Expert Reviews – Mokolodi NR
Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.
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Make friends with snakes and a cheetah
Close enough to Gaborone to be ideal for a day trip from the city, Mokolodi is a private reserve and wildlife sanctuary run by a conservation foundation with a keen eye for commercial opportunities. The daily activity programme includes some fairly adventurous options such as tracking white rhinos or giraffes on foot. There’s also an “ambassador” cheetah called Letoatse that graciously allows himself to be stroked and, in the reptile sanctuary, snakes to handle – Prince William and Prince Harry larked around with a couple of these on their recent visit.
Time-poor urbanites can head out on a short morning or late afternoon game drive and round proceedings off with a bush braai and entertainment from “traditional” dancers. If, like me, you tend to prefer your safari experiences raw, unmediated and unpredictable, this might jar a little, but it’s also possible to drive yourself around for a more in-depth wilderness experience.
Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
A Convenient Introduction to Botswana
Located a mere 10km south of the capital, the fenced Mokolodi Nature Reserve provides a pleasant alternative whenever you find yourself having to spend time in Gaborone. At just 3,700 hectares, its small size and rehabilitated cattle farms are a far cry from the wild, wilderness areas that dominate large swathes of this wildlife-rich country, however Mokolodi offers a decent introduction to Botswana’s rich and varied fauna, especially for first-time safari goers.
With over 9,000 school children benefiting from the reserve’s environmental education programmes, and with more than 60,000 visitors annually, it is fair to say that this ‘island of nature’ – virtually within the city precinct – serves an important purpose. You will certainly see wildlife here, although it may seem contrived to the safari purists.
Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.
Easy access from Gaborone
Diminutive Mokolodi can’t compete with Botswana’s more famous northern parks, but if you find yourself in Gaborone it makes for a highly worthwhile day trip. A private reserve, the park offers an interesting mix of accessible activities and offbeat adventure. Cheetah interactions and a visit to the reptile sanctuary make Mokolodi seem almost zoo-like, but jump on a guided game drive and you’ll soon feel like you’re back in the wilds. The bush here is dense and sightings of the park’s giraffe, antelope and particularly rhino can be tricky, but that just gives a heightened sense of achievement when you do spot something. For the best chance of spotting white rhino, join rangers for an on-foot tracking adventure. Cycling routes also snake through the park and if you visit mid-week, you’ll probably feel like you have the whole place to yourself.