Our Botswana and Namibia safari begins in Windhoek, Namibia's capital. This appealing city blends contemporary and colonial architecture in a cosmopolitan setting. Meet your Expedition Leader on arrival and transfer to our boutique hotel in one of Windhoek’s leafy, tranquil neighborhoods. Over a welcome dinner, get acquainted with your traveling companions and learn about the vast landscapes we’ll be exploring during the next two weeks.
Days 2–4: Private Kulala Wilderness Reserve—Sossusvlei Dunes
Board a morning flight to the private 90,000-acre Kulala Wilderness Reserve, where the massive golden dunes of Sossusvlei rise a thousand feet from the floor of the world’s oldest desert. The word namib in the Nama language means “vast,” an apt name for this ancient sand sea shaped by currents, waves and wind. Sossusvlei means “dead-end marsh”—the salt and clay pan pan where the mass of dunes rises to prevent the Tsauchab River from flowing to the Atlantic Ocean. Framed by intense blue skies, the world’s tallest dunes glow deep carnelian at dawn, changing minute by minute as the sun climbs, to rose, burnt orange and ochre. A special option during our time here is a sunrise balloon safari over the massive sand mountains.
Within Sossusvlei, Namibia’s largest conservation area, look for ancient petrified dunes that formed as long as a billion years ago. Surprisingly, we find plenty of desert-adapted wildlife, including springbok, gemsbok, oryx, ostrich, spotted and brown hyena, bat-eared fox and aardwolf. The rare dune lark’s entire habitat is confined to this sandy expanse. Discover the desert’s silent magic on short walks and safari drives, then return to the comfort of our profoundly secluded camp to experience some of Africa’s most arresting vistas, including vermilion sunsets and unparalleled stargazing.
Days 5 & 6: Palmwag Concession—Rhino Tracking
Fly north to Desert Rhino Camp in the heart of the private million-acre Palmwag Concession, a location so remote that our chartered plane will make a touchdown to refuel en route. This safari location offers the utmost privacy and isolation in one of Africa’s last great wildernesses. Freshwater springs around this desert reserve support healthy wildlife populations, including the camp’s namesake, the rare desert-adapted black rhinoceros, which we track in the company of experts from Save the Rhino Foundation based at our camp. We also find desert-adapted elephants, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, oryx, springbok, greater kudu and possibly even predators. Birds are abundant, including a number of southern African endemics.
Days 7 & 8: Etosha National Park—Ongava Private Reserve
This morning we fly to Ongava Private Reserve bordering Etosha National Park. At the heart of the park is an ancient lake bed—now a vast salt pan—where perennial springs draw a multitude of game. Visible from space, the pan is the remnant of a lake that existed here 2 million years ago. The landscape now supports grasslands and large camel thorn trees mixed with mopane, also known as ironwood. Bare and dry today, the depression offers Namibia’s best wildlife viewing, with elephant, black and white rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, springbok, oryx, kudu and the diminutive dik-dik drawn to its life-sustaining waterholes, many of which are the result of natural springs. Birdlife is abundant, and we may see ostrich and raptors.
The private Ongava Reserve adjoining Etosha National Park is a conservation success story, achieved when local families turned unproductive cattle ranches into a 74,000-acre haven for prolific wildlife. Our lodge enjoys an isolated setting on the reserve, surrounded by Namibia’s best wildlife viewing, with easy access to the national park. Day and night drives and guided walks, and strategically placed hides, provide varied perspectives on regional wildlife.
Days 9 & 10: Private Flight to Okavango Delta, Botswana—Moremi Game Reserve
Leaving the dry Namib Desert, we fly by private chartered aircraft to another realm entirely: the Okavango Delta, where the Okavango River, sourced in distant Angola, pours over the sands of the Kalahari to create a green maze of canals and lagoons. The watery mosaic sustains a profusion of wildlife, with abundant hoofed game, predators and birds. Stay in solitude in close proximity to the famed Moremi Game Reserve, offering some of the delta's best wildlife viewing. There is water here year-round, and we explore the marsh in silence via mokoro—the traditional poled dugout canoe of the delta—spying a host of animals along the banks. Look for hippo, crocodile and red lechwe, a water-adapted antelope, among many other species.
Days 11 & 12: Okavango Delta—Chitabe Private Concession
Depart by light aircraft for our deluxe bush camp bordering the acclaimed Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Our camp is a private oasis of luxury, with all the classic scenery one expects on an African safari—open floodplains, marshlands, acacia and mopane woodlands, riverine areas and grasslands stretch to the horizon. The wildlife in this renowned corner of the Okavango is as diverse as it is prolific, from elephant and impala to lion and rare wild dog.
Days 13–15: Linyanti Private Reserve
A flight by light aircraft brings us to the Linyanti Reserve, one of the best game-viewing regions in Botswana. Elephants thrive in the mopane woodlands, especially in winter when they number in the thousands. From our base at Savuti Camp, day and night drives may reveal all the large predators as well as impala, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest lechwe, tsessebe and other plains animals.
Day 16: Linyanti / Maun / Depart
Our grand Namibia & Botswana safari comes to a close as we depart by air for Maun to connect with homeward flights, or to continue with onward extensions.
Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate
Click here to view the seasonal variations of weather and wildlife viewing in Botswana.