About this tour
This tour has been organised as a Luxury Mobile Tour staying on private campsites. We will camp the days 2 through to 11. In total 11 nights out of our 13 nights stay. We start and end with a night in a Lodge to get ourselves organised. The camp is moved by a truck ahead and will have been erected upon arrival at the new campsite. This maximises the time we can spend birding/game driving.
We are sleeping In "classic" walk-in safari tents of 10 sqm and 2 m high in the middle, on single beds with mattresses, which are situated, each on one side of the tent. The beds can also be put together. All linen will be provided, there is an electric light and mosquito spray, soap, body lotion and drinking water on the bedside tables. The en-suite part is connected at the back-end of the tent, which can be opened by a zipper. The ensuite part has no roof and is made of canvas. The toilet is a seat over a hole in the soil and can be "flushed" by a scoop and some sand. On the other side hangs the "bucket-shower", which will be filled with warm water by the Staff from the outside. On the frontside the tent there is an awning where a mirror-table with two wash-basins is placed. On the early morning wake-up call warm fresh water is provided. In the camp there are possibilities to charge batteries.
After the international flight from your home country we will take the connecting flight from Johannesburg to Maun, where we will arrive at midday. Our guide will wait for us at the airport and take care of the transport to our Lodge to refresh a bit after a long journey. We will stay in the Tamalakane River Lodge.
Thamalakane River Lodge is placed on the banks of the Thamalakane River, just 19 kms from Maun, and en route to the famous Moremi Game Reserve. Character en-suite stone chalets, some with private splash pools are positioned in the shade of the riverine forest, overlooking the river. Chalets, public areas and the swimming pool take advantage of the 180 degree view of the riverbanks lined with fluttering reeds visited by an ever changing array of water fowl and birds. It is a delightful place to come home to after a tiring day.
In the afternoon we will take a boat ride on the Thamalakane River. We will be looking for special species including Hartlaub’s Babbler, Slaty Egret, Swamp Boubou, Lesser Jacana, African Mourning Dove, Pygmy Goose and other aquatic species, e.g. herons, egrets, ducks, dabchicks. All of which may be seen on this stretch of the river.
Day 2 - 4
We journey to our tented camp near to Komana during the morning of day two. Our camp has its own extensive grounds, where it is safe to walk and observe several bird species, our first afternoon will be spent either relaxing or if you want, accompany the guide for a walk in the grounds, the option is yours.
The camp is only an hour’s drive away from Lake Ngami, a registered Important Bird Area and Ramsar Site. We will spend the second of our days in this area visiting the lake and also taking a boat tour of the lake. In years of high rainfall Lake Ngami fills with water, creating a lake of up to 250km2 in size. It then becomes an incredibly prolific place, with waterbirds in particular arriving in enormous numbers to breed. More than 60 waterbird species including 25,000 pairs of Red-billed Ducks, tens of thousands of Comb Ducks and sizeable populations of two species classified as Vulnerable – Wattled Crane and Slaty Egret, these are just some of the birds to be seen here.
For our third day in the area we will again visit the lake and explore its shores for animal and birdlife, but those wanting to relax around the camp and its grounds are welcome to make their own choice.
We will make our way to Maun and catch our private charter plane connection to Xakanaxa in the Okavango Delta. We will be able to explore the river highways in relaxed fashion shortly after arriving by boat. It is a great way to get up close and personal to some of the birdlife here. After our boat trip we will do a short game drive before heading to our local camp.
Day 6 - 7
In the north western corner of Botswana is the inland delta of the Okavango (18,000 square kilometres) where the Kavango River spreads out into a maze of channels, lagoons and backwaters, creating the largest Ramsar site in the world. Habitats range from open grasslands (seasonally flooded) and palm fringed islands with tall stands of mature woodland, to ample Papyrus and Phragmites which line the waterways and lagoons, and lush riverine forests along the riverbanks. The threatened Wattled Crane and Slaty Egret have their global stronghold in this area. Other special birds include: Pink-backed Pelican, Rufous-bellied and White-backed Night Herons, Pygmy Goose, African Skimmer, Pel`s Fishing Owl, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Pink-throated Longclaw, Red-winged Pratincole, Chirping Cisticola, Long-toed Plover, Swamp Boubou, Bat Hawk, Western Banded Snake and Long-crested Eagles, Carmine Bee-eater, Narina Trogon and Brown Firefinch.
We arrive at our camp in Khwai for a 2 night stopover and the Khwai area is one of the most beautiful places in Botswana as well as being very rewarding in terms of game viewing. It is situated in the north-eastern part of the Moremi Wildlife Reserve. Our stay here will be full of game and birding opportunities.
Transfer day to Sengo Camp and a journey through the bush. Here we will arrive at our camp for lunch and have options to either relax in the camp and its surroundings or go on a trip in the Mokoro, again our guests can make their own choices.
Day 9 - 10
Another great day ahead of us and starting with our private charter flight to Savuti. Recognised as a prime game viewing area, the Savuti, covers almost 5,000 square km in the south west of Chobe National Park. The area promises sightings of endangered wild dog, which is said to be the most efficient hunter in Africa. Large concentrations of lion follow the annual zebra migration intently, and leopard and cheetah are to be seen.
The western edge of Savuti is encircled by the Magwikhwe sand ridge, 100 km long and 20 metres high, which is the ancient shoreline of a super-lake that covered much of northern Botswana. It is difficult to imagine that this harsh dry landscape was once submerged beneath an enormous inland sea. A channel from the Linyanti River once fed the now dry Savuti Marsh, which is the deepest part of the Mababe Depression and is the only part to have filled with water in recent history.
Sometime around 1888 it started to dry up and remained completely parched until 1957. Camel-thorn acacia trees established themselves in the channel and along the banks and grew to full size. During unexpected floods these trees were drowned but as the channel and marsh dried out again, the dead trees became one of the most prominent features of the landscape.
Today, parts of Savuti are almost desert-like with a scorching sun and hot sand, while at the other extreme are vast grass plains full of game, reminiscent of Tanzania's Serengeti. These rich grasslands are boosted into fecundity by summer rains, at which time huge herds of zebras migrate south from the Linyanti to gorge on the abundant grazing. Savuti also contains a number of pans that hold water for months after the rains, enabling animals to remain long into the dry season. Another strikingly different terrain found in Savuti, are the Gubatsa Hills. Formed some 980 million years ago during volcanic movement, these dolomite rock outcrops create a series of extraordinary hills. They rise to an astonishing 90 metres high, out of a completely flat landscape.
Large Secretary Birds and Kori Bustards are often seen strutting around the Savuti marsh and small Red-billed Francolins provide us with a noisy morning wake up call. Interesting summer migrants and water birds include Abdim's Storks, Carmine Beeeaters and even Fish Eagles. Little Quelea Finches are quite a spectacle as they gather in their thousands. They reach a frenzy of numbers in about April when a single flock could contain tens of thousands of these small twittering birds.
Day 11 - 12
We transfer our camp from Savuti to Chobe National Park. Next to the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park is probably Botswana’s next most well known conservation area. It is a diverse area, from the border at the Chobe River, to the now dry Savuti Channel, and beyond to the borders of the Moremi Game Reserve / Okavango Delta. The Park is best known for its concentrations of elephant – some 120 000 individuals, along with good numbers of buffalo, antelope and predators. Birding is also excellent, with many migrants visiting from November to March. It has the Pel's Fishing Owl, a favourite for bird watchers and the peculiar strangely beaked African Skimmer. Some interesting specialities indeed.
The Chobe River area contains an interesting variety of habitats and is rich in plant life, with mopane woodland, mixed combretum, sandveld, floodplain, grasslands and riverine woodland. Many trees have suffered considerable damage from the high numbers of elephants, who push them over and rip off the bark - and some woods have been totally denuded. The most popular area in and just outside Chobe National Park is the short 15 km stretch of Chobe River from Kasane town to the Serondela campsite. Few people come to Chobe without taking a trip on this river to see hundreds of hippopotamuses and crocodiles. Our two nights camping here will be punctuated by sundowner nights sipping chilled wine or other drinks with massed herds of elephant and buffalo acting as a backcloth to superb sunsets!
After breakfast we will leave our camp to go to Kasana and further on to Kazangulo where where we will cross the border into Zimbabwe. We will need to buy a visa for those who did not buy one before, and then we will go on to the Victoria Falls. The trip to the Victoria Falls will take about 2 hours.
The Victoria Falls constitutes one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. The Local people call it "Mosi-oa-Tunya" -- the smoke that thunders and the Falls are remarkable. There is a magic about them manifested in the towering column of spray when the river is high, the thunder of the falling water, the terrifying abyss and tranquil lagoons upstream in which hippo and deadly crocodiles lurk.
The Victoria falls is 1708 meters wide, making it the largest curtain of water in the world. It drops between 90m and 107m into the Zambezi Gorge and an average of 550,000 cubic metres of water plummet over the edge every minute.
Remarkably preserved in its natural state, Victoria falls inspires visitors as much today as it did David Livingstone in the 1860's. The falls and the surrounding area have been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialisation.
Victoria Falls offers some amazing opportunities to view some rare and exquisite bird life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Over 600 species of birds can be found at this extraordinary location. The area surrounding the Victoria Falls experiences unique climate which makes bird watching in this area both challenging and rewarding. You can expect to see Great White Egrets, Open-billed Storks, Owls and Egyptian Geese. Yellow-billed Kites, Pygmy Kingfishers and African Pied Wagtails are also relatively easy to spot around Victoria Falls.
The area surrounding the falls is a rainforest and is home to many different species of exotic birds. Area specials include Rock Pratincole, Schalows Turaco, Taita Falcon, Bat Hawk, Western-banded Snake Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Dickinson’s Kestrel, African Finfoot, Lesser Moorhen, Allens Gallinule, Lesser Jacana, Grey-headed Parrot, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Pels Fishing Owl, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Half-collared Kingfisher, Collared Palm Thrush, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Brown Firefinch, Green-winged Pytilia. Today we will give the option; relax in the lodge, visiting the Victoria Falls or going out for birding and wildlife viewing.
We will stay the night in the A'Zambezi.
The last morning we again have the option to visit the Victoria Fall or to go birding, but everybody is free to choose. After lunch we will go to the airport to get our flight back to Johannesburg and take our connecting flight home.