Situated in the centre of southern Africa and more than 600 kilometres from the nearest ocean, Botswana is surrounded with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbours. With the exception of the eastern part of Botswana, where the great majority of the Batswana people live and where the summer rainfall is slightly higher, the majority of Botswana is desert.
Each year floodwater flows into the Okavango from its source in the moist central African highlands over a thousand kilometres away. These floodwaters flow from their catchments southwards and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife. Apart from year round excellent game viewing, the beauty of this water wonderland is awe inspiring. To the north-east of the Okavango Delta are the Chobe and Linyanti Game Reserves. The many varied habitats within the Chobe and Linyanti parks - such as marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands and the world-famous Savute Channel - have created an area renowned for its predators and large concentrations of game, particularly elephant. The grasslands of the Kalahari together with the lunar expanse of the Makgadikgadi saltpans complement and are in total contrast to the verdant, game-rich Okavango and Linyanti regions.
While the emphasis of a Botswana safari is often on large mammals - and there are plenty of these - there are many other specialised creatures to be seen and enjoyed. As many as 580 bird species have been recorded in Botswana with 75 larger mammal species known to occur and more than 80 fish species identified in the Okavango. But overall it is often the sense of wilderness and pristine functioning ecosystems that has the most significant impact on visitors. Nearly 40% of the country has been set aside as private reserves and national parks!
The importance of visitors and tourism to the sustainability of these areas cannot be overstated. Approximately 60% of all the people who live in northern Botswanaare employed in some aspect of the wildlife and tourism industry, an industry which is now the second largest contributor to the GDP of the country. The presence of camps such as our own and the protection afforded by the concessions in which we operate, has had a spectacular impact on the sustainable conservation of all the animals and plants that live here. A case in point: white and black rhino, poached to extinction in Botswana some time ago have, thanks to a joint project between the Botswana government and Wilderness Safaris, been returned to their integral place in the hierarchy of wild Botswana.