Botswana’s lush summer, its most productive and colorful time, offers natural spectacles most travelers miss. Sporadic light rains in the Kalahari mark a time of dramatic change, signaling a great influx of migrating wildlife and plains animal births—"bush babies" are everywhere! The Kalahari’s high game concentrations and expansive open vistas make for some of the best cheetah viewing in southern Africa. Green vegetation springs to life on the bleached plains of Deception Valley, attracting herds from all over the reserve. The drier region of the Okavango Delta bordering the Moremi Game Reserve is also superb for wildlife viewing, with stable populations of lion, leopard and wild dog active within a wide range of diverse habitats.

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Why We Love It

Experience the Kalahari during its greatest wildlife season, when water is a magnet for desert species, and explore the vast Okavango Delta, teeming with birds and mammals

Journey by 4x4 and on short walks from our remote luxury camps for unsurpassed game viewing at the time of year when new births fill the plains

Witness the thunder of Victoria Falls during its mightiest seasonal flow, producing enough spray to create a rain forest microclimate on the rim of the Zambezi Gorge

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Day by day Itinerary

Botswana: Kalahari, the Delta and Beyond

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Day 1

Livingstone

Our Botswana green season safari begins just over the border in Livingstone, Zambia, where our Expedition Leader meets you on arrival at the airport. Transfer to Toka Leya Camp, which enjoys a superb setting on the banks of the mighty Zambezi. Individual chalets face west over the river for expansive sunset views, and we frequently see and hear elephants and hippos on shore. A sunset cruise offers a chance to admire the scenery before returning to camp for a welcome dinner. (D)

Day 2

Victoria Falls - Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

Our day begins with a guided tour of Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. The world’s most astounding cataract, it spans more than a mile and pours 350 feet into the rugged Zambezi Gorge below. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the rim, which we explore on a network of walkways offering varied viewpoints over the falls. The morning ends with a visit to a local village, then we’re off on our first wildlife drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The park’s poetic name means “the smoke that thunders” in the local language, a reference to the nearby falls. The park is home to many species of classic African game, and we might even see a rhinoceros. (B)(L)(D)

Day 3

Chobe National Park, Botswana - Okavango Delta Private Concession

Leaving Zambia by road, we reach the Kazungula border on the Chobe River, where Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet. Traveling by ferry to Botswana on the far shore, we enter Chobe National Park, known for its enormous elephant herds and stable population of general game species throughout the year. During a boat cruise on the Chobe River, expect to see plenty of elephant, hippo, crocodile and perhaps the elusive puku and Chobe bushbuck. Up to 400 bird species reside in the park at this time of year, and waterbirds abound, especially herons, storks and egrets. This afternoon we fly to the center of the Okavango Delta for a 3-night stay on a private concession. Earth’s largest inland water system, the delta became UNESCO's 1,000th World Heritage Site in 2014. The Okavango River’s headwaters lie in the western highlands of Angola, joining with other rivers in Namibia and Botswana to meet the Kalahari Desert, where a green oasis sprawls amid the sands and dry savanna. With its vast network of channels and wetlands, the delta is home to a profuse collection of wildlife and vegetation. Here in the delta's heart, clear waterways cut through papyrus and reed beds among palm-studded islands, riverine forests and sprawling floodplains. Though some of the region is permanently flooded, during the southern summer months, the water recedes and normally wetter areas of the delta open up for game drives and expansive wildlife viewing. Specific wildlife sightings, while always abundant, will depend somewhat on seasonal water levels. (B)(L)(D)

Day 4

Okavango Delta Private Concession

Our secluded camp is set within a productive wetland, nurturing prolific wildlife. This is dramatic big-game country, home to plentiful hoofed game including buffalo, blue wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, bushbuck, tsessebe, water-adapted antelope like red lechwe and the rare sitatunga, and, of course, elephants. And where game thrives, so do predators—keep watch for lion, leopard and hyena on the prowl. In the channels we look for hippos and crocodiles, plus scores of birds in the marshes. Pel’s fishing owl is a prize sighting, and we may also spot African and lesser jacanas, slaty egret, African skimmer, wattled crane and malachite kingfisher, to name just a few. Encounter wildlife in thrilling proximity on 4x4 drives, guided walks, boat rides and poled mokoro exursions. The mokoro is the traditional dugout canoe of the delta, and Okavango-born polers will reveal the intimate secrets of delta life as we spot tiny frogs and colourful waterbirds. Each evening, retreat to the comforts of camp. After a sumptuous dinner, share stories around the flickering campfire before retiring beneath canvas, surrounded by the soothing night sounds of the African bush. (B)(L)(D)

Day 5

Okavango Delta Private Concession

See Day 4 for today's itinerary. (B)(L)(D)

Day 6

Okavango Delta - Santawani Private Concession

Fly by light aircraft this morning to Gomoti Tented Camp in the heart of the community-owned Santawani reserve in the Okavango Delta. While some parts of the delta are permanently flooded, others are a mosaic of varied landscapes, including drier areas like the area surrounding our camp. A mix of riverine woodlands, acacia scrub and open floodplains providing ample food for a large array of browsers and grazing species as well as predators. Wildlife is abundant around camp, and we often see lots of animals wandering through. The diverse range of habitats, plus the year-round lifeline of the Gomoti River, make this region ideal for all-day wildlife excursions including traditional 4x4 game drives, picnic lunches, guided walks and night drives. Regular sightings include leopard, lion, wild dog, hyena, cheetah, giraffe, elephant, impala, kudu, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo. Birdlife is also outstanding, and we may see ground hornbills, crimson-breasted shrike and yellow morph, among many others. In the evenings, paraffin hurricane lanterns and a romantic campfire set the camp ambience. (B)(L)(D)

Day 7

Okavango Delta - Santawani Private Concession

See Day 6 for today's itinerary. (B)(L)(D)

Day 8

Okavango Delta - Santawani Private Concession

See Day 6 for today's itinerary. (B)(L)(D)

Day 9

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Today we fly to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, located in the heart of the 360,000-square mile Kalahari Desert, and continue with a wildlife drive en route to Kalahari Plains Camp in Deception Valley. The camp’s location offers a sweeping vista of the valley floor, and we feel quite alone here in this little-visited national park. The vast reserve is the largest conservation area in Botswana and one of the largest in the world. Our safari culminates in these remote environs, where animal movements are dictated by nature and the rains. We track them on extended wildlife drives, studying desert ecology along the way. The petrified riverbed is vibrant after brief rains, covered with nutritious grasses that attract herds from all over the enormous reserve. Among the diverse wildlife we encounter, keep watch for wildebeest, red hartebeest and springbok, as well honey badger and mongoose. Predators follow these large congregations of desert animals with their young into the broad pan, creating natural drama we may be privy to observe. Star attractions include the famous Kalahari black-maned lions as well as some of the Africa’s best cheetah viewing. The Kalahari is also the ancient home of the San Bushmen, who have subsisted in these stark environs for millennia. Our time here will include engaging cultural experiences that offer insight into the history and traditions of the Bushmen clans of the area. (B)(L)(D)

Day 10

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

See Day 9 for today's itinerary. (B)(L)(D)

Day 11

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

See Day 9 for today's itinerary. (B)(L)(D)

Day 12

Maun

Our Botswana trip comes to a close today when we depart by air for Maun to connect with onward flights. (B)

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