A Romanticised History of the Botswana Safari

Leopard at Dusk. Ian MichlerLeopard at Dusk
From somewhat wild and bloody beginnings the safari industry in Botswana today is taking the lead in the popularity stakes, with a variety of activities and varying degrees of luxury to choose from.

From Hunting to Photography

The safari industry as we know it today is a relatively new concept in Botswana in relation to other countries of Africa. Historically Botswana was the preserve of hunters who came to the country to seek adventure and to get away from restrictions in their countries of origin.

Up until the early 1990s there were very few photographic safari lodges in Botswana with most tourists being part of mobile safaris or self drive camping safaris. This was a time when the professional hunter was king and most of the land outside the national parks and game reserves was set aside for hunting concessions.

Today photographic safari operators have taken over the hunting concessions, with the result that trophy hunting in Botswana is slowly but surely being pushed aside.

Overland and Self-Drive Safaris

Despite the hold professional hunters had on the wilderness areas there were some overland safari companies that plied their trade in Northern Botswana, and as Botswana became known as a safari destination these companies grew in numbers and the quality of the mobile safari experience improved immensely. The wilderness, however, maintained its wild and unforgiving nature.

Northern Botswana was, and still is to a degree, the most sought after self-drive safari destination in Africa, and with the limited access and high expense the country is sure to maintain its position as a preferred self drive safari destination.

Safari Lodges in Botswana

In the 1970s and 1980s there were very few safari lodges dotted across the wilderness of Northern Botswana, and although considered luxurious at the time, today they would be looked upon as very rustic. It was only in the 1990s that more lodges were erected as more and more private concessions became available. Today there are many safari lodges of varying degrees of luxury to choose from in Botswana.

Safari in Botswana Today

Today Botswana is one of the most sought after safari destinations in Africa with a wide variety of safaris to choose from, from walking to mobile safaris and from rustic to luxury safari lodges.

With more than 17% of its land area given over to wilderness protection, and a great deal more under private concession Botswana is a leader in Africa when it comes to safari tourism.
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