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In the wilds of Botswana, you’ll find the wonders that drew adventurers to the African continent over a century ago. Vast elephant herds still roam the acacia-studded savanna. Hippos and crocodiles crowd the Chobe River’s marshy channels. Antelope, giraffe, buffalo and zebra thrive in the Okavango Delta wetlands and at watering holes that sustain life on the dry plains. Lions laze beneath mopane trees while leopards sprawl in branches above, icons of genuine wilderness that is vanishing all too quickly. Intimate tented safari camps are reminiscent of a nostalgic era in the African bush, yet replete with modern-day luxuries that ensure your comfort even in some of the planet’s most remote wild places. If you’re searching for the classic romance of Africa, it’s still here in secluded Botswana—and it’s ripe to exceed every wildlife photographer’s wildest dreams!
Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, Livingstone, Zambia
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Botswana holds some of the last true wilderness in Africa, teeming with wildlife that thrives within a mosaic of healthy ecosystems. An exclusive safari destination like Botswana—a dream trip for most travelers—is one to do right. And we do. We’ve spent years honing this hallmark trip to ensure that our itinerary and accommodations offer a truly exclusive experience of this duly famous African wildlife destination. While some host larger groups that stay in busy national parks or on the fringe of wildlife concentrations, we deliver a remote nature experience focused on close-up wildlife sightings in an intimate context.
Our Botswana trip begins just over the border in Livingstone, Zambia, where you’re met on arrival and transferred to Toka Leya to spend the night. This luxury camp sits in a prime location overlooking the mighty Zambezi River upriver from Victoria Falls, surrounded by Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s name means “The Smoke that Thunders,” and it’s an apt moniker, as we see mist clouds rising off the falls from miles away. We’ll enjoy a classic sunset cruise before joining our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner. An overnight stay follows.
(Overnight at Toka Leya)
Our day begins with a visit to Victoria Falls, the world’s most astounding cataract, on a guided walking tour. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the gorge rim, and a network of walkways offers varying viewpoints over falls that span more than a mile. Then, it’s off to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park where a wildlife drive offers our first sampler of the species diversity we may see during our safari. Our park adventure also includes our best chance to see a white rhinoceros. Accompanied by a local guide and park rangers tasked with guarding the park’s rhinos around the clock, we trek on foot, learning how to read signs of the rhinos’ presence and track their movements. With no predators in the park, we can also walk safely in search of zebra, giraffe, warthog, various antelope species, and other smaller mammals and birds. Elephants regularly cross the river, too, and we frequently see them wandering throughout the park. Later this afternoon we’ll visit a nearby village to learn about the traditions and daily life of the local people. Come back for an overnight stay.
(Overnight at Toka Leya)
Traveling by road and ferry post breakfast, we cross the Chobe River into Botswana’s Chobe National Park, famed for its vast elephant herds—a population that exceeds 70,000. On a private boat cruise down the river and its myriad channels, we sometimes see several hundred elephants in a single day. Waterbirds abound, including herons and storks, and hippos and crocodiles are on view along the muddy banks. Keep an eye out for egrets perched on the backs of elephants cooling off in the water. Thrilled, come back to the hotel by night and call it a day.
(Overnight at Chobe National Park)
This afternoon, we fly to the private Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, some of Africa’s most dramatic big-game country. Its tree-dotted plains are home to lion, leopard, spotted hyena and African wild dog, as well as enormous elephant herds. We’ll expect to encounter wildlife in amazing proximity along the Linyanti River and surrounding environs. Spend time in a newly built hide that faces the Linyanti Channel, elevating us close to elephants, hippos and numerous birds. In the evenings, relax at our secluded camp, where well-appointed walk-in tents evoke an earlier romantic era of safari travel. Through the thorny acacia branches we see more stars than we ever dreamed of, scattered across an impossibly black sky.
Overnight stay follows.
(Overnight at Linyanti Private Reserve)
After a final wildlife drive in the Linyanti wilderness, leave dry land behind as we transfer by light aircraft to the Okavango Delta. Having Earth’s largest inland water system, the delta’s headwaters lie in the western highlands of Angola and join 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 waterways and wetlands, the Okavango is home to a profuse collection of wildlife and vegetation.
Settle down there for the night.
(Overnight at Okavango)
Jacana Camp is located in the delta’s watery heart, a maze of canals and lagoons that sustains a profusion of wildlife. We explore the constantly shifting marsh by mokoro, a traditional poled dugout canoe, offering a chance to observe wildlife at eye level in complete quiet. These wetlands and islands are home to many rare birds, and we may see wattled cranes, Pel’s fishing owls, jacanas, rails, crakes and moorhens. Following the reed-fringed channels, we may also spy water-adapted antelope such as red lechwe browsing in the grasses. Depending on water levels and wildlife movements, we’ll also hope to do a guided walk during our time at Jacana Camp, for an intimate perspective on the small wonders that also surround us.
Come back by sunset for an overnight stay.
(Overnight at Jacana Camp)
This morning we 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. 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 our 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 waterholes also sustain them during the dry season. The diverse range of habitats makes the Gomoti region ideal for all-day excursions, get overwhelmed by the traditional 4×4 wildlife drive, picnic lunch and a night safari in search of nocturnal species before resting for the day.
(Overnight at Santawani Private Concession)
Our Botswana safari comes to a close when we depart by air for Maun after breakfast, where you’d board on your hhomeward flight for your onward journey.
Recollect the spine-chilling Botswana memories on your way back.