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'Who’s Your No. 1 Lady' Contest Winners Returns

In 2009, Botswana Tourism Board partnered with HBO and YWCA on the Who's Your No. 1 Lady? consumer contest to promote the launch of HBO’s original drama series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. HBO filmed this original series, based on the award winning books by Alexander McCall Smith, entirely on location in Botswana. Five lucky winners, along with their nominees for the most inspiring woman, were awarded prize trips to Botswana. The first of the grand prize winners, Julie Franklin and Allison Block, traveled to Botswana in late November 2009 on what they described as a trip of a lifetime.

Julie Franklin nominated her sister, Allison Block, as her “No. 1 Lady” for her courageous fight with ovarian cancer. The two sisters took their grand prize trip to Botswana in late November. Recently returning home from what they described as “the trip of a lifetime,” the sisters noted they were most excited to have gone on the trip because they were able to strengthen their already strong sisterly bond, soak in the rural tranquility of the African bush and experience the excitement of urban life in Botswana. “Botswana truly has something for everyone”, states Julie.

Their safari adventure began in the mystical Okavango Delta, moved on to the Chobe National Park – home of the largest elephant population in Africa, and ended in Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone, location setting of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith and the HBO original TV series.

“We were excited about going on safari and seeing big game – which we did and it was as fabulous as we imagined,” said Julie and Allison, “but it is the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Batswana that will have us coming back for another safari adventure with our families.”

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1 Learn Basket Weaving from the Locals

Basket weaving has a long thread of history that entwines throughout the culture and economy of Botswana. Botswana baskets are revered for their quality and artistry, and each basket tells a story. Taking time while on safari to see these exquisite baskets being woven in local villages throughout Botswana is a wonderful way to experience the local culture. You might even try your hand at weaving your own basket, and bring back an authentic souvenir of your memorable trip! Orient Express Safaris shares this story about the baskets of Khwai Village.

Orient Express Safaris can arrange for guests at the Khwai River Lodge to visit the neighboring Khwai Village to learn basket weaving. Basket weaving has a long thread of history that entwines throughout the culture and economy of Botswana. Not only does basket weaving serve as a means of income for some, each basket has a name, a meaning, a story that explains the origin of the basket, and a message that records the ancient customs of Botswana.

Here are some the popular basket names:

  • Forehead of the Zebra: Resembles the zebra’s forehead and celebrates the beauty of the animal.
  • Tears of the Giraffe: There is strong belief amongst the hunting tribes of Botswana that a giraffe weeps when it is killed. The tears of this majestic animal inspired the pattern and give respect to the animal.
    (Tears of the Giraffe)
  • Back of a Python: The meat of a python is considered a rare delicacy amongst the Bayei Tribes and is considered a gift from the gods. Therefore, the pattern commemorates this gift.

    Although basket weaving production has slowed in recent years, the local women who live in the remote Khwai village offer their know-how and allow visitors to make their own Botswana-style baskets.

To learn more about Botswana Arts and crafts visit:
To learn more about Khwai River Lodge visit:

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Calling All Big Cats…

A sighting of lions, leopards or cheetahs in their natural environment is always a treat for even the most experienced safari traveler. Many sightings of these big cats and their antics were experienced by travelers and their safari guides in 2009, and we share some of their stories here.

Lion Around…
It is not abnormal to find cats climbing trees. It is however fairly atypical to see lions hanging out in them. The staff at Chief’s Camp, which is situated on the northwest tip of Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta, captured these exciting photos. Like many other large cats, lions use their claws to scale tree trunks. What lions and other cats do not have in common however, is their size. The lion’s large size makes scaling trees a challenge or even impossible. Experts are speculating that these lions were climbing into the trees either to avoid the aggravation of flies or to escape the heat and enjoy a fresh breeze.

The staff at Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge became concerned when their resident leopard and her cub went missing for several weeks. To their great relief however, the leopard was spotted underneath a Marula tree with a kill of a baby impala, along with her cub, which was as strong and playful as ever. When the mother satisfied her hunger she hid her kill in the shrubs, covered the scent with leaves and lay down with her cub. For more information on the Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge

18 Cheetah Sightings in 4 days!
A blogger recently wrote about her stay at the Kalahari Plains Camp in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Although she noted a total of 18 cheetah sightings throughout her trip, she mentioned one sighting as particularly noteworthy, in which five adult cheetahs, a mother with two adult offspring and two adult males acted aggressively towards each other. It appeared that the interaction occurred after the mother and her offspring attracted the attention of the two males who then proceeded to demonstrate their dominance while observing the sexual status of the mother. The Kalahari Plains Camp is an excellent destination to view cheetahs and other magnificent predators such as the legendary black-manned lion. Click the link for more information on the Kalahari Plains Camp

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1 Travel Specials Await Your Booking:

Want to experience sightings and activities similar to the ones you just read about? You can on your next trip…start planning now and check out these recently released travel specials from safari companies &Beyond and Orient Express.

Orient Express ….Photographic Workshop
Orient Express is offering two exclusive photographic workshops, one in April and another in November, 2010. Eight guests can experience the adventure of a lifetime with highly acclaimed wildlife and nature photographer, Heinrich van den Berg. The trip includes stays at Khwai River Lodge, Eagle Island Camp and Savute Elephant Camp. For more information click here

&Beyond…Simply Spectacular 6 Night Special
Discover the Chobe National Park, experience the arid beauty and ample wildlife of the Savute Region and explore the watery wetland of the Okavango Delta with an offer from &Beyond. Spend two nights at &Beyond Chobe Under Canvas followed by two nights at &Beyond Savute Under Canvas, the final two nights will be spent at one of four &Beyond lodges of your choice.

&Beyond Price: $3,291
Regular Price: $4,029
Saving You: $ $527

For more information visit:

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1We hope this issue has inspired you to consider Botswana for your next vacation to experience the excitement, adventure and beauty of this country for yourself in 2010! If you enjoyed this issue, send to a friend. For additional tourist information on Botswana, please visit:

Botswana Tourism Board – North America

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