Botswana 🇧🇼

· 10 min read

Itinerary 🌍

Maun in 2 days
Relax and Helicopter
Okavango Delta in 3 days
Walking safari, Mokoros and Giraffes
Kwai private reserve in 3 days
Leopards, lions and elephants
Savuti reserve in 2 days
Cheetahs, Lions and Bees
Kasane and Victoria Falls in 1 days
Boat cruise, falls viewing & relax

Itinerary 📍

It’s been years since we considered doing a Safari, but it wasn’t before a year ago when Pierre’s parents went for one in Botswana that we made our mind up to go. While a Safari is not the typical relaxing beach holiday we all crave for, it was actually much more chill and comfortable that we initially thought, and think you should definitely go for it.

The itinerary was pretty much set for us by the Safari Agency Shikwaru Adventures ahead of time, with minor changes to accomodate for our wildlife preferences (Cheetah and Victoria Falls in particular). It’s quite complicated to move around anyway with all the sandy and bumpy roads, so better to leave it to them to set it up!

General Tips 👏

  • Most people speak English 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 since it’s the second official language.
  • It’s a fairly poor country, although in development, and feel very safe.
  • It takes a lot of time to move in the Savanna with the car since most road are sandy and bumpy roads. Long distance are quite un-comfortable and you cannot do much while driving (no sleep, no reading or such).
  • Get a good Travel Insurance (required by operators) since it can be very costly in case of emergency (via plane). We went with AllClear for about 150GBP, not particularly good but ok.
  • Order USDs before leaving, and change some of it as local currency for tips & snacks.
  • Card payments (even Apple Pay) is generally available.
  • Best season is May to June followed by August to October, when it’s dry and not too hot. Avoid wet season at all costs.
  • Work with the tour operator to share which animals you want to see during planning (ie Cheetah, Mangoose) since wildlife is easier to find in specific areas.
  • When planning, ask to do a night safari (we missed that but seemed amazing since lots of animals are nocturnals)
  • We booked a private tour and it was amazing but more pricey. If you want a cheaper option, book a maximum of 4 people. There’s 9 seats in total, with 3 middle seat unusually un-used. Seats at the back are very bouncy.
  • We crossed few group of folks doing the safari by themselves with rental car. While it’s an option, those people were constantly lost and never seeing anything. It’s because guides works together and communicate with radio. This with complex roads make it a very complicated option we don’t recommend.
  • We were off the grid 90% of the trip, and honestly it felt good.

Budget 💸

The total price of the Safari (excluding flights and tips) was about 4000GBP/person. As you can see it’s very expensive. You can have it cheaper if you book a tour with other people, but we would recommend to not go beyond a group of 4 people to ensure good seats for everyone and simpler logistics.

In terms of tips, we gave around 10% to waiters for the two dinners in restaurants we had, and about 15USD/day to our guide and 10USD/day to his assistant (cook and set the camp each time). This can be done only with cash so make sure to bring some.

Transportation 🚃

We didn’t used any of the local transportation since our guide drove us during all the trip, but there’s no railway in the northern part of the country and everything is done by car.

One good tip however is to stay two or three days where you arrived (Maun in our case) to relax. Our luggages got lost in JNB airport and we received them only three days after when we were in the delta (kindly delivered by our Safari crew). We had to do emergency shopping before leaving in town which was quite tricky. That’s also helpful in case of plane delay to avoid missing Safari days and a good opportunity to relax after the long journey.

Rock Safari 🤘

We booked our Safari via Shikwaru Adventures, which we found on Safari Bookings with plenty of good reviews. The correspondant Federica, was very reactive over Whatsapp during the planning and the trip itself, and we strongly recommend, see our review here.

The operator assigned us Rock Safari (webpage and Instagram to come) to manage our safari. Rock (the owner and local legend) was our guide assisted by his brilliant assistant Partner (cook and camp organiser). If you book via Shikwaru make sure to ask for Rock Safari, those guys are the best.

Each day, Rock was taking us in the safari car for morning and afternoon game drives. He drove us in the most isolated spots, doing tracking, and always making sure we could see the animals super close while always being super safe. He’s been doing that since more than 20 years, and know everything there is to know about this place. He’s very famous in the area, and everyone knows him! He’s also a very kind and funny person, sharing crazy stories around the bonfire each evenings.

His assistant Partner was equally awesome. During our game drive or travel days, Parter was travelling in the back-up car, setting up camp ahead of time so it was ready when we arrived, as well as getting all the meals ready. His food was delicious, and he was always making sure we had everything we needed.

Those two really made our trip fantastic, and cannot thanks them enough! Happy to provide their direct details on demand :)

Toilets and shower 💦

Toilets or ‘bushy-bushes’, are fairly basic but working. During a game drive in case of nature calling, toilets are outdoor by digging a quick hole in the sand nearby the car. At the campsite, a hole is dug and a little chair put on top within a small tent to do business. It’s quite basic but work out well! Flushing is done by covering the business with some sand.

At each campsite we had, Partner installed the water shower. It’s a simple bucket of water, heated on the fire, suspended on top of a little tent cabin with a small tap. It sounds very basic but actually worked out very well, and was fantastic to use after a long and dusty drive.

Apps 💾

  • Netflix: To relax after game drives, download content before.
  • XCurrency: Offline and up-to-date currency rates.
  • Mandatory! Free offline map of the world, including trail paths.

Consider also bringing a Kindle or other offline devices, there’s no internet around it’s proper off the grid.

Food 🍗

Food in the hotels (first and last night of the trip) was very good and fresh.

During the Safari, the assistant, called Partner, was cooking all the meals and it was amazing. Breakfast was cereals and breads, lunches were usually sandwiches and salads, dinners were always exceptionals (pasta in sauce, meat, potatoes and such), felt like being in a B&B. Note that you can discuss your food preferences with the staff ahead of time.

If you’re lucking enough to book with Rock Safari (our operator chartered by Shikwaru) and to have Partner as the assistant, ask him to cook you Pap along with the Partner Bread (a fresh bread cooked by the bonfire).

Telecom 📞

It’s possible to get SIM card in airports, but honestly most of the time there was no network while in the wild. We decided to simply buy nothing and stay off the grid for the whole trip. In some camps (Kwai), some rought wifi was available at the reception to check on family and friends, but not enough to stream anything!

Visas 🛂

There’s no need for a visa when entering in Botswana if you’re from EU/UK, passport stamped on arrivals. A visa on arrival is required for Zimbabwe, that can be bought directly at the border for 30USD/person, cash only!

Hotels 🏠

We spent most of the trip in campsite so cannot offer an honest review on local hotels. However we spent our first two nights and the last one of the trip in lodges which were wonderful. Great wifi, swimming pools, great rooms and breakfasts! Ideal spot to relax for few days.

Tourism 🏄🏽‍♀️

Tourism is raising up fast in Botswana, making it little by little the best Safari destination. The overall tourism policy of the country is less tourist and more expensive trips, which ensure it doesn’t feel overcrowded and also protect the environment.

It was our first safari so we cannot compare with other destinations, but talking with other tourists it feels like Botswana is much more relaxed, less crowded, and allow better viewings with open cars and wild camping.

Packing List 📦

The safari crew has been kind enough to send us a packing list ahead of time with everything we needed to take, so probably refer to that. However here’s a list of must-have item:

  • Medicines (specially stomach ones along with malaria ones)
  • Warm clothes since it gets quite cold during the night
  • Good binoculars (one for two people is good)
  • Head lamp for night toilets and tent organisation
  • Comfortable hicking shoes for walk Safari
  • Long sleeves clothes to avoid insect bites (ideally brown or greens)
  • Lip balm, solar cream, hat and sunglasses (tropical sun is very strong)
  • Small miror to put in the tent
  • Flip flops for the evening and showers
  • Power bank since there’s rarely electricity
  • Plastic bags for trash during the trip

Overall Experience 🤓

It was our first Safari, and first time in southern Africa so we were not sure what to expect. We tend to prefer in general relaxing holidays to recharge, and were anticipating those ones to be more tired. In the end, it was a bit more demanding than other trips, but at the same time so spectacular and unique that it didn’t felt this way.

Having your coffee with the sunrise and with some elephants at three meters was exceptional, like having a cold beer and sunset with some hippos and giraffe. In summary, it was an awesome experience that any serious traveller should do at least once!

Hope this was helpful, you can ask us any questions on Instagram.

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