Mobile Camping Safaris in Botswana provide an unparalleled experience of wild Africa and is truly an authentic African adventure. A mobile camping safari brings you deep into the African wilderness where you can see, smell, and feel Africa. There’s something magical about sitting close to the campfire on a dark night listening to a lion’s roar or a hyena’s howl. You can choose from a variety of mobile camping safari styles, depending on your comfort level and budget. Luxury camping safaris provide a high level of service and comfort whereas an adventure safari is designed around travelers who don’t mind roughing it. Mid-range camping safaris are a great compromise between the two (Back to the Basics: Mobile Camping Safaris in Botswana, Part 1). What can you expect on a mobile camping safari and how do they operate?
A Typical Itinerary
Botswana has enormous national parks full of game, including the famous Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, and the Okavango Delta. Most mobile camping itineraries focus on these areas but it is possible to arrange a mobile camping safari that visits the vast grasslands of Nxai Pan, the Makgadikgadi, or the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. These parks are home to animals and birds not usually seen in the parks further north.
Many operators schedule departures throughout the year. On a set departure, you’ll join other travelers for the safari, usually with a maximum of 9-12 people. Some operators will guarantee departures with only 2 guests. A more exclusive (and expensive) option is to book a private safari. These are perfect for small groups of friends or family and are custom designed to fit your interests.
A standard itinerary is 8-10 days though it is possible to book a mobile safari for as little as 3 days, as long as 17 days, or even combine camping with a lodge safari.
Depending on the specific itinerary and destination, campsites are remote, wild, and unfenced. With wildlife wandering through camp you will experience the true essence of the African bush. You are truly disconnected from the outside world as there is no electricity or the internet (operators do bring radios or satellite phones for emergencies). In Botswana, mobile safari operators use private campsites in designated areas throughout the various national parks. Camps are self-contained and all supplies are brought in by a support vehicle or a trailer. Tents are clustered around the main dining area and vary in size depending on the specific safari. Toilets and showers can be shared or private (attached to your tent) depending on the style of safari.
A Typical Day
Mobile camping safaris are cross country journeys across the wild places of Botswana. Typically, you’ll spend a few nights based in one area before heading out to explore a new area. Though each day brings new adventures, the general daily pattern is similar across safari styles with a combination of transfer and exploration days.
Exploration days are spent in a specific area where the camp is used as a base for game drives and daily explorations. Depending on the itinerary activities can include game drives, boat trips, or walking. A typical day usually involves an early morning breakfast and game drive (when predators are still active), followed by a coffee/tea break. You return to camp for a lunch and siesta before a late afternoon game drive and return to camp for a delicious dinner and stories around the campfire. The following day may involve more exploration or a transfer to a new campsite.
On transfer days, you’ll depart the campsite and spend the day slowly driving to the next site, usually game viewing along the way. Distances and times vary with the itinerary but moving to the next campsite usually involves 4-6 hours of driving. On higher end safaris, the support staff stays behind and packs up camp then moves ahead to the next site. When you arrive, the camp is set up, dinner is ready, and the fire burning. On adventure camping safaris, the group helps to take down camp and set it up at the next site.
Bush cuisine is generally of an excellent quality. Hearty, delicious meals (using fresh produce when available) are prepared over a campfire. It is amazing what the cooks and chefs can prepare in a simple bush kitchen. Meals can either be taken at a set dining table or enjoyed in a relaxed manner around the campfire.
In general, breakfast consists of cereals, toast, eggs, fruit, coffee and tea. Lunches are salads, cold meats, cheese, and fruit. Dinner is usually the biggest meal with a variety of meats and vegetables, including casseroles, barbecues, or chicken stir fry. Vegetarian and special diets can be accommodated.
Depending on the style of safari, vehicles are usually specially adapted 4x4 Land Cruisers with open sides designed to enhance the game viewing experience. They are custom-fitted with built-in inverters to charge batteries, reference books, and a small fridge. Vehicles may have a removable canvas top allowing you to stand up for better views.
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