How Under African Skies Started

Under African Skies is the brainchild of Brad and PJ Bestelink who have both called the Okavango home for decades. In 1980 PJ founded one of the first ever camps in the Okavango Delta: Nxamaseri Island Lodge. For months he searched for the perfect spot to build his home and photographic safari camp, and eventually settled on an island in the Nxamaseri Channel for its serenity and beauty. In doing so he pioneered fly fishing in Botswana which has subsequently, for decades, enchanted premier fishermen from all over the world. With an ever curious mind and a heart for adventure, he and his wife Barney, then decided to launch the first ever horse safari in southern Africa which they did on a private concession on the western side of the Delta.

Brad, PJ’s son, was born and raised in the Okavango and from as early as he could remember he would spend hours studying animal behavior. Fascinated with the African bushveld he spent every possible second that he could immersed in the bush, marveling at God’s perfect masterpiece. On completion of high school, Brad moved straight to the bush and never left. For a decade he spent every waking minute with the globally renown Dereck and Beverly Joubert, learning everything he could about camera work and capturing wildlife documentaries. He learnt so much from this remarkable couple and knew it was time for him to start his own film company and reach even more people with wildlife documentaries captured in his home territory, the Okavango. And so Natural History Film Unit was born.

The core motivation of Brad and PJ has always been to make people fall in love with conservation. Eco-tourism is the only sustainable model that works: protecting crucial wilderness areas and uplifting the rural populations skirted around these areas and who call it home. Both gentleman have had remarkable success in their respective fields having won hundreds of awards too numerous to mention over the years. Both are internationally recognized as African Game Changers who have made a monumental impact on African wildlife.

Concerned that lodges were becoming more and more high end, they decided it was time to combine their resources and expand their impact by building a handful of lodges focused on delivering authentic African experiences at an affordable-luxury price point. Enter Under African Skies. The target launch date of July 2020 was pushed out due to the global Co-Vid crisis but the committed teams kept up the pace of delivery to welcome guests as soon as the world could come out of hibernation and travel again.

With every crisis comes the opportunity to reflect and learn from our mistakes. The source of the Corona Disease was the wet markets. It is our hope that the world has seen what can happen when animals are handled cruelly. The global trade of wildlife and its by-products must be banned forever or humanity will pay the ultimate price: our extinction. Wildlife is a gift to humans. It elevates our souls and gives us meaning. It must be treated as such. Now and for generations to come.

We would like to welcome the world to Botswana, to restore their hope in humanity and to invigorate their souls at one of the extraordinary camps at Under African Skies, whilst marveling and appreciating our wildlife like never before. We can’t wait to see you and your loved ones in the Okavango, Botswana.