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Camping in the bush in Botswana:

Being in the heart of the bush in a permanent lodge can be an exhilarating experience just listening to the sounds of night. But sleeping in a tent, on the floor, in the middle of the bush, with no fences and just a sheet of canvas between you on what roams outside can bring the word exhilarating to a new level!

Every sound seems amplified. So on a recent camping safari in the Okavango Delta, going to bed at night didn’t necessarily mean a restful, peaceful sleep. I awoke to a sound brushing past the tent, then sniffing around the edges and then more brushing the tent. I held my breath, just in case whatever was out there could hear me. More sniffing, this time where my head lay and I swear whatever it was could have heard my heart pounding. Then silence…… It can’t have been more than a minute, but it felt like an hour, and the brushing against the tent continued. I then heard footfalls, or rather hoof or paw-falls just outside and then a throaty inhale – not sure if it was me or what was outside….. and then silence. ‘It can sense my fear’ I remember thinking, it’s playing with me. Then the final push past the tent, the canvas actually caving inward a little and then the final silence. I lay awake for the rest of night waiting for it to come back and finish the job but not surprisingly it didn’t.

Sunrise came and we were swapping stories from our nights’ experiences when I told the guide my ‘near death’ experience, only for him to show me the family of warthog footprints surrounding my tent. Near death? Not quite but exhilarating all the same. I then couldn’t wait to find what the next night had in store for me!


You can do this throughout Botswana, either in a tented camp, or in a tent on a mobile safari.


This is available all year, though some camps close at the height of the rainy season.

By Tracy Edwards, Botswana Specialists consultant.

To include this experience in your Botswana safari holiday

Places to sleep under canvas in Botswana:

Mobile safaris pitch tents in wilderness camps. These are mostly unfenced areas of the wilderness that look no different from other areas. There are no permanent toilets or washing facilities, you are simply out in the bush. This means that wildlife can very easily come through camp at any time. It will be explained to you by guides how to react if this happens and your safety is always taken as the most important thing. On basic camping, toilet and shower tents will be separate, but on the better quality mobile safaris, there are en-suite open air bathrooms attached to the back of your tent.(Read more about mobile safaris).

In permanent or semi-permanent tented camps, the tents can be very large and very luxurious, with en-suite bathrooms. Many of these tented camps are just like lodges except that the walls are canvas!