The launch, which took place on the banks of the Chobe River at Chobe Game Lodge, marked the dawn of a new era for ecotourism in Botswana and Africa. Over 150 people gathered to witness the occasion as the first electric game-drive vehicle and electric safari boat moved silently towards the crowd driven by guides Connie Yazema Mbaeva and Lebo Kgoleng – part of the 14 strong all-female guiding team.
Eight years ago the management team at Chobe Game Lodge embarked on a journey to be the first lodge in Africa to operate an entirely electric safari fleet. Freedom Won SA were approached and soon work began on Freedom3 (a converted Land Rover and the first silent electric game-drive vehicle in Botswana) and Freedom4 (a new brand new silent electric safari skimmer boat).
The electricity that charges the long-life lithium batteries to power the fleet comes from the hydro-electric scheme at Victoria Falls and is thus fully-renewable energy. Not only are they CO2 emission free but the experience of a silent safari is a superior experience. The wildlife is more relaxed without a rumbling diesel motor and guests appreciated hearing only a gentle breeze and the sound of the African bush while moving through the Chobe National Park.
CEO of Chobe Holdings ltd. Mr. Jonathan Gibson called on the industry to consider converting to electric power. The long-term vision is that not only more electric vehicles will be in operation by other safari operators in Botswana, but that it will become the only allowable form of propulsion allowed on the Chobe River.