Botswana Wildlife Safari
|Botswana Wildlife Safari
|Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia
A trip through Botswana’s remote wilderness to track Africa’s greatest animals, stay on a houseboat on the delta, sleep under canvas in the bush and visit the Smoke that Thunders – Victoria Falls.
Game Viewing – Explore Botswana’s finest game reserves during seven days of safari
Day 1 Join Tour in Maun
Arrive in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Flowing from the Angolan highlands over 1,000km away, the waters can take over 6 months to make their way to the inland delta before draining into the Kalahari Desert.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 2.30pm for the welcome meeting. Your leader will not be with you this evening but they will be on hand in the afternoon to give advice for dinner plans and to assist with any arrangements.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into Maun Airport (MUB), which is around a 15 minute drive from our accommodation. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take a stroll around the town, where modern buildings and native huts stand side-by-side. Originally a rural village, it has rapidly developed into Botswana’s ‘tourism capital’. However, the town has managed to retain much of its rural atmosphere and you may well see tribesmen bringing their cattle to sell at the market.
Day 2 Drive to Okavango PanHandle houseboat
An early start this morning to get on the road for a long drive to the west side of the Okavango Delta Panhandle, where we will board the houseboat, our home for the next three nights, in time for lunch. During this trip we will travel in customised, open-sided land-cruisers. The vehicles are perfect for the game viewing opportunities but can be a bit brisk and windy during the longer travel days, so ensure you bring some layers for travel days, and your Explore leader will provide blankets to make the journeys as comfortable as possible. The roads through Botswana can vary in quality, so travel days can be slow and bumpy but the scenery more than makes up for this.
Once aboard the houseboat, the accommodation is very comfortable, with eight bedrooms with en-suite facilities. Each room has glass doors sliding open on to the wilderness of the remote panhandle area, while on the deck above are seating areas from which to enjoy the sunsets and listen to the birds. Due to seasonal variations in the level and strength of the river, the houseboat itself remains securely moored for much of the year, whilst we explore the river on smaller launches. However, the amount of water that falls in the catchment area can be highly variable and occasionally, conditions may allow the houseboat itself to cruise in the Delta.
The next couple of days are spent enjoying this spectacular setting. During our time on the river, there is a good possibility of seeing a variety of game. On our launch, we may cruise past submerging pods of hippos, while crocodiles bask in the shallows and on the riverbanks. While drifting along, it is not hard to imagine yourself as David Livingstone, exploring Africa all those years ago.
Day 3 Optional boat trips to search for the plentiful wildlife; sundowners
During our second day aboard the houseboat, our itinerary is flexible. A typical day involves one or two trips out on the launch to take in the wildlife and visit the surrounding area. Back on board, there are plenty of opportunities for bird watching. Local fishermen are often seen aboard their traditional dugout canoes, known locally as Mokoros. The golden light of late afternoon can also be enjoyed with a traditional sundowner in the houseboat’s bar. As this is a day at leisure you can choose how much or how little you do today.
Day 4 Visit to Tsodilo Hills; home to thousands of bushman rock paintings
Today, we’ll visit the intriguing and sacred World Heritage Site of the Tsodilo Hills. The San Bushmen community believe the hills are the site of the first creation and painted an astonishing 4000 rock paintings across 350 sites marking the area’s significance. Here, four impressive rocks jut out of the expanse of the surrounding land, and it is believed by the San Bushmen that the largest of the rocks is the ‘man’, the second largest the ‘woman’, and the smallest the ‘child’. The fourth rock, which stands apart from the others, is said to be the male’s first wife. Some of the paintings are thought to be over 20,000 years old, and as well as the chance to see ancient rock paintings, the hills offer vast views across the countryside below. We’ll spend around two hours exploring the area along the walking trails, as well as stopping for a picnic lunch before returning to the houseboat for a relaxing evening.
Day 5 Drive through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip to Livingstone
This morning will be a very early start to ensure enough daylight hours for the long journey to Livingstone. Today’s total journey time is approximately nine hours depending on time spent at the border crossings, and will of course include comfort breaks and a lunch break.
The drive takes us through north to Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, before heading to Livingstone in Zambia. The Caprivi Region has a colourful and interesting history, playing a central part in the Berlin Conference of 1890. Named after German Chancellor General Count Georg Leo von Caprivi di Caprara di Montecuccoli, the strip was once administered by the British before it was swapped for Zanzibar with the Germans at a time of great European political manoeuvring.
A late afternoon arrival to Livingstone provides just enough time for a refreshing sundowner at our lodge accommodation overlooking the Zambezi River.
Day 6 Tour of Victoria Falls, free time in the afternoon
Often referred to as the adventure capital of Zambia, Livingstone is most famous as being home to one of the natural wonders of the world – Victoria Falls.
This morning we’ll visit the falls from the Zambian side of the river where the Zambezi River plummets over a sheer cliff wall spanning more than 1676 meters and dropping approximately 100 metres into the abyss below. The natives named the waterfall, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’ because of the plumes of water vapour that rise like smoke into the sky above the falls, accompanied by the deafening roar.
This afternoon is free to relax, or you may choose to book a two hour game drive in the Mosi-oa- Tunya National Park in search of white rhino. Alternatively, there is the option to take a scenic flight over the falls or go white water rafting in the Zambezi.
Day 7 Game Viewing in Chobe National Park
Today, we cross the border once again when we take a ferry over the Zambezi River back into Botswana, where we will make our way into the Chobe National Park. Famed for its beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and magnificent golden sunsets, Chobe is the heart of elephant country and is home to approximately 120,000 of the giant creatures. After a stop for supplies and lunch, we will head out on an afternoon game drive.
Although simple in style, our camping spot for tonight allows us to fully appreciate the wild setting. To the high demand in Botswana, all campsites for the next seven nights are booked two years in advance to ensure that we get the best positions in some truly spectacular spots.
Day 8 Full day of safari in Chobe
We’ll maximise our time today to ensure we make the most of game drive opportunities. We’ll head out in the morning and again in the afternoon, for the chance to spot huge trumpeting herds of elephants in and around the river. Other mammals to be seen are buffalo, kudu, eland, waterbuck, sable and roan antelope, zebra, lion, cheetah, leopard, impala, reedbuck and the rare Chobe bushbuck. In the river are hippo and crocodile and the waters teem with bream, barbel and tiger fish (freshwater barracuda). The Explore leader will decide on the exact running times of the day, and lunch arrangements, depending on the weather conditions and the season to ensure the best viewing.
Day 9 Game drives in the Savuti area
Today as we will travel south, we’ll explore the interior area of Savuti with its sweeping plains, rolling grasslands and marshes which are fed by the erratic Savuti Channel. The channel ran dry in 1982, changing the lives of all wildlife on the plains as the ground baked in the African sun, and remained dry for over 20 years until 2008 when the water once again began to flow attracting animals back in high numbers. We’ll have time to watch the herds that live in and around this area including lions, elephants and possibly the leopard, plus an abundance of bird species including the bee-eater and kori bustards.
Day 10 Drive to Moremi Game Reserve
Leaving our Savuti camp, we continue over dirt roads into Moremi Game Reserve – one of Botswana’s most diverse reserves in terms of scenery and wildlife. Tucked into the north-eastern section of the Okavango Delta, Moremi is thought to be the country’s most beautiful game land, and is rated as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries. This vast area is a mix of permanent swamps, islands, forests and dry land; an ornithologist’s paradise. Birdlife and larger mammals can often be spotted on the flood plain, including elephant, giraffe, zebra and ostrich, as well as predators like lion, leopard and wild dog.
For the next two nights we will be camping in the northern Khwai River area where the waters feed an abundance of flora and fauna, including the frequently-visiting wild dog. Hippos are often heard by night too!
Day 11 Wildlife viewing in Moremi Game Reserve
Over the next couple of days, early mornings and late afternoons are devoted to game viewing. Here in the Okavango, silence reigns, broken only by the roar of a lion or the harsh cry of a fish eagle.
Day 12 Drive to Xakanaxa in the Okavango Delta
The mighty Okavango is the third largest river in southern Africa. The delta area covers 16,000 square kilometres and is made up of crystal clear channels, countless fleeting lakes and ever-changing islands. The waters flows down in a south-easterly direction from the Angolan highlands, over 1000 kilometres away, taking up to six months to reach the delta area which floods on a perennial annual cycle.
Remaining in the Moremi Game Reserve, today we drive further into the Delta area to our camp at Xakanaxa, where we will spend the next two nights. This exceptional geography and topography attracts amazing wildlife to the waterways and we’ll begin game viewing on our arrival.
Day 13 In Xakanaxa area of Moremi Game Reserve
Today, we intend to spend the whole day in this unspoilt wonderland. Hippo, crocodile and red lechwe are easy to spot. Bird lovers can look out for fish eagle, jacana, kingfisher, heron, stork, egret, weaver and bee-eater; just some of the magnificent species found here.
Day 14 Drive to Maun; take a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta
After an early morning game drive, we continue eastwards enjoying the vastness of the surrounding lands, until we reach Maun at lunchtime.
This afternoon, there may be the opportunity of an optional game flight over the Okavango Delta depending on the weather conditions.
Day 15 Trip ends in Maun
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Maun.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Maun at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Maun Airport (MUB), which is about 15 minutes’ drive.