Africa's Finest Bird Watching Safari in Okavango Delta

A 14 day trip to Botswana 
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Yellow-billed oxpeckers lining a buffalo's back, long-crested eagles soaring above elephant herds, a chirping cisticola adding treble to a lion's loud roar are all scenes that will take in on this 14-day safari itinerary.  The Okavango is not merely Africa's finest bird-watching destination will provide an evocative mix of big game alongside the many winged creatures. Visiting four distinctive regions, your specialist bird-watching safari will unravel the beauty and complexity of Africa's finest wetlands as you explore lagoons, walking trails, big cat landscapes, and lush waterways.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Maun, Okavango Delta, Thamalakane River, Xakanaxa, Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai Concession, Savuti Channel, Savuti Marsh, Chobe National Park, Chobe River, Kasane

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Maun – Relaxed Evening on the Thamalakane River

Arrive in Maun and relax, spending your afternoon on the banks of the Thamalakane River to absorb the beauty of your surroundings. You will be greeted at the airport for a short transfer to your luxurious riverfront lodge, an ideal place to recuperate from your flight before your bird-watching safari begins. There are likely to be a few early introductions to the country's birdlife, especially as a sumptuous dinner is served as the majestic African sun disappears from the sky.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Moremi Game Reserve (Okavango) – The Birds of Xakanaxa

Fly north in a light aircraft and admire how the Okavango Delta spills into the desert. After taking in the dusty colors around Maun, you will soon be flying above the fringes of the delta to admire wisps of woodland that soon become dramatic green canopy. Lagoons and meandering waterways extend beneath the wingtips, bringing a compelling impression of just how lush and large this oasis is. The Okavango is the world's biggest inland Delta system, and even during the low-water months of November to March, permanent channels ensure a haven for the rich variety of waterbirds.

Touch down in the Xakanaxa area, and then take a boat tour through the waterways of the Xakanaka Lagoon, where the rare slaty egret is likely to be a major highlight. Coppery-tailed coucal and red-chested flufftail are found in the reeds, along with the aquatic sitatunga antelope. Large herds of buffalo carry birds on their backs, and there is a rich list of rare birds to see including the black coucal, the purple swamphen, and Allen's gallinule. After your boat tour, you will check into your luxurious camp for a couple of quiet hours before heading out in the late afternoon to explore the savannah on a game drive. Much like the boat safari, the experience combines Okavango's birds with its big game.

What's Included: accommodation, local flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 3 – 4: Moremi Game Reserve (Okavango) – Exploring the Lush Waterways of the Okavango

A rumbling beat will awaken you, and as you open your curtains, you will be surprised by the elephants roaming in the light of the morning. Birds will soon add their calls, and you will catch a view of a fishing owl and hippo pod as they enter the river below. Head off in a traditional mokoro, a narrow wooden canoe that is paddled expertly along the mosaic of channels. Along these narrow channels, you will find the birds of the papyrus and reeds, and as these flow into lagoons, you will find one of the last refuges for wattled cranes. Pel's fishing owl are abundant, and it is rare to spend an hour on the water and not see this magnificent bird. Sometimes the guide brings the mokoro to a tiny deserted island where you will explore on foot and seek out the unusual nesting birds.

Traveling on foot is safe in the Moremi Game Reserve, and the local trackers will use their ancestral knowledge to keep you away from the predators and larger mammals. Often you' will be crossing broad savannah and the extensive floodplains, where the open landscape offers excellent visibility. Game drives are also an integral part of the itinerary, and they allow you to cover large stretches of Moremi Game Reserve. Elephants and giraffe grace your journey, and as you scan the marshes for lesser jacana, movement in the trees will alert you to a lone leopard. During this safari, you can create a daily program dependent on your mood to combine the different activities to build a comprehensive picture of the habitat and its residents. While early morning and late afternoon will provide the prime times for safari, there are no limitations and the activities can be as long or as short as you wish. These two days are likely to focus on waterbirds before you move north to denser woodland areas.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Khwai Concession (Okavango) – Game Drive Encountering Okavango's Mammals

Your journey from Moremi to Khwai will connect the complete array of the Okavango landscapes. A leisurely half-day trip, taking a game drive rather than a transfer between camps will add to your journey. You will leave at dawn and meander across the seasonal floodplains, which are dry and dusty at this time of year. Packs of wild dog inhabit the area, and their spotted fur makes for one of Africa's unique safari sights. Head north to weave along the permanent water channels, where hippos wade and luapula cisticola flutter amongst the reeds. More of the Okavango's precocious waterbirds are seen here, including large numbers of herons, egrets, and cranes.

Stop for brunch and a quick coffee at the Dombo Hippo Pools and admire the resident mammals. The humongous yawns of the hippo could easily swallow dozens of the cute rosy-throated longclaws that fly around you. Continue north to traverse the mopane woodlands to see areas that are both lightly and densely covered areas, before roaming around the swamps of Khwai. This private concession is where habitats collide as waterbirds are joined by the residents of the woodland and the swamp. This region is one of the Okavango's most picturesque areas, and it is a crucial bird-watching destination. Take your time over lunch, and then continue your adventure in the afternoon with a game drive that continues after dusk.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 6 – 7: Khwai Concession (Okavango) – The Endemic Beauty of the Okavango

Echoing across the concession comes a loud lion roar, harmonically complemented by the tweeting from cisticola and sunbirds. A collared palm thrush is spotted below, and the hippos compete for your attention with pygmy geese. Large buffalo herds dominate the plains and game drives consistently encounter lion pride, including those stalking zebra herds. The bird-watching is special here, especially as you journey slowly and serenely down the river. Cuckoo hawks and bat hawks soar above you and rise on the currents before descending with menace. Long-crested eagles and black sparrowhawks are equally glorious sights as Khwai is a great place to spot the larger birds and famed hunters can sometimes be seen at remarkably close distance.

Throughout your itinerary, you will stay in a handpicked collection of Botswana's finest camps as all effortless blend into their surroundings and do not interrupt the rhythm of the wilderness. You will enjoy safari under canvas, and you will be able to hear and see everything from your balcony. While you will be in tents, they will feel more like spacious suites. Beds are raised on wooden platforms, your en-suite bathrooms include hot showers and Western-style toilets, while comfy seating provides a leisurely place to spend your downtime. All these camps are boutique in nature and only cater to a handful of guests.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Savuti Channel – Elephants and Rare Birds of the Woodland

Seeing the connection between diverse habitats is one of the highlights of any Okavango bird-watching safari. Your journey north will be a rugged one as you travel on deeply rutted trails that are sometimes impassable when the Okavango is fully flooded (June to August). You will travel slowly, which will bring some enchanting encounters with the legends of the landscape. Crowned hornbill and trumpeter hornbill are found in the same panorama as large elephant herds. Verraux's eagle soar overhead, and they are not the only hunters as the open plains a great place to see cheetah.

Your destination will be the Savuti Channel in the far south of Chobe, an area of permanent water that attracts a wide array of migratory species. The riverine woodland will help you to add a number of new sights to your safari including the rare olive bee-eaters, the western-banded snake eagles, the collared palm-thrush and the copper sunbirds flutter around as a lion pride comes down for a drink. After your leisurely journey, your afternoon will offer possibilities for walking safaris and game drives.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 9 – 10: Savuti Channel – Exploring the Splendor of the Savuti Marsh and Woodlands

Savuti's bird-watching potential comes from its mix of woodlands. Along with the riverine forest, there are large swaths of broadleaf woodland, a favored home of specialty species like pennant-winged nightjar, racket-tailed roller, and orange-winged pytilia. Patches of acacia woodland crop up, bringing with them the marico flycatcher, the violet-eared waxbill, and the crimson-breasted shrike. These sights will contrast with those of the Savuti marshlands, which are different to the birds that settle around the large outcrops of volcanic rock. This diversity makes Savuti Channel a prime bird-watching stop, yet also a haven for a full range of Botswana's mammals. In particular, you will be surrounded by the world's largest elephant population with almost 100,000 occupying these woodlands. It will be difficult to go more than a few minutes without seeing another pachyderm, and you will hear their hoots through the night and into the morning.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 11 – 13: Chobe National Park – Bird Watching and Game Viewing in Chobe

The diversity of Chobe National Park is legendary. Over 450 species are found here in the summer months of November to March, and you can easily see 150 of them every day. For your final three nights, you will be in the north of the park where the woodland meets the broad Chobe River. It is a relatively short drive north to your camp on the river's edge, and as always, your activities will be guided by one of Botswana's premier birding guides, a local specialist with decades of experience. Local game trackers will join you on the walking safaris to guide your route away from the large numbers of elephant and buffalo. Game drives are a big part of the experience, yet the true highlight of this area will be your river cruise.

In the Okavango, you will explore in small boats, either in mokoros or in motor-powered boats. On the Chobe River, you will enjoy much larger vessels with beautiful seating areas, and meals served on board. These larger boats can cover long distances, and you will spend a day venturing down the Chobe River to the Kasai Channel, where lily-covered lagoons will bring some extraordinary sights such as lesser jacana, lesser moorhen, Allen's gallinule, African rail and purple gallinule. As you return to your riverside camp, the sunset will turn the water a glistening gold color easing you into a relaxing evening.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 14: Kasane to Johannesburg – Departure

You will spend one last morning in Chobe, either relaxing at your camp or taking one last cruise down the Chobe River. With just a short transfer to Kasane Airport, you can catch the daily flight to Johannesburg for your connection with your intercontinental departure.

What's Included: safari, flight transfer, breakfast 

Price

Starting Price 

$8,395
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.