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Secluded Botswana Safari

Secluded Botswana Itinerary

Botswana safari mapDay 1: Livingstone, Zambia—Zambezi River
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. Enjoy a classic sunset cruise before joining our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner.

Day 2: Victoria Falls / Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park—Rhino Tracking / Village Visit
Our day begins with a guided walking tour at Victoria Falls, the world’s most astounding cataract. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the rim, and a network of walkways offers varying viewpoints over falls, which span more than a mile and plummet 350 feet into the Zambezi Gorge. 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, plus 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'll get out of the vehicle frequently for more intimate encounters, learning how to read signs of the rhinos' presence and follow 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 often see them wandering throughout the park. Later this afternoon we visit a nearby village to learn about the traditions and daily life of the local people.

Days 3–5: Chobe National Park, Botswana / Linyanti Private Reserve
Traveling by road and ferry, 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.

This afternoon, 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 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.

Days 6–8: Linyanti / Okavango Delta—Exploring the Flooded Marsh
After a final wildlife drive in the wilds of Linyanti, leave dry land behind as we transfer by light aircraft to the Okavango Delta. Earth’s largest inland water system, the delta’s headwaters lie in the western highlands of Angola. They join with other rivers in Namibia and Botswana to meet the Kalahari Desert,  creating a green oasis that 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 lush vegetation.

Jacana Camp is located in the delta’s watery heart, a maze of canals and lagoons that sustains a profusion of wildlife. Explore the constantly shifting marsh by mokoro, a traditional poled dugout canoe, offering a chance to observe wildlife at eye level in complete quiet. The 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 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. (Please note that water levels and activities may vary based on actual amounts of anticipated annual rainfall).

Days 9–11: Southeast Okavango—Santawani Private Concession—Visit with Predator Researcher
This morning we fly by light aircraft to Gomoti Tented Camp in the heart of the Santawani Concession, a private community-owned reserve encompassing nearly 15,000 acres in the southeast corner of the Okavango Delta. This small, intimate camp offers a tremendous sense of seclusion on this private reserve. While some parts 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 provides 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, including traditional 4x4 wildlife drives, picnic lunches and night drives in search of nocturnal species. During our stay in Santawani, we're joined by a local researcher to learn about studies on the wide range of predators in the area, including research projects on wild dog, cheetah and leopard.

Day 12: Maun / Depart
Our grand Botswana safari comes to a close as we depart by air for Maun to connect with homeward flights or continue with onward extensions.

Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate

To participate in this trip, you must be able to walk unassisted at a steady pace for at least one mile over uneven terrain, climb steps to get into and out of our raised safari vehicles, and be able to tolerate daily outdoor excursions that may last 4-5 hours or even a full day at a time, sometimes in hot, windy and/or dusty conditions. Wildlife drives pose a particular type of physical demand on the body, as they require long hours of sitting and take place over terrain that is often very rough and bumpy, including dirt roads with many ruts and potholes. Travelers with back or neck problems, or other health issues that could be exacerbated by such conditions, should take this into consideration. While any walking safaris are considered optional, travelers must be able to walk unassisted to and from the vehicle to our camp accommodations, sometimes walking over uneven ground or on boardwalks. Days spent on safari are often long, as mornings typically start before daybreak and evening meals are served after sundown. Safari accommodations and vehicles are not climate-controlled and, depending on the season, temperatures can range from quite cold to extremely hot, so it is critical that travelers come prepared.

Click here to view the seasonal variations of weather and wildlife viewing in Botswana.
Interested in extending your trip? Link it up with another adventure!
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