Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Brave Africa team was lucky enough to be out in the Okavango Delta for 18 days in March with a guest. Throughout the trip, they had many incredible Botswana safari sightings. Still, one lion sighting really stood out: a small pride of lions versus a lone hyena fighting over a buffalo kill.
Here’s the story of our incredible lion VS hyena battle from our co-founder and expert guide, Tabona Wina.
Flooding in the Okavango Delta
The bush was amazing!
It was so beautiful, and the game was incredible. While we can almost always say that about the Okavango Delta, during such an early and robust flood season, it is even more true.
Water was everywhere while we were on safari. In fact, it was so flooded that if it weren’t for COVID-19 closing down everything anyway, there’s a good possibility that the government may have had to close down certain sections of the Moremi Game Reserve and Khwai for safety reasons.
It was actually difficult to drive to many areas because the water was so deep and spreading. It was a marsh wonderland, which brings many interesting challenges and opportunities.
When it floods early, the areas where the game roams shrink drastically. Basically, the floods create hundreds of small islands where there’s no water, and it’s possible to hunt and forage. This brings the predators and their prey into close proximity, which can provide some amazing Botswana safari sightings.
It’s especially true for the animals in the Okavango Delta who are highly adapted to flooding. They know how to cross from island to island in search of safety and food. As a safari guide, if you know where to go and can get there, there’s no end to the incredible sightings you can have.
Lion VS Hyena
Lion King pitted lions vs hyena and made the hyena out to be the bad guys. That’s not quite true in nature. While lions and hyena do not get along—they are both predators and thus competitors—they aren’t necessarily enemies that will kill each other at the slightest provocation. And that’s something we got to see in person.
One morning, after our usual coffee and breakfast, we headed out to the bush in search of something special, and within a few minutes, we found it.
The lions’ buffalo kill.
We discovered a small pride of three lions—two females and a male—huddled around a buffalo kill. They were enjoying their successful hunt, immensely, and eating as much as possible. Of course, with blood on the air, it was inevitable that hyenas would show up.
Two male hyenas prowled at the edge of the kill, well out of the way of the much larger and dangerous lions, but they were just biding their time. And eventually, they found their chance. When the male left the kill—bellies full—and found a bush in the shade to rest, the one bold hyena tried his luck.
It was like a National Geographic sighting. The bold hyena went straight up to the buffalo carcass and started eating. While the females weren’t happy and circled the kill and the hyena a few times, as long as they stayed on opposite sides of the body, they allowed the hyena to enjoy the kill, too.
Eventually, one of the lionesses even relaxed enough that it seemed like she didn’t care at all that the hyena was there at her kill. But that was NOT the case for the male.
From the shade, he watched the entire situation played out, and after a while, decided that he might be full, but he would not allow a hyena to eat what was his. He broke away from the shade and chased the hyena off.
From that point forward, the lions decided that the hyena was no longer allowed around the kill, and no matter how persistent he was, he was chased off over and over and over again.
It was beautiful to watch, and we spent the entire morning with the lions and hyena.
There’s no beating around the bush, COVID-19 is severely impacting life as we know it around the world. Many of us are practicing social distancing, self-quarantine, and other extreme measures to end the spread. That’s why we feel that online safari content is so important right now to make up for the lack of coronavirus tourism.
Coronavirus Tourism and Small Business Impact
It is a scary time, particularly for the travel and tourism industry. Brave Africa is not immune to everything that’s going on around the world.
As a small business trying to launch our mobile lodge and safari company in 2020, the timing couldn’t be worse. Our hopes, dreams, and plans for a strong first year in business have been put on hold.
But as long as we stick together, listen to the advice of medical professionals, and do what is best for everyone, we can get through it stronger than ever.
Botswana Coronavirus Update – March 27, 2020
While Botswana (as of Friday, March 27, 2020) still has no confirmed cases of the virus, tourism has effectively shut down in the country.
According to the Government of Botswana in line with the Public Health Act 2013, all individuals from the following high-risk countries will not be allowed entry: China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, USA, UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and India. There’s also warning of an “imminent countrywide lock-down” to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic with soldiers watching all borders.
Already, almost all international travel has shut down, but there is good news. We will still be here when the coronavirus is defeated and life returns to normal (or the new normal), whether that’s in a few weeks or a few months.
Brave Africa’s Coronavirus Response: GREAT Online Safari Content
The Brave Africa team is in constant communication about how to handle the coronavirus crisis and what we can do to keep moving forward. As we wrote in our previous blog, we are allowing all current clients to postpone their booking up to 12 months with no penalties. And we’re honoring the same rate whether you rebook this year or wait until 2021.
But what about for everyone stuck at home, dreaming of being anywhere else?
We are going to be providing great content across our social media platforms and blog. If you can’t come to us for a safari, we’ll come to you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Here’s a little about the type of online safari content you can expect to keep you entertained as you are quarantined
On Mondays, we’re going to start taking you on virtual safaris (#virtualsafari)! From the comfort of your home, you can journey with us into the Okavango Delta in Botswana to see the animals, hear the sounds of the bush, and experience the majesty of being on safari.
The goal is to let you get out of the house even just for a little while through your phone or computer screen. We want you to have something to look forward to every Monday for the coming weeks and months as we protect ourselves and each other. It’s the easiest way to enjoy some coronavirus tourism.
So, be sure to tune into our social media pages every Monday to check out the latest #virtualsafari video!
Watch the first video here!
To help keep you entertained while you’re at home in self-quarantine, we’ve started sharing a fun puzzle every Wednesday on our Facebook and Twitter pages. This online puzzle takes one of our favorite pictures from safari and breaks it down into 48 puzzle pieces (or more) that you can then put together online.
It’s a great diversion for ten or so minutes in the middle of the week when we know you can really use it. If you really like these puzzles, we’ll keep them up and make them harder as we go! You can find our first African sunset puzzle here.
We’d like to thank Hills of Africa for this great idea, which they first shared on their Facebook page.
Coloring Book Fridays
Then, on Fridays, we’re sharing pictures from our Brave Africa coloring book! We’re taking some of our favorite safari images and transforming them into black and white coloring pages that you can print out at home and transform into your own artwork.
So far, we’ve shared a gorgeous image of a Lilac Breasted Roller as well as a picture of a leopard on the prowl.
We encourage you to go as crazy or as accurate as you want on the drawings. That’s why we’ll always upload the original photo along with the coloring book download, so you can decide what type of art you want to create. Is this fun online safari content, or what!?
Photos from the Bush
We know there’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world right now, so we promise to continue sharing beautiful, inspiring, and fun photos from the bush. Because we all need something to smile about during this time.
You might not be able to go on safari right now, or even in the next few weeks, (since COVID-19 tourism is not allowed) but the bush is always there, waiting for us to explore. Join us throughout the week as we share candid animal pictures taken by our guests and employees.
It is just one small way we hope our online safari content brightens up each of your days.
Sometimes the best way to get through an unpleasant time is to think about the future. Truthfully, we do not know when the coronavirus pandemic will end, and travel will return to normal. We hope it is only a few weeks or months from now, but it could be much longer than that.
No matter how long it takes, we do know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it is this summer, fall, winter, or 2021, we will be able to travel and explore the world again. And we do not know about you, but we are definitely going to have cabin fever!
What better way to pass the days than to plan your future vacation? You do not have to make any commitments right now, we know things are too uncertain, but you can dream.
This is a great time to collect airline miles and credit card points so you can get a free flight to Africa later this year or next. It is also an excellent opportunity to begin budgeting and planning your dream vacation.
During these next few weeks, we will try to help you out with blogs and other content offering tips and advice on planning your dream safari vacation. It is never too early to get started. There is a lot you need to know and do to have the best trip possible, so we will be here to help.
Online Safari Content You Want
Last, but certainly not least, we would love feedback about what type of content you would like to see.
We know how negatively COVID-19 is affecting everything and its particularly strong impact on the travel industry is unlike anything we have ever seen before. So, we would like to know what online safari content you want to see.
Do you want:
- More videos and images from the bush because they are a great distraction from the constant stream of bad news?
- More information about what is going on in Botswana and how the coronavirus is impacting everything there?
- Behind the scenes looks at what Brave Africa is doing to weather the coronavirus crisis?
Let us know!
We know this is a challenging time for everyone. The good news is that it also presents an incredible opportunity for all of us to put aside our differences and come together as a global community. We are all in this together, and the more we can do to support each other, the better.
Our thoughts are with those who are sick, have lost their jobs, or are otherwise struggling in the world as it is now.
At Brave Africa, we are doing our best to hang in there during the storm and make it out to the other side. Stay tuned as we update our website, keep sharing great content, and do what we can to keep you informed.
Do you want to go on a Botswana safari with your family, including kids? At Brave Africa, we can accommodate your safari vacation with special activities and pricing just for families!
We love booking Botswana family safaris because we believe there’s no better way to enjoy a safari than surrounded by those you love and who love you in return. We’re happy to make your dream vacation a reality. But don’t just take our word for it, here are “10 Reasons to Take Your Kids on Safari” from Travel Africa Magazine.
However, there are a few things you should know before you book your family safari.
Kids on Safari—7 Years and Older
Yes, it is possible to bring kids on safari as long as they are over seven years of age. We do not accept kids under seven (7) for their safety. However, even for kids older than seven, we do not recommend a safari for everyone. It entirely depends on their maturity level.
A safari can be an amazing experience for kids—there is so much to learn, see, and do—but only if they are comfortable and capable of handling certain activities with aplomb.
- Sitting in a car for long hours. Safaris require long days in a car, driving around. If your child would not enjoy sitting and watching elephants for an hour or driving around the bush searching for animals, a safari might not be right for them right now.
- Sleeping in a tent at night. We offer families a large enough tent to fit four people. However, you still need to be able to trust your kids not to leave the tent at night no matter what. They also need to be comfortable sleeping in darkness and hearing sounds of the African bush at night.
- Listening to and following instructions. A safari is perfectly safe, but only if you follow the instructions of your guide. All kids need to be mature enough to listen to their safari guide no matter what they are told, whether that’s to be quiet, sit still, stay close, etc.
- Remaining calm and quiet when required. On a safari, you will get up close to the animals. During these times, it can be vitally important to stay quiet and calm so as not to disturb or upset the animals.
Safari Camping Experience
One of the reasons why families love to choose Brave Africa for their safari is because of the experience at camp and beyond.
Each family is offered the use of our four-person family tent, which can be set up as desired—either single or double beds. And as always, your tent will include a private toilet, closet, washbasin, and bucket shower (filled on demand). It offers a wonderfully private and exclusive safari experience for families.
And when it comes to family dining, you can enjoy an exclusive experience as well. If your kids are picky eaters, our wonderful Chef Rachel will create a wide range of children’s dishes just for them. You can provide us with a list of items that they enjoy/hate or leave it up to us. We can make almost anything from pizza to pasta with meatballs, fish and chips, chicken nuggets, and more.
Your kids will love having dinner at camp with their own special-made kids’ menu, as requested.
Private Family Vehicle
Last, but certainly not least, all families with kids under 12—regardless of size—enjoy a private vehicle just for them. In this way, you control the pace of your safari and the activities you want to enjoy. We can go as fast or slow as you want and spend as much or as little time on drives, at camp, or whatever you want.
Junior Guide Activities on Safari
The good news is that when you bring your kids on a Botswana family safari, they aren’t limited to just the standard experiences:
They also have the opportunity to enjoy kids-specific experiences, which we call Junior Guide Activities. These activities are designed to teach your kids to love nature and animals as much as we do. We want to help them discover a new-found respect for Africa and all it has to offer.
Of course, all of these are subject to parent/guardian approval, but they offer a great way to keep your kids entertained and learning.
Tracking & Survival Skills
Our Brave Africa guides each have over a decade of experience in the African bush, and they love to share their knowledge with guests. For kids, this can be especially exciting and a great learning experience.
Our Junior Guides will learn how to explore and survive the African bush from the experts. Not only will they learn as much as they want about all the animals they see, but they’ll also learn to identify and follow animal tracks, understand wildlife spoors, and more. On top of that, they’ll acquire valuable survival skills such as how to make fire by friction and the medicinal uses of plants.
Your kids will learn to recognize animals tracks just like this lion paw print.
Safari Vehicle Skills
On a Botswana family safari, you will spend a lot of time on game drives. This can occasionally get boring for kids, but not when you add in our safari vehicle lessons. With parent approval, your kids can sit on our guide’s lap and learn how to drive through the bush. In addition, they’ll learn how to use the vehicle radio to communicate with camp and run the spotlight at night to find animals in the dark.
Our guides will find a safe location to give your kids a chance to drive our safari vehicle.
If your child is an artist, they’ll love our wildlife art and drawing opportunities. Our guides will find a beautiful spot in the wild with animals nearby and then give them a chance to draw what they see to their heart’s content. Then, your entire family will come home with one-of-a-kind original art pieces—better than any photo.
Traditional Botswana Sling Shooting
Slingshots are very valuable tools in the African bush and they’re lots of fun for kids. Our expert guides will teach your kids all about sling shooting and give them a chance to practice their skills on cans. Don’t worry; no animals will be harmed. We love nature and all things wild, and we want to share that love with your kids.
Brave Africa Passport
Finally, we’ve crafted a one-of-a-kind Brave Africa passport for your kids to commemorate their entire safari experience. They’ll receive their passport the moment they get off their bush flight at the airstrip and are picked up by your guide. From then on, they’ll collect stickers for every animal, activity, and camp they experience on safari. Best yet, the passport includes journal pages so they can write about all of their favorite memories.
Brave Africa Passport with collectible stickers!
Collect stickers and check off animals throughout your safari.
Your kids can fill in their Brave Africa Passport journal with their favorite memories.
Book Our Junior Guides Family Safari Package Today!
Your children will never forget their first safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. They’ll love learning everything they can about the bush from animal tracking to wilderness survival, safari driving, and more.
Contact us today to learn more about our Botswana family safaris.
When planning your Botswana safari, should you choose a mobile safari or a safari lodge? What’s the difference and which one is best? Of course, we are biased toward a Brave Africa luxury safari, but we know it is important to shop around. So, we are here to help you out.
Both a mobile safari and safari lodge offer amazing experiences that you’ll remember forever. The difference is in the type of experience you’ll have. They’re not as different as you think, but there are some key things you should be aware of before you make the right decision for you and your family.
To get started, we’ll break down the key differences between a Botswana mobile safari and a safari lodge and then leave the decision up to you. (more…)
The first question we get whenever someone begins the booking process with us is, “When should I visit Botswana? Is there a best time of the year to go on safari?” It’s a good question and it depends on where you’re visiting in Botswana. The Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta are vastly different and respond to the seasons in different ways. We recently had the privilege to experience that difference for ourselves at the end of December.
However, before we delve into our 7-Day/6-Night Kalahari Desert region experience, let’s explain why we tried it out in the first place.
Rainy Season and the Okavango Delta
While we’re biased and don’t think there’s ever a truly bad time to go on safari, there are some months that are less than ideal. For example, the rainy season.
From December through March, Botswana becomes a water-flooded wonderland, which is essential for the eco-system of the Delta but can make your safari less enjoyable even with our ponchos to help keep you dry. The good news is that, most often, the rain is in the early morning and evening, which means midday on your all-day game drive should still be beautiful weather.
The main problem with the rainy season is that some sections of the Okavango can become impassible. For example, we cannot offer our typical 10-day safari during the rainy season because the road to get to Savuti is underwater. Instead, we mix it up with more time in Moremi and Khwai.
To combat this rainy season problem, our team wanted to try out something totally different. We decided to test out a new route with three camps around the Kalahari Desert area: Nxai Pan, Makgadikgadi Pans, and Central Kalahari.
Brave Africa and the Kalahari Desert
First: a little Botswana geography lesson.
Almost all Brave Africa safaris begin in either Maun or Kasane (Maun for trips beginning via South Africa, Kasane for trips beginning via Victoria Falls). These two airports (in black and white on the map) are your starting points for getting to your safari destination.
The Red Route – Inside the Okavango Delta
For our typical route (the red dots), you would take a bush flight from the airport (Maun or Kasane) to either Savuti or Moremi to begin your safari with us. We would then drive you along the red route (north or south) until you spent three days at each location and really gained a taste of the Delta.
However, as we explained above, Savuti is disconnected from Khwai and Moremi during the rainy season (December – March), so we’re limited to a smaller area of the Okavango. It’s still a great experience since that area is so incredibly wildlife dense, but for some guests, it can be disappointing not to visit Savuti and Chobe National Park.
The Orange Route – Visiting the Kalahari Desert
That’s why we decided to try out a new southwestern route, which we’ve outlined in orange: Nxai Pan, Makgadikgadi, and Central Kalahari.
As you can tell right away, this is a much different region of Botswana and that offered quite a surprise for our team. Because of its very dry landscape, the rainy season is actually peak season for these areas, and we had hoped it would offer our guests an exciting alternative to the Okavango Delta without the rain. And that was definitely the case.
During mid-December, when heavy rains hit Maun and the Okavango, we remained fairly dry on in the Kalahari area—only enjoying one amazing thunderstorm. So, the area definitely passed our test for dryness.
However, in the end, it’s not a route we’ll be offering Brave Africa guests any time soon. While there were many things to love, there were also many negatives that we felt would detract too much from a quality safari.
Here’s what we discovered: the good and the bad.
Mobile Safaris in the Kalahari: the Good and the Bad
So, what was it like to go on a mobile safari in the Kalahari region? It was very different from the Okavango in both good and bad ways. Unfortunately, by the end of the trip, we felt the negatives outweighed the positives, at least for us, and here’s why.
GOOD: Unique Animals
Our favorite aspect of visiting the Kalahari region was getting to see unique animals that you don’t find in the Okavango. For example, instead of Impala everywhere, we were overwhelmed with Springbok and Oryx (Gemsbok). These are desert-dwelling antelope that you won’t find in wetter areas. We also saw a ton of Steenbok (the smallest antelope) and even some Red Hartbeest.
On the predator side, these areas are also a haven for black-backed jackals, bat-eared foxes, and highly rare predators such as Brown Hyena. For birds, there are Kori Bustards (the largest flying bird) everywhere, as well as various eagles and hawks and vultures.
This was all very different from what we were used to in the Okavango, which made it exciting.
BAD: Long Travel Days
As easily evidenced via the map, going on a mobile safari in the Kalahari area requires a lot more driving between camps. On camp move days, we had to travel over 100 km to get to our next camp and much of that travel was on roads.
This meant that, as a guest, you would not be able to enjoy an all-day safari on camp move days. Instead, you’d be stuck spending a good four to five hours on a dirt road, driving at 50 km/hour, waiting to get to something you can see and enjoy.
The driving between camps was not only taxing on our guests, but it was incredibly difficult for our staff. Trying to get all of our ultra-luxury camp supplies to the next location in time and safely was a chore.
GOOD: Mesmerizing Landscapes
Every day on our 6-night safari in the Kalahari region, someone in the Land Cruiser would say “Wow!” when it came to the scenery. We were all so used to seeing rivers, Mopani forests, and sweeping grasslands in the Okavango, that to see desert salt pans as far as the eye could see was something else.
There were a few areas, such as Baines Baobab, that literally took our breaths away. It felt like we were on a completely different planet. It was hard to imagine things living in such harsh but beautiful landscapes, and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.
In particular, we all loved the many Baobab trees, which could be found throughout Nxai Pan. Every time we saw one, we had to stop and enjoy its beauty, shade, and majesty.
BAD: Low Animal Density
If you’ve ever taken a Botswana safari in the Okavango, you know that animals are everywhere. You won’t be with lions, leopards, or wild dogs constantly, but there’s a fairly regular stream of antelope, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, and more. You won’t go more than an hour without seeing something in the Delta.
In the Kalahari, there were times that we drove for hours and hours without a single sign of wildlife. No birds, no antelope, nothing. The peace was incredible. We were seriously on our own for hours at a time, but if you’re going to Botswana to see the animals, this area could be fairly disappointing.
For example, in our seven days on safari, we only saw elephants twice and we only ever saw Bulls; we never saw a breeding herd. And in Makgadikgadi, it’s unfortunate to say, but we saw more corpses and livestock than Botswana wildlife.
GOOD: Fewer Tourists
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track, the Kalahari region is the area for you. In both Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi we rarely, if ever, saw another car. We were alone in the parks and able to explore as much as we wanted without having to worry about any other camps or self-drive vehicles.
Central Kalahari had more camps, but still far fewer than you’ll have in the Okavango. We still went hours without seeing another soul.
There’s hot and then there’s hot. Imagine 35 degrees Celsius (95F) with no shade around, no water to cool things down, just unrelenting sun and heat. There were times that we didn’t stop for lunch until 3 pm because we couldn’t find a single tree tall enough to offer shade to eat.
At least in the Okavango, there’s always a river, marsh, or watering hole nearby to offer a reprieve from the summer heat. In the Kalahari, you have to be willing to brave locations where there’s not a single plant above waste high for as far as the eye can see.
Going on Safari in the Kalahari Desert – Final Thoughts
In the end, while we enjoyed our time on safari in the Kalahari region, it is not a location we think our guests would enjoy as much as the Okavango. For first-time safari-goers or safari enthusiasts who are visiting Botswana for their first or second time, the Okavango Delta is a much better choice. There’s more diverse wildlife and denser populations of wildlife.
However, we definitely recommend that you take the time to visit a camp in the Kalahari region and spend two-to-three days exploring. The pans should not be missed and there are many great camps in this region where you can fly in and fly-out before joining up with Brave Africa for the remainder of your safari in the Okavango.
In particular, we recommend Nxai Pan and Central Kalahari. For example, African Bush Camps offers a unique Migration Expeditions in Nxai Pan solely during the rainy season.
Before you go on a safari in Botswana, you have to do your research. Safaris are not cheap, and the last thing you want to do is try to save money and end up with a sub-par experience and a safari camp or lodge that’s far below your expectations.
The problem is that there’s both too much and too little information out there. We’ve been where you are and have spent countless hours (days!) online trying to figure out what it’s like to go on an African safari.
And trying to figure out where to stay? Forget it!
You might as well just close your eyes and pick an African safari lodge or camp at random. After all, they can’t be that different than each other. But that’s where you’re wrong.
Every Safari Accommodation is Different
While both safari lodges and safari camps offer incredible experiences and can share many of the same features, there are some major differences and similarities you need to be aware of before you make your choice. (And don’t forget to check out our similar blog about safari vehicles.)
Our goal is not to sway you toward any specific safari accommodation over another, but to provide you with an in-depth overview of your options so that you can make the best choice for you.
First, a warning…pictures are not always accurate. Some safari camps and lodges are known for photoshopping their images or putting pictures online that don’t match their typical product, but instead require hundreds or thousands of dollars in upgrades. Don’t trust what you see. Instead, be sure to do your own research and ask questions. Look for customer pictures on TripAdvisor or Google Business, or work with a travel agent who has visited the camp and can confirm that what you see is what you get.
Botswana Safari Accommodation Features
Now, before we jump into the different types of accommodations, let’s talk about a few key features of your safari vacation.
- Bedroom: Your sleeping situation can drastically change depending on your camp. Be sure to ask if you have a normal mattress bed or cots, and if the bed can be set up as a king or just two twins. Also, the size of your tent can be anything from a small dome you can’t stand inside to an extensive lodge suite and everything in between.
- Bathroom: Not every safari camp includes an attached toilet and bath/shower. Most safari lodges will have a flushing toilet and shower, but bucket showers are still common even in luxury lodges. For mobile camps, drop toilets are typical and showers may be communal.
This is our custom-built shower add-on to every tent. It provides an additional 1.5 meters of space for our guests to enjoy and ensures your tent isn’t soaked during your shower.
- Shared Areas: Think of shared areas as similar to a hotel lobby or the living and dining room in your home. Every safari camp will have a campfire where you’ll hang out regularly. However, the type and size of your dining area can vary greatly, so can any sitting areas, the bar, and more. Some lodges may also have a pool.
- Power Outlet: At most safari lodges and camps, all power outlets are found in the shared areas. Your room will not have the ability to charge technology. Any charging you want to do in your room will require travel batteries and some camps may only offer charging via a car battery.
- Internet Access: Very few, if any, Botswana safari camps offer access to the internet. The goal of a safari is to unplug, so do not expect internet or mobile to work while on safari. Instead, use your safari as an opportunity to forget that the rest of the world exists. (We do have a satellite phone available for emergencies.)
- Food: Most lodges and camps have a chef, but the type of food they serve can very. For many mobile safari camps, cooking is done over an open fire, which can drastically limit the menu. However, some mobile camps, including Brave Africa, have an entire outdoor kitchen with a full stove and oven, which means the chef can cook the same types of meals you’d find in any hotel or restaurant.
Safari Lodge vs. Safari Camp
Now, let’s look at the more specific differences between safari lodges and safari camps to help you make your final choice of accommodation. When going on safari in Botswana, you typically have three choices:
- A luxury safari lodge,
- A mobile safari camp
- A self-drive safari camp
Botswana Safari Lodge
A Botswana safari lodge is more like a luxury safari hotel. It’s a structure that remains in one location that you, as a safari guest, travel to and stay at. Typically, safari lodges will have communal areas that act like hotel lounges. There’s probably a dining hall, a reception, and a pool. Safari lodges are often built with wood, though rooms can still be canvas tents, but they offer more of a hotel-like feel. Expect:
- Suite-type rooms with comfortable beds and lots of space
- Luxury bathrooms with running water
- Large communal areas for dining and relaxing, including a pool
- Technology charging in the main communal area
- No internet access except at the more premium lodges
- Premium, chef-designed meals
All Botswana safari lodges are 100% focused on a luxury experience. They are beautifully crafted locations that are dedicated to your comfort. Guests can expect many similar features to a luxury hotel room.
Mobile Safari Camps
The second type of safari accommodation you’ll find in Botswana are the mobile safari camps. These can vary depending on how much you’re willing to pay and the type of experience you want. There are five types of mobile safari camps you can expect: budget, standard, premium, luxury, and ultra-luxury.
It’s important to note that the naming conventions we used above are NOT standard for the industry. Many standard camps use the phrase “luxury” to sell rooms. Before you take any naming at face value, ask about the type of experience you’re going to enjoy.
Budget Mobile Camping
With extreme budget mobile camping, your operator will provide tents, meals, and basic amenities, but the rest will be up to you. You may be expected to build your own very small dome tent or to participate in cooking. As for your sleeping and bathing arrangements, sleeping bags or cots are typical and toilets/showers might be shared.
Standard Mobile Camping
With standard mobile camping, the experience is a little more all-inclusive. You’ll still have small dome tents with limited amenities. However, the company will take care of setting up and tearing down your tent and all of the cooking. Think of this as camping with a team that takes care of the basic details. Bathing arrangements may still be shared between camp guests, though you should have your own drop toilet near your tent.
Premium Mobile Camping
Premium mobile camping will get you bigger tents with a little more room to move around. With these safari camps, you’ll have your own private toilet (drop) and bucket shower, typically connected to your tent. You still might sleep on cots, but all of your amenities are a little more premium, including your food—it will be cooked over a fire by a chef. You should also have a small dining tent that can be used as a shared communal area.
Luxury Mobile Camping
Luxury mobile camping upgrades all of your features. Your tent should be large enough for a King bed setup with extra room to move. The toilet and bathing amenities should be top-notch. You may have a flushing or a drop toilet, but the entire experience should feel much more luxurious—these experiences are often referred to as “glamping.” Meals may still be cooked over a fire, but should also include higher-quality ingredients and more variety. Communal areas tend to be on the small side, but they are comfortable though mainly used for dining.
Ultra–Luxury Mobile Camping
There are very few ultra-luxury mobile camps; Brave Africa is one. These are lodge-like camps where you shouldn’t feel as if you’re camping at all. Toilets are flushing, and tents are very spacious with comfortable mattresses, storage space, luxury amenities, and private on-demand bathing. As for the communal areas, they are much more expansive and include a seating area, room for dining, and a bar set up where guests can hang out at any time. Food should be cooked in a mobile kitchen with a full oven and stove, not over a fire, and premium alcoholic beverages are available.
Brave Africa flushing toilet
Lastly, there are self-drive camps. This is camping at its most basic. You’ll have your own car, which comes with basic camping amenities. You are in charge of everything, including all supplies. You’ll be limited to campgrounds that are open to self-drive tourists and have to share communal bathing and toilets with all other self-drive guests.
Brave Africa’s Ultra-Luxury Mobile Safari Camp vs. a Safari Lodge
||Standard Mobile Camp
||Typical Safari Lodge
||Brave Africa Camp
||Cots (twin beds)
||Typical mattress bed (king or twin)
||Typical mattress bed (king or twin)
||Very small, little room to move
||Comfortable hotel-room size
||Bucket shower (potentially communal)
||Standard hotel shower with running water
||Private bucket shower
||Captains’ chairs only
||Comfortable couches and chairs for relaxing
||Comfortable couches and chairs for relaxing
||Small tent for dining or around an open fire
||Large dining room
||Large dining room
||Shared power in the main area, may be limited to a car battery
||Shared power in the main area typically solar-powered
||Shared power in the main area typically solar-powered
||No internet access
||No internet access in the most premium camps
||No internet access
||Cooked over an open fire
||Chef-created in a full kitchen
||Chef-created in a full kitchen