The Great Elephant Migration Across Zambia & Botswana Safari

A 11 day trip to Botswana & Zambia 
5 out of 5 stars
9 reviews

Exclusively handcrafted, this 11-day safari celebrates the beauty of the world’s largest land mammal. You will follow the biggest elephant migration, be surrounded by Africa’s largest elephant population, and enjoy an astonishing intimacy with tens of thousands of pachyderms. Exploring Zambia and Botswana, you will trace the giants on a surreal mix of game drives, nighttime drives, walking safaris and boat trips for the world’s ultimate elephant adventure. Of all of the safari options, this itinerary will keep your attention on the amazing elephants while also giving you a chance to enjoy the full cast of African wildlife. Consider browsing our other safaris in Zambia for even more inspiration as you perfect your own adventure.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Elephant herd on the run
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambezi River, Chobe National Park, Linyanti Reserve, South Luangwa National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Livingstone – Luxurious Welcome to Africa

Dreams of Africa often involve dramatic scenes of lions chasing zebra or of elephants congregating at a waterfall. The preconceptions are of thrills and action, and few visitors perceive the encompassing serenity of the continent in how nature imbues a delightfully tranquil rhythm. Land in Livingstone, and within an hour you will be settling into the atmosphere of the wild, encouraged to forget about the modern world and allow stresses to melt away. An African safari is incredibly relaxed, and the experience brings a luxury that cannot be overstated. You will be greeted at Livingstone International Airport and transferred to a five-star lodge on an island in the Zambezi River. Hippos and baboons will inhabit your surroundings and the charms of nature, and immediately compel you to slow your pace. Read some Zambia safari reviews to learn more about the experience of this region.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer, dinner

Day 2: Livingstone – Victoria Falls and Elephants on the Move

This relaxed day will introduce the harmony of Zambia’s nature. You can take your time in the morning to enjoy your breakfast at your leisure as hippos spend their day wading in the nearby river. Move next to visit Victoria Falls and follow the sound of the rumbling water through the trees. As the forest rescinds, you will be consumed by the power of the falls as a seemingly endless blanket of water disappears into the abyss and rises as mist. Pass the baboons as they guard the trail and follow a walking track to various viewpoints to feel the enormity of the falls when you cross Knife-edge Bridge and are consumed by the spray. Return to the lodge for lunch before an afternoon safari that will very different from what you might expect.

Livingstone stands at the heart of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, one of the world’s largest tracts of protected landscape. Elephants are constantly on the move here and follow the rains as they travel around Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola and Namibia. Conservationists are unsure of the exact figures, but it is widely believed that there are over 100,000 elephants, perhaps nearly 200,000. Not only is this easily the largest elephant population in the world, but this is also where you will see the world’s biggest old bulls that tower meters over the safari vehicle.

This afternoon’s tour will not bring you to a national park or reserve as instead, you will follow the roads, both the tarred main highway and the ochre-colored dirt roads that lead to the local villages. Elephants cross these roads, large herds flapping their ears as they wander over the asphalt. They are seen within 100 meters of border posts, juxtaposed with the “Welcome to Zambia” sign. You will see evidence of their journey along the road as pathways of bulldozed trees extend in every direction. This harmony between man and nature is an unusual sight, especially when a 22-ton truck is photographed alongside an elephant. Over the coming days, you will get much closer to these giants, but as an introduction, this afternoon’s drive will showcase how elephants are the true kings of the landscape in Zambia and Botswana.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Chobe National Park – Tracing the Migratory Route Along the Zambezi

The inspiring pachyderm population is on route to the Zambezi, and the other permanent waterways of southwestern Zambia and northeastern Botswana. After breakfast, you to will cross the border and trace one waterway into another before transferring onto a Chobe River cruise. Throughout the morning, you will follow the Chobe River deeper into Chobe National Park and admire the hundreds of elephants found along the riverbank. Some squirt water while others use their trunks as snorkels.  The adolescent elephants playfully battle each other in the shallows while hippos also congregate in astonishing numbers. The boat cruise is the best opportunity to get close to them and gives you a front row seat to both populations.

After the boat ride, you will continue by vehicle for a first real immersion in the scale of this elephant population. It is sometimes hard to travel 100 meters without seeing another herd. Giants continually block the trail as hundreds of them wander without a care in the world. Large males tower over the safari vehicle with five tons of power reaching two meters above you. Trunk-swinging babies are in abundance, their comical gestures making for adorable moments. Giraffe also live here in unrivaled numbers, and after a single game drive, you will have seen many hundreds of them. For the next two nights, you will stay at a small luxury camp deep in the national park, where the antics of the elephants will accompany you through the evening and into the night.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Chobe National Park – Immersed in Africa’s Largest Elephant Herds

A surreal soundtrack fills the morning as in the distance you can hear the hooting and the loud blasts of the elephants’ natural trumpets as they echo across the mopane woodland. Another herd will have come closer, and you will hear the crack of a large branch being ripped from its trunk. These elephants are not just clearing a path to aid their movements, as they are searching out the nutrients found within the trees as they bash them down with their domineering rumps and powerful trunks. Closer still comes the sound of elephants at a waterhole near the camp, a strange slurp that epitomizes just how close you are to the world’s largest elephant population.

The day will be spent on a game drive through Chobe National Park with a focus on the elephants, but you are also likely to encounter lions and a wide range of antelopes. This will be an immersive day that gradually helps you to understand just how many giants there are. It is possible to imagine seeing 100 elephants, maybe even 1,000. But being amongst 100,000 is an experience that cannot be described in photos or videos, and it is an experience that is felt as the sounds, sights, and smells are likely to live with you for eternity.

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

Day 5: Linyanti Reserve – Big-Game Safari in an Exclusive Chobe Concession

Follow the elephants west to explore the farthest reaches of the Chobe woodland and discover where the trees meet the open plains. Linyanti is an unfenced private concession reserved for just a handful of guests that will cover a huge area at the end of the elephants’ migratory route. This region a prime location to explore the battles between herds as rambunctious young males fight majestic old bulls, their deadly battles lasting many days with the haunting crack of clashing skulls reverberating across the land. Matriarchs lead their herds to water, and you can spend hours watching the interaction at the river, as size dominates and some herds refuse to wait their turn while others prefer the more relaxed, informal queuing system. Linyanti is also the best destination within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area for spotting big cats, notably an impressive leopard population. Along with lions, they provide further highlights on this relaxed safari day.

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

Day 6: Linyanti Reserve – Intimacy With Huge Elephant Herds on a Nighttime Game Drive

Silence will drift over the grass plain as the landscape is illuminated softly by the moon. You will hear rustling in the distance with the crack of a tree breaking and the baritone bugle of two elephants meeting. As your eyes adjust to the darkness of the night, the elephants will become silhouettes, and as your eyes adjust further, you will realize just how many there are. The exclusive nighttime game drives in Linyanti provide a new level of intimacy as in the darkness, you can truly sense the power and the size of these mammals. You will also notice that the elephants can be a little edgy, their poor nighttime vision meaning they often use their size as a defense mechanism in flapping their ears and marauding when threatened. The guides will keep you at a safe distance, and it will be a magical experience to be surrounded by elephant herds in the dark. Earlier in the day, you will have personalized a safari program with game drives and walks.

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

Day 7: Livingstone to South Luangwa National Park – Into the Remote Zambian Wilderness

After a road journey back to Livingstone, you will fly north to South Luangwa National Park. The trip will require an early start, and after arriving in Zambia’s flagship park, there will be time to relax at the lodge through the latter part of the morning. South Luangwa’s varied landscapes provide a home to a great diversity of wildlife. You will quickly notice that elephants are not seen in the abundance of Chobe, nor are they the obvious kings of the environment. Buffalo herds and lion pride are seen in impressive numbers, along with endemic species like Crawshay’s zebra and Cookson’s wildebeest. During the afternoon, you can game drive around the park and savor a new cast of animals as you are introduced to the park’s distinctive landscape.  The mixture of dusty open floodplains, the flowing savannah, and the riverine forest will capture your attention, and your accommodation will be in the park’s most luxurious lodge.  You can enjoy the contemporary comforts with some time to rest before your walking safari begins in the morning. 

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer, domestic flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 8 – 10: South Luangwa National Park – Off the Beaten Track Walking Safari Following Elephant Herds

Zambia is the place in Africa for a walking safari as huge sections of South Luangwa are inaccessible to vehicles, so endless miles have never been interrupted by humankind. Guides can tailor every walk to follow the ancient tribal trails to bring an enhanced understanding of how Africa’s wilderness operates. Small fly-camps are erected alongside rivers, many miles from any road, and they are simple, yet beautiful, with raised beds, dug-out toilets, and hot bucket showers. From your cozy camping chairs, you can listen and smell the wonders of your surroundings as a zebra grazes nearby, unusual monkey troops occupy the trees and endemic Rothschild giraffe lope past. This three-day journey will provide the ultimate immersion in the wild and a very exclusive chance to track elephant herds on foot.

Elephants are big and potentially dangerous animals, so you are led by experienced trackers who intimately understand their behavior and know what constitutes a safe distance. But on this South Luangwa walking safari, you will quickly understand just how big these pachyderms can be. Clues are left everywhere, and the journey will provide an understanding of elephant behavior. You will inspect dung and learn how to ascertain the age, sex, and health of the individual from a single glance. You will trace their migratory patterns through indentations in the trees and from the ripped up branches, and then intimately uncover the different movements of lone bulls and large herds. From a safe distance, you will really get a grasp of their social structure, and you will quickly come to understand the behaviors that reveal an elephant’s feelings.

Each day will follow a similar pattern. You will start walking just after dawn, as the cooler hours are also the time when the herds are on the move. Stop for a large early lunch, and then rest at a mobile camp around the late-morning. In the afternoon, you can walk in the vicinity of the camp and follow the clues in an attempt to get as close as safely possible to the elephants. South Luangwa does not have the same concentration of elephants as Chobe, but its healthy population will help you to appreciate how these animals roam in a diverse habitat. When the nighttime stars are out in full, there is nothing quite like the sporadic trumpets that alert you to another herd in the trees nearby.

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

Day 11: South Luangwa National Park – Departure

After a final morning walk, you will be picked up by a safari vehicle at the trailhead and transferred to the park’s airstrip. It will be just a short late-morning flight back to Livingstone, and you will access to day-room at a nearby lodge to reshen up, relax around the pool, and then return to Livingstone International Airport for your homeward departure.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer, domestic flight, breakfast, lunch


Starting Price 

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.