Words by Jess Fogarty
A guide to booking accommodation in Botswana’s national parks.
Botswana has long been a favoured destination for South African overlanders. Its proximity, and the fact that as South Africa citizens you don’t require a visa to visit, have put this neighbour high up on many a bucket list. But in recent times, booking your accommodation in its national parks and game reserves has become a little more complicated. So, in response to reader requests for clarification on this subject, we decided to put together this guide – starting with a little background.
In October 2009, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) began privatising many of its campsites in the national parks and game reserves, handing over the management of these facilities to four tour companies. This may have made bookings more reliable, but visitors are now dealing with five different bodies (including DWNP), instead of just one (DWNP).
These four tour companies – SKL Group, Xomae Safaris, Big Foot Tours, and Kwalate Safaris – handle the management and operation of campsites in Moremi, Savute, Chobe, Kalahari, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Khutse, Makgadikgadi Pans, and Nxai Pan. The campsites they manage range from the totally undeveloped, to those boasting modern ablution blocks with flush toilets, hot and cold showers, running water, and dustbins.
It must be noted that bookings must be made well in advance as there aren’t very many campsites; and space at these sites is also limited. Happily, you can make your bookings up to twelve months in advance, which means that you have plenty of time to double-check them before departure.
Big Foot Tours
Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR): Passarge Valley, Deception Valley, Piper Pans, Sunday Pans, Motopi camp, Kori camp, Lengau camp, Xade camp, Lekhubu Pan, and Letiahau camp. At some CKGR campsites visitors are requested to dig their own mini-latrines but the operator is planning to install pit latrines in most of these undeveloped campsites. Water is available from Xade Wildlife Camp, but is currently not reliable at the Matswere entrance.
Khutse Game Reserve: Mahurushele, Molose, Khutse, Moreswe, and Khankhe Pans.
In Khutse Game Reserve, some campsites have pit latrines but no other form of development. Each campsite can accommodate up to six people, in a maximum of three vehicles. Big Foot Tours have camping equipment which can be used or rented, for those who don’t have their own.
GPS Coordinates CKGR
Sunday Pan camp 21°19’54.71” S 23°41’17.09” E
Passarge Pan camp 21°14’45.56” S 23°35’28.39” E
Motopi camp 21°9’33.75” S 23°4’48.25” E
Lekhubu camp 21°35’33.02” S 23°44’49.93” E
Leatihau camp 21°36’31.96” S 23°11’54.35” E
Piper Pan camp 21°46’5.77” S 23°11’54.35” E
Khutse Game Reserve
Mahurushele camp 23°16’58.74” S 24°23’16.70” E
Khankhe camp 23°13’42.50” S 24°20’48.34” E
Moloswe camp 23°24’35.78” S 24°9’28.69” E
Moreswe camp 23°33’51.07” S 24°5’25.29” E
Postal PO Box 45324, Riverwalk, Gaborone, Botswana.
Physical Plot 251, Moremi Road, Ext 5, Gaborone,
Botswana. (00267) 391 0927, (00267) 395 3660 (fax),
(00267) 735 55573 (cell), email@example.com /
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bigfoottours.co.bw
Chobe National Park: Savuti and Linyanti.
Moremi Game reserve: Khwai Northgate.
Makgadikgadi & Nxai National Park: Kumaga camp.
In Savuti, Linyanti, and Khwai Northgate camps, each site has its own water tap and braai area. What’s more, the above camps have two ablution blocks with solar lights, hot and cold running showers, and flushing toilets. Kumaga has two modern ablution block facilities with flush toilets, basins and cold showers. All camps also enjoy daily rubbish collection.
Khwai Northgate boasts game drives, game walks, mokoro activities (in a dugout canoe), and boat cruises from the campsite. However, there are no food supplies available; nor is there petrol or diesel in the park, or anywhere between Kasane and Maun.
PO Box 1860, Maun, Botswana.
The Appollo House, Plot Nr. 246, Office Nr. 6, Maun, Airport Road.
(00267) 686 5365, (00267) 686 5367 (fax), email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sklcamps.com
Chobe National Park
Savuti 18°34’01.4”S 24°03’90.5”E
Linyanti 18°16’22.8”S 23°56’16.3”E
Moremi Game Reserve
Khwai 19°10’34.2”S 23°45’09.5”E
Makgadikgadi & Nxai National Park
Kumaga 20°27’31.1”S 24°30’96.8”E
Moremi Game Reserve: Third Bridge, and Wilderness.
Nxai National Park: South Camp, and Baines Baobab.
Moremi Game Reserve Third Bridge
19°14’20.21” S 23°21’21.82” E
Nxai National Park
19°56’12.52” S 24°46’36.81” E
20°07’13.30” S 24°45’40.30” E
Third Bridge campsite offers two newly-built ablution blocks, and running water. Activities include boat cruises and game drives. There are transfers available – to other wilderness sites, to the Xakanaxa airstrip and to Maun.
Wilderness island camp is situated on three separate islands located in the area of the Gcudikwa and Gxhobega lagoons. The camp offers boat cruises, mokoro trips, and guided game walks. There are, however, no facilities here; and you take out what you bring in.
South Camp in Nxai National Park is a well shaded area, from which game drives and Maun transfers are available, and the facilities boast two newly-built ablution blocks, running water, and an artificial waterhole. At Baines Baobab there is no water, and what you bring into the camp, you take out; this is because both Wilderness and Baines Baobab sites are National Monuments and should be kept as clean and uncluttered as possible.
On the downside
The Xomae Group have only one published line of contact – an online booking form. This may seem simple, but it is almost impossible to contact them with a simple query. We made three attempts before we received a response, and that was a week later. This hardly makes the booking process any more user-friendly; however, in the response we were given more contact points for the Xomae Group, so take note.
PO Box 20975, Maun, Botswana. (00267) 686 2221, (00267) 686
2262 (fax), (00267) 738 67221 (cell), email@example.com or visit www.xomaesites.com
Venues covered Moremi National Park: Xakanaxa, and South Gate Chobe National Park: Ihaha
The Xakanaxa and South Gate Campsites in the Okavango Delta have ablution blocks with flush toilets, and hot and cold showers which use solar panels to heat the water. Limited picnic tables and water taps are also available, and each campsite has its own braai stand.
At Ihaha, overlooking the Chobe River, there is a public camping ground with modern facilities: it has an ablution block with showers, hand basins, flush toilets, and running water. The closest fuel and food supplies are found in Kasane.
Chobe National Park
Moremi Game Reserve