Exploring Beautiful Botswana with Alexander McCall Smith

Experience the best of beautiful Botswana with Alexander McCall Smith on this wonderful itinerary which combines cultural and conservation experiences with a superb safari to the Okavango Delta.

Accompanied by the author of the famous No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, Alexander McCall Smith, this tour offers fans of the books a chance to experience the charms and beautiful of this extraordinary country for themselves.

This small group tour brings together like-minded travellers and fans of the books from all over the world on a meaningful journey through northern Botswana. Beginning with a couple of days in Maun where the focus will be on local culture and conservation the tour continues with a safari into the wilds of the Okavango Delta. At the heart of the tour is a six-night luxury safari visiting two stunning camps in the Okavango Delta, each set within pristine, wildlife rich and exclusive areas. A full range of safari activities are on offer – on land and water, and even the air, with a stunning helicopter safari over the Okavango.

The itinerary has been specially crafted to include a wonderful range of special and authentic experiences showcasing traditional Botswana culture –  bringing to life much the real world which forms the backdrop to The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.

The tour will be accompanied by Alexander McCall Smith and his friend, journalist Mats Ogren Wanger, who has spent many years travelling Botswana.

Day 1: Monday 11 March 2024

Welcome to Botswana! On arrival at Maun Airport you will be met in the arrivals hall and transferred to the hotel, a drive of about 20 minutes.

It will have been a long journey, so you will have time to settled into your room and have a chance to freshen up before the group gathers with Alexander and Mats for some refreshments. This evening will be a relaxing dinner at the Sedia in the gardens, a chance to get to know your fellow travellers and your hosts.

Day 2: Tuesday 12 March 2024

Today is focussed on local culture and conservation – we will visit an elephant sanctuary, a traditional cattle post and end with dinner at a pioneering brewery working with conservations in the Okavango Delta.

After an early breakfast we will depart for the elephant sanctuary. This is a pretty drive of about an hour past rural villages to the outskirts of the Okavango Delta. Arriving at Elephant Havens we will begin by learning more about the sanctuary and their work in rescuing young elephant orphans with the aim of reintroducing them to the wild.

At 9am the elephants arrive with great excitement for their morning feed- which you will be part of. Together with their devoted handlers you will interact and feed the elephants and to learn more about elephant behaviour.

Having had a chance to meet the elephants up close and personal we leave them to roam the large sanctuary and continue with our tour.

Next we will visit a traditional cattle post- a scene which will be familiar in the minds of many No. 1 Ladies’ fans. The cattle post is an integral part of Botswana life- essentially it is a small farm, often grouped together in family units. Cattle are an integral part of Botswana – as all readers will surely remember. This visit offers us a fascinating insight into traditional rural life in Botswana, and as we enjoy some mid-morning coffee and cake we’ll hear stories of old customs and modern life in these rural areas.

Leaving the cattle post we will return to the hotel for lunch in the garden restaurant. After a busy morning you will have some time at your leisure to rest, perhaps relaxing by the pool. We gather in the late afternoon and head just down the road to the Okavango Craft Brewery. This wonderful new venture has partnered with a local NGO, Ecoexisit, to support local farmers in the Okavango. The brewery buys their millet at a premium price to reward them for their efforts to co-exist with elephants. We will begin with a tour of the brewery, enjoying some tastings, before sitting down to dinner. We will be joined by a conservationist who will talk to us about the human-wildlife conflict challenges in Botswana, in particular with elephants raiding fields and lions attacking cattle. It should be a fascinating evening.

Day 3: Wednesday 13 March 2024

This morning we will have an early breakfast before setting off on our Cultural Tour of Maun. This is an immersive local experience, which brings to life many of the aspects of Batswana culture captured in the No.1 Ladies' books.

This tour offers an authentic glimpse of life in Botswana. We will learn about local customs and traditions from your host, intermingled with their own personal experiences. You will feast your senses on the sights, smells, and sounds of Botswana when walking through the vibrant marketplace. Along the way we will meet some of our resident talents and admire their crafts. We will visit a kgotla, a public meeting area which forms the heart of every local community, and hear about some of the local customs and how they are enforced. Visiting a women's basket weaving co-operative you'll have a chance to try your hand at the ancient practice of basket weaving and hear the stories behind the beautiful patterns. Finally, the tour ends with a delicious lunch of traditional dishes by one of Botswana's finest chefs.

After lunch we drive to the Airport to catch our flight to the Okavango Delta - our safari begins!

A 30 minute flight takes you to the north west of the Okavango, to the first camp, Tubu Tree. Once you’ve settled into camp you will have some time to rest before your first game drive later that afternoon.

Tubu Tree is a charming little camp, with a very special treehouse atmosphere thanks to the high wooden walkways which link up the camp and the stilted rooms, all nestled within the trees. This is a traditional Okavango camp, with comfortable tented rooms which are smart and comfortable without being fussy. Each has a private deck to sit quietly and enjoy the views of the Okavango.

The camp lies on a large dry island in the western Okavango on an exclusive private reserve called Jao. This is a beautiful and varied corner of the Delta, dominated by wetlands with deep-water channels, seasonal floodplains and islands. At this time of year the water levels are traditionally too low for water activities, so the focus will be on game drives- which is the best way to see big game.

The area is home to a rich range of wildlife from plains game like giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, red lechwe to predators including lion, wild dog, hyena and leopard. The bird life is fantastic, especially at this time of year, with all the migratory birds visiting.

Day 4: Thursday 14 March 2024

This morning you wake early, before sunrise. After a light breakfast you set off on your first morning game drive. This is generally the best time to see predators before they settle down to rest in the shade for the day. Beginning by tracking the movements of the night before, your guide will interpret the ‘news’ from the tracks as you explore the roads around camp and deeper into the concession. Perhaps there were unidentified sounds in the night which you will now follow up on…

Morning game drives usually last around 3-4 hours, depending on sightings, with a coffee break along the way. Returning around mid-morning for a hearty brunch you will then have a few hours to yourself to relax in your room or in the communal areas of the lodge. Most animals rest in midday heat and so will you! There is a pool that provides cool sanctuary in the heat of the day, a great spot to relax between activities.

Around mid -afternoon you will meet your guide for high tea and then set off on your afternoon drive, perhaps following up on the sightings from earlier or tracking new movements. Your guide will find another lovely spot to enjoy the beautiful sunset with some drinks before returning back to camp. As its gets dark – a spot light comes out to search for the nocturnal animals as they begin to emerge. Most predators hunt at night so you will be looking out for the big cats, but also the smaller cats such as servals, genets, African wild cats as well as civets and bushbabies- always a delight to see them leaping between branches.

Day 5: Friday 15 March 2024

The rest of your days on safari will follow the same routine with early morning and late afternoon activities, planned and discussed beforehand with your guide.

Today you will explore deeper in the concession – perhaps following up on any interesting sightings from the day before, and always keeping your eyes peeled for new and interesting sights.

Day 6: Saturday 16 March 2024

Today you fly to the eastern Okavango, to your next camp, the magnificent Vumbura Plains. This is an achingly stylish camp with a modern look and excellent range of facilities. The Vumbura reserve in the east of the Okavango is particularly pretty, with open plains, tall palm trees and pristine waterways. The game viewing is varied and exciting. Predators include lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and wild dog. Numerous plains game are resident in the area, including the rare and beautiful sable and roan antelope. Big herds of buffalo roam this area and frequently clash with the lion prides delivering some explosive game viewing.

A full range of activities are offered here, including game drives (day and night), walking, mokoro and boating - water levels permitting.

Days are spent exploring the concession with morning, afternoon and evening drives. On the water you can explore by mokoro and boat - offering a completely different perspective from the vehicle. Guided walks are also an option here and offer a fascinating insight into the skills your guide has learned as he shares his knowledge of tracking animals and the flora and fauna in the area.

Back at camp - each of the huge guest rooms features a spacious private deck with an outside resting area and swimming pool to relax between activities. A mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities and other thoughtful touches ensure you will be extremely comfortable and spoilt during your stay at Vumbura plains. Rooms come equipped with yoga mats for stretching out after your drives. Spa treatments are available too.

Day 7: Sunday 17 March 2024

Today you will explore the Vumbura Reserve with morning and afternoon activities- enjoying some down time between activities to relax in this beautiful camp.

Day 8: Monday 18 March 2024

Your final day on safari before you depart, make the most of it! You explore deep into the Vumbura Reserve with morning and afternoon activities- during the siesta hour you will relax in camp, take a dip in your private pool, visit the spa or simply relax in a quiet spot and watch the wildlife pass by.

Day 9: Tuesday 19 March 2024

Today marks the end of your tour. You will fly back to Maun, a short fight of about 25 minutes, where you will continue on to your onward flight home or to your next destination.

Time to bid farewell to Alexander and the team- Tsamaya Sentle!

Map View

The Sedia Hotel

The Sedia Hotel

Tubu Tree Camp

Tubu Tree Camp

Tubu Tree Camp

Vumbura Plains Camp

Vumbura Plains Camp

Vumbura Plains Camp

Water Level

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