In a true rags-to-riches story, Botswana’s fortunes were transformed overnight, turning it from one of the poorest countries in Africa to the continent’s most exciting – and exclusive – safari destination.
Blessed with vast stretches of breathtaking wilderness, together with the unforgettable sight of big cats, wildebeest and the largest elephant population in the continent roaming free, Botswana is wild Africa at its best.
Here, thanks to the country’s tightly controlled, sustainable tourism policies, you’ll find remote, boutique safari lodges that house no more than 24 guests, offering an upscale, action-packed, big-game safari experience without the crowds.
But it was once a very different story for this vast, land-locked country. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Botswana – and a turning point in its fortunes. In 1966, Botswana had no national government, roads, hospitals, schools, or towns, and had experienced two years of drought, with little hope of economic stability.
That all changed the following year, however, when huge diamond deposits were discovered in Orapa. With its prosperity transformed overnight, the new government admirably put in place policies to ensure its new-found wealth was used to help the people, investing heavily in social services such as health, education and housing, and developing some much-needed infrastructure. Development has been rapid, and, five decades on, Botswana is now one of Africa’s most stable and developed countries.
As development began, the government soon realised it also had an amazing resource in its wilderness and wildlife, and Botswana has since become a world leader in conservation and sustainability. Designating more than 30 per cent of the country as wildlife parks and game reserves, it has banned hunting and is working hard to protect endangered species through its Tlhokomela Trust. Botswana has the continent’s largest elephant population and is actively relocating rhino from other countries to within its safe borders.
This all adds up to a perfect destination for a world-class safari holiday. As well as experiencing the big-game safari spectacle, visitors can interact with meerkats in their natural habitat, or enjoy a beautiful stargazing session. Other thrilling pursuits include quad biking across the salt pans and horse riding through the Okavango Delta.
As Botswana celebrates 50 years of independence, there can be no better time to visit this amazing country and see for yourself the spectacular landscapes and huge array of wildlife that make it one of the richest safari destinations in Africa.