Our Flagship African Safari—A Truly Exclusive Adventure into the Heart of Wildest Africa
Our Botswana trip begins on arrival in Livingstone, where a Maasai Wanderings representative greets you and accompanies you to The River Club, overlooking the Zambezi River 12 miles upstream from Victoria Falls. The tranquil lodge, replete with Edwardian ambience, is set among lush vegetation, and hippos often entertain us on the banks. We’ll enjoy a classic sunset cruise before joining our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner.
The following day we visit a local village and explore Victoria Falls, the world’s most astounding cataract, on a guided tour. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the rim of the gorge, with a network of walkways that offer varying viewpoints over the falls that span more than a mile. Then, a wildlife drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park offers our first taste of the diversity of species that we may see during our safari, including the only chance to see a white rhinoceros. The name of the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, means “The Smoke That Thunders” in the local language, a reference to the nearby falls.
By road and ferry we journey to Botswana’s Chobe National Park, known for its vast elephant herds—a population that exceeds 70,000. On our boat cruise down the Chobe River, we sometimes see 500 elephants in a single day. Waterbirds abound, including herons and storks, as well as hippos and crocodiles. This afternoon, we fly to the private reserve of Linyanti, dramatic big-game country. Its tree-dotted plains are home to lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs, as well as tremendous elephant herds. We encounter wildlife in amazing proximity on game drives and guided walks, safety permitting, along the Linyanti River. In the evenings we relax at our private camp, with well-appointed tented accommodations evocative of an earlier era of safari travel. Through the thorny acacia branches we see more stars than we ever dreamed of, scattered across an impossibly black sky.
This morning we fly by light aircraft to Gomoti Tented Camp in the heart of the Santawani Concession, a private reserve encompassing nearly 15,000 acres in the southeast corner of the Okavango Delta. The earth’s largest inland water system, the delta’s headwaters lie in Angola’s western highlands, joining with other rivers in Namibia and Botswana to meet the Kalahari Desert, where a green oasis sprawls amid the sands and dry savanna. With its vast network of channels and wetlands, the Okavango is home to a profuse collection of wildlife and vegetation.
While some areas of the delta are permanently flooded, other habitats create a mosaic of varied landscapes, including drier regions like the area that surrounds our camp. A mix of dense riverine woodland, open savanna and acacia scrub provide ample food for a large array of browsers and grazing species, as well as predators including cheetah, leopard, lion and rare wild dog. The Gomoti River is a year-round lifeline for animals, while inland water holes also sustain them during the dry season. The diverse range of habitats makes the Gomoti region ideal for all-day excursions including traditional 4x4 game drives, picnic lunches and night drives in search of nocturnal species.
Leaving dry land behind, transfer by light aircraft to a very different section of the Okavango Delta. Pelo Camp is located in the Okavango’s watery heart, a maze of canals and lagoons that sustains a profusion of wildlife. We’ll explore the constantly shifting marsh by mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, offering a chance to observe wildlife at eye level in complete quiet. Islands and wetlands among the channels are home to many rare birds; we may see wattled cranes, Pel’s fishing owls, jacanas, rails, crakes and moorhens. We may also spy water-adapted antelope such as red lechwe browsing in the grasses.
Depending on water levels, we travel by boat or 4x4 safari vehicle to Little Tubu and/or Tubu Tree, adjoining sister camps located on the edge of Botswana’s famed Moremi Game Reserve. We use one of the two camps as our base, taking meals together there, though our group may be accommodated in rooms at both camps. The camps sit on Hunda Island, the largest area of permanently dry land in this region of the Okavango Delta, surrounded by grasslands that attract many species of plains animals. A range of diverse habitats from dry Kalahari sandveld to mopane and riverine forest on the edge of the permanent waterways ensures spectacular wildlife viewing. Our activities focus on drives in open 4x4 vehicles in search of elephant, lion, Burchell's zebra, red lechwe, southern giraffe, tsessebe, and blue wildebeest on the sprawling floodplains. In forested areas we are on the lookout for kudu, impala, and bushbuck. And, of course, we’ll hope to see the predators that track them, including lion and leopard. Night drives reveal nocturnal species such as civet cat and caracal, and large predators that hunt at night.
Our Botswana trip comes to a close when we depart by air for Maun, where we connect with homeward flights or continue with trip extensions.