This Botswana Delta & Namibia Desert Safari combines the watery wonderland of the pristine Okavango Delta in Botswana with Etosha wildlife and Namib Desert highlights in Namibia.
Starting and ending in Windhoek, Namibia, this budget camping safari offers a great mix of the lesser-known and famous wilderness areas of Botswana and Namibia. Travel into the remote Kalahari of Botswana, as well as Namibia's diverse Mahango Game Reserve, fertile Caprivi Strip and beautiful Damaraland to see ancient rock engravings.
Visit Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast before heading into the vast Namib Desert to explore the towering red-orange dunes of Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon.
We depart from Windhoek on day one of this Botswana Delta and Namibia Desert Safari, heading east towards Botswana. Travelling through the eastern Kalahari of Namibia on the Trans-Kalahari-Highway, we drive through open landscapes, farmlands and some small towns.
We pass through the historic little town of Witvlei in the Omaheke Region of Namibia, as well as the town of Gobabis, a livestock farming hub.
We cross the border at the Buitepos Border Post journeying on into rural Botswana. Our first overnight stop is near the small frontier town of Ghanzi, located in a remote part of Botswana. Also known as the Capital of the Kalahari, Ghanzi lies in a flat area and seems to be in the middle of nowhere. This once obscure town is surrounded by cattle farms in the heart of the semi-arid Kalahari Desert.
Our overnight lodge is a community owned and run establishment, offering a unique Kalahari stay. The camp helps to keep the culture of the traditional Kalahari San (bushman) alive and provides jobs for the local San D'Kar people. Staying here, we help support the local community and dwindling Kalahari San way of life.
Sit back and relax in this remote area of Botswana on your first night around the campfire, listening to the tales of the local San people.
Today we set off early for a morning walk with the local San (bushmen) to find out more about the Kalahari and its inhabitants.
The drive takes us via small rural towns and across the lines of undulating Kalahari dunes. Our surroundings become greener and more bushy as we near the watery wonder of the Okavango Delta, known as the Jewel of Botswana's crown. Reaching the western fringes of the world's largest inland delta we veer north and then make our way into the wild Delta.
Tonight we set up camp on the shores of a peaceful and unspoilt lagoon in the swampy Delta region of Botswana.
Today we venture into the Okavango Delta, covering the first stretch of our trip in a motorised boat. Arriving at a Mekoro station we transfer to these traditional dug-out canoes, continuing along the pristine waterways at a more relaxed pace. A local guide stands in the back of your mokoro poling you and your fellow passenger along the winding channels and tranquil lagoons. Mekoros are the traditional mode of transport used to navigate this intricate network of papyrus-lined tributaries. This quiet and slow-paced method of getting around is also ideal for catching sight of the many wild animals here.
During our time in the untamed delta we glide around the labyrinth of streams in Mekoros, enabling us to access the remote reaches of the Okavango. We also explore the bush on foot, looking out for the diverse wildlife and bird species inhabiting this region.
We camp wild in the heart of this massive landlocked estuary, pitching our tents on secluded islands and along the banks of the clean waterways. This is an unforgettable wilderness experience - camping in the heart of the Okavango Delta, we are truly immersed in nature! Blissfully absent are the bright lights and noise that accompany electricity and modern civilization.
Our remote camps are set up under the shade of indigenous trees, in scenic spots. Bathroom facilities are basic (rustic toilets and bucket showers) and river water is boiled for use in the camp. We camp with our local guides getting to know more about the people of Botswana while we discover the magic of the magnificent delta firsthand.
On day four we set off into the bush early in the morning for a leisurely walk. Soaking up the beautiful scenery on foot, we get a closer look at the bush and sight some wild animals, with a bit of luck.
Back at camp we tuck into a tasty brunch cooked-up in the middle of the bush. Then there is free time for you to unwind and rest under the shady trees at camp. The local guides can also show you safe places to take refreshing dip into the crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta.
Once the heat of day has subsided we head off on an afternoon bush walk or explore the wild environment by mokoro. Out in the delta we get to admire the spectacular sunset over the pure wilderness.
We drift back towards our first overnight Delta camp in Mekoros today, spotting some of the abundant bird life and maybe even some roaming animals along the way. Keep your eyes open for wallowing hippos and lurking crocodiles in the shallow waters.
Nearing the edge of the delta we switch to motorboats and camp on the outskirts of the Okavango Delta, sleeping beside the peaceful lagoon again.
At tonight's camp we enjoy the comforts of more developed facilities and relax on the banks of the lovely lagoon.
Today we drive back into neighbouring Namibia and head to Mahango Game Reserve in north-eastern Namibia. This reserve covers some 25 400 hectares of the Okavango River floodplains, incorporating diverse habitats. The park is home to an array of wildlife species as well we over 300 species of birds, including several rare birds. We take a drive through Mahango Reserve, looking out for a range of animals. Predators include cheetah, lion, leopard and African wild dog. A rich variety of antelope species also roam the park, amongst them some rare and unique species such as red lechwe, roan and sable antelope. Hippos, elephants and crocodiles are often spotted along with warthogs, otters and primates.
Leaving the untamed Mahango behind we travel into the fertile Caprivi Strip, located along the western edge of the park.
Tonight we camp in the western part of the Caprivi region, a lush area when compared to the rest of Namibia. This narrow finger of Namibia extends eastwards towards Zimbabwe and Zambia with Botswana lying to the south. In this section of the Caprivi Strip, also known as the Okavango Panhandle, we are back on the fringes of the watery Okavango Delta.
Our camp is set along the Okavango River near the northern Namibian town of Rundu, the Kavango Region's capital. This evening we have dinner at the lodge (own account).
This morning we make our way to nearby Rundu to browse the arts and crafts, especially wooden carvings, at the local market. Then we travel south-west towards Etosha Park, stopping at rural settlements along the way to check out the handmade arts and crafts.
Our next safari destination is the famous Etosha National Park, where we will spend a few days game viewing in the wilderness.
We head to the Namutoni Camp in eastern Etosha where we have lunch and chill out. This camp is named after the national monument, Fort Namutoni. The ruins of the old German Fort still stands at the camp, offering great views over King Nehale waterhole.
Later in the afternoon we embark on our first game drive in Etosha Park, taking us in search of wildlife action. The Namutoni area is said to offer some of the best game viewing opportunities in Etosha. Tonight you can visit the floodlit watering hole to spot some nocturnal wildlife and stirring predators.
On day eight we set off into the bush, first thing in the morning. Mornings are ideal for game watching, as many of the diurnal animals are starting to stir and some of the nocturnal animals are still settling down.
Our early game drive takes us to the active waterholes scattered across Etosha in search of wild animals taking a drink before the heat of day sets in. We drive through diverse vegetation zones, from woodlands to grasslands, giving us a chance to see new aspects of this vast game park. We return to camp for lunch in the shade and some time to laze at the pool or take a siesta out of the heat.
After time out at Namutoni we head back into Etosha Park to catch the drama of the African bush unfolding. Along the way we stop at watering holes in the Namutoni area in the hopes of watching wildlife and birds coming out to drink.
Returning from our game drive the evening is spent at leisure, visiting the floodlit waterhole for more game viewing if you choose to.
We venture into the bush bright and early, before the heat of the day sets in and while the animals are still out and about. The whole of day nine is spent exploring the wilderness of Etosha Park in search of wildlife and birds. We drive via watering holes that attract animals and birds, improving our chances of sighting an array of species.
Our game drive takes us into the centre of Etosha Park towards Halali Camp. Along the way we get to admire spectacular views out over the vast Etosha Salt Pan, while spotting the different wildlife found in this central part of Etosha.
During the hottest part of the day we stop at Halali Camp and take it easy, having lunch in the shade. You can visit the watering hole at Halali, unwind at the bar and take a refreshing dip in the pool.
After our lunch break we head into the bush again, taking a game drive to Okaukuejo to the south. This is the oldest rest camp in Etosha National Park and our next overnight stop. Okaukuejo serves as the central hub of administration in Etosha and is home to the Etosha Ecological Institute.
Okaukuejo's claim to fame is however its floodlit watering hole, renowned for its superb game spotting opportunities. After dinner you are free to walk to this centrally located waterhole to watch the animals that come down to drink under the floodlights. This is a great place to sit back and watch the drama of the bush come to life as the animals interact with each other. Frequently sighted wildlife includes lion, black rhino, tall elephants and a variety of antelope species.
From the wildlife haven of Etosha National Park we journey into one of the most beautiful parts of Namibia, called Damaraland.
First we drive south into the Kunene Region of Namibia, driving via the little city of Outjo where we visit a local bakery for a quick coffee and some sticky cakes. Making our way westwards we drive to Khorixas, formerly the regional capital of Damaraland. After pausing briefly in Khorixas we continue into the more arid northern Namib Desert.
Then we visit the Petrified Forest, our lunch stop. After lunch we take a guided tour of the unique Petrified Forest, with its ancient fossil trees that are of geological significance.
The expansive landscapes of Damaraland make for spectacular scenery, flanked by mountains. Passing through this rugged land of open grasslands broken by towering red-purple granite hills we keep an eye out for roaming wildlife. This region is known for its desert-adapted elephants and is also inhabited by various antelopes and ostriches.
Next up is Twyfelfontein, known for hosting one of Africa's highest concentrations of rock engravings. Twyfelfontein was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site to be declared in Namibia, due to the ancient rock art found here. Stone-age tribes are said to have created most of the older engravings and paintings several thousands of years ago. The San (Bushmen) are also said to have made some of the rock art a few thousands years ago. Our tour includes the rock formation called the Organ Pipes, an unusual local landmark.
We set up camp in the Huab Valley, where we sleep under a blanket of countless stars.
Today we get a good look at the Brandberg Mountain, Namibia’s highest mountain - at 2573 metres above sea level, as we drive out of Damaraland. Leaving the untamed grasslands and granite hills of the scenic Damaraland behind, we journey further west into the northern reaches of the Namib Desert. En route we visit Uis, a small mining village known for its excellent collection of Namibia's famous semi-precious stones.
We then travel through the gravel flats that stretch towards the stark Skeleton Coast, famed for its numerous shipwrecks. From here our drive takes us north along the coast of the icy Atlantic Ocean, via Henties Bay.
We visit Cape Cross to see the massive seal colony found on the rocky shores, before turning south again. The Cape Fur Seal population can number up to 100 000 at times - quite a sight and smell to take in.
Next up is the coastal resort town of Swakopmund, Namibia's top beach holiday destination. Before reaching Swakopmund your guide takes you through some of the adventure activity options, booking activities for you in advance (optional).
Arriving in Swakopmund there is usually some time to stroll around this charming town before the sun sets. This evening you are free to enjoy some of the local nightlife and eat out in town (own expense). Your tour guide can recommend a place for your group to have dinner. There are a great selection of restaurants in Swakopmund, known for its delicious fresh seafood.
On day 12 you are free to explore Swakopmund or participate in adventure activities. Swakopmund is considered the Adventure Capital of Namibia, offering a variety of optional activities.
These activities include airplane and microlight flights over the desert, scenic drives, fishing trips (from the beach or by boat), four-wheel motorcycle (quad bike) trips into the desert and over the sand dunes around Swakopmund, sand boarding trips (also in the dunes), skydiving, surfing, bird-watching and many more options.
Your safari guide will inform you of the activity options before you reach Swakopmund and offer to make advance bookings for you.
Alternatively, you can go sightseeing in the lively town of Swakopmund, visiting the local museum and the Namibian National Marine Aquarium. There are plenty of shops, as well as a lovely beach (the icy Atlantic is not for the faint-hearted) and an open-air African curio and crafts market.
Dinner this evening is not included in the price of the safari and will be for the client’s own account.
Please Note: All extra activities and excursions in Swakopmund are subject to availability and are done at the clients’ own risk and expense.
Leaving coastal Swakopmund today we stop at Walvis Bay, about 40km south of Swakopmund.
We head to the Walvis Bay lagoon just south of the town to see the abundance of marine birds, especially flamingos, found here. Next we stop briefly in Walvis Bay to stock up on supplies before venturing out into the Namib Desert.
Our journey takes us across the vast Namib gravel plains, from where we make the sudden transition into the contrasting mountain desert area of Namibia.
We drive via two scenic passes, the Kuiseb and Gaub, descending to the riverbeds on the canyon floors and then climbing back up the long steep sides enjoying fantastic views as we ascend. Making our way down through open savannahs and farmlands we travel into the fields of shifting sand dunes, with the terrain again changing dramatically.
The towering red-orange sand dunes of the Namib Desert surround us as we cover the short distance to our next destination, Solitaire.
We arrive at our camp near the tiny hamlet of Solitaire in the late afternoon, in time to catch a spectacular sunset over the desert dunes.
Today we rise before the sun so that we can catch the beautiful colours of daybreak. As we venture out into the desert the sun rises and we get to watch the gentle light bring the soft hues of the sands to life, casting dramatic shadows around us. We make our way into the little settlement of Sesriem, en route to the the vast Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Travelling into the sandy sea of dunes we walk through the desert on the last stretch of our journey to Sossusvlei. The desert walk covers about 5km's through the dune fields of the Namib Desert, taking advantage of the cooler morning temperatures. Our drive and then walk to the famous Sossusvlei Dunes offer outstanding opportunities for landscape photography. The intense red-orange colours of the dunes and the sharp contrasts between the shadows and illuminated sands make for visually striking images of this harsh terrain.
The flat salt pans scattered between the dunes break the vivid orange landscape, with their cracked white-clay surfaces. The desolate looking pans are dotted with the silhouettes of gnarled thorn trees and dramatic fallen branches. We keep a look out for wildlife inhabiting this unforgiving desert habitat, including majestic gemsbok or flightless ostriches.
After our morning of exploring the unforgettable Sossusvlei area we drive to the iconic Dune 45, a well-known landmark.
During the heat of the day we travel back to nearby Sesriem for a lunch break and a rest. Later in the afternoon we head back out into the Namib Desert to visit the narrow Sesriem Canyon. This natural gorge was formed by years of erosion from the Tsauchab River and now reveals layer upon layer of sedimentary rocks. We look out for animals and birds drawn to the sporadic pools of water on the canyon floor.
On the last day of our Botswana Delta and Namibia Desert Safari we wake up in the peaceful Namib Desert again, soaking up the silence and open landscapes surrounding us. We have breakfast at our remote camp and then set off on a new route back to Windhoek in central Namibia. Our drive takes us up the austere Remhoogte Pass and into the towering Khomas Hochland mountains.
Near Solitaire we stop in at the N/a’an ku sê Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre to see the resident wildlife. This Conservation Centre covers 500 hectares of wilderness and hosts an educational centre. Various wild animals are tracked and monitored at the centre, where carnivore surveillance data for the greater Namib is collected.
Arriving in Windhoek at about 3:00pm we drop you off at your post-tour accommodation, bringing this memorable Botswana and Namibia Camping Safari to a close. Transfers to the International Airport can also be arranged.
Accommodation is in canvas dome tents, fitted with camping mattresses (about 5 cm thick) each with a mattress cover. Camping chairs with backrests, are provided for all clients and sleeping bags can be hired in advance.
All evening meals are cooked over an open fire by your guide and vegetarians can be specially catered for by request (in advance). Salads and fresh vegetables are served daily, as well as fresh fruit (when possible). Tap water is safe to drink and bottled mineral water can be purchased locally.