Secluded Botswana Photo Itinerary
Day 1: Livingstone, Zambia—Zambezi River Cruise
Our Botswana photo safari 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. Great photo opportunities are on offer right away during a classic sunset cruise, as we look for hippos and crocodiles on the riverbanks. Afterward, join our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park—Victoria Falls / Village Visit / Rhino Walk
Our focus today is Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which means "the smoke that thunders" in the local Kololo and Lozi languages—a reference to the park's centerpiece, Victoria Falls, which we explore on a guided walking tour this morning. The world's most astounding cataract, Victoria Falls spans more than a mile and plummets 350 feet into the Zambezi Gorge below, producing so much spray that the intense moisture has created a rain forest microecosystem on the rim. A network of walkways offers varying viewpoints over the falls, with exciting photography opportunities.
Next, we visit a nearby village to learn about the culture and daily life of the local people. Then, we head farther into the national park for our best chance to see a white rhinoceros. Accompanied by a local guide and park rangers charged with guarding the rhinos around the clock, we learn 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, and we often see them wandering throughout the park.
Days 3–5: Chobe National Park, Botswana / Linyanti Private Reserve
Traveling by road, 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, with excellent chances for close-up photos. Waterbirds abound, including herons and storks, and hippos and crocodiles are on display along the muddy banks. Keep an eye out for egrets perched on the backs of elephants cooling off in the water—they make entertaining subjects.
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'll expect to encounter wildlife in amazing proximity along the Linyanti River and surrounding environs. Spend time capturing thrilling close-ups in a newly built hide that faces the Linyanti Channel, elevating us in exciting proximity 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—Helicopter Flight
After a final wildlife drive in the wilds of Linyanti, 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. When rains are typical and floodwaters are able to rise, it is a vast network of waterways and wetlands, and the Okavango is home to a profuse collection of wildlife and lush vegetation.
Jacana Camp is a dream base for wildlife photographers. Located in the heart of the delta, it's surrounded by a maze of canals and lagoons that sustain a profusion of wildlife. 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 capture shots of water-adapted antelope such as red lechwe browsing in the grasses. Depending upon water levels and wildlife movement, explore the constantly shifting marsh by mokoro, a traditional poled dugout canoe, offering a chance to photograph wildlife at eye level in complete quiet. During our stay at Jacana, we also capture aerial images from an exhilarating doors-off helicopter flight over the watery maze below, with an unimpeded view for each guest. We also hope to do a guided walk, 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—Predator Researcher Visit
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. The aerial transfer offers exhilarating photo opportunities of the landscape below. 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 photography 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. After each exhilarating day, our intimate private camp offers a tremendous sense of seclusion in the wilderness.
Day 12: Maun / Depart
Our Botswana photo safari comes to a close when we depart by air for Maun, where we connect with homeward flights or continue with onward extensions.
Click here to view the seasonal variations of weather and wildlife viewing in Botswana.