Best of the Okavango – walking safari

The ultimate walking safari itinerary for adventurous travellers and safari purists looking for an authentic walking experience in the Okavango. Combining the two best walking outfits operating on private concessions in the Okavango – Footsteps in the east and Beagle Expeditions in the west. This itinerary delivers a fantastic week - long delta adventure. Beginning at a small three tent camp and ending with your own private mobile camp accessed only by helicopter, this is truly off the beaten track. Superb guiding is at the heart of this itinerary – taking your safari experience to the next level.

This itinerary begins with three nights in the eastern Okavango, on the private Shinde concession and staying at Footsteps Camp – where the experience is all in the name. This is the only permanent camp dedicated to walking safaris in the Okavango. Over the next 3 days you explore this beautiful and game -lively private concession known for its superb game viewing. Staying in an authentic bush camp with a down - to -earth and friendly atmosphere, this is a return to the safaris of old. The occasional game drive and mokoro trip is offered to complete your Okavango experience.

Footsteps Camp is a simple but comfortable camp, mobile in style although in practice the camp never moves (unlike your next camp). It perfectly captures the authentic back to basics style of safari where the focus is on the wilderness around you. There are just three tents, all en-suite with flushing loos and bucket showers. With only three tents this is a friendly and intimate camp. The guiding is excellent, as you would expect it to be on a walking safari.

After three nights you fly west, the other side of the Okavango Delta, to the beautiful Abu private concession. For the next 4 days you will explore the wild and remote southern corners of the concession with Beagle Expeditions – run by the owner, Simon Byron, one of Africa’s finest guides.
With your own private mobile camp and Simon at your side to expertly guide you through this wilderness you are guaranteed to have memories for life. Over 4 nights your camp will move from the South to the North, with two nights in each area- walking between the camps and during the day. Mokoro, boating and game drives are also available (water levels depending).

These days are entirely yours- the beauty of having your own private camp and guide – a chance to follow your own personal interests and if you wish stay out all day exploring as long as your feet and enthusiasm holds!

This is areas is largely untouched – it is pristine wilderness and has a very limited road network, making it ideal for walking. For this reason access is largely by helicopter- a superb experience in itself.

The below provides a taste of what you can expect on this intrepid itinerary, though the precise day to day schedule will depend on the conditions at the time as judged by your guide.

As Footsteps is closed for December, January and February and this itinerary is only available from March-November.

Note there is a min age of 16 years to do this safari. For younger families the camp can be booked exclusively as Young Explorers. There is no age requirements with Beagle.

Day 1 - Footsteps

On arrival in Maun you will be met by a representative and assisted onto your flight to the Shinde private concession. The flight is approximately 25 minutes a spectacular introduction to the Okavango Delta. Landing at the bush airstrip you are met by your personal guide and continue to camp in an open safari vehicle. A drive game drive of about 30 minutes. The adventure begins on landing, as the drive allows you to acclimatise to the bush, while your guide gives you tips on how to spot game animals and birds in the wilderness. On arrival at camp, a refreshing drink and snacks await.

Having been introduced to the team your guide will then give you a brief on safety. Then it is time to settle into camp and freshen up from the long journey before setting off on your first walk. This will be a short walk, lasting so long as the light safely allows, time at least for your guide to introduce you to the area, the wildlife movements taking place on the concession at the moment and to become comfortable with walking in the African bush.

You return to camp where a hot bucket shower awaits. You then gather around the fire for drinks and aperitifs before dinner under the stars. Over the dinner you discuss the first lessons of the day, you will already have learnt much about the area and this is a chance for your guide to expand on this with stories of Botswana, its history, people and the complex eco-systems of the Okavango Delta.

Retire to bed where the gentle chorus of the African wilderness sends you to sleep.

Day 2 - Footsteps

The day begins before sunrise with a gentle wakeup call at your tent. Meeting around the fire for piping hot coffee/tea and a light breakfast you will then head out on foot to explore the bush.

The mornings are the best time for game viewing – before the heat of the day sends the animals (and you!) to the shade of the trees. The early morning sees most animals moving into the sun to warm up, and predators are usually still active in the early hours. The bushveld is waking up, this is the perfect time for walking. These are your longest walks, usually for around 4 hours, depending on your sightings.

You begin by tracing the water’s edge which offers lovely views of curious hippos which will have retreated to the waters to avoid the sun burning their sensitive skin. The birds around here are wonderful, and often include many migratory visitors. As you continue your journey you will see many plains game which abound here- giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, impala, wildebeest and herds of lechwe graze on the open flood plains.

Along the way your guide will be reading the ‘news’ of the bush – tracking animals and interpreting what he sees along the way for you. You are always learning on these walks. You return to camp walking along the fringe of the forest, a favourite spot for the bachelor elephants, particularly the old bulls, who enjoy dozing in the shade and cooling off in the lagoon as the day heats up.

A well-earned lunch awaits as you arrive in camp. Afterwards you will have a few hours to yourself to rest in your tent or in camp – take a book to your hammock or simple relax and watch the animals across the water come and go.

Later in the afternoon, as the day cools you will meet for tea and refreshments before heading out again. Water levels permitting you will have a chance to enjoy a mokoro ride. This is an incredibly peaceful activity, a chance to glide soundlessly along the lily peppered waters and enjoy a unique vantage point of the animals. We keep our eyes out for the sitatunga, a semi- aquatic antelope, and one of the world’s most unusual and secretive species mainly found in the Okavango Delta.

Day 3 - Footsteps Camp

By now you will have become accustomed to the rhythm of the African bush- you wake early and following a light breakfast you set off on your morning walking. By now you will be familiar with the sights, sounds and smells that make up the language of these unique lands.

Setting off in a new direction, tracking animals through the thick Kalahari sands. Your guide will explain the animals movements by reading the prints in the sands. This area is home to a number of predators. Lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog are all found in this area and can be viewed safely from a sensible distance – certainly leaving you with memories for life. Every one of your senses will be alert on these walks, the modern world a distance memory!

Returning for lunch a rest in the heat of the day in camp. The afternoon is time to take it easy after the long morning walk. There is the option to try your hand at fishing, Okavango style, either along the banks of lagoons and channels or, for the more adventurous from the mokoro! Alternatively you may wish to take a game drive to explore further into the concession.

Spirits are always high over the final dinner under the stars, toasting new friends, recalling your unique experiences shared together. Finally retiring for your final night in your tent, drifting off to sleep with the ever-present chorus of the hippos and the tinkle of the reed frogs.

Day 4 - Kweene Camp South

Today you bid farewell to the team and fellow travellers at Footsteps. The morning schedule will depend on your departure time. If time allows you will have one final walk before setting off for the airstrip with your guide. Or you may prefer to take a longer game drive before your flight. All this will be discussed with your guide the night before once you have your flight times established.

Your helicopter flight will see you fly right across the Okavango, a truly magnificent experience, taking around 3-40 minutes to Kweene, where your guide will be waiting for you.

On arrival Simon and the team will be waiting to welcome you to your new home in the Okavango – your private mobile camp set in the Abu Concession.

Mobile camps are lightweight by nature – so this is a more rustic camp compared to Footsteps, but still a comfortable experience. Guests sleep in 3mx3m dome tents with ground mattresses – the bedrolls are thick and comfortable and the linen a fine cotton. A separate ablution open air tent is set up for every 2 dome tents, with a bucket shower (with hot water) and a bush loo. Dining is all under the skies at night- and here is where the luxury shows itself. The food is variety, fresh and healthy seasonal fare served with fine South African wines.
Having settled in and met the team you will then set off on your first activity - likely a walk but if water levels are up you will also have the opportunity to end the day on the water – either way you will toast the setting sun with a traditional sundowner before returning to camp where a roaring fire awaits and a tasty dinner under the stars. Then it is time for bed and rest- ready for the adventure the next day.

By now you will be familiar with the sounds of the African wilderness heard from under canvas – expect to hear all sorts of wonderful sounds as the bushveld never really sleeps. Safe and comfortable in your tent you can enjoy the wonderful rhythm of the night sounds – jackals calling, owls hooting, the rustle of little nocturnal creates like bush babies and smaller cats like genets and servals and caracals.

Day 5 - Kweene Camp South

The next morning you rise early just before sunrise. You will likely wake naturally with the movements of the rest of the camp and sense the bushveld beginning to stir to life again but if not a friendly knock at your tent will wake you. Hot water is brought your wash stand and having freshened up you will meet around the camp fire for hot drinks, a light breakfast and then head off for your first morning walk.

Early mornings are a fantastic time for a walking safari for a number of reasons – this avoids the heat of the day, when it is not comfortable for you or the animals to be out in the sun. This also offers the best chance of seeing the animals active, including predators which have been active during the night.

Today you explore the southern section of the Kweene River, this occasional swamp has an arid feel to it, however as the floodplains are inundated with water less frequently than the seasonal swamps the grass species which are present here are richer and more attractive to grazers – so large herds are found here, along with the predators which follow.

As the day heats up you return to camp for a hearty brunch and time to rest with a book in the shade or enjoy a siesta or chat in the mess area before your afternoon activity.

Once again this is likely to be a walk but the option of a game drive is always available. Particularly useful if wanting to get closer to predators you may have seen earlier, a chance to take photos too. If water levels are up you may take a mokoro ride or boat ride too.

This is the beauty of having your own private camp and guide- the total flexibility to peruse your interests, as much as the conditions on the ground allow. Another sundowner in a beautiful location is enjoyed before you return to camp for dinner and another night in the wilderness, the sounds becoming more familiar and no less magical.

Day 6 - Kweene Camp North

Another early start to the day with a morning walk. Today you move camp, leaving the southern section of Kweene for the lusher northern reaches of the river system, to the greener seasonal swamp area in the north.

You will simply pack your bags and leave them in camp, the team will pack up the camp and do all the necessary arrangements, setting up your new camp which will be ready on arrival for you later in the afternoon.

You set off with Simon and your back up guide for a full day of exploring - Depending on the water levels, you will have a chance to explore by mokoro (the traditional Okavango way) or on foot or a mix of both.

The northern section of the Kweene River receives water with the arrival of the annual flood waters from Angola, part of the annual flood cycle. This is a particularly stunning area with classic Okavango scenery, wide open floodplains are dotted with palm tree islands and fringed by riverine woodlands attracting an abundance of wildlife. This landscape is the spectacular backdrop for your walking safaris over the next two days.

Arriving in camp late afternoon for drinks around the fire and dinner in your final Okavango home.

Day 7 - Kweene Camp North

Your final day of the safari – you wake early to make the most of it. Today you explore this beautiful northern section of Kweene with Simon, again you will focus on walking, with the option to mokoro as well if water levels permit.

Walking is a chance to get up close and personal with nature- to touch, feel and smell the African bush away from the rattle of the 4x4 vehicle. Out of the safety bubble of the 4x4 your senses truly come alive, nothing will focus your attention more than walking in the wilderness with Africa’s great creatures seen on foot.

Having made the most of your last day you return to camp as the sun is setting – toast to your memories and enjoy your last night in Kweene – by now the sounds of the African bush will send you to sleep like a lullaby.

Day 8 - Departure

This morning you wake early for one last activity before you return for breakfast and to bid farewell to the team and the Okavango. The time for your departure flight will be advised by radio to camp the night before. Your helicopter will transfer you back to Maun in time for your onward flight. Or to your next camp.

Map View

Footsteps Across the Delta

Footsteps Across the Delta

Footsteps Across the Delta

Beagle Expeditions

Beagle Expeditions

Beagle Expeditions

Beagle Expeditions

Beagle Expeditions

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