Great Waters of African Safari: Okavango Delta, Selinda, Victoria Falls

A 10 day trip to Botswana & Zambia 
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Africa's landscapes are defined by water, and there is never enough of it. As the water arrives, the great oases of life will flourish in the desert climates. This 10-day safari celebrates the remarkable waters of Africa to showcase the splendor of Okavango Delta, the power of Victoria Falls, and the Selinda Concession transformed by new water after being dry for decades. With boat safaris and sunset cruises, this safari itinerary combines big game indulgence with the raw beauty of Africa. 

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General Information

Photos
Leopard cubs in Botswana.
A white rhino and calf in Botswana.
A lioness and her cubs in Botswana.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Maun, Okavango River, Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Chief's Island, Selinda Concession, Chobe National Park, Selinda Spillway, Livingstone, Zambezi River, Victoria Falls

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Maun to Moremi Game Reserve (Okavango) – The Flooded Waterways of Western Okavango

As the Okavango River flows, it spreads its wings. Water bursts the banks and cascade east to create lost islands of sand and forest. Mammals follow the flow and skip across the newly-formed Delta. Roads and trails disappear, submerged beneath a few meters of water. The Western Okavango is where the water is at its highest, and it creates an impression of the Delta in quintessence. Your lodge can only be accessed by water so a small motorboat will bring you from the airstrip to a luxury suite built on stilts above the Delta. Exotic birds will flutter past your verandah and mammals will roam beneath your suite to follow the flow of the Okavango.

You will land at Maun International Airport where a representative will assist in transferring you to a light aircraft and an aerial journey that will celebrate the scale of the Delta. Watch as it extends beneath the plane and then admires the intricate details on your boat ride to the lodge. A hippo rolling on a muddy bank, zebras splashing in knee-deep water or two young elephants playfully pushing each other under water. There will be enough time for a short boat safari in the late afternoon, although you may wish to sit back on the verandah and watch the animals as they roam across the water below.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfer, safari, dinner

Day 2: Moremi Game Reserve (Okavango) – Specialist Water Safari in Quintessential Okavango

In a traditional mokoro canoe, you will move slowly. Your guide will gently paddle to propel you past the hippos that lounge in the Delta. Sometimes it will feel like you are crossing a lagoon with kudu and impala reflecting in the calm waters. Other times you will paddle down a narrow channel, and the high grass will disrupt your visibility but then bring a thrilling surprise; perhaps a cheetah drinking in private, a hartebeest herd with tense faces, or three giraffes bending their necks to reach the water. Travel in a mokoro and you are nearly silent, meaning the animals will not be perturbed by your arrival. As the guide takes you along the banks, there is often little more than a paddle-length between you and the four-legged residents of the Okavango.

Return to the lodge for lunch and rest on the verandah to enjoy the shade as the sun rises high in the sky. In the afternoon, you can choose between mokoro safari or a journey by motorboat. In a motorboat, you can cover a larger area to see a greater quantity of animals. However, the noise can be a disruption, and the quieter mokoro will certainly get you closer. For an introduction to Africa's great waters, the Western Okavango practically submerges you as hundreds of hippos barge around, elephant and buffalo come to drink, and a half dozen antelope species skip along the shores as monkeys glide through the forest canopy and then shirk at the touch of water.

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

Day 3: Chief's Island (Okavango) – Crossing the Famous Waters of the Okavango

Set off at dawn as a raw African sun pierces the horizon and crimson rays ripple across the Delta. Many hippos will be out of the water, but their size is far more impressive when they are seen on land. Some will descend into the water to disappear below the surface to walk rather than swim to their bathing space. Elephant and giraffe lope along the horizon and are silhouettes as they cross the line of the rising sun. You will travel by motorboat and skip across the water on the three-hour journey to Chief's Island. At this speed, you will not get close to the animals, but you will appreciate the spectacular scale of the Okavango Delta.

Check in to your luxury-tented camp on Chief's Island, the big-game heart of the Moremi Game Reserve. Isolated by flooding, this lush island juxtaposes a myriad of habitats. Thousands of different antelopes graze on the grasslands, leopards and primates lurk in the trees, elephant herds clash at the banks, and there could be a tense stand-off between buffalos and lions. Some of the animals stay throughout the year, while others migrate here as they follow the seasonal bounty. In the afternoon, you will explore the island and follow the riverbank before you traverse through the thick swathes of forest. Exhilarating and expressive, game drives here are some of the finest in Africa as the number of big mammals that you spot can feel unfathomable.

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

Day 4: Chief's Island (Okavango) – Game Drives Through the Delta's Abundant Heart

The safari vehicle will stop in the forest, and you will wait. You can see the leopard, but the impala herd can't. In a flash, the leopard descends onto the forest floor and finds a new place to hide. The ears of the impala herd prick up, and there is tension in the air, although the impala are not quite sure which way to turn. Suddenly, a flock of storks will start to shout to signal which way the antelope should turn. The leopard returns to the tree, seemingly despondent, but keep watching. A baboon troop has strayed and in an instant, an old male has been picked off from the rest. Shouts reign out, and the troop voices a raucous protest, but they can do nothing to stop the leopard as she scampers away with the carcass in her jaws.

Chief's Island is where some of the safari's most revered sights and scenes can be found. Today's two game drives are all about the intimate moments when nature's dramatic blanket is lifted. Find lion pride as they lounge in the sun, watch two bachelor elephant males clash tusks, find the trail blocked by a 100-strong buffalo herd and then weave out of the forest to be greeted by two bossy hippos in the first stages of confrontation. You will explore in the early morning and late afternoon, with the middle of the day passed at the camp with relaxation on your agenda. Much like in the Western Okavango, an array of animals can be spotted from your verandah.

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

Day 5: Selinda Concession – Exploring The Beauty of Water Returning to the Desert

Fly over the Okavango Delta for a second time in a light aircraft that connects the two remote airstrips in the Kalahari. Selinda Concession is on the migratory route between Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. For many decades, it was so dry and dusty that the animals would pass through it to the water and food found on either side of the Selinda Spillway. But a few years ago the spillway started to flow again, and this miracle has been appreciated by tens of thousands of mammals. Trees have blossomed, and primates can pick the fruit. Grazers can enjoy the grasslands and remain within a short journey of water. Nomads have stopped their journeys to find a personal realm along the banks and the predators have returned in large numbers, including many young males seeking to assert their authority.

Selinda Concession is one of Africa's most exciting up and coming destinations. It remains in transition and imbues every safari with a sense of surprise. The animal hierarchy is not yet absolutely defined, and there is a rare exclusivity to the experience. Selinda is a private concession, and only a handful of guests are permitted to explore here. You can discover the landscape from multiple levels, including makoro canoes and even on horseback. A game drive is recommended for this first day as it allows you to traverse a large part of the concession and gain an impression of what water has achieved in the northern realms of the Kalahari.

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

Day 6: Selinda Concession – Big Game Safari Between Chobe and Okavango

Traditionally, the Selinda Concession has been a place where you can get out of your safari vehicle. Horse riding and walking safaris reveal the landscape from a new angle, while a mokoro ride along the spillway brings a succession of intimate sights. The environment has changed a bit with the arrival of new predators as while the safe area to explore has shrunk slightly, you still have the opportunity to step through the landscape with barefooted bushmen guides, or to ride horses across open grass plains teeming with zebra. The safari program is flexible, and you can create a personal itinerary of activities including the thrilling game drives along the banks of the spillway. Animals clash here, and there is always a dramatic scene to find as a lion pride scares zebra from the water, elephants squirt jets from their trunks, or maybe a crocodile snaps its jaws on an unsuspecting gazelle.

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

Day 7: Livingstone – Relaxed Cruising on the Zambezi River

Travel north to Zambia to see another of Africa's most resplendent waterways. The Zambezi slices across Central and Southern Africa, a natural barrier between nations that curls slowly before picking up unstoppable speed. In a light aircraft, you will fly to the very north of Botswana, where your transfer to Livingstone takes an hour by road, including the formalities of immigration. Your lodge stands on the edge of the Zambezi, and the water rushes past your verandah. Baboons and vervet monkeys swing through the trees above the lodge, and there is often a view of hippos and crocodiles from your verandah.

An evening cruise on the Zambezi is included on each of your three evenings here, and it will be an excellent showcase of how calm, yet powerful, Africa's waters can be. Sunset will glisten across the river as hippos emerge to graze on the banks and cocktails and wine are served while crocodiles snap along the shores as in the distance you hear the rumble of Victoria Falls. Much as in Western Okavango, you are surrounded by the charms of Africa's great waters.

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

Day 8: Livingstone – Intimate Experiences With Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is experienced with all of your the senses. The Falls are heard before they are seen as a low growl echoed for over ten miles up the river. Trees hide your approach, and the rumbling water is nearly deafening before you even get your first glimpse. Gushing white water disappears into a narrow chasm and then rises as mist and spray. By walking along narrow bridges to cataracts in the Zambezi, you will feel the full force of the falls. Spray bounces back above the height of the tumbling water and then descends in a cloud to soak anyone nearly in just a second.

This phenomenal show of power is contrasted by the serenity of your view of Victoria Falls from a helicopter. From above, you can admire how the Zambezi curls and then straightens to widen towards the precipice to create the world's largest sheet of falling water. Over a mile wide and more than 100 meters high, the sheet disappears into a narrow canyon to emerge in the misty clouds you experienced earlier in the day. After your Victoria Falls adventure, your boat will be ready for a sunset cruise to calm your beating heart rate.

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

Day 9: Livingstone – Free Day Along the Zambezi

Complete your itinerary with a relaxed day along the Zambezi. After your safari and time at Victoria Falls, this is your chance to sit back and savor your final moments of immersion in Africa's nature. But there is an adventure to be had for those seeking it. Kayak on the Zambezi to pass by hippos to find a handful of antelopes along the banks. Go rhino trekking in a nearby Mosi oa Tunya Park or follow the baboons back to Victoria Falls.  You could also cross the bridge to spend the day in neighboring Zimbabwe. Your guide can plan and arrange any of these excursions, and there is always one last sunset cruise to complete your final day on the great waters of Africa.

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

Day 10: Livingstone – Departure

Livingstone International Airport makes for convenient departure point from Africa and has various direct flights to Europe. You will be transferred to the airport in time for your international flight with full use of your room and lodge facilities available until you are ready to depart.

What's Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$5,245
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.