Perhaps Botswana’s oldest safari operator, Ker & Downey Botswana has an excellent footprint of camps throughout northern Botswana and with its specialist products such as Young Explorers, for children, and Footsteps Across the Delta and excellent guides offer an excellent product for discerning visitors.
Ker & Downey Botswana genesis lies in the safari business established by Donald Ker and Syd Downey, two well established east African professional hunters, Kenya after the Second World War. This company was to become one of Africa’s foremost safari outfitters. They were joined six years later by Harry Selby, the renowned professional hunter later made famous in the safari novels by the American author Robert Ruark. The company expanded its operations into Botswana and with Ker Downey & Selby Botswana.
The Bechuanaland (Botswana) government had granted concession areas to the first safari companies, in order for them to conduct safaris on a grand scale in keeping with those in East Africa. Subsequently Ker Downey & Selby Botswana was combined with Safari South in 1978 and became the largest safari company in Botswana, and included in its list of servants the legendary hunters Lionel Palmer, John Kingsley-Heath, Harry Selby, Dougie Wright, Tony Henley, Wally Johnson Snr. and Jnr. and John Dugmore.
Ker Downey & Selby Botswana established the first photographic safari camp in Botswana – Khwai River Lodge in 1968. At the time of the purchase by Safari South the company was operating three lodges – Khwai River Lodge, Xugana Lodge and Savuti South. The photographic operation was marketed under the name Ker Downey & Selby Botswana, while hunting safaris continued to be operated by Safari South. By 1985, Ker Downey & Selby was operating photographic safaris within Safari South’s hunting concessions at Shinde, Mombo and Machaba camps. It was around this time that the Mombo concession was relinquished and the well-known Pom Pom camp was established. In 1990 Ker Downey & Selby, in partnership with Randall J. Moore created Elephant Back Safaris, and operated the highly successful Abu’s Camp within the Ker Downey & Selby concession.
In 1993, Harry Selby resigned as a director of Ker Downey & Selby, and the name ‘Selby’ was dropped, becoming Ker & Downey Botswana, to correspond with operations in Tanzania and Nepal. Within Botswana the company saw the inclusion of Xudum Camp in its already illustrious portfolio.
1994 saw huge changes in government policy regarding land use and concession size. The original large hunting concessions were divided and the new areas made available for tenders from the private sector, with an emphasis upon photographic safaris. As a result of these new policy changes, Safari South sold its entire photographic operation, and the 1996 season saw Ker & Downey Botswana operating independently, with its air charter and aircraft maintenance companies, Northern Air and Northern Air Maintenance.
The 1997 season saw the securing of Shinde lease and the inclusion of Kwara Camp in the portfolio, joining the ever-popular Pom Pom and Machaba camps. 1998 saw the creation of Hemingway’s Africa (later renamed Footsteps Across the Delta), a walking and mekoro safari operating in the Shinde concession. This safari provides a unique chance to experience the taste of the original east African safari, which the company had brought to Botswana over thirty years before.
Another expansive season followed, with the acquisition of Gorges Lodge outside of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and of Camp Okuti in the Xakanaxa region of the Moremi Game Reserve. Shortly afterwards, in 2000, a new camp was introduced to the portfolio, Kanana Camp situated in the south- western Okavango Delta, on the Xudum River.
Today the company continues to change and develop, always offering our visitors the very best safari, drawing from 45 years of operational experience in Botswana. Presently the Ker & Downey Botswana portfolio includes Shinde, Kanana Camp, Camp Okuti, Footsteps Across the Delta, covering an incredibly broad range of habitats within the Delta. Each camp is entirely unique and individually or combined will ensure visitors have the safari of a lifetime, each and every time they visit.