Botswana’s iconic Makgadikgadi Pans National Park covers nearly a million acres of wilderness, brimming with natural wonders. During the green season, the plains teem with an extraordinary diversity of wildlife, including the recently discovered migration of zebra and wildebeest, which make their way to the plains from February to April. Of course, the herds are followed by a variety of predators including lion, cheetah and hyena. Glorious flocks of pink flamingos decorate the pans at this time as well, and colonies of comical meerkats will climb atop unsuspecting passers-by to gain a better view across the landscape.
In sharp contrast to the austere beauty of the Makgadikgadi, the Okavango Delta is an intensely vibrant wetland attracting a diversity of wildlife including lion, leopard, cheetah, numerous plains animals, and one of the largest elephant populations in Africa.
This safari is timed for the green season, when young animals frolic next to watchful mothers. Bush flights efficiently whisk us off to the most remote regions of these areas, allowing us a Botswana safari experience shared by few others. In private reserves, you’ll be immersed in these wildlife-rich areas in almost complete solitude.
Along the way, we’ll enjoy traditional safari activities such as game drives, nature walks with San Bushman descendants, and mokoro canoeing (water levels permitting), followed by restful evenings at deluxe permanent safari camps.
For those looking to experience more in this region, optional extensions to your Boundless Journeys adventure are offered to Victoria Falls — one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World — or to Cape Town, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and more.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Upon arrival in Maun, we will gather as a group and meet our guide before boarding a light aircraft transfer deep into the Kalahari Desert. A vast, virtually untouched landscape reveals itself below, and soon we land at our remote airstrip, where our safari vehicle awaits. This afternoon, we'll enjoy our first exploration of the surrounding area, followed by dinner at our intimate desert camp.
The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, a salt pan of almost a million acres, is situated in the middle of the dry savanna of north-eastern Botswana. It is one of the largest salt flats in the world and is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi.
During our days here, we'll enjoy game drives with unique desert wildlife viewing, along with nature walks to explore the less obvious signs of nature, and have the opportunity to spend time with camp staff, who will introduce us to their fascinating San Bushman heritage. We'll keep our eyes out for the brown hyena — among the rarest of Africa's large carnivores, and an animal that's virtually impossible to see elsewhere on the continent. Other unusual animals in this area include bat-eared foxes, aardvark and aardwolves; along with the iconic species of elephant, cheetah, and lion. In addition, researchers have discovered a previously unknown zebra migration, during which approximately 50,000 individuals congregate around the Pans from January through April.
Nearby our comfortable tented camp, a resident colony of meerkats are a constant source of amusement and have taken to perching on unsuspecting visitors to get a view across the plains. Far from more touristed areas, we have the Pans virtually to ourselves.
Laidback and understated, Camp Kalahari offers 12, Meru-style tents filled with colorful textiles, Moroccan kilims and funky four-poster beds. Shower alfresco in the open-air, ensuite bathrooms (there’s definitely no one around to disturb your privacy here!). Amble down to the library, living and dining area, or thatched swimming pool. When night falls, the majority of camp is lit by twinkling paraffin lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere.
After a final morning adventure on Day 4, a morning bush flight returns us to Maun, where we connect to another bush flight to our next camp, situated deep in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Our flight provides a remarkable and beautifully scenic introduction to one of the world's most unusual ecosystems. The Delta represents life at its most fertile — abundant water, sunlight, and rich soil combine to form a paradise bursting with life and a landscape of indescribable beauty.
This area's abundant water allows for the Delta's most sublime experiences, and activities over the next two days will likely include mokoroing (Africa's answer to the Venetian gondola) and motorboat outings, complemented by nature walks.
Wildlife here includes water-loving species, such as elephant, hippo, lechwe, reed buck, sitatunga and crocodile, not to mention spectacular birding, with some 450 species recorded. All of this in complete solitude with only a few other camp visitors exploring the area; a huge advantage of staying in a private reserve.
Pelo CampPrivate Jao Concession, Botswana
Set on a small heart-shaped island (pelo means ‘heart’) in one of the most remote areas of the Okavango Delta, Pelo Camp is an intimate, unpretentious five-roomed camp. Each spacious tented room offers two full or one king-sized bed with ensuite facilities. A lounge and dining area under canvas are complemented by a traditional African ‘boma’, and there is also a plunge pool. A true "water camp," Pelo offers mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions, guided nature walks, and game-viewing by motorboat.
Khwai Private Reserve
On the morning of Day 6, we depart our camp and board our next bush flight over the shimmering waters of the Okavango Delta. Our home for the next three nights is on a private reserve positioned between Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, and the Khwai River.
Beyond the cathedral mopane trees of the camp, we'll discover one of Botswana's densest, big-game areas. Several thousand elephants, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, lion, leopard, wild dog, as well as judu, red lechwe, and dainty antelope dotting the plains. And the birdlife here is on point.
While here, our guide further immerses us in the wilderness on day and night game drives in open 4 x 4 vehicles, as well as on nature walks. A sunken hide allows us a unique and up-close viewpoint as elephants gather around a watering hole to drink.
Hyena PanKhwai Private Reserve, Botswana
Hyena Pan is a comfortable tented safari camp in the Khwai Reserve – nearly 1/2 million acres of private, wildlife-filled nature tucked between the world-famous Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve, on the fringe of the Okavango Delta. Eight spacious tents are built on raised decks and feature ensuite bathrooms with private, shady verandas and pretty views across the Hyena Pan lagoon, where wildlife of all manner comes to slake their thirst. The dining area, lounge and plunge pool enjoy the same views, and provide a welcoming area to relax and enjoy sundowners with fellow travelers.
Departure or Extend to Victoria Falls
On the morning of Day 9, our final scenic bush flight returns us to Maun, where we say goodbye to each other and the shimmering waters of the Okavango Delta, in time for departure on early afternoon flights.
Alternatively, you may wish to extend your trip to visit other regions; from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, Boundless Journeys offers a wide variety of extensions to help you make the most of your African safari experience. Please call 1-800-941-8010 to discuss the possibilities.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Feb 28-Mar 8, 2021
Apr 7-15, 2021
May 11-19, 2021
$8,795 Per Person
$1,350 Per Person
Light Air Transfers (Maun-Maun)
First two reserved:$1,495
See single supplement policy below.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Desert & Delta Safari is rated 1, easy, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). Our primary activities require little aerobic fitness, but some agility for getting in and out of vehicles and mokoro canoes, and walking through uneven terrain. This trip can be enjoyed by anyone who is in reasonably good health. We will walk where possible, but this is often determined by the local area and country regulations. NOTE: These optional walks are at your own risk, and can take you close to potentially dangerous wild animals.
Most Convenient Airport:
For international flights into Africa: O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa (airport code JNB)For arrival Botswana on Day 1: Maun Airport, Maun, Botswana (airport code MUB)For departure from Botswana on Day 9: Maun Airport, Maun, Botswana (airport code MUB); if extending your trip, further instructions will be provided for alternate departure airports.
The summer season runs from November - March. This is also the green season when sporadic rainfall occurs. However, this should be understood in the context of a desert environment, where rainfall is short lived and may only occur as a shower once every several days. This is also the warmer time of year, when early morning and evening temperatures are most comfortable for game drives. If the midday is hot, plunge pools back at camp provide an ideal spot to cool off.
There are excellent reasons to visit Botswana at any time of year. Our Desert & Delta Safari takes advantage of best the green season has to offer: from abundant wildlife (including many baby animals born from December - April and the annual zebra migration), to sporadic showers that bring the desert to life and keep dust levels low, and water activities based around permanent rivers of the Okavango Delta.
No matter when you choose to go, you will see more elephants, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, buffaloes, hippos, and big cats than you can keep track of!
A variety of activities are included on this safari, but the primary activity is game driving. The wildlife is typically most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon (these times also provide the best light for photography), and therefore we plan our activities accordingly. Typically, one of the camp staff will knock at your tent door early in the morning, and the group will gather for a quick, light breakfast and coffee or tea before departing camp as the sun rises. We move slowly, and even when animals are not present, the landscape and sounds of the bush are entrancing. We spend a few hours exploring and observing animals at watering holes or on the move from one region to another. As we come upon groups of animals, we allow plenty of time to simply observe and also take photographs. Our guides are experienced naturalists and will add greatly to your understanding of the animals. We keep a respectful distance — although the same cannot always be said about the animals, and it is not unusual to come nose-to-car with baboons, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, and elephants. By mid-late morning, we return to camp where a delicious brunch awaits.
After brunch, we enjoy a few hours of down time, enjoying the amenities of camp, resting, birdwatching, taking photos, or perhaps reading about the region you are visiting.
In the afternoon, we gather for hors d'oeuvres and drinks before heading out for the afternoon activity. Some days this will be another game drive, while other times we may board mokoros for a quiet exploration of the waterways near camp or explore the area on foot in the company of our guide and a ranger. "Sundowners" — a light snack and cocktails in the bush, are an African safari tradition, and a great way to enjoy unforgettable African sunsets. We then make our way back to camp, sometimes driving with a spotlight to look for nocturnal animals.
In the evenings, dinner is enjoyed as a group, and will vary from seated meals ordered from the daily menu, to dining in the camp boma (a traditional protected outdoor dining area) with a feast of traditional African foods and entertainment by the camp staff. These are joyful performances where it is often difficult to tell who is having more fun — the staff or the camp guests!
In the camps, the food is healthy, varied, and delicious, a feat when considering the logistics involved in servicing these remote areas with fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and meats. To accommodate our morning and late afternoon activity schedule, several small meals and a few large ones are served daily. The pre-game drive early breakfast typically includes porridge, cereals, yogurt, fruit, coffee and tea; brunch includes typical breakfast fare accompanied by more savory items like sausage tarts, spring rolls, light lasagnas, and other eclectic choices; afternoon tea offers cakes, cookies, and savory items; "sundowners" are light appetizers and cocktails often taken at a scenic spot in the bush; and finally, dinner, ordered from a menu with two or three daily choices. Beef, pork, and chicken are the basis of most main dishes, with occasional opportunities to try indigenous meats like farm-raised springbok.
Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited.
Brooks is a member of Botswana's Bayei tribe, the people who introduced mokoros to the Okavango Delta, and grew up in a small village on the banks of one of the main channels of the Okavango Delta. Being "born in the bush," as he says, he had a fascination with Botswana's wild areas from a young age.
Working in safari lodges, Brooks soon realized his heart was pulling him to the bush and started as a tracker before becoming a guide in 2000. With the combination of his friendly personality, superlative bush knowledge, and interests in astronomy, birding, and the diverse cultures of Botswana, Brooks helps guests truly see all Botswana has to offer.
Olebogile (known to all as Ollie) was born and raised in Maun, Botswana. He comes from a long line of subsistence farmers, and his passion for and appreciation of nature and wildlife stems from his days as a small boy herding goats and cattle in the bush.
After completing school, Ollie did his national service in the Department of Customary Law, and then enrolled in a professional guiding course at The Botswana Wildlife Training Institute.
With over a decade of guiding experience all around the Okavango Delta, Ollie brings a depth of knowledge and enthusiasm for his homeland that is contagious.
Andy, as he is known to all, was born at a remote cattle post in Shorobe, Botswana, about 20 miles from Maun. As a young boy, Andy would explore the bush with his grandfather, who taught him about the native fauna and flora as well as local history.
In the 1980s, under the tutelage of the skilled guide, Colin Bell, Andy learned every aspect of running a mobile safari expedition. Armed with years of practical experience, Andy qualified as a professional guide in 1996, and has been guiding expeditions in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia ever since.
Andy's chief interest was initially mammals, but after more than two decades of leading safaris, his interests have expanded and developed. Andy now enjoys both the larger and smaller things that the bush has to offer--from elephants to kingfishers. His love of teaching travellers about the magnificent ecosystems, history, and culture of his native country make Andy a much sought-after guide.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
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Optional easy walks; games drives on bumpy terrain. Some agility required for getting in and out of boats and vehicles.
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