Summary : A Botswana safari offers an experience of Africa as it used to be. Far from tourist crowds, find the wonders that drew adventurers to the continent decades ago. Vast herds of elephants still roam the acacia-studded savanna. Antelope, giraffe and buffalo thrive in the wetlands of the Okavango Delta and at watering holes that sustain life on the dry plains. Lions laze beneath mopane trees, an icon of genuine wilderness that's vanishing all too quickly in the contemporary world. Intimate tented safari camps offer luxuries reminiscent of a nostalgic era in the African bush. You'll find it all here still, in secluded Botswana.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
Your Botswana trip begins on arrival in Livingstone, where a representative greets you and accompanies you to The River Club, overlooking the Zambezi River, 12 miles upstream from Victoria Falls. The tranquil lodge, replete with Edwardian ambiance, is set among lush vegetation, and hippos often entertain visitors on the banks. Enjoy a classic sunset cruise before joining your Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner.
The following day, explore Victoria Falls—the world’s most astounding cataract—on a guided tour. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the rim of the gorge, with a network of walkways that offer varying viewpoints over the falls that span more than a mile. A wildlife drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park offers your first taste of the diversity of species that you may see during your safari, including the only chance to see a white rhinoceros. The name of the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, means “The Smoke That Thunders” in the local language, a reference to the nearby falls.
The River Club
By road and ferry, journey to Botswana’s Chobe National Park, known for its vast elephant herds—a population that exceeds 70,000. On a cruise down the Chobe River, guests sometimes see 500 elephants in a single day. Water birds abound, including herons and storks, as well as hippos and crocodiles. This afternoon, fly to the private reserve of Linyanti, dramatic big-game country. Its tree-dotted plains are home to lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs, as well as tremendous elephant herds. Encounter wildlife in amazing proximity on game drives and guided walks, safety permitting, along the Linyanti River. In the evenings, relax at your private camp, well-appointed tented accommodations evocative of an earlier era of safari travel. Through the thorny acacia branches, see more stars than ever dreamed of, scattered across an impossibly black sky.
Linyanti Tented Camp
This morning, fly by light aircraft to Gomoti Tented Camp in the heart of the Santawani Concession, a private reserve encompassing nearly 15,000 acres in the southeast corner of the Okavango Delta. The earth’s largest inland water system, the delta’s headwaters lie in Angola’s western highlands, joining with other rivers in Namibia and Botswana to meet the Kalahari Desert, where a green oasis sprawls amid the sands and dry savanna. With its vast network of channels and wetlands, the Okavango is home to a profuse collection of wildlife and vegetation.
While some areas of the delta are permanently flooded, other habitats create a mosaic of varied landscapes, including drier regions like the area that surrounds your camp. A mix of dense riverine woodland, open savanna and acacia scrub provide ample food for a large array of browsers and grazing species, as well as predators including cheetah, leopard, lion and rare wild dog. The Gomoti River is a year-round lifeline for animals, while inland water holes also sustain them during the dry season. The diverse range of habitats makes the Gomoti region ideal for all-day excursions including traditional 4x4 game drives, picnic lunches and night drives in search of nocturnal species.
Gomoti Tented Camp
Leaving dry land behind, transfer by light aircraft to a very different section of the Okavango Delta. Pelo Camp is located in the Okavango’s watery heart, a maze of canals and lagoons that sustains a profusion of wildlife. Explore the constantly shifting marsh by mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, offering a chance to observe wildlife at eye level in complete quiet. Islands and wetlands among the channels are home to many rare birds; you may see wattled cranes, Pel’s fishing owls, jacanas, rails, crakes and moorhens. You may also spy water-adapted antelope such as red lechwe browsing in the grasses.
Depending on water levels, travel by boat or 4x4 safari vehicle to Little Tubu or Tubu Tree, adjoining sister camps located on the edge of Botswana’s famed Moremi Game Reserve. Use one of the two camps as your base, enjoying meals together there, though your group may be accommodated in rooms at both camps. The camps sit on Hunda Island, the largest area of permanently dry land in this region of the Okavango Delta, surrounded by grasslands that attract many species of plains animals. A range of diverse habitats from dry Kalahari sandveld to mopane and riverine forest on the edge of the permanent waterways ensures spectacular wildlife viewing. Activities focus on drives in open 4x4 vehicles in search of elephant, lion, Burchell's zebra, red lechwe, southern giraffe, tsessebe, and blue wildebeest on the sprawling floodplains. In forested areas, look out for kudu, impala, and bushbuck. And, of course, hope to see the predators that track them, including lion and leopard. Night drives reveal nocturnal species such as civet cat and caracal, and large predators that hunt at night.
Tubu Tree Camp
Your Botswana adventure comes to an end when you depart by air for Maun to connect with flights home.
Itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Classic-Plus Itinerary: (4/30/2016, 5/31/2016, 7/27/2016, 10/1/2016, 10/16/2016)
Select departure dates offer an added level of luxury, with stays at alternate camps. On these departures, the itinerary varies slightly, offering guests a further level of safari luxury. The itinerary includes stays at Toka Leya Camp (Victoria Falls, Zambia), Savuti Camp (Linyanti, Botswana), Jacana Camp (Okavango Delta, Botswana), Tubu Tree Camp (Hunda Island, Okavango) and Chitabe Lediba Camp (southeast Okavango).
Getting There & Getting Home:
You must arrive in Livingstone, Zambia by 1pm on Day 1 and can depart Maun, Botswana after 1:30pm on the final day. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm schedule before purchasing air tickets.
Physical Requirements: The walking activities are usually short and optional. It is recommended that travelers who participate in these programs be of an adventurous spirit, as you will often enjoy the very closest of animal encounters and safari vehicles can sometimes offer a bumpy ride.
Green Season Departures (May departures): On May departures the verdant grasslands that have resulted from the November through March rains create a relatively safe environment for mothers to bear their young. During this time game viewing and photography is wonderful as you can view Africa's baby creatures with the lush landscape providing a spectacular backdrop.
Internal scheduled light aircraft flights; accommodations; all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on final day; non-alcoholic drinks at camps and in vehicles; house alcoholic beverages in camps; services of Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff; some gratuities; airport transfers on Day 1 and final day; permits and entrance fees, and taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip; premium alcoholic beverages; some gratuities; passport and visa fees; optional activities; items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.); airline baggage fees; airport and departure taxes; optional travel insurance, and required medical evacuation insurance.
PHOTOS: © Mark Hickey, NHA