Desert & Delta Safaris. A shining example of how commitment, passion and drive can take you from strength to strength. We wish Lucky all the best in her new role and are looking forward to watching her grow as she tackles her new challenges.

Lucky’s career path to Staff Wellness Coordinator:

2009 – Lucky started working at Desert & Delta Safaris on the 21st October 2007 as a waitress at Leroo La Tau.

2008 -Promoted to floater, working at the stores, bar and waitressing

2009– Promoted to a full time bar attendant.

2010 -In January she left the camps to study Hospitality Management as well as a course in HIV & AIDS and Counselling for 6 months. After completing her course she came back to Desert & Delta Safaris where she joined our citizen management training program.

2011– Moved to Xugana Island Lodge where she worked as an Assistant Manager.

2012– Continued her studies training as a peer educator with ILO (International Labour Organization).

2013 -Worked as a relief manager within the Desert & Delta Safaris circuit at Xugana, Leroo La Tau, Camp Okavango, Camp Moremi.

2014 – Promoted to a full time Camp Manageress at Savute Safari Lodge where she worked for four years.

2018– Started her new role as the Desert & Delta Safaris Staff Wellness Coordinator.

 

At the core of Desert & Delta Safaris philosophy is our commitment to our staff. We are conscious of the need to develop the potential of the country’s citizens, with the tourism industry providing a valuable channel for growth and development. We are committed to enhancing the skills of our staff within the company through an active and very successful skills development programme. Read more on the Desert & Delta Safaris Philosophy.

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January 17, 2018

Waterlilies, a plant steeped in history and tradition

Filed under: General News — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 1:05 pm

In 2017, through our corporate social responsibility scheme, Desert & Delta Safaris has been financially supporting the Peter Smith University of Botswana (PSUB) herbarium. PSUB is making their collection of preserved plants useful and accessible to a wider public, including those who plan for and manage the future of the Okavango delta.

The legacy collection of specimens of the flora of the Okavango delta in northern Botswana housed at PSUB are gradually being prepared for digital scanning so that the digital image can be used to enter data into the BRAHMS database that is specifically designed for herbarium management. PSUB’s work focus this year has been on the personal collection of Mr. Peter Alexander Smith who spent more than thirty years living and working in Ngamiland. His collection of specimens dates back to the early 1970s, having digital images of them will remove the need to handle the actual specimens.

As part of their studies, the team at PSUB write monthly articles on their studies in the Okavango Delta. Last month Mr. Mmusi Mmusi, one of the PSUB Herbarium Assistants sent us his article on the waterlilies of the Okavango Delta. If you are as passionate about plants and nature as we are you will find this fascinating. Happy reading! 

This month we look at one of the indigenous waterlilies found in the Okavango delta. Its full scientific name is Nymphaea nouchali Burm. f. var. caerulea (Sav.) Verdc. and belongs to the family Nymphaeaceae. Its common names are, in English blue water lily or blue lotus, sometimes also called frog’s pulpit, in Afrikaans it is knowns as blouwaterlelie or kaaimanblom or paddapreekstoel. In SeYei, a tribe of people native to the Okavango delta region, the fruits are called makungara. In Setswana the plant and its edible rhizome is called tswii.

Waterlilies in the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Older flowers fade from blue to white. Photo credit Mr. Mmusi Mmusi

The waterlilies family, Nymphaeaceae, is an old and evolutionarily primitive one. ‘Numphaios’ is ancient Greek and means sacred to the nymphs. A ‘nymph’, in Greek and Latin mythology, is a minor female nature deity and they were the crafters of nature’s wild beauty. The meaning of the specific epithet ‘nouchali’ has only been traced with the assistance of staff at Kew who reported, to the South African National Biodiversity Institute, that one of their specimens contains a note that Noakhali is a district in Bangladesh. ‘Caerulea’ is from Latin meaning blue and refers to the flower colour.  The genus Nymphaea consists of roughly 40 species found in tropical and temperate climates of both hemispheres. The family is full of synonymy, because different populations, or colour forms, have been described as separate species. These have since been sunk (combined back) into one species. In some cases the same plants have been described as different species by different botanists, or the name of one species has been misapplied to another species. It all gets rather confusing!

Waterlilies in the Okavango Delta

Nymphaea nouchali flowers
standing above the leaves. Photo credit Mr. Mmusi Mmusi

Commercially, there are many variants and hundreds of hybrids available, they come in all colours, shapes and sizes. This beautiful plant commonly seen on the slower flowing rivers of the Okavango delta and in the floodplains, is a rooted, perennial aquatic herb with a spongy tuberous rhizome anchored in the soil by spreading roots. The water lily does not have a true stem, the leaves are on long petioles (leaf stalks) that arise directly from the rhizome.

PSUB speciman

PSUB herbarium specimen
PAS1848 Nymphaea nouchali var.
caerulea. Image copyright PSUB

The leaves are large and flat, rounded or oval sometimes with notched margins, floating on water surfaces, up to 40 cm in diameter. The leaves are cleft, almost to the centre, where the petiole is attached. This cleft allows the leaf flexibility, allowing it to move with waves or under pressure from a bird’s foot and not be submerged or broken. The leaves are relatively short-lived and are replaced regularly throughout the growing season. They start out as a soft shiny green at the centre of the plant. As they age, the petiole lengthens, pushing the leaf towards the outer perimeter making room for the new growth, the leaves may develop light brown or purple splashes. One plant can spread over an area of about 1 metre.

The large flowers are blueish-white, fading to white as they mature. They are held above the water at the tip of the petiole and appear almost constantly from spring until the end of summer (September to February). They are bisexual, star-like and regular (actinomorphic), with 4 sepals, green on the outside and white to blue on the inside, and many blue petals. In the centre of the flower are numerous bright golden yellow stamens. The flowers open in early to mid-morning and close completely in late afternoon and stay closed all night. The opening and closing mechanism of the flowers is controlled by the sepals. If they are removed, the flower loses the ability to close. A fully open flower lasts for about four days. The flowers are sweetly fragrant and are visited constantly by bees who are the most likely pollinator.

The tubers, known as ‘tswii’, form part of the diet of the local people, they may be eaten raw or are more commonly boiled with either fish or beef. The tubers can be used for dyeing of palm leaves which are used to make baskets. The baskets from the Okavango delta region are valued craft items known globally for their complex beauty. The roots and stem are used as a diuretic, decoction of the flower is said to be narcotic and an aphrodisiac, the leaf is applied directly to the affected area to treat blisters. Pigmy geese, wattled cranes and some fish species feed on the tiny seeds inside the fruit. Honey bees and other insects utilize the nectar produced by the flower. The ripe fruit consists of many greyish-black seeds, these have been eaten by man and can be ground in to flour.

This article was written by Mr. Mmusi Mmusi PSUB Herbarium Assistant and edited by Mrs. Frances Murray-Hudson, PSUB Data Mobilzation Project Assistant PSUB Herbarium at the Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Maun. The image of specimen is © PSUB 2017 and the photographs ©Mmusi Mmusi 2017

For more information on the Peter Smith University of Botswana Herbarium (PSUB) visit http://www.orc.ub.bw/index.php/psub.

 

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August 30, 2017

Safari365 Go On A Botswana Safari With Us

Filed under: General News — Tags: , , , , , — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 8:10 am

Safari365, one of our long standing Cape Town based travel industry partners recently spent some time with us on a safari through several of our lodges. During their stay, they visited Camp Moremi, Camp Xakanaxa, Camp Okavango, Savute Safari Lodge, Chobe Savanna Lodge and finally Chobe Game Lodge, covering the Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve and Okavango Delta on their trip.

Visiting these areas afforded them the opportunity to experience a lot of what Botswana and specifically Desert & Delta Safaris has to offer. From the abundant wildlife to the pristine landscapes and incredible safari experiences that our travellers enjoy when visiting Botswana with us. When hosting our travel industry partners, it is important that they have an authentic experience that accurately represents the journeys we create for our guests. This ensures that the activities, in lodge experiences, interactions with our staff and every other aspect of a guests stay is experienced by the travel professionals who facilitate your safari – giving them a real-life experience of Botswana.

With many years experience in providing amazing safari experiences for their travellers, it was a privilege to host Safari365 in Botswana. While travelling through our camps the Safari365 team were hard at work creating amazing videos to offer their prospective travellers a taste of what a Botswana safari is all about. We had a blast hosting them on their safari and love the videos they created from their time at each of the lodges.

The videos offer a snippet of what it’s like to go on safari with us. Although it is very difficult to capture the essence of a whole safari holiday in a short video, they certainly did an excellent job. Below we have embedded the videos for you to enjoy. Click on the menu tab on the top left of the video to view all five videos.

Thanks to the team at Safari365 for visiting our Botswana lodges and for putting these amazing video clips together. For more information on Safari365 visit their website.

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September 29, 2016

Botswana 50 | 50 Fun Facts About Botswana

Filed under: General News — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 2:06 pm

This year Botswana reaches a major milestone in celebrating 50 years of independence. Botswana first gained independence from Britain on the 30th September 1966. An important day to celebrate as Botswana continues to develop as one of Africa’s success stories.

In celebration of Botswana 50, we have put together fifty fun facts about Botswana and Desert & Delta Safari for you to enjoy. As a young nation, Botswana has some much to celebrate and the below facts merely highlight what we love so much about our beloved country. Desert & Delta Safaris is proud to be a 100% Botswana owned company so we have included some interesting facts about us which you may no know.

Happy reading and ‘PULA’ to all who celebrate Botswana 50 with us!

Botswana gained independence on the 30 September 1966 making this year the 50th year of independence. Yes, we mentioned it above but it’s a fact so we saying it again!
Sir Seretse Khama was the first elected president of Botswana and served as the countries president until his untimely death on the 13 July 1980
Ian Khama is the current president of Botswana and is the son of the first president Sir Seretse Khama. He took office on the 01 April 2008 
Earlier this year the United Nations Economic & Social Council nominated current president Ian Khama as the best president in the world. 
Botswana is the 48th largest country in the world, around the same size as Madagascar or France
Diamonds were first discovered in Botswana in 1967, one year after gaining independence.
Today Botswana is one of the largest diamond producing countries in the world with the world’s richest diamond mine in Jwaneng 
Tourism and Beef production are the second and third highest GDP contributors to the economy with diamond production being the first
Botswana is the third most sparsely populated country in Africa with a population of just over 2 million people.
Prior to independence, Botswana was one of the world’s poorest countries but has since transformed into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. 
The currency in Botswana is the Pula which in Setswana means rain. With its natural arid conditions, rain is a precious resource which is why the local currency is referred to as Pula. The term ‘Pula’ is also often used in greetings or celebrations instead of the common “cheers” phrase in English or “prosit” in German.
The blue colour on the Botswana flag represents water or rain while the black and white colours represent the diverse race groups within the country existing harmoniously.
70% of Botswana is covered by the semi-arid Kalahari Desert making the phenomenon of the Okavango Delta all the more fascinating
Almost 40% of the entire countries landmass is protected within national parks, game reserves and wildlife management areas (commonly known as concessions). A very high percentage when compared to most countries around the world
Botswana has a high end, low impact tourism business model which important ensures the protection of the countries precious natural recourses while placing the tourism industry as one of the countries top income providers.
Botswana is one of Africa’s premier conservation success stories with sound government policies in place to protect the countries natural recourses including a recent ban on all hunting activities
The Botswana government has formed a unique partnership with local tourism operators to create a unique initiative called the Botswana Rhino Relocation & Reintroduction aimed at reintroducing rhino to strategic areas within the country in a bid to save the species from extinction. An excellent example of government and private business working together toward a common goal. 
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the countries largest reserve and the second largest game reserve in the world covering a total of 52 800 square km’s
Desert & Delta Safaris is a 100% Botswana owned company and has been crafting unique safaris for 34 years.
We have a total of eight safari lodges covering Botswana’s top travel destinations including the Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans and the Greater Chobe Region.
Desert & Delta Safaris employs approximately 400 staff across our 8 safari lodges and head office in Maun highlighting the positive impact the safari industry has in providing employment in Botswana.
Our safari lodges are 100% locally managed. An achievement we believe is key to the ongoing success of our business model. 
Chobe Game Lodge, Camp Okavango and Leroo La Tau are all EcoTourism rated, the highest sustainable tourism rating achievable on Botswana Tourism’s sustainability rating with the rest of the lodges rated Green and Green+, a sign of Desert & Delta’s commitment to responsible tourism practices.
The Chobe National Park was Botswana’s first declared national park gaining status as the Chobe National Park in 1967 – one year after independence.
Botswana has the highest concentration of elephants in Africa with the largest concentrations of elephant within the country found in the Chobe National Park in the north.  
The border between Botswana and Zambia is one of the shortest in the world covering just 700m. 
Chobe Game Lodge was built in the early 1970’s within the Chobe National Park and remains the only lodge located inside the park on the Chobe Riverfront. 
Chobe Game Lodge has four electric game viewers and three electric safari boats, making it the only lodge in Africa to operate a fleet of electric, carbon emission free vehicles.
Albert Ndereki is the longest standing employee at Chobe Game Lodge. He was one of the builders who worked on the reconstruction in the 1980’s with now director Desert & Delta Safaris director Jonathan Gibson. Today Albert is the lodges Eco Manager and responsible for the many sustainable tourism initiatives.
In 1975 Liz Taylor and Richard Burton got married (for the second time) at Chobe Game Lodge.
Chobe Game Lodge was the first lodge in Botswana to be awarded 5-star status.
One of the countries most famous destinations is the Okavango Delta, one of the largest natural inland deltas in the world and home to an abundance of fauna and flora.
The Okavango Delta became the 1000th inscribed site on the UNESCO World Heritage list 2014.
The water that forms the Okavango Delta comes from the Angolan Highlands and travels approximately R1,200 Km’s to reach the Okavango Delta.
The mokoro, or dug out canoe, is the most popular way to explore the Okavango Delta as a tourist but it was and still is today a traditional form of transport for locals living within the delta system. The mokoros were originally painstakingly crafted from ancient trees. Today they are built from fibreglass to avoid unnecessary destruction of the natural environment.
Camp Okavango was originally built in the 1980’s and Camp Moremi in 1982 by Jessie Neil and were the first safari lodges to be operated under the Desert & Delta Safaris brand.
Camp Okavango was completely rebuilt and opened as a new lodge in April 2016. The new lodge operates on solar power and continues to offer guests unforgettable safaris through the Okavango Delta.
John Kata based at Camp Okavango is Desert & Delta Safaris longest standing guide having worked for the company since the companies founding in 1982. Interestingly, John grew up on one of the islands in the Okavango Delta nor far from the current location of Camp Okavango. 
Xugana Island Lodge is the smallest of our properties with 8 rooms. It also boasts one of the most spectacular locations in the heart of the Okavango Delta overlooking the Xugana Lagoon, a deep permanent lagoon.
Savute Safari Lodge was the fourth lodge to join the group and is the original Lloyd’s Camp which made the Savute region famous for its stories of epic wildlife sightings. Today Savute maintains its reputation as one of the best wildlife destinations in Botswana.
The famed Savute Channel is renowned for its erratic behaviour having dried out from 1983 to 2008 and flowing again until early 2015 when it once again began to dry out. Only time can tell what will happen next. 
The Savute Marsh is famous for its epic wildlife documentaries, recent notable features by local filmmaker Brad Bestelink include Africa’s Fishing Leopard, Africa’s Giant Killers & Clash of Africa’s Giants.
The Savute Marsh is approximately 10,878 square Km in size and is the relic of an ancient inland lake which was cut off from its water supply by tectonic plate movements.
The Makgadikgadi Pans are the largest salt pans in the world stretching over 12,000 square kilometres.
Botswana is home to the second largest and longest mammal migration in Africa with thousands of zebra and wildebeest moving between the Chobe Region and Nxai Pan in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
Leroo La Tau (located in a private concession bordering the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park) is a joint venture with the local Khumaga community. A successful tourism initiative which directly benefits the community. 
The Moremi Game Reserve, where Camp Moremi and Camp Xakanaxa are located, was the first reserve in Africa to be established by local residents. The Batawana people of Ngamiland, under the leadership of the deceased Chief Moremi III’s wife, Mrs Moremi, took the bold initiative to proclaim Moremi a game reserve in 1963.
Camp Xakanaxa was the most recent lodge to join the Desert & Delta Safaris fold having been purchased by the company in.
Forming part of the Okavango Delta system, the Moremi Game Reserve is an area of immense diversity and home to an abundance of wildlife making it one of the countries most popular destinations for game viewing.
Chobe Savanna Lodge is located on the Namibian side of the Chobe River. Due to its unique location on a peninsula overlooking the Puku Flats, it is the ideal location from which to experience the Chobe River in a quiet, remote setting.

We hope you enjoyed our Botswana 50 | 50 fun facts about Botswana. If anything we hope it shed some light on Botswana’s success story and why it is without doubt one of Africa’s top safari and wildlife destinations. When you start planning your first or next African adventure, put Botswana on the top of your list.

For more information, Desert & Delta Safaris and our 32-year journey in Botswana read our history page. We are a proudly Botswana safari operator and look forward to welcoming you to Botswana!

The Okavango Delta with Botswana 50

On safari in the heart of the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

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August 16, 2016

Mytie’s Adventure To Savute And The Okavango Delta

Filed under: General News — Tags: , — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 7:07 am

This is a guest post from Mytie Moutswi, our Chobe Game Lodge marketing assistant. She recently visited Savute Safari Lodge and Camp Okavango for the first time.

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My name is Mytie Moutswi, the Marketing Assistant for Desert & Delta Safaris’ (DDS) Chobe Game Lodge (CGL) and Chobe Savanna Lodge (CSVL). I recently went on an adventurous safari trip to some of DDS properties for the first time. This is how it all went down.

July 23rd, 2016 saw me leaving my comfort zone and embarking on a nicely planed itinerary of our camps. When James (Business Development Manager at Chobe Game Lodge) warned “Mytie say goodbye to cellphone reception”, well I thought he was joking. My last post was on the Safari Air flight taking off from Kasane Airport en-route to the Savute Airstrip. I forgot about the fact that I had no access to the outside world the moment I saw the beauty of Chobe from the skies. Cellphone reception? Who needs network when you have all this beauty, right.

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SAVUTE SAFARI LODGE (SSL)

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It was sad to say aurevoir to the other guests on the aeroplane heading to Camp Xakanaxa and Carel, our very gentle pilot. But OB’s warm welcome on the airstrip made me fit in instantly. We drove to Savute Safari Lodge, and boom, my first zebras in a while. Hello Savute! Reuniting with Osi, Sech and Lucky (Savute Safari Lodge Camp Managers) was the highlight of my morning. I also got to meet the awesome Lala and Emmanuel. They are running that lodge like it is their home with so much love and the attention to detail.

Their standard rooms are enormous. We did our walk around and got to meet with everyone. It is always nice to interact with the back of house staff. I was impressed with rooms 1-6 which had the best view of the river. From there we headed off to the newly built family room. As we walked through the large sliding doors I spotted my luggage neatly tucked away in the corner. That whole room was mine for the night. Wow! I loved the kiddies’ room the most with the nature books and colouring papers.

Mytie at Savute Safari Lodge

OB was my guide for my stay which was great and we were also joined by Luca who had us in stitches throughout the drive. OB may have only started working at SSL in 2014 but he knew the place like the back of his hand. He told us all about the Savuti Channel and Savute Marsh which was fascinating to hear. It was a lovely drive which included excellent sightings from wildebeests to Kudus to jackals and Saddle-billed storks.

We got back to the lodge just in time for park closure. OB came to get us from the rooms at the agreed times. Pre-dinner drinks, dinner and the singing was awesome. But the crème de la crème was watching the Nature TV on HD/3D. Lots and lots of elephant at their night beauty spa right in front of the lodge. Then out of nowhere a heavily expecting hyena pranced down to the water for a drink and the ellies were giving her a hard time but they eventually cut her some slack and allowing her to drink. The fire place was where the stories unravelled and the spotlight was on my dear Luca, he is not the shy type hey.

The morning after was awesome. Lots of giraffes, wildebeests, kudus, impalas, jackals, cory bustard, lilac breasted rollers and my very first tawny eagle feeding on what seemed like a bird, wow moment for me!!

Savute for me in a nutshell was Flawless. Great service, great team and great management.

Read more about Savute Safari Lodge

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CAMP OKAVANGO (Camp O.)

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Stop number 2 for me. James, our Chobe Game Lodge marking manager, is going to kill me for saying this but it is my truth, Camp Okavango is the epitome of what 5 star; no scratch that, 5-Diamond is all about. It is luxurious in every way possible. This place in my own words is our version of the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, just with trees and not crystal blue waters. If I was to tie the knot, this would be my perfect honeymoon camp. What I am trying to say is that you get your money’s worth from staying here. They are doing what I am always preaching to others which is “If you treat your staff as VIPs they are going to go out there and give guests VIP treatment”.

From my Safari Air flight I went straight to my very first Mokoro with the Zakes Master. After a rather windy day and bumpy ride I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and emotionally soothing activity. We saw a few pied and malachite kingfishers, and oh oh!, a snowflake lily. To top it off we were surprised with a beautiful sundowner stop at the end of the airstrip when we got back from the mokoro ride. Once we finished our aahs and oohs we went to the lodge and there Unami was awaiting our arrival with warm towels (Thank you DDS camps. This is a great touch. It means a great deal to the guests as they were very appreciative of this gesture in all the camps).

Mytie at Camp Okavango

It was great reuniting with Unami and BK, the soft spoken Tanya and Kessy were awesome. We did a bit of sight-seeing before she took me to my nesting place, Room 6. My mouth was agape and I struggled to close it. I can say without shame that I shed a tear. The décor, I shall ask permission to use when I build my house.

Just as was done at SSL, we were escorted from the rooms at a time we had agreed for pre-dinner drinks at the bar. The food, service and choir were all amazing although I must say Savute is giving them a run for their money when it comes to to the singing. After dinner we headed down to the fireplace for a little story-telling and guess who came out to play in the nights sky… Scorpio!

Morning wake-up call was right on time and off-we went on our walking Safari. I was a bit sceptical at first after one of the guests pulled out at the last minute. Boat cruise, mokoro and then our exploration of the Mojei Island. Did I mention that at 4am I heard lions calling and yet I faced my fears and went walking anyways. We heard the Lions calling again once we got off the mokoros and the baboons were barking like mad. I looked at Zakes. He just smiled and turned to Boston who gave us the thumbs-up. Then we saw her on the other side of the channel. Heart pounding ever so loudly I watched in silence as the beautiful lioness stood motionless. Eventually she got bored of us standing still like logs and walked off into the wilderness through the tall grass. The bird life and game were amazing. We saw lots of reed buck and a reasonable amount of giraffe and elephant. I feel after that walk I can do Mount Kilimanjaro next.

Back at the lodge after brunch we completed a quick site inspection to see the rest of the lodge. The family room was huge and it too had a library in the kiddies’ room with art stuff to keep them entertained. The other rooms on eastern part of the camp were equally as beautiful but the view from Room 12 was breathtaking.

As soon as Unami was done showing me around, BK took me to the solar panel site or should I call it the solar farm, never mind the beautiful layout of the camp; I feel DDS outdid themselves here. Solar panels are the future. 24 hour electricity in a silent camp with no need for a generator. Bravo!!!

Read more about Camp Okavango.

By the time we were done Zakes had all my bags packed on the boat. We were off to Xugana Island Lodge. Stay tuned for Part Two of my Desert & Delta Safaris trip to Xugana Island Lodge and Leroo La Tau.

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July 26, 2016

Our Botswana Family Safari

Filed under: General News — Tags: , , , — Desert & Delta Safaris @ 12:46 pm

This is a guest post by Andrea Hugo from the USA. Andrea recently returned to Camp Okavango and Savute Safari Lodge as part of her Botswana family safari.

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After a long flight from the United States and a quick overnight in Johannesburg it was wonderful to arrive at Camp Okavango and be met by a cheerful group of Desert and Delta staff at the airstrip. After our camp briefing the managers led us along the raised wooden walkway to our room. Even with our twelve year old daughter sharing our room we were comfortable as there was ample space and everything we needed to enjoy our stay.

Botswana family safari at Camp Okavango

Highlights from our time at Camp Okavango

It wasn’t long before we were out on the water enjoying a mokoro ride in the Delta!  What a wonderful transition it is to go from the hustle and bustle of city life to the peace and tranquility of the beautiful Okavango Delta.

Emma, our daughter, was a little nervous about walking as she had only had the opportunity to walk in the wild twice before.  The next morning our guide Aaron immediately put her at ease and after a safety briefing we were out walking on one of the islands nearby. Our walk was extremely productive as we saw hyenas chasing lions off a kill, a warthog mother chasing a hyena and then had a very close encounter with a lioness near a termite mound!  All this time Aaron was very protective of Emma and made all of us feel very comfortable out in the true wilderness.  On the way back from the walk Emma even helped Aaron drive the boat!

Guided bush walk with Camp Okavango

We saw lion while on our morning walk with Camp Okavango

The next stop was Savute Safari Lodge where we were delighted to see Metal (our guide) once again. Metal immediately had Emma sitting in the front with him chatting about all things “animal”!  The “professor” (Metal) and the “budding professor” (Emma) had a great time exchanging facts.  Emma was like a sponge absorbing everything Metal had to share with us. She also learnt from Metal that there is more to photography than just snapping away and saw how Metal carefully positioned the vehicle so that we could get the best shots!

Botswana family safari with Savute Safari Lodge

On safari at Savute Safari Lodge

The staff at Desert and Delta Safaris make family safaris so special. They have a wonderful way with children, making them feel so comfortable and treating them with so much love and kindness.  It was great to see Emma so comfortable interacting with everyone – making it her vacation the best vacation EVER!

Leopard sighting from Savute Safari Lodge

Just one of the many highlights from our Savute visit

With the inclusion of family rooms at Camp Moremi, Camp Okavango and Savute Safari Lodge, we have created the Ultimate Botswana Family Safari Package offering families the chance to experience the beauty and diversity of a Botswana safari. For more information and ideas to help you plan your Botswana family safari see our Safari Packages.

 

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