Kilometre after kilometre of pristine landscape. Animals in the wild, untamed, up close. A safari is certainly one of the most impressive travel experiences imaginable. Botswana is perfect for this kind of adventure: The country in the heart of the south makes the fascination of Africa tangible in a unique way – thanks to an ecosystem that spins its magic from the air. Where the watercourses of the Okavango Delta run into the savannahs of the Kalahari breathes an incomparable wildlife, which you can get very close to in the Wilderness Camps.
A lioness lies relaxed with her cubs in the shade of a tree. Giraffes raise their heads to the fresh leafy green of the trees or tentatively bend them towards the water. Baby elephants splash around in the water – swimming, diving and enjoying the welcome cool-down. Wilderness enables you to experience these kinds of incomparable wildlife sightings. And from every perspective: On a canoe trip through the quiet tributaries of the Delta, accompanied only by an orchestra of birds and frogs. On a boat tour, ogled by hippos who sleepily lift their heads out of the water. During a Land Rover drive through deep fords, with water almost threatening to penetrate the car – a real adrenaline kick. Or during a scenic helicopter flight, over herds of leaping impala and grazing zebra. To show this breath-taking world in all its beauty and protect it at the same time: this is the mission of Wilderness.
Of the 20 exclusive Wilderness camps in Botswana, three are on my itinerary – two in the Okavango Delta and one in the equally game-rich Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in the north. After making your way from Johannesburg to Maun International Airport you will love the 25- to 40-minute flight to the lodges – wonderful views of the untouched beauty and diversity of the landscapes are visible from the small planes. Providing a safe haven for the wild and combining it with luxury hospitality in an attentive, sustainable way, Wilderness has a clear philosophy: it focuses on the preservation of natural habitats for endangered species; harmonious co-existence of people and nature; respect for the regional cultural heritage; and education and empowerment of the local population. For an untamed, unfenced wild world that we can marvel at first hand.
Luxurious hideaway in the heart of the Delta: Jao Camp is located in heavenly seclusion on an island, nestled amidst the lush vegetation with tall palm trees. You will enjoy exclusive comfort and stylish interior design with sustainable materials in its five suites and two villas. Enjoy romantic moments under an open sky, relax on the pool deck or unwind in the spa – everything you desire is here. The surroundings appear against a different backdrop depending on the season; the scenery is determined by the dynamics of the water level and wildlife moments that cannot be experienced anywhere else.
After two nights at Wilderness Jao Camp, we head northeast, where we reach Wilderness Vumbura Plains Camp after a short flight and an exciting drive through the wild. The backdrop here is just as divine as earlier: Land and water seem to flow into each other seamlessly, creating verdant islands everywhere. Dreamy waterways, mighty river forests, golden grasslands and wildlife wherever you look – cavorting and almost seeming to revel in the awe and joy we feel at the sight of them. And even if the Camp is an inviting place to relax with its top-class comfort, the possibilities to go on expeditions are appealing and varied. From hiking with a private guide, a fishing trip by boat and a jeep safari through different vegetation to a ride into the sunset in a Mokoro canoe – there really are no limits if you looking for some adventure. And Wilderness always emphasises moderation and mindfulness, to retain nature’s balance and keep the environmental footprint as small as possible. The cuisine is a reflection of how seriously Wilderness takes this philosophy. At today's rustic bush dinner, fresh meat specialties from the region and locally grown seasonal vegetables are placed on the large grill. It is prepared in the traditional local way, finely flavoured with the powdered root of the Okavango water lily. Complete indulgence can be as easy as this: sitting around the campfire and tasting pure Africa, warmly enveloped by the night air and in close harmony with nature.
BUSH WALK or hunting time?
Wilderness Vumbura Plains
A wonderful place to experience the ultimate safari in the Okavango Delta: The lodge, which welcomes guests from the age of six years, blends harmoniously into the natural landscape. In the centre is the elongated low main building, whose panoramic windows bring nature indoors. Spacious wooden decks placed at the front are ideal vantage points and meeting places to enjoy culinary delights together. Boardwalks and pathways lead to the villa suites, all located directly on the water and with unsurpassed privacy. Glass walls open up magnificent views in almost all directions. These can also be enjoyed from comfortable loungers on the sundeck, the private pool, or the covered terrace, which is perfect for a private dinner in the African night.
Our third stop on the Wilderness Safari Tour in Botswana is already waiting: the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in the far north. Pristine nature, fed by the mystical Savuti Canal and the Linyanti River, creates one of Botswana's most diverse habitats and a paradise for wildlife here – with vast grasslands, mopane forests and alluvial plains. One notices immediately that this is home to the largest population of elephants. Besides these grey giants, we also get to see leopards, zebras, African wild dogs, water buffalos and numerous bird species on our expeditions. The feeling of elation is indescribable; the fascination of these experiences is lasting – and during dinner that evening in Wilderness DumaTau Camp, our exquisite accommodation, it’s still a topic of conversation.
Wilderness DumaTau Camp is advantageously located between two busy elephant corridors on the green riverbank, close to a lagoon. The airy spaciousness and comfort of the eight tented suites, all with pool and sun terrace, is impressive. Inside, acacia timber, handcrafted mosaics and local textiles create an authentic flair. The spa, with its large pool and bar terrace, is just as inviting as the platform below the restaurant, accessible via the jetty, where you can watch elephants nibbling water lilies.
Three outstanding safari destinations and an incomparable wealth of experiences in unspoiled nature lie behind me. Over the past few days, I’ve learnt to understand the vision and mission Wilderness is pursuing here in Botswana and other locations: To create an awareness of the beauty of the wild. To call for this unique ecosystem to be valued and protected. Top-class hospitality that is simultaneously implemented with great care. To create exclusive accommodation that integrates recycling and allows for deconstruction without waste. To be a friend and sponsor of the local population, their values and future: with eco-initiatives and training programmes; with jobs in the camps or individual small shops selling handicrafts. Wilderness shows how to combine the wild, luxury tourism and sustainability.
Book with Wilderness
Wilderness has been pioneering exceptional luxury safaris in Southern Africa for 40 years. More than 60 of its own unique camps and lodges in eight countries are open to guests for an adventure in the wild. There are also limited safari destinations which are only built on a temporary basis. Direct booking is flexible, individual and holistic – including international and domestic flights, routes and length of stay as desired, as well as all-inclusive catering.