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Botswana Trade December 2014

In this Issue:

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News Alert News Alert: No Ebola and Worry Free Bookings

Many travelers in North America are concerned about Ebola, as evidenced by drop in inquiries and bookings deposits for 2015 travel to popular safari/leisure vacation destinations throughout Africa, including Botswana. While Botswana has no cases of Ebola and has enacted strict border precautions, we understand your need to provide potential travelers to Botswana with reassurance on forward bookings, and the local industry is responding.

Please click on this link: No Ebola & No Financial Risk for Hesitant Travelers created by one of Botswana's supplier-independent DMC's, Safari Destinations, for a current list of companies allowing no-fee cancellations* should WHO (World Health Organization) declare an outbreak in Botswana - a highly unlikely event.

They will continue to routinely update this information, so bookmark the page and check back often. We hope this information is helpful in your efforts to continue promoting Botswana travel to your clients.

News Alert

* Each company has its own terms and conditions; either the company or Safari Destinations can provide you with details. Safari Destinations will provide routine updates through its Agents Corner page on its website.

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Spotlight On Spotlight on: Botswana Hospitality and Travel

Life, Passion and Adventure with Safari Essence
Established as a sister company to Endeavour Safaris, Safari Essence is a new inbound tour operator based in Maun, Botswana. Specializing in Botswana, Safari Essence also sells tailor made tours and safaris throughout Africa, providing travel expertise that is exceptional and highly personal in nature.

As a small and intimate company, Safari Essence hand picks consultants that live in the destinations they sell and have several years’ experience in the industry. The results are unique, tailor made tours, safaris and holiday travel experiences molded to your clients’ needs. The personal nature of this business means there are no limiting factors to the types of trips that can be arranged.

2014 has been an exciting year for Safari Essence. After attending some of the most influential travel shows, Safari Essence recently established a Facebook page where they hope to stay in contact, providing the latest in news, events, updates, specials and more. They are also in the process of updating their website.

Spotlight On

To learn more about Safari Essence, please check out their Facebook page here or visit www.safari-essence.com.  

Khama Rhino Sanctuary – Botswana’s Hidden Gem
Affording the opportunity to see both black and white rhino – as well as an abundance of other wildlife species, Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a delightful stopover for clients traveling by road to Botswana’s northern reserves, or an ideal weekend getaway from Gaborone or Francistown.

A mere 20km from the village of Serowe, Khama Rhino Sanctuary has been in operation since 1992. The mission of this community tourism initiative, managed and staffed by local village residents, is to assist in saving the vanishing rhino, to restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state, and to provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources.  The sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary has charming, rustic accommodation facilities for families, individuals and groups, as well as campsites for those who wish to experience the solitude of the wild. The sanctuary offers a wide range of services, including environmental education programs, game and self drives, birding, bush walks, rhino tracking, arts and crafts, and a curio shop. Khama Rhino Sanctuary also offers a picnic site and conference facilities for quiet and progressive meetings. Visitors can indulge in a variety of yummy menu choices prepared by highly qualified chefs at the Sanctuary’s restaurant. 

Spotlight On

For clients wishing to experience tranquility of the mind and learn more about how to protect the endangered rhino, Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a “must visit” attraction. For more information, please visit www.khamarhinosanctuary.org.bw.

Discover the Wonders of Botswana with Armbush Safaris
Armbush Safaris is a Botswana-based travel specialist whose knowledgeable team offers professional local expertise and personalized service. The company was created with the vision of sharing the wonders of Botswana with those who are eager to explore Botswana’s magnificent wonderland – areas that combine pristine, natural beauty, incredible wildlife, cultural diversity and remote, unspoiled and untamed wilderness.

Armbush Safaris’ portfolio includes camping safaris into Chobe National Park, Savuti, Linyanti, Moremi Game Reserve, the Okavango Delta, Nxai Pans, Makgadikgadi Pans, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Deception Valley. Trip durations can range anywhere from 1 to 21 days, depending on your client’s preference, budget and places of interest. The company can arrange entire itineraries start to finish or itinerary components from accommodations, mobile safaris, game drives, boat cruises, and daytrips from Kasane to Victoria Falls, overland safaris, mokoro excursions, cultural tours, tiger fishing and more.

Spotlight On

Armbush Safaris prides themselves on the deep, local experience and knowledge of their travel consultants and tour guides, and guarantees your client’s comfort. For more information, please visit www.armbushsafaris.com

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What's New What’s New: Product News and Updates

Belmond Eagle Island Lodge to Undergo Complete Refurbishment
Belmond Safaris is excited to share that Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has been selected to undergo a complete refurbishment and upgrade in 2015! This is a valuable and essential investment by Belmond in the lodge that promises to deliver even greater safari experiences when completed.

The closure of the lodge will begin on January 5, 2015 and last for a six-month period, with the expected opening date to be July 1, 2015. When reopened in July 2015, Belmond Eagle Lodge will become the flagship luxury property in the Belmond Safaris portfolio, and promises to be an unparalleled experience for future guests visiting this much-anticipated Belmond lodge.

Although still in the early stages of planning and implementation, Belmond Safaris wanted to share some initial information on the refurbishment. Read more about this refurbishment here.

What's New

For more information on Belmond Eagle Island Lodge or Belmond Safaris, please visit www.belmondsafaris.com.

Chobe Game Lodge Announces Updates
Chobe Game Lodge, the only permanent lodge located in the heart of the Chobe National Park riverfront, is excited to announce a full facelift to all rooms and bathrooms at the lodge.

The bathrooms will double in size to include a walk-in shower, freestanding bathtub, separate toilet and his and hers washbasins.

The four private suites will also be completely reconfigured with large french windows opening out to the lounge, terrace and plunge pool area.

The décor of the new bedrooms and bathrooms will be in concert with the exotic Moorish feel of the common areas. The color palette will be more muted though with calming charcoals, grays, creams and whites being the order of the day. A cool concrete floor, exotic patterned tiles beneath the baths and basins and beautiful draping over the beds are all in keeping with the enhancement of the luxurious safari experience for which Chobe Game Lodge has become renowned.

The work is scheduled to start on January 12, 2015 with completion of the west wing by the end of July 2015. Work will temporarily cease over the peak season and commence again in January 2016; all rooms are expected to be refurbished by July 2016. There will be minimal disruption to guests as each wing will be closed during the refurbishment and work will be carried out as discreetly as possible.

Along with the exciting changes, creating beautiful new rooms and bathrooms, the continued effort going into enhancing the property feel and safari experience ensures the iconic Chobe Game Lodge is the premier choice for those clients seeking the ultimate Chobe destination.

What's New

For more information on Chobe Game Lodge, please visit www.chobegamelodge.co.bw.

Updates from Desert & Delta Safaris
From camp closures to acquiring Botswana’s first electric game viewing vehicle to launching a new website, Desert & Delta Safaris has been quite busy lately! Read on to learn more:

  • Game viewing is getting greener! Desert & Delta Safaris’ lodge, Chobe Game Lodge, has acquired Botswana’s first electric game viewing vehicle. The Freedom 3 Land Rover has been transformed almost beyond recognition under the hood, but the exterior remains unaltered. Freedom 3 is the first of several electric vehicle conversions at the lodge. The electric vehicle is capable of creeping along sandy, rutted tracks and climbing rocky ascents, then setting out on the open road. In Freedom 3’s off time, she will be receiving a charge in the lodge’s dedicated Electric Vehicle charging bay.

  • Mokoro activities that are currently being undertaken from Camp Xakanaxa will cease as an activity option at this camp as of January 1, 2015. National Park regulations in Botswana prohibit this activity in the Xakanaxa region and therefore Desert & Delta Safaris have been forced to stop all mokoro activities from Camp Xakanaxa at the end of this season. The Camp Xakanaxa experience will not be hindered by this in the future. The commitment to guests and the impeccable service will remain at the usual high standards. A combination of Camp Xakanaxa with one of the water-based camps, Camp Okavango or Xugana Island Lodge, will ensure that a complete and comprehensive safari experience is enjoyed by all.

  • Desert & Delta Safaris has launched their new website. It is loaded with pertinent information about the company, products, destination information, packages and much more. Special features to make access to information, images, maps and lodge videos have been considered and are incorporated into this new website.

What's New

For more information, please email info@desertdelta.com or visit www.desertdelta.com.

Product Upgrade News from Letaka Safaris
Exciting changes are taking place at Letaka Safaris. Letaka’s guest tents and beds will be getting an upgrade, as well as the camp carrier vehicles. Letaka will also be launching a new three-night river safari!

  • New Camp Beds – These new solid plate aluminum beds represent many months of experimentation and design to produce a bed that is incredibly sturdy and yet lightweight and portable enough to be suited to a mobile operation. All old stretcher-style beds are expected to be replaced by the end of the year.

  • New Sahara Style Tents – The old Wilderness style tents are being phased out and replaced with the new Sahara style tents. The new tents are 30% larger by volume inside and the high sides and roof give the feel of a much larger interior. Thus far, 60% of the old style tents have been replaced and by June of 2015, all old-style tents will have been replaced.

  • New Camp Carrier Conversion – The first two of five newly converted camp carrier cruisers have arrived from the Kavango Engineering workshop. The vehicles have been designed to transport the new, larger tents and solid frame aluminum beds. The vehicles have dual solar panels on the roof that run the on-board refrigeration and charging systems.

  • New River Safari – As a citizen-owned company, Letaka Safaris has access to the BOGA (Botswana Guides Association) campsites on the Boro River. Letaka is pleased to announce a new three-night river trip that will enable guests to experience the Okavango by boat. The river trip starts with a helicopter charter from Maun to Xaxaba where guests will be transferred by boat to a Letaka camp on the Boro River. Scheduled departures are timed to dovetail with the 6-night Miracle Rivers Safari.

What's New

For more information, please visit www.letakasafaris.com.

Ker & Downey Botswana Announces Shinde Refurbishment
Ker & Downey Botswana is delighted to announce that Shinde is due to receive an extensive refurbishment, with a completion date set for March 1, 2015.

As one of the pioneering safari operators in Africa, Ker & Downey Botswana camps continue to provide classically styled luxury to maintain the historical charm of those first great African safaris. Therefore, in keeping with the Ker & Downey Botswana brand, the upgrades will focus on enhancing the elegance and authenticity of this iconic Okavango safari camp.

The Shinde refurbishment will be carried out in two-phases, with the first phase scheduled for the camp’s regular ‘off-season’ closure (January 5 - February 28, 2015), ensuring no guests will be disturbed by any construction work. The phases are:

  • Phase One: Interior designers will initially replace all furniture and soft furnishings within the main camp areas, tents and throughout the exclusive ‘Shinde Enclave.'

  • Phase Two: The second phase will involve structural alterations to the guest tents and some minor improvements to the main area.

The central bedroom areas of the tents will increase in size and, when combined with new soft furnishings in classic tones befitting the natural surroundings, will provide the perfect wilderness retreat. Panoramic sliding doors lead onto an extended front deck, where guests may languish and admire the expansive views across the Okavango Delta’s mysterious waterways or open grasslands.

The larger and completely remodeled bathrooms will also be refitted with new, stylish brass fittings and a new ‘wet room’ style shower.

Shinde’s unique multi-tiered dining room and lounge will remain essentially unchanged, with some minor alterations to the bar area adjacent to the fire deck.

What's New

Ker & Downey Botswana is excited about this refurbishment and look forward to presenting this latest edition of a remarkable safari destination. As always, Ker & Downey Botswana remains committed to maintaining exceptional standards and to ensure your clients experience a truly unique wildlife adventure. For more information, please visit www.kerdowneybotswana.com.

Kalahari Skies’ Product Portfolio
Are your clients ready to take their families or groups of close friends on an adventure of a lifetime? Book them through Kalahari Skies, which specializes in tailor-made trips for families or small groups. Their product portfolio consists of customized safaris, specialized photographic safaris, astronomy and star-gazing excursions and bird-watching trips.

Kalahari Skies has recently introduced new family tents and extended their fleet with two more game vehicles and one multi-purpose vehicle. The family tents offer a large bedroom area and en-suite ablutions.  New features of the vehicles include the all-around air-conditioning, pop-up roof and seating for 10 passengers. Windows no longer fold down anymore, but can slide to the front or the back and are much larger.

What's New

For more information, please visit www.kalahariskies.net.

Wilderness Safaris Offers the Ultimate Sleep-Out Experience
Wilderness Safaris offers a range of “sleep-out” options to suit the discerning tastes of all travelers – from luxury-seeking honeymooners to adventurous family groups. Gently drifting to sleep with nothing between you and the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere is the purest way to appreciate the nocturnal sights and sounds of the bush.

For those seeking the ultimate immersion experience without having to compromise on comfort, the Star Bed at Abu Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta is a must. Overlooking the elephant boma, the double-story platform includes a bathroom with shower, toilet and basin on the lower level, and a permanent queen-size bed with draped mosquito netting above, where guests are lulled to sleep by the contented rumbling and low snores of the elephants.

Others may prefer the simplicity of a “sleep-out” platform. These tend to be located a short drive away from camp in spectacular settings, accommodating between four and eight people each. Guests typically spend the night either on a bed, or a comfortable bed roll, with basic ablution facilities nearby. At all sleep-out decks, a highly-qualified guide is on standby to ensure guests’ safety at all times and in case they need assistance during the night. In Botswana, this option is available at Jao, Little Tubu, and Tubu Tree camps in the Okavango Delta, and at DumaTau and Savuti camps in the Linyanti.

For those who want to experience the thrill of sleeping under the stars without having to wander too far away from their creature comforts, several Wilderness Safaris camps have added private Star Beds onto the guests’ rooms. A similar experience is offered at Kalahari Plains in Botswana, with a sleep-out area on the roof of each of the 10 canvas units.

What's New

These sleep-out experiences are a magical, unique way for guests to experience the African bush and get closer to nature while on safari. For more information, please visit www.wilderness-safaris.com.

News from Flame of Africa
Flame of Africa continues to add to their portfolio. Their recent addition is – a floating restaurant! Built using mostly recycled local materials with custom designed tables made on site from restored teak, this restaurant allows guests to enjoy delicious African cuisine while enjoying the breathtaking views of Sedudu Island! The Raft Floating Restaurant is open daily for lunch with a seating capacity of 64 – ideal for group travel or business outings. Combining a good lunch with a great location, this is a unique, affordable and essential addition to any Chobe itinerary.

What's New

Flame of Africa is also updating their fleet. Imagine taking every great 4x4 ever built, pulling the best concepts of each of those 4x4’s and putting it all in one vehicle. That is exactly what the OKA’s are! The newly renovated Chobe Explorer – with new carpets, restored teak trimmings, new bar tops, a lick of paint and a brand new roof and deck – is dressed to impress. This vessel is the newest member to Flame of Africa’s fleet.

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Just In Just in: New Botswana Supplier Travel Specials

Christmas at Ker & Downey Botswana
The Ker & Downey Botswana safari package is just the package for your clients this holiday season.

  • A portion of the trip cost is donated to the children of Maun
  • Exceptional value for money with a superior experience
  • Valid all year – Low, Shoulder and High Season
  • User-friendly, all-inclusive accommodation and flights from Maun
  • Total itinerary flexibility
  • Luxury tented camps with a touch of historic charm

Just In

The ideal Botswana experience featuring the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve, this package combines the perfect blend of experiences that complement each other perfectly, offering a diverse range of habitats and wildlife encounters. For more package information, click here.

Long-Stay Rates with Belmond Safaris
Belmond Safaris (formerly Orient-Express Safaris) is proud to announce the introduction of its Long-Stay rates for the remainder of 2014 and into 2015. With the combination of their three luxury safari lodges working in perfect synergy, the eagerly awaited long-stay rates will be a great benefit for clients wanting to get a full experience from the three amazing, yet completely contrasting, ecosystems of Northern Botswana. These include the floodwater of the Okavango Delta; the leadwood forests of the Moremi Game Reserve; and the semi-arid region of the Chobe National Park. The three Belmond lodges are:  Savute Elephant Lodge, Eagle Island Lodge and Khwai River Lodge.

Just In

For more information, please contact safaris@belmond.com or visit www.belmondsafaris.com.

Five Rivers Special Deal with Kwando Safaris
Kwando Safaris is pleased to bring back the Five Rivers Safari. Running from November 15 – March 31, 2015, this package is a strategic alliance between five companies, offering an affordable range of safari camps, covering all major wildlife locations around the five major rivers in the region. The Five Rivers Safari offers an opportunity to experience unique camps and destinations, all at one common nightly rate.

Just In

For more details, please email Kwando Safaris at info@kwando.co.bw or visit www.kwando.com.

Kalahari Summer Special from Footsteps in Africa
Explore the rich wilderness areas of Botswana with Footsteps in Africa’s Kalahari Summer Special.

Valid from December 1 – March 31, 2015, experience camps and lodge in the wonderland of the crystal clear channels of the Okavango Delta, the incredible Kalahari Desert, abundant wildlife in the Chobe National Park as well as the desert-like Savuti.

Spend a minimum of three nights at a camp/lodge or a minimum of four nights at two or more different camp/lodges to qualify for this special promotional rate. This offer is on a fully inclusive basis and applicable at:

Deception Valley Lodge
Grasslands Bushman Lodge
Delta Camp
Camp Savuti
Camp Linyanti
Oddballs’ Enclave
Mobile Safaris

Just In

For more information, please click here or visit www.footsteps-in-africa.com.

Adventure through Botswana with andBeyond
A taste of untamed wilderness, the andBeyond Botswana Explorer Expedition is a mobile guided safari through the most remote and untouched wildlife areas of Botswana. Offering the rustic charms of camping, it incorporates all of Botswana’s best known game viewing areas, as well as neighboring Victoria Falls, and offers exceptional value.

Just In

Lose yourself among a maze of winding channels as you explore the Okavango Delta, discover the rich wildlife of the Moremi, indulge in a river cruise in Chobe and marvel at the mysterious Savute Channel – all on this 10-day safari. This is the quintessential safari, wildlife and adventure enthusiast’s dream itinerary. For more information, click here or visit www.andbeyond.com.

Discover the Miracle Rivers Safari with Letaka Safaris
Letaka Safaris explores the waterways of Botswana with the Miracle Rivers Safari.

This 7-day itinerary explores the fringes of the Okavango Delta by boat, discovers the freedom of the Khwai Concession Area, includes a charter flight over the Okavango Delta and adventures into the Moremi Game Reserve. The safari incorporates spacious and comfortable tented accommodation with the services of a professional guide, safari chef and camp assistants, all game drives and local transfers, exclusive camping in private campsites, all entrance and camping fees within the national parks and reserves, all meals and drinks while in Letaka tented camps, and all activities as specified in the itinerary.

Just In

For more information, please click here or visit www.letakasafaris.com.

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Wildlife Sightings Wildlife Sightings

You won’t need binoculars to see the latest wildlife sightings sent to us from various camps throughout Botswana. Rhino Conservation Botswana recently shared news of the first birth of a black rhino, from a rhino relocated to Botswana. Guests at Belmond Safaris’ Eagle Island Lodge enjoyed fantastic sightings of the resident leopard (really - who wouldn’t want a resident leopard?!). Footsteps in Africa welcomed three cubs. The wild dog pack is still going strong at Kwando Safaris. And Wilderness Safaris not only had a battle of the reptiles at Kalahari Plains Camp, but announced a record-breaking wild dog season in its concessions in Botswana. Check them all out and more below:

Wildlife Sightings

Footsteps in Africa
Kwando Safaris Sightings Report
Wilderness Safaris
Ker & Downey Botswana

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Botswana in the News Botswana in the News

Show us that bling Botswana! Whether winning awards, being highlighted in a book or featured in a magazine, Botswana continues to bring in the accolades and features. Read on to learn more.

Congratulations to all Botswana camps and lodges that have been recognized by readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure for being amongst the best of the best places to stay in Africa.

Wilderness Safaris shined in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards with three of its Botswana camps listed in the “Top 20 Safari Lodges and Camps in Africa” category, and they were also included in Travel + Leisure’s 2014 World’s Best Awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Hotels for Families.

We would also like to congratulate Belmond Safaris and Chobe Game Lodge for reeling in top honors for these awards as well!

We are bursting with pride to recognize two outstanding Botswana safari professionals for their notable accomplishments. If you know them, be sure to give them a shout-out!

Congrats to Wilderness Safaris’ Poster (Mpho) Malongwa, Rhino Monitoring Officer for the company’s successful Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project. Poster recently won recognition as the 2014 Rhino Conservation Award for Best Field Ranger. Read about it here.

Kudos also to Belmond Safaris’ Onkgoptse Onx Manga, one of Africa’s 26 Legendary Safari Guides. Onx is chronicled in a recently released book by British-based South African author Susie Cazenove. This book captures the romance and adventure of an African wildlife safari through the stories of the guides who lead them. The book introduces us to 26 extraordinary safari guides, and Belmond’s Onx is one of them! Read more about this fascinating book here.

Botswana in the News
 
Finally, check out some of the outstanding recent media coverage about Botswana below:

National Geographic“The Rebirth of Awe: Botswana”
The Vancouver Sun“The Safaris are Better – and Bug-Free – in Botswana”
Andrew Harper Traveler“Into the Wild: Wildlife Encounters”
Travel + Leisure“How Much Should I Plan to Spend on an African Safari?”
Travel + Leisure“2014 World’s Best Awards”
Condé Nast Traveler“Readers’ Choice Awards”

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Become a Botswana Specialist Become a Botswana Specialist Today

As a travel professional, improving destination knowledge is a high-priority and a key to your success. By completing the Botswana Specialist online program, you can knowledgably promote Botswana with confidence to your clients and prospects. To access the Botswana Specialist Training Program, go to www.botswanaspecialistprogram.com.

This six-module, online course will enhance your knowledge of Botswana’s history and culture, its prime and emerging tourism regions, and provide essential travel planning information. In addition, from the program platform you can also access tips on selling Botswana as well as order destination collateral materials.

So what are you waiting for? Log on to: www.botswanaspecialistprogram.com and become a Botswana Specialist today!

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We wanted to take the time to thank you all, our valued trade partners, for your support in promoting travel to Botswana throughout the year.

We welcome your comments and ideas on ways our destination office can continue to support your efforts, and look forward to working with you in 2015 to promote travel to beautiful Botswana!

Yours in travel,

Botswana Tourism – U.S. Office

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