- We take a scheduled flight from London to Maun, arriving the next morning.
- On arrival in Maun, we meet our naturalist guide and head straight to Lake Ngami (a drive of approximately 1.5 hours) in the north of the Kalahari Desert.
- Lake Ngami is one of Botswana’s 12 Important Bird Areas and home to globally threatened and near-threatened species such as lesser kestrel and black-winged pratincole, plus other specials such as Kalahari robin, Hartlaub’s babbler, and Burchell’s sandgrouse. The usually dry lake floods in the rainy season, attracting prolific and varied birdlife – particularly large numbers of congregatory waterbirds.
- Accommodation: Mobile Camp, Lake Ngami, 1-night on full board basis
- Today we have a long drive to the Okavango Panhandle, in the north of the Delta, close to the Namibian border, enjoying a picnic lunch en route.
- We spend two nights here, exploring on foot and by boat, with chances of seeing Pel’s fishing owl, Narina trogon and carmine bee-eater. Athough not a protected area, the waterways and wetland are also home to hippos and Nile crocodiles.
- Accommodation: Mobile Camp, Okavango Panhandle, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today we head north and cross the Namibian border, driving through Mahango Game Reserve – known for its roan antelope and birdlife. Our destination is the 400-kilometre-long Caprivi Strip. As the country’s wettest region, it sustains a variety of animals – elephant are particularly numerous – and, with more than 450 bird species, it is one of southern Africa's top birding hotspots.
- Accommodation: Lodge, Caprivi, 2-nights on full board basis
- We visit Katima Mulilo, particularly known for the elusive and stunning Schalow’s Turaco, and go on wildlife drives and walks. The Caprivi’s wide diversity of species includes: rufous-bellied tit, racket-tailed roller, sharp-tailed starling, purple-banded sunbird, copper sunbird, wood owl, Eastern bearded scrub-robin, giant kingfisher, and African finfoot.
- Heading east across the border into Zambia, we aim to reach Livingstone in time for lunch.
- Accommodation: Lodge, Livingstone, 2-nights on full board basis
- This morning we visit Victoria Falls, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, where the Zambezi River plunges 108 metres over the lip of a large basalt plateau. The mists sustain a rainforest-like ecosystem around the falls that is thick with mahogany, fig and palm trees, plus other plants, inhabited by the elusive Schalow’s turaco and tropical boubou.
- During our stay here, we also go birding along the Zambezi River in search of trumpeter and crowned hornbill, Verreaux’s eagle, taita falcon, Narina trogon, and olive woodpecker.
- We return to Botswana and drive to Chobe National Park, where - after lunch at our lodge - we head out to see its birds and wildlife.
- With over 450 bird species, varied terrain and dramatic scenery, birdwatching here is rewarding. From December until March there is much activity and the colourful breeding plumage on display makes an extraordinary sight. We may see species such as carmine bee-eater and kori bustard, plus elephant, Cape buffalo, Burchell’s zebra, impala and giraffe, along with lion, leopard, spotted hyena and African wild dog.
- Accommodation: Lodge, Chobe National Park, 2-nights on full board basis
- This morning we go birdwatching on foot in the hope of seeing collared palm-thrush, bronze manikin, orange-winged pytilia, racket-tailed roller, African finfoot, African skimmer, Pel’s fishing owl and brown firefinch.
- In the afternoon we join a Chobe River cruise, keeping our eyes peeled for cattle egret, fish eagle, open-billed stork, lesser-striped swallow, pied kingfisher and the striking carmine bee-eater. The boat’s slow and silent drift doesn’t disturb the silence, so we can get close to birds and observe their behaviour.
- Everything changes as we head into the semi-arid Kalahari Desert, driving to Nata, our overnight base. After lunch we explore Nata Bird Sanctuary and the Makgadikgadi Pans on foot and by vehicle.
- As the Nata River enters Sowa Pan, it forms a small delta that attracts large numbers of aquatic species, such as great white and pink-backed pelicans, various ducks and geese, and large numbers of waders. Caspian tern is a regular visitor, and this is the best place in Botswana to see chestnut-banded plover. Early in the year, thousands of greater and lesser flamingos congregate to breed in the shallow water of Sowa Pan, creating an amazing spectacle. With luck we may also see the migration of some 25,000 zebras across the Makgadikgadi, with attendant predators.
- Accommodation: Lodge, Nata, 1-night on full board basis
- Today we drive to Maun and board a chartered light aircraft for a short flight to Moremi Wildlife Reserve, on the eastern edge of the Okavango Delta.
- At its heart, Moremi has high concentrations of plains animals and predators, including big cats. The birdlife is amazing, with Arnot’s chat, southern black tit, slaty egret and Heuglin’s robin among the favourites. Other specialities include a variety of woodpeckers, barbets and weavers, Pel’s fishing owl, wattled crane, African skimmers and a host of eagles, vultures, raptors and kingfishers.
- Accommodation: Mobile Camp, Moremi, 3-nights on full board basis
- Over the next two days we enjoy wildlife drives in Moremi Wildlife Reserve to see its prolific fauna and flora. The reserve’s diverse habitats offer excellent birding and great wildlife experiences in pristine wilderness and we can expect to see rufous-bellied heron, wattled crane, slaty egret, black coucal, swamp nightjar and malachite kingfisher.
- We drive back to Maun in time to board our overnight international flight home.
Day 16 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
Six nights are spent at mobile tented camps. The tents measure 4 x 3 metres, are high enough to stand up in, and have a porch at the front. Each one is furnished with two camp beds with mattress, sheets, duvet and pillows, a side table, and has its own long-drop toilet and shower area at the rear. Water is heated in a bucket on an open fire. There is an oil lamp on the verandah, in the bathroom, and at strategic points around camp, and a rechargeable LED light ir provided inside the tent.
Another seven nights are spent at very comfortable lodges in prime birding and wildlife locations, where all rooms have en suite facilities, and there is a swimming pool. This mix of comfort and wilderness gives you the best of both worlds and guarantees a unique overall experience.
All meals are included. Breakfast and dinner is either in camp or at the lodge; lunches are a mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals
With more than 580 bird species, Botswana boasts some of Africa’s finest birdlife. The north is particularly rich in birds - around 450 species have been recorded in Chobe National Park and surrounding areas, and in the Okavango Delta. February, at the peak of the green season, is the best time to see thousands of migrant birds.
There is an array of highly colourful species, such as green-pigeons, malachite and woodland kingfishers, bee-eaters, rollers, orioles, crimson-breasted shrikes, sunbirds, bishops and waxbills. The northern wetlands harbour an unrivalled selection of herons, storks and other egrets, and are the best place in Africa to see the near-endemic slaty egret, the endangered wattled crane, and the huge Pel’s fishing owl.
- Slaty egret
- Rufous-bellied heron
- Pel’s fishing owl
- Schalow’s turaco
Botswana offers some of the planet’s best wildlife experiences thanks to a healthy animal population. Most big safari animals are easily seen – with the exception of rhinos which have only been reintroduced relatively recently. The northern parks have permanent water and host greater concentrations of wildlife than the dry parks of the south.
Chobe is particularly known for its large numbers of elephant, bur is also home to lion, wild dog, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, bushbuck, blue wildebeest, and huge numbers of hippo.
- African elephant
- Burchell’s zebra
Botswana is home to around 8,000 species of insects and spiders. The most colourful butterflies are found along the Okavango Panhandle (the northwestern extension of the Okavango Delta) and include African monarchs and citrus swallowtails. Other insects of note include the unusual button spiders.
Scorpions are not uncommon in the Kalahari as they are perfectly adapted to the dry semi-desert conditions; although their sting is not fatal, it can be painful. The two main types of scorpion are the thick-tailed paraboothids and Cape burrowing scorpions. Paraboothids are the more dangerous of the two, and provide the main source of food to the meerkat.
- African monarch butterfly
- Citrus swallowtail butterfly
- Button spider
- Wahlberg’s burrowing scorpion
Reptiles and amphibians
Botswana’s hot and dry conditions offer an ideal environment for reptiles, with over 130 species, including at least 72 different snakes. The Okavango and Linyanti regions are amphibian hotspots, especially during the rainy season. Approximately 40 different species have been recorded.
- Nile crocodile
- Western green snake
- Giant bullfrog
- Flap-neck chameleon
When the rains arrive in summer, the scenery undergoes a profound transformation. At this time of year, the arid plains are rejuvenated, the bush turns vivid green and wild flowers emerge in a kaleidoscope of colours. Floodplains exposed by the receding waters are transformed into a tapestry of green.
The Okavango Delta is considered to be one of the ecological wonders of the world; its 1.6 million hectare expanse encompasses a wide diversity of habitats, including lagoons, water lagoons, grassland, woodland and palm-fringed islands.
Moremi is a beautiful reserve and one of Africa’s finest wildlife sanctuaries. Consisting of 3,000 square kilometres of woodland, floodplain and reedbed, it attracts high concentrations of plains game and predators. It is dominated by Chiefs’ Island, a large central landmass, which is surrounded by water on all sides during the flood season. The reserve's western reaches consist of the Okavango Delta, and its eastern sector is primarily mopane woodland and grassland.
The Caprivi Strip is a 400-kilometre-long strip of land in northeast Namibia, connecting Angola to the north, Botswana to the south and Zambia in the east. It has a number of major rivers such as the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi, as well as smaller rivers like the Linyanti and the Chobe.
Victoria Falls, at 1,708 metres wide, is the largest curtain of water in the world and one of the most spectacular. The falls are located on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa, which also defines the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. During the green season from November to May, the water level increases, reaching its highest levels in March and April.
The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve, a vast salt pan with a total area of 3,900 square kilometres situated in the middle of the dry savannah of northeastern Botswana, is one of the largest salt flats in the world. The salty desert pan is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi.
The water-based activities on this trip start with an outing by small boat in the Okavango Panhandle, followed by a classic late afternoon birding cruise on the Chobe River, in a larger river boat that moves slowly and quietly, thus offering good opportunities to see and photograph waterbirds and elephants bathing in the river.
There are excellent photographic opportunities on this trip – particularly as the arid plains are rejuvenated with the arrival of the rains, turning a vivid green with a carpet of wild flowers in a kaleidoscope of colours. The prolific wildlife is highly photogenic, and the mighty Victoria Falls make a stunning if testing subject.
Price includes return scheduled return flights London – Maun, plus charter flights between Maun and Moremi.
Due to the distance covered and the weather at this time of year, for comfort the vehicle used for the trip is a 14-seat minibus driven by the local guide. For wildlife drives at Nata and in Moremi we use a open-sided, four-wheel-drive safari vehicle, with three rows of three seats in the rear and a sunroof to provide shade.
The baggage allowance on chartered flights is strictly limited: one piece of checked luggage with a maximum weight of 14 kg and maximum dimensions of up to 114 cms (length + height + width).
The land is predominantly flat or gently undulating tableland, and we never reach an altitude of higher than 1,000m a.s.l.
Much of Botswana is semi-arid with low rainfall and temperatures that fluctuate widely between day and night. The northern two-thirds of the country lie within the tropics. Rainfall ranges from 600mm per year in the northwest to 250mm in the south, but is unpredictable and droughts are frequent. Even in the wet season, it does not rain every day and rainfall generally occurs in heavy but short mid-afternoon showers.
In the summer wet season (October to April), daytime temperatures typically hover around 30⁰ Celsius but may reach over 40⁰. In the winter dry season (May to September), the days are usually clear, warm (around 25⁰ Celsius) and sunny, while the nights are cool to cold, occasionally falling below 0⁰ Celsius. The floods that feed the Okavango Delta generally arrive in June, creating deeper lagoons and flooded plains; they recede in November, exposing more dry land.