20th May arrive Maun around 1.15pm (SA Airlink or Air Botswana) and overnight at Maun Lodge.
Contained within an area of approximately 3900 km2, here land and Delta meet to create an exceedingly picturesque preserve of floodplains – either seasonally or perennially wet, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riparian, riverine and mophane forests. This makes for spectacular game viewing and bird watching, including all major naturally occurring herbivore and carnivore species in the region, and over 400 species of birds, many migratory and some endangered. Both Black and White Rhino have recently been re-introduced, now making the reserve a ‘Big Five’ destination. It is the only Game Reserve inside the World Heritage listed Okavango Delta.
On the 24th May we will pack our bags before departing on our early drive, we are moving 70km away today, to a site in the Khwai Community Concession area, at Magotho.
Khwai concession is a community-run private reserve adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve, divided from it by the Khwai River. The river attracts high concentrations of thirsty wildlife. Riverine forest lines the wide water lily and papyrus covered floodplains around the Khwai River. A myriad of colourful birdlife is found in this watery habitat that is a breeding area for many species. Away from the river and plains is thick mophane woodland dotted with pans that attract many animal species in May, and where we often spot wild dog. The Khwai Community is running this area and all fees paid here go into the local Community providing schools, scholarships, water pumps and more.
The game viewing is superb, as good as in Moremi, and in addition to the normal game drives we are allowed out of the vehicle (responsibly of course) can drive off road at the Guides discretion and can do limited spotlighting in the evening – this is a wonderful place to see Leopards, if we are lucky. Here we can drive off road, at your guides discretion, and spotlight back to camp after having a sundowner near the river. We will take you for a tranquil 2 1/2hr mekoro trip early one morning.
On the 20th May we move 5 hours North into Chobe NP and to Savuti where we have a great site in a good game filled area. The Savuti Channel in northern Botswana is a famous waterway in a thrilling state of flux. For a quarter of a century, the Savuti Channel was dry, creating wide-open grassland, home to both quantities and varieties of wildlife and a legendary predator’s enclave. In 2008, the waters returned, and abundant game congregated and adapted in its wake. The Channel dried up in 2015 and things are again very dry there until the rains in November fill up the natural pans which should have water in May. There are 3 solar pumped boreholes in the Savuti area – Rhino Vlei, Marabou Pan and Pump Pan. These waterholes attract vast numbers of game when it is dry here.
One day we will go and visit a rock island that protects 13 majestic Baobab Tree’s from Elephants and ponder a small panel of San paintings. We have 3 nights at Savuti giving us time to explore fully the area from the great Marsh in the south to Harveys Pans which should still have plenty of water, in the North.
The first glimpse of the Chobe River – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is always breathtaking. Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalleled anywhere else in the country. Established in 1968, the park covers approximately 11700 km2, encompassing floodplains, swamps and woodland. The Chobe River forms its northern boundary. The most accessible and frequently visited of Botswana’s big game country, the Chobe Riverfront is famous for its large herds of elephants and Cape Buffalo, which during the dry winter months converge upon the river to drink. The Chobe River attracts thousands of animals searching for water during the dry season. The river is host to a stunning array of birdlife (Yellow Billed Storks, African Spoonbills, White Faced Whistling Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Vultures, Owls and Kingfishers, Secretary Birds, Dikkops, Herons, Eagles – especially Fish Eagles, in addition to many other birds), and a 3-hour boat cruise is taken to take advantage of this.
If lucky you will see Elephants swimming in close proximity to you, in addition to the normal pods of slumbering Hippo’s, Red Lechwe, Crocodile, Impala, Kudu, Leguaans, Puku (this is the only part of Botswana where they can be seen), Sable, Roan, Waterbuck and numerous other animals you can view. We have 3 nights in an exclusive site a few minutes from the river and floodplain, which should be filling up.
We will go into Kasane on the 31st May 2020 for 3 hour boat cruise on the Chobe River which should be one of the highlights of your safari.
On the 2nd June after an early morning game drive and a hearty breakfast we drive to Kasane where we spend a couple of hours resupplying, (you will have the Internet available to you) before heading 400km on a good tar road, to Planet Baobab near Gweta, where we overnight in comfortable funky Bakalanga Huts and eat in their great restaurant.
On the 3rd June 2020 you are woken early before heading off to a habituated Meerkat den about an hour away, hopefully in time to see the meerkats emerge and sun themselves before heading off foraging for the day. After they have moved off you go to Ntwetwe Pan and have breakfast before doing some quadbiking (optional) on the Pan. You return to Planet Baobab for a shower and lunch .
We then drive 3 hours to Nxai Pan where our camp will be set up at an exclusive site away from other people. Part of the great Makgadikgadi complex, Nxai Pan National Park covers an area of 2,100 km2, and comprises several larger pans which were once ancient salt lakes. These larger pans are now grassed, and are scattered with islands of acacia trees, and smaller pans that fill with water during the rainy season – thus providing rich resources for wildlife.
We will visit seven huge, gnarled baobab trees, named after the 19th century explorer Thomas Baines, are situated on an island overlooking and surrounded by the white, crusty Kudiakam Pan. Baines stood here over a hundred years ago and painted this otherworldly scene. It has essentially remained unchanged.
On the 6th June after a short early game drive at Nxai, we move 4 hours into Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, to an exclusive site a few km from Khumaga. The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve – with an area of 3 900 km2 – incorporates the western end of Ntwetwe Pan, extensive grasslands and acacia woodland. At its northern boundary, it meets the Nxai Pan National Park, separated only by the Nata-Maun Road. The Boteti River last flowed in 1992 and started flowing again past Khumaga in early 2009. It dried up again in 2019 and we don’t know if there will be water or not. There are solar powered boreholes here that work of the river is dry. During the dry season, the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park thrives with activity as literally thousands of Zebra and Wildebeest vie for water. There is also a small group of Hippopotamus that live in the river and some crocodiles that had dug caves into the banks of the dry riverbed
We have 2 nights here and will explore the riverfront extensively.
On the 8th June after a last short drive here we cross the Boteti River by ferry, if the water is up, and drive to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve via Rakops where we get ice and diesel. We enter the park at Matswere Gate where we get firewood and water and have our picnic lunch before we drive another 1 1/2 hours to Deception Valley where our camp will be set up in an exclusive site for 3 nights.
One of the remotest and most unspoiled parts of Africa, the Northern part of this park is one of the prime game viewing areas in Botswana. This is the largest Game Reserve in Botswana covering 52,800 km2. Nothing prepares you for the immensity of this reserve, nor its wild, mysterious beauty. There is the immediate impression of unending space, and having the entire reserve to yourself. Waist-high golden grasses seem to stretch interminably, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Wide and empty pans appear as vast white stretches of saucer-flat earth, meeting a soft, blue-white sky. At night the stars utterly dominate the land; their brilliance and immediacy are totally arresting. The best time to visit is during or soon after the rains when large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest and eland gather for good grazing. The dry season amazes with seeing what these desert adapted animals can endure- most survive for months with no surface water to drink, getting moisture from vegetation such as tsamma melons, tubers that are dug up and dew. We will, depending on game movements, explore from Sunday Pan to Letiahau and in between.
On the 11th June after a last early drive and a hearty breakfast, we will drive under 5 hours to Maun. You overnight at Maun Lodge.
2 places left, cost pp sharing US$ 8,400 all inclusive