A trip through Botswana's remote wilderness to track Africa's greatest animals, stay on a houseboat on the delta, sleep under canvas in the bush and visit the Smoke that Thunders - Victoria Falls.
Game Viewing - Explore Botswana's finest game reserves during seven days of safari
Okavango Delta Panhandle - Search for water-dwelling wildlife and exotic birds in the remote area of the delta
Chobe National Park - A remarkable wildlife sanctuary, world famous for its huge elephant population.
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our tour starts in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta. After checking in to our hotel, your afternoon is free to relax. You may choose to take a stroll around the town, where modern buildings and native huts stand side-by-side. Originally a rural village, it has rapidly developed into Botswana's 'tourism capital'. However, the town has managed to retain much of its rural atmosphere and you may well see tribesmen bringing their cattle to sell at the market.
An early start this morning to get on the road for a long drive to the west side of the Okavango Delta Panhandle, where we will board the houseboat, our home for the next three nights, in time for lunch. During this trip we will travel in customised, open-sided land-cruisers. The vehicles are perfect for the game viewing opportunities but can be a bit brisk and windy during the longer travel days, so ensure you bring some layers for travel days, and your Explore leader will provide blankets to make the journeys as comfortable as possible. The roads through Botswana can vary in quality, so travel days can be slow and bumpy but the scenery more than makes up for this. Once aboard the houseboat, the accommodation is very comfortable, with eight bedrooms with en-suite facilities. Each room has glass doors sliding open on to the wilderness of the remote panhandle area, while on the deck above are seating areas from which to enjoy the sunsets and listen to the birds. Due to seasonal variations in the level and strength of the river, the houseboat itself remains securely moored for much of the year, whilst we explore the river on smaller launches. However, the amount of water that falls in the catchment area can be highly variable and occasionally, conditions may allow the houseboat itself to cruise in the Delta. The next couple of days are spent enjoying this spectacular setting. During our time on the river, there is a good possibility of seeing a variety of game. On our launch, we may cruise past submerging pods of hippos, while crocodiles bask in the shallows and on the riverbanks. While drifting along, it is not hard to imagine yourself as David Livingstone, exploring Africa all those years ago.
During our second day aboard the houseboat, our itinerary is flexible. A typical day involves one or two trips out on the launch to take in the wildlife and visit the surrounding area. Back on board, there are plenty of opportunities for bird watching. Local fishermen are often seen aboard their traditional dugout canoes, known locally as Mokoros. The golden light of late afternoon can also be enjoyed with a traditional sundowner in the houseboat's bar. As this is a day at leisure you can choose how much or how little you do today.
Today, we'll visit the intriguing and sacred World Heritage Site of the Tsodilo Hills. The San Bushmen community believe the hills are the site of the first creation and painted an astonishing 4000 rock paintings across 350 sites marking the area's significance. Here, four impressive rocks jut out of the expanse of the surrounding land, and it is believed by the San Bushmen that the largest of the rocks is the 'man', the second largest the 'woman', and the smallest the 'child'. The fourth rock, which stands apart from the others, is said to be the male's first wife. Some of the paintings are thought to be over 20,000 years old, and as well as the chance to see ancient rock paintings, the hills offer vast views across the countryside below. We'll spend around two hours exploring the area along the walking trails, as well as stopping for a picnic lunch before returning to the houseboat for a relaxing evening.
This morning will be a very early start to ensure enough daylight hours for the long journey to Livingstone. Today's total journey time is approximately nine hours depending on time spent at the border crossings, and will of course include comfort breaks and a lunch break. The drive takes us through north to Namibia's Caprivi Strip, before heading to Livingstone in Zambia. The Caprivi Region has a colourful and interesting history, playing a central part in the Berlin Conference of 1890. Named after German Chancellor General Count Georg Leo von Caprivi di Caprara di Montecuccoli, the strip was once administered by the British before it was swapped for Zanzibar with the Germans at a time of great European political manoeuvring. A late afternoon arrival to Livingstone provides just enough time for a refreshing sundowner at our lodge accommodation overlooking the Zambezi River.
Often referred to as the adventure capital of Zambia, Livingstone is most famous as being home to one of the natural wonders of the world - Victoria Falls. This morning we'll visit the falls from the Zambian side of the river where the Zambezi River plummets over a sheer cliff wall spanning more than 1676 meters and dropping approximately 100 metres into the abyss below. The natives named the waterfall, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning 'the smoke that thunders' because of the plumes of water vapour that rise like smoke into the sky above the falls, accompanied by the deafening roar. This afternoon is free to relax, or you may choose to book a two hour game drive in the Mosi-oa- Tunya National Park in search of white rhino. Alternatively, there is the option to take a scenic flight over the falls or go white water rafting in the Zambezi.
Today, we cross the border once again when we take a ferry over the Zambezi River back into Botswana, where we will make our way into the Chobe National Park. Famed for its beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and magnificent golden sunsets, Chobe is the heart of elephant country and is home to approximately 120,000 of the giant creatures. After a stop for supplies and lunch, we will head out on an afternoon game drive. Although simple in style, our camping spot for tonight allows us to fully appreciate the wild setting. To the high demand in Botswana, all campsites for the next seven nights are booked two years in advance to ensure that we get the best positions in some truly spectacular spots.
We'll maximise our time today to ensure we make the most of game drive opportunities. We'll head out in the morning and again in the afternoon, for the chance to spot huge trumpeting herds of elephants in and around the river. Other mammals to be seen are buffalo, kudu, eland, waterbuck, sable and roan antelope, zebra, lion, cheetah, leopard, impala, reedbuck and the rare Chobe bushbuck. In the river are hippo and crocodile and the waters teem with bream, barbel and tiger fish (freshwater barracuda). The Explore leader will decide on the exact running times of the day, and lunch arrangements, depending on the weather conditions and the season to ensure the best viewing.
Today as we will travel south, we'll explore the interior area of Savuti with its sweeping plains, rolling grasslands and marshes which are fed by the erratic Savuti Channel. The channel ran dry in 1982, changing the lives of all wildlife on the plains as the ground baked in the African sun, and remained dry for over 20 years until 2008 when the water once again began to flow attracting animals back in high numbers. We'll have time to watch the herds that live in and around this area including lions, elephants and possibly the leopard, plus an abundance of bird species including the bee-eater and kori bustards.
Leaving our Savuti camp, we continue over dirt roads into Moremi Game Reserve - one of Botswana's most diverse reserves in terms of scenery and wildlife. Tucked into the north-eastern section of the Okavango Delta, Moremi is thought to be the country's most beautiful game land, and is rated as one of Africa's greatest wildlife sanctuaries. This vast area is a mix of permanent swamps, islands, forests and dry land; an ornithologist's paradise. Birdlife and larger mammals can often be spotted on the flood plain, including elephant, giraffe, zebra and ostrich, as well as predators like lion, leopard and wild dog. For the next two nights we will be camping in the northern Khwai River area where the waters feed an abundance of flora and fauna, including the frequently-visiting wild dog. Hippos are often heard by night too!
Over the next couple of days, early mornings and late afternoons are devoted to game viewing. Here in the Okavango, silence reigns, broken only by the roar of a lion or the harsh cry of a fish eagle.
The mighty Okavango is the third largest river in southern Africa. The delta area covers 16,000 square kilometres and is made up of crystal clear channels, countless fleeting lakes and ever-changing islands. The waters flows down in a south-easterly direction from the Angolan highlands, over 1000 kilometres away, taking up to six months to reach the delta area which floods on a perennial annual cycle. Remaining in the Moremi Game Reserve, today we drive further into the Delta area to our camp at Xakanaxa, where we will spend the next two nights. This exceptional geography and topography attracts amazing wildlife to the waterways and we'll begin game viewing on our arrival.
Today, we intend to spend the whole day in this unspoilt wonderland. Hippo, crocodile and red lechwe are easy to spot. Bird lovers can look out for fish eagle, jacana, kingfisher, heron, stork, egret, weaver and bee-eater; just some of the magnificent species found here.
After an early morning game drive, we continue eastwards enjoying the vastness of the surrounding lands, until we reach Maun at lunchtime. This afternoon, there may be the opportunity of an optional game flight over the Okavango Delta depending on the weather conditions.
Our tour ends in Maun after breakfast. Depending on the schedule of your departing flight, you may choose to spend a few hours exploring the town independently.
The main rainy season is from January to March. Rain is widespread and generally falls in the form of a thunderstorm in the late afternoon; grass tends to be long and there is more water about so game is more dispersed. Otherwise it is dry, with low humidity for most of the year. Temperatures reach around 29°C during the day with quite cold nights throughout the year. Early dry season is the most pleasant time for temperatures and the best for bird watching. For game viewing though the late dry season is better
For yellow fever all travellers aged over 9 months old that have travelled from or have transited for more than 12 hours via a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission, will need to present a Yellow Fever certificate. Please note there is a low risk of exposure to yellow fever in Zambia and we recommend for your to discuss this with your doctor/health centre. We strongly recommend protection against malaria, hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio. Malaria is present in the region so consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
With a staggering 300 days of sunshine each year, Namibia is a year-round destination, although some may prefer to avoid the heat of high summer. The cold Benguela current keeps the Atlantic coast of the Namib Desert cool and rain-free for most of the year, with a thick coastal fog that lends a mysterious edge to the area. January and February are the hottest months, when daytime temperatures in the heart of the Namib can exceed 40°C (104°F), but nights are usually cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.
Nothing compulsory, but we do recommend protection against malaria, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid and polio. Please note that all travellers aged over 9 months old that have travelled from or have transitted via a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission, will need to present a Yellow Fever certificate at immigration/borders in Namibia for inspection. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Travellers may wish to immunise themselves against meningitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Botswana's regional characteristics, from fertile areas in the east to waterless desert in the centre and south, and a vast delta in the north-west, make for extremes of temperatures and highly variable rainfall. Seasonal weather patterns can be unpredictable.
We do recommend protection against malaria, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Travellers may wish to immunize themselves against meningitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling. Immigration/Borders in Botswana are requesting a Yellow Fever certificate if you have previously travelled within/via an endemic country. Please note that any travellers who have visited Ebola affected countries during the last 30 days will be denied entry into Botswana. These countries are: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia
Maun - Flight over Okavango Delta (approx. 1 hour) US$ 100pp depending on numbers booked (must be booked in advance so speak to your tour leader).
Livingstone - Helicopter for 30 mins flight US$ 360pp (plus US$6pp aviation fee), Whitewater rafting half day US$ 160pp, full day US$ 170pp; Upper Zambezi canoeing half day US$ 110pp, full day US$ 145pp; Zambezi river cruises sunset (1 hour)US$ 65pp, sunset & dinner US$ 85pp; Game drives US$ 65pp for 2 hours; Livingstone tour US$ 50pp; Cultural village tour US$ 50pp (including transfers).
Chobe - optional river cruise US$ 40pp.
Okavango Panhandle - boat trip - no charge.
Rafting note: River conditions are determined by seasonally predictable fluctuations in water levels. Low water season generally runs from August to January each year - this is when the Zambezi is at its very wildest. High water is from about February to July and there can be a closed season between March and June depending on the season's rains.
Travelling with Minors via South Africa (including transits) and entry into Botswana and Namibia
Regulations affecting all children aged under 18 years that are travelling to, from or via South Africa have been updated (Nov19). The law states that visa exempt children travelling for tourism purposes with one or both parents and/or an adult who is not a biological parent require to present a valid passport for each child on arrival. We strongly recommend you to refer to the South African House website for full information and to travel with a copy of these requirements.
Please refer to the FCO website for information on travelling with minors to Botswana: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana/entry-requirements
Please refer to the FCO website for information on travelling with minors to Namibia:
Botswana: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens.
All passports must have at least 6 months validity remaining from date of entry into Botswana.
Namibia: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens.
Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
UK passport holders will need a minimum of 1 blank page in your passport for your permission to stay stamp acquired on arrival. Other nationalities should consult their embassy or consular office.
Zambia: Visas are required for UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. British citizens can obtain these on arrival, all other nationalities should consult their consulate. All passports must have at least 6 months validity remaining on entry and also have two consecutive blank pages in their passports which lie side by side when the passport is open (i.e. a left and a right hand page).
Please refer to the Zambia Department of Immigration website for visa on arrival fees: http://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm
When travelling via South Africa a machine readable passport is required. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.
All holidays are subject to availability and prices are subject to change.