We spent 2 weeks on a camping safari in Botswana in July 2004 with CC Africa (our Botswana photos and videos). They were fantastic and it’s the best trip we’ve ever taken. (51 countries). We traveled in a group of 6. Smaller is definately better. Some of the larger groups that we saw didn’t each have a window seat. Paying that much and flying that far only to have someone else’s head in the way when you finally get to see something… Not good.
We had huge tents that were set up for us, and hot water in our wash basins every morning. No one would shower in the morning – it was winter and COLD first thing (6AM). Like, one morning the sponge froze to the table. But by lunch time it would warm up and they would hook up a shower over a tree branch and heat up the water on the fire. It was great!
We also really loved being able to fall asleep to the sound of lions and zebras. Awesome. You don’t get that in the hotels. The rough part is that you can’t just go for a walk, since there are wild animals all around you. So you might want to bring a jump rope, or Frisbee or something so that you can move a bit, cause it gets old, sitting every day!
Chobe was amazing! Elephants everywhere! Actually, all the park we visited were awesome in different ways. I can’t imagine not seeing anything. It was ridiculous how much we saw. The one thing we didn’t see too many of was people! Botswana is more expensive than other countries, but that buys you one of the lowest population densities on the planet and very few other tourists. It’s also a perfectly safe, stable democracy.
We normally would never take a "tour" and can totally relate to wanting the freedom to do it on your own (I teach Kindergarten – I lead the field trips, I don’t go on them ) but there are really very few people in Botwana. Often were were alone, sometimes for more than a day. We have no idea how to fix a vehicle and I’m not really sure how you even would when you’re in the middle of nowhere. People who self drive seem to use GPS. There are no signs of any kind between some of those parks – to us it just looked like our guide took a left at the tree…
We never felt unsafe camping, but there are no fences. Maybe it comes from growing up camping with bears in Canada. Don’t put your food in your tent. The guide has no gun (they’re not allowed) so I’m not really sure that they make it safer in terms of animals, but we didn’t feel it was a problem. Actually, one night my husband woke me up wanting to know what that sound was. I told him it was raining and to go back to bed. Um…raining??? In the middle of July? Well, it was – raining acacia pods – an elephant was shaking the tree we were camped under and eating the pods which were falling off and "raining" on our tent. AWESOME. In the morning we found the footprints not three feet from the tent. Unlike people, animals don’t randomly attack you, so you should be fine.
We did have a vehicle with the exhaust above the roof for the delta. Even with our guide’s experience we got stuck
and helped get the car out more than once. Botwana’s sand is deep! The jack would just disappear in it, it seemed. More than anything our guide was awesome at finding stuff we just would never have seen without him. He does this every day. And he’s good at it. Botswana makes them pass tough exams and it shows. I think we were on our way
from Savuti to Moremi when we passed a bunch of buzzards sitting in a tree. So our guide asks us if we mind stopping and seeing if we can find the lion who has a kill. Of course not. Couple of minutes later we’re watching a lioness drag a springbok carcass not 10 feet from the vehicle. We’re all amazed. Watched that for a while and our guide tells us that there’s no way she did that on her own – she must have stolen it from some cheetahs. Would we mind going to hunt for them? Of course not, so off we went and just around some trees – there they were!!! We spent 45 minutes not more than 20 feet from a mom and two cubs watching them clean themselves off. We would NEVER have even noticed the buzzards had we been trying to navigate on our own!
Everything with CC Africa was well organized, and the equipment (vehicles, tents, etc) well maintained. The guide answered all our questions and did a great job of teaching us about the animals we were seeing. He tried very hard to make our trip special. The other two support staff who went with us did a great job too. They always managed to make food in the middle of nowhere, including bread – with no oven! It was excellent. They actually managed to find some fake vegetarian "ground beef" for me one night – it was very impressive! Our tents were comfortable, the shower water they heated over the fire, we had hot water to wash our faces and hands every morning, lots of good food, and amazing game drives!
We never once felt worried for our safety. Botswana is a very safe, stable country and the animals are not there to hurt you either. New York or Mexico City would scare me much more! The guide has done this many, many times and is used to "reading" the animals. He’ll tell you what’s safe and what’s not. In a word – GO! And have fun! It’s AMAZING!!!!