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Botswana>Adventure safari activities

A different kind of holiday

Botswana tempts tourists with a wide range of unusual adventure activities. Visitors can walk and talk with the elephants, cycle across the bush, tackle the Kalahari Desert on quad bikes, ride like cowboys in the Tuli block, or even play golf at Chobe. Here are just a few of Botswana's unusual adventure holidays.

Mokoro Safaris
A trip by mokoro, the traditional dugout canoe carved from a single piece of wood, is a must in Botswana. To save valuable timber many latter-day mokoros are made of fibreglass but the effect is the same — an unrivalled experience as one glides over the still waters of the Okavango. Specialised tours are organised where tourists are taken to mokoro stations located in the delta by boat or four-wheel-drive vehicles. Visitors are then introduced to their Batswana polers who look after them for the length of their stay. As they explore the waterways they can visit small islands and observe unusual flora and fauna in a unique environment.

Horseback Safaris
There are a number of horseback safari companies operating in the Okavango and the Tuli block areas. Horses can move easily through varied terrain, through savannah or bush, wet or dry land. Skilled game rangers can take experienced horsemen into areas inaccessible by vehicle. Horses can cover far more ground at a faster pace than those on foot. Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris organise trips for small groups of experienced riders in the Tuli block. Around the Okavango Delta where hunting was a traditional activity, the lions have developed a fear of humans on horseback. Other animals appear not to notice the humans on horseback and provide excellent photo opportunities. This type of safari is really only suitable for experienced horsemen and women. The riding groups are small, normally around six, and there is a selection of horses to suit different riders. Horseback safaris are possible in the Okavango delta, the Limpopo Valley and other parts of Botswana.

Elephant Back Safaris
Abu camp on the western side of the Okavango delta offers tourists the chance to walk, talk and ride into the bush with the elephants. The elephant man, Randall Moore, has made this possible. He has spent a lifetime repatriating African elephants from zoos and circuses in North America and Sri Lanka and orphaned animals from South Africa. He has blown the myth that African elephants cannot be trained.

Randall Moore now has a team of 15 elephants that provide his guests with the ultimate in African safaris. The group is led by the legendary 38-year-old elephant called Abu, star of a number of motion pictures such as White Hunter, Black Heart and Power of One. Abu and five other adult African elephants have been trained to carry visitors on their backs while the young ones in the herd lollop alongside. Other animals are aware, but unconcerned, by the humans riding on the elephants' backs, or the safariís ponderous advance. The elephants cope with water, sand and bush with equal ease and can get close up to other game which simply moves aside, as the caravan approaches. Magnificent photography from an unusual perspective is guaranteed.

Quad Biking
Haring across the sands on one of those funny little vehicles, like a lawnmower with balloon wheels, is certainly an unusual experience in the heart of Africa. There are numerous quad bike trails organised in the Kalahari. The four-wheel-drive quad bikes are used to venture onto the Makgadikadi saltpans without damaging the fragile crust. Tours for up to eight people, led by experienced guides, are arranged from Jack's camp — no prior experience required.

Fishing Safaris
Where the Okavango river first flows into the delta is some of the best fishing in the country. Numerous smaller fish breed and shelter in the papyrus swamps. Over 70 different fish species have been identified in the Okavango including tilapia, tiger fish, catfish and eels. A number of specialised fishing lodges equip the visitors and take them to the best fishing spots along the river banks or in the delta. Other fishing holidays are offered by the private concessions along the Limpopo River to the east. Kubu Lodge in Kasane organises fishing trips and supplies rods and tackle.

Walking Safaris
The golden rule in most parts of Africa is not to dismount from vehicles or walk towards animals on foot, but many operators in different parts of Botswana have found that foot safaris can be organised safely. Modumela lodge in the unfashionable east of the country, about 68km from Francistown, organises walks led by experienced guides to see the local flora and fauna. Some specialised walks aim to identify particular animals, birds or trees. In the Mokolodi Game Reserve, managed by the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation, near Gaborone, walks are organised where visitors can accompany young, hand reared elephants as they saunter into the bush. Other walks are organised to track the endangered white rhino or other game. Selinda Reserve is also famous for its walking safaris. Kubu Lodge at Kazungula has a relaxing demarcated nature trail where visitors can spend an hour and a half spotting the birds, smaller wildlife and local trees.

Mountain Biking
A new sport that is catching on in Botswana is mountain biking over certain parts of the bushveld. The lodges in the Tuli block organise trips under supervision of experienced guides who can direct the bikers to the best spots for watching the game or taking photographs.

Golfing
The luxury Mowana Safari Lodge at Kasane, near the Chobe river, offers a host of activities to the visitor including swimming, hiking, mountain biking, tiger fishing, bird watching, game viewing from a river cruiser or open air vehicle with experienced game rangers, breakfast and sunset cruises, mokoro trails and helicopter viewing of neighbouring Victoria Falls. It also boasts a recently completed nine-hole golf course set in the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Chobe River.
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