New Rra Dinare Camp open in the Delta – Under One Botswana Sky
Aug09

New Rra Dinare Camp open in the Delta – Under One Botswana Sky

Joining their elite portfolio of lodges in Botswana – Pom Pom Camp, Gunn’s Camp, Moremi Crossing, Chobe Safari Lodge, Nata Lodge, and Chobe Bush Lodge – Under One Botswana Sky has recently added Rra Dinare Camp to their Okavango Delta collection. We couldn’t be more excited to introduce this 8-tent canvas and timber retreat overlooking the Gomoti River in a 272 square kilometre private concession adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve. The Delta is a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site; a shimmering emerald in the Kalahari sands; and the exclusive location of this new camp offers a glimpse into a secret part of this highly sought after destination. Rra Dinare means “father buffalo” in the local language, Setswana, which gives a warm and famlilar touch to what we all know to be one of the most iconic species of the Okavango Delta. The location of Rra Dinare Camp is in the southeastern region of the Delta, in a concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. There is a private airstrip, which services this camp and one other in the UOBS portfolio, which offers a short 20-minute flight from Maun and a 1h20 flight from Kasane, making this an easily accessible and ideally located spot to unwind and revitalise in peace and tranquility. There are 8 tented suites, including 1 family suite, which are expertly constructed on elevated wooden decking, and overlook the Gomoti River and its floodplains beyond. The canvas structures are stylish, yet casual, and offer the key elements of a comfortable and spacious safari tent. Each has an en suite bathroom with a modernised African outdoor shower, a toilet with a view, and a subdivided indoor vanity area, which leads into the bedroom. These tents have the luxurious addition of an extended lounge area, which then leads onto an outdoor viewing deck. And the view is something! Along the raised wooden walkways, the tents lead to the central guest area, which once again makes the most of the Delta view. There is a wide, open viewing deck, which extends out from the main thatched lounge and offers a circular seating are around a dancing fire, and the floodplains sprawl out towards the horizon for all to see. A second deck stretches out from under that thatched area to reveal a nicely sized swimming pool – a true luxury in Botswana’s summer months! Wandering wildlife present around the camp can be clearly seen from both the pool deck and the boma-style deck, enhancing the element of nature from wherever one may be. Under Rra Dinare’s central thatched area is a comfortable lounge, a dining room, a bar, and a...

Read More
Botswana Celebrates 50 Years of Independence
Sep26

Botswana Celebrates 50 Years of Independence

Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, is leading figure when it comes to wildlife conservation and, in fact, has just received an IUCN recognition for his “life-long commitment to the environment”. Serving on the Conservation International’s Board of Directors, Ian Khama actually founded the Botswana Anti-Poaching Unit. With Botswana’s 50 years of independence anniversary coming up, Botswana’s leaders have encouraged the country to show their patriotism by wearing the national colours on Fridays. Botswana is one of the top safari destinations in the world because it offers a high concentration of game and over 500 species of bird dotted across diverse, pristine landscapes. Botswana is the land of water and land safaris – the Okavango Delta, the Chobe region and the arid Kalahari are just a few regions waiting to be explored. What makes Botswana an astounding country is its people.  Friendly, welcoming and warm – the Botswanans are proud of their country and will be celebrating the success and stability of Botswana on its 50 year anniversary. On September 30th, Botswana will be celebrating 50 years of independence with a show at the National Stadium in Gaborone. You’ll find many people have taken to social media to share their love of their country under the hashtag #Bots50. In an effort to keep Botswana authentic, uncrowded and pristine, the government instituted a “high cost, low volume” policy in the tourism industry. There’s a restriction on the number of concession leases and the rates at lodges in Botswana come at a price; but with good reason. There most certainly isn’t an overcrowding of lodges throughout Botswana. This wildlife focussed country has more than 25 percent of the land set aside for parks. So, let’s celebrate and build awareness surrounding Botswana’s Golden Jubilee and give credit to the nation’s achievements. From our side, we’d like to wish beautiful Botswana a very happy 50 years of Independence on September 30th! In the spirit of celebrations, here are a few of our favourite lodges in Botswana. Botswana Celebrates 50 Years of Independence Ghoha Hills Savuti in the Savuti region : Ghoha Hills is lodge located on top of a hill overlooking the Savuti region in the Chobe National Park. It’s a luxury lodge in a prime game viewing destination and it has an incredibly warm and friendly atmosphere. Machaba Camp in Moremi: Located on the banks of the Okavango Delta, Machaba camp offers a sense of quiet sophistication and world-class game viewing opportunities. The best of land and water safaris! Kalahari Plains in the Central Kalahari Desert : Kalahari Plains Camp overlooks a bustling pan on flat landscapes that gives rise to endless skies, sunsets and mind-blowing scenery. Chobe Under Canvas on the Chobe Riverfront:...

Read More
100 Rhinos Get a Second Chance in Botswana
Jun28

100 Rhinos Get a Second Chance in Botswana

The protective boundaries of Botswana have been opened to receiving one of the most vulnerable mammals on the planet: the Southern white rhino. Desperation to save a species has led to the innovation, collaboration, and execution of one of the most significant animal translocation projects of today. Pioneers and leaders in conservation, Great Plains Foundation, teamed up with world leaders in luxury travel, &Beyond, to bring us Rhinos Without Borders. Upon completion, the project will have translocated 100 rhinos from the poaching war zone that has become of South Africa, to an undisclosed location in the safe arms of Botswana. In December 2014, the project was initiated, and a year later the team reported that two batches of rhino had been successfully rehomed in the wilderness of Botswana. At USD 45 000 translocation cost per rhino, this is an expensive operation, and it is anticipated that the project will run for a couple of years on public donations and the financial involvement of the private sector. After 1,5 years RWB is already a quarter of the way through their 100-rhino-target. Excellent news. In the world of safari and the field of African travel, we are all too aware of the heartbreaking poaching crisis that consumes South Africa’s wildlife. The Kruger National Park is the country’s most visited, most revered, most biodiverse, oldest, and largest wildlife park. It is the last remaining stronghold of the Southern white rhino, and tragically, it is perhaps the unsafest place for rhinos to be. Last year, South Africa lost over 1700 rhino to poaching – 500 rhinos more than the year before. It can be said that the historical, remarkable, world-renowned Kruger National Park is no longer safe for rhinos to live. Botswana’s attitude to conservation, its no-tolerance stance on poaching, and iron-clad laws that protect wildlife make it one of the safest countries for rhinos to live, and every other wild animal inhabitant. Rhinos Without Borders, under the expert guidance of Dereck and Beverly Joubert – CEOs of Great Plains Conservation, wildlife filmmakers, and ambassadors of conservation in Botswana – aims to create a new breeding population of rhino in Botswana. Here, in the safe embrace of the country’s pristine wild reserves, a safe, peaceful, wild population of rhinos will flourish, protected by the Botswana Defence...

Read More
Ecotourism at Chobe Game Lodge
Feb10

Ecotourism at Chobe Game Lodge

EcoTourism at Chobe Game Lodge Chobe Game Lodge has been in operation for decades. They have seen the effects of an ever changing world is having on our wild spaces and have taken steps to do their bit to protect the environment. Ecotourism is the label given to tourism that gives back or protects the environment. Many of the lodges in Botswana have fantastic social responsibility programs and try to leave as small a footprint on the land as possible. Here is a story about Ecotourism, EcoTours and the Chobe National Park – about a gentleman who has worked here for over 30 years! When Albert Ndereki first worked at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971, beers were a mere US$ 0.04 cents each and guests were expected to wear formal attire at dinner in the evening. Guests flew directly into Chobe National Park with Botswana Airways (now Air Botswana), landing at Serondela Airstrip by the Chobe River and continued to the lodge on a well-graded road. Today, he invites us on one of the first Ecotours now offered by Chobe Game Lodge. From being born in the village of Satau in Northern Botswana to watching Richard Burton serenade Elizabeth Taylor in their private suite after their second wedding, Albert can tell you the stories of how he’s watched Botswana evolve from simple beginnings into the premier destination for safari goers around the world. Albert talks about how challenging it was to establish Chobe Game Lodge, the first 5-star lodge of its kind in Botswana. “Things were very different then, many of the chefs, waiters, managers and other such people came from places like Zimbabwe, South Africa and overseas because there were no trained Batswana to employ” explains Albert. “You know for the food waste at the lodge we used to dispose of it in a hole at the back of the lodge which we buried. During the Chobe River sunset cruises we used to tie reeds to fish so the guests could see the fish eagles fly down in front of them and take the floating fish.” Albert noticed how the African Fish Eagle spent its days watching the boat waiting for its meal and quickly understood that the lodge had a responsibility to the environment and dreamed of changing how things were done. The lodge now actively works towards benefitting the environment and boosting the local Chobe community. Albert now oversees the ecotourism initiatives at Chobe Game Lodge, inviting guests to explore the lodge on an ecotour and discover what goes on behind the scenes. During the ecotour, Albert spends time talking about the community, what he calls...

Read More
It’s Baby Season in Botswana!
Nov17

It’s Baby Season in Botswana!

For the last few weeks the Sun Destinations team of photographer and film maker Kevin MacLaughlin and blogger Chloe Cooper were exploring the wild and beautiful Botswana. They returned to their respective offices – Kevin to the bush at Africa on Foot, and Chloe to the office in Cape Town, and shared their amazing trip with words and pictures, showing that it really was Baby Season in Botswana! Here is what Chloe had to say, accompanied by amazing pictures taken by Kevin.   On a recent trip to Botswana, we bore witness to some of the first impalas to be born of the season, baby warthogs tearing up the ground in an excitable game of ‘tag’, and some of Africa’s fiercest predators in their cute n fluffy youth. Well, their presence at a bloody kudu kill tainted their innocence slightly, but soon their playful tug-of-war with the kudu’s ear took them right back to cub-hood. Take a look at this week’s Week in Pictures, provided by Sun Destinations’ photographer and filmmaker, Kevin MacLaughlin.     A pride of 6 cubs, 3 lionesses, and 1 dominant male lion was settled just along the main road bordering the Central Kalahari Game Reserve near Haina Kalahari Lodge in Botswana, and resting under a nice, shady tree was the glassy-eyed remains of a kudu bull. Scattered on both sides of the fence line, the pot-bellied lion cubs were in full view of our game viewer, and they were too fat to go anywhere. Two out of the 3 mothers rested on the sand road in front of us, while the black-maned male was secluded under a tree, having eaten his fill. One lioness was feasting greedily on the kudu, as was a pair of determined cubs, while the rest of the family lay uncomfortably with swollen tummies. What an incredible sight and photo opportunity with the setting Kalahari sun! After flying with Major Blue Air in a stylish 6 seater airplane over the Okavango Delta, we set off on a game drive to Mapula Lodge in a private concession of the northern Delta. On the way to the lodge, a flurry of action turned our attention to a termite mound on the left, and what we saw was a pair of warthog siblings engaging in a chase of one another. Mother warthog grazed around them without batting an eyelid and we managed to drive right up to them and watch them fly along the ground in true child-like fashion before settling down for a rest and allowing us to take a couple of photos. Camping might have been the most fun out of the...

Read More
Relocating 100 Rhinos to Safety
Jan28

Relocating 100 Rhinos to Safety

After 2013 saw the death of well over 1000 rhinos, an infuriating leap from the previous year’s 668, conservationists have taken this year by the horns… so to speak. At present, there is a rhino murder taking place every 9 hours, which shows absolutely no slowing down in the rate of poaching in South Africa. The Kruger National Park, incredibly vast in size, and straddling the border of Mozambique, is the primary target for poachers. Many of these armed men enter the park from their impoverished villages and begin a hunt for these majestic creatures, in order to bring some money in for their poor families. This rhino war has turned into a blood bath not only for the animals poached. In this month alone, 11 poachers were killed in the Kruger National Park, while over 34 rhinos were slaughtered. The battle continues. Even with the 15 trained and armed anti-poaching units defending the park, the demand for rhino horn in South East Asia continues to lure local men out of their homes with the prospect of money in return for rhino horn. A new angle to curb this onslaught has been approached by 2 of Africa’s leading conservation organisations: Great Plains Conservation, and &Beyond. These 2 big thinkers have put their heads together and have concluded that evacuating a number of rhinos from the firing line and relocating them to the safety of Botswana is required in order to protect the species. In the words of Dereck Joubert, Great Plains CEO, “Like everyone, I’ve been watching this desperate situation worsen, which is why Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond have decided to take action. This is not a Great Plains Conservation project or an &Beyond one, it is a global one that we can all play a role in, small and large. I don’t believe in branded conservation — it needs to be something we all get behind to save a species .” Joss Kent, CEO of &Beyond, expressed his support for relocating 100 rhinos: “Botswana has an excellent security system in place to protect these endangered animals and will be a safe haven for the relocated rhino. Translocations are fundamental to secure the ongoing survival of endangered species and this groundbreaking project aims to protect the species for future generations to enjoy.”   Capturing, transporting and releasing such a high number of rhino is not an easy task, nor is it cheap. It is estimated to cost around USD 8 million, which will be raised through a number of initiatives whereby tourism partners and stakeholders will be given the opportunity to support this pioneering project. We are hopeful...

Read More
Featured Destination in the Delta: Mapula Lodge
Jun19

Featured Destination in the Delta: Mapula Lodge

Whether you are spotting an infinitely diverse number of bird species from the depths of a dugout canoe, or trundling along in a topless 4×4 Land Rover while admiring leopard, lion, elephant and wild dog, one’s love of Botswana can only be renewed after a visit to Mapula Lodge. This exquisite setting in the north western region of the Okavango Delta shares a border with the breath-taking Moremi Game Reserve and cradles on its riverbank, Mapula’s wooden construction. Wrapped around the Water Figs, perched atop tall stilts and equipped with private viewing decks, Mapula Lodge sets the scene for an unforgettable Botswana safari.     Nine chalets, and a family chalet sleeping 4, unapologetically produce vast views of the watery maze before it. The Hippo Lagoon slithers through the expanse of grass and stretches towards the woodwork of the leafy trees on the riverbanks. It is a stylishly comfortable lodge that clearly makes the most of its situation. Rustic thatch tops the stone units, while wooden pillars frame the doors act as bed posts, keeping nature close at hand. The ensuite bathrooms are beautifully ‘country’ with great, zinc bath tubs, taps and sinks, and again, promote the exceptional views through lightly meshed windows and walls. Mapula has a generous array of activities on offer, all conducted by guides and trackers who live in the villages surrounding the Delta and the Moremi, making their knowledge of the area unbeatable. A true passion and understanding of the waterways of the Okavango, these Batswana men and women provide a link to one of Africa’s most primeval wildlife destinations. Land-based game drives often take guests on an interesting adventure through flooded paths and overflowing walkways after the rainy months. A silent and serene canoe safari drops one’s vantage point to eye-level with the hippos that peer out from shallow surfaces. River-crossing elephants send wading ripples across the surface of the water creating an incredible mokoro experience. Lions, leopards and wild dogs are regularly sighted in the conservancy, as are buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and crocodile. A wildlife extravaganza awaits visitors at Mapula Lodge and with mokoro, driving and walking activities, there is little that can be missed.     A scrumptious array of dishes are produced by the chef, making mealtime a heavenly occasion that can be enjoyed on the open, wooden deck providing a fantastic ambience of the Delta by night. Specific dietary requirements are smoothly accommodated into the diverse menu, ensuring every guest is catered for with equal enthusiasm. Children over the age of 6 will delight in the discoveries they make at Mapula Lodge, bringing an imaginative animal world to life,...

Read More