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50 secrets about Botswana

To celebrate the country’s 50th anniversary since independence, we asked experts for their insight and advice to help you plan an extraordinary trip
SIMON FRASER

Why Bot swana?

His Excellency The President of the Republic of Botswana, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama tells us what makes his country so special:

Botswana has been named Lonely Planet’s top country to visit in 2016. While we very much appreciate and agree with this accolade, we think we have been such for many years and will continue to be for many more to come. So what do I think makes Botswana special?

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES GIFFORD

First, our people: they are welcoming, peaceful and love to show off their hospitality. Our slogan is ‘Botswana: our pride, your destination’. Second, our focus on conservation: 20 per cent of the country consists of reserves and national parks. Third, our wildlife: for example, nowhere else in the world will you find as many elephant. Fourth, our diversity: sand dunes and arid savannah desert in the west, huge salt pans in the centre and the largest inland delta in the north-west. Fifth, our weather: 300 days of sunshine a year should meet most people’s needs. And sixth, our success: we are Africa’s oldest and arguably most successful democracy. Visit now or visit later. Just make sure you visit.

HANNES LOCHNER

The Bechuanaland Protectorate gained its independence from Great Britain on 30 September 1966. At this time, it was one of the 10 poorest countries on the planet. Governed remotely by South Africa, it did not even have a capital city. With more than 84 per cent of its land made up of Kalahari sands, Botswana seemed destined to remain a harsh, inhospitable place with little apparent value and few prospects. Fast-forward to today and it is a thriving nation with a booming economy, bustling towns and cities, and large tracts of untouched and wild land. It is testament to the country that this transformation has occurred while sustaining the balance between the needs of a developing nation and its abundant wildlife. This, and the advancement of tourism, has been achieved through the quality leadership of Sir Seretse Khama, Quett Masire Festus Mogae and Ian Khama. Once reliant on its resources (including diamonds, coal, cattle and copper), Botswana’s tourism industry now provides much needed foreign exchange and rural employment, putting food on the tables of around 60 per cent of the people who live in and around the Okavango Delta. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the independence of Botswana, Travel Africa has compiled 50 secrets to help you plan your next trip.

1 Witness action in the Savuti Channel

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