How does it work?
How are you supporting the Catholic Mission,
how are you helping us by coming on safari to Botswana?
"Catholic Safaris" is not a business name but a self-reliance project name.
"Bona Safari Services" is a tour operating agency allowed to do marketing, arranging tours and booking for the visitors to Botswana.
"Birding Botswana" is a mobile safari operation allowed to take tourists on mobile safaris.
As a marketing agency we can forward our clients to various safari operators, actually taking the visitors to the bush, providing all necessary equipment, transport, accommodation and food. We look for the best possible options according to your budget, wishes, standards, interests and available options. For each visitor we forward to a safari operator we receive a substantial commission of 10-15%, depending on the company and circumstances.
In other words 10-15% of your costs goes directly to support the Catholic Mission in Botswana. This does not mean that you are paying 10-15% more than normal price; no, this commission is part of a standard pricing policy of the tourism industry in Botswana, and if you don't book with us this comission will go into a private account of some other safari operator, often based outside Africa.
Sometimes the booking with us will mean the marketing stage during which we forward you to a safari operator who will then finalise the proper booking with you directly. All the payment arrangements in this case will be done between you and the actual safari operator.
Please, keep us informed about you final booking so that we can claim our commission.
Our job will be to advise you on all aspects of your trip in Botswana - destinations, facilities, travel, best available safari operators, guides, find options, propose itineraries etc.
We cooperate closely with several mobile safari operators (especially those run by the local Catholics) to cater for other possible options: providing our Catholic (or proven friends) guides and assistants on safari trips.
Tailor made safaris are possible and offer the possibility to include some religious, spiritual, Catholic or intellectual content. Both, mobile and lodge safaris, can be tailored to you expectations, needs, interests and available funds.
If you are a birder, you may go on a mobile birding safari with our "Birding Botswana" operation. Most of the time we will cooperate with other safari operators because of the equipment and facilities they can provide.
Because we are just starting the project we lack our own equipment like 4x4 cars and many other things necessary to negotiate the immense wilderness of Botswana. But Richard Randall (the co-director of the project), who is considered by many the best birding guide in Southern Africa, is always ready to be part of a birding expedition, or a safari venture.
If the Catholic Safaris project works well, we hope to acquire our own equipment in the future and operate independently, which would mean greater support for the mission.
Integrity of creation experience
Botswana has some of the best preserved natural ecosystems in the world. It offers a unique opportunity to see the wonderful intelligent design of nature where every organism, small or big has its place, is important, necessary for the well-being of the rest. The balance is very delicate and the connections sometimes not obvious. Human interference is most of the time destructive and often irreversible. We, the whole of humanity, have been given the responsibility and privilege to be stewards of creation. The sad thing is that we might be one of the last generations to see these wonders of God's creation as they were for millennia.
We propose a safari which is interested in everything, every small detail, every creature, plant or feature that make the whole. So often people come with the desire to see big things on safari (lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes ...) and in the end they miss the whole incredible spectacle of life in the bush. Most of the time those who don't look for lions see them anyway, and some who look for them leave frustrated.
Our guide, Richard Randall, is the best person to show you this bigger picture of the bush, and combined with moments of prayer and reflection this experience will become something very special.
Practically it is a safari but with different attitude and outlook, and in the context of our faith.
Recollections in the African wilderness
It is not an academic programme. It is rather a desert or wilderness retreat & rest time, similar to the Kalahari Desert spiritual experience above, but much longer. We propose modules of 21, 28 or 40 days (or longer on request). Everything could be organised with a safari operator or as a self-contained private venture.
Because of the nature of this option it must be very well prepared ahead of time of arrival. We go to very remote and wild places, many things must be carefully considered and organized to provide safe and a life-time or even life-changing spiritual experience.
It is also possible to come just for resting in quiet and natural environment.
We identified some interesting wild desert places for the future possible sabbatical camps. The most spectacular are the sites in the Makgadikgadi area - the largest salt pans in the world - part of the great Kalahari Desert. Sometimes during the rainy season the pans fill with water and create an immense lakes with hundreds of island and thousands of flamingoes feeding in the salty water. Few months later the water dries up and the pans become one of the most inhospitable places on our planet. But even then they remain incredibly spectacular.
Those interested are invited to discuss with us all the aspects of this experience and tailor together a quality time. We have some ready proposals and several surprises as well for you.
It is also possible to arrange a prolonged stay in wildlife rich areas of the Northern parts of Botswana, but this could be much more expensive, since most of those places are designated as nature reserves, national parks or private concessions with entry and camping fees.
Safari as religious experience
We choose carefully safari operators and guides who are interested and prepared to provide this kind of experience. We go on safari to wildlife rich areas in the North of Botswana. As we travel and ponder we have moments of prayer, meditation and reflection. We allow nature to tell as a story of creation, of Creator, of beauty and purpose, of priorities in life, and we listen to the amazing sounds of the bush, the most beautiful psalm.
Kalahari Desert spiritual experience
Again, we choose carefully a safari operator and organise facilitators - sometimes religious sisters, brothers and priests, as well as qualified lay people.
The desert is vast, immense and quiet. And silence is one of the most powerful experiences - for some almost unbearable, threatening ... - because silence speaks, our heart speaks, our soul speaks and most importantly in silence God speaks! There is so little silence in the modern world, so little time to listen and to hear things that are of great importance in our life. All that in the context of the harsh and beautiful desert. In the Gospel we read so often of Jesus going to such places to pray, rest, to be by himself. Depending on you and available options we can prepare different levels of spiritual experience that could include scripture meditation, Lectio Divina, nature meditation. Far from New Age confusion, we are rather offering a solid traditional Catholic approach and theology based on the Gospel and wonderful (almost forgotten) tradition of so called Desert Fathers, and also some modern African Theologians.
You can go there just for few days (minimum 3 nights) or couple of weeks. It is hot there (except winter months), very simple and basic camping facilities, simple food, no electricity, no water (except taken in tanks), no TV, no phone (only emergency radio), no mobile phone working, no Internet and e-mail, far away from civilization, towns and other humans.
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Life in the African village, experience of African life
It is a very special opportunity to experience life from a different perspective, an African life as it is in reality. You will never see your life the same way after that. We can arrange for you to stay with an African family, a Catholic family on the mission frontier. It is a difficult and harsh but at the same time wonderful experience. Often our people are poor and struggling but they have so much to share, and we have so much to learn from them ...
Both experiences (sabbatical in the wilderness and in the village) can be combined during your visit to Botswana, or you can take only one of them.
(limited number of participants and times in a year; minimum 4 peole in a booking group!