Your Private Botswana Safari

Botswana is one of the leading celebrities of African safari travel.

Its wealth of wildlife, characteristic vistas, and tranquil waterways set it apart from other nations, heightening its appeal to global visitors. Despite this renown, away from the popular national parks a Botswana safari rarely feels crowded, private reserves with remote camps and lodges ensuring that you are unlikely to encounter hordes of tourists clamoring for a glimpse of a slumbering leopard.

Credit Wilderness Mombo Camp 17 Copy
Photo: ©Mombo Camp

In Botswana, as with anywhere in the world, it can be challenging to find absolute exclusivity. Even the more diminutive lodges cater to multiple groups at any one time, with game drives often shared and mealtimes a more communal affair. Though it is possible to find yourself the lone participant of an excursion, one must always hold a willingness to share, as properties possess only a finite number of guides, vehicles, and facilities to cater to their guests.

At Rothschild Safaris, it is always our intention to create a completely bespoke experience for our clients; a journey that feels like yours, and yours alone. There are numerous ways we can achieve this, from selecting quieter times of year to travel, to booking private charters or exclusive-use camps. We will always strive for exclusivity where and whenever possible, and in Botswana, an elite safari can manifest in spectacular fashion.

These are a handful of ways to enjoy an exclusive Botswana safari:

Private Mobile Safaris

The ultimate dream for many safari travelers would be to explore the African wilderness under canvas with a private staff and continually changing horizons. Numerous countries offer tented accommodation, often to an impeccable standard of comfort and decadence, but a truly mobile camp incorporating several destinations is a rarity. This has been truly mastered in Botswana

Evoking the iconic stylings of colonial safari travel, these mobile safari camps transport a single party through Botswana’s varied topography, encompassing the landscapes and experiences possible in this magical country. 

The camps would typically begin in a picturesque glade, remaining for a couple of nights to explore the nearby region on game drives. On the third day, guests might enjoy a boat safari through the Okavango Delta‘s web-like maze of waterways, seeing nature at eye level as they drift slowly by. A full day in the field allows staff the time to relocate the camp, and guests will arrive in time for sundowners and dinner at their new destination. All luggage will be waiting, amenities available and the same sumptuous bed and carpeted tent welcoming you, but the view is entirely different. And so the journey will continue; a day or two in each location, before decamping and moving onwards to another entirely exclusive destination where your spectacular canvas home awaits. 

Remote Flycamping

Flycamping is frequently combined with a more complete mobile camp, giving guests the opportunity to find an absolute immersion in the wild. Transferred to a remote and safe private island, a flycamp provides comfortable bedding in a simplified flynet tent, allowing guests to fall asleep under the stars and almost completely erase the boundaries between themselves and nature.

Departing Botswana’s more aqueous regions, flycamping in the salt pans of the Makgadikgadi can be both exhilarating and liberating. Nature resides on the pans’ periphery, so in its saline center, one can dispense with a tent entirely. Thankfully, the interior is free of mosquitos, so flynetting is also unnecessary. The borders of the Makgadikgadi hold the region’s appeal, with the presence of wildlife including giraffe, wild dogs, elephant and meerkats, but a night spent on the wide-open plains is captivating, unforgettable and utterly exclusive.

Exploring the Makgadikgadi

A flycamp under the radiant night sky isn’t the only exclusive Bostwana safari experience to be enjoyed in the pans. The remoteness of the Makgadikgadi provides several opportunities for exclusivity, and venturing into its expanse on a quadbike or horseback further instills the region’s vastness and solitude. This defining feature should not imply that there is little to see. Numerous species dwell here, including honey badgers, lion, antelope species, aardvarks, and jackals, and during the green season, the plains come alive with immense herds of zebra and wildebeest.

An exclusive introduction to the locals also defines Botswana’s uniqueness. The Zu/’hoasi bushmen have resided in this inhospitable region for centuries, and discovering their traditional methods of survival is absolutely fascinating. Locals come in many shapes and sizes, and some of the smallest residents are also the most endearing. An exclusive visit to the meerkat colonies of the Makgadikgadi is an absolutely charming excursion. With only a handful of visitors permitted at a time, this exclusivity ensures that the colony is safe and unperturbed. So much so that, if you remain particularly still, you may just be used as a lookout post!

San Safari Camp Meerkats, Botswana
Photos: Natural Selection

Back in the Saddle

Tracing the ancient network of elephant paths that have been carved from the landscape over generations, a cycling safari creates a distinctly alternative way to explore the bush. A guided mountain bike ride leads one silently into the bush at a slower pace. This affords the opportunity to spend time at ground level, observing tracks, flora, and smaller aspects of the wilderness often missed from a game vehicle.

Taking place in the early morning or later afternoon to avoid the hottest hours of the day, cycling safaris are catered specifically to the abilities and wishes of guests, the thrilling journey allowing a more personal connection to Botswana’s wooded grasslands. This also affords the opportunity to learn more from one’s guide, with time to pause, converse, and learn the secret messages and stories scattered like braille across the ground.

Swapping pedal power for horsepower, horseback adventures alter perspectives once more. Flowing with the undulating herds of zebra and wildebeest, receiving quizzically discerning looks from giraffe, or cantering through the waist-deep floodplains of the delta create dramatic moments on tranquil equine excursions. Botswana offers a wide variety of horseriding safaris. Short outings of a couple of hours provide an entertaining introduction for novices, while the more experienced can enjoy a more advanced experience, and even overnight horseback adventures into the wild.

Guided by Experts

Botswana boasts some of the finest, most experienced and educated guides in the industry. Wherever you may travel, every camp and lodge will offer premier service and elite guiding. However, if you intend to visit multiple destinations, you will be accompanied by numerous guides, each of whom will need to discover your specific preferences if you desire something more than a superb yet conventional safari.

For those searching for the personal touch at every step of their journey, a private guide can escort you for the duration of your itinerary. Endowed with a vast scope of local knowledge and connections throughout Botswana, a private guide will take your personal wishes into consideration for each and every activity, liaising with camp staff to ensure that you are receiving a completely bespoke experience handcrafted to your desires. Furthering this, if you are intent on enhancing your photographic skills and capturing incredible imagery, a highly experienced photography guide can join you for individual game drives, portions of your journey, or the entirety of your itinerary. Informative and educational, the inclusion of a photography guide will provide you with a visual record of your safari that is worthy of National Geographic.

Exclusive Botswana Safari

Into the Sky

A private helicopter charter might well be the definition of exclusivity, and Botswana extrapolates upon this. 

Seeing the Okavango Delta from the air is an opportunity not to be missed. From the ground, it can be hard to spot the herds of zebra or gazelle hiding in the tall grass, or the lion following their scent. From above, one can follow the creeks and corridors that lie out of sight, spotting families of elephant weaving trunk-to-tail through the reeds, or view giraffe reaching for the topmost leaves of riverine forest trees.

Helicopters provide exclusive access to several hard-to-reach destinations. Alighting on a private sandbar for a champagne breakfast is both wonderfully exclusive and sublimely romantic, and expert pilots are similarly adept at seeking out remote locations for picnics and sundowners.

Air travel can also take you further afield. To the northwest of Botswana, Tsodillo Hills takes you back in time. The UNESCO World Heritage site is considered one of the world’s best examples of ancient cave art, with some pieces thought to date back almost 24,000 years. A long and bumpy, half-day journey along dirt roads dissuades many from making the trek, but by helicopter it is sometimes possible to enjoy exclusive access to this wonder of mankind’s ancient history.

Exclusive Islands

While mobile camps will occasionally pitch on small, remote islands, without infrastructure or established facilities this thrilling overnight experience isn’t suitable for a multi-day stay. On Chief’s Island, it is possible to enjoy a modicum of exclusivity, shared with only a handful of fellow guests. Almost entirely off-grid and surrounded by water, only two camps are situated on the large island, once the private expedition residence of King Moremi. During low-water season, as the river level drops, the island is reconnected with the mainland, but as the delta floods, the river is high and this exclusive private island is a sanctuary of tranquility. 

Boating and mokoro expeditions are readily available, and game drives provide superb wildlife viewing across the 405 square mile (1,050km²) island. Each with just a handful of villas and a wide range of facilities, the two camps may not offer exclusivity in the truest sense, but minimal occupancy allows you to share this stunning private region of Moremi Game Reserve with very few others.

Conservation Experiences

Botswana is renowned for its abundant wildlife, but despite this conservation remains imperative, particularly for the several endangered species that reside here. 

Conservation efforts mitigate these challenges and protect animals, but the projects can be costly and require financial assistance. Sponsorship programs, donations and governmental support all aid these organizations, but another opportunity for exclusivity is invaluable to the continuation of conservation.

Elephant Havens and Ecoexist both aim to protect wildlife while also supporting local communities. Human-animal conflict is one of the largest concerns for Africa’s animal welfare. Many villages are unable to protect themselves against hungry elephants or daring predators, so hunting is not simply necessary, it is a means of survival. 

The goal of Elephant Havens and Ecoexist is to educate villagers, nurture orphaned and injured wildlife and provide long-term sustainable solutions for the betterment of both. Visitors can take an exclusive look behind the scenes, contributing to the cause and gaining insight from staff and villagers about these valuable projects. Whether visiting communities or attending feeding time at an elephant orphanage, these exclusive experiences highlight the conservation work being undertaken throughout Botswana.

Botswana is enchantingly remote, its vast regions allowing for limited development to maintain both sustainability and exclusivity. To enjoy its landscapes, waterways, and experiences with only your traveling companion and a guide enhances the already wonderful destination tenfold. When it is just you and a loved one, these moments are yours alone. You can take your time, find the perfect angle for photography, ask questions of your guide, and immerse completely, creating unique memories and experiencing Botswana like never before.

We strive to create spectacular itineraries of every journey, but with the addition of these and other exclusively bespoke activities, every moment is enriched exponentially.

A Botswana safari is always captivating, but when made exclusive, it is unforgettable.

Header Image: ©Wilderness Vumbura Plains