Length: 10 nights / 11 days, but we will amend to suit your needs
Group Size: Flexible – you tell us how many in your party
Location: Botswana and Zimbabwe
Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.
We do not charge you for our services. We generate revenue from our lodge suppliers, based on the volume of business that we generate for them.
This iconic safari is about water – or the lack thereof. Depending on which package you select, this safari ranges from the majestic Victoria Falls to the watery wilderness of the Okavango Delta, the predator-rich northern Botswana floodplains , the remote Central Kalahari and the desolate salt pans.
Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is one of Africa’s most iconic destinations and deservedly on many safari bucket lists. That awe-inspiring vertical drop of 108m into the chasm below, as well as the mist spray curtain during full flood that can be seen and heard from afar (its local name is ‘Mosi-oa- Tunya’, which means ‘the smoke that thunders’), make for a truly unforgettable experience. Just wandering the streets of this quaint town is a special experience as you negotiate for souvenirs, dodge warthogs (and elephants!), hang out with locals and sample a range of restaurants and bars.
Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It’s also an adventure centre of note. You could stay for ages and enjoy a different activity every day, from bungee jumping, gorge swinging and white water rafting, to helicopter and microlight flights (a.k.a the flight of angels), sunset boat and steam train cruises, horse riding, game drives, canoe trips, and so much more.
During your safari on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, walk across the bridge and also visit the Zambian side, which offers an exhilarating walk across the ‘Knife-edge Bridge’, a close-up view of the ‘Boiling Pot’ (a scary whirlpool at the base of the falls) and, for the really adventurous, a dip in the famous ‘Devil’s Pool‘.
The Okavango Delta is a lush wilderness of papyrus, impenetrable reed beds, grassy floodplains, tree-covered islands and a complex network of water channels of varying depths, which are engineered and maintained by hippos and elephants. Some areas are permanently under water and others only when the rejuvenated annual floodwaters arrive from Angola. This constant ebb and flow of water creates one of the most fascinating and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Unsurprisingly, the Okavango Delta is both a RAMSAR Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A bucket list safari activity unique to this area is gliding down the myriad of waterways on a mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe). Video: sunset mokoro. Your poler guide will expertly slide the mokoro along channels surrounded by tall papyrus and reeds, giving you a unique perspective and photographic opportunity as you silently sneak up on birds, frogs, otters and possibly even larger animals such as hippos, crocodiles and elephants. A lucky few will see the elusive and wary sitatunga antelope.
Wildlife includes the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) – although rhinos are rarely seen, many antelope species, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and good populations of cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs, as well as a plethora of smaller species such as serval, aardwolf, pangolin, aardvark and bat-eared fox. You will see more wildlife in areas that are not permanently flooded.
Birdwatching can be spectacular, with over 400 species including avian jewels such as Pel’s fishing owl, slaty egret, pygmy goose, crowned and wattled cranes, Western banded snake eagle, coppery-tailed coucal and colonies of incandescent carmine bee-eaters.
The vast flood plains of northern Botswana teem with predators, elephants and buffalos and yet there are comparatively few lodges in the large private concessions in this area – resulting in extremely private safari experiences. The area is fed by the Kwando and Linyanti Rivers, which converge into the Selinda Spillway, a marshy area (also fed by the Okavango flood waters) which attracts large concentrations of wildlife and birds.
The area has an excellent reputation for lions, leopards and cheetahs, and wild dogs are frequently seen as well. In addition, this is a good area to see the rare roan and sable antelopes. Wildlife is present throughout the year, but particularly during the dry months of May to October, when many animals emerge from the surrounding mopane woodlands to drink at the rivers and wetland areas. Predator action during the dry months is probably the best in Botswana, if not Africa.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a massive (53,000 km²) expanse of sand dunes, grass and craggy camelthorn trees. The four dry riverbeds that traverse the area are ancient, and often fossilised with salt pans. Safaris to this remote wilderness are for those seeking something off the beaten track, for lasting memories of the road less travelled.
Southern Africa’s aboriginal inhabitants, the San (bushmen) still live remote lives in and around the Kalahari, and its possible to spend time with them to learn their ways – a good lesson in truly sustainable living.
From a wildlife perspective, this area hosts the famous black-maned Kalahari lions and has strong but nomadic populations of dryland specialists like cheetah, brown hyena, gemsbok, springbok and eland as well as leopard, wild dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, ostrich and hartebeest, and smaller species like pangolin, ground squirrel, African wildcat, honey badger, Cape and bat-eared fox. The area does not have enough water to sustain elephants or buffalos.
The huge fossilised salt pans on the eastern fringes of Botswana’s Kalahari are desolate, flat landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Surrounding the pans are expanses of grass and thorn trees, with the odd island of palm trees. It’s a picturesque landscape, very photogenic and definitely for the traveler that is looking beyond the Big 5.
The most popular are the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (including Sua Pan – and its rocky Kubu Island, bedecked in massive baobab trees) and Nxai Pans (where you will find the famous and starkly stunning Baines’ Baobabs).
Wildlife viewing is highly seasonal and dependent on water – with some of the pans flooding in January to March each year (rain dependent), resulting in a flush of grass, flowers and flocks of greater flamingos arriving to breed. This is also when the unpredictable wildebeest and zebra migration arrives to take advantage of the food and water – the 2nd largest zebra migration in the world, after the Maasai Mara migration. During dry times the wildlife that moves around the area in search of sustenance includes lion, cheetah, brown and spotted hyenas, springbok, hartebeest, ostrich, elephant and smaller species like black-backed jackal, African wildcat and bat-eared fox.
When to go to Botswana – to find out what happens month-by-month in Botswana, visit this page.