Only this week I was involved in a very emotionally charged debate on the extortionate amounts of money safari operators charge for the privilege of visiting countless safari destinations around Botswana. BrandBotswana posting a Twitter comment about Batswana not appreciating Botswana as much as foreigners triggered the debate. Being avid lovers of the safari experience, and also being from Botswana, I was naturally not best pleased and took objection to the assumption. BrandBotswana probably didn’t intend to offend anyone, but a few of us were upset.
Long story short, once all steam had been sufficiently released, a friend who works within the travel industry brought our attention to the newly launched Wilderness initiative, which of course piqued our interest! No doubt, many Batswana up and down the length and breadth of Botswana will welcome the news with glee. But don’t let’s forget, the majority of people will struggle to raise the P4,500 required to take advantage of the offer.
Although the word safari was born in Africa, nowadays the safari experience has become the pastime of a few affluent Westerners who can afford the eye-watering prices charged to go on exclusive safari destinations across the continent. Not only are the rates inflated, they are in US dollars, placing dreams of a safari break in Botswana very, very far away from the grasp of the average Motswana.
However, giant luxury safari tour operator, Wilderness Safaris, with a footprint in some of the most pristine areas across nine African countries, plans to change all that by giving more Africans, including Batswana, access to their safari destinations at affordable rates.
Last Friday at the Yacht Club in Gaborone, Wilderness Safaris Group Chief Executive Officer, Keith Vincent launched the residents’ programme that he said is “generous, transparent and easy to use”.
Mr Vincent told attendees, including the Minister of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama that the aim of Wilderness’ residents’ programme is to give back to Africa and encourage more Africans to experience their camps.
“It’s time to take advantage of being African. We would like to reward our local supporters with membership to our Wilderness Safaris Programme.”
Mr Vincent revealed that the programme membership will cost Batswana P4,500.
He explained that the membership comes with benefits to members, their families and guests for two years. He further noted that the membership fee is a charitable donation to the non-profit organisation Children In The Wilderness (CITW). CITW is a Life Skills, educational and environmental programme for children who live in villages around conservation areas.
A glimpse of what Batswana can expect to enjoy with Wilderness Safaris.
Vincent highlighted the residents’ programme membership will give members access to all Wilderness-owned safari destinations at the best available rates, with discounts of up to 50% including on flights and road transfers.
Arguably the largest and most successful safari tour operator in Botswana, Wilderness Safaris also has a presence in DRC, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
For his part, Minister Khama thanked Wilderness Safaris for contributing to making Botswana one of the best holiday destinations. He said for the past two years, Botswana has been ranked highly in top travel charts because of the exceptional service and product offered by local tour operators like Wilderness Safaris.
What You Need To Know About the Program
- Through the program, Wilderness Safaris promises residents Residents a generous, transparent and easy to use.
- All members and travellers must reside in Africa.
- Ease of booking and affordability.
- Based on your personal preferences; a Wilderness Safaris team will bring you extraordinary rates, tirelessly analysing occupancies in their camps, guided explorations and walking trails as well as on their aircraft, to negotiate the very best rates and bespoke opportunities for you.
*Wilderness does highlight that bed-nights are subject to availability.
Membership costs BWP4,500; offering ‘exceptional and substantial benefits’ for members, their families and guests for 2 years, with the option to renew.
The fee is a charitable donation to Children in the Wilderness and is tax deductible for South Africans. An 18A certificate will be provided for the full amount.
What You Stand to Gain Through Your Membership
- Members always get the best available rates
- No restriction on number of bed-nights
- Discounts of up to 50% on bookings made less than 30 days from date of travel
- Last minute discounts of over 50% for travel within 14 days of booking
- Discounted rates on flights with Wilderness Air and on Wilderness Safaris road transfers
- Generous discounts for Children 16 years and under
- Single supplement waiver for last minute travel
- Preferred rates with Wilderness Safaris’ favoured third-party suppliers
- Access to all Wilderness-owned properties
- Opportunities to travel to Wilderness Safaris managed properties
(Terms and conditions apply).
Are you interested in visiting safari destinations around Botswana and elsewhere? What do you think of the residents’ membership program; is it something you would consider investing in? Please share your thoughts with YourBotswana.
Video courtesy of Wilderness Safaris