Types Of Tourists Visiting Northern Botswana’s Wildlife Areas

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Since the 1990s, northern Botswana has become one of the key international tourist destinations. Although trophy hunting began as the main tourism attraction, photographic tourism also took shape from the 1980s. From the 1980s, there was an escalation of tourists’ numbers and photographic tourist facilities such as hotels, lodges, and camps in Okavango and Chobe. As a result, different types of tourists’ categories visit northern Botswana. These include the following:

1.The “High Cost” Tourist – This is the most important type of tourist category that visits the Okavango Delta and Chobe wildlife areas. This is a person who chooses to stay at a permanent camp operated by private camp operators/owners. High-cost tourists mostly come from Europe, North America, and New Zealand/Australia. These clients either fly into Maun or Kasane from Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, or Windhoek. From Maun or Kasane, they are then flown directly to permanent camps in the Okavango Delta or Chobe and sometimes Boteti areas of Makgadikgadi Pans. “High-cost” tourists pay a high price for the package in advance and are generally confined to high-cost camps owned by a safari company from which they bought their package. Host Cost tourists usually visit two or three camps owned and operated by the same safari company spending 2-3 nights in each.

2.The Mobile Safari Tourists – The second most important type of tourist visiting the Okavango Delta, Boteti and Chobe areas are “mobile safari” tourists. Mobile safari tourists stay in private or public campsites. Like the “high cost” tourists, they fly into Kasane or Maun from Johannesburg, Victoria Falls or Windhoek. From Maun they depart on a circuit that involves camping. Mobile safaris take between 5-21 days camping. Mobile tourists include those who are on tours that encompass the wider east and southern African wildlife areas. Such trips are made on overland trucks and can take up to eight months, commencing in South Africa or Namibia and ending in Kenya or Tanzania or vice versa.

3.The Independent or “Low Cost” Tourists – This is the third group of tourists who visit Botswana’s wildlife areas. The independent tourist travels independently, relying upon his own resources and not as part of an organised tour group. These travellers may drive independently, hire a guide, or charter a flight. They usually do not pay package price before entering Botswana. They use public facilities such as privately owned campsites. Independent tourists are also termed “low cost” tourist because of the assumed low expenditure they incur while visiting Botswana. Independent tourists in most cases visit Botswana from neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. These tourists travel on private four-wheel drive vehicles such as Land Rovers or Land Cruisers with as many as five passengers in a single vehicle often in family groups. At times independent and mobile tourists combine both types of travel in their journeys in northern Botswana.

4.Day Visitors – Visitors or tourists visit a particular place for pleasure for a period of less than 24 hours are referred to as “day visitors”. Day visitors mostly drive or fly from Maun or Kasane in the morning into various parts of the Okavango Delta or Chobe (either for mekoro safaris or game drives) during the day and come back in the evening. Day visitors do not stay in a safari camp or lodge but find lodging or campsites in Maun or Kasane. When compared with the above three main categories of tourists, the prices they pay are much less.

5.Trophy or Safari Hunters – Trophy or Safari hunters were the first group of tourists to arrive in Botswana. Trophy or safari hunters mostly come from developed countries of North America, Europe, and New Zealand/Australia. A typical safari hunter pays a significant amount of revenue to hunt either an elephant, buffalo or any other animal allowed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. There are arguments that a hunter pays more than all the above tourists’ category and leaves a small footprint compared to any other tourist category.

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