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Next generation safari experience at the award winning Limpopo-Lipadi, Botswana

Imagination aside, these destinations have become a reality for millions over the last few decades as advances in accessibility and technology have made visiting these unique locations easier and cheaper, but now, as other African countries such as Botswana open up, what is attracting the next generation of people on safari?

For a couple living in Wimbledon, south west London, the key factors for a successful safari experience are wildlife, conservation, direct involvement and sustainability; and for Gerald (originally from South Africa) and Kathleen Briers this was found at the award winning game and wilderness reserve, Limpopo-Lipadi, in the heart of Botswana.

The Limpopo-Lipadi reserve, located in the Tuli block in eastern Botswana, covers some 32,450 hectares, borders 21km of the banks of the Limpopo River, has a 4.5km long by 300m high mound (Lipadi Hill) with views that span 100km in all directions and has the largest number of free ranging elephants on privately owned land in the world. As well as the beloved elephant the reserve also plays home to leopard, hyena, giraffe, black-mane lion and abundant antelope species, river wildlife and around 400 species of birds.  

Limpopo-Lipadi offers people passionate about the African bush the next generation safari experience by allowing them to buy a slice in the living, breathing corporation. Investors are welcome to purchase one or more shares in the game reserve through which real involvement is gained. Shares are available with an entry level of $195,000.

In addition to the fauna and flora, six low density accommodation camps are being constructed across the reserve for investors and their guests. The four lodges and two tented camps are being built to the highest specifications and utilise locally trained workers as part of the reserve's corporate and social responsibility programs. The camps are designed by internationally acclaimed architects and whether it is a luxury canvassed abode or riverside lodge, the experience will be memorable.

The Briers invested in one share in Limpopo-Lipadi back in October 2007 which concluded a seven year search for an investment opportunity that would mean more to them than just parting with some cash. "We spent a considerable amount of time looking for the best investment that would incorporate all the factors important to us" says Gerald.

"My wife is an avid nature lover and was attracted to the reserve but because we are still relatively young and in the process of building our careers and our financial stability, she was very cautious about making an investment of this nature from our savings," continues Gerald an account manager for Kelway. "I had to persuade her to at least come with me and meet the Limpopo-Lipadi team to get a better understanding of the nature of the investment and the long term plans for the company and the land; it wasn't long before Kathleen was hooked!"

"The Limpopo-Lipadi team have a wealth of experience having successfully completed a project of this nature in the north of Botswana. I had made enquiries into a number of similar investments in South Africa but apart from various risks and rules that didn't appeal to me I also found the teams running them to have a very short term sales focus – working towards a commercial target almost exclusively."

The Briers' search included looking at reserves similar to that of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of the most famous game parks in the world. In fact South Africa in general is known for its vast number of game parks similar to this most celebrated one. Approximately the size of Wales, the Kruger plays host to around half a million visitors a year giving everyday people an experience of the bush that most would never be able to dream of.

"A lot of these parks however have very controlled elements to them" says Alan Marneweck the director and founder of Limpopo-Lipadi. "Half a million visitors verses the 430 shares available at Limpopo-Lipadi highlights the unique low-density model that we offer. The commercial pressures operating on larger reserves such as the Kruger are heightened with guarantees of seeing the majority, if not all, the 'Big Five'; at the Limpopo-Lipadi reserve the animals naturally have some habits but largely it is about tracking them and using those skills to explore the whole land."

Gerald Briers goes onto say "The Limpopo-Lipadi project in Botswana and the associated team has a long term interest in the success of this venture and they have put together what I feel is a very good balance between the commercial necessities of the project and more importantly the long term sustainability of the reserve. It is interesting that after such a long time searching for the right investment the ideal opportunity was right on our doorstep!"

At the reserve's core, investment offers those with a keen interest in the nation, its wildlife and in augmenting the lives of the local people a chance to make a real difference. Kathleen Briers says, "We love the bush; we had been to Botswana before and had fallen in love with the country and people. The wildlife and game ranger courses which will be offered are a very important aspect for us. We wanted a place in the bush away from 'normal' life. I also want to get involved with some of the other projects for example the African Wild Dog programme and a social responsibility programme that will help with children in the local villages affected by HIV/AIDS."

Gerald echoes his wife's comments saying, "I have spent some time with fellow shareholders, and I think most of us have similar reasons for investing but each of us looks for slightly different experiences from the reserve. We will be looking to share the experience with close family, friends and business partners by inviting them to join us from time to time on the reserve and I think this aspect of the investment cannot be underestimated."

In conclusion the Briers both agreed that this wasn't an idea that seemed just good at the time but rather something of significant longevity. Gerald concludes: "This investment is to become an important part of our own safari (Swahili for 'journey') and the lives of future generations. We are excited about the project having an impact on us and feel privileged to have already had a small impact on the work that is going on out there."