Expert Botswana

Explore the Okavango and beyond – visit the Kalahari and Linyanti-wilderness areas in this comprehensive itinerary. Botswana’s landscapes are fantastically diverse and home to a myriad of wildlife offering a comprehensive game viewing experience. To fully appreciate the wonder of the Okavango one should also visit the Kalahari desert into which is flows. The Kwando-Linyanti is the other great river system in Botswana, a vast pristine wilderness with high concentrations of game. Animals are abundant and predators roam all these areas in good numbers. Safari purists will appreciate the focus on the safari experience rather than the luxurious trappings. Game drives feature trackers as well as guides, increasing the chances of those rare sightings. Explore Botswana away from the crowds with this excellent itinerary.

This itinerary showcases the incredibly rich and diverse nature of Botswana’s landscapes. Visit
wild, remote and game rich frontiers within and around the Okavango. To the south lies the Kalahari and to the north the Kwando-Linyanti river system. Offering pristine wilderness and phenomenal game viewing in some of the largest private reserves in African this is a truly exclusive safari. Visit four camps over 10 days, each set in beautiful and game rich environments with a great range activities – a classic Botswana itinerary.

This itinerary is begins with 3 nights in the Kalahari, the vast desert which lies south of the Okavango. From the Kalahari you fly to the northern frontier of Botswana, for 4 nights in the Kwando-Linyanti reserve. Your time here is split into two nights on the beautiful riverfront and 2 nights deeper in land by the Linyanti marsh. The itinerary ends with 3 nights in prime Okavango territory- with permanent waters and abundant game.

Starting your trip in the Central Kalahari, a 40 minute flight south of Maun, this enormous reserve is one of the largest in the world- with only 2 camps and very few visitors. Wild, remote and truly off the beaten track. The enormous grass plains are home to the famous Kalahari black maned lion, cheetah, brown hyena, oryx, springbok, eland, zebra and much more. The deserted adapted species found here are quite different to the Okavango and offer a more varied game viewing experience. Your lodge, Tau Pan, sits on a small ridge with wonderful views across the plains and waterhole below. Game drives and informative bushman walks are offered here.

After 3 nights you fly north east from the Kalahari to the northern frontier of Botswana, to the Kwando River – which forms the border between Botswana and Namibia. This is one of Botswana’s largest private reserves, the Kwando reserve is an astonishing 2,300km² and shared between just two camps- Lagoon and Lebala. Vehicles are scarce, animals are not. This lesser known area is a pristine wilderness, home to immense elephant and buffalo herds and impressive predators numbers. This area really comes alive in the dry season when staggering numbers of elephants flock to the river. The area has good resident game too and predators are regularly seen here. Notably, this is one of the best places to see African wild dog.

Your four nights will be split between Lagoon Camp on the riverfront and Lebala Camp which is set deeper inland – these camps compliment each other very well, with such different habitats the game viewing is varied.

Lagoon camp is a traditional camp with a simple style and a stunning setting on the banks of the river. Rooms are incredibly spacious if a little sparse but perfectly comfortable. It really is all about the views here, which all rooms enjoy. The swimming pool also has a fantastic setting overlooking the river. Day and night drives are offered as well as walking and boating.

Lebala Camp lies in the lush open grasslands about 2-3 hours game drive south of Lagoon Camp. The spacious tented rooms overlook the fringes of the linyanti marshes and are extremely light and airy. Activities here focus on game drives only – with big game in this drier area offering the opportunity for fantastic sightings.

After 4 nights you fly south to the Okavango, to the Kwara private concession in the east of the Delta. Kwara is a vast concession of 232,000 hectares, continuing the exclusive safari experience. The Kwando Reserve is one of the most famous in Botswana, with a fantastic range of habitats permanent water and prime game viewing- This area has great sightings of lion, leopard, wild dog and even cheetah which is rare in the Okavango.

With permanent waters and the flexibility of a private concession a full range of land and water activities are offered from this beautiful and diverse reserve, keeping the safari experience interesting, fresh and exciting every day.

Splash Camp is a relatively new camp, built in 2018 and has a smarter, more contemporary design while remaining true to the essence of the safari experience. Rooms are spacious and furnishings more complete and plush, this ensures a more luxurious end to your safari.

Splash has a great track record for offering water activities year round so you can be confident of enjoying that quintessential Botswana safari experience, a mokoro trip, gliding silently through the waterways and seeing the game at eye level is a very special experience. Boating is also offered on a double decker boat which offers great views across the waters and floodplains.

While park rules apply in the Kalahari, the rest of the safari takes place on private concessions, offering full flexibility on activities. Off-roading is permitted in these private reserves as well as night drives.

All camps are operated by Kwando Safaris, one of the oldest Botswana operators who stand out for their focus on delivering superb game viewing experiences. To this end, and uniquely in Botswana, they have both a guide and a tracker on board, doubling the expert eyes on your drives and chances of finding those rare sightings.

Day 1 - Tau Pan Camp

On arrival in Maun, you will be met and assisted onto your light aircraft flight to the Kalahari, a flight of about 40 minutes. Your guide will be there to welcome you and a short 10 minute drive takes you to the camp.

Tau Pan Camp offers impressive views of the Central Kalahari and onto Tau Pan itself. The main area features a large viewing deck overlooking a lively watering hole which often sees ‘tau’ (meaning lion in the local language). This is a simple but comfortable camp with 9 spacious rooms each with a private deck offering lovely views.

After a warm welcome from the team and having settled into your room you will meet your guide over high tea and discuss the area and activities on offer. Tau Pan offers morning and afternoon game drives as well as fascinating bushman walks.

Depending on your energy levels after your travels you will have the option to relax in camp or set off on your first game drive that afternoon, stopping in a scenic spot to toast the setting sun before returning to the lodge for dinner and your first night in the Kalahari.

Day 2 and 3 - Tau Pan Camp

An early wake-up call at dawn starts the day, followed by a light breakfast before setting off on your first morning game drive. Early morning is the best time to see the predators while they are still activities, before the heat of the day kicks in. Your guide will begin by interpreting the bush news of the morning, reading the animal tracks and interpreting this for you along the way.

Morning game drives will last around 4 hours with a coffee break half way to stretch your legs and enjoy some snacks. Returning around mid-morning for a heart brunch you will then have a few hours to relax in camp, the animals retreat to the shade around this time and so will you! This is a lovely chance to enjoy the peaceful setting, relax in your room, on your deck or in the main area. The viewing deck and swimming pool offer views of the waterhole, so you may enjoy a safari from the comfort of your lounger too!

Meeting your guide for high tea you will then set off on your afternoon drive around 4pm, as the day begins to cool and the animals begin to stir. One again your guide will stop in a scenic spot for you to enjoy the spectacular Kalahari sunset before slowly returning to camp where a camp fire will be roaring and dinner ready.

The next day will follow the same schedule. Bushman walks are available here. These informative walks are truly fascinating and highly recommended, offering insight into the ancient survival skills of the nomadic san people as well as a greater understanding of the desert environment around you.

Day 4 - Lagoon Camp

This morning you rise early, after breakfast you bid farewell to the team and set depart for the Linyanti. This is longer flight , of about 90 minutes with stops along the way but a fascinating flight. Flying from the Kalahari, across the Okavango and over to the Kwando reserve you will witness the constantly changing landscapes which reach across this corner of Botswana. On arrival at the airstrip your guide will be waiting to welcome you. A game drive of about 20 minutes takes you to the camp. Keep alert, your safari has begun!

After a warm welcome from the team and an introduction to the camp you will settle down to some light refreshments and a discussion with your guide about the activities on offer and your interests. Lagoon Camp offers day and night game drives as well as walking and boating, water levels permitting.

You will then set off on your first activity- perhaps a scenic boat cruise with a sundowner on the river or a game drive in search of the cats as they begin to stir as the heat of the day subsides. Toasting the setting sun with a drink you then return to camp for dinner and your first night in the African bushveld.

Day 5 - Lagoon Camp

The next morning you wake early, just before sunrise, and after a light breakfast you set off for your first full day of safari. Perhaps a game drive to track any interesting movements from the cats overnight or following the hyena which you may have heard calling in the night. Every day is different on safari and your guide will interpret the morning ‘news’ of the bush as you explore!

Returning for a heart brunch around 10.30am-11am you will then have some time to relax during the heat of the day, when the animals retreat to the shade- and so will you! Rest in your room, enjoy the private deck off your room and watch the animals as they visit the lagoon to drink. Or take a swim and relax on the pool deck which has wonderful river views.

Meeting your guide again at tea time you will set off for your afternoon activity – perhaps a game drive to follow up on sightings earlier in the day or a boating safari – the double deck set up allows for excellent views over the papyrus and into the further wetlands. Enjoying a sundowner you will then return to camp and dinner – and your last night on the banks of the Kwando river.

Day 6 - Lebala Camp

This morning you rise early, after breakfast you bid farewell to the team and set out on your game drive to Lebala. This will be a leisurely drive, like a game drive, rather than a straight transfer. Arriving mid-morning at Lebala.

Lebala lies in the floodplains of the Kwando river and each of the eight tents looks out on the lush Linyanti marshes. Watch out for the moving reeds which can reveal all sorts of animals as they move in and out of the marsh – elephant, lechwe, reedbuck, hippos and more.

Each of the tented rooms are incredibly spacious, airy and light with a private viewing deck as well as an inside sitting area. The main area includes a raised viewing deck overlooking the marsh as well as a small swimming pool.

Having met the team and settled into your room you will have some time to relax before meeting your guide at high tea before setting off on your first afternoon game drive. Exploring the southern reaches of the reserve around the Linyanti marshes you will stop at a scenic spot as the sun begins to set for a drink and some snacks. Returning to camp for dinner, your tracker will use a spotlight to search for nocturnal animals in action. This is when predators do most of their hunting from the mighty lion to the graceful little genet.

Day 7 - Lebala Camp

Another early morning wake-up call starts the day, your first full at Lebala. Setting out on your morning drive as the sun comes up you will be out for around 4 hours, returning for brunch and a rest. During the middle of the day you will have a few hours to yourself, a chance for a siesta or swim in the pool. Or settle on the viewing deck and watch the comings and goings at the marsh.

The plains here attract a wide variety of animals – wildebeest, impala, giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, kudu and more. Elephant and buffalo are also common. Predators include lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and hyena.

Around 4pm, after high tea, you set off for your afternoon activity and again stop of watch the sunset with a drink before returning to camp for dinner. Every sunset is special out here and worth stopping for- though sometimes game sightings are too exciting and you may choose to stay at a sightings instead.

Over dinner this evening your guide will advise you what time your flight to Splash camp will be the following day and you will plan your morning activity accordingly.

Day 8- Splash Camp

This morning you rise early as before and set out for your morning activity, one last chance to explore kwando concession. This drive may be shorter than usual depending on your flight time. At a time agreed the day before your guide will return you to the airstrip for your flight to the Splash, a flight of about 35 minutes, depending on stops along the way. Landing on the Kwara concession, in the east of the Okavango, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to the camp, a drive of about 40 minutes. You will notice the change in environments here, crossing vast open plains often with giraffe ambling along.

Having met the team at Splash and settled into your new Okavango home you will have some time explore the camp and freshen up before teatime. Rejuvenated you will set off with your guide on your first afternoon activity.

Splash is a private concession and as such offers a full range of land and water activities just like Pom Pom, although here water activities are guaranteed year round, so you are spoilt for choice. You guide will discuss each of these with you and your particular preferences.

Setting out in the late afternoon for your drive or boat ride you will stop of sundowners as the sun sinks below the horizon and the nocturnal animals begin to stir. Returning to camp with a spotlight you will look for cats as they begin their hunting often followed by the opportunistic hyena. A roaring fire and dinner awaits on return.

Day 9 and 10 - Splash Camp

For the next two days you follow the now familiar safari schedule, with early morning and late afternoon activities. You will have a choice of activities – game drives, walks, mokoro and boat rides. This will all be discussed and planned with your guide to ensure you make the most of your time at Splash Camp.

Game drives allow you to explore right across this huge private concession, tracking animals and off-roading allows you closer sightings of predators. At night, as you look for animals with a spotlight you may be lucky and catch the predators as they hunt, but equally interesting are the smaller nocturnal animals which we rarely see without the spotlight like genet, bush babies and caracals.

Walking safaris offer a slower pace of safari, the chance to learn more about this unique eco-system and the flora and fauna around you. Your guide will share his tracking skills on these walks which really showcase the great experience and knowledge of these talented guides.

Mokoro trips glide peacefully through the shallower waters of the Okavango and offer a more traditional experience of the Okavango while boating allows the chance to explore further into the deeper water channels and see elephants, hippos and crocodiles in closer quarters.

Plenty to keep you busy over your two full days on the Kwara concession.

Day 11 - End of safari

Today you depart the Okavango. The time for your flight to Maun will be finalised the day before and your guide will advise you what time you will be leaving camp. The flight will always be schedule to connect with any onward travel arrangements. Depending on the time of departure, as discussed with your guide, you will enjoy on final morning activity and brunch before bidding farewell to the Okavango. The flight to Maun will take approximately 30 minutes, depending on stops along the way. On arrival a representative will meet you to ensure you connect to your onward travel arrangements.

For those interested in visiting Chobe and Victoria Falls flights to Kasane can be arranged at an additional cost. This is a flight of about 60 minutes.

Map View

Tau Pan Camp

Tau Pan Camp

Lagoon Camp

Lagoon Camp

Lebala Camp

Lebala Camp

Splash Camp

Splash Camp

Splash Camp

Water Level

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Victoria Falls Hotel

Known fondly as the “Grand old lady of the Falls’’ the luxurious Victoria Falls Hotel is a stone’s throw away from the thundering Victoria Falls. Built in 1904 and steeped in history, the hotel epitomises the elegant splendour of the early 1900s with rich teak furniture and sophisticated décor. With spectacular views into Batoka Gorge, an unrivalled location and a full range of facilities to suit everyone, this remains a top choice for many visitors.

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