Imagine going on safari in Africa and having an area almost 350 square kilometres for your own exclusive use. That’s what travellers get with Sanctuary Retreats, if staying at either Sanctuary Baines’ Camp or Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
As part of the company’s lease of the land from the Botswana government, Sanctuary Retreats has exclusive use of the area. Even better, this arrangement has lead to a flourishing and mutually beneficial relationship between Sanctuary Retreats and the local villages of the Delta. Which means that in return for taking care of the private concession and the prolific flora and fauna contained within it, Sanctuary’s guests are afforded an unparalleled private safari experience.
Six local villages are direct beneficiaries of the payments Sanctuary Retreats makes to the Botswana Government to secure its lease, and these are also the key source of staff that work at both the company’s two lodges. Indeed, Sanctuary Retreats rarely looks beyond the local villages when employing new team members, only bringing in people from ‘outside’ where there isn’t a local person with the right skill-set for the role. In this way the relationship has significantly boosted local employment opportunities, and allowed Sanctuary Retreats to cultivate a fantastic – and steady – supply of expert local guides and camp staff who know the area inside out.
The other benefit of having sole use of this part of the Okavango Delta, is that the company has also been able to establish best practice standards and procedures for its safari guides, designed to better preserve this spectacular corner of pristine wilderness. This includes only allowing only one vehicle at a time into an area where a newborn cub has been spotted. Similarly, for other sightings, such as an adult leopard or lion, the company only ever permits a maximum of two vehicles at a time in a specific location, with other Sanctuary Retreats jeeps only able to enter the once one of the others has left. Other important protocols include keeping communication on the radio to an absolute minimum and turning off engines whenever vehicles are static to reduce noise.
This is all in sharp contrast to the safari experience in some other parts of Africa, where crowds of jeeps descend upon a kill, and it can feel more like being at a zoo than being in the African wilderness. Since Sanctuary Retreats also boasts its own airstrip within the concession, guests often don’t see a single vehicle during their stay that isn’t from Sanctuary Retreats’ fleet, or any visitors from other camps in the Delta.
An integral part of the arrangement that Sanctuary Retreats has with the Botswana government is that it manages the land within the concession in its entirety, meaning the company is also responsible for monitoring wildlife and keeping a lookout for any poachers – and notifying the authorities immediately about any suspicious activity.
Another unique feature of Sanctuary Retreats’ private concession are its resident pachyderms, Jabu, Thembi and Morula, a trio of semi-habituated orphaned elephants. Fancy an elephant as your tour guide? Well now Sanctuary Retreats’ guests can make this a reality via the company’s unique elephant interaction programme run in partnership with the Living with Elephants Foundation, which allows them to observe and interact with the elephants while walking alongside them through the wilderness. For a truly uplifting experience guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, this activity is a must.
Now is the perfect time to book a Botswana safari getaway, taking in one or both camps. The longer guests choose to stay, the better with Sanctuary Retreats’ extended stay offer in 2016 and 2017. Stay at one or both Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp or Sanctuary Baines’ Camps, and save up to 40 per cent per person.
1- to 2-night stay
Sanctuary Baines Camp from US $750 per person per night twin share.
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp from US $550 per person per night twin share.
3– to 4-night stay
Sanctuary Baines Camp from US $600 per person per night twin share.
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp from US $440 per person per night twin share.
5– to 7-night stay
Sanctuary Baines Camp from US $525 per person per night twin share.
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp from US $385 per person per night twin share.
8+ night stay
Sanctuary Baines Camp from US $450 per person per night twin share.
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp from US $330 per person per night twin share.