The Best of Botswana
A high-quality itinerary taking in the wildlife rich and exclusive Kwara Concession, The Linyanti and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Prices: On request
Duration: 9 nights
Availability: Year round
Destinations: Okavango Delta (Kwara Concession), Linyanti (Kwando Reserve), Central Kalahari Game Reserve
i) Safari in some of Botswana’s most exclusive reserves and camps
ii) Experience a truly authentic and wilderness African adventure
iii) Observe a plethora of wildlife abundance and diversity
iv) Witness rare mammal species in the Kalahari Desert
v) Enjoy a huge array of land and water-based activities
vi) The Big 5 are all present
An African safari really doesn’t get much better than this. Visit Botswana’s, and indeed some of Africa’s, finest and most exclusive game reserves during this epic 9 nights safari. With very few other tourists to share sightings with you will truly feel as though you have your very own tract of African wilderness to yourself. Wildlife is as abundant and diverse as the safari activities on offer. All camps offer the highest service and wildlife guiding making this trip ideal for honeymooners, special celebrations, families with older children, couples and groups of friends or larger families.
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
- Walking safaris
- San Bushman educational nature walks
- Sleep-out under the stars
- Domestic flights as per the daily itinerary
- Airport transfers throughout Botswana as per daily itinerary
- 9 night’s accommodation as stated
- All meals and drinks as stated
- All included safari activities as above
- All relevant taxes and surcharges
- Day 1 Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure Begins
Today you will board your overnight international flight 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. Depending on your time of arrival it is likely you will arrive in time to participate in the afternoon game activity. There may also be the opportunity to head out after dark on a night game drive. As darkness falls the sky comes to life with thousands of stars. It is extremely likely you will see the Milky Way. Take advantage of the telescope on deck to enhance your astronomy skills.
- Days 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.
- Days 6-7 Splash, Kwara Concession, Okavango Delta, Botswana
You will have 2 full days to explore the amazing Kwara Concession. 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 whilst getting out on the water 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 8 Lagoon, Kwando Concession, The Linyanti
Today you say goodbye to the Okavango Delta with the promise of the Kwando Concession in the Linyanti on the horizon. You will enjoy a leisurely breakfast, embark on your last game drive en route to the airstrip and then board your short flight to the Linyanti.
Arriving late morning you will be in time for lunch and a full orientation of Lagoon Camp before heading out on an afternoon safari activity. Very much like the Kwara Concession, Kwando is extremely abundant with game and its location on the riverbank ensures there is a large diversity of mammals and birds, as well as Nile monitors and the notorious Nile crocodile.
Evening may be spent on a night game drive or exchanging safari stories with fellow tourists.
- Days 9-10 Lagoon, Kwando Concession, The Linyanti
These two days are dedicated to wildlife watching in the huge Kwando Concession. With an area of 1750 km² and less than 40 tourists in the reserve at any one time it truly is an exclusive and wild destination.
Completely unfenced it is part of the huge ecosystem in Northern Botswana that stretches west from the Okavango Delta, east to Chobe National Park and south to the Kalahari Desert and pans.
Wildlife watching is spectacular, especially in the dry season when huge herds of buffalo and elephant up to 1000 strong congregate around the river. Predator sightings are regular and Kwando is one of the most reliable places in the world for wild dog interactions.
Activities available for you to choose from in Kwando include day and night game drives with off-road driving, boating safari and walking safari, as well as seasonal fishing.
- Day 11 End of Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure
Today is the final day of this most amazing experience. You will leave with a heavy heart but knowing you have witnessed one of the best wildlife experiences in one of Africa’s true wilderness areas. Breakfast will be followed by one final game drive back to the airstrip where you will embark on your light aircraft flight back to Maun before boarding 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.
Kwando Concession, The Linyanti, Botswana
Overview: Lagoon is perched on the banks of the wild Kwando River, nestled beneath towering ebony and marula trees. The heavily forested site is home to a wide variety of birds and mammals, while hippopotamus and elephant are frequent camp visitors.
Accommodation: Eight expansive tents accommodate a maximum of 16 guests. Each tent affords picturesque views over the river and is equipped with a private deck, living area, and en suite bathroom. Each en-suite is equipped with an indoor and outdoor shower, as well as a bathtub for an enjoyable afternoon soak. There is also a family tent which has two entrances (one to the twin bedroom and one to the main bedroom and living area).
Facilities & Amenities: Bar and sitting area, outdoor deck with a swing, dining area, curio shop, orientation centre, and a cosy second-level library overlooking the river.
Activities: Game drives by day and night and off-road driving is permitted. Each game drive is accompanied by a guide and tracker team to increase your chances of outstanding wildlife sightings. Walking safaris and seasonal fishing are offered, as well as sundowner cruises on the camp’s double-deck boat.
Children: Youngsters aged 6 years and above are welcome in camp. However, parties including children under 12 years of age are required to hire a private safari 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.
- Special Status: Private Game Reserves
- Location: Northern Botswana
- Land mass: 8420 km²
- Mammal species: 160
- Bird species: 530
- Big 5 reserve: Yes
- Vehicle safari (including off-road driving)
- Night drives
- Walking safaris
- Fishing (seasonal)
- Sundowner cruises
- Exceptional game viewing
- Premier destination for wild dog denning
- Big 5 private game reserves
- Outstanding biodiversity
- Varied safari activity programme
- Vast wilderness area
- Premium exclusivity destination
The area of Botswana often referred to as the Linyanti isn’t actually a game reserve in its own right but four separate private game reserves. These reserves being, the Chobe Enclave, Kwando Concession, Selinda Concession and the aptly named Linyanti Concession.
Each individual concession is unique in its own right, offering guests a distinctive experience. Collectively they are amongst Africa’s most exclusive private reserves. All the reserves are unfenced and completely open, providing a huge wildlife corridor not only between each reserve but from the Okavango Delta in the west through to Chobe National Park in the east.
The Kwando Concession is one of the largest private wildlife concessions in Botswana covering an impressive 2300 km². It has a varied topography ranging from dense mopane forest in the west to lush riverine forest along the Kwando River. Ebony and marula trees punctuate the scenery. The permanent river acts as a magnet for thirsty animals in the dry season.
The Linyanti Concession, although only half the size of Kwando, remains an impressive sized private game reserve. With an area covering 1250 km² it is almost 3 times the size of Los Angeles. The best tourist spots are in the north along the Linyanti River. Here there are open floodplains and a band of riverine forest adjacent to the river. The south of the reserve is covered in dense mopane forest which can make wildlife viewing a little more difficult.
The Selinda Reserve protects the Selinda Spillway, a channel which links the Okavango and Linyanti river systems. The environment is characterised by wide, dry grasslands dotted with small palm-forest islands. With a land mass of 3200 km² it really is a huge private concession.
The Chobe Enclave is the eastern most reserve located north of the Chobe National Park. It occupies 1690 km² of pristine African wilderness. Its position on the periphery of the Linyanti Marshes ensures it is an attraction to large concentrations of game, especially in the dry season. This marshland had been dry for decades until during the heavy summer rains of 2008, combined with shifting fault lines, the Linyanti River began to flow into the marshes. This provides the life giving water for thousands of migratory wildlife.
Wildlife viewing at all the reserves varies from exceptional to very reasonable year round but the Linyanti would be considered a dry season destination. At this time of year it is simply world-class. As the rains cease and the area begins to dry wildlife moves out of the safety of the forests and congregates around the permanent water holes in each of the concessions. This makes wildlife viewing easy due to the predictability of the wildlife’s whereabouts. The area is renowned for huge herds of elephants and buffalo who migrate into the reserves in search of life-giving water and fresh vegetation. Herbivores are well represented in the form of wildebeest, greater kudu and lesser kudu, impala, tsessebe, giraffe and zebra, as well as rarer ungulates such as roan, eland and sable. The presence of permanent water provides habitat for elusive semi-aquatic antelope species such as lechwe and sitatunga, as well as crocodiles and hippopotamus. Predators are numerous with lions being especially common, leopards can be spotted in the riverine forests, and cheetahs are naturally seen hunting in the open plains. For those wanting to especially see African wild dogs the Linyanti is as reliable as any place in Africa to observe these charismatic but critically endangered canines. Reliable dog denning occurs year on year. Unfortunately both black and white rhinoceros have been hunted to extinction.
The Linyanti benefits from being a private reserve so is not affected by the sometimes limiting regulations that arguably stifle the experience in some national parks. Activities in each reserve are as diverse as they are abundant. Game drives are enhanced as off-road driving is permitted. This allows guests to follow animals hunting or get up close for better photographic opportunities. Night drives are also permitted. A drive in the darkness of the African bush is undoubtedly exhilarating but it also provides an opportunity to observe nocturnal species such as Cape porcupine, aardwolf, pangolin, genet and African civet. The availability of permanent water plays a huge role in safari activities with makoro, canoeing and boating being available at the majority of camps. Excellent walking safari is also conducted as are more elaborate activities such as helicopter rides.
All the Linyanti private reserves are underpinned by exceptional wildlife viewing, superlative guiding, an array of activities offering a varied perspective and tremendous camps with the highest levels of service. The only drawback is the price but if your budget does stretch this far then there are few better places to enjoy a safari of a lifetime.
We often recommend combining one of the Linyanti Reserves with one or two concessions or camps in the Okavango Delta and possibly Nxai Pan, Makgadikgadi Pan or the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to gain a full appreciation of wild Botswana.
Best Time To Visit
The climate of the Linyanti can be simplified by dividing it 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 based on your preferences.
The dry season runs from April to October although expect the last of the rains to fall in April. Temperatures remain high in April with average lows of 15 degrees Celsius and highs of 30 degrees Celsius. However, as winter closes in temperatures plummet at night and remain low early in the morning. Expect average lows to fall below 10 degrees Celsius from May through August. It is advisable to bring warm clothing for early morning activities at this time of year. The clear skies and African sun soon warm the plains to a very comfortable 25 degrees Celsius by late morning. As is common in Southern Africa temperatures rise sharply in September and peak in October. This month can be uncomfortable for some as daily highs average 35 degrees Celsius. Rainfall throughout the dry season is almost non-existent so expect uninterrupted blue skies with plenty of sunshine.
The wet season begins as the first rains fall in November and lasts until March. Also expect a few showers to occur into April. January and February are the wettest months followed by December. Rainfall is usually characterised by short showers and afternoon thunderstorms so very rarely will your safari be interrupted for an entire day. Temperatures immediately fall with the first rains but this time of year is summer so expect temperatures to exceed 30 degrees on average throughout the entire season.
The Linyanti is very much recognised as a dry season area, this meaning wildlife viewing in the dry season is significantly better than in the wet season. Wildlife viewing in the Linyanti is dominated by wildlife congregating around the permanent water sources. This works in the dry season as water is sparse elsewhere. However, as the rains fall wildlife retreats from the river frontage and heads into the woodland. This is not to say the area is void of any animals but the densities are much reduced. The wet season is however better for birding as migratory species descend on the area.
Unsurprisingly, prices are highest in the peak season from June through October. The rest of the year sees a significant reduction in rates, as much as half the price at some camps. May and November are good times to travel to take advantage of the reduced rates whilst still enjoying excellent game viewing.
The Linyanti is amongst the most exclusive safari destinations in Africa. Tourists are only permitted to enter the reserve if they have a pre-booked reservation at one of the few camps. This ensures tourist densities are low even in the peak dry season.
The final consideration is the beauty of the bush. This is where the wet season comes into its own. The parched appearance of the bush in the dry season is replaced by lush, verdant vegetation following the rains.