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Latest News from A&K Botswana
The Incredible Okavango Delta
Botswana’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta, is a unique ecosystem that is ever changing. The Okavango Delta is currently experiencing lower water levels than previous years.
The summer rains (usually from November to March) were not as plentiful during the 2018/2019 season, and this coupled with a below average rainfall in the Angolan highlands resulted in a later and lower annual flow of water into the Okavango Delta. It is important to know that these are natural cycles and the delta has experienced dry spells like this before - dating back as early as the 1900’s with the most recent being in the early 1990’s.
The drought has affected the seasonal water activities in the area. Mokoro and boating excursions have been suspended from most camps in the delta, however there is so much more to the Okavango Delta and lower water levels make way for exciting alternatives to experience this incredible area.
An upside to the lower water levels is the spectacular game viewing for this time of the year. In the wake of this ebb, there is a greater concentration of game and large mammals, especially around water sources, which, in turn attract predators. There have been amazing sightings of lions, hyenas, leopards, wild dogs and herds of over 1000 buffalo.
There is so much more to explore... islands that are usually inaccessible at this time of year are now, for the first time in years, accessible to game drives. Guests can now explore a new world on a guided walking safari.
Enjoy peak season game viewing experiences at a low season rate!
Why not include a scenic helicopter flight over the areas of the delta where there is permanent water? This offers a great way to view the delta from the air. A champagne stop on one of the islands can be arranged for your guests. A 30, 45 or 60 minute scenic flight is available from most camps in the delta and we recommended pre-booking.
Guests fall in love with the Okavango Delta because of its remoteness, unfenced, unspoiled and expansive palm tree dotted landscapes, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, diversity of wildlife and remote game viewing, as well as incredible photography opportunities and its warm and friendly people. Yes, the water levels are lower than normal, but all the rest...is still there!
New baggage restrictions at OR Tambo International Airport
Please be advised there are new baggage restrictions that have been implemented as of 25 March 2019.
This is to prevent blockages and breakdowns in the baggage-handling system caused by bags that do not have any flat surfaces or that have long straps or grips – as per IATA guidelines. These are the largest source of jams and can shut down sections of the baggage-handling system, delaying baggage delivery to aircraft, and inconveniencing passengers and airlines.
The new rules are:
- Only regular-shaped bags will be allowed to be checked in. This means that the bags must have at least one flat surface to be accepted
- Round or irregular-shaped bags will not be allowed
- Bags with longs straps will not be allowed
Passengers who try to check in bags that don’t conform to these rules will have the option of having their baggage wrapped with one flat side at airport-approved baggage wrapping stations.
Botswana Tourism Levy effective 1 June 2017
The Botswana Ministry of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has introduced a new Tourism Levy of US$ 30 per person. The levy, effective from 1 June 2017, will be payable at all ports of entry, including airports and border posts, through electronic payment machines, cash, debit and credit cards. A unique receipt, corresponding with the passport will be generated which then needs to be presented to Immigration Officials. The receipt will be valid for a 30-day period and can be used for multiple entries. Please ensure your guests are aware of this new levy when travelling to Botswana.
Unabridged birth certificates required for children travelling to and from Botswana
The Botswana Government has announced that minors travelling through its borders will be required to produce certified copies of unabridged birth certificates in addition to their valid passports effective from 1 October 2016. Unabridged birth certificates have been a requirement for travellers entering or leaving South African borders from mid last year. Most travellers either enter and / or exit Botswana through South Africa so they would have had these documents in place already. Please take note of the below for guests entering and exiting Botswana and not coming through South Africa. Any children under the age of 18 will not be allowed to enter the country without these documents. In the event that one parent is not travelling with the child, the other parent’s affidavit consenting to such travel should also be available. Please contact us for more information.
New Okavango Delta hot air ballooning experience
Guests are able to explore the vastness of the Okavango Delta from a hot air balloon. Over and above the standard balloon excursion, guests also have the option of adding on a helicopter flight for an even greater experience. There are three different options available from 18 April to 30 September 2016.
Option 1 – Helicopter flights to and from
Transfer by helicopter from the camp to the take-off site and board the balloon on arrival. Enjoy the sunrise from the air during a 45 minute flight whilst admiring the spectacular scenery. On landing, guests are met by the helicopter and flown back to camp. This could be either a direct flight or a 30 or 60 minute scenic flight.
Option 2 – Drive one way, helicopter the other
Transfer from the camp to the take-off site where tea and coffee will be waiting as guests watch the balloon being inflated. Take off ten minutes before sunrise and fly for approximately 45 minutes to the landing site. The helicopter will meet the guests at the landing site and the pilot will join them for the post–ballooning champagne and snacks. Guests then depart on either a direct flight or one of the two scenic options back to camp.
Option 3 – Drive both ways
Transfer by road from the camp to the take-off site where tea and coffee will be waiting as guests watch the balloon being inflated. Lift off ten minutes before sunrise and fly for approximately 45 minutes to the landing site. The camp guide and vehicle will meet guests at the landing site and then they will continue with their morning activity, i.e. game drive, and then return to camp.
The activity is available from both Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura. The balloon carries four passengers and one pilot. Minimum number of two, maximum number of four guests allowed. There may be other guests on the balloon. Should guests wish sole use, they will need to book and pay for four seats. Guests are able to enjoy a relaxing Champagne celebration on landing, with snacks.
Wilderness Safaris Botswana - property activities update
Due to the low water levels in the Delta, Wilderness Safaris have had to suspend boating activities at their properties as follows:
- Jao concession: have had little to no rain so the water levels are at their lowest. All boating activities have been cancelled at all of their camps in the area due to the low water levels. Mokoro excursions are limited at Jao, Kwetsani and Jacana. Little Tubu and Tubu Tree are not offering mokoro activities at the moment. Important to note is that if guests want to do a drive on Hunda Island from Kwetsani, access is no longer by boat –only by road which is longer and quite uncomfortable due to the conditions of the road.
- Savuti: the Savuti channel is completely dry and now just a dusty channel. Available activities are drives and walks.
- Kings Pool: no barge or boating. Available activities are drives and walks. Duma Tau: boating and barge experience is possible but for a limited time since water levels are quite low. Unless they receive rain, boating and barge activities will have to stop by mid-February. Xigera: no boating since the beginning of November (the water is no longer flowing and is quite murky). Mokoro excursions are still available for time being. However the area available to mokoro in is only about 100m long and its an hour drive from camp. The water is very shallow and there are lots of fish.
- Abu: no boating, no mokoro
- Seba: no boating, no mokoro
- Vumbura Plains &Little Vumbura: water levels have gone down, however all three camps still offer boating and mokoro activities as per usual.
Travelling with children regulations
Guests travelling to Botswana via South Africa need to be aware that parents travelling with children would now be requested to provide the following information for all travelling children. Please note this is a South African government regulation enforced only if guests enter or exit Botswana via South Africa.
Child and both parents - Parents need to produce an unabridged birth certificate and a valid passport for the child.
Child and one parent - Parent must produce an unabridged birth certificate, a valid passport for the child and a court order / death certificate / affidavit confirming the absent parent has given permission for the child to travel.
Child and guardian - Guardian must produce an unabridged birth certificate, a valid passport for the child, a court order / death certificate / affidavit confirming the parents have given permission for the child to travel, Copies of parents / guardian ID documents, Contact details of parents/guardian.
Child unaccompanied - Needs to produce an unabridged birth certificate, a valid passport, a court order / death certificate / affidavit from both parents or legal guardian confirming permission to travel, a letter from the person who will receive the child in South Africa including their full contact details and a certified copy of their ID / passport produced and contact details of parents / guardian.
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