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BOTSWANA: Best Of Birding & Wildlife Safari

Daybreak in the Kalahari, Botswana

TOUR FOCUS
BIRDS & WILDLIFE

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SCHEDULED TOURS

2019 :: November 23 - December 3
2019 :: November 23 - December 5

TRIP LEADERS

TOUR COST

From: $9,500 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Maun, Botswana (MUB)

GROUP SIZE

6 Participants

AVAILABILITY

Taking registrations now

PRIVATE TOUR OPTION

This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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TESTIMONIALS

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Highlights of BOTSWANA: Best Of Birding & Wildlife Safari

  • Pel’s Fishing Owl, Wattled Crane, Slaty Egret, and other avian specialties
  • Black-maned lions in the Kalahari Desert
  • Wild dogs, big cats, and numerous elephants
  • Okavango Delta wetlands teeming with wildlife

Description of BOTSWANA: Best Of Birding & Wildlife Safari

Botswana is among the most rewarding countries in Africa to experience a spectacular safari. Wild and remote, teeming with wildlife and stunning scenery, Botswana leaves a lasting impact on visitors.

Endless horizons of the Kalahari Desert, lush wetlands of the Okavango Delta, and vast grasslands of Savuti combine to provide incredible opportunities for wildlife viewing. Nearly 600 species of birds are found in the diverse habitats of Botswana, including specialties such as Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret, African Skimmer, African Finfoot, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Wattled Crane, Racquet-tailed Roller and Hartlaub’s Babbler. Elephants, giraffes, buffalo, hippos, zebra, warthogs, and an assortment of antelope, red lechwe, greater kudu, sable, roan, reedbuck and impala, along with predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena and African wild dogs are among the many highlights.

Situated in the center of southern Africa, landlocked Botswana lies at about 950 meters above sea level and more than 600 kilometers from the nearest coast. Relatively few people live in this vast rugged country, facilitating an experience of solitude and remote wildness. The country is striking for its flatness and aridity – the Kalahari Desert covers three-quarters of the land. The Okavango Delta is a wetland within a desert, receiving its waters from rain falling in central Africa, more than a thousand kilometers away. In the northeast, the Linyanti region and Savuti Channel feature varied mixed woodland habitats and ancient floodplains attracting massive herds of elephants and predators.

We’ll augment our safari with a trip to the world-famous Victoria Falls, along the Zambezi River, where stunning vistas and a variety of birds create powerful memories.

On our Best of Botswana safari, we’ll explore unique and pristine eco-systems world-renowned for concentrations of predators, herbivores, birds, reptiles, and spectacular scenery. The Kalahari Desert, Okavango Delta, Linyanti-Savuti, and Zambezi River provide experiences of a lifetime.

This is certainly a Best of Botswana, visiting the Kalahari desert, Okavango delta and Linyati woodland and floodplain, with wonderful land and water camps (you will not be disappointed), giving us a perfect mix of habitats and the very best wildlife viewing. Due to remoteness of this pristine landscape we will be flying between camps, saving us considerable time and giving us more time to enjoy the camps and concessions.

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Itinerary

Length of Tour

11-days/10-nights

Itinerary

Day 1 / Nov 23: Arr. Maun; Kalahari Plains Camp
Day 2 / Nov 24: Kalahari Plains Camp
Day 3 / Nov 25: Chitabe Camp
Day 4 / Nov 26: Chitabe Camp
Day 5 / Nov 27: Chitabe Camp
Day 6 / Nov 28: Xigera Camp
Day 7 / Nov 29: Xigera Camp
Day 8 / Nov 30: Savuti Camp
Day 9 / Dec 1: Savuti Camp
Day 10 / Dec 2: Savuti Camp
Day 11 / Dec 3: Dep. Maun

Extension to Victoria Falls

Day 11 / Dec 3: Fly to Livingstone -Toka Leya, Zambia
Day 12 / Dec 4: Toka Leya, Zambia
Day 13 / Dec 5: Dep. Livingstone

Itinerary:
Day 1 & 2 / Friday & Saturday Nov 23 & 24: Arrive in Maun, Botswana; Fly to Kalahari Plains Camp (2 nights)
We’ll arrive mid-day/early afternoon at Maun Airport, then transfer by light aircraft from Maun to Kalahari Plains Camp. Here, our Botswana safari begins off the beaten track in the Kalahari Desert, the largest unbroken stretch of sand in the world, dominating central Botswana. The five million hectare (12 million acre) Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the biggest conservation areas in Africa, featuring vast flat expanses of sand dunes and salt pans, interspersed with long-dry riverbeds, hiding ancient fossils. This seemingly-barren savannah is home to a fascinating spectrum of plants, animals, and cultures that have successfully adapted to living in such a harsh environment. Southern Africa’s aboriginal inhabitants, the remote San (bushmen) still live around the Kalahari.
The Kalahari Plains Camp, our base for two days, offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Africa, overlooking an immense pan with endless desert horizons and beautiful skies.
Healthy wildlife populations thrive year round, though sightings fluctuate with the seasons. The legendary Kalahari black-maned lion is a star attraction. When summer rains soak the earth, the arid desert blooms to life, attracting hundreds of grazing herbivores and their nearby predators. This area hosts nomadic populations of dryland specialists like cheetah, brown hyena, gemsbok, springbok, and eland as well as leopard, wild dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, steenbok, ostrich and hartebeest. Smaller species like black-backed jackal, African wildcat, honey badger, Cape and bat-eared fox, ground squirrel, and myriad mongoose may be found.
The Central Kalahari bird community, some 220 species, offers a high rate of endemism and not-to-be-missed specialties. Regionally threatened and arid-west endemic species such as Crimson-breasted Shrike, Violet-eared Waxbill, Double-banded Courser and Southern Pied Babbler. Also found in the area are Shaft-tailed Whydah, Barred Wren-Warbler, Northern Black Korhaan, Secretarybird, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Kori Bustard, Lanner Falcon, Burchell’s and Namaqua Sandgrouse. We’ll look for Black-chested Prinia, Ant-eating Chat, Eastern Clapper Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Scaly-feathered Weaver and Red-headed Finch.
Day 3, 4 & 5 / Sunday, Monday & Tuesday Nov 25, 26 & 27: Fly to Chitabe Camp (3 nights), Okavango Delta
The flight from the Kalahari to the Okavango Delta reflects sharp contrast in scenery and habitats. We’ll spend the next five nights within the largest inland wetlands on earth. The lush wilderness of the Okavango encompasses more than 15,000 square kilometers of watery paradise interlaced with papyrus, impenetrable reed beds, grassy floodplains, tree-covered islands and a complex network of winding water channels that are engineered and maintained by hippos and elephants. Some areas are permanently under water and others only when the rejuvenated annual floodwaters arrive from the central African highlands, thousands of kms away. This constant ebb and flow of water creates one of the most fascinating and diverse ecosystems on the planet, home to large numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles and other wildlife. The Okavango Delta is a world class, year-round wildlife destination, where sightings vary between seasons, water levels, weather, and camp locations. Unsurprisingly, the Okavango Delta is both a RAMSAR Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Whether on a game drive, or gliding down winding waterways on a mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe), we’ll enjoy unique perspective and photographic opportunity to observe birds, frogs, reptiles, and mammals of all sizes. Wildlife includes the “big five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), many antelope species, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and predators like cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs. Smaller mammals such as jackals, foxes, serval, and honey badger are present.
Birdwatching is spectacular in the Okavango Delta, with more than 460 species found here including many avian jewels such as Pel’s Fishing-owl, Slaty Egret, African Pygmy-Goose, Grey Crowned and Wattled Cranes, Western banded Snake eagle, Coppery-tailed Coucal and colonies of colorful Carmine Bee-eaters. We’ll look for papyrus swamp specialists such as Greater Swamp Warbler, Chirping Cisticola, and Swamp Nightjar.
We’ll spend three nights inside the Chitabe concession, spanning 28,000 hectares in the south-eastern part of the Delta. The eastern half of the concession is characterized by grassy floodplains, which separate the Channel from acacia and mopane woodland. The western half is bordered by the Santantadibe River with a variety of typical Okavango habitats – seasonal palm-dotted floodplains, wooded islands, tranquil waterways and dry woodland – ensuring a year-round variety of wildlife and bird species. Diverse habitats host good concentrations of larger predators like lion, leopard, spotted hyaena, cheetah and wild dog, as well as herbivores like giraffe, buffalo, lechwe, tsessebe, impala and elephant. Birdwatching is equally excellent, including Wattled Crane, Black Coucal, African Barred Owlet, Bennet’s Woodpecker, Greater Painted Snipe, Southern Ground Hornbill, Lesser Jacana and Pink-backed Pelican.
 
Day 6 & 7 / Wednesday & Thursday Nov 28 & 29: Fly to Pelo Camp (2 nights), Okavango Delta
We’ll fly to Pelo Camp, in the private Jao Concession, to explore the north-western side of the Okavango Delta. The word Pelo means ‘heart’ – describing the shape of the island on which the camp is situated, and its location in the heart of the Delta. Located in a true wetlands area, this water camp was setup on an island, and is accessible only by boat. The eco-friendly complex contains no permanent structures, but provides an outstanding safari experience with simple, comfortable accommodations and wildlife concentrations that ebb and flow with seasonally-changing water levels.
Activities focus on mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe) excursions, offering authentic, unobtrusive insights into this incredible wetland paradise. The boat allows us to glide up quietly to observe and photograph animals at close range.
Pelo Camp is one of the best areas to see red lechwe and secretive sitatunga antelope. Hippo and crocodile are regularly sighted; other game includes impala, elephant, buffalo, and spotted-necked otter. Predators like lion and leopard are constantly stalking their herbivore prey. Birdlife is exceptional with large concentrations of endangered Wattled Crane, along with Slaty Egrets, African and Lesser Jacanas, Rosy-throated Longclaws, African Skimmer, African Pygmy-goose, Western banded Snake-eagle and other Okavango specialties. Swamp Nightjar and Brown Firefinch are possible, with luck. Pel’s Fishing-owl is a major highlight of the location, and Pelo Camp is our best chance to see one.
Day 8, 9 & 10 / Friday, Saturday & Sunday Nov 30, Dec 1 & 2: Fly to Savuti Camp (3 nights)
Leaving the Okavango Delta, we fly to northern Botswana where vast open plains of the Linyanti region teem with wildlife. The Linyanti and Kwando Rivers converge in a wondrous marshy area attracting concentrations of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, buffalos, and wild dogs. Rare roan and sable antelopes join other animals emerging from the surrounding mopane woodlands to drink at the rivers and wetland areas.
We’ll spend 3 days in this expansive wildlife-rich area, enjoying ample opportunity to observe and photograph prolific animal interactions amid varied habitats.
The Savuti Marsh, located on the western edge of Chobe National Park, is fed by the enigmatic Savute Channel, whose erratic waters sometimes dry-up due to shifting tectonic plates, and occasionally flow both directions! Savuti’s lush grasslands famously attract massive herds of buffalos and elephants, and the large prides of lions that have learned to hunt them. Dramatic scenes unfold when elephants come to drink, and lions ambush young and sick members of the herd.
Wildlife abounds with four of the big five (lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo – only rhinos are absent), many antelope species, zebras and giraffes with good populations of cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs. Nocturnal species often seen are lesser bushbaby, spring hare, aardwolf, serval, large spotted genet and, if you are extremely lucky, the elusive pangolin!
Birding is outstanding here ranging from Okavango specials, such as Slaty Egret, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Allen’s Gallinule (seasonal) and Wattled Crane, to the drier mopane woodland species like Racket-tailed Roller, Bradfield’s Hornbill, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Coqui Francolin and Arnot’s Chat. Open plains host Kori Bustard, Ostrich, Secretarybird, Southern Ground-hornbill, and Southern Carmine Bee-eaters. The Savute Channel is an internationally-recognized Important Bird Area (IBA) particularly for birds of prey like Dickinson’s kestrel, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl and African Scops-owl.
Day 11 & 12 / Monday & Tuesday Dec 3 & 4: Fly to Livingstone, Zambia -Toka Leya (2 nights)
We transfer from Savuti Camp by light aircraft to Kasane Airport, our last stop in Botswana, where we clear customs and immigration before a continuing flight to Livingstone, Zambia. After clearing customs (again), it’s a short drive to Toka Leya, a beautiful camp situated on the banks of the Zambezi River.
We’ll enjoy a wonderful sunset river cruise on the Zambezi River, looking out for Half-collared Kingfisher, African Finfoot, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Water Thick-knees, White-crowned Lapwing, and elephants swimming across the river!
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the Smoke that Thunders” – a name that accurately depicts the plumes of spray, visible for some distance, caused by the cascading waters of the Zambezi River. This area showcases spectacular scenic beauty, from thundering falls to picturesque flowing waters lined by lush vegetation. Wildlife abounds while boating on the river or on game drives in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park upstream from the falls.
The Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park encompasses mopane and Zambian teak woodlands, and thick riverine forest of palm trees along the banks of the Zambezi River. The park is home to many birds including Black-collared Barbet, Southern Black Tit, Collared Palm Thrush, Arrow-marked Babbler, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Broad-billed Roller, Black Cuckoo-Shrike and Jacobin Cuckoo. Mammals include elephant, southern giraffe, greater kudu, common zebra, buffalo, sable antelope, and impala. This is the only location in Zambia to see rare white rhino; decades of poaching had eliminated 12,000 of them by 1993. Four white rhinos were introduced to the park in 2008, which armed rangers monitor closely. We’ll take a guided walk through the open bush to look for these rare, beautiful creatures.
Day 13 / Wednesday Dec 5: Depart from Livingstone, Zambia
We transfer late morning to Livingstone Airport for our international departure and return to the US.
Please note that this itinerary is a guideline, and while we hope to do everything on safari, activities are subject to change, due to circumstances beyond our control.

 

Cost Details

Cost

$9,500 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Maun, Botswana (Airport code MUB).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code ).

Single Supplement and other Cost Additions

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $2,170 will be assessed.

Cost (11 days / 10 nights)

$,9500.00 based upon a minimum of 6 participants and double occupancy from Maun [MUB], Botswana
Single Supplement: $2170.00. Subject to availability. If you do not request a single room and we are unable to find you a roommate, you will be charged the single supplement
Includes: 6 Internal flights between camps

Including Extension to Victoria Falls

Cost (13 days / 12 nights)

$11,500.00 based upon a minimum of 6 participants and double occupancy from Maun [MUB], Botswana; departing Livingstone [LVI], Zambia
Single Supplement: $2470.00. Subject to availability. If you do not request a single room and we are unable to find you a roommate, you will be charged the single supplement
Includes: 7 Internal flights between camps

Deposit Requirements

A $2,000 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

Accommodations

Wonderful camps!

Activity Level

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Additional Information

Recommended Field Guide (s)

Birds of Botswana (Princeton Field Guides, 2015)
by Peter Hancock and Ingrid Weiersbye

 

 

Birds of Southern Africa  4th Edition (Princeton Field Guides, 2011)
by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton and Peter Ryan

 

Non-smoking Tour

This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.

Transportation

We will using an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle.

 

Due to remoteness of this pristine landscape we will be flying between camps, saving us considerable time and giving us more time to enjoy the camps and concessions.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

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