Botswana’s high-value, low-impact approach to tourism brings with it high pricing in relation to many other destinations, and this is compounded by the costs of fly-in charters, which are needed to access many of the camps in the Delta.
But this also results in a very exclusive and personal safari experience for guests, says Harriet Sobey, Sales and Marketing Director at Sense of Africa Botswana.
“When you compare this to other African countries, the value for money is great as you simply cannot compare the experience of being in a private concession of the Okavango Delta against a very busy South African national park as the exclusivity is vastly better.”
Many of Botswana’s wilderness areas – and most of the Delta – are operated on concession mode. Operators lease an area from the Botswana government, and this comes with strict limits on the number of beds and vehicles within any given area.
“In concessions of the Okavango Delta there will likely only be a few safari lodges in thousands of acres of land, ensuring minimal impact on the natural environment and a very personal safari experience,” says Sobey.
These exclusive experiences do, however, come at a premium, due to the lower density footprint, says Hilton Walker, Managing Director – Sales, Marketing and Reservations at Great Plains Conservation. He also points out that the underlying infrastructure and the logistics of operating in such remote and largely unpopulated regions is also challenging and costly.
Many guests only truly appreciate the value for money once they are already in the country, as they witness the operational costs involved in staying at a remote bush camp as well as the incredible exclusive experience on offer, says Sobey.
Ease of access
And access to these remote camps is improving. “Transfer and charter companies have incredibly good infrastructure,” says Chris Anagnostellis, CEO of An African Anthology. The bigger operators all have their own aircraft at the service of guests visiting their properties.
Transfers by light aircraft, which hop between remote bush camps, are predominant, offering an amazing way to see the changing landscape from the sky,” explains Sobey. “Alternatively, guests are transferred to lodges via road, which can be more challenging as road conditions vary drastically throughout the country.
“It is all handled for the guests and part of the tourism experience, because in the remote wilderness areas there are no taxis or public transport options,” says Walker. “It works like clockwork and guests experience Botswana throughout their transfer from one camp to another as well as on arriving or leaving the country.”
Botswana for every budget
Despite the prevalence of high-priced offerings, there is also a variety of packages are available to tourists, says Anagnostellis, ranging from the very exclusive to self-drive, self-catering packages that are far more readily affordable.
“Due to the way Botswana has marketed itself, it is considered a very expensive destination even though there are options for the more budget-conscious traveller too. As a result, there is an ongoing challenge to encourage the more affordable traveller to consider Botswana as a destination,” says Sobey.
Please note: image had been updated.