Desert & Delta
Immerse yourself into a world of contrast as the verdant oasis of the Okavango Delta gives way to the dry and unforgiving Kalahari Desert. Interact with wildlife on foot, on the river, and track them by traditional safari vehicle by day and night for the complete safari experience.
Prices: On request
Duration: 8 nights
Availability: Year round
Destinations: Okavango Delta, Central Kalahari Game Reserve
i) Get up close and personal to hippos and crocodiles on a traditional dug out canoe safari.
ii) Marvel at the sheer beauty of the pristine Okavango Delta.
iii) Get out on foot and approach large game such as lion, elephants and buffalo.
iv) Appreciate the remoteness of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
v) Observe unusual desert adapted animals fight for survival in the unforgiving Kalahari Desert.
vi) A true wilderness and exclusive experience
Immerse yourself into a world of contrast as the verdant oasis of the Okavango Delta gives way to the dry and unforgiving Kalahari Desert. This 8 night itinerary showcases the best of Botswana and provides you with a variety of safari activities to interact with wildlife from several unique perspectives. We design the itinerary to offer the combination of a dry camp and wet camp in the Okavango Delta with the arid environment of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This stark contrast allows for an appreciation of the varying environments of Northern Botswana whilst the differing habitats ensure you will see many more different species of wildlife than on a standard safari.
Best time to visit?
So when is the best time of year to take this trip to maximise your overall experience? Without knowing you yet this is a difficult question to answer. With so many variables to consider we need to know what is important to you before we advise on the preferable time for you.
There are many variables to consider when attempting to recommend the best time to visit. Specific considerations include the whereabouts of migratory animals, the effect the density of the vegetation and height of the grass has on wildlife viewing, special wildlife moments such as the birth of baby animals, and the effect weather patterns has on wildlife behaviour. Other factors to consider are the variation in prices at different times of the year, visitor traffic, whether you prefer a lush or relatively arid environment and of course the annual climate, namely temperature and rainfall values.
For this reason we present detailed information for each individual destination in the locations section to help you understand what may work best for you. We will of course have an in-depth discussion with you prior to making a booking so you are completely happy with the time of year you decide to travel.
- Game drives including off-road driving
- Night drives
- Makoro safari
- Boating safaris
- Seasonal fishing (December to March)
- Walking safaris
- San Bushmen educational nature walks
- Star gazing
- Sleepout under the stars
- All domestic flights as per the daily itinerary
- Airport transfers throughout Botswana
- 8 nights accommodation as stated
- All meals as stated
- Included safari activities as indicated above
- Drinks unless otherwise stated
- All relevant taxes and surcharges
- Day 1 Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure Begins
Board your overnight international flight from your chosen departure airport to Maun, Botswana.
- Day 2 Tau Pan, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
You will arrive in Botswana around lunchtime and will be greeted by a representative from Tau Pan. They will accompany you to the departure lounge in anticipation for your light aircraft flight to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The transfer from the airstrip to camp is relatively short but your driver/guide will be sure to stop and discuss any interesting sightings you may observe on your way to camp. On arrival you will be welcomed by the warm and friendly team and shown around camp. Enjoy a refreshing beverage on the deck and appreciate the vastness of the wilderness area around you. As darkness falls the sky comes to life with thousands of stars and it is extremely likely you will see the Milky Way. Take advantage of the telescope on deck to enhance your astronomy skills.
- Day 3-4 Tau Pan, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
These two days are dedicated to exploring the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the unique and elusive wildlife it has to offer. National park regulations restrict safari activities to game drives and educational nature walks with the desert’s famous San Bushmen.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an exceptional wildlife destination. However, as expected, a place so dry and arid is unable to support the large volumes of game seen in destinations with high levels of rainfall and permanent water sources. Game viewing in this unforgiving land is all about the quality of the sightings as opposed to sheer quantity. Activities focus on biodiversity and unusual sightings. Expect to see the famous Kalahari black-maned lions, aardvark, Cape pangolin, caracal, honey badger, and the rare brown hyena, all sightings that would be difficult and in some cases non-existent in other African game reserves and national parks.
- Day 5 Splash, Kwara Concession, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Today you will wake for a leisurely breakfast before making the short hop on light aircraft over to the Okavango Delta. You will stay in the exclusive and sought after Kwara Concession at the new Splash Camp. With an area of 1750 km² and no more than 40 guests in the reserve at any one time each guest has an average of 45 km² to themselves. This ensures there are never any traffic queues at sightings. To gain perspective this would be the equivalent of 40 people wandering around the United Kingdom county of Hertfordshire or an area almost 1.5 times that of the U.S city of Los Angeles in search of game.
On arrival you will be oriented around camp before being served up a delicious lunch. The afternoon will be spent on a safari activity of your choice before returning for dinner. The evening will offer a choice between relaxing and going out on a night game drive.
- Day 6-9 Splash, Kwara Concession, Okavango Delta, Botswana
You will have 4 full days to explore this amazing private reserve. Its location, sandwiched between the prolific wildlife areas of the Moremi Game Reserve and the Linyanti ensure it is one of the most productive wildlife areas in Botswana. Its enviable location ensures it is both a dry and wet reserve ensuring a diverse offering of wildlife and a variation of safari activities.
Game drives have the added benefit of off-road driving and trackers in all vehicles. This will certainly increase the quality of your sightings and is great for photography opportunities. Night drives are an excellent opportunity to see the bush from a different perspective and allow for sightings of more elusive wildlife. Walking safari is an excellent option to see the smaller creatures the area has to offer and getting out on the water as good as promises up close interactions with hippopotamus and large Nile crocodiles. Makoro and boating safaris and seasonal fishing are the water-based activities available at Splash Camp.
The area is rich in grazers such as buffalo, zebra, elephants, red lechwe, steenbok, impala, tsessebe, wildebeest, giraffe, and greater kudu, amongst many others. Naturally, predators are present in the form of lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena who take advantage of this varied menu of herbivores. However, the reserve is renowned as being amongst the best places in Africa to observe the African wild dog.
- Day 10 The End of Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure
Today will undeniably be met with sadness as your time in this true land of African wilderness must come to an end. The morning will begin with a final breakfast before boarding your light aircraft flight back to Maun in preparation for your international flight to your final destination.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Overview: Tau Pan is the first semi-permanent camp inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and offers truly incredible views from the elevated ridge of an ancient sand dune overlooking the famous Tau Pan. This location provides guests with a true sense of remoteness in this unforgiving but rewarding land of vastness. The camp is a true eco-camp and has been constructed with the area’s ecologies in mind.
Accommodation: 9 environmentally adapted en suite tents including 1 family tent set on raised decks. Each is equipped with an indoor and outdoor shower, double-basin vanity sink, king-sized double bed and a living area. The camp also has an elevated sleep-out deck consisting of a double bed, wash basin and toilet. It is simply a magnificent experience to fall to sleep looking out at the stars in arguably the least polluted skies on the planet.
Facilities & Amenities: The main area of the camp is set around the fire place, which is the ideal spot for game viewing down to the waterhole. A telescope is also provided here for those dark and clear nights when the skies of the Kalahari are simply magnificent. The bar, lounge, curio shop and dining area all encircle the fireplace.
Power & communication: Tau Pan uses 100% solar power for the generation of electricity and hot water. Mobile phone network coverage is unreliable due to the remote wilderness.
Activities: Game drives, day trips to the wildlife-productive Deception Valley and the Sunday, Piper and Passarge Pans. Star gazing and educational nature walks with San Bushman trackers are also included.
Children: All ages are welcome between 1st April and 14th November. However, from 15th November through March there is a minimum age limit of 6 years. Parties containing children under 12 years are required to book a private safari vehicle at all times throughout the year.
Kwara Concession, Okavango Delta
Overview: Splash Camp is situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta, within the Private Kwara Concession. This brand new camp offers a very relaxed, friendly and authentic atmosphere. The area has long been known as Splash due to the huge water crossings that had to be negotiated to access the camp area. The Kwara Concession shares a 30 km water boundary with the famous Moremi Game Reserve and its unique location boasts both permanent water and seasonal flood plains as well as extensive dry bush wilderness. It is considered to be amongst the best in Botswana for game viewing and activities.
Accommodation: 12 en-suite tents, 10 for the use of guests and 2 for accompanying guides. All suites are designed to the same specification and complete with en suite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers, flush toilets and double sink. Each room has a private veranda with outdoor lounge chairs providing the perfect place to relax in between game activities.
Facilities & Amenities: The main public area boasts a plunge pool, bar and lounge, as well as an orientation centre and a curio shop. There is also a fire pit overlooking the game-productive pan. This is the social hub where breakfast is served and camp stories are told into the evening.
Activities: Game drives are available by day and night and as the camp operates in a private concession off road driving is permitted. The abundant water around camp provides for makoro safari, boat cruises and seasonal fishing. Walking safaris are also offered and encouraged.
Children: Those of ages 6 and above are permitted in camp but those under the age of 12 require their accompanying group to hire a private vehicle.
- Special Status: N/A
- Location: Central Botswana
- Land mass: 52,800 km²
- Mammal species: 100+
- Bird species: 251
- Big 5 reserve: No
- Game drives
- Star gazing
- Educational nature walks with San Bushman
- Extremely remote and wild
- Very few tourists
- Rare and elusive wildlife
- Kalahari Black-maned lions
- Specialised desert-adapted wildlife
- Unbelievable night sky including the full Milky Way
- Experiences with San Bushman Tribe
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is the second largest game reserve in the world. It occupies 10% of Botswana’s entire land mass. With a staggering area of 52,800 km² it is an enormous wildlife sanctuary. To provide perspective the park is larger than the entire country of Costa Rica and also Belgium and Slovenia combined.
It is a relatively new safari destination having only recently become accessible to tourists in recent times. Even today only a relatively small sector in the north of the reserve is suitable for tourism, the rest still being inaccessible due to the harshness of the environment.
The game reserve offers an interesting contrast to the typical safari areas in the north of the country. The topography consists of vast open plains, salt pans and ancient riverbeds. It is a place loved by safari enthusiasts thanks to its wilderness appeal and offerings of rare and elusive desert adapted wildlife species.
With a recorded 251 bird species and over 100 mammal species the CKGR offers exceptional biodiversity. It is one of the best places in the whole of Africa for reliable cheetah sightings. Honey badgers are also very visible here and are often seen foraging even in daylight. However, its real draw is the relative ease of spotting usually elusive wildlife such as aardvark, Cape porcupine, brown hyena and Cape pangolin.
Carnivores are well represented in the park. In addition to the aforementioned cheetah, honey badger and brown hyena the reserve also supports spotted hyena, meerkats, yellow mongoose, caracal, African wild dog, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, cape fox, and the leopard. One of the great sightings within the park are the Kalahari black-maned lions, male lions who wear a black mane rather than the typical golden mane.
These predators are supported by a diverse array of ungulates including giraffe, white and black rhino, cape buffalo, warthog, blue wildebeest, plains zebra, sable and eland to name but a few, and of course the specialist desert adapted oryx of which occur in herds in excess of 100 individuals.
Despite its impressive diversity it isn’t always able to deliver the sheer abundance of sightings when compared to famous safari heavyweights such as the Serengeti National Park or Chobe National Park. CKGR should be viewed as a location that delivers a true wilderness experience in one of the last remaining tracts of wild Africa as well as providing great opportunities for spotting rare species. For this reason we most often recommend it as a destination for experienced safari enthusiasts rather than first timers.
Activities within the reserve are somewhat limited due to regulations. Game drives by day are the main wildlife viewing activity but are supplemented by cultural experiences with the San Bushmen tribe and also star gazing and fly camping under the stars. There are a few properties located in private reserves north of CKGR and these have the advantage of being able to offer night drives.
With daily flights connecting the CKGR to Okavango Delta, the Linyanti and Chobe National Park it is easily built into a package combining these destinations.
Best Time To Visit
The climate of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve can be divided into the dry season and wet season. Each season, and indeed the months within each season, offers you a different experience. There is no time of year that offers you the best of everything so we provide you with a balanced account throughout the year so you are able to make an informed decision on the best time to visit based on your preferences.
The dry season runs from April to October. There is very little rainfall at this time of year ranging from an average of 30 mm in the month of April to no rainfall in July and August. Temperatures are lowest in the months of June to August as these are winter months in the Southern Hemisphere. Night time and early mornings can be cool so be sure to bring warm clothing if you choose to travel at this time of year.
The corresponding wet season is initiated by the breaking of the first rains in November. Rainfall increases each month as the season progresses peaking in January and February before easing off in March. Short showers with afternoon thunderstorms characterise the wet season so rarely will the rain fully disrupt a day’s safari activities. Temperatures are at their highest at this time of year exceeding over 30 degrees Celsius. January, February and March are the hottest months. Visitors often elect to visit in December or April to take advantage of the abundance of wildlife without being there in the warmest months.
The rains bring a freshness to the desert and once apparent grasslands are transformed into a vast carpet of wild flowers. This is certainly the most beautiful time of year to visit.
Unusually, wildlife viewing is at its most prolific in the wet season. This is in stark contrast to almost all other game reserves in Africa. Large herds of animals migrate south from the Okavango Delta in search of fresh grass and vegetation. The plains around Deception Valley are dense in grazing herbivores. Baby animals are introduced into the world during this time of plentiful water and food. Nature can be harsh and this only serves to attract an abundance of predators. Birders will be particularly keen to visit at this time of year as the rains encourage migrant species to join the resident birds. As the rains cease and dry season sets in animals migrate north to the Okavango Delta. Wildlife densities are significantly lower at this time of year. However, there are still excellent sightings of rarer species to be had it will just take more patience and work. This time of year is better suited to more experienced safari goers who are happy with a more subtle wildlife experience.
Prices are highest in the wet season due to the better wildlife opportunities. Expect to pay top prices from November to May. June to October offers significant reductions on property rates and can be a great opportunity for those wanting a true wilderness experience to do so at an excellent price.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is never busy so you won’t be held up in a queue of vehicles at a sighting at any time of year, in fact it wouldn’t be unusual to be the only vehicle. However, as expected there is more chance of sharing the park with other tourists in the wet season than in the dry season.
- Special Status: UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Location: Northern Botswana
- Land mass: 15,000-22,000 km²
- Mammal species: 160
- Bird species: 530
- Big 5 reserve: Yes
- Game drives
- Night drives
- Makoro safaris
- Motorboat safaris
- Walking safaris
- Catch and release fishing
- Hot air balloon safari
- Helicopter flights
- Horseback safaris
- Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations in Africa
- A true, unspoilt African wilderness
- The epitome of authenticity and exclusivity
- Huge abundance and diversity of wildlife
- Arguably the most varied safari activity programmes in the whole of Africa
The Okavango Delta is undoubtedly one of the most magical wildlife sanctuaries on earth and is a must visit destination for any person interested in the natural world.
It is the largest inland delta on earth. Its very existence begins as heavy rainfall in the highlands of Angola in the months of January and February. This rainfall is drained by the Okavango River and surges an astonishing 1200 kilometres over the space of a month. The water reaches the Okavango panhandle by April and with no sea or ocean to drain into it subsequently spills into the Okavango Delta flooding an area of 6,000- 15,000 square kilometres over the course of the next 4 months. The peak flood is between the months of June and August and sees the Delta swell to 3 times its permanent size. Water levels recede following the peak through evaporation and transpiration leaving water levels relatively low until the process begins again the following April.
During the peak flood the Okavango Delta swells to an impressive 22,000 km² making it a hefty wildlife sanctuary. To provide perspective this is an inland swamp that is comfortably larger than the country of Israel. The Okavango Delta is not a single reserve or national park in its entirety. The Botswana Government has sliced it up and divided it into several private concessions. Renowned safari operators have been given responsibility to conserve their particular patch and have the authority to conduct safari activities. Therefore, each concession has its own special character. We treat every concession like a separate game reserve and recommend them to you based on your desires and their ability to meet these.
The Delta is like an exclusive playground. With very few other tourists around you may feel like you have your own piece of African wilderness to yourself. The activities on offer are arguably the most diverse on the continent. As the concessions are privately owned they have the authority to conduct safari activities without the stifling regulations exacted on national parks. Guests can enjoy game drives, night drives, makoro and motorboat safaris, walking safaris, catch and release fishing, hot air balloon safari as well as helicopter rides and horseback safari. However, it must be noted whilst the majority of these activities are standard in most concessions and camps some are limited to certain concessions or camps. We will always discuss your requirements so we can provide you with the exact safari you desire.
The Okavango Delta has a phenomenal diversity of wildlife, resident and migratory. With 530 recorded species of birds and a phenomenal 160 species of mammals, without mentioning the reptile and amphibian count, you begin to see why this is such a special place to visit. Diversity is matched by the immense abundance of animals. The area is renowned for large herds of cape buffalo and elephants totalling around 30,000 individuals. It is estimated the area supports 200,000 large mammals.
Other herbivores, to name only a few, include wildebeest, hartebeest, sitatunga, springbok, eland, greater kudu, duiker, steenbok, gemsbok, sable, roan, impala, zebra and red lechwe. Other ungulates include hippopotamus in abundance and reintroduced black and white rhinoceros although these remain elusive at present.
Predators are well represented in the shape of lion, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, nile crocodile, African wild dog and cheetah, as well as smaller carnivores such as serval and caracal. Bird species include the iconic African fish eagle, Pel’s fishing owl, hamerkop and beautiful lilac-breasted roller.
The Okavango Delta has that unusual knack of being able to support almost any traveller from the solo traveller to a family group, experienced safari goer to first timer and wildlife enthusiast to casual holiday maker. Its unique selling point lies in its exclusivity, superb concentrations and variety of game, exceptional camps and natural outstanding beauty. In an ideal world we would recommend it as a destination to almost everybody if it wasn’t for the sticking point of the price. All this luxury, world-class guiding and exclusivity comes at a price, a significant one. Travelling in April, May and November is a way of maximising game viewing opportunities without paying premium prices.
The Delta is well linked by air to Chobe, the Linyanti, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Pan via the central hub of Maun ensuring all areas can be combined effortlessly as part of a safari package.
The Okavango is such a diverse place to visit with each concession and indeed each camp offering a slightly different experience. We recommend staying in at least a couple of camps in order to experience the best of the area. Combining a wet camp and dry camp is ideal to gain a rounded experience.
Best Time To Visit
The climate of the Okavango Delta can be divided into the dry season and wet season. However, the Okavango Delta is a very complex area, and does not always follow the same rules as one would expect from a typical dry season/ wet season destination. Therefore, care is needed when recommending and advising the perfect time to visit. Each season, and indeed the months within each season, offers you a different experience. As always there is no time of year that offers you the best of everything. We provide you with a balanced account throughout the year so you are able to make an informed decision on the best time to visit based on your preferences.
The dry season is considered the months from April to October. This time of the year is characterised by almost no rain, with no actual rain in the months of May to September. Temperatures begin to fall and bottom out at average lows of only 6 degrees Celsius in the winter months of June to August. Warm clothing is recommended for early morning activities during these months. Temperatures soon recover under the sun to a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius by late morning. Temperatures rise drastically after August and top out during October at an average high of 35 degrees Celsius.
The wet season begins in November when the first rains break and runs through to March. Rainfall increases month on month with December to February being the wettest months. This is summer in Botswana so is therefore characterised by hot days as well as the rain. Expect daily average highs in excess of 30 degrees Celsius. Do not let this put you off though as it rarely rains all day and occurs in the form of thunderstorms that last for an hour or so.
Wildlife viewing is good year round but is generally considered better in the dry season. The abundance of standing water following the deluge of flood water into the reserve attracts animals back from the parched desert. Wildlife abundance and densities are at their greatest at this time of year. However, as always the wet season is the time of year migratory birds are in greater abundance and baby animals are being born at this time of year. The herds migrate out of the Okavango Delta in the wet season in search of fresh grazing in the now lush Kalahari Desert. Resident game can also be difficult to spot at this time of year due to the thick bush concealing them.
The Okavango Delta has plentiful activities, however the water based activities are seasonal in all areas except those with the deepest channels. If water based activities such as boating or makoro safaris are important to you then it is advisable to travel when water levels are at their highest. Now, conventional thinking would direct you to believing the highest water levels are in the wet season and lowest in the dry season. This would be correct almost anywhere except the Okavango Delta. Water levels are dictated by the annual flood and not the local rains. Therefore, the water is actually at its highest in the months of June to September. Lower water levels occur during the wet season and render the above mentioned water based activities difficult or impossible.
Prices are ultimately highest in the peak dry season months of July to October. The couple of months either side of this, namely April, May, November and December see reductions of around 50% with the wet months of January to March literally offering half price accommodation. If you choose your camp carefully you could be in with a real bargain at this time of year.
The Okavango Delta, and Botswana on a whole, is excellent at delivering high quality low impact safari experiences. With tourist numbers limited in each private concession and densities being as low as 1 tourist per 125 km² it isn’t difficult to imagine the exclusivity you will enjoy here. Therefore, even in peak season tourist traffic is not a concern.
For those interested in the scenery and environment April and May are a beautiful time to visit as the flood water arrives and the bush bursts into life with a myriad of beautiful flowers decorating the plains and water channels.