Into the wild, the light aircraft swooping across the Delta and descending onto an airstrip that's regularly visited by elephants. Moremi Game Reserve covers a broad area in the middle of the Okavango, an expansive collection of islands, woodland, grassland, floodplain, and savannah. Habitats intermingle then separate as the flourishing waterways cascade across the landscape. There's something for everything to eat here, along with the water that brings migrating herds from the desert. You'll fly to Maun via Johannesburg, then connect onto a micro flight to access Moremi. Touch down and the safari has already begun, the odd giraffe waltzing across the horizon and a baboon troop rampaging through the trees.
Drive to the camp and enjoy a chance to relax along the river at your mobile camp. Your accommodation is erected in prime spaces of wilderness, offering the finest vistas of the Okavango ecosystem. During the tranquil hours at the camp, you can eat lunch while watching the hippos, and then watch the procession of life rove closer to drink from the river. Later in the afternoon, you take a short game drive through the forest. Slowly turn corners as baby elephants watch on, rumble down hills as a lion pride considers what is for dinner. Zebras splash in the shallow water while intrepid monkeys race across the savannah to the next tree. These are not glimpses of wildlife. You'll immediately gather the impression of just how close you're going to be on this adventure of a lifetime.
Day 2 - 4
Dawn arrives with an echo, a grumbling lion roar somewhere in the distance. The campfire still burns from last night, an essential mechanism for keeping wildlife to a safe distance. As breakfast is served, you watch the hippos returning to base, plodding back to the water after a nighttime of indulgent grazing. Suddenly five giraffes are within 20 meters of the camp; you're not sure how they got there, but somehow they've appeared while you were sipping on your coffee. Perhaps you were focusing too much on the colobus monkeys resting in the trees on the other side of the water. Mornings are magical on a mobile camping safari, because as the Okavango comes alive, you have the ultimate view.
Over these three days, you journey to remote sections of the Delta in a safari vehicle, taking distant trails across a landscape that changes every day of every year. The day to day itinerary is deliberately flexible, constantly altered dependent on conditions and your own energy levels. Usually, you'll head south, then west and north, a route that combines the distinctive habitats of the Okavango, On wild grasslands, you encounter lions, large prides that delight in harassing buffalo. Not that the buffalo run away; the big males protect the youngest of the herd, huffing and panting as they point their horns in defense.
Following elephant trails, you slowly journey through the forest, bulldozed trees felled in multiple directions. Occasionally the water dominates the landscape, enveloping the trail with mud and forcing you to turn around. Marooned animals become uncomfortably close when this happens; not to you, but to each other. There are too many in a small space, which inevitably leads to the drama of conflict. Hippos rule the waterways while vultures dominate the skies, aerial navigators that reveal decaying carcasses and battles between the scavengers.
Each night is spent at a different location although the mobile camp set up remains the same. The large tent is tall enough for you to stand up in comfortably. Two large beds line the edge of the tent with the rear flap opening onto an ensuite toilet and hot bucket shower. A unique system pumps in water and is ready at whatever time you request. Stepping from the tent, your verandah is simple yet ideal for the location; a couple of comfy camping chairs with uninterrupted views over the landscape. All meals are provided, cooked up by a local chef and served on a dining table with views. And when nighttime arrives the fire burns, providing a crackling, warming, and essential piece of the mobile camping experience.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The further you travel northeast, the more untrammeled the Okavango becomes. Hemmed in by the thick Chobe forests to the north, and uncontrollable waterways to the south and east, this landscape has never developed permanent infrastructure. The safari vehicle drops you at the Selinda Spillway, a weaving channel that provides the only access to parts of the Selinda concession. Before departing, you spend time in a broad pool, the guide ensuring that you comfortable controlling the canoe. These broad vessels are designed for gentle long journeys, with padded seating and a bow that isn't usually shunted by underwater currents. You'll need to bring a sense of adventure. But no canoeing skills are required, nor are any extreme levels of fitness. This four-day expedition is all about connecting with nature, not racing through Botswana.
Start paddling, elegantly passing a pod of hippos that grunts as you head into the unknown. Crocodiles sunbathe on the banks, and the landscape opens into broad grassland. Here you have untamed views; giraffes wandering, springbok skipping, hyena poking their heads high before scurrying along. A few hundred meters later and mammoth grass lines the banks, reducing visibility yet enhancing intimacy. A kudu herd sips from the river, their ears eagerly picking up every sound. Elephants bathe in the mud before propelling flumes of water through the air. A cheetah waits patiently in the grass, crouched low as it listens to the approaching zebra. It's a short day of paddling to get you into the safari style, complemented by lunch beside wallowing hippos and a mobile camp that's already far from vehicle access.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - 8
Safari is all about slow travel, about taking the time to appreciate every angle. On a canoe, you're almost silent, just the odd splash as the paddle enters the water. Animals don't hear you come like they hear a vehicle. Nor do they see you as a threat. You're just another piece of the landscape, smaller than most things that live in the Okavango. This serene mode of transport enhances the intimacy. Interactions are as authentic as they can be, the herds not interrupting their behavior when you approach. Stop in the river and the buffalo continue to drink. Keep a respectful distance and the antics of a hippo pod are unveiled. Paddle along and the elephants continue their show, babies playfully drowning each other, their trunks poking above the surface. Remember, this landscape has rarely seen visitors, and you're likely to be the first people ever to cast eyes on some of these animals.
Part of the day is spent in the canoe, with walking safaris continuing the immersion. Moving away from the water, you roam into woodlands and grasslands, each footstep accompanied by the sounds of the wild. There is no set route. You are creating the trails, the rangers cutting back branches as they follow minute clues. Pachyderms march in the distance, zebra herds graze just a few meters away, while warthogs stop and stare. Across this landscape, there are dozens of ungulate species and a walking safari offers the best chance to get close to them. Step slowly, stay silent, and the proximity is remarkable. Like your time in Moremi, mobile camps offers comfort in the wild and the chance to surround yourself in nature's charms.
But wait. Isn't this a land of leopards? Of huge hippos and rampaging elephants? Even of lions? The Okavango is filled with Africa's big and potentially dangerous animals, and Selinda is no predator-less landscape. Unpredictability reigns and nobody is ever sure what will be inhabiting the next stretch of river. But it is safe. Communities have coexisted with these animals for millennia, and their ancestral knowledge forms the starting point for keeping you safe. Trackers can glance at a landscape and immediately know if there's something menacing nearby. On closer inspection, they'll tell you that a female leopard and cub walked through the area 36 hours ago. Throughout the trip, trackers take the lead, traveling an hour or so ahead and adjusting the exact route on a continual basis. You're also joined by an armed ranger, a backup that can provide a quick scare if the trackers missed anything. You're traveling with people who have grown up in the Okavango. And they know how to navigate the land just how you might know how to expertly navigate your local supermarket or shopping center.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Four nights in an unseen realm and now you continue through the north of the Okavango, a vehicle taking you from Selinda to Khwai, a concession that intersects the ecosystems of the Delta and Chobe. Your final camp is a semi-permanent one, adding a few layers of luxury after such a remote adventure. Spend the day lounging at the camp, the colors provided by a flurry of exotic birds as tranquil moments are spent along the river. Then head out at sunset, the premier time to find predators on the hunt for dinner. As dusk falls, the lionesses remain active, following scents to grazers who huddle in protective groups. Soon it's nighttime, and the tension rises as sounds guide you onto the floodplain. Cut the engine and tune your ears; a growl, a rustle, a trumpet, something indecipherable in the distance. Your guide's roving spotlight reveals all, and it's usually much closer than you have imagined. Nighttime driving is another opportunity for intimacy, along with the chance to find nocturnal life, like the aardwolves that roam beneath the moonlight.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Khwai offers a sublime location for a final day of safari. By straddling two ecosystems, there's a huge variety of trails to explore and directions to travel in. So on your last safari day, the itinerary can be tailored to anything you haven't seen or experienced during the trip. In particular, the forests are a haven for spotting leopards. Move slowly and keep checking the trees, the cat often draping itself across the middle branches, always with one eye open. Sometimes it's spotted in the grass, a rustle of green betraying its camouflage. And occasionally you find a leopard in hunting mode, gracefully moving a few steps at a time as it stalks an impala, or swiftly pulling a carcass back into the trees and away from the scavengers.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Departing Botswana provides a final opportunity to revel in the scale. You're picked up from the Khwai airstrip by light aircraft, the pilot rising to 1500 feet for sublime panoramas of how the Okavango Delta spreads through the desert. Gradually the blue and green hues rescind, replaced by the dusty reds of the Kalahari. Touch down in Maun, and a representative will assist in transferring you onto your international flight.
The Okavango Delta baffles the eyes, infinite miles of waterways and channels a haven for all of Southern Africa's great wildlife. Seasonal flooding means permanent infrastructure is challenging here, so while the Delta enjoys world fame, much of it remains far away from visitors' eyes. Even scientists are unaware of what occurs in the remote expanses that are found many miles from any trail. This handcrafted itinerary is defined by adventure, offering a journey into the unknown of the Delta. You'll travel along the channels and waterways, spending eight nights in luxury mobile camps in the midst of the wilderness. The Okavango becomes your outdoor playground, a place that's forever on the move and always filled with nature's theater.
This African safari itinerary spends 11 days in the Okavango Delta, amongst the gargantuan basin and floodplains that are visible from space. This landscape floods from June to October, coinciding with the dry winter months found across the broader Kalahari Desert. As waterholes shrivel elsewhere, wildlife magnetizes towards the flooding Delta, enjoying the bounty of rain that's spent four months descending from the Angolan Highlands to the ancient desert. Eclectic habitats create food for everyone. Islands and islets are formed, havens where some animals feast and others find themselves marooned. Woodland and savannah ripple through the landscape, their distinctive bounty bringing a distinguishing wildlife cast. Predators are seen in huge abundance, as are elephants, hippos, and migrating ungulate herds. As the land is partly submerged, the Okavango comes to reflect wild Africa in quintessence, so much diversity, and complexity in a land without borders.
The first four nights are spent in the large Moremi Game Reserve, taking game drives to two remote mobile camps in the wilderness. You'll explore vast stretches of this fabled land and traverse habitats that hide unique wildlife casts. Throughout the journey, there's a focus on intimacy, on moving slowly and taking in all the wild residents. Buffalo herds face down lion prides; elephants are found on most corners, and the forest is alive with leopard prints. Mobile camps intensify the experience. These temporary camps blur into the landscape, no fences or barriers maintaining wildlife distance. Instead, traditional methods are used to ensure your safety in a very untamed land. While the camp is mobile, it's still relatively luxurious, with warm showers, dining areas, and always an elegant view of the landscapes you came to see.
Next, you arrive at the Selinda Spillway for four days of canoeing and walking into unseen Okavango territory. It's a slow journey, gently paddling along and discovering what has come to reside during this year's flooding. An armed ranger and local scouts keep you safe, traveling ahead to ensure nothing too predatory is in wait. Days are spent canoeing and walking, creating an odyssey into the unknown. The animals here may never have seen people, so there's always inspirational moments as your quiet canoe meets Africa's finest. You'll travel 45 km along the river, so some fitness is required, along with the sense of adventure. But it's not a race. The emphasis is on moving slowly and absorbing everything en route.
Complete the itinerary with two nights in a classic luxury camp in the Khwai Concession, a chance to indulge in decadence while maintaining the safari immersion. This northern piece of the Okavango borders the Chobe ecosystem, helping craft customized daily itineraries that choose from a huge variety of routes and activities. Nighttime game drives are a specialism here, another method of elevating the intimacy in this flourishing oasis. Then on a micro flight back to Maun on your final day, you gaze down on the ecosystem for a fresh appreciation of how untouched and unseen the Okavango can be.
$6595 per person (excluding international flights)
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