An insight into Botswana

Botswana is a land of vast spaces, big skies and wide horizons. In a country which has one of the lowest population density, there are large parts where human habitation barely exists. Clearly, this is a place where it’s still possible to get away from it all and take in the truly unspoiled wilderness and stark natural beauty of Botswana.

The seemingly endless expanse holds many treasures, not least of which are some of Africa’s best managed and most densely stocked game parks with an equally abundant birdlife. About 17 per cent of the land is side aside as either national park or game reserve, thus ensuring that the wildlife is suitably protected. But Botswana has other hidden gems such as the intriguing rock paintings in the Tsodilo Hills, a Unesco World Heritage Site in the remote north-western corner of the country.

Yet Botswana is also a country of growing sophistication, with one of Africa’s highest standards of living. It is a land where, although English is widely spoken and used for commerce, Setswana is the language of everyday discourse – especially outside the main business centres of Gaborone and Francistown. Similarly, local Tswana culture is still celebrated.  Famed for its diamond exports, Botswana has made wise use of its income from precious stones and this industry remains the bedrock of the economy.

Furthermore, Botswana is an open and democratic society where the rule of law counts, where parliament busies itself as a legislature and where presidents, elected by parliament, come and go at an appropriate moment and with little fanfare. This economic and political stability does create the right environment and helps to explain why Botswana’s tourism sector is so admired both in Africa and beyond.

Botswana’s tourism model is arguably Africa’s most thoughtful, with a strong emphasis on conservation, the maintenance and promotion of the nation’s rich cultural heritage and a winning strategy that encourages high-yield, low-density camps and lodges in and around its leading game parks – notably the Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. In short, Botswana is a top-notch destination that has largely avoided the mistakes of overdevelopment  and short-term planning that has blighted tourism in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Impressive

But Botswana is more than wide-open spaces. Gaborone has successfully promoted itself as a regional business, conference and exhibition centre with a range of accommodation geared largely to the visiting executive.

Modern Gaborone, with its impressive and dazzling skyline, is undoubtedly one of Africa’s safest cities. Its shopping malls are on a par with those in North America and Europe and its wide and mostly traffic-free highways make driving a pleasure and car rental an easy and hassle-free option for visitors.

It is also a city made famous by the writings of novelist Alexander McCall Smith and his delightful amateur sleuth, Precious Ramotswe, in the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books and subsequent TV series. Visitors can take a city tour that includes popular locations from the series such as Zebra Drive and Speedy Motors. There are now better air links with Gaborone's sparkling new airport terminal, completed in 2010.

See Sample Itineraries Below:

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