Wildlife conservation in Botswana – Franklin University

An educational trip for University students

Purpose of the trip

Two to three times a year, a professor and a group of his students from Franklin University Switzerland visit Africa for around a week or two. During these tours they learn about Africa’s culture, wildlife, living conditions, politics, history and more. Above all, the university requires each student to present his or her findings as part of their curriculum. Their recent group tour in Botswana is an example of their teaching methodology.

Course description

This Academic Travel is an environmental field trip with a focus on the wildlife of Botswana.  Field trips include the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Chobe River, the Okavango Delta, and Kalahari Desert.  Students will camp in tents or in accommodations as they travel in an overland truck and 4×4 vehicles through game parks where they will have an opportunity to observe animals in their natural state, and to reflect on the challenges of wildlife conservation.  They will also visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This trip will provide the basis for a better understanding of conservation, culture, and sustainability issues in this region of Africa.

Franklin University

Franklin University is a private liberal arts college situated in Lugano, Switzerland. The university was founded in 1969 and offers Bachelors of Art degrees and Masters of Science degrees. You will find many different cultures and populations at this university as students from 50 plus countries are enrolled. They apply a learning methodology that combines real travel and academic study into the core of the curriculum.

That is why they say at Franklin “curiosity is required”. Their mission is to go beyond boundaries and include an Academic Travel course every semester where students will visit places they have studied. This way the students get real life experience and get to see these places with their own eyes. One of these places is Botswana.

Day 1: Arrival in Johannesburg

On arrival at Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport, Safari With Us guide, Ettienne Froneman and his assistant guide Bianca Potgieter, met the students and the professor. They headed onward to a lodge in Pretoria – Twana Lodge. During their visit to the lodge they had the chance to freshen up and enjoy a delicious warm breakfast. The students had the chance to relax until lunchtime. Delicious canapes was served for lunch. After lunch, they boarded their overland vehicles and headed onward to their lodge just before the Botswana border. For dinner, they had the chance to enjoy a traditional South African “braai”. A “braai is a cooking method where one cooks meat over open coals – delicious!

Day 2: Into Botswana they go!

Following breakfast, they continued with their journey and headed to the border of Botswana. After all formalities, they made their way to the town of Serowe and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary where they stayed the night. The students had time to freshen up and at around sunset, they went on an open vehicle game drive in search for rhinos. After the game drive, one of the guides, Alfred, had a talk about the rhinos and the sanctuary, with the students.

the road to botswana

The Road to Botswana

Day 3: Entering the world famous Moremi

Most noteworthy,  the students had the privilege of going on another game drive with a sanctuary ranger – this time in the morning. After breakfast, they headed onward with their journey to a town called Maun. Maun is known as the gateway to the famous Moremi. Here, they stocked up on supplies and headed into the Moremi and Okavango Delta. They spent the night at a place called Sitatunga Rest Camp. Above all, Map Ives from Rhino Conservation Botswana had a very interesting talk with the students.

Rhino Conservation Botswana

“We believe that rhinos must be preserved for future generations. They are a crucial part of the ecosystems that sustain our planet – and the human race. Their survival is inextricably linked to our own. That’s why we’re working hard to give them a future.

Rhino Conservation Botswana is already working with its partners, including the governments of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe and tourism operators, to help reintroduce black and white rhinos to Botswana. But, over the next few years, we want to build the populations of rhinos living wild and free in the Okavango Delta until they are of international importance.

We hope this population will increase swiftly and, in time, the rhinos will populate new areas of northern Botswana. Long-term, we’d like to see our proud country supporting between 5,000 and 10,000 wild rhinos.

RCB has been entrusted by the Botswana government to monitor Botswana’s rhinos and ensure that they remain healthy and strong.

Ultimately, we hope that this population of rhinos will become one of the great hopes for the survival of the species”

Day 4: Entering the Delta on Makoro boats

After breakfast they departed from Maun with a 4×4 truck. They stored all cooking, camping equipment on the truck. They drove for about 2 hours to the edge of the Delta via the Moremi. On arrival the students had to move all their belongings from the truck to the Mokoro boats Finally, these boats transferred the group to the bush camp.  They spend the next 2 days on an island in the Delta where they went on guided game walks and explored the channels of the Okavango Delta by Mokoro.

mokoro safari

Mokoro Safari

Day 6: Back to Sitatunga Rest Camp

Sadly, after breakfast, the group had to greet the bush camp team and make their way back to civilization at Sitatunga Rest Camp.

mokoro safari

On the way back to civilization

Day 7: Under the stars

After a delicious breakfast they drove to Gweta, which is the gateway to the Makgadigadi Salt Pans. Here they will spend the night cooking and sleeping under the stars. Luckily the weather was great and the group could experience the special magic of the Milky Way. Even more they saw one of the most beautiful sunsets one could ever imagine!

On the salt pans

Day 8: The beautiful Elephant Sands

After breakfast, they head on to Nata and Elephant Sands, where they spent the night. Elephant Sands is a lodge that surrounds a big waterhole for elephants. On a hot day, anything between 500 and 750 elephants cross here to get nice fresh water. After a nice dinner, they sat around the campfire. Furthermore, these gentle giants amazed everyone. The students also had an interesting talk with Mr. Ben Moller about the elephants.

elephant sands

Elephant Sands

At around 10pm, they switch off all water and electricity and then it is just you and nature.

Day 9: Chobe National Park

After breakfast, they headed to Kasane, driving on the Elephant Highway of Botswana.  After lunch they made their way to town for provisions and checked into their accommodation.

Chobe National Park

Declared in 1968, this park is known for its large herds of elephant and buffalo as well as many other animals such as giraffe, bushbuck, kudu, waterbuck and impala. Late afternoon, the group departed on a relaxing sunset cruise on the Chobe River, which is the lifeblood of this national park, as all animals come down to the river to drink and bathe. This river begins its journey in Angola, where it is called the Kwando before weaving its way across the Kalahari to become the Linyanti along the edge of Namibia and at Ngoma it becomes the Chobe River.  Chobe is famous for its beautiful scenery, magnificent sunsets and abundance of wildlife and birdlife. They had another beautiful sunset on a relaxing game viewing boat cruise on the Chobe River. They had a delicious buffet dinner and made their way to bed.

sunset cruise

Sunset cruise

Day 10: Into Zimbabwe they go

They departed early morning for a 4×4 game drive in Chobe National Park. Certainly, the drive was successful as the group saw the magnificent lion. After the game drive, they had a delicious breakfast and made their way to the Zimbabwean border. Upon arrival in Zimbabwe they headed straight to Victoria Falls where they walked along the Zambezi River to observe various sections of the Falls – which is one of the 7 natural world wonders!

vic falls

Victoria Falls

They had a delicious dinner at the famous Boma. There was live entertainment in the form of traditional drum players to keep everyone smiling and happy.

Day 11: A free day of fun activities

On this day the students were free to explore Victoria Falls commercial center, relax, or book independent sports activities. Everyone had so much fun!

Day 12: Back to Johannesburg

Sadly, it was time for the group to leave Zimbabwe. Ettienne and Bianca dropped them off at the airport and they flew back to Johannesburg, South Africa. Here a guide met them and took them to there accommodation, close to OR Tambo International Airport. They had time to freshen up. Again, a traditional and delicious dinner in the form of a “braai” was served.

Day 13: Touring through Soweto

After breakfast they were by minivans and headed for a guided tour of the Apartheid Museum. Afterwards they made their way to Soweto where they visited the Hector Pieterson Museum and Vilakazi Street (the only street in the world that has produced two Nobel prize winners). Here they enjoyed a typical township lunch. Following their African lunch, they departed for the Oliver Tambo Airport. They hopped on the plan for their long flight back to Switzerland.

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