Botswana: Kalahari, the Delta & Beyond Photo Safari
12 days with Natural Habitat Adventures Rating:
Day 1: Livingstone, Zambia—Zambezi River
Our Botswana photo tour begins just over the border in Livingstone, Zambia, where our Expedition Leader meets you on arrival at the airport. Transfer to Toka Leya Camp, which enjoys a superb setting on the banks of the mighty Zambezi. Individual chalets face west over the river for expansive sunset views. Have your camera ready because we frequently see elephants and hippos on shore. A sunset cruise offers a chance to photograph the scenery before returning to camp for a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Victoria Falls / Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
Our day begins with a guided tour of Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Prepare your wide-angle lens for world’s most astounding cataract, which spans more than a mile and pours 350 feet into the rugged Zambezi Gorge below. The profuse spray has created a rain forest on the rim, which we explore on a network of walkways offering varied viewpoints over the falls. The morning ends with a visit to a local village, then we’re off on our first wildlife drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The park’s poetic name means “the smoke that thunders” in the local language, a reference to the nearby falls. The park is home to many species of classic African game, and we might even have a chance to photograph a rhinoceros.
Day 3: Chobe National Park, Botswana / Okavango Delta Private Concession
Leaving Zambia by road, we reach the Kazungula border on the Chobe River, where Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet. Traveling by ferry to Botswana on the far shore, we enter Chobe National Park, known for its enormous elephant herds and stable population of general game species throughout the year. During a boat cruise on the Chobe River, expect capture images of plenty of elephant, hippo, crocodile and perhaps the elusive puku and Chobe bushbuck. Up to 400 bird species reside in the park at this time of year, and waterbirds abound, especially herons, storks and egrets.
This afternoon we fly to the center of the Okavango Delta for a three-night stay on a private concession. Earth’s largest inland water system, the delta became UNESCO's 1,000th World Heritage Site in 2014. The Okavango River’s headwaters lie in the western highlands of Angola, 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 delta is home to a profuse collection of wildlife and vegetation. Here in the delta's heart, clear waterways cut through papyrus and reed beds among palm-studded islands, riverine forests and sprawling floodplains. Though some of the region is permanently flooded, during the southern summer months, the water recedes and normally wetter areas of the delta open up for game drives and expansive wildlife viewing. Specific wildlife sightings, while always abundant, will depend somewhat on seasonal water levels.
Days 4 & 5: Wildlife Photography in the Central Okavango
Our secluded camp is set within a productive wetland that nurtures prolific wildlife, which we'll photograph in thrilling proximity on 4x4 drives, guided walks (safety permitting), boat rides and poled mokoro excursions. The mokoro is the traditional dugout canoe of the delta, and Okavango-born polers will reveal the intimate secrets of delta life as we capture images of tiny frogs and colourful waterbirds. The Okavango is dramatic big-game country, too, home to plentiful buffalo, blue wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, bushbuck, tsessebe, water-adapted antelope like red lechwe and the rare sitatunga, and, of course, elephants. And where game thrives, so do predators—we keep our cameras poised for shots of lion, leopard and hyena on the prowl. In the channels, capture photos of hippos and crocodiles, plus scores of birds in the marshes. Pel’s fishing owl is a prize sighting, and we may also spot African and lesser jacanas, slaty egret, African skimmer, wattled crane and malachite kingfisher, to name just a few. Each evening, retreat to the comforts of camp where there's time to review and edit photos from the day's exploits. After a sumptuous dinner, retire under canvas, lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of the African night.
Days 6–8: Okavango Delta—Santawani Private Concession
Fly by light aircraft this morning to Gomoti Tented Camp in the heart of the community-owned Santawani concession in the Okavango Delta. While some parts of the delta are permanently flooded, others are a mosaic of varied landscapes, including drier sections like the area surrounding our camp. A mix of riverine woodlands, acacia scrub and open floodplains providing ample food for a large array of browsers and grazing species, as well as predators. We often see lots of animals wandering right through camp—keep your camera handy!
The diverse range of habitats, plus the year-round lifeline of the Gomoti River, make this region ideal for all-day photography excursions with a mix of classic 4x4 game drives, picnic lunches and night drives. Among the many species we may have a chance to photograph are leopard, lion, wild dog, hyena, cheetah, giraffe, elephant, impala, kudu, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo. Birdlife is also outstanding, and we may see ground hornbills, crimson-breasted shrike and yellow morph, to name a few. During our time in the Gomoti region, we'll enjoy the thrill of a 30-minute scenic helicopter flight over the greater Okavango Delta and Gomoti River...with doors off for the most spectacular photography opportunities! After each day's adventures, we return to camp for relaxed evenings, where paraffin hurricane lanterns and the glow of a campfire lend a romantic ambience.
Days 9–11: Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Thrilling photography prospects are in store as we fly today to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, continuing with a wildlife drive to Kalahari Plains Camp in Deception Valley. The camp’s location offers a sweeping vista of the valley floor, and we feel quite alone here in this little-visited national park. The reserve is the largest conservation area in Botswana and one of the largest in the world. Our photo safari culminates in these remote environs, where animal movements are dictated by nature and the rains. We track them on extended wildlife drives, studying the desert ecology along the way. The petrified riverbed comes alive after short rains, covered with nutritious grasses that attract herds from all over the vast reserve.
Keep your lens ready to capture wildebeest, red hartebeest and springbok, as well honey badger and mongoose, among the multitude of animals we will encounter. Predators follow the herds of hoofed game with their young, creating natural spectacles we may be privy to photograph. Other top subjects include the famous Kalahari black-maned lions and one of Africa's most plentiful concentrations of cheetahs. The Kalahari is also the ancient home of the San bushmen, who have subsisted in these stark environs for millennia. Our time here will include engaging cultural interaction that allows for authentic insight into the area's ancient Bushmen clans.
Day 12: Maun / Depart
Our Botswana photo safari comes to a close today when we depart by air for Maun to connect with onward flights.
All This Included
Botswana’s lush summer, its most productive and colorful time, offers natural spectacles most travelers miss. Sporadic light rains in the Kalahari mark a time of dramatic change, signaling a great influx of migrating wildlife and plains animal births—"bush babies" are everywhere! Photograph wildlife in the Kalahari, where high game concentrations and expansive open vistas make for some of the best cheetah viewing in southern Africa. Delta water levels are typically low, while green vegetation springs to life on the bleached plains of Deception Valley. This attracts herds from all over the reserve, and allows our greatest opportunities to explore by 4x4 in the delta. The drier region of the Okavango Delta bordering the Moremi Game Reserve also offers superb wildlife viewing, with stable populations of lion, leopard and wild dog active within a wide range of diverse habitats.
An exclusive highlight of our green season photo itinerary is a doors-off helicopter flight over the Gomoti River and Okavango Delta, offering a coveted aerial perspective of wildlife on the move. Travel with an Expedition Leader who is also a photography pro, and make special excursions at sunrise and sunset to capture the best light. With just four guests per vehicle, there's plenty of room to navigate for the perfect shot, plus added baggage allowance on internal flights for extra camera gear.
Livingstone: Toka Leya
Okavango Delta: Gomoti Tented Camp and Jacana Camp
Central Kalahari Game Reserve: Kalahari Plains Camp
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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.