Family Adventure Safari in the Okavango & Kalahari

This is an action- packed safari especially designed to capture the imagination of young families and engage youngsters in educational and fun activities. Without compromising the game viewing experience, extra activities are included for those with more energy to burn using simple and wholesome safari themed activities with specially trained guides. This itinerary captures the true spirit of adventure in safari and allows families to discover the wonders of the Okavango and Kalahari together. Quad biking across the salt pans, meeting meerkats and educational walks with bushman in the Kalahari. In the Okavango discover the joy of tracking animals and poling a mokoro – Botswana is the perfect natural playground.

Plenty of adventurous activities have been created for families without losing out on a classic safari experience, with traditional game drives where the big game can be approached safely offering excellent photo opportunities. These are prime locations which are visited.

The contrast between the Okavango and Kalahari is beautifully showcased by a 60 minute light aircraft flight. As you fly over the Okavango you will see the change from the lush waterways of the Okavango Delta to the dry harsher landscapes of the Kalahari. Glistening waterways transform to striking salt pans, peppered by rocky outcrops and baobab trees. A sudden and extraordinary transformation. As the landscape changes, so do the activities and it is exactly this that keeps the safari days fresh and exciting – the magic of these ever -changing natural wonders never wearing off.

In the Okavango your family will have exclusive use of a six bed tented camp - Young Explorers is designed to offer families the opportunity to discover the wonders of the Okavango – together, exclusively. The camp includes a professional guide, personal chef, waiter, housekeeper and dedicated Mokoro guides. It literally allows guests to explore the bush at their leisure, while never losing sight of the fact that being in the wilderness is also about having fun! Set on one of the best private concessions in the Okavango with excellent game viewing, families follow a special programme designed to educate children about the Okavango with fun interactive bush skills like tracking and making bows and arrows.

The Young Explorers programme is based at Footsteps Camp, an authentic mobile style camp. This is a comfortable, entirely private camp which accommodates six guests in three specially-designed twin-bedded Meru tents. One of the three tents can be converted into a family tent that sleeps three. Each tent has its own bucket shower and porcelain flush toilet, which is attached to the back of the tent and there is a daily laundry service. The ‘bush kitchen’ is run by our chef and prepares menus for all kinds of appetites.

The Young Explorers' programme places emphasis on learning how to track game – both on foot and in 4×4 safari vehicles, teaching children how to make small animal traps and how to start a fire from nothing more than two sticks. The children learn how to recognize different animal spoor; identify a range of birds; try their hand at poling a Mokoro; drive a game drive vehicle; fish; and shoot an air rifle at tin cans (subject to water levels). On completion of the safari children receive a Young Explorers certificate, t-shirt and cap to mark their achievement.

The traditional safari experience is still enjoyed by all with game drives into the concession boasting superb game viewing. Shinde stands out for its diverse range of habitats. Wide open plains attracts cheetah while lion roam right across the concession. Leopard stalk the forests. Plains game are varied and numerous and include zebra, wildebeest, sable, tssesebe, kudu and more. Large bull elephants are resident near the waters which are home to hippos and crocs too.

After three nights you move to the Camp Kalahari on the edge of the Makgadikgadi pans. Here you will enjoy a very different, desert safari staying at Camp Kalahari. This is a great little bush camp, with a rustic quirky style and very friendly atmosphere.

Camp Kalahari is a great base for exploring the pans and has a stunning array of activities on offer which you will discuss with your private guide. As well as game drives there is walking, a visit to the San Bushman, quad biking across the pans and a visit to a habituated meercat colony.

The game is very different here, concentrating on desert adapted game, such as the incredible Kalahari black named lion, the brown hyena (much more endearing that it’s spotted cousin!), the oryx, zebra and springbok. And more… This is a harsh but fascinating environment, and the stars at night are simply spectacular.

One of the best family safari experiences in Africa. The day to day itinerary below provides a detailed description but the structure of the days could vary depending on conditions at the time. Some activities such as quad biking are seasonal, this will only run when the pans are dry, from Map-September. In the summer months the zebra migration dazzles across the Kalahari from January to March.

Day 1

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 in length and you will be amazed as the arid Kalahari Desert transforms within minutes into the lush expanse that is the Okavango Delta. Landing at the bush airstrip you are met by your personal guide and will continue onwards to camp in an open safari vehicle - a game drive of about 30 minutes. The adventure begins as this initial drive allows you to acclimatize to the bush, while your guide gives you tips on how to spot game animals and birds in the wilderness. On arrival at your private tented camp, a refreshing drink and light lunch awaits. Over lunch your guide will brief you on safety, and then it is time to settle into camp and start planning your activities with the assistance of your guide.

Later in the afternoon, as the temperatures cools, you begin your introduction to bush craft and learn some basic rules regarding animal behaviour. One of the most important lessons to remember is to treat all the inhabitants of the wilderness with respect and you will in turn learn that the bush is both a safe and fascinating place to be. A short walk away from the camp allows you to become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells that make up the language of the African bush. The wilderness is constantly talking to you and your guides will share their knowledge and show you some of basics. The more you are aware of what is happening around you, the more you will take away from your adventure!

On return to camp, a piping hot bucket shower under the stars awaits, followed by a tasty dinner. Around the campfire we consider the lessons of the day and learn more about Botswana, the history of the country and its people. For those that can stay awake long enough ,you can view the stars and interesting constellations of the African sky before heading off to bed, ready for an early start the following day.

Day 2

The day begins before sunrise with a gentle wakeup call at your tent, piping hot coffee and light breakfast at the fireside, before heading out on foot to see what the bush has in store for you. One of the most alluring aspects of this bush camp is that the direction of a walk or the type of activity selected is entirely up to you and your guide. Interesting animal spoor, circling vultures or even the call of a jackal can lead you on an adventure every time you leave camp! Following along the water’s edge gives us the chance to examine some of the tracks left overnight, as well as identify some of the multitude of animals, birds and insects that inhabit the riverine forests. By the end of the walk you should be able to recognize several animal tracks and have been able to put some of your new bush skills to use. Can you follow a track and find a herd of zebra that passed by earlier that morning? How close can you walk up to a giraffe? It’s a tough task when taking their excellent vision and long necks into consideration!

Following another delicious lunch prepared on a camp fire, parents are left to a lazy afternoon napping or reading while the younger members of the family are watched over by their guides. Now is a chance to learn some more traditional skills, using the natural products to create jewellery and tools. Using the palm leaves we learn to weave baskets and carve the palm seed, known as plant ivory into a necklace for Mum! Or perhaps try to build your own digging sticks and bow and arrows from the materials available around you?

In no time at all, it is time to venture out again, this time it’s a water adventure! Using the traditional dugout canoe (mokoro), we explore the reed beds and Okavango waterways. Her we learn many skills developed by local people, allowing them to survive in this environment. How do you get a drink of cold water using a water lily stem? If we are especially quiet, we may even spot the sitatunga, one of the world’s most unusual and secretive antelope, which has adapted perfectly to live in aquatic environments. They are capable of hiding underwater leaving only their nostrils above water to breathe!

Before dinner this evening, we are off to visit the bush kitchen. You will be astounded as you learn how the mouthwatering fare is produced in camp. There’s no electricity here, all the food, savoury and dessert, fresh bread, cakes are cooked on the campfire or in the steel bush oven! Spend some time with the staff and learn how it is possible to live comfortably in the wilderness without electricity and modern gadgets. It worked well enough for our ancestors after all!

Day 3

With the sunrise comes the opportunity to enjoy an introduction to what life is like working in the African bush as well as to some of the equipment used on the job . Any idea how to drive a 4×4 across a river or through thick sand or mud ? Ever changed a tyre on a 4×4? While out and about we are sure to bump into some of the many species of large mammals that inhabit the Okavango Delta including wild dogs, elephants, lion, buffalo, cheetah, wildebeest and impala. Spending time quietly observing these mammals will give you an insight into the structure of their animal society and how we can understand their moods and depict their behaviour through their body language. Reading animals’ body language is vital in being able to safely live and move among the other inhabitants of the bush.

During the afternoon and while in camp, you will learn some of the rules required in order to handle a rifle safely. This is an important aspect of bushveld living and these rifles should be respected at all times! Once you understand the safety of handling a firearm, perhaps you can put your new found skills to the test with a pellet gun on our very own bush range! No doubt Dad will be hanging around for a go as well, and a little family competition usually results!

Later, you may wish to try your hand at your angling Okavango style, either along the banks of lagoons and channels or, for the more adventurous, from a traditional Mokoro! On this venture, you will learn how to catch, handle and release a fish correctly, ensuring you do it no harm. We may choose to keep a couple of them for dinner, in which case be ready to learn how to clean and prepare it yourself!

Though you safari is drawing to an end, the final dinner is still cause for celebration - toasting new friends, reminiscing over many unique experiences, relishing in newfound bush skills and lifelong memories made. The grown-ups would most likely prefer to drift off to sleep with the ever-present chorus of the hippos and the tinkle of the reed frogs i the background. But for the young bush rangers it is the perfect opportunity to head off with a spotlight to try and identify some of the many species that start waking up just as the sun sets!!

This evening your guide will receive the departure time for your flight the next day and arrangements will be discussed accordingly.

Day 4

The morning you will discuss all you have learnt with your guides and they will ask you to identify several tracks, birds and animals, and to explain some of the skills that you might use to survive in the bush. After this informal bush evaluation you will then be awarded your Okavango Delta certificate and t-shirt making you an official member of a truly select group of bushrangers, the Ker & Downey Young Explorers!

You will return to the airstrip for your flight to the Makgadikgadi salt pans, a flight of around 1 hour in length depending on stops along the way. This is a fascinating flight, the oasis of the Okavango slowly dries out before your eyes as you edge further into the dry Kalahari which dominates most of Botswana. Your guide will be waiting on arrival to transfer your to camp, a game drive of about 30 minutes.

As you land, the Makgadikgadi pans stretch out before you – as far as the eye can see! Around the pans tall palm trees poke about the horizon along with Baobabs. On your arrival at Hyena Island you will discover your new temporary home for a coupe of days- that being Camp Kalahari. This simple down- to -earth camp is full of character. Settling into your family room (two bedrooms and a shared bathroom) you will have a chance to explore the camp and enjoy some refreshments in the company of your guide as he introduces you to the wilderness area and activities on offer.

Game drives allow you to explore deep into the Makgadikgadi and approach the more dangerous predators such as the famous black maned lion and cheetah which are found here. Brown hyena are also found here, as well as oryx, springbok, giraffe, zebra and much more. You will set out on your first game drive to become familiar with your bearings in this lunar- like world, stopping in a scenic spot to toast the setting sun and then returning to camp with a spotlight as you try to glimpse some of the nocturnal creatures which live in the desert landscape.

A camp fire awaits, followed by dinner and your first night in the desert.

Day 5

The next morning you awake early and enjoy breakfast before setting off for your first day of exploration. Don't miss the opportunity to go quad biking across the salt pans! Wrap up like a desert explorer with a sarong around your head and mouth to protect against the dust and soar across the lunar like pans. Crossing these vast, empty pans , you can almost see the curvature of the earth itself - an experience which will stay with you for life. Mirages glimmer on the horizon while tracks of the wildlife that make epic crossings over these pans remind you that they are not as empty as they seem. Elephant are often seen here, as are giraffe, zebra and even lion. Look out for rising dust forms above the horizon for any signs of moving animals.

Stopping for a break of hot chocolate and snacks below the shade of some baobabs your guide will take this opportunity to give you a brief lesson on the fascinating history of this area. The salt pans are the remains of a vast super lake which once covered most of Southern Africa, and the pans we see now were the deepest sections which are now simply barren salt flats. However the edges and certain pockets of the pans are full of life and were once home to a number of san communities. Your guide will bring these facts all to life for you during animated discussions.

Returning to camp , welcome a chance to jump in the pool to clear off the dust from the quadbikes or enjoy a refreshing shower before tucking into a hearty brunch and indulging in a well -earned rest before your afternoon activity.

Later this afternoon you set off for a two -hour horse ride on the pans. This quiet and unobtrusive activity allows you to approach the animals quietly without disturbing them. A much more peaceful ride than the quad bikes but just as thrilling. This ride can be adapted to suit all ages and riding capabilities. Look out for zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and springbok. From this raised height on horseback you have spectacular views of the pans and animals on the horizon. Returning to camp you will enjoy drinks around the fire and a well deserved dinner before retiring to bed, ready for your final day of adventure tomorrow morning.

Day 6

This morning highlights one of our camp's most popular activities- sure to help the kids out of bed early –a visit to the habituated meerkat colony, the original ‘cool cats’ of the Kalahari! Meerkats are very social and incredibly curious creatures always on the look out for predators. Having established that you pose no harm, they will likely lose no time in taking advantage of your height and using your head an shoulders as look out posts to keep an eye out for predators. Enjoy a breakfast in the bush with these charming little creatures, and make sure you have your camera ready!

Having taken hundreds of meerkat photos you will continue on your journey, to meet the san bushman for a fascinating educational walk through the bush. This is a chance for them to share some stories and facts relating to their traditional survival skills and is sure to have you shaking your head in wonder as they light a fire in minutes, make string from an obliging nearby cactus and show you how to find water in the desert.. The Zu'hoasi culture originates from the western Kalahari, a harsh and extreme environment, and the skills they share have been passed through family generations for thousands of years. Learn about their tracking skills, hunting tools and even their skill in jewellery- making.

Returning for lunch you will enjoy some time at camp to rest and enjoy the peace of the desert atmosphere before meeting up with your guide again for high tea and a late afternoon game drive out to the pans to witness one last spectacular sunset. The skies here are truly awe-inspiring. The vast horizons deliver impressive sunsets and the dust from the pans creates a kaleidoscope of colour. A perfect send off for your last night in the Kalahari.

Day 7

The time for your flight to Maun will be finalized the day before departure and your guide will advise you what time you will be leaving camp. The flight will always be scheduled to connect with any onward travel arrangements. Depending on the time of departure and as per arrangement with your guide, you will enjoy a short final morning activity and brunch before bidding farewell to the Okavango. The flight to Maun will take approximately 35 minutes. On arrival a representative will meet you to ensure you connect to your onward travel arrangements.

Map View

Footsteps Across the Delta

Footsteps Across the Delta

Footsteps Across the Delta

Footsteps Across the Delta

Camp Kalahari

Camp Kalahari

Camp Kalahari

Water Level

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