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A trip through Botswana's remote wilderness to track Africa's greatest animals, stay on a houseboat on the delta, sleep under canvas in the bush and visit the Smoke that Thunders - Victoria Falls.
Explore Tour Leader
3 nights comfortable boat
5 nights simple camping
2 nights simple camping full service
2 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights comfortable lodge
Trip maximum 12
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our tour starts in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta. After checking in to our hotel, your afternoon is free to relax. You may choose to take a stroll around the town, where modern buildings and older huts stand side-by-side. Originally a rural village, it has rapidly developed into Botswana's 'tourism capital'. However, the town has managed to retain much of its rural atmosphere.
The Sedia Riverside Hotel (or similar)
An early start this morning to get on the road for a long drive up the west side of the Okavango Delta Panhandle to Shakawe, where we leave our vehicle behind and board a motor launch to our houseboat. On arrival, meet our friendly crew who will be our hosts for the next three nights. After settling in dinner is served in the dining room, with panoramic windows offering the most amazing backdrop of the sun setting over the Okavango river basin.
The accommodation is comfortable, with eight bedrooms with en-suite facilities. Each room has glass doors sliding open on to the wilderness of the remote panhandle area, while on the deck above are seating areas from which to enjoy the sunsets and listen to the birds. The boat will be for our exclusive use during our stay.
Due to seasonal variations in the level and strength of the river, the houseboat itself might only be able to access limited parts of the river for much of the year, whilst we explore the river on smaller launches. However, the amount of water that falls in the catchment area can be highly variable and occasionally, conditions may allow the houseboat itself to cruise in other areas of the Delta.
The next couple of days are spent enjoying this spectacular setting. During our time on the river, there is a possibility of seeing a variety of game. On our launch, we may cruise past submerging pods of hippos, while crocodiles bask in the shallows and on the riverbanks. While drifting along, it is not hard to imagine yourself as David Livingstone, exploring Africa all those years ago.
Okavango Spirit House Boat (or similar)
During our second day aboard the houseboat, our itinerary is flexible. A typical day involves one or two trips out on the launch to take in the wildlife and visit the surrounding area. Back on board, there are plenty of opportunities for bird watching. Local fishermen are often seen aboard their traditional dugout canoes, known locally as Mokoros. The golden light of late afternoon can also be enjoyed with a traditional sundowner on deck. As this is a day at leisure you can choose how much or how little you do today.
Today, we'll visit the intriguing and sacred World Heritage Site of the Tsodilo Hills. The San Bushmen community believe the hills are the site of the first creation and painted an astonishing 4000 rock paintings across 350 sites marking the area's significance. Here, four impressive rocks jut out of the expanse of the surrounding land, and it is believed by the San Bushmen that the largest of the rocks is the 'man', the second largest the 'woman', and the smallest the 'child'. The fourth rock, which stands apart from the others, is said to be the male's first wife. Some of the paintings are thought to be over 24,000 years old, and as well as the chance to see ancient rock paintings, the hills offer vast views across the countryside below.
A expert local guide will accompany us around the site, interpreting the carvings. The walking tour lasts around two hours, walking along a flat well graded path. It's possible to opt out at any stage and return to the shade of the small museum located at the entrance of the site, where we will also have a picnic lunch before returning to the houseboat for a relaxing evening.
This morning will be a very early start to ensure enough daylight hours for the long journey to Victoria Falls. Today's total journey time is approximately nine hours depending on time spent at the border crossings, and will of course include comfort breaks and a lunch break.
The drive takes us through north to Namibia's Caprivi Strip, before heading to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The Caprivi Region has a colourful and interesting history, playing a central part in the Berlin Conference of 1890. Named after German Chancellor General Count Georg Leo von Caprivi di Caprara di Montecuccoli, the strip was once administered by the British before it was swapped for Zanzibar with the Germans at a time of great European political manoeuvring.
A late afternoon arrival to Victoria Falls provides just enough time for a refreshing sundowner at our lodge accommodation. For the next two nights we will be staying at either the Batonka Guest Lodge or Pioneer Lodge. The two are sister properties located just over 1km from each other and are almost identical. Both are set in beautiful landscaped gardens, feature a swimming pool, spacious rooms, an expansive terrace where breakfast is taken, a bar and a stylish lounge and dining room which are both extremely comfortable. They are both exclusively reserved for residents which ensures the upmost privacy.
Batonka Guest Lodge (or similar)
Often referred to as the adventure capital of Zimbabwe, Victoria falls is most famous as being home to one of the natural wonders of the world - Victoria Falls.
This morning we'll visit the falls from the Zimbabwean side of the river where the Zambezi River plummets over a sheer cliff wall spanning more than 1676 meters and dropping approximately 100 metres into the abyss below. The natives named the waterfall, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning 'the smoke that thunders' because of the plumes of water vapour that rise like smoke into the sky above the falls, accompanied by the deafening roar. After our guided tour you can take your time to further explore the network of paths and enclaves around the falls.
This afternoon is free to relax, or you may choose to book a two hour game drive in Zambezi National Park in search of the big five. Alternatively, there is the option to take a scenic flight over the falls or go white water rafting in the Zambezi. All activities can be booked at your guesthouse directly and full prices are available in the budgeting section of the trip notes.
Leaving our guesthouse this morning, it's a short hour long drive to the Kazungula land border crossing between Zimbabwe and Botswana. Once border formalities are completed, we will make our way into the Chobe National Park. Famed for its beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and magnificent golden sunsets, Chobe is the heart of elephant country and is home to approximately 120,000 of the giant creatures. After a stop for supplies and lunch, we will head out on an afternoon game drive.
Although simple in style, our camping spot for tonight allows us to fully appreciate the wild setting. To the high demand in Botswana, all campsites for the next seven nights are booked two years in advance to ensure that we get the best positions in some truly spectacular spots.
Safari wild camping
We use 3 x 3 meter dome type tents with private en-suite facilities added to the back of the tent. They are big enough so that someone can stand inside. These tents are made from durable rip-stop canvas and have sewn-in groundsheets. They come equipped with sturdy camp beds, mattresses, fitted sheets, pillow, pillowcases and duvets. Other equipment used on safari are camping basins, washstands, hot water bucket showers and water-based toilets. Safari style fold-up chairs and large tables are provided (all meals eaten from the table). Our great back-up staff does all the cooking, cleaning and setting-up and breaking camp, so the difficult aspect of camping is taken away. This setup allows us to get as close to nature, wilderness, plants and animals as possible.
HATAB Camp Chobe River (or similar)
Simple Camping Full Service
We'll maximise our time today to ensure we make the most of game drive opportunities. We head out in the morning and again in the afternoon, for the chance to spot huge trumpeting herds of elephants in and around the southern bank of the Chobe River, where we can also find Chobe Bushbuck and Puku Antelope.
Other mammals to be seen are buffalo, kudu, eland, waterbuck, sable and roan antelope, zebra, lion, cheetah, leopard, impala and reedbuck. In the river are hippo and crocodile and the waters teem with bream, barbel and tiger fish (freshwater barracuda). Our tour leader will decide on the exact running times of the day, and lunch arrangements, depending on the weather conditions and the season to ensure the best viewing.
For those that wish to there is an optional boat cruise along the Chobe River offered in the afternoon, perhaps the last river where one has a fair chance to see Lion and Elephant, Leopard or Wild Dog from the unique viewpoint of a boat. See the budgeting section for prices.
Today as we will travel south, we'll explore the interior area of Savuti with its sweeping plains, rolling grasslands and marshes which are fed by the erratic Savuti Channel. The channel ran dry in 1982, changing the lives of all wildlife on the plains as the ground baked in the African sun, and remained dry for over 20 years until 2008 when the water once again began to flow attracting animals back in high numbers. We'll have time to watch the herds that live in and around this area including lions, elephants and possibly the leopard, plus an abundance of bird species including the bee-eater and kori bustards.
HATAB Camp Savuti (or similar)
Leaving our Savuti camp, we continue over dirt roads into Moremi Game Reserve - one of Botswana's most diverse reserves in terms of scenery and wildlife. Tucked into the north-eastern section of the Okavango Delta, Moremi is thought to be the country's most beautiful game land, and is rated as one of Africa's greatest wildlife sanctuaries. This vast area is a mix of permanent swamps, islands, forests and dry land; an ornithologist's paradise. Birdlife and larger mammals can often be spotted on the flood plain, including elephant, giraffe, zebra and ostrich, as well as predators like lion, leopard and wild dog.
For the next two nights we will be camping in the northern Khwai River area where the waters feed an abundance of flora and fauna, including the frequently-visiting wild dog. Hippos are often heard by night too!
HATAB Camp Khwai (or similar)
We will enjoy two game drives today. Setting off for our morning game drive at first light (when predator activity is most expected), we get the chance to experience one of Africa's most natural and unspoiled wonderlands in the park with hippo, crocodile and a great variety of birds all seen in the Delta, as well as the elusive sitatunga antelope. This place is also an ornithologist's paradise with fish eagle, kingfisher, heron, stork, egret, weaver and bee-eater all regularly seen. We make our way to the banks and floodplains of the north eastern section of the Okavango Delta this morning.
Returning for brunch as the day starts heats up, the hottest part of the day is spent at leisure at our camp site, a chance of a siesta, relax reading a book or birdwatching. Our afternoon activity departs after tea, usually around 4pm, to return in the early evening. Game drives and activities vary from one to the next, depending on sightings and animal activities, generally, we drive quite far and slowly to absolutely maximize game-viewing potential, all expertly guided by our highly experienced tour leaders.
The mighty Okavango is the third largest river in southern Africa. The delta area covers 16,000 square kilometres and is made up of crystal clear channels, countless fleeting lakes and ever-changing islands. The waters flows down in a south-easterly direction from the Angolan highlands, over 1000 kilometres away, taking up to six months to reach the delta area which floods on a perennial annual cycle.
Remaining in the Moremi Game Reserve, today we drive further into the Delta area to our camp at Xakanaxa, where we will spend the next two nights. This exceptional geography and topography attracts amazing wildlife to the waterways and we'll begin game viewing on our arrival. Your guide will generally spend maximum time on game-drives, depending on what is seen, trying to cover as much area as possible. The result of this is guests are given the best chances of seeing a variety of wildlife.
HATAB Camp Xaxanaka (or similar)
Today, we intend to spend the whole day in this unspoilt wonderland. Hippo, crocodile and red lechwe are easy to spot. Bird lovers can look out for fish eagle, jacana, kingfisher, heron, stork, egret, weaver and bee-eater; just some of the magnificent species found here.
After an early morning game drive, we continue eastwards enjoying the vastness of the surrounding lands, until we reach Maun at lunchtime.
This afternoon, there may be the opportunity of an optional game flight over the Okavango Delta depending on the weather conditions.
Our tour ends in Maun after breakfast. Depending on the schedule of your departing flight, you may choose to spend a few hours exploring the town independently.
Botswana's regional characteristics, from fertile areas in the east to waterless desert in the centre and south, and a vast delta in the north-west, make for extremes of temperatures and highly variable rainfall. Seasonal weather patterns can be unpredictable.
3 Pin Round
Christians. Anglicans, Methodists
With a staggering 300 days of sunshine each year, Namibia is a year-round destination, although some may prefer to avoid the heat of high summer. The cold Benguela current keeps the Atlantic coast of the Namib Desert cool and rain-free for most of the year, with a thick coastal fog that lends a mysterious edge to the area. January and February are the hottest months, when daytime temperatures in the heart of the Namib can exceed 40°C (104°F), but nights are usually cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.
English, Afrikaans, German
Zimbabwe has a moderate climate, in the summer months (November to April) you can expect highs of 30 C° and lows of 20 C°. The wet season is from November to May when the days are typically dry and sunny with afternoon/evening thunderstorms. The best time for game viewing is September to October when days are dry and the temperatures are still relatively cool.
2 Pin Round
Maun - Flight over Okavango Delta (approx. 1 hour) US$ 100pp depending on numbers booked (must be booked in advance so speak to your tour leader). Victoria Falls - Helicopter for 30 mins flight US$ 360pp (plus US$6pp aviation fee), Whitewater rafting half day US$ 160pp or full day US$ 170pp, Upper Zambezi canoeing half day US$ 110pp or full day US$ 145pp, Zambezi river cruises sunset (1 hour)US$ 65pp or sunset & dinner US$ 85pp, Game drives US$ 65pp for 2 hours; Chobe - optional river cruise US$ 40pp. Okavango Panhandle - boat trip (no charge) Rafting note: River conditions are determined by seasonally predictable fluctuations in water levels. Low water season generally runs from August to January each year - this is when the Zambezi is at its very wildest. High water is from about February to July and there can be a closed season between March and June depending on the season's rains. For all activities cash is preferred, but cards are accepted
Clothing should be lightweight. However, a wind/waterproof jacket, a warm fleece or sweater and thermal underwear for night time are strongly advised, as nights, early morning game drives and longer journeys can be very cold, especially in winter (April to August). We suggest that during the winter months you take a number of layers to combat the cold which can then be removed as the day warms up. Brightly coloured and white clothing is not suitable for game viewing. You may like to bring a swimming costume for the hotels with pools.
Lightweight trail boots or robust trainers with good traction soles and sandals.
The limit is one barrel bag/holdall/internal frame backpack (suitcases are not permitted) per person and a reasonable amount of photographic equipment. A day bag is essential for everyday use.
Dome tents are provided which sleep a maximum of two people. Camp cots with mattresses, fitted sheets, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets are also provided. Tents are erected by our crew. Please bring a towel with you and also a water bottle, (head) torch and larger torch for toilet visits at night whilst camping, sunhat, sunglasses, insect repellent and sunscreen. Binoculars are essential for game viewing and a 300mm lens is recommended for photography. Tents have sewn-in mosquito screening so nets are not required. Camera batteries can be charged in Maun and Victoria Falls, whilst there is also a charging facility on our safari vehicle. We do however recommend that you bring spare batteries.
This tour uses a great mix of accommodation, affording us a real flavour of one of Africa's most beautiful countries. We start and end our trip in a comfortable, mid-range hotel in Maun. On the Okavango Panhandle we spend three nights on a houseboat - the boat has a lower deck with en-suite cabins and upper deck with a bar/dining area and an open seating area at the rear. In Victoria Falls we stay in a delightful guesthouse with expansive gardens and a pool, just 15 minutes walk from the falls. The guesthouse has an excellent restaurant and provides a booking service for a wide range of activities in the falls area. In the Okavango Delta and game reserves of Botswana we enjoy the experience of camping under the African sky. Our chosen campsites are exclusive to our groups and the exact location may change slightly as the campsites are moved short distances from time to time to allow the bush to return to its natural state. Each tent is set up with an adjoining private bathroom with a chemical toilet and bucket shower accessed directly from your tent. Elevated camp beds, mattresses, fitted sheets, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets are also provided. Camp assistants take care of all camp chores so no participation is required.
Dietary requirements: Most restaurants and hotels in Botswana do not have a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian choices. There is usually a choice of salads and one main vegetarian and/or vegan main dish on the menus, but choice will be limited especially in more remote locations. If you have specific dietary requirements we do recommend for you to bring some food with you.
It’s very important that you let us know of any dietary requirements at least 60 days prior to the departure of your trip because your Leader will pre-plan menus and shop for the majority of the food prior to departure. In Namibia there is very limited availability for specialist food products along the way and leaders will need to pre-advise accommodations of any specific requirements so they can ensure they have options. Please note, without prior notice or if your requirements change while on the trip Explore cannot guarantee all requirements will be catered for.
If you have a specialist diet, including but not limited to vegan, gluten free, lactose intolerant and/or celiac, we strongly recommend you bring some snacks with you as options will be limited, particularly in rural parts of Namibia where specialist food products in supermarkets are very limited and restaurants will often have one or two alternative options on their menus. With prior notice our leaders will always ensure there is a meal for you, however, we must stress we cannot guarantee variety or choice.
Dietary requirements: Most restaurants and hotels in Zimbabwe do not have a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian choices. There is usually a choice of salads and one main vegetarian and/or vegan main dish on the menus, but choice will be limited especially in more remote locations. If you have specific dietary requirements we do recommend for you to bring some food with you.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Travelling with Minors via South Africa (including transits) and entry into Botswana and Namibia Regulations affecting all children aged under 18 years that are travelling to, from or via South Africa have been updated (Nov19). The law states that visa exempt children travelling for tourism purposes with one or both parents and/or an adult who is not a biological parent require to present a valid passport for each child on arrival. We strongly recommend you to refer to the South African House website for full information and to travel with a copy of these requirements. Please refer to the FCO website for information on travelling with minors to Botswana: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana/entry-requirements Please refer to the FCO website for information on travelling with minors to Namibia: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/namibia/entry-requirements Botswana: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. All passports must have at least 6 months validity remaining from date of entry into Botswana. Namibia: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. UK passport holders will need a minimum of 1 blank page in your passport for your permission to stay stamp acquired on arrival. Other nationalities should consult their embassy or consular office. Zimbabwe: Visas are required for UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. British citizens can obtain these on arrival (USD55), all other nationalities should consult their consulate. All passports must have at least 6 months validity remaining on entry and also have two consecutive blank pages in their passports which lie side by side when the passport is open (i.e. a left and a right hand page). When travelling via South Africa a machine readable passport is required. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
We do recommend protection against malaria, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Travellers may wish to immunize themselves against meningitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling. Immigration/Borders in Botswana are requesting a Yellow Fever certificate if you have previously travelled within/via an endemic country. Please note that any travellers who have visited Ebola affected countries during the last 30 days will be denied entry into Botswana. These countries are: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia
Nothing compulsory, but we do recommend protection against malaria, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid and polio. Please note that all travellers aged over 9 months old that have travelled from or have transitted via a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission, will need to present a Yellow Fever certificate at immigration/borders in Namibia for inspection. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Travellers may wish to immunise themselves against meningitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Please note that all travellers aged over 9 months old that have travelled from or have transited via a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission, will need to present a Yellow Fever certificate at immigration/borders in Zimbabwe for inspection. We recommend protection against hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria.
Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.