Unparalleled Wildlife Viewing with Top Guides in Remote Private Reserves
Day 1: Livingstone, Zambia—Zambezi River
Our Botswana safari adventure begins just over the border in Livingstone, Zambia. You're quickly immersed in nature with a transfer from the airport to Toka Leya Camp, overlooking the mighty Zambezi River and several of its islands. The camp enjoys an exclusive location within Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which encompasses Victoria Falls and surrounding territory upriver. The park's name means "the smoke that thunders," referencing the falls' presence. We frequently see hippos, elephants
and crocodiles from camp. This evening, get to know your Expedition Leader and traveling companions on a sunset river cruise before returning to camp for our welcome dinner, where you'll have an orientation to the exciting days ahead—a journey into remote Botswana as only Nat Hab and Lindblad can show it to you.
Day 2: Victoria Falls / Rhino Tracking
This morning we travel downriver to Victoria Falls. This massive cataract, a World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, spans more than a mile across the Zambezi Gorge and drops 360 feet into the boiling river below. The perpetual spray has created a rain forest microclimate on the rim, which we explore on trails leading to various vantage points over the falls. A visit to a nearby village is also a highlight. In the afternoon, set off into Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in search of white rhinoceros. Accompanied by a local guide and park rangers tasked with guarding the rhinos around the clock, we trek on foot, learning how to read signs and track the rhinos' movements. We can never predict how long it will take to find them, but if we sight a rhino fairly quickly, we'll have time to look for other wildlife, too. Since there are no predators in the park, we're able to walk safely on foot as we scout for zebra, giraffe, warthog, numerous antelope species, and a variety of smaller mammals and birds. Elephants also regularly cross back and forth over the river and wander throughout the park.
Day 3: Chobe National Park / Linyanti Private Reserve
Transfer by road and ferry across the Zambia/Botswana border into Chobe National Park. Here, we board a boat for a cruise on the Chobe River, one of the best places in Africa to see elephants. More than 70,000 reside in the park, and it's not uncommon to see several hundred in a day as we ply the river's milk-chocolate waters. Hippos and crocodiles also abound, as do waterbirds, including herons, storks
This afternoon we fly on to Linyanti, a huge private reserve that's home to some of Botswana's most prolific wildlife, including more enormous
elephant populations. Linyanti Tented Camp is our secluded base for exploring this region unrivaled for its remoteness and vast tracts of wild land. Built on raised decks for territorial views, the small camp—which is ours alone—overlooks a marsh and floodplain that attract a steady parade of passing wildlife. This evening, gather around the crackling campfire under the stars, listening to the sounds of the African night and dreaming of the magical encounters the coming days will bring.
Days 4 & 5: On Safari in the Linyanti
With all of Nat Hab and Lindblad's shared adventure expertise as our context, we spend two full days exploring one of richest wildlife areas in all Africa. Linyanti's diverse habitats, from broad savannas
to riverine forest and acacia woodlands, sustain a remarkable array of game and the predators that trail it. From the safety of open 4x4 safari vehicles, our guides help us track lion, leopard, spotted hyena and rare wild dog. We often see wildlife in exceptional proximity, and photographers will find no better opportunities anywhere in Africa for outstanding shots. Linyanti's elephant numbers are also legendary, and an important movement corridor ensures abundant numbers in the reserve year-round. And keep an eye out for less common species that are often spotted here, including roan, sable
and red lechwe. In addition to wildlife drives, we may also take guided walks, safety permitting, along the Linyanti River to look for small creatures and larger animals at eye level. Back at camp each evening, relax over fine cuisine that belies our remote location deep in the African bush.
Days 6 & 7: Okavango Delta—Jao Private Concession
Flying on to the Okavango Delta, our destination is Tubu Tree Camp on Hunda Island within the private Jao Concession. Lying adjacent to the renowned Moremi Game Reserve, the island
and its inundated surroundings are host to great concentrations of wildlife, which we go in search of on a mix of land- and water-based activities. The camp itself is the hub of frequent animal activity, with elevated decks beneath large, spreading trees providing ready access to the passing action. Look especially for leopards, which thrive on the island in substantial numbers. Lions are also a primary predator here. Other large mammals frequently on view during 4x4 drives include Burchell's zebra, giraffe, tsessebe and blue wildebeest on the floodplains, with kudu, impala
and bushbuck finding shelter in the forest. Exciting night drives may reveal nocturnal hunters such as civet cat, caracal, leopard
and aardwolf. Excursions by mokoro, the traditional poled canoe of the delta
, offer quiet encounters with the multitude of waterbirds living in the marsh.
Days 8–11: Okavango Delta—Chitabe Private Concession
Cross the delta by light aircraft today, surveying its emerald expanse from the air as we transfer to the privately held Chitabe Concession in the southeast sector of the Okavango. It's one of the most sought-after areas of the entire delta by safari enthusiasts and wildlife photographers, and we settle in for four nights at Chitabe Camp—ample time to explore the diverse range of habitats and plethora of wildlife on view. Located southeast of Chief's Island, Chitabe is an exclusive 69,000-acre wilderness area off-limits to visitors except for those staying at this private camp, which we have all to ourselves. You won't find a superior experience of wild Africa!
Most of the concession is flat and covered with Kalahari sand, but the presence or lack of water causes large variations in habitat over relatively small distances. Just a few feet of elevation change can make a difference in the amount of flooding a region receives—and that in turn determines whether a landscape features permanent rivers and lagoons, reed and papyrus swamps, seasonally flooded grasslands, riverine forest or dry woodlands. Each of these ecosystems has a distinct species composition of mammals and birds. A high number of impala in the area draw leopards, which we often see. Other sightings may include Cape buffalo, elephant, lion, bat-eared fox and frequently seen African wild dog, the subject of the Botswana Wild Dog Research Project established in the area. With abundant general game including southern giraffe, warthog, Burchell’s zebra, tsessebe, steenbok and blue wildebeest, the region is a photographer's dream.
Birds are a highlight in Chitabe, too, with some 345 species, both permanent and migratory residents, found on the concession. Raptors thrive here including African hawk eagle and hooded vulture, which often follows packs of wild dog in search of scraps after a kill. The delta is also a major global breeding ground for wattled crane and slaty egret. After each exhilarating day, we return to camp, relaxing over dinner under thatch or under the stars, watching the horizon dissolve into darkness as we are once enveloped in the magic of the African night.
Day 12: Wildlife Drive / Maun / Depart
After a short morning game drive to see and photograph a last sampler
of Chitabe's abundant wildlife, we fly back to Maun to meet departing flights...and to travel home with a cache of memories for a lifetime.
Physical Rating: Easy
Click here to view the seasonal variations of weather and wildlife viewing in Botswana.