And nowhere immerses you so vividly in the wilderness as Botswana.
Dominated by the sprawling Kalahari sands, Botswana has made a deliberate decision to emphasise high-end tourism, keeping visitor numbers to a minimum. That way, when you encounter an elephant herd in Chobe National Park or a big cat on the prowl in Linyanti, the chances are you’ll be the only ones there – no long queues of jeeps, where the click of the cameras drowns out the sounds of the bush.
“Botswana stands out because there are so few other people around,” says Simon Mills from our partner Native Escapes, which specialises in luxury Africa vacations. “That and the sheer density of the wildlife.
“A safari here is a very special experience. Botswana safaris cost more because of the model the government has pursued, which is to say high cost, low impact on ecologically sensitive areas. Each concession can build just a small number of lodges with a small number of rooms in each, which limits the number of guests, making it more exclusive and therefore more expensive.”
The lodges, bush camps and permanent tents are the last word in elegance, tucked into wildlife-rich areas so remote that the only realistic way of accessing them is by small aircraft. But once you get there, the animals come to you (sometimes, literally) – it’s no rarity to find an antelope wandering around beneath your private deck.
Luxury safaris in Botswana
typically focus on the lush north of the country: Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and the bleached expanse of the Makgadikgadi Pans. Your itinerary can see you flying between two, three or more locations (in small, prop-engine planes that are less-polluting. We no longer sell trips featuring jet flights of under an hour). You can find less expensive vacations in Botswana that feature overland travel and wild camping. But most people that safari here come expecting to spend a lot of money, because they know the kind of experience they’ll be getting in return.