Best of Botswana & Zimbabwe Safari 2019-2020

A 11 day trip to Botswana & Zimbabwe 
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Safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana and you will never leave the wilderness. You will be truly immersed in a wildlife realm: nature will sing an evening lullaby, animals will graze around the lodges, and you will gain an intimate understanding of wildlife behavior. The four destinations provide beautiful contrasts as you build a detailed picture of safaris in Southern Africa. Victoria Falls is followed by Hwange’s savanna ecosystem before the Chobe woodland contrasts the Okavango Delta. This Botswana and Zimbabwe safari will have you completely immersed in wildlife and nostalgia.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta, Maun

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Victoria Falls – Welcomed to Africa by a Sunset Cruise

Most visitors to Africa arrive with a mix of excitement and anxiety. There is so much unknown here, and it is hard to compare a safari with a vacation anywhere else. Upon landing in Victoria Falls, you will immediately notice the calm and tranquil temperament of the landscape. There is little traffic, and it is common to see elephants around the main road. Baboons are the noisiest animals at the lodge although you may also hear a hippo boisterously calling from the river. Almost instantly, you will feel the allure of nature. Victoria Falls is not a safari destination, but you still enjoy a deep connection with the land.

It usually only takes a couple of hours to detox from the modern world so just relax in your suite, listen to Victoria Falls, watch monkeys swing past, and find nothing artificial in your view. Later this afternoon, you will cruise on the river via a small-boat cruise that circumnavigates a large island between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Elephants and buffalos are among those that live on the island, and they are commonly seen along the banks. As dusk draws near, you watch a dazzling African sun descend into the Zambezi just as hippos begin their nighttime grazing along the banks.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour, dinner

Day 2: Victoria Falls – Discovering the Famous Smoke That Thunders

The name Victoria Falls fails to describe the spectacle. To the locals, it has always been known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates into English as The Smoke That Thunders. First, you will hear the falls, sonorously echoing through the forest and suggesting what lies ahead. Then, you will catch a glimpse of the falling water. On a guided walk, you will look across the chasm where you can see rainbows as they swirl in the mist. Now, it gets really exciting. You will walk parallel to the falls and stop at many different viewpoints. The thunder will grow louder, and next comes the smoke, which is the spray that tumbles up from the chasm and rains down on the walking trail. It is only when getting wet that you know that you have truly experienced the world’s grandest waterfall.

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

Day 3: Hwange National Park – Game Drives on an Epic Savanna

Western Zimbabwe is part of the Kalahari, which is a desert that is larger than almost every US state. If you leave the Zambezi River, the landscape will immediately change from green forest to dusty savanna. As you enter Hwange, an arid escarpment will stretch out before you. An elephant may wander along the horizon, giraffes may lope elegantly across the four-wheel drive trail, and maybe a buffalo herd will stop to stare. This morning’s transfer to the camp will be a game drive, and you will weave between different watering holes, observing all the animal life. Your camp will be located beside one of these watering holes, so you can expect the wildlife sightings to continue long into the night.

With an afternoon game drive, you will follow the famous tick-list and hopefully gain first sightings of Africa’s most famous animals. Lion prides are readily seen on the open plains, especially in the late afternoon. Leopards are harder to find, but you should see at least one during this safari in Southern Africa. Spotted hyena offer evocative moments, and slowly, you will learn the different species of antelope, especially how to identify kudu from eland and hartebeest. This first full day on your safari will bring a stunning variety of new impressions, and it will feel like an adventure. The camp is there to bring your heart rate down with the campfire and watering hole making for a quiet evening in the bush.

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

Day 4: Hwange National Park – Following Elephants and Lions Across the Plains

A lion stands tall on the dusty savanna as his mane flutters in the breeze. Towering elephants may walk past, being extra protective of a youngster that is not yet big enough to prevent its trunk from dragging on the ground. These famous animals form the mainstay of many Hwange safaris, and it is amazing how close you can get. Sometimes, the elephants drink from the camp’s swimming pool. On another day that is full of game drives, you will also look beyond these famous animals as you go in search of drama at the watering holes. Everything revolves around water in this arid ecosystem, so the watering holes provide places to encounter a rich diversity of wildlife, including hungry predators.

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

Day 5: Chobe National Park – Photographic River Safari on the Chobe River

You will continue your Hwange exploration this morning as you game drive out of the park. You will follow a lesser explored route in the far west of the park, first crossing open savanna before diving back into the woodland. The border crossing is hassle-free and hardly interrupts the animal experience. Sometimes, giraffes and elephants come within 100 meters of the border post. This area is home to the world’s largest elephant population, and up to 100,000 of the pachyderms descend on Chobe National Park during the dry season, which is May to October. They come for the Chobe River, which is where you will begin your Chobe safari.

You will explore in a specially designed photography boat. This vessel can move almost silently and has the maneuverability to ride very close to the riverbank. Camera supports will allow you to get more precise shots, and the guide will expertly move the boat to provide you with excellent angles. This photographic river safari will also help you understand how the daily rhythm of wildlife in Chobe. While the woodland is thick, the river provides permanent water, so all the animals come out into the open at least once per day where they drink from the muddy banks and splash in the shallows. Being in a boat allows you to get incredibly close to these animals, and it is an entirely different feeling when you are looking up at elephants and buffalos.

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

Day 6: Chobe National Park – Uncovering the Secrets of a Woodland Ecosystem

Deep in the trees, you may be surrounded by elephants as a herd of 20 walks past you. Next, may come a retired patriarch, carrying a look of melancholy. If you turn around, you may spot another herd with two young infants, scurrying about in a state of excitement. Often in Chobe, you can stop on a sandy trail and watch the elephants on their way to the water. If you travel deeper into the national park, encounters with the pachyderms will continue. Perhaps, you will see a leopard hiding on a tree branch, or maybe raucous monkeys will alert you to a cackle of hyena. Every safari is unpredictable, and by the end of today, you will understand that dazzling wildlife scenes can occur at any moment of the day.

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

Day 7: Okavango Delta – Motorboat Safari in the African Oasis

This morning, you will have the option to do another game drive or river cruise before you board a mid-morning flight to the Okavango Delta. Gazing through the window, you can watch how the landscape changes enormously. Woodland becomes sparser, and trees are interspersed with arid floodplains. Classic desert colors begin to dominate, and then suddenly, the delta appears as a sublime extension of blue and green that stretches far beyond the horizon. You will land on an island that is almost impossible to access by land. The trails get washed away each year, so it is much easier to fly. Animals do not need trails, and almost immediately, you will see four-legged giants as they make their way across the water.

This is Africa’s great oasis, and wildlife arrives from hundreds of miles around. A motorboat is the easiest way to explore these wetlands, and you will cruise through a web of channels and lagoons. Red lechwe may cover the shallows in enormous herds, wild dogs may take a drink from beside the reeds, and buffalos may rest beneath palms as their guttural sounds echo far across the water. At some moments, you travel down narrow channels, getting incredibly close to anything on the banks. At other moments, you cross open water, gazing around at hippos and other four-legged giants. This safari continues until dusk before the animal encounters are likely to continue back at the camp.

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

Day 8: Okavango Delta – Full-Day Game Drive on Chief’s Island

To understand the Okavango, you must safari on the water and the land. After a short boat ride, you will spend today on Chief’s Island, which is the largest of all the Okavango islands. This is the wildlife-rich heart of the Delta and drives never disappoint. Amid the palms, you may spot something move. At first, it will appear to be nothing, but after moving closer, you may see another movement. There may be something that is hiding in the reeds, and the driver will bring you closer. Soon, you will learn that this movement is the tail of a leopard as it swats flies. The spotted cat may stare directly back at you with its piercing blue eyes. A herd of red lechwe has come to drink, and this is most likely why the leopard has been hiding.

The hunt can take place over two hours. It may happen in an instant with a flurry of water and sharp cries, but you are more likely to see the aftermath of a hunt, such as a carcass in a tree or a lion pride as they toss zebra bones. This will be the highlight of your African safari. In a zoo, you witness captive animals that are separated into their individual cages and pens, but on a safari, you explore how wildlife interacts with each other. Battles between predator and prey are the most dramatic, but there are many other wonderful scenes such as different species that look out for each other, mating rituals, and strategies to protect infants and babies.

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

Day 9: Okavango Delta – Viewing Wildlife From Mokoro Canoes and an Afternoon Game Walk

On your final day of safari, you will gain two new perspectives. At dawn, you will start exploring in a traditional mokoro canoe with a gondolier who will guide you down the narrowest delta channels. Silent and serene, this will be a great opportunity to come close with smaller animals along with giants who are taking a drink from the banks. There is no motor on the boat, and you will gain an intimate appreciation of Okavango details. This will continue with a walking safari. Again, it will be silent, and that means that you can move closer to smaller wildlife, notably the rich variety of antelopes that live in the Okavango. Both activities will be exhilarating, and the camp will effortlessly bring you down to earth, especially when the campfire crackles at night.

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

Day 10: Maun – Final Safari Memories and a Cultural Evening

This morning, you can choose any of the activities to complete your unforgettable, safari experience. You will transfer to a local airstrip immediately after lunch. The flight provides dreamy views over the Okavango Delta, particularly of how the waterways give way to the arid, brown hues of the Kalahari Desert. Maun is Botswana’s safari gateway town, and you will spend the day at your lodge on the edge of town. This evening, you will be entertained by a cultural performance along with a rich, traditional barbecue of game meats.

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

Day 11: Maun – International Departure

Your international flight departs from Maun this morning.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$6,595
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.