By Fred Van Eijk17 Jul 2017Fred Van Eijk, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors, Australia returns from a life changing safari in Botswana to share his unforgettable experience. I had experienced some great safaris before, but I had never been on an actual luxury safari trip. As such I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The words ‘luxury’ and ‘safari’ just didn’t seem to work for me until this trip – it always felt like it was going to be bit of a ‘double experience’ somehow. A luxury safari is about going back to nature, but with the decadence of an aristocratic explorer. Tents that are hardly tents anymore – with facilities and services that are better suited for the Waldorf Astoria than in the middle of the African bush. So when I luckily got invited to experience a short safari in small luxury camps in the Okavango Delta and in Linyanti, Botswana, I was able to find out what it was really like. Charity With two million residents and millions of free animals in a country the size of France, Botswana is one big adventure spot in Southern Africa. Here the animals do not live in protected areas, but the inhabitants of villages and settlements certainly do. Thanks to the favorable climate, the interaction of water, sand and vegetation, a balanced ecosystem and a population that treats nature with love and care, Botswana is at the top when it comes to spotting rare animals. The population does not only care for nature either; they are also very good for their guests and always seem to be cheerful. With names like Charity, Busy, Witness, Gift, Bumps, Tanker and Flame I never questioned why. Conservation That ‘double’ feeling I mentioned soon leaves you. Yes, the accommodations have decent hefty price tags, but they include game drives, professional guides and all-inclusive care with quality food and beverages. Not only gin & tonics, but the best wines in South Africa, whiskeys and liqueurs. Even the mini bar had my favourite coke zero. A camp for twelve guests has over thirty staff members plus dozens of other people who handle the logistics, maintenance and transfers by private jets. If you divide the sum by the number of holiday experiences in a short time, then it’s worth everything. It is also perhaps the most effective, sustainable and charitable donation that you can make to give back which makes it a paradise for employment and long term conservation. The Future The camps of Wilderness Safaris are very environmentally friendly and amongst other things, the organisation invests in solar energy, the future of local communities and also in the disadvantaged children of Botswana. The “Children in the Wilderness” program gives local children an opportunity to experience a comfortable camp, to learn from nature and at the same time be able to see a future in tourism and conservation for themselves. On a safari quality comes before quantity and that applies to all aspects of the experience. My tip is that if you need to, then reduce the number of days on safari, but definitely not your budget. I’d also suggest you have your journey tailored by a professional travel advisor such as a Travel Counsellor who will be able to make sure you’ve got everything covered and ensure you can truly relax on your trip. The Okavango Delta The wetland Okavango Delta is one of the most impressive and rich wildlife areas in Africa. A haven for rare birds, bathing hippos surrounded by water lilies, grazing elephants, giraffes, zebras, hunting lions, hyenas and wild dogs. Vumbura Plains Vumbura Plains is a camp designed in a “Vogue Magazine” style. Casual chic, with fourteen beautiful tents and relaxing lounge areas. Jao Camp offers a pampering spa, awarded as the best spa in Botswana. My first night I stayed at Little Vumbura; six spacious tents and a cozy lounge on an island in the middle of the delta. Linyanti This pristine wilderness is named after the Linyanti River between Botswana and Namibia. The river and wetlands are a superb habitat for groups of elephants, crocodiles, hippos and I even spotted a leopard during a night safari. At sunset I could not get enough of watching a group of lions drinking their water, only a few steps away from me. A few hundred meters from my tent a large herd of elephants marched through the river with their trunks above the water as prehistoric submarines; an image and an experience that I will always carry with me. Kings Pool Camp Kings Pool Camp has nine tents. Chic and trendy but classy “Ibiza meets the bush” style. The terraces are used for brunches and “candlelight dinners”. It’s the kind of place you never want to leave. Slightly more subdued and also very comfortable is the Duma Tau Camp, with stunning views across the Linyanti river. Chances are that you – whilst relaxing in the small pool – see elephants cross the river. The stunning Duma Tau Camp A safari dinner at the Duma Tau Camp All of these camps are a thirty minutes Land Rover transfer away from an airstrip. From the town Maun small charter jets are coming and going, and after a short flight with breathtaking views, you land in the middle of the wilderness and your luxury adventure commences. Maun is well served by scheduled flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. Go on a safari, but do it well if you can. It changes your life, preserves nature and helps local communities. This way, everyone benefits. About Fred Van Eijk Fred van Eijk is Managing Director Travel Counsellors Australia and the founder and GM of Travel Counsellors Netherlands and Belgium. He is also a Travel and Lifestyle writer, blogger and TV presenter. Fred uses every opportunity to explore the world, meet up with friends everywhere, discover new places and return to his favorite spots. Follow his journey on KarryOn to keep up to date with his latest adventures. Have you been on a luxury safari trip? Share your experience with us below. Other stories you may like Busabout has launched a cool new initiative to mark World Water Day U by Uniworld helps Nepal recovery by building new school Why is Dick Smith shouting flights to Christmas Island?