Tailored from £9,000 per person excl. flights
10 days The Great Salt Pans, Okavango Delta
10 days The Great Salt Pans, Okavango Delta
Botswana is brimming with Africa’s most famous wildlife, but it’s also renowned as one the best places to spot the continent’s rare and elusive creatures. This luxury Botswana Wildlife & Bird Watching Tour takes you in search of the extraordinary creatures and experiences for those who might have already ‘done’ the Big 5!
You’ll begin your holiday at San Camp in The Great Salt Pans, one of the best places to spot the brown hyena, a smaller cousin of the almost ubiquitous spotted hyena, without the gruesome reputation. The brown hyena is specially adapted to arid environments such as the Makgadikgadi Pans, and you’ll be led by the camp’s expert guides in search of this fascinating creature.
You can also visit the camp’s semi-habituated meerkat colonies, where friendly meerkats dig and play, unperturbed by the presence of humans. Next, you’ll head to Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta, famed for its frequent sightings of the rare African wild dog..
You’ll end your holiday at Jacana Camp in the western side of the Okavango Delta, where you can go on mokoro safaris for an excellent chance of spotting some rare bird species including the wattled crane and Pel’s fishing owl.
Throughout this Botswana Wildlife & Bird Watching holiday, you’ll stay in exceptional camps and lodges with passionate staff, dedicated to protecting the country’s incredible wildlife. You’ll have the chance to spot endangered species in unique landscapes, making for some remarkable memories and photographs to look back on.
You’ll fly into Maun Airport (MUB), the international airport near the town of Maun in northern Botswana, and the main gateway to the Okavango Delta and The Great Salt Pans. From Maun Airport, it is around a 50-minute scenic light aircraft flight to the The Great Salt Pans. You’ll be met by a representative on arrival at the airstrip, and make the short 4WD transfer to San Camp, your safari camp for the next three nights.
Set on the edge of the Ntwetwe Pan, within the striking Makgadikgadi Pans, you’ll arrive to a surreal environment with shimmering landscapes stretching to the horizon. Seven beautiful white tents envelop plush four-poster beds, Persian rugs, leather armchairs, and spirit lanterns to light the solar-powered camp, making for a magical Arabian Nights atmosphere.
The tent also features an ensuite bathroom with a flushing toilet, shower, copper jugs and brass basins. Relax on the daybed on your private verandah, soaking up the stunning views of the pan.
Far removed from some of Botswana’s busier national parks, San Camp allows you to melt into the wilderness. You can take a morning, afternoon or night 4WD game drives through the dramatic, white landscapes to spot wildebeest, zebra, elephant, lion, ostrich, springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest, and black-backed jackals.
If you stay for a few days, you’ll even have a chance to spot the brown hyena, one of Africa’s rarest mammals. This elusive creature is almost impossible to spot anywhere else, and the camp’s expert guides may be able to take you to their dens, waiting patiently for the shy hyena to emerge around sunset.
Birdwatchers will be entertained with a number of resident species including capped wheatears, northern black korhaan, Kori bustards and chestnut-backed finch larks.
One of the highlights of San Camp is their semi-habituated meerkat colonies. The four colonies are wild, yet generally ignore the presence of humans. You can sit close to the burrows in the early mornings and late afternoons, watching the meerkats digging, playing and popping up and down searching for danger. The camp has worked with researchers to habituate these cheeky creatures, and it’s a very special up-close encounter.
Other San Camp activities include joining the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen on a bush walk, as they share their ancient wisdom of the land, adventurous horseback safaris, and quad bike riding across the salt pans.
After an exciting day of adventure, relax at the camp’s yoga pavilion, or check out their natural history cabinets with a collection of fossils, artefacts and old maps. You’ll stay at San Camp on a full-board basis, enjoying three-course feasts in the gorgeous mess tent, complete with cosy cushions and crystal glasses.
Enjoy a final morning activity at San Camp before transferring to the airstrip and boarding a light aircraft flight to the Okavango Delta. You’ll be met by a representative on arrival at the Chitabe airstrip, then take a game drive to Chitabe Camp, your safari camp for the next three nights.
Set in a private concession on an island in the southeast of the Okavango Delta, Chitabe Camp is surrounded by a spectacular landscape of woodlands, wetlands and grassy plains.
The camp’s eight large Meru-style tents are elevated on wooden decks, overlooking the floodplain. The tents are equipped with an ensuite bathroom with a flushing toilet and indoor and outdoor showers, and there’s a shady deck where you can relax and enjoy the views.
Bordered by the Moremi Game Reserve on three sides, this private concession is known for its remarkable abundance and diversity of wildlife, and a game drive through the plains can reveal lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, impala, red lechwe, tsessebe and maybe even the odd tortoise.
The camp is also famed for its sightings of the endangered African wild dog. Camp owners, Dave and Helene Hamman, are based here as they research and photograph these fascinating animals, and they choose Chitabe as the location for the photographs from Running Wild: Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog. You’ll have a chance to spot the wild dog in the concession, which historically had one of the largest packs in the Delta.
Along with the classic morning and afternoon 4WD game drives, Chitabe Camp offers spotlit night drives. It’s an exhilarating experience to venture out after dark, and it’s one of the best times to spot the numerous leopards who hunt the large population of impala. Normally an elusive creature, Chitabe offers a fantastic chance of seeing the leopard in action. All game drives use a covered, open-sided safari vehicle, so you’ll always have a window seat.
Back at camp, you can escape the afternoon heat with a dip in the pool, or relax in the raised lounge and bar with impressive views across the floodplain. You’ll stay at Chitabe Camp on a full-board basis, with tasty meals served in either indoor or outdoor dining areas.
Enjoy a final morning activity at Chitabe Camp, before transferring to the Chitabe airstrip and boarding a light aircraft flight to the western side of the Okavango Delta. You’ll be met by a representative on arrival at the Jao airstrip, and you’ll then transfer to Jacana Camp, your safari camp for the next three nights. You’ll likely make the journey to the camp by boat, or road, if the floodwaters have lowered.
Set on a little palm-fringed island among the vast open floodplains and papyrus swamps of the Jao Flats, Jacana Camp is a small, intimate retreat. There are just five Meru-style tents, raised on wooden decks with a private balcony overlooking the beautiful floodplains. Each spacious tent features a plush bed beneath a walk-in mosquito net, and an ensuite bathroom with double basins, flushing toilet, and an indoor and outdoor shower.
Located in the Jao Concession in the Okavango Delta, the focus of Jacana Camp is on water-based activities. You can explore the lush waterways and swamps at a slower safari pace, gliding through the channels in a traditional mokoro (dugout canoe), as reed frogs bounce in all directions.
It’s a relaxing experience, and a great opportunity for birdwatching, with species such as pied kingfishers hunting for small fish, slaty egret, African jacanas, African pygmy-goose, and rarer species including the Pel’s fishing owl, wattled crane. You can also head out in a motorboat to spot wildlife or try your hand at seasonal catch-and-release fishing.
The main camp area has a large raised wooden deck with views of the waterways, surrounded by sycamore fig trees and wild date palms. The fertile lands attract a number of animals, and although the focus of Jacana is a water-based Delta experience, you can head out on classic 4WD game drives to Hunda Island during the summer months (if the waters recede sufficiently). Possible sightings include elephant, hippo, large herds of red lechwe, tsessebe and occasionally lions, leopards and the rare sitatunga.
In the afternoons, cool off with a dip in the plunge pool, relax in the comfortable main lounge area, or curl up in the library. There’s even a ‘loo with a view’ on the upper deck of the main area. You’ll stay at Jacana Camp on a full-board basis, with delicious meals served in the main dining area or around the cosy fire pit.
After saying farewell and checking out of Jacana Camp, you’ll transfer to the airstrip and board your light aircraft flight to Maun International Airport (MUB). From here you’ll board your return flight home.
Although you’re incredible Botswana Wildlife & Bird Watching holiday has come to an end, you’ll leave with many special memories and more than a handful of photos and stories to share.
After 10 remarkable days of rare wildlife encounters in some of the country’s most magical landscapes, we’re sure you’ll be hooked on Botswana and the African continent. Where will you go next?