Luxury Small-Group Safaris in Botswana

In 1933, Ernest Hemingway camped and trekked his way across Kenya and Tanzania, amassing experiences that would find their way into his classic travelogue Green Hills of Africa. His wanderlust is worth emulating some 70 years later, but you don't need to hack through the bush or shoulder out of a burning airplane to fulfill your big-hearted safari dreams. In fact, for those anxious for some self-indulgent luxury while viewing their game, a Botswana small-group tent safari is the only way to go.
The Okavango Delta is Botswana's ultimate safari destination. Flowing out of the mountains to the north, the Okavango River simply disappears into the sands of the Kalahari Desert, creating a 7,000-square-mile inland floodplain that attracts a thirsty animal population. Buffalo, kudo antelope, elephants, lions, leopards, sable antelope, hippos, crocodiles, and a veritable army of birds take advantage of the oasis. Explore the delta in 4x4 safari vehicles or aboard mokoro, traditional dugout canoes propelled by local guides wielding ngashis (boat poles).
You can arrange overnight stays at Kasane or Maun, small towns bordering the delta, but for luxurious Out of Africa fantasies, visit one of Botswana's permanent tent camps. The newly constructed Pom Pom is a classic 12-bed Meru-style camp evoking the East Africa of old in five-star hotel fashion, its tents equipped with comfortable beds, private showers, and bathrooms. If you substitute a gentle African breeze for air conditioning and the open expanse of Botswana's countryside for balcony views, you get the picture.
While in Botswana, don't miss the elephants of Chobe National Park, only 50 miles from Victoria Falls, or Moremi Wildlife Reserve, which lays claim to Africa's largest wild dog population. If you arrange your trip through an outfitter, your itinerary will likely include stops at both Chobe and Moremi, but be sure to verify.
There are budget options in Botswana, but its reputation for fantastic wildlife without the tourist onslaught seen in Kenya and Tanzania means traveling here is for those with high standards and, well, wads of cash. Compared with the excessive amount of preplanning involved—arranging flights, on-site transportation, accommodations, park access, meals, and 1,001 other unanticipated tasks—the high cost of most package trips can be quite reasonable.

Published: 26 Jun 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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