Family Botswana Safari
10 days with Natural Habitat Adventures Rating:
Days 1 & 2: Maun, Botswana / Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Our Botswana family safari begins in Maun, where our Expedition Leader meets us at the airport. Then we're off for Makgadikgadi Pans National Parkin the Kalahari Desert—360,000 square miles of sandy, semi-arid savanna that sustains a surprising amount of wildlife. Our first two days reveal the park's western reaches, where a multitude of game ranges across this landscape of scrub, palms, riverine trees and grassy plains. Our classic tented safari camp overlooks the Boteti River, a lifeline flowing through these parched environs that attracts Africa’s second-largest zebra and wildebeest migration. We frequently see other animals stopping for a drink in front of camp, too—often on view are oryx, springbok, zebra, wildebeest, Kalahari lion, cheetah, hyena, jackal and ostrich.
Varied activities will delight family members of all ages, including a 4x4 wildlife drive with a picnic lunch in the bush, a private boat cruise on the Boteti River when water levels permit, and a rare opportunity to safari on foot with local Kalahari bushmen who reveal as much about their indigenous culture as the native plants and wildlife we observe. As the sun sets, enjoy sundowners overlooking the river escarpment where we may view elephants at close range. It's also common to see lounging crocodiles—our camp's namesake. At the end of each full and gratifying day, return to camp for dinner under the twinkling stars, followed by conversation about the campfire.
Days 3–5: Eastern Kalahari—Makgadikgadi Pans
Transfer by private helicopter to the eastern side of the Kalahari, enjoying a thrilling aerial view on the stark landscape and roaming wildlife below. Our tented camp rests on the edge of the world’s largest salt pans, an oasis of comfort shaded by acacias and palms. The Makgadikgadi pans formed when an ancient lake evaporated thousands of years ago, and these shallow depressions are all that remain of once-enormous Lake Makgadikgadi. Today, this vast expanse of salt glitters in the intense dry-season sun, evoking a moonscape. The only visible plantlife is a thin layer of blue-green algae, but seasonal rains will later turn the pans into an important habitat for migrating animals, including wildebeest and one of Africa’s largest zebra populations, along with the predators that pursue them.
During our visit, look for unusual desert-adapted creatures on private game drives as we head out in search of gemsbok, springbok, red hartebeest, steenbok and many small mammals, birds and reptiles. We'll also interact with a friendly habituated colony of meerkats. Quad bikes offer an exciting way to explore the lunar-like surface of the pans. Back at camp each night, share stories around the campfire and enjoy some of the best stargazing on the planet.
Days 6–8: Okavango Delta—Khwai Private Reserve
Fly by light aircraft this morning into the contrasting environment of the Okavango Delta. Here in northwest Botswana, the Okavango River fans out over the Kalahari sands to create the world's largest inland delta—5,800 square miles of swampy marsh, clear channels, lagoons and islands comprising a mosaic of diverse wildlife habitat. In 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Our destination is the massive Khwai wildlife reserve, a community concession encompassing riverine woodlands, floodplains, mopane forest and open grasslands. Bordering the famous Moremi Game Reserve, the private conservancy lies along the Khwai River that is a lifeline for the region. Elephants abound, and year-round wildlife includes waterbuck, reedbuck and many antelope species, including red lechwe, along with frequent sightings of lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Khwai's varied habitats also support rhino, wild dog and the majestic sable antelope for which our camp, Sable Alley, is named. In addition, more than 450 bird species have been recorded. We explore on wildlife drives, walking safaris led by local guides, and by mokoro, the traditional poled canoe of the delta, giving local polers a chance to share their deep knowledge of this ecosystem and how it has sustained their people for generations.
Our eco-conscious camp on the banks of a peaceful lagoon is part of a community-based partnership that bridges safari tourism with Khwai village life, enhancing economic stability for the local people. Wildlife literally comes to us as elephant, buffalo and herds of plains game arrive to drink. Seasonal waterholes often attract lion, hyena, eland, zebra and kudu, plus an assortment of smaller nocturnal species such as porcupine, genet, jackal and honey badger.
Day 9: Khwai Private Reserve / Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
After a last morning wildlife activity on the Khwai Reserve, depart by light aircraft for Kasane, Botswana. After border formalities, continue by road to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where we head out on a privately guided tour of Victoria Falls. The massive cataract is located inside Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, whose name in the local language means "the smoke that thunders," referring to the mighty falls and its abundant spray. The falls and park together comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans both sides of the Zambezi River, encompassing terrain in both Zimbabwe and Zambia. We follow a network of trails along the rim to various vantage points over the falls, which are more than a mile wide and plummet 350 feet into the boiling Zambezi Gorge below. This evening, our Expedition Leader hosts a festive farewell dinner.
Day 10: Victoria Falls Tour / Depart
Our safari concludes today with the option to relax this morning, or visit a nearby village where kids will love the opportunity to meet African children. Just outside the hustle and bustle of the Victoria Falls tourist zone, we'll interact with locals tending their crops or going about their chores, enjoying a glimpse into daily rural life. It's a fitting finale to our Botswana family safari, which comes to a close as we transfer to the Victoria Falls airport to meet departing flights.
All This Included
For families, there’s no topping the adventure of an African wildlife safari—and in Africa, it’s tough to top Botswana. Big game is abundant, and we get amazingly close to elephants, lions and much more from our intimate tented camps, deep in the bush and far from tourist crowds. In a world of vanishing natural treasures, the chance for a family to experience Africa's wonders together is an unsurpassed gift. As you watch a cheetah sprint across the savanna or study the green glow of a hyena’s eyes at night, "wild life" takes on a whole new meaning! Our family-focused itinerary is specifically designed to maximize diversity and keep young minds captivated: from the vast expanse of the Kalahari Desert with its sprawling salt pans to the emerald marshes of the Okavango Delta and the thunder of Victoria Falls, our Botswana family safari unveils new sensory thrills day by day.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park: Meno a Kwena
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans: Camp Kalahari
Khwai Private Wildlife Reserve: Sable Alley
Victoria Falls: Ilala Lodge
Pre and Post Add-ons
Namibia Desert Extension
7 Days / Year-Round, From $3795 (+air)
Namibia’s towering sand dunes, arid canyons and desert-adapted wildlife offer a distinct contrast to other southern Africa safari destinations—look for endangered black rhino, desert elephant and more.
Cape Town Extension
4 Days / Year-Round, From $1595
Discover the natural and multicultural highlights of one of the world's most entrancing cities. Explore the Cape Peninsula, visit Cape Point Nature Reserve, see penguins at Boulders Beach and tour the Winelands.
Sabi Sand Extension
4 Days / Year-Round, From $3075
An exclusive safari experience on a 160,000-acre private reserve that's one of Africa’s best places to spot the famous Big Five—choose among intimate luxury camps and secluded boutique lodges.
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.