Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park & Victoria Falls
Countries Visited: Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa
This trip is a wonderful chance to explore some of Africa’s best wilderness areas in a short space of time: Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls. Chobe and the Okavango Delta teem with big game and are in stark contrast with the Kalahari Desert which is silent, secret and vast.
Each evening is spent at a place where there is both a campsite and safari lodges which means you can join the trip on a camping option or up-grade to lodge accommodation, the “lodge option”. The main difference between camping and lodge happens on days 4 and 5: the lodge option flies in to the Okavango Delta to overnight at a lovely hidden-away lodge; the camping option drives into the Delta to a campsite.
Summary: Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park & Victoria Falls.
3countries in 9 days.
Day 1 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Day 2 – Chobe National Park, Botswana
Day 3 – Nata on the pans, Botswana
Day 4 – Reaching the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Day 5 – Explore the Okavango Delta
Day 6 – Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Day 7 – Into the Kalahari Desert, Botswana
Day 8 – Explore the Kalahari, Botswana
Day 9 – Travel to Johannesburg, South Africa
The following itinerary if for the “Lodge” accommodation option:-
Day 1. Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls
The safari to explore Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park & Victoria Falls begins at Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side. The falls are quite different from the Zambia side because Zim’ have a National Park right on the rim of the Batoka Gorge. In the afternoon explore the bustling town where there are a variety of adrenaline sports on offer as well as some great craft markets. It’s well worth visiting the 5-star Victoria Falls Hotel for high tea too; a stunning setting at this African icon.
Overnight in Victoria Falls town.
A note about Victoria Falls
The falls are 1,700 m wide and 108 m high, the largest falls in the world. David Livingstone, the British explorer, was the first European to view the falls and wrote: “It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. The local name is Mosi-oa-Tunya “The Smoke That Thunders”. The local Tonga people of the Zambezi River believe that a river god, Nyaminyami, resides in the water in the form of an immense snake. When the Kariba Dam was built in the 1950s, the Zambezi River flooded three times, causing many deaths and widespread destruction. The local people believe Nyaminyami caused the floods having been angered by the construction.
The falls are formed by the Zambezi plummeting into a gorge which has been carved by the water along a fracture in the basalt plateau. The depth of the chasm, called “First Gorge”, varies from 80m at its western end to 108m in the centre. The only outlet from First Gorge is a gap 110 m wide through which the entire volume of the river pours.
There are two islands on the lip of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank and Livingstone Island in midstream. When the water level is lower, other islets divide the river into separate, parallel streams. The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Leaping Water (also called “Devil’s Cataract”), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.
Day 2. Chobe National Park, Botswana.
After breakfast drive the short distance (75 Km) along the Zambezi riverbank to the town of Kasane and enter Botswana where we set up camp on the banks of the Chobe River. The afternoon is devoted to exploring Chobe National Park and the abundant wildlife. The afternoon begins with a game drive in 4 x 4’s followed by a game cruise on the river which allows you to silently approach huge herds of elephants enjoying the shallows.
Overnight in Chobe National Park, twin share or camping.
Chobe National Park
Chobe is the second largest park in Botswana at 10,566 Km² and sits at the northeast corner of the Okavango Delta. To understand Chobe, you need to begin with the rivers:
The Okavango Delta area consists of dozens of rivers and waterway: some flow permanently, others are seasonal. There are two main rivers to understand. They are very different in character and their fates are very different. The Okavango and Kwando rivers: both rise in the highlands of Angola and flow in a south-easterly direction, away from the Atlantic which is the nearest ocean to their sources. The Okavango forms the delta and the water either evaporates or soaks away into the ground.
The Kwando follows a parallel course to the Okavango, immediately to the north. Loosely speaking it forms the boundary of the concession lands north of the delta. It forms the Savuti swamp, north of the delta, and when it flows out of the swamp, now travelling north-east; it changes its name to the Linyanti River. The Linyanti then morphs into the Chobe River which joins the Zambezi at the town of Kazungula. The Zambezi flows over Victoria Falls and then makes its passage all the way (1,580 Km) to the Indian Ocean.
The area is renowned for its vast herds of elephant and buffalo (due to the reliable water supply). The elephant population is currently about 120,000 and Chobe elephants are migratory, moving up to 200 km from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park in the rainy season. They are Kalahari elephants which are distinct from other elephants by having rather short, brittle ivory tusks; due perhaps to calcium deficiency in the soil. you will notice the environmental impact that these huge herds have on the park; which leads on to the highly contentious issue of culling. Culls have been considered, but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected.
The original inhabitants of the area were the San people, otherwise known in Botswana as the Basarwa. They were hunter-gatherers who moved from one area to another in search of water, wild fruit and game. The San were pushed out by groups of the Basubiya people and, around 1911, a group of Batawana moved to the area. In 1931 it was decided that a national park would protect the wildlife from extinction and attract safari-goers. In 1932, an area of some 24,000 Km² was declared a non-hunting area. Over the years the park s boundaries have been extended human communities relocated (another controversial practice). Chobe National Park was finally void of human habitation in 1975. In 1980 and again in 1987, the boundaries were again extended – see notes on KAZA super-park in the available free “The Okavango Delta” booklet, click here to request your copy.
Day 3: Onto the pans
Today is a travelling day, but a special one: the country south of Chobe becomes drier as you approach the Kalahari Desert. Millions of years ago this area was a massive lake which has long-since evaporated and become a totally flat area of land with a salty crust, known as a ‘pan’. No plants can grow on these pans but you do occasionally see game, far out from the tree-line, shimmering in the heat. The pans are now protected as a sanctuary which we will explore.
Meals: B, L and D
Accommodation: twin share or camping
Day 4: The Okavango Delta.
We cross the tongue-twisting Makgadikgadi Pan to reach Maun. This is the land of huge Baobab trees, the “upside down tree” because despite being evergreen, it has tiny leaves, so the branches resemble roots! The Delta is truly spectacular and an unforgettable experience as the wild animals are less nervous than in many other National Parks. Simply sitting and relaxing often results in rewarding bird or game viewing. This afternoon you fly into the Delta for a 2 night stay at Mopiri (or similar) which involves flying right over the Okavango to the western side. Mopiri is a fantastic camp: http://www.mopiricamp.com
Meals: B, L and D
Overnight in the Okavango Delta camp.
Day 5: Explore the Okavango Delta
A full day is set aside to explore the Delta: the most rewarding way to experience the Delta is in a mokoro, which is the traditional hollowed-out tree trunk. The mokoro comes with a poler who is also your guide and there’s no doubt that the Delta is the ultimate wildlife destination regardless of season. Spend the day steering through the reed-lined channels and beautiful lagoons. You can stop on one of the larger islands and take a walk, with a guide, to see what you can see. Spend the second night in the Okavango Delta.
Meals: B, L and D
Overnight in the Okavango Delta camp.
Day 6: Return to Maun, Botswana
Maun is the fifth largest town in Botswana and the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It’s an eclectic contrast of modern buildings and traditional huts and home to over 30,000 people. Founded in 1915 as the tribal capital of the Batswana people, it still retains that “frontier feeling”. It originally served the local cattle ranching and hunting operations and had a reputation as a hard-living, hard-drinking ‘Wild West’ town. With the growth of interest in safaris, and the completion of the tarmac road from the east in the early 1990s, Maun developed swiftly, losing some of its unsophisticated rawness.
Nowadays it’s not unusual to see mud rondavels with satellite dishes, attesting to the increasing reliability of electricity! This striking contrast of the traditional and the modern is also evident in the multi-level air-conditioned shopping centres incongruously surrounded by potholes, dusty parking lots and lively, traditional markets.
Meals: B, L and D
Day 7: Maun into The Kalahari Desert
This morning we travel east across the Kalahari. The nomadic San people are the hunter-gatherers who call the Kalahari home. Their knowledge cascades down the generations and their afrinity with the environment is simply remarkable. Tonight we get a first-hand experience of the San culture which is renowned for its traditions of song, dance and story-telling.
Day 8: Central Kalahari
The day begins with a guided walk with the San who will introduce some of the secrets of the Kalahari. Later on we return to the road and travel to the desert town of Kang, the gateway to the Central Kalahari Desert.
Meals: B, L and D
Day 9: to Johannesburg
Today we cross the border into South Africa and after quite a long, yet scenic drive we arrive in Johannesburg, “city of gold”. The safari ends.
Meals: B & L.
Accommodation: Own Arrangements / Post tour accommodation can be made by Venture Co
Johannesburg, Jo’burg, is the largest and most populated city in South Africa, and the second largest city in Africa, after Cairo. Gold was discovered in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand in 1886 by an Australian prospector, George Harrison. This discovery started a major gold rush as fortune hunters came to the area from all over the world. A huge labour force of contract workers sprang up to work in the mines and within three years Johannesburg became the largest settlement in South Africa. It is now the economic and financial core of the country, and although mining is no longer practiced within the city bounds, the headquarters of most of the mining companies can be found here. Johannesburg is also known as the world’s largest human-made forest, with over 10 million trees planted throughout the city.
The tour ends at Garden Court hotel, Johannesburg, a short distance from the airport.
All meals (as detailed)
Accommodation (8 nts) in twin share rooms (single room available on request) or camping
Entrance to Victoria Falls National Park
Game cruise on the Chobe River and 4×4 safari
Travel into the Okavango Delta (return). The lodge option includes the return flight into the Delta; the camping option includes driving into the Delta
Okavango Delta guided walk and mokoro trip.
Bush walk with San guides
Tips and items of a personal nature.