Botswana Traveler

An American explores the desert and the delta

The Privatization of Campsites in Botswana

Posted on | October 24, 2009 | 15 Comments

Bad new for anyone planning a self-drive trip to Botswana:  the camping prices in the National Parks and Game Reserves, one of the last of the affordable destinations in Botswana, are in the process of skyrocketing.  And it is only going to get worse.  The reason is the decision by the Botswana Government to turn administration and pricing of the campsites over to private companies.  Park entry fees will remain the same and visitors will still need to visit one of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks offices to pay this fee before departing to obtain an entry permit.  It is feared that the park entry fees, plus the high price of camping, will price many travelers out of Botswana entirely, especially the self-drivers who account for much of the economy in places such as Maun and Kasane.

Prices increase by 10x

The worst offenders in the current money-grab is the Mapula Lodge operators who are now charging $50 US Dollars per person per night for international travelers at the Savuti, Linyanti, and Khwai (Moremi North Gate) campsites, a ten-fold price increase from the BWP 30 (around $5) the Department of Wildlife had previously charged.  Citizens and residents are not spared the increase either.  Citizens now pay BWP 100 (up from BWP 5) and residents BWP 150 (up from BWP 20).

Currently, Mapula only operates the 3 campsites listed, with a patchwork of private companies buying up the others.  By 2010, the Dept of Wildlife plans to be out of the camping business entirely and all campsites will be run by these private companies.  Complicating matters is that there is no rhyme or reason to who owns which campsite.  In the Moremi Game Reserve, there are currently 2 different organizations running the campsites along with the Dept of Wildlife, which still operates South Gate and Xakanaxa.  By next year, it is possible you will need to call 4 different companies to find a campsite in Moremi!  This is progress?

Current Campsite Operators and Prices

As of October 23rd, 2009, this is the latest state of affairs with Botswana’s campsites.  This will likely change quickly and I’ll try to update it with whatever I hear.  Also included is a calculation in pula (and US dollars) of the old and new prices to spend a night camping in the park (including park entry fees of BWP 120 per person and foreign registered vehicle fee of BWP 50).

Mapula Lodge

mapulalodge@info.bw, +267 686 3369

Operates:

  • Chobe: Savuti , Linyanti
  • Moremi: Khwai (North Gate)

Prices:

  • International Traveler:  $50 USD (BWP 336)
  • SADC: 250 Rand
  • Botswana Resident: BWP 150
  • Botswana Citizen: BWP 100

Cost for 2 international campers per night:

  • Before = BWP 350 ($52 USD)
  • Currently = BWP 962 ($143 USD)

Xomae Group

+267 686 2221, +267 738 62221

Operates:

  • Moremi: Third Bridge
  • Nxai Pan: Baines Baobabs, Nxai South Campsites
  • Also operates Wilderness camping sites (unlikely to be booked directly by the tourist, therefore prices are not quoted here).

Prices:

  • Non-Residents:  BWP 150 ($22 USD)
  • Botswana Resident: BWP 100
  • Botswana Citizen: BWP 50

Cost for 2 non-resident campers per night:

  • Before = BWP 350 ($52 USD)
  • Currently = BWP 590 ($87 USD)

Bigfoot Safaris

bigfoot@botsnet.bw (Have had trouble getting a reply on this address), reservations@bigfoottours.co.bw (readers report good service at this address), +267 392 7704

Operates:

  • Khutse Game Reserve: Khutse campground, Mahurushele, Khankhe, Molosw, Moreswe
  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve: Lakhubu, Letiahau, Piper Pan, Sunday Pan, Motopi Pan

Prices:

  • Non-Residents:  BWP 150 ($22 USD)
  • Botswana Resident: unknown
  • Botswana Citizen: unknown

Cost for 2 non-resident campers per night:

  • Before = BWP 350 ($52 USD)
  • Currently = BWP 590 ($87 USD)

I am told, but cannot confirm, that Parro (dwnp.parrogabs@gov.bw, +267 318 0774) will be taking over South Gate and Xakanaxa in Moremi, Ihaha in Chobe, and Khumaga and Njuca Hills in Makgadikgadi.  If you wish to visit these campsites in the next year, I’d advise booking now as the Department of Wildlife still operates them and all bookings at the old price will be honored.

Further Information

My experience is my  e-mails to Bigfoot Safaris being bounced back undeliverable and nobody was home on a Wednesday afternoon when I attempted to call.  Not a good start.  I hope the service from the other operators proves better – it should be for these prices.  Please leave comments with your experiences!

Comments

15 Responses to “The Privatization of Campsites in Botswana”

  1. Peter Bergelt
    February 15th, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I would like to book from 14.10. until 16.10.2010 (2 nights) for 4 adults and 2 cars the Third Bridge campsite the space number 8 or 9.
    The permit for the park, I have posted to the ministry in Gaborone already.
    Please send me the confirmation to my e-mail

    Thank you for your efforts Peter Bergelt

    Peter Bergelt
    Boeckumer Strasse 54
    D-59597 Erwitte-Horn

    Germany

    peter.bergelt@gmx.de
    mobile: +4915202871972

  2. Ralph Spilsbury
    February 24th, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    Hi there Mr American (can’t see your name anywhere!)

    Interesting website thanks. My wife and I spent 2006-2009 driving around Southern Africa and visited Botswana as often as visa times allowed.

    We are just trying to sort a CKGR trip for April 2011 and have experienced the same problem trying to contact Big Foot safaris, not a good start!

    Seems to me that Botswana DWNP want to get rid of self drive camping tourists and concentrate on the high end fly in safari market.

    Those new prices are ridiculous, our last visit to CKGR and Mabuasehube cost about US$60 per day for 2 of us incl park fees. I know they’ve built new ablutions etc in Moremi and Nxai Pans but that just got them up to South African national parks standard.

    I feel depressed about what is going on in Botswana!

    Ralph

  3. Dr.Colin Brown
    April 1st, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

    Dear Fellow self-drive campers,
    Just back for CKGR and had to book Piper Pan,
    Sunday Pan Passage Pan and Motopi Pan through Bigfootsafaris. Cost Pula 5,310.00 for nine nights incl entrance fee of 2160 and vehicle fee of 450 !!!! for 2 persons aq 1 vehicle Great time but ridiculoust cost !!
    1 night at Xada with Gov site 350 Pula.

    Happy days

    Colin Brown

  4. Dr.Colin Brown
    April 1st, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    Dear Fellow self-drive campers,
    Just back from CKGR and had to book Piper Pan,
    Sunday Pan Passage Pan and Motopi Pan through Bigfootsafaris. Cost Pula 5,310.00 for nine nights incl entrance fee of 2160 and vehicle fee of 450 !!!! for 2 persons and 1 vehicle Great time but ridiculoust cost !!
    1 night at Xada with Gov site 350 Pula.

    Happy days

    Colin Brown

  5. Faunce Burd
    September 20th, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    Just returned from 11 nights camping in CKGR, it was a truly wonderful holiday. While the increases are very high the remoteness, peace and beauty of the place make it really worthwhile. The booking system however needs some improvement as it is difficult to get a response

  6. Deon
    May 15th, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    This email address worked for me, and then they responded from the second address below:

    bigfoot@gbs.co.bw
    reservations@bigfoottours.co.bw

    Good luck and happy traveling…
    I am off the Central Kalahari in September doing a photographic safari and workshop for guests.

  7. TheTraveler
    May 15th, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

    Thanks Deon – I’ll update the post. Does anyone know, besides the booking process, have the campsites in the Central Kalahari been upgraded at all or is it just a new price for the same sites?

  8. Hilde
    August 21st, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    Sadly the mailadresses from bigfoot both bounce again :( although the mailadres is mentioned on their website.

  9. Self Drive Operator
    September 26th, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

    The campsites are still the same, no water and longdrops the long drop does’nt matter but the water, for that price they much upgrade the ablutions.

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