Botswana’s Diverse Biomes
Day 1 DEPARTURE
Depart the USA (or other gateways) on an overnight flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Day 2 JOHANNESBURG
Arrive Johannesburg where you clear customs and immigration before proceeding on foot (a five minute walk) to the City Lodge at O.R. Tambo Airport. The welcome drinks and dinner tonight are a privately catered affair in the hotel, allowing for an early bedtime if needed!
Day 3-5 KALAHARI DESERT / NXAI PAN CAMP
Board a commercial flight bound for Maun, Botswana. Upon arrival in Maun, you are met and escorted to your charter flight to Nxai Pan National Park (a 25 minute flight). Entering the Nxai Pan Camp, you have the unique opportunity to witness the environmental transformations of Southern Africa. The great Makgadikgadi Lake, once spreading 49,600 square miles strong, began to dry up about 10,000 years ago, leaving two salt encrusted pans called Nxai and Kgama-Kgama. Today the landscape is comprised of part open grassland and part forest and savanna.
During your stay at Nxai Pan Camp, a diverse range of wildlife shares your habitat. Among the mammals that frequent the area are bat-eared foxes, honey badgers, lions, zebras, and the elegant impala ram. During your stay at camp you see the famed “Baines’ Baobabs.” In 1861, Thomas Baines, member of the Livingstone Expedition, arrived to paint the group of seven baobab trees, now known as the “sleeping sisters.” Over 100 years later, you witness the same view that inspired Baines’ artwork. At night, enjoy stargazing while taking in sounds of the wilderness.
Venture further into Nxai Pan National Park, named a conservation area in 1970 and a national park in 1992, with your knowledgeable local guide and tracker team to see wildlife as they search for food across north-central Botswana. Game drives are taken in vehicles seating two rows of three each, ensuring that individuals are close to the guide/tracker team and don’t miss a word of their natural history expertise. Interpretative nature walks provide you with an intimate awareness of the park’s ecology, allowing close inspection of animal tracks, insects, and plant life. The park is well known for its huge springbok population and migrations of gemsbok, elephant and zebras. These majestic animals attract many predators – lion, cheetah, jackal and both spotted and the elusive brown hyena, as well as the endangered wild dog and the secretive leopard. There are large numbers of bat-eared fox and raptors that prey on the rodents and reptiles. At times, rhino have also been sighted. Also to be seen are the eland, greater kudu and red hartebeest. The park boasts over 165 species of birds, including black-breasted eagles, pied kingfishers, carmine, and the Korahaan, also known as the White-Quilled Bustard.
Day 6 – 8 MOREMI GAME RESERVE / LUXURY MOBILE CAMP
Take a charter flight north to the Khwai River area of Moremi Game Reserve, where you are met and driven to your luxury mobile camp. This classic “Hemingway style” camp is set up just for you in a private location. All meals are taken in casual safari style near the campfire and shaded by many large trees.
The Khwai River area borders the Moremi Game Reserve, which offers a wide range of habitats, from riparian woodland, floodplain, reed beds, permanent wetland through mopane forest to dry savanna woodland. The principal water source here is the Khwai River, which provides the lifeline of support for the wildlife in the area. The scenic beauty adds to your experience of Botswana’s verdant Garden of Eden, the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta qualifies as one of the most unique and beautiful environments on Earth. Hundreds of tiny islands are formed as the Okavango River fans out over the flat Kalahari sands of northwestern Botswana, creating a verdant Eden-like Utopia for wildlife. The Delta covers an area of over 12,000 square miles.
This area is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in the world and is particularly well known for its predators, especially one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa – the wild dog. Lion and leopard are commonly found as well as herds of buffalo, elephant and hippo. Other game in the area include just about everything imaginable including tsessebe, lechwe, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, elephant, sable and giraffe. Take daily morning and afternoon game drives along the Khwai River, home to an abundance of African wildlife! At this time of year it is not unusual to view a hundred or more elephants coming to the Khwai River for an afternoon drink and wash. Watching elephant babies play together is a wonderful experience. The Khwai River is also renowned for its eagles — over 12 species can be found here. The terrain is drier and forested with huge acacia trees, a favorite for giraffes.
Day 9 – 11 OKAVANGO DELTA / KWARA CAMP
Take a charter flight from the Khwai airstrip to Kwara Camp, which is nestled in the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta. Breakfast before game drives at Kwara Camp is taken in the camp’s fire pit with the sun rising over the endless plains. As you meander through the reserve on your game drives among the acacia and sycamore fig trees, you see the diverse habitats of the floodplains- both fresh and salt water ecosystems, lagoons, and dry woodland and savannah with a corresponding variety of animal and plant species. Africa’s largest populations of elephant live in the Delta and the pristine environment, plentiful food supply and low human population make for fabulous game viewing. The reserve boasts 122 species of mammals including buffalo, leopard, cheetah, lion, impala, and zebra. This proposed World Heritage Site is also home to the lechwe, crocodile, chameleon, black winged stilt, yellow billed stork, warthog, and African wild dog. Due to a successful rhino conservation effort, you may see the white or black rhino. For afternoon tea before your game drive, you are greeted with delicious baked goods under the shade of mangosteen and African ebony treas.
As time permits, try your hand on the mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe, to navigate the verdant waterways and floodplains in the ancient way. Other activities at Kwara include fishing, with Tiger fish, African pike, and sharp tooth catfish topping the list of exciting catches. Board a Kwara cruise atop a two deck boat, offering unique access to elephants and hippos bathing as well as the opportunity to learn how the river system nourishes the reserve’s wildlife.
Day 12-14 KWANDO RESERVE / LEBALA CAMP
You are chartered to Lebala Camp situated in northern Botswana’s Kwando Reserve. This area is known as “elephant country,” home to more elephant than the entire country of South Africa! These extraordinary herds alternate between the mopane woodland and the Kwando River, searching for feeding grounds, shade during the midday heat, and the cool, clear water of the Kwando. Game grazes on the wide flood plains in spectacular scenery under the ever watchful eye of the predatory lion. Excellent game such as Cape buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe, kudu, lechwe, impala, giraffe and waterbuck abound on the broad plains.
Game drive excursions are in open four-wheel drive safari vehicles with your professional guide who teaches you how to track animals. Your guide also talks about elephant in the area and gives you in-depth interpretation of animal behavior as well as discusses the surrounding ecosystems and the current threats to the Okavango Delta. You have the opportunity to go on night drives (with a spotlight) to view the fascinating mammals that are active at night such as the elusive civet cat, honey badger, African wildcat, bat-eared fox and the genet.
Day 15 DEPARTURE
After one last game viewing activity at Lebala, you board a charter flight to Maun. In Maun, connect to a commercial flight to Johannesburg. Upon arrival in Johannesburg, connect to your international flight back home.
NOTE – for those participants choosing to do the optional Victoria Falls extension, you fly from Lebala Camp to Kasane, Botswana for the start of the extension itinerary.Note: This is just an example of custom itineraries that we can design for you. For additional itinerary options, please contact us.