Botswana with the Okavango and Makgadikgadi Desert - Desert Sunset, Delta Dawn

No place on earth displays the transformational power of water as dramatically as Botswana. By its presence or absence, water is the underlying theme of this illuminating trip. Bleak salt beds stretch to the horizon where an ancient lake once lay in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Arid and barren most of the year, spring rains nourish latent seeds and sets vast herds to motion. In the Okavango Delta, the persistence of water has created a life giving oasis of islands, channels, and marshes surrounded by the Kalahari Desert. Sand and stone give way to soil and the complexity and variety of life is on full display in a place where the barren and bountiful exist side by side.

Degree of Difficulty - Two Paws

Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.

Weather Reports - When To Go

Botswana can be visited year-round. June-August is Botswana’s winter and the mornings and evenings can be quite cold, the water levels are at their highest, and it is generally considered high season. However, the off-peak season also offers spectacular wildlife viewing and the pricing is best during that time of year.

On our Desert Sunset, Delta Dawn program, Camp Moremi is in the Moremi Reserve with great game viewing year-round, and the lagoons of Xakanaxa and the Kwhai River are good for boating. Camp Okavango offers great walking safaris and the classic mokoro experience. Leroo La Tau is perched on the cliffs of the Boteti River on the far western side of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park . This River began flowing again in 2009 after more than 20 years and is one of the best places to witness Africa’s second biggest zebra migration. December-March the large herds of zebra & wildebeest have migrated to the pans away from the river, but our program includes a daytrip to Nxai Pan for an exciting chance to witness these large herds, including springbok, oryx and eland plus all those thousands of zebra that have migrated there for the season. Depending on the rains of the season…come April the zebra begin the migration back to the river and the area surrounding the lodge as they come in search of water to drink as it dries up and evaporates from the pans. As the dry season draws in, so too do the zebra and wildebeest resulting in magical scenes of thousands of zebra galloping up and down the dusty river banks of the Boteti. You might even see some of the Rhino that has been reintroduced to the region after being absent from the park for the over 200 years.

On our Animal Kingdom’s Water Wilderness program, Banoka/Santawani Camps have some of the best wildlife viewing in the Okavango, and depending on water levels, walks, mokoros and game runs are possible. Xigera Camp has permanent waters year round and travelers enjoy water activities such as mokoros and boating, no matter what time of year, but game drives are better when the water levels are down. DumaTau/Linyanti Camps are fantastic at all times of the year with high concentrations of wildlife.

At Victoria Falls, the water levels are high January-July on the Zambian side and diminish after that. For best viewing of the Falls, we recommend that travelers visit the Zimbabwe side between August and the end of the year – this tour can very easily be arranged at an additional cost if staying at the Zambian side of the Falls.

Summer in Cape Town (December through March) can be quite hot during the day, but it’s never uncomfortable as humidity is relatively low. Autumn (April/May) is warm with sunny days and lovely nights – some of the best time to visit Cape Town. It can be rainy in Cape Town during winter (June-August), but it’s always pleasant and there are plenty of activities to be enjoyed no matter what the weather. Spring (September-October) can be warm, but the evenings do cool off. This is another lovely time to visit Cape Town as it is not windy, the weather is lovely and the wild flowers are in profusion. Overall, the winters are mild, spring and autumn fantastic, and the summers comfortable; Cape Town can be visited during any time of the year.

Days 1/2 U.S.A./JOHANNESBURG

Get set for your adventure as you board your overnight flight to South Africa. Arrive Johannesburg next day, where you are escorted to your exquisite home offering a convenient location close to the airport coupled with lavish comforts. Located at Emperors Palace, the complex offers shops, restaurants, and the grounds are a relaxing retreat after your long flight. D’OREALE GRANDE. (Meals Aloft)

Days 3/4 JOHANNESBURG/MAUN/OKAVANGO DELTA/CAMP MOREMI

Take to the air and make your way to one of the world’s most distinctive regions and largest inland water systems, the Okavango Delta. By light aircraft, arrive at Camp Moremi in the Xakanaxa region of the Moremi Game Reserve. Moremi occupies an area where the life giving waters of the Okavango River give way to the arid expanses of the Kalahari Desert. Stands of Mopane forests cover islands separated by papyrus lined waterways filled with the chatter of a thriving bird population. In the open grassland portions of the reserve, the elusive wild dog uses its wiles to capture a meal whilst the cheetah relies on its prodigious speed, and you may be lucky enough to see both. Activities here include game drives by open land cruiser, and boating up channels and across lagoons, all the while viewing the goings on of the delta residents: a hippo watches you from a deep pool, young baboon race around a baobab tree, a Lilac breasted Roller flits from branch to branch. Return to camp for lunch and do it again in the afternoon as the nocturnal civet, genet, serval, and aardwolf begin to wake. CAMP MOREMI. (All Meals Daily)

Days 5/6 OKAVANGO DELTA/CAMP OKAVANGO

Fly to the exceptional Camp Okavango on the Nxaragha Island. Activities here center around mokoro (dugout canoe) rides, boat excursions and walking safaris. See the delta from water level and relax as you glide through quiet reed-lined channels. Birding is excellent, with Pels Fishing Owl and Wattled Crane being observed with regularity. In all, more than 600 species reside within the 7000 square miles of islands, marshes, flood plains, and channels of which the Okavango is comprised. Feel the beat of Africa beneath your feet on a walking safari, and take a boat through the reeds to spot some of the larger species such as elephant, red lechwe, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, baboon, monkey, warthog, and buffalo, along with major predators such as lion, leopard, and hyena. If you are lucky, spot the elusive sitatunga antelope which have been known to sleep in the water, with only their nostrils resting above the water’s surface. CAMP OKAVANGO. (All Meals Daily)

Days 7/8/9 MAKGADIKGADI/NXAI PANS NATIONAL PARKS/KHUMAGA VILLAGE/LEROO LA TAU

Leave the Delta behind as you fly to Leroo La Tau at the edge of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, named for ancient Lake Makgadikadi that disappeared thousands of years ago. What remains is a collection of salt pans that cover approximately 6,200 square miles due south of the Okavango Delta. The camp is situated on the banks of the Boteti River and commands superb views. Next day, drive to Nxai Pan National Park, named for one of the salt pans that, along with the Ntwetwe, Sua, and Kudiakam pans, comprised the bed of the erstwhile Lake Makgadikgadi. These pans transform during the rainy season between July and October, when they fill with water and their stark whiteness becomes lush greenery. Year round, small populations of springbok, giraffe, and gemsbok can be found, but, during the wet season, their numbers increase significantly, and herds of zebra and wildebeest arrive bringing with them opportunistic predators such as hyena and lion. Visit Baines Baobabs, an oasis of venerable baobab trees named for the first European to have seen them, which are now part of a protected national monument. These “upside down” giants provide a shady vantage point from which to view the desolate beauty of the Kudiakam Pan. On your last day, drive to the nearby Khumaga Village for an enlightening cultural experience. A farewell open-air dinner with traditional storytelling will bookend your day. DUMATAU LEROO LA TAU. (All Meals Daily)

Days 10/11 LEROO LA TAU/MAUN/JOHANNESBURG/USA

A last activity this morning before your transfer to Maun by light aircraft for your return flights home. (B, Meals Aloft).

OPTIONAL PRE EXTENSION TO VICTORIA FALLS, ZIMBABWE & CHOBE NATIONAL PARK, BOTSWANA

Your adventure begins in Zimbabwe to experience the power of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. This incredible spectacle — “The Smoke That Thunders,” as it is known to locals — is the world’s largest waterfall, with five thundering cascades plummeting more than 300 feet. Feel the mist on your face during a guided tour of the Falls; enjoy a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River; and, visit a rural village to experience ageold traditions. Stay at the luxurious ELEPHANT CAMP, built on the banks of the Zambezi River. Then head to Chobe National Park, home to some of the largest elephant herds on the continent. By boat and open land cruiser, search for iconic wildlife and don’t forget to snap a photo of one of the most magical sunsets in Africa. Stay at CHOBE GAME LODGE in the heart of the park and be pampered with superb service and cuisine.

OPTIONAL POST EXTENSION TO CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

End your journey with a delightful retreat in Cape Town, one of the loveliest cities in the world. Enjoy stunning accommodations at the historic TAJ CAPE TOWN. Ascend Table Mountain and take the coastal route to the Cape of Good Hope to discover charming seaside towns, spectacular wildlife, and the comical penguins at Boulders Beach. Tour the brilliant Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and spend a day in the famed Boland Valley wine region. Visit the settlement of Khayelitsha with a township guide and get an eye-opening historical tour of Robben Island. This is the perfect way to end your adventure in Southern Africa.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • All flights between the Botswana camps.
  • On the pre extension, flight between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls.
  • On the post extension, flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • All meals while on safari. Other meals as specified in itinerary.
  • All wildlife viewing by 4X4 open vehicles, driven by professional rangers, by mokoro and by boat.
  • Specialist guide will accompany group with a minimum of 10 travelers on the main program and on either extension.
  • Laundry and all domestic beverages (beers, juices, house wines, sodas and some domestic liquors, excluding Champagne and premium brands) at camps in Botswana.
  • Complimentary bottled water in vehicles throughout.
  • All applicable hotel and lodge taxes and gratuities for baggage handling.
  • All park entry fees and sightseeing as specified.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallet.
Prices starting at $6,295. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.