Central Tuli Game Reserve becomes first Smart Parks in Botswana

The Timbo Afrika Foundation and Smart Parks have realized the first Smart Parks system in Botswana. From now on, African wildlife will be protected in the “Central Tuli Game Reserve” with smart, advanced technology. Moreover, this enables the relocation and introduction of endangered and disappeared animal species.

 

The game reserve consists of roughly 70,0000 hectares, partly bought by investor and philanthropist Albert Hartog, who wants to clear the area of old fences and barbed wire to create a “wildlife corridor”. A free and safe connection between adjacent nature reserves to allow wildlife to walk their original migration routes. During the installation executed by Smart Parks last April, a LoRaWAN® network with five gateway installations and several sensors were successfully deployed.

 

This new technology enables staff, guides, and researchers to monitor vehicles, rangers, roads and the recently constructed 30km high-tech, advanced, and electrified fence that separates the habitat of humans and the wildlife reserve. The LoRaWAN® network will enable the park management to deploy battery powered sensors and devices across its entire wildlife reserve for accurate monitoring of wildlife and fine-scale data collection. This will allow the Koro park management to optimize efficiency in operations within the landscape they manage.

 

Prevention of human-wildlife conflicts

Conflicts between humans and wildlife have long been a pressing issue throughout Africa. This is a recurring problem for farmers, park managers and owners of nature reserves and wildlife parks. Habitat loss has become the greatest threat to African wildlife. For example, as their habitats shrink, elephants are progressively forced into closer contact with people, resulting in more frequent and severe conflict over space and resources with consequences ranging from crop raiding to reciprocal loss of life. Lions, leopards, and hyenas on occasion prey on farmers livestock and are often shot as a result. These incidents regularly have a fatal outcome for humans or wildlife. The Dutch organizations Timbo Afrika Foundation and Smart Parks have joined forces to reduce these conflicts, with support from the Botswana Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

 

Smart Parks technological solutions

The Smart Parks LoRaWAN® network collects data from the advanced sensors and devices that are scattered throughout the reserve. The sensors track wildlife and send accurate information though the LoRaWAN® network about roads, gates, vehicles, water, fuel tanks and buildings which simplify operational planning and park management. The electrified fence will be monitored with the use of fence sensors, measuring the voltage of the fence. In case of destruction of the fence, the fence sensors will send a notification to the control room, providing the opportunity of an immediate response of the maintenance team. 

 

All sensors’ data is processed in an easy-to-use web application. This application provides accurate information from all sensors in the park.

 

Tim van Dam, director of Smart Parks, says: “This is the most advanced Smart Parks we have implemented to date. It is a huge challenge to work in these areas, but the dedication of everyone involved exceeded all our expectation. During the deployment, one of the local staff members said: “Sometimes we have to give all our energy to animals because they can’t help themselves. Therefore, we have to work hard for wildlife.” Our team could not agree more.

 

Albert Hartog, philanthropist, investor in the Central Tuli area and owner of the Timbo Afrika Foundation says: “Having your own wildlife reserve is an immense job, fortunately this area in Central Tuli lends itself well to nature conservation and wildlife management. One of the main goals of the Timbo foundation is the relocation and introduction of endangered and disappeared animal species. “They must be animals that originate from the region”. I especially hope that the white and black rhino will return to Tuli. These iconic animals have declined dramatically in numbers due to poaching. In fact, the black rhino is so endangered that there are only about 5,600 individuals left in the wild. The first rhinos should be back here in the autumn of 2021. With the installation of Smart Parks, we have further prepared the area. You can only relocate endangered species if your protective measures against poaching and human-animal conflicts are in order. Fortunately, that is now the case with this latest advanced technology from Smart Parks, we are proud of it”.

 

In the coming period, the network will be expanded with more functionalities, including digital cameras, acoustic sensors and the latest OpenCollar Edge sensors with embedded machine learning functions.

 

Smart Parks documentary

Studio Harmens joined the team during this expedition and shot beautiful footage. These photos can be found via the gallery: https://www.smartparks.org/gallary-smart-parks-koro-botswana/ A picture is worth a thousand words, so imagine the value of a full documentary. Through this documentary, we want to show and have others’ experience, what it means to build a Smart Parks. There will be a release event later this year. Stay tuned!

 

Note to editor:

 

Media

Studio Harmens has made beautiful photos that can be used with credits. These photos can be found through the gallery on the Smart Parks website: https://www.smartparks.org/gallary-smart-parks-koro-botswana/

Maputo Special Reserve day trips

The Maputo Special Reserve is a unique environment with beautiful vistas, big herds of elephants and buffalos, inland lakes with hippos and flamingos and hardly any tourist. One of the few places in Africa where elephants have been seen wandering on the beach… We make special day trips in this Reserve and show a piece of Mozambique what only a few people have seen before.

Turtle Research Participation

From December until mid February the gigantic Leatherback and loggerhead turtles come ashore to nest. Shortly after that the eggs will hatch and the hatchlings will try to make it to the safety of the ocean. You can assist our team with mapping the nests but also go out at night and see them coming ashore. An incredible event.

Whale Watching

From July till November the big whale trek starts. Although you can see hundreds of them swimming and jumping high in the water from your deck, there is nothing more spectacular than being next to them in a boat..their watchful eyes following you and waving at you with their big tails…

Dhow trips

Go sailing for a day on a traditional Dhow. Experience how supplies where sent from the mainland to Machangulo and submerge yourself in the solitude of the wind filling the sails, the flamingo’s flying low over the water in the distance and the traditional fisherman fishing with their nets standing in the water or sitting on a single pole…

Diving

Diving can be arranged via the diving school at Santa Maria. The reefs around Machangulo are beautiful and make for excellent diving trips.

Deap Sea Fishing

If you want to go on a real adventure then book a deep see fishing trip. You will go offshore with a very experienced crew and are in for a serious fishing adventure. You will have big chanches of catching Dorado, Baracuda or even Tuna.

Fishing from the Beach

Your house manager is considered one of the best fisherman in the whole area! He gladly takes you out fishing and teach you the local tricks. No less than five professional fishing rods with gear are available for you to take out; but just watching your family members fish whilst you sit comfortably in your beach chair can be as much fun.. The fish that you catch will be served during lunch or dinner!

Snorkeling

Right in from of the Villa is a big reef that allows you to snorkel in the many small rock pools. For the more experienced swimmers, the ocean side of the reef is spectacular but can be a bit wild as well. Through the office we can arrange special snorkelling trips for the whole family, big and small, to Inhaca Island.

Explore the Beaches

Over 16 km of pristine beaches are waiting for you to be explored. Follow the reefs and during low tide watch the fish find shelter in the many rock pools. Collect shells and if you’re lucky, see the turtles and the dolphins surf through the waves. Take your frisbee with you if you want to be more active or just enjoy the sea breeze through your hair..

Walking Safaris

Our team of experienced guides and trackers will take you on bush walks exploring natural springs, climbing high and low koppies, discovering the beauty of the last wild orchids, following the tracks of predators or follow a herd of elephant and watch their incredible family behaviour.

Day Game Drives

Due to the diversity and size of our Reserve we can, and do make, extensive game drives. Both early in the morning allowing you to see the general game waking up and the predators prepare for sleep or late in the afternoon to see the opposite happening. But also to show you the magnificent landscape under a rising or slowly descending sun.

Night Game Drives

However for those guests who would like to see something different we make night drives as well. It will provide guests with a rare opportunity to see Elephants move in the moonlight, find Bat Eared Foxes or Aardvark or other creatures of the night; the ones you normally only hear. Maybe see Hyenas hunt. Experience wildlife in a complete different atmosphere.

Classes & Workshops

We can arrange cooking, photography and art masterclasses under the guidance of renowned experts, and present lectures on history and culture of the area. The reserve is also a special place of reflection, meditation and engagement with the natural world enhanced through reflective and meditative practices at the Reserve.

A Tailored Experience

If you’re looking for absolute exclusivity, you can book a guide to tailor your activities for the duration of your stay. Tell us about your special interests in advance and we’ll do our best to accommodate; whether it’s tracking a particular animal or bird, or capturing rare photos, we will make time and have specialists available to you.
Or book a Full day excursion and game drive further afield in the Tuli or beyond, with sumptuous packed picnics or brunches can be arranged on request. Shady spots on the Limpopo are ideal, but more adventurous excursions to remote springs or historical sites are also encouraged.

Research Participation

We invite our guests to have an active participation in the research that takes place at the reserve, headed by Sander Vissia. Learn about hyena and leopard movement and interaction at Koro. Learn how bees protect vegetable farmland against elephants. Spend time in the bush with our researchers, download information from our cameras traps and get the ultimate wilderness experience.

Starbeds

Starbeds is our elevated game viewing platform overlooking a waterhole and the vast Tuli horizons and approaching sunrise beyond. A night sleeping-out here offers an exclusive peek into the secretive nocturnal habits of elephant, hyena, civet, leopard and antelope as they soak their thirsts below. Accommodating 4 people, the Starbeds experience consists of an open air (or covered) sleeping platform, safari bedding, a drinks station and flush loo.

Ancient bushman rock art sites

Go back in time over 500 years with a half-day excursion to a recently discovered old Bushman settlement with paintings and sacred sites. An extended game drive through the Tuli takes us to the small village of Mothlhabaneng, and a stunning sandstone amphitheatre on the Moutlotse River with numerous beautiful galleries of elephant, giraffe, sable, wild dog and aardvark paintings. The quality of these paintings rivals any area in Africa. The Africa Experience supports the local community in developing the site as a heritage and tourism place of interest.

A day at a hide

Spent some solitude time at secluded hides overlooking natural springs and waterholes, waiting for game to drink.

Johannesburg – Koro Camps

The trip from Johannesburg to Koro River & Island Camp should take you between 5-6 hours by car. But why not enjoy a day in the bustling city of Johannesburg? The many excellent hotels and restaurants are worth a visit and do not forgot the many to musea, nightclubs and the historic old centre. Depending on your budget you can book top hotels such as Athol Place and African Pride but we can also recommend the lovely B&B’s in the cultural centre of Melville.

The route to Botswana takes you close to some world renowned game reserves in the Waterberg area and resorts such as 1. Madikwe and 2. Sun City. But also worthwhile staying over is one of the lodges in 3. Welgevonden or 4. Marakele. Once you arrive at the Platjan border post you can leave your rental here and our staff will collect you in one of our game viewers (or you follow them in your rental car) and your Botswana adventure starts!

Koro Camps – Mapungubwe – Northern Kruger Park

For travellers who like mystery and culture hidden in remote wilderness, this is an absolute must. You leave Koro Camps and drive through the Tuli in one long game drive to the Pont Drift Border post and cross the Limpopo River back into South Africa. Only 45 minutes away you will reach the 5. Mapungubwe National Park, home of the famous Golden Rhino artefacts, discovered in the King’s graves on the secret Mapungubwe Hill. A world renowned museum and beautiful accommodation and the possibility to make your self-drive game drives in a setting of overwhelming sand stone rock formations.

From here a mere 3 hour drive will bring you to the most northernly gate of 6. The Kruger National Park. You enter via Punda Maria and can stay at the Sanparks accommodations or book one of the top private lodges such as The Outpost. From here you can plan your trip south throughout the Kruger National Park to Phalaborwa or Orpen.

Koro Camps – Tzaneen – Hoedspruit / Phalaborwa Central Kruger Park

This route takes from the wilderness of the Tuli in Botswana to the world renowned Kruger National Park region. It’s only 4-5 hour trip at leisure but takes you through two mountain ranges which are worthwhile making a stop over. The first is in the historical Soutpansberge where the 7. Leshiba Lodge takes you up from the heat of the Lowveld to the the coolness of the Venda Culture in the mountains. Explore the culture, make beautiful hikes end enjoy the views. Or drive just another 45 minutes down the road, close to the town of Louis Trichard and stay the beautiful 8. mountain lodge Madi A Thavha. If you prefer to drive a bit further then have a look at the Drakensberge mountain range close to Tzaneen. Here you can have a few active days in the famous 9. Modjadjieskloof and 10. Magoebaskloof rainforests before descending down to the Kruger Park. After Tzaneen you have the choice to continue your trip to the 11. Phalaborwa Kruger Park gate or travel to 12. Hoedspruit where you can find an abundance of private lodges and guesthouses in what is called the “Greater Kruger National Park. Excellent accommodation can be found at Lengau Lodge or in the more exclusive Private Game Reserves such as Klasserie Sands. Eastgate Airport is close by.

Central Kruger Park – Maputo – Machangulo Mozambique

From Hoedspruit or Phalaborwa one can make a long beautiful drive south through the Kruger park and exit at one of the Southern Gates. It is recommended to take at least two days for this trip and book the Sanparks accommodations long in advance. One can also drive in approximately 4 hours from Hoedspruit to 13. Maputo but with a rental car this is quite an administrative task and we recommend to let us arrange your transfer fro Hoedspruit to Maputo. We can then organise a sightseeing trip through Maputo and even organise the 4×4 trip through the 14. Maputo Special Reserve to Machangulo.This drive is 4 hours and will show you a different part of Mozambique. The most relaxing way to Machangulo though is to take the boat we have organised for you and with a beautiful one hour trip over Maputo Bay we drop you off at the beaches of Machangulo were our staff will be waiting for you!

The Tuli Traveler

This itinerary lends itself perfectly for spectacular short Safari Week but also as part of your extended safari throughout Botswana and / or South Africa. The beautiful ruggedness and wild bushland of the Tuli is unique in Botswana. The private reserve is unfenced, extends from the Zimbabwe border for some 350 kms along the legendary Limpopo River. The itinerary is an exploration of the exclusive concessions of Mashatu and Koro within remote enclaves of the reserve. Explore the Big Cats at Mashatu and follow the leopards and hyenas at Koro!

Game viewing here is rich and varied with a unique take on specially adapted inhabitants such as bat- eared fox and perhaps the most endangered carnivore in Botswana, the elusive brown hyena.

The Tuli is home for the largest elephant population on private land in the world, and leopard, hyena, lions, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu and eland complete the Koro and Mashatu cast of characters who may be encountered. Local birdlife is prolific.
From US $ 3,500 pp.

Download the full itinerary here.

The Three Countries Traveler

Experience Botswana – South Africa – Mozambique in 14 days! Make a spectacular 14 day Safari in the three top Safari destinations in Southern Africa. This trip will give you maximum diversity in terms of animals and landscape whilst you only have two (leisure) travel days in between your destinations. Make walking safaris and game drives in Botswana and South Africa and relax on the pristine beaches of Mozambique, watching the dolphins and whales swim by….Also this itinerary we can amend to your specific wishes; more time in Joburg or on any of the recommended locations is no problem at all. Do you wish to fly instead of drive? Also this we can arrange for you. This is the only safari whereby you have an opportunity to see the biggest land mammals at the same time as the biggest sea mammals! Ideal for couples as well as small groups up to 8 people.

Download the full itinerary here.

DESERT ELEPHANT SAFARI – NAMIBIA

DAMARALAND

6 nights / 7 days

START POINT: Windhoek, Namibia
END POINT: Swakopmund, Namibia

Our highly specialised safari focusses on locating and spending time with the iconic desert elephants of Damaraland. These remarkable animals survive brutal conditions with specifically adapted behaviour and habits, throughout highly dramatic beautiful landscapes. We discover more about their fascinating ecology and conservation challenges from specialists in the field. A thrilling desert expedition awaits!

For the full itinerary click here.

OKAVANGO FOOT SAFARI – BOTSWANA

MOREMI GAME RESERVE, OKAVANGO DELTA

6 nights / 7 days

START POINT: Johannesburg, SA
END POINT: Maun, Botswana

The timeless land of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana is set deep within the Kalahari Desert. Proclaimed as a World Heritage Site, the Okavango is the largest inland delta in the world, and one of the most pristine wilderness areas on the planet. A vast tapestry of waterways, lagoons, floodplains and islands support an astonishing array of game. Our foot safari is a classic walking adventure incorporating a permanent base camp and a mobile fly-camp. Track elephant, lion, buffalo, wild dog and numerous antelope … a stirring experience!

For the full itinerary click here.

ZAKOUMA; BEYOND THE FRONTIER – CHAD

ZAKOUMA NATIONAL PARK

9 nights / 10 days

START POINT & END POINT: N’djamena, Chad

Alan is one of a handful of professional guides who has had the privilege of leading experimental safaris to Zakouma and Ennedi in Chad. Zakouma is a thrilling experience, a totally unexpected surprise with wildlife, not only in abundance, but layers of abundance. For dedicated connoisseurs, an authentic experience in every sense of the word, not to mention a remarkable conservation success story to be told. A safari here, beyond the frontier, will leave you stirred and speechless.

For the full itinerary click here.

ORIGINS SAFARI – BOTSWANA

TULI – MAKGADIKGADI – OKAVANGO

9 nights / 10 days

START POINT: Johannesburg, SA
END POINT: Kasane, Botswana

The safari takes us back in time to discover and explore the fascinating lifestyles of the oldest known culture on the earth – the San Bushmen. Based from a collection of brilliant tented camps and sublime wildlife and wilderness regions we, uncover the mysteries, myths and misconceptions of the first people. Connect with master trackers and naturalists to learn about desert survival, medicine and fire making.

For the full itinerary click here.

ZAMBEZI WORLD HERITAGE SAFARI – ZIMBABWE

VICTORIA FALLS – MANA POOLS – HARARE

9 nights / 10 days

START POINT: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, SA
END POINT: Johannesburg, SA

A unique exploratory safari takes us through two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the legendary Zambezi River, boundary of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The first site is Victoria Falls, a 100m high breathtaking cascading waterfall that defies belief. The second site includes Mana Pools National Park on the lower Zambezi; a sublime game viewing paradise. We journey deeper here with time in a fly-camp at the ultra-remote Chitake spring, a bonanza-magnet for game in the dry season.

For the full itinerary click here.

BEST of BOTSWANA SAFARI

TULI – MAKGADIKGADI – OKAVANGO

9 nights / 10 days

START POINT: Johannesburg, SA
END POINT: Maun, Botswana

The Best of Botswana Safari incorporates a classic exploration of a stirring variety of habitat and geographical regions, ranging from the rugged rolling wild-lands of Tuli in the east, to the semi-desert and unique habitat of alluring Makgadikgadi, to the wondrous wetland of the Okavango Delta.
Small, choice selected, remote and unobtrusive camps ensuring the most productive, meaningful and rewarding wildlife and wilderness encounters.

For the full itinerary click here.

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