The concession lies on the southern border of the wildlife rich Moremi Game Reserve, widely considered to be amongst the richest wildlife areas in all Africa and this may prove to be the best private concession for diverse predator viewing.
Santawani lodge is a first model of its kind in Botswana, as the local community receives 50% of the daily profits instead of a simple lease fee for their land while someone else owns the camp. Santawani Lodge is a simple brick bungalow style lodge that is in an exceptional wildlife area. Santawani is located in a prime area for predator viewing, in fact this private concession has long served as the home base for much of Botswana’s predator research, including Dr. Tico McNutt’s African wild dog research. Dr. McNutt’s efforts have now been expanded to become the Botswana Predator Conservation Program, including studies on lions (3 prides in the area), spotted hyena, leopard, and cheetah. The book The Lion Children is based on lion research conducted in this concession as well. It should be noted that being the geographic center for Botswana’s major predator studies means there are a number of animals that are fitted with GPS collars, an issue for photography but it is still just a small portion of the predators that are collared so it is a minor consideration.
Typically in Botswana local people own concession rights and they earn an income by leasing their concession to a safari operator who builds and operates a safari camp. In this case, the Sankuyo Tshwaragano Management Trust has instead entered a partnership with Lodges of Botswana to develop and manage this area as a 50/50 venture with the community earning 50% of the actual operating profits. The Sankuyo Tshwaragano Management Trust had a competitive proposal process before selecting this model that is believed to be more beneficial for the community than the traditional leasing set up. A guiding principle for The Wild Source is to support community based projects and I am ecstatic to see the development of this new model and hope that as additional concession leases come up for renewal that other local people will be able to increase their economic benefits.
Activities at Santawani Lodge focus on game drives and night drives in open vehicles with a guide and tracker to pursue sightings of the many predators as well as a full diversity of other species such as elephants, giraffe, zebra, kudu, etc., this is a very rich wildlife area. It is also possible to arrange a visit to a local village so learn about the community who owns this lodge.
The lodge consists of just six chalets with en-suite bathroom. They were recently renovated with new décor, linen and public areas. The strength here is the community, and the friendly cultural feel gives this lodge a different atmosphere.
- Night drives
- Cross-cultural village tour