BOTSWANA: 224,610 SQ/MI. You have 11-days in Botswana and there are 224,610 square miles to explore; what to do? If you want wild, wide-open spaces, 11.7 recommends this Botswana itinerary. And here’s why.
Botswana is home to vast stretches of untouched, unfenced wilderness and unrivalled game viewing. The phenomenal Okavango Delta is reason enough for a trip; large concentrations of wildlife in Chobe and the dramatic scenery and San of the Kalahari make the country a standout.
In this itinerary, we’ve put together the best areas and their quintessential lodges. It's everything one expects from wild Africa with the style and comfort you didn’t. Botswana is an expansive and wild country with the highest level of lodging and wildlife possibilities. This country of high-dollar, low-volume tourism makes the crowds in the Serengeti and Masai Mara seem just silly.
Upon arrival in Botswana, you are chartered to the Makgadikgadi Pans. A relic of one of the world’s largest super-lakes, the Makgadikgadi dried up thousands of years ago as a result of the continued shifting of the earth’s crust. In the dry season, the savage beauty of the arid and expansive landscape is startling. During the wet season, the landscape transforms. Clouds of flamingo and other migratory birds descend to decorate the watery grasslands of zebra and wildebeest materialize, drawn by the lush grass; the predators are not far behind the migration.
Game drives around the Jack's Camp area is a complete desert experience focusing on species unique to the area such as aardvark, gemsbok and springbok. It is the only place where guests are virtually guaranteed to see the rare and elusive brown hyena and be able to walk through the Kalahari with a gang of habituated but wild meerkats. Venturing far into the center of the Makgadikgadi on quad bikes, you are able to explore remote archaeological sites periodically discovering never before documented fossil beds of extinct giant zebra and hippo.
Other activities include walks with a resident San or Bushmen to identify animal tracks and bush food. One can visit to the largest and most historically significant baobab tree in Southern Africa, said to be over 4,000 years old. This tree served as a landmark and resting place for virtually every expedition passing through Botswana. David Livingstone camped here on the way to "discovering" Victoria Falls.
Ten tents with en-suite bathrooms and indoor and outdoor showers have been fashioned in classical style and are set into a palm grove creating an oasis of civilization in what can be the harshest of stark environments. Persian rugs underfoot and cool cotton sheets form a striking contrast with the rugged wilderness viewed from the comfort of one’s own verandah.
Day 4 & 5
On the morning of Day 4, you are chartered to Xigera Camp, situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta on Paradise Island, within the Moremi Game Reserve. The Okavango Delta qualifies as one of the most unique environments on Earth. Hundreds of tiny islands are formed as the Okavango River fans out over the flat Kalahari sands of Northwestern Botswana, creating a verdant Eden-like Utopia for wildlife.
No where is the Delta more beautiful than in the Xigera area where its crystal clear, papyrus lined channels meander through ancient wooded islands which are home to a diversity of African wildlife. Activities focus mainly on mokoro rides through the quiet waterways, as well as walking safaris. Game drives are also offered if water levels are low enough, as are boat trips on the river, if water levels are high enough. Birding in the area is excellent, with Pels Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret and Wattled Crane amongst the many species of birds regularly sighted.
A unique feature at Xigera is the footbridge in front of camp which is the only way predators can cross from island to island without having to swim. A “long-jump pit” has been built with soft sand, which each animal is forced to walk over when they use the bridge. Every evening the sand is raked smooth and each morning guests are able to see what animals have walked through camp. Almost every night lion, hyena and leopard stroll through camp.
Each spacious, tented chalet is raised off the ground on a wooden deck offering a superb view of the seasonal floodplain and waterhole.
Day 6 & 7
After brunch, you are chartered to Duba Plains Camp, one of the Okavango Delta's most remote camps. The camp is built on an island shaded by large ebony, fig and garcinia trees and surrounded by expansive plains, which are seasonally flooded. It offers a variety of activities and the focus depends on how much water is in the area. Guests may choose between game drives in open 4x4 vehicles, mokoro excursions and walking safaris. The night drives often provide opportunities to photograph Africa's elusive nocturnal animals in action. Duba Plains is renowned for its large herd of buffalos, which are the resident lion’s main prey. Lechwe and sable and all the plains game dot the savannah and elephant feed on the islands. Hippo concentrate in the deeper channels and leopard are found on the forested islands. Most of the Delta's birdlife is found in the area as well.
Six large tented suites accommodate a maximum of 12 guests. Each suite has an attached bathroom with shower and flush toilet facilities as well as a verandah overlooking the floodplain. The lounge area and pool are on raised decking under large riverine trees.
After breakfast and your morning game activity, you are transferred to the Chobe area. The area is best known for its large populations of Elephant and buffalo that congregate in vast numbers especially during the dry season. Lion, sable, roan, leopard, wild dog, and a number of the plains game can be enjoyed at Linyanti. The rare and elusive sitatunga antelope, red lechwe, hippo and crocodile can be found in the surrounding marshes. The Linyanti Swamps are one of the most attractive areas in the park as it is the only source of water in the dry months where a lot of the wildlife moves to, boasting a great diversity of game and a restful atmosphere. The area's relative remoteness makes it a favored wild safari destination and one of the most sought after areas in Northern Botswana. The area also offers spectacular birding all year round and is best known for its enormous herds of elephants which move down to the Linyanti River at the start of the winter months and only move back inland once the main rains arrive.
Linyanti Bush Camp is a small, intimate 12-tent camp on the banks of the Linyanti marshes in a private reserve, which borders the western boundary of Chobe in the Chobe Enclave. The camp is limited to small exclusive groups who seek a personalized experience in a private concession away from the main tourists routes. Activities from the camp consist of game drives, walking, spot lighting and hides. This safari camps provides the perfect atmosphere for an authentic and wild safari experience.
KASANE/ IN TRANSIT
After breakfast and your morning game activity, you are transferred to the Kasane airport to board your departing flight.