Botswana News
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 16:44

Meet the Wonder Women of Botswana Safaris

The Country's national park has the first and only all-female guiding team in Africa

Chobe Game Lodge, located in Botswana’s first national park, has the first and only all-female guiding team in Africa. The lodge is one of the most progressive safari destinations in Africa, thanks in part to the success of its female guide team with guests.

The decision to employ exclusively women grew organically out of something very practical: the bottom line. Back when the guide team was coed, the managers quickly noticed a pattern: Vehicles driven by women used less gas, required fewer repairs and lasted longer over time. Simply put, the women were better drivers. They were saving the company money.

How it began

It all started around 2004, when the Botswana Wildlife Training Institute, the government-regulated college that provides safari guide certification, asked Chobe Game Lodge whether it had room for two young women guides. Applicants must complete a standardised course that includes a placement at a safari camp, plus tests to evaluate English skills and scholastic aptitude. When both women performed extremely well at Chobe, the managers asked the institute to send over future female graduates. Today, there are around 50. With 17 guides, Chobe employs roughly one-third. The others are spread across the country.

Yazema Moremong, 37, became a guide in 2007, two years after she first spotted an elephant while visiting her uncle, a biologist. She credits her male colleagues for embracing all new recruits, male and female, equally.

Canah Moatshe, 32, started her career at a different camp in rural Botswana nine years ago. “I was the first and only lady among male guides. They never discriminated. That was the first time I drove a four-by-four, the first time I changed a tire. Those guys helped me,” she recalled with a laugh.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing. The women faced some pushback. Male guides at other safari companies challenged their validity, although mostly in a teasing, joking way, the women said. Guests generally worried about safety and competence, questioning the women’s ability to do things like change heavy four-by-four tires if there was a flat; handle aggressive animals and escort guests to the best wildlife sightings. The guides brushed off these concerns, saying they were to be expected because of the situation’s novelty. The women were quickly recognised.

“In many respects, they had to work harder to prove themselves, so you’re actually getting more out of them as guides,” said James Wilson, Chobe’s marketing manager.

According to John Aves who manages the female guide team, “The ladies stand up for themselves. They give as good as they get out there.”

There are more similarities than differences between the male and female guides in Botswana. They complete the same rigorous schooling. They are paid equally. Their days begin and end in darkness, starting about 4:30 a.m. until well after the sun sets. They cite the same reasons for choosing their career path: a love for wildlife and a desire to work in Nature.

Vehicles driven by women used less gas, required fewer repairs and lasted longer over time. Simply put, the women were better drivers. They were saving the company money.

Source: The Hindu

Published in News
Friday, 15 July 2016 14:28

Meet Kim Wolhuter

Meet Kim Wolhuter - renegade South African wildlife film-maker and acclaimed photographer who never ceases to amaze with his incredible animal interactions and relationships. He is happiest hanging out at a hyaena den with his BFF Bounce! Kim is currently living under a tree on the banks of the Limpopo River at Mashatu Game Reserve in ‪‎Botswana‬ while he is filming a documentary on hyaenas - although confesses to spending most nights sleeping on his camera box in his vehicle in the middle of nowhere. Kim is the third generation of game ranger in his family - his grandfather Harry Wolhuter was the first game ranger in the Kruger National Park with the famous Wolhuter Trail named after him. Claire interviews the legend behind the lens...
Published in News
The long standing issue of congestion at the Chobe National Park (CNP) which threatens to negatively impact on tourism in the Northern region resurfaced once again at the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana HATAB annual conference in Maun. This is one burning issue which has not been adequately addressed considering the number of vehicles which continuously enter the park, particularly during peak season.


Although the whole of CNP is said to be affected, the area covering 17 kilometres between Sedudu and Serondela is reported to be the most burdened as more than a hundred vehicles pass through there on a daily basis, thus also leading to degradation of the area known for its sensitivity.


Briefing stakeholders at the conference, Acting CNP manager Mokwaledi Mafa decried the little or no support from tour operators who for unknown reasons still find no fault in ferrying tourists through illegal routes.


Because of this lack of cooperation he stated that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has come up with strategies geared towards controlling as well lessening vehicle movement along the river front. These include the recent development and adoption of the code of conduct which will ensure controlled visitor behaviour, including among others, restricted times spent at sightings so as to create space. 


“In addition to that, only two vehicles from each company will be allowed in the park per day. We will also allow for bookings to be done at least seven days in advance. A booking confirmation will also have to be made two days in advance because otherwise if we leave things as they are at the moment, then the tourism sector will be hugely affected. We might as well see tourists opting to visit other countries because what they are more interested in is value for their money,” he said.


However Mafa noted that not all strategies brought up are winning because some tourists always put strain on tour guides and dictate on where and what places they want to be taken to as they would have paid large amounts of money for such services. This therefore constantly leaves operators with no alternative but to attend to the needs of their clients for fear of losing out on business.

Source: http://www.sundaystandard.info/


Published in News
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 14:14

Cheetah "spots" tasty toes at Mashatu

This curious young cheetah "spotted" some tasty toes to nibble on at Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana recently.  Renowned wildlife film maker/photographer Kim Wolhuter might consider leaving his boots on next time! This incredible photo has gone viral including at least 4 UK National Newspapers. If you would like to enjoy real time blog updates straight from Kim Wolhuter please follow him on Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/kimwolhuter1/.  His interactions with hyenas are equally impressive. Or even better - go and see for yourself ... www.mashatu.com

Published in News
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 14:03

Chobe versus Hwange - exploring the pros and cons

Being a Zimbabwean myself and having grown up visiting places like Hwange regularly I tend to have a very strong allegiance to our own National Parks.  This you might say would render me not entirely objective in my ability to compare Chobe, Botswana with Hwange, Zimbabwe, two parks in similar proximity to Victoria Falls.  However, I did have the pleasure of co-managing (with my partner Suzanne) a large ground handling safari operation in the Chobe area for nearly two years in 2008 and 2009.  We were based in Kasane, had a fleet of 25 vehicles, 10 boats and 50+ staff underneath us and being the largest operation in the area we were intricately involved in Chobe’s safari and tourism industry.  And so, I believe as result of that experience, I am fairly well placed to give a balanced view of both parks.

Let me start by saying that both Chobe and Hwange are world renowned parks in their own right.  Between Chobe and Hwange the elephant density is said to be the largest in Africa with some estimates saying this could as high as 60,000 elephants.  In fact it is known that some elephants do indeed move between the parks crossing private safari or forestry areas that lie between them.  I am writing this article not so much to try and convince you the reader of which park is the ‘better’ one to visit.  I would prefer that the words stimulate your mind and help you make a decision that is best suited to your needs when you go on safari to this region.

Chobe National Park is approximately 1,5hrs drive west away from Victoria Falls.  It is probably Botswana’s second most popular safari destination after the Okavango Delta and covers an area of 11,700 square kilometres. To get there one can take a transfer bus from your hotel in Livingstone, Zambia or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  Going from Zambia means that you need to get on a boat to cross the Zambezi, where four countries meet (one of only two places in the world where this occurs) i.e. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia (the eastern most tip of the Caprivi strip).  Travelling from Zimbabwe means a land crossing at the Zimbabwe/Botswana border in Kazungula.  Both routes lead you to Kasane town (just outside Chobe NP) where there are numerous hotels and lodges.  There is only one lodge in Chobe National Park itself.  There are a number of safari companies based in Kasane that offer game drives and river cruises into Chobe.  Practically all of these operators concentrate their game drives or boat cruises along a 20km stretch of the north eastern part of the park that borders with the Chobe river and Namibia.  As there are no significant waterholes inland you find that the game concentrates in this area due to the life giving waters of the river.  The frequency and variety of good game sightings here is phenomenal and what makes a visit to Chobe so attractive.  The downside is that all the vehicles and boats are concentrating in this relatively small area, so chances are that you will share your sightings with quite a few other people.  Kasane operators have mainly capitalised, over the years, on the day trip market from Victoria Falls and Livingstone.  Whilst there are various accommodation options the bulk of travellers come into Chobe for a 2,5-3hr game drive in the morning , followed by lunch at one of the hotels and then a 2,5-3hr boat cruise in the afternoon before heading back across the border again.  This makes the experience somewhat mass market oriented and the quality of guiding can be affected as a result.  Walking is also a distinct rarity in Chobe.

Hwange National Park is approximately 1,5hrs drive south away from Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe.   It is one of Zimbabwe’s premier safari areas and covers an area in excess of 14,600 square kilometres.  To get there one can take a transfer bus from Victoria Falls to Hwange Main Camp on wide tar roads.  At Hwange Main camp most people are then collected in a 4×4 game drive vehicle from the lodge or camp that they are going to stay at in the park.  At the moment there are still only a few people that do a day trip to Hwange and tour operators prefer to build this park into a package with at least two nights (preferably three) spent here.  Hwange does not have any major rivers running through or bordering the park.  To compensate for this the park has a number of man made waterholes that are pumped with borehole water using a combination of diesel, solar and wind pumps.  The diesel pumps do make a knocking noise that can detract from the peaceful surroundings a little.  The beauty though of having scattered waterholes all over the park plus a wide road network means that traffic in the park is well dispersed over a very large area.  Most camps and lodges are also located on their own private concessions meaning that when you stay at them you are unlikely to see many people other than those in camp.  Game drives do sometimes go over the borders of the concessions into public parts of the park, but as mentioned above the scattered waterholes and wide route network manages traffic well.  Zimbabwe is renowned for its excellent guiding (it takes at least 4 years to become a professional) and Hwange is no exception.  Each camp or lodge typically has at least one professional guide in residence.  Learner guides are also very knowledgeable and eligible to take game drives.  Aside from game drives the opportunity to walk in Hwange is something not to be missed.

So in closing let’s look at the main pros and cons from each park again:

CHOBE

Pros

  • Easily reachable from Victoria Falls
  • Offers both a water based and land based safari experience
  • Conveniently set up to cater for day trippers
  • Excellent wildlife sightings even for day trippers, with excellent chances of seeing big game, including elephant, cheetah, lion and leopard
  • Those that are able to stay in Chobe for longer than a day may be rewarded in that their game drives and boat cruises may be less congested as they are in the park at a different time to the day trippers.
Cons

  • Limited route network for game drives
  • Game drives and boat cruises are operated in a small area of the park
  • Somewhat mass market safari tourism
  • Guiding abilities may not be as good as elsewhere in southern Africa
  • Only one lodge located in the park itself
HWANGE

Pros

  • Excellent road route network that manages traffic well
  • Well positioned waterholes that have excellent game viewing
  • A variety of fantastic camps and lodges catering for all budgets
  • Excellent learner and professional guides that ensure a memorable and personal safari experience.
  • Superb opportunities to walk in the park with a professional guide
Cons

  • Diesel pumps at some waterholes can hinder the peace
  • Not ideally geared for day trippers from Victoria Falls
  • Limited to a land based safari experience only
  • A day trip to Hwange may not yield as high a number of big game sightings
For more updates from Vayeni:

Twitter: @lukebrownzim, @vayenitravel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vayenitravel?fref=ts

LinkedIn: zw.linkedin.com/in/lukebrown/

Google+: www.gplus.to/vayeni

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vayeni/
Published in News
The already awe-inspiring views and incredible guest experience at Ngoma Safari Lodge is now even better with the recently completed private ‘refresh and relax pools’ located at each of the 8 luxurious suites.

 All suites now boast a private pool located in their own outside sanctuary area, and guests can also enjoy panoramic views of the Caprivi Floodplain and Chobe river from their private heated outdoor shower.

 Ngoma Safari Lodge is one of Africa Albida Tourism’s high end products, offering a 5 star exclusive guest experience in a supreme location in northern Chobe.

 About Ngoma Safari Lodge

 The privileged location of this luxurious lodge commands awe-inspiring views of the Caprivi Floodplain and the Chobe River, the lifeblood of the area. Enjoy game walks and drives with a Professional Guide, birding, river cruises and visits to the local community and school during your stay.

 The thatched suite incorporates rustic and ethnic styles, with natural finishes and an emphasis on space and comfort. The central area includes a sitting room, dining room, bar area, game viewing deck, new pool deck and a plunge pool with a striking water feature. Spend evenings around the fire looking out at the floodlit waterhole.

 Each suite now offers:

  • Private ‘relax and refresh pool’ located in the private outdoor area of each suite.
  • Indoor and outdoor showers.
  • Overhead fans and air conditioning.
  • Mini bar.
  • Tea and coffee facilities.
  • Luxurious indoor bathroom and amenities
  • Panoramic views of the Chobe River
 Situated in northern Chobe, Botswana, within the Chobe Forest Reserve – Ngoma Safari Lodge is 55km from the nearest town Kasane, and 135km from the magnificent natural wonder of Victoria Falls.

The accolades keep flowing for our Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana, and they constantly reflect our own belief that this very special place presents one of the finest wildlife spectacles on the planet.

 There are several key, authentic reasons that make the luxury eight-suite Ngoma stand out as unique:

 

·          It is THE premium, most exclusive property in the Chobe area. You’re in the lap of luxury well away from the “madding crowds” of Kasane.

·          Its exclusivity is heightened by a supreme location overlooking the game-rich floodplains and its size.

·          It affords an exceptional game experience year-round and in the dry season is among the best in the world with bigger elephant herds than anywhere else.

·          The birdlife is prolific – more than 450 species.

·          As an exquisite safari experience there is the added dimension of the water – you can get within trunk-touching distance from elephants from a boat!

·          Ngoma links beautifully with Victoria Falls – a few hours’ drive away through the heart of the park or a short flight into Kasane Airport.

For further information please contact David Reading at david@talkingstickmktg.co.uk
Published in News

Last Sunday on the CBS News 60 Minutes programme, Lara Logan and her team profiled Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Great Plains Conservation's founders, Emmy award-winning wildlife filmmakers, and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, at their Great Plains Conservation camps in Botswana. Logan was in Africa to film the Jouberts’ important conservation work with Big Cats in the Duba Plains area.

Click here to view this insightful short documentary.

Dereck and Beverly Joubert founded The Big Cats Initiative with the National Geographic Society in 2009, an emergency fund to save big cats through the world. The enduring message from the Jouberts is: "Without big cats, African safaris and African ecosystems will be much poorer."

60 Minutes and the Jouberts were on a quest to film and follow the wildlife characters from their 2011 award-winning feature, "The Last Lions," released by National Geographic Entertainment. Great Plains Conservation transported the TV crew and South African correspondent Logan across swollen rivers at Duba Plains to the luxury of Zarafa Camp and Selinda Camp, and flew the film crew through storms while enduring the heat in the Okavango Delta. 

60 Minutes is the longest standing network magazine and news program in the USA, with a loyal viewership of over 30 million weekly.

www.greatplainsconservation.com

 

Published in News

At a spectacular ceremony in Italy this week, it was announced that Great Plains Conservation would be breaking new grounds for Relais & Châteaux. ol Donyo Lodge and Zarafa Camp are the first properties ever to be accredited as Relais & Châteaux members in Kenya and Botswana respectively and be accepted into this prestigious association.

This Relais & Châteaux membership highlights the quality and mutual ethos of both companies. The Relais & Châteaux 5C’s ethos of Calm, Charm, Character, Courtesy and Cuisine personifies the experiences at both ol Donyo Lodge and Zarafa Camp. In addition these Great Plains Conservation properties add a further two C’s into the mix in the form of their underlying Conservation and Community ethics.

"I'm delighted that Great Plains is joining the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association” says Dereck Joubert, CEO of Great Plains Conservation. “We have just seen, at the 38th Relais & Châteaux Congress in Turin, the level of excellence the association embodies and promises its guests. It is a really good fit, in that we strive for the gold standard in conservation tourism as well as in the experience we deliver. Guests come to our camps and lodges to change the future of conservation, whilst at the same time enjoy only the finest service and quality. This has been recognized by Relais & Châteaux even though our worlds are very different."

The epitome of working with communities to their benefit from conservation tourism is ol Donyo Lodge. Its ten pool and standard suites are located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills in 275,000 acres of Maasai-owned land in southern Kenya. This is quintessential Africa with Mount Kilimanjaro as an ever-present backdrop, wildlife-studded plains and acacia forests below offering the opportunity for numerous low-impact activities including day and night game drives, horse back safaris, mountain biking and guided walking safaris. Guests at ol Donyo Lodge can also meet with authentic Maasai villagers, or spend the day in a open air hide watching some of the world’s largest tusker elephants up close, or sleep under the stars from their rooftop star-bed waking to see Kilimanjaro illuminated at dawn.

“This association makes us want to be better at everything, from cuisine to service, and as a result we’ll be fine tuning our operations and training our chefs with the finest in the world” says Dereck.

Zarafa Camp, in the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana, is a very low environmental impact camp, but one that does not forfeit luxury to do so. With just four huge 110 square metre tents, the Relais & Chateaux board were captivated the minute they walked in. Sustainable building materials and ecological operations combine with authentic period furniture to create a discerning safari ambience and refinement, set in a private reserve with thousands of elephants, buffalo and hippo, with good lions and leopards and wild dog populations. This paradise is second-to-none. Guests can chose day and night game drives, catch-and-release fly fishing, use of the house boat, canoeing and walking safaris.

As Great Plains Conservation and Relais & Châteaux team up we believe that we will enhance our mutual offering of an environmentally friendly, abundant wildlife experience as well as the finest hospitality. The perfect combination of heart and soul.

http://www.greatplainsconservation.com

Published in News

Our Sponsors

  • Street Child Logo

  • Selling-Travel-black
  • One & Only
  • PINK OSTRICH PICTURES FINAL LOGO small
  • KZN-Logo