On This Green Season Safari, Lush Grass Draws Prolific Wildlife & New Babies Abound!
Days 1 & 2: Livingstone, Zambia—Victoria Falls
Our Botswana green season safari begins just over the border in Livingstone, Zambia, where our Expedition Leader meets you on arrival at the airport. Transfer to Toka Leya Camp, which enjoys a superb setting on the banks of the mighty Zambezi. Individual chalets face west over the river for expansive sunset views, and we frequently see and hear elephants and hippos on shore. We’ll admire the scenery on a sunset cruise before a welcome dinner.
The following day begins with a guided tour of Victoria Falls, the world’s most astounding cataract, spanning more than a mile above the rugged Zambezi Gorge. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the rim, which we explore on a network of walkways offering varied viewpoints over the falls. Then we’re off on our first wildlife drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The park’s poetic name means “the smoke that thunders” in the local language, a reference to the nearby falls.
Days 3–5: Chobe National Park, Botswana / Linyanti Private Reserve
Leaving Zambia by road, we reach Botswana via the Kazungula border on the Chobe River, where Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet. On the far shore we enter Chobe National Park, known for its vast elephant herds and a stable population of general game species throughout the year. On a boat cruise on the Chobe River we expect to see plenty of elephants, hippo, crocodile and perhaps the elusive puku and Chobe bushbuck. Up to 400 bird species are resident in the park this time of year, and water birds abound, especially herons, storks and egrets.
This afternoon we fly to the private reserve of Linyanti, dramatic big-game country. Its tree-dotted plains are home to abundant predators like lion, leopard and spotted hyena, as well as plentiful hoofed game and tremendous elephant herds. We encounter wildlife in amazing proximity on twice-daily game drives and guided walks, safety permitting, along the Linyanti River. Species we may see include buffalo, zebra, tsessebe, giraffe, kudu, impala and possibly a pack of wild dogs on the hunt. We're also likely to see water-adapted species such as red lechwe in the marshy areas along the river. Afternoon drives often return after dark in the hopes of spotting shyer nocturnal animals such as genet, civet, serval, porcupine, and on rare occasion, aardwolf. In the evenings, share stories around the flickering campfire at our private camp before retiring to well-appointed tented accommodations evocative of an earlier era of safari travel, amid the soothing night sounds of the African bush.
Days 6–8: Okavango Delta—Santawani Private Concession
Fly by light aircraft this morning to Gomoti Tented Camp in the heart of the community-owned Santawani reserve in the Okavango Delta. Earth’s largest inland water system, the delta’s headwaters lie in the western highlands of Angola, 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 parts of the delta are permanently flooded, others are a mosaic of varied landscapes, including drier areas like the area surrounding our camp. A mix of riverine woodlands, acacia scrub and open floodplains providing ample food for a large array of browsers and grazing species as well as predators. Wildlife is abundant in the camp environs, and we often see lots of animals wandering through. The diverse range of habitats, plus the year-round lifeline of the Gomoti River, make this region ideal for all-day wildlife excursions including traditional 4x4 game drives, picnic lunches, guided walks and night drives. Regular sightings include leopard, lion, wild dog, hyena, cheetah, giraffe, elephant, impala, kudu, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo. Birdlife is also exceptional, and we may see ground hornbills, crimson-breasted shrike and yellow morph, among many others. In the evenings, paraffin hurricane lanterns and a crackling campfire set the ambience in camp.
Days 9–11: Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Today we fly to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and continue with a wildlife drive to Kalahari Plains Camp in Deception Valley. The camp’s location offers a sweeping vista of the valley floor, and we feel quite alone here in this little-visited national park. The vast reserve is the largest conservation area in Botswana and one of the largest in the world. Our safari culminates in these remote environs, where animal movements are dictated by nature and the rains. We track them on extended wildlife drives, studying the desert ecology along the way. The petrified riverbed is vibrant after brief rains, covered with nutritious grasses that attract herds from all over the enormous reserve.
Among the diverse wildlife we will encounter, keep watch for wildebeest, red hartebeest and springbok, as well honey badger and mongoose. Predators follow these large congregations of desert animals with their young into the broad pan, creating natural drama we may be privy to observe. Star attractions include the famous Kalahari black-maned lions as well as some of the Africa’s best cheetah viewing. The Kalahari is also the ancient home of the San bushmen, who have subsisted in these stark environs for millennia. Our time here will include engaging cultural experiences that allow for authentic insight into the ancient Bushmen clans of the area.
Day 12: Maun / Depart
Our Botswana trip comes to a close today when we depart by air for Maun to connect with onward flights.