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