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Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, Maruska Adye who is an expert on Botswana. Maruska works for the tour operating company Expert Africa.

 

 

Good day Maruska and thanks for participating in our interview.

 

Norm:

 

Maruska, please tell our readers something about yourself and how you became interested in Botswana?

 




Maruska:


My interest is in all of southern and eastern Africa. I was lucky enough to grow up in Tanzania, and two of those years were spent at a camp deep in the Selous Game Reserve which my parents managed. I left Africa the first time when I was nine years old and took many fond memories and great wildlife tales away with me. When I was 19 I gave in to the urge and booked a year's ticket back to the southern part of the continent.

During this trip I fell in love with Africa all over again and decided to stay for a further seven years, spending most of this time in Namibia. Upon returning to the UK I began working for Expert Africa as an expert on Namibia. Since then I have begun expand my knowledge and explore Botswana in much greater depth than I ever did as a backpacker.

 

Although I appreciate all aspects of Africa, I have a special liking for and interest in the animals, birds and plants and all the sounds, smells and tastes that come along with it. Botswana caters to this better than any of the other African countries I've visited. Not only is the wildlife fantastic but great guides began to introduce me to more than just the name of an animal; I learnt their calls, behaviour and defense strategies. As most of the camps are small, the length and timing of the activities can be set to some extent by the guests so if you see a pride of lions and want to spend two hours watching them, you can! I still learn new things with each visit  who knew that everything from the largest elephant to even the smallest ant could be so fascinating!

 

 

Norm:

 

Where is Botswana?

 

Maruska:


Botswana
is pretty much slap bang in the middle of southern Africa. A land-locked country surrounded by Namibia to the west, South Africa to the south, Zimbabwe to the east and Zambia to the north east.

 

 

Norm:

 

Why is Botswana considered one of Africa's top Safari destinations?

 




Maruska:


Unlike many countries, the movement of Botswana's wildlife is not restricted. Around its national parks are a patchwork of huge private reserves, and together these protected areas cover large tracts of northern Botswana about 40% of the country's land area  with a huge, fenceless wilderness around which the game roams freely. Combine this with a limit on the number of people allowed to visit many of the national parks and private reserves and you get a near exclusive safari experience surrounded by a great variety of environments and a spectacular array for flora and fauna.

 

 

Norm:

 

If you were to choose six of the most romantic venues in Botswana, which ones would you choose and why?

 

Maruska:

 

Imagine taking a quad bike out on the vast Makgadigadi Salt Pans to find dinner around a remote campfire and a beautiful bed set up for you under the stars nothing beats that experience.

 

A little more rustic, but no less romantic is a two night mokoro (dug-out canoe) trail through the Okavango Delta. Camp out in style under tall makalani palms on and island and only share it with two other people, your guide and camps staff.

 


Every evening, about an hour before sunset, the light in Botswana softens, the temperature cools and the animals get playful. Whether on a boat in a lily filled lagoon or overlooking a pool of hippos, sunset in Botswana never fails to be romantic and the colours are different each night!

 

Midday siesta time lying out in your sala (day bed) set on the edge of your room's private deck at Little Mombo Camp. The positioning of your sala offers an all round view of the flood plain where buffalo roam and elephants browse.

 

Pulling your four-poster star bed onto your private deck at Baines Camp to sleep under the African night sky.  The following morning you take a walk through the bush with three semi-tame elephants, rescued as orphans. The excursion ends with an outdoor breakfast whilst the elephants feed nearby.

 

An afternoon massage for two in your room, followed by a romantic dinner for two on your deck at Nxabega Camp.

 

Norm:

 

Can you tell our readers something about the most popular Safari trips you organize in Botswana? Why are these popular?

 

Maruska:


Generally, the most popular type of trip we offer to Botswana is a fly-in safari to three different camps and areas followed by a few nights at Victoria Falls in Zambia. A combination of three camps offers travellers the chance to explore three different areas and environments including the vast Makgadigadi Salt Pans, the lush greenery and crystal clear waterways of the Okavango Delta and the much drier but fantastic wildlife area of the country's northern reserves. We always recommend three to four nights at each camp allowing the guests to get to know their guide whilst visiting all corners of the surrounding reserve.

 

 

Norm:

 

What kind of accommodations can one expect while traveling in Botswana?

 



Maruska:


The accommodation in Botswana is all of a high standard. Many of the rooms are canvas and wood structures to help blend into the environment and offer an authentic safari feel. Despite being tents the rooms are often large with en-suite bathrooms, an indoor and outdoor shower, and a private viewing deck. The camps are generally fairly small and each situated in such a way to make the most of the surrounding vistas.

 

Norm:

 

What type of cuisine can one expect in Botswana?

 

Maruska:


Freshly baked bread and muffins for an early breakfast, everything from sausages and bacon to mixed salads for brunch, yummy home made cakes and quiche for afternoon tea, tasty canapés during sundowners and delicious three-course meals for dinner. A trip to Botswana is often referred to as an eating safari!

 

Norm:

 

How safe is travel in Botswana?

 

Maruska:


Very. Visiting remote areas means an absence of crime. Great guiding and camp management means that, despite being surrounded by wildlife, your are kept safe at all times.

 

 

Norm:

 

How easy is to travel to Botswana from North America or Europe?

 

Maruska:


Although there are no direct flights to Botswana, it is easily reached on a flight from Johannesburg in South Africa. If you were to fly from North America or Europe it is easy to get a direct flight to Johannesburg and transfer straight on to your flight to Botswana without the need to stay over in South Africa.

 

Norm:

 

Where can our readers find out more about travel to Botswana?

 

Maruska:


For trip ideas, detailed information on safari camps and pictures I recommend the Expert Africa Website

For overall country information including details on its history and people I would recommend the Bradt travel guide to Botswana.

 

 

Norm:

 

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

 

Maruska:


Botswana
is not a cheap destination but offers one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa. I would recommend that anyone interested in wildlife saves up and travels there at least once in their lives. I know of people who return there year after year!

 

Thanks once again.

 

 

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