With 38% of its land officially protected and wildlife largely free to roam, Botswana is a country dedicated to preserving its wild spaces. Of course, sustainable tourism – combining environmental protection with social development and economic growth – plays a key part in realising this mission.
The Botswanan government intentionally limits the number of visitors they welcome in order to prevent overtourism. Not only does mean you can travel with your conscience intact, you'll also be granted a unique safari experience in some of the world's most pristine conditions without the crowds.
Added to that, the Botswana Tourism Organisation has developed the Botswana Ecotourism Certification System, comprising of 240 performance standards by which lodges and camps are rated. We won't list them all, but one look at its five guiding principles is a good indication of what it's all about: 1. To minimise negative social, cultural and environmental impacts of tourism; 2. To maximise the involvement of local communities and bring them economic benefits; 3. To maximise income for conservation; 4. To educate visitors and local people of the importance of conserving natural and cultural resources; and 5. To deliver a quality experience for tourists.
Under these guidelines, all lodges must be deconstructable within 24 hours – and must be designed to leave no trace if and when they are (that means no concrete, mortar or bricks allowed), in order to have as little impact on the environment as possible. This has paved the way for true ingenuity in lodge design, as these Jacada favourites are testament to...
Mombo Camp, Okavango Delta
One of the most highly commended eco-camps in Africa, Mombo Camp uses 100% solar energy, is built with natural materials, and the camp provides local community support, too. It’s far from inexpensive, but every dollar spent visiting Mombo is well worth it.
Zarafa is a very special lodge. It is made from wood left in the wake of the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia, and everything in the lodge is fuelled by solar power. The vehicles operate on a mixture of vegetable oil and diesel (85% and 15% respectively), and drinking water is treated in a UV filtration system, thus eliminating the need for plastic bottles.
Jao Camp, Okavango Delta
The team at Jao Camp is committed to conserving the unique ecosystem of the Okavango Delta and all the creatures that call it home. Since 2012 they have worked to reduce the use of bottled water by providing reusable bottles and an on-site purification system for drinking water. As a result, they have cut their use of plastic bottles by 75%. The camp is also completely solar-powered and wastewater is treated and cleaned before being allowed to enter the natural environment.
Jack's Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans
On the barren Makgadikgadi Pans, Jack’s Camp is a wonderful eco-lodge, involved in the long-term removal of damaging cattle and goats from the Kalahari, an extremely delicate environment. The camp also creates employment opportunities for locals, and operates as a research base for animals like brown hyenas and meerkats, alongside subjects like climate change and the study of the paleontological value of the Makgadikgadi Pans.
San Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans
Walking with the local bush men, the San trackers, is a fabulous experience offered by Jack’s and its sister eco-camp San Camp, which is run almost entirely on solar energy.
Chief’s Camp, Okavango Delta
Chief’s Camp is designed so that the entire camp could be packed up without leaving a trace. The rubbish is taken out of the park for responsible destruction, and they have filtered water and recyclable water bottles.