What is a Mobile Safari?
Having been lucky enough to have safari’d across all of the world’s most renowned national parks as well as a number of private reserves, the Okavango Delta in Botswana is definitely one of the very best places to experience a safari. And if you’re looking for a truly authentic safari then a mobile tented camp is as authentic as they come, as you are literally in the middle of the bush and because your camp isn’t permanent (it’s set up for just you the day before you arrive) the wildlife doesn’t avoid the area as they might a permanent dwelling. This allows you to get very close to nature, safely under the guidance and security of the team looking after you, and potentially experience some truly once-in-a-lifetime sightings. I’ve seen elephants casually walk through the camp, and heard lions and hyena’s a short distance away from the safety of my tent as I nod off to sleep. You’re naturally a little apprehensive at first but once you settle in and get comfortable it’s incredibly exhilarating and liberating being amongst nature. So although a mobile tented camp doesn’t come cheap, it’s something I’d highly recommend and look to save money elsewhere to justify that cost. Read on to find out all you need to know about a mobile safari and maybe you’ll join us for an unforgettable adventure!
Undoubtedly the most important part of a mobile safari is your lodgings and these Meru tents certainly don’t disappoint, it is very much a case of hotel room inside a tent. The Meru tent is constructed the day before your arrival and takes around 3 hours, a very impressive feat given how much it contains. The tent spans over 49 square metres and can be configured as twin, double or triple tents. The beds are super king doubles or spacious 3/4 singles (a little smaller than a double), covered by crisp white linens, and come with padded headboards. You can even choose between a firm or soft mattress and are provided with 3 pillow types to ensure maximum comfort. The room comes equipped with a porcelain flush loo and the shower can be filled on demand at whatever temperature is required and offers a continuous flow of water for approximately 5 minutes. The rooms also come equipped with mirrors, basins, 5 lights, and outdoor chairs allowing you to relax and enjoy the nature that surrounds you. The only two mod-cons missing from these truly luxury tents are a kettle and a hairdryer, the former is always available in the dining area and the latter, given you are in the middle of the bush, is really not required! The Meru tents are set up at a suitable distance from one another and from the communal tents to ensure privacy.
In addition to your private tent, just like a hotel, there are communal areas where you can relax and socialise with your group and/or pick your guide’s brains on what you’ve seen or what your next adventure is going to be. There is the Chill tent which is essentially a lounge area set up in the shade adorned with rugs, carpets, a couple of deep sofas, fabrics from across Africa, a chest of games, and books creating the perfect place to relax during the heat of the day. The Dining mess tent comes with a fully stocked bar, tea & coffee station and fridge which you can help yourself or use at your leisure. Finally, no safari could be complete without my favourite part, the fire pit where people convene pre-morning game drive as they watch the sunrise or for pre-dinner drinks in the evening to re-live the sightings of the day. The camp is supported by a back of house comprising of a kitchen tent, solar-powered fridge and freezer, the support truck and pickup. Charging of cameras and other electronics is done in the game-viewing vehicles.
Given you’re in the depths of the Okavango Delta with no fixed kitchen, one might expect the quality of the food to understandably suffer a little but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The chef is quite simply a magician, constantly conjuring up delicious dish after delicious dish delightfully presented. You certainly won’t go hungry with three main meals a day and constant snacks pre-breakfast, on the game drives and even high tea comprising of sweet and savoury bites. Any food allergy or dietary requirement can be easily catered for, the chef will just wave that wand again!
In addition to games drives, there are other equally exhilarating experiences, although some might be dependent on where your mobile safari camp is pitched and the time of year so it’s crucial to discuss this in advance so they can be included in the itinerary if possible. So if you’re keen to mix it up a little then consider any of the following such as night game drives, bush walks, boat cruises, Mokoro (local traditional dugout canoe), scenic flights by plane or helicopter, and village tours.
Needless to say, there is an extremely hardworking and diligent team behind creating this once-in-a-lifetime experience. In addition to the chef, there is a camp manager, tent attendants, drivers, camp assistants and of course a leading professional guide with a minimum of 15 years guiding experience, so you are in very competent hands! Every member of the team is incredibly friendly, always equipped with a warm smile, so although you’re in the middle of the bush, it really feels like coming home after your game drives!
The Game Drives
The primary objective of any safari trip is to observe wildlife in its natural environment and the Okavango Delta never disappoints! You’ll have the opportunity to see apex predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs, as well as elephants, rhinos, buffalos, hippos, giraffes, zebras, an array of antelope and so much more! The delta is also home to over 400 different types of birds. Morning game drives normally commence around or just before sunrise and typically return to camp at around 11am in time for lunch. This means that they normally last around 4 to 4.5 hours. The afternoon game drives are usually a little shorter at around 2.5 – 3.5 hours depending on the temperature of the day, the time of sunset, sightings in the bush, the park regulations in the particular area and of course whether you’ll have your obligatory sundowner in the bush or at your camp!
A safari is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience but is even more magical and authentic in a mobile tented camp, especially if you move camp locations like you do on our incredible Mobile Safari Experience. They are ideal for groups of family and friends where we can offer unbeatable discounts or on one of our more affordable Group Discounts. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about our Group Discount and if you have any further questions about a visit to Botswana please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Written by James Chisnall