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Into the Okavango
Transport - Minibus/safari truck, mokoro canoe, 4WD in Moremi, Chobe and Okavango, on foot.
Accommodation - Hotel (1 night), Lodge (3 nights), chalet (5 night) and tented camp (5 nights) En-suite tents may be used if lodges not available.
Meals - 13 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 5 dinners
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Johannesburg - South Africa
Make your way to your first night’s accommodation and check in. Johannesburg lies at the centre of the Witwatersrand, literally meaning ‘ridge of white waters’. It was on this ridge that the world’s richest gold reef was discovered little more than 100 years ago. Your first day is free to relax, with the option of visiting the fascinating township of Soweto in the afternoon. Shops and restaurants are all within easy reach although you’ll need a taxi after dark. Hotel - 1 night
Please make sure that if you explore Johannesburg on your own that you take advice of where it is safe to walk, especially in the evening. There have been isolated attempts of robbery in recent times and although unpredictable the risk of these can be minimised by taking local advice.
Khama Rhino sanctuary - Botswana
Please meet your tour leader in the hotel reception at 06:30. An early start today as you head north across the rolling high veldt. Passing farming communities and game reserves, you cross the Limpopo River into Botswana (650km approx. 9 hours). Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a reserve situated in the Kalahari sandveld with several natural waterholes providing prime habitat for white rhino, zebra and wildebeest. The reserve is run by a community based wildlife project. It was established in 1992 to assist in saving the rhino from vanishing in Botswana and to restore an area previously teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide benefits to the local Batswana community. After exploring the park, you make your way to your chalet for the night. Chalet, shared facilities - 1 night (LD)
Skirting the northern boundaries of the Central Kalahari Desert and the huge diamond mines at Orapa and Lelfhakane, you arrive in Maun and check into the lodge (575km approx. 8 hours). Maun meaning, "place of short reeds" is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and northern parks of Botswana. After preparing for your journey into the delta tomorrow, the rest of the day is free to relax and settle in. Take a stroll along the riverside bird watching or relax and recover from the journey, next to the swimming pool. Lodge/Chalets - 1 night (BL)
The Okavango Delta, which encompasses most of north-western Botswana, offers a unique wilderness habitat – a freshwater paradise of vegetation and wildlife. Today you journey (approx. 1½ hours) into the heart of this wildlife sanctuary by four wheel-drive vehicle. On reaching your pick-up point, you familiarise yourself with the ‘mokoro’ – the traditional dugout canoe of the delta. Originally cut by hand from a single log, nowadays many are moulded from fibreglass to conserve the precious stock of local hardwoods. Although a mokoro looks anything but stable, in fact it is an extremely safe and reliable craft.
You set off, two people to a mokoro, poled by a skilled Tswana guide who will act as your eyes and ears until you attune to this unfamiliar watery environment. You navigate the maze of creeks and narrow channels, slipping silently through the beds of reed and beautiful papyrus fronds, past islands covered with palm trees. As you travel, you will see numerous birds and may encounter red lechwe (a rare type of antelope) or even elephant browsing in the water. The delta area is populated with hippos but you will journey through shallow waterways to avoid contact. Please advise your guide if you cannot swim. For the next two nights you stay in the delta at a pre-erected tented camp; here you can fully enjoy the seclusion and the sense of escape.
After settling in to camp, you embark on a short walk and learn more about this unique habitat. Tonight you will fall asleep to the sounds of frogs croaking and may hear the distinctive sound of hippos or hyenas ‘laughing’ in the distance. Pre-erected tented camp – 2 nights (BLD)
For the two nights spent in the Okavango Delta you stay in a pre-erected tented camp. The facilities are very basic but you will be provided with a simple bucket bush shower and a toilet tent (of the ‘sand and bury’ variety). All water, equipment and provisions need to be taken with us and all rubbish taken out again. All camping equipment is supplied including sleeping bag and pillow. The tents used are dome tents with built-in insect nets. Mattresses are supplied (about 5cm thick).
Please note: Our local guides are wildlife experts and it is important to pay close attention to their requests in terms of safety. The delta is an exciting place to explore, but it needs to be understood and respected, and following their advice is paramount.
The unique Kavango River flows not into the sea but into the Kalahari Desert. The river was blocked from its original course by a series of geological shifts and flows from its mountain source in Angola to meet the desert. Its waters spill out over the sandy ground to produce a vast aquatic wetland amid vast areas of aridity - a true wonder of the natural world and a unique accident of nature, which occurs nowhere else. The area is rich in bird life and home to abundant wildlife including hippo, warthog and baboons. Depending on the season lion, hyena, elephant, giraffe and buffalo are all prevalent.
The day unfolds with an early awakening to catch the dawn. This is a magical time of day - cool and still, with the merest rustle of breeze - although the cacophony of birdcalls can be almost deafening! During the heat of the day there is a chance to relax in the camp or swim in the beautiful clear waters. Later in the afternoon you continue to explore the vast expanses of this watery environment, spotting an abundance of bird species which include heron, egret, ibis, stork, several species of kingfisher, hornbill and a selection of brightly coloured bee-eaters. Many live here because of the rich diet of fish they are able to find. (BLD)
Moremi Game Reserve
Your final day in the Okavango Delta allows more wildlife viewing by mokoro as you pole back to the pick-up point where you meet the vehicles. By now you’ll have become attuned to the lagoons, palm islands and secret waterways weaving through papyrus and water lilies, and will be able to recognise many of the species that frequent this luxuriant oasis. The Okavango is now regarded as one of the world’s great wildernesses and is certainly a highlight of this fascinating trip. Then you journey onto Moremi Reserve arriving there in the afternoon. Tented bush lodge - 3 nights (BL)
Moremi Game Reserve
The big game aspect of your safari begins as you enter Moremi Game Reserve - one of the finest wilderness areas in Botswana. Proclaimed a wildlife reserve by the Batswana people in 1963, it was the first wildlife sanctuary to be created by an African tribe in their own area, and as such it is unique. The act was described at the time as a shining mark in African tribal history. It is a rich and fascinating area, which is an intricate part of the Delta, comprising of permanently swamped areas, lily-covered wetlands, seasonally swamped area and also dry land. You drive for about 2 hours to the wildlife concession area bordering the Moremi Reserve, and then take a game drive en route to your lodge. During the entire two days spent in Moremi Game Reserve you will be travelling by open 4WD game viewing vehicle. En route you search for giraffe, hyena, kudu, elephant, hippo, crocodile, buffalo, lion and leopard. At sunset there is plenty of time to relax and absorb the sounds and beauty of this region. (BLD)
Moremi Game Reserve
Rising early you continue your game viewing by 4WD. Bird life is excellent both in the Delta and the dry land sections with over 500 species being recorded. You may see kingfishers, fish eagles, Pel’s fishing owl is extremely rare and difficult to see, you may also spot bee-eaters and stork. During the dry season a congregation of all species along permanent rivers makes Moremi Game Reserve one of the most unforgettable experiences in Africa whilst the Giant Mopane trees form a canopy woodland to protect many more species. At the end of the day you return to the lodge. (BLD)
You have one last opportunity to look for game in Moremi this morning. Hopefully you will see everything that you haven’t seen so far!! After lunch you return to Maun for your final night in the Delta region. The rest of the day is free for you to either relax or look around Maun and its immediate vicinity. Lodge/Chalets – 1 night (BL)
Boarding your vehicle you drive (300km/3 ½ hours) to the shimmering saltpans of Makgadikgadi. Botswana’s great salt pans cover more than 12,000 square kilometres. These pans formed by the continuous evaporation of a huge lake that once covered between 60 and 80 thousand sq.km. Tectonic movement has caused the water to flow in a different direction creating this massive flat expanse of land that is barren and otherworldly. Heat mirages are common on this type of landscape and although there is little game here you find yourself just gazing into the distance revelling in the feeling of total isolation. The salty alkaline lakes that form on the pan are a favourite of the flamingo as filmed in ‘March of the Flamebirds’ - one of the classic wildlife films (please note flamingos are not always present at the soda lakes). We overnight at a lodge a short distance from the Salt Pans.
Leaving the Makgadikgadi Pans behind, you head north on the highway towards Kasane and the Chobe National Park. The road takes you through wild bush and there may be a chance of seeing ostrich and impala. The land use changes to arable farmland with Maize and Sorghum being the main crops. The region around Mpandametenga, virtually the only settlement along this highway, is one of the major crop producing regions in the whole of Botswana. As you near Kasane, the landscape becomes progressively more wooded until you are driving through forest. There is a good chance of seeing elephant on the side of the road. You arrive mid-afternoon with the rest of the day free to relax (journey time 4 hours/320km). Lodge – 2 nights (BL)
The reserve is a paradise for a medley of African birds and common sightings include jacanas, skimmers and the beautiful carmine bee-eater. The principal aim of your morning drive is to spot some of the park’s big cats and there are viewing sites en route to enjoy the early morning sunshine. You return to the lodge for the middle part of the day then in the late afternoon, you explore more of this wildlife paradise by boat. Afternoons are the favoured time for elephant herds to make their way to the river, and Chobe’s population is legendary. In the river launch you are able to approach hippo, crocodiles, buffalo and hopefully elephant for excellent viewing – arguably one of the best wildlife activities in Southern Africa. (BL)
Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe
Today you drive (approx. 2 hours plus possible delay at the border) and to your lodge at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This afternoon you visit one of the most awesome sights in the world, "Mosi-oa-Tunya" – Smoke That Thunders (the name given to the Victoria Falls by the Makololo people). The waterfalls are without doubt one of the greatest and most unforgettable scenic spectacles in Africa. It’s hot and humid here, and standing in the rainforest which thrives in the spray from the falls, you can feel the immense power generated as the Zambezi River drops a hundred metres causing the ground to vibrate under your feet. Lodge – 2 nights (B)
Today is free for optional excursions. For the daring, Victoria Falls is the adrenaline sports Mecca of Africa and there is a wide choice of high adventure activities to choose from such as white water rafting (minimum 18 years old), helicopter rides, and canoeing (minimum 12). For the less adventurous, activities include a gentle river cruise, bush walking, elephant-back safaris and game drives. If you want to escape it all, why not simply relax and wander along the paths through the spray-generated rainforests that flank the gorge. (B)
After breakfast you have time for a final optional activity such as the “flight of angels” over the falls or a visit to the curio market before the trip ends for Land Only clients. (B)
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Find a trip which does not drive from Johannesburg to Maun. Fly there. Find a trip with comfortable travel arrangements - not a horrendously cramped minibus. Otherwise, this trip is great.