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Full Tour Description
This tour has been organised as a Luxury Mobile Tour staying on private campsites. We will camp the days 2-4 and day 6 - 11. In total 9 nights. We start and end with a night in a Lodge to get organised and also half way through we will stay one night in a Lodge. The camp is moved by a truck ahead and will have been erected upon arrival at the new campsite. This maximises the time we can spend birding/game driving.
We are sleeping In "classic" walk-in safari tents of 10 sqm and 2 m height in the middle, on single beds with mattresses, which are situated, each on one side of the tent. The beds can also put together. All linen will be provided, there is an electric light and mosquito spray, soap, body lotion and drinking water on the bedside tables. The en-suite part is connected at the back-end of the tent, which can be opened by a zipper. The ensuite part has no roof and is made of canvas. The toilet is a seat over a hole in the soil and can be "flushed" by a scoop and some sand. On the other side hangs the "bucket-shower", which will be filled by the Staff from the outside. On the frontside the tent has an awning where a mirror-table with two wash-basins is placed. On the early morning wake-up call warm fresh water is provided. In the camp there are possibilities to charge batteries.
Day 1 - 14th of October- Arrival at Maun
After the international flight from your home country we will take the connecting flight from Johannesburg to Maun, where we will arrive at midday. Our guide will wait for us at the airport and take care of the transport to our Lodge to refresh a bit after a long journey. We will stay in the Tamalakane River Lodge.
Thamalakane River Lodge is placed on the banks of the Thamalakane River, just 19 kms from Maun, and en route to the famous Moremi Game Reserve. Character en-suite stone chalets, some with private splash pools are positioned in the shade of the riverine forest, overlooking the river. Chalets, public areas and the swimming pool take advantage of the 180 degree view of the riverbanks lined with fluttering reeds visited by an ever changing array of water fowl and birds. It is a delightful place to come home to after a tiring day.
In the afternoon we will take a boat ride on the Thamalakane River. We will be looking for special species including Hartlaub’s Babbler, Slaty Egret, Swamp Boubou, Lesser Jacana, African Mourning Dove, Pygmy Goose and other aquatic species, e.g. herons, egrets, ducks, dabchicks. All of which may be seen on this stretch of the river.
Day 2/3/4 - 15th - 17th of October- Central Kalahari Game Reserve
To avoid a long (and not very interesting) drive by open 4 x 4 game drive vehicle we have organised a private charter flight to take us to Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Larger than Denmark or Switzerland, the 52,800 square kilometre Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which was set up in 1961, is the second largest game reserve in the world. Situated right in the centre of Botswana, this reserve is characterised by vast open plains, saltpans and ancient riverbeds. Varying from sand dunes with many species of trees and shrubs in the north, to flat bushveld in the central area, the reserve is more heavily wooded in the south, with mophane forests to the south and east. Rainfall is sparse and sporadic and can vary from 170 to 700 millimetres per year.
Game viewing is very good for giraffe, brown hyena, warthog, wild dog, cheetah, leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu, red hartebeest and springbok.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is inhabited by bird species such as Arrow-marked Babbler, Bradfield`s Hornbill, Barred Owl, Bateleur, Ant-eating Chat, Three-streaked and Black-crowned Tchagras, Plum-coloured and Cape Glossy Starlings.
The more arid central and south-west areas (including the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) support Ostrich, Gabar and Pale Chanting Goshawks, Black-breasted Snake Eagle, Greater Kestrel, Kori Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Caspian Plover, Double-banded Courser, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Pied Barbet, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-capped, Sabota, Fawn-coloured and Rufous-naped Larks, Grey-backed Finchlark, & Capped Wheatear.
We will do birding/game drives in the early morning and in the afternoon with 4 x 4 open game drive vehicles. We will come back for lunch to our camp and have a rest. Dinner will be in the open air under the african stars if weather permits or in case of rainy weather in the special mess tent.
Day 5 - 18th of October- Maun
Today we will fly back to Maun where we will stay another night in Tamalakane River Lodge. This is a stop in between the semi desert area and the wetlands in the north of Botswana. We will have an easy, relaxed day to give the Staff time to replace our camp.
We have several options to go birding around Maun. We can do a tour on foot into the Maun Game Sanctuary which Borders the Thamalakane River and has varied broadleaved, acacia and palm woodland. Along the river side of the sanctuary many species may be spotted and there is rich birding in the woodland, including Red-necked Falcons, Red-billed Helmet Shrikes, and Crimson-breasted Boubous. Bat Hawks have been recorded here.
There are also several antelope species (including Red Lechwe), giraffes, zebras and warthogs in the sanctuary.
We can also do a birding tour further afield, to the Boteti River area south of Maun. We will go by open safari vehicle to various points along the river where we can birdwatch from the vehicle and on foot. This river, the continuation of the Thamalakane, is seasonal and dry, or reduced to pools, from about late April / May to mid August. The birding there, especially from November to May, is spectacular and Slaty Egrets, Rufous-bellied Herons, Pygmy Geese, Lesser Jacanas, Purple and Lesser Gallinules, Lesser Moorhens, Swamp Boubous, Red-winged Pratincoles are just some of the sought-after birds which are often seen there. Storks, ducks, herons, ibises, spoonbills and pelicans are regularly attracted to the river and its pools. There is rich woodland birding adjacent to the river too.
Day 6/7 - 19th - 20th of October - Khwai
In the northwestern corner of Botswana is the inland delta of the Okavango (18,000 square kilometres) where the Kavango River spreads out into a maze of channels, lagoons and backwaters, creating the largest Ramsar site in the world.
Habitats range from open grasslands (seasonally flooded) and palm fringed islands with tall stands of mature woodland, to ample Papyrus and Phragmites which line the waterways and lagoons, and lush riverine forests along the riverbanks. The threatened Wattled Crane and Slaty Egret have their global stronghold in this area. Other special birds include: Pink-backed Pelican, Rufous-bellied and White-backed Night Herons, Pygmy Goose, African Skimmer, Pel`s Fishing Owl, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Pink-throated Longclaw, Red-winged Pratincole, Chirping Cisticola, Long-toed Plover, Swamp Boubou, Bat Hawk, Western Banded Snake and Long-crested Eagles, Carmine Bee-eater, Narina Trogon and Brown Firefinch.
After breakfast we take another Charter flight, this time to Xakanaxa. We will be picked up at the airstrip and go for a boat ride (approx. 4 hours). After the boat ride we will drive through the Moremi Reserve to our next place, Khwai, where we will stay for 2 nights. Khwai is one of the most beautiful places in Botswana as well as being very rewarding in terms of game viewing. It is situated in the north-eastern part of the Moremi Wildlife Reserve.
Day 8/9 - 21st - 22nd of October - Savuti
Recognised as a prime game viewing area, the Savuti, covers almost 5,000 square km in the south west of Chobe National Park. The area promises sightings of endangered wild dog, which is said to be the most efficient hunter in Africa. Large concentrations of lion follow the annual zebra migration intently, and leopard and cheetah are to be seen.
The western edge of Savuti is encircled by the Magwikhwe sand ridge, 100 km long and 20 metres high, which is the ancient shoreline of a super-lake that covered much of northern Botswana. It is difficult to imagine that this harsh dry landscape was once submerged beneath an enormous inland sea. A channel from the Linyanti River once fed the now dry Savuti Marsh, which is the deepest part of the Mababe Depression and is the only part to have filled with water in recent history.
Sometime around 1888 it started to dry up and remained completely parched until 1957. Camel-thorn acacia trees established themselves in the channel and along the banks and grew to full size. During unexpected floods these trees were drowned but as the channel and marsh dried out again, the dead trees became one of the most prominent features of the landscape.
Today, parts of Savuti are almost desert-like with a scorching sun and hot sand, while at the other extreme are vast grass plains full of game, reminiscent of Tanzania's Serengeti. These rich grasslands are boosted into fecundity by summer rains, at which time huge herds of zebras migrate south from the Linyanti to gorge on the abundant grazing. Savuti also contains a number of pans that hold water for months after the rains, enabling animals to remain long into the dry season. Another strikingly different terrain found in Savuti, are the Gubatsa Hills. Formed some 980 million years ago during volcanic movement, these dolomite rock outcrops create a series of extraordinary hills. They rise to an astonishing 90 metres high, out of a completely flat landscape.
Large Secretary Birds and Kori Bustards are often seen strutting around the Savuti marsh and small Red-billed Francolins provide us with a noisy morning wake up call. Interesting summer migrants and water birds include Abdim's Storks, Carmine Beeeaters and even Fish Eagles. Little Quelea Finches are quite a spectacle as they gather in their thousands. They reach a frenzy of numbers in about April when a single flock could contain tens of thousands of these small twittering birds.
Day 10/11 - 23rd - 24th of October - Chobe
Next to the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park is probably Botswana’s next most well known conservation area. It is a diverse area, from the border at the Chobe River, to the now dry Savuti Channel, and beyond to the borders of the Moremi Game Reserve / Okavango Delta. The Park is best known for its concentrations of elephant – some 120 000 individuals, along with good numbers of buffalo, antelope and predators. Birding is also excellent, with many migrants visiting from November to March. It has the Pel's Fishing Owl, a favourite for bird watchers and the peculiar strangely beaked African Skimmer. Some interesting specialities indeed.
The Chobe River area contains an interesting variety of habitats and is rich in plant life, with mopane woodland, mixed combretum, sandveld, floodplain, grasslands and riverine woodland. Many trees have suffered considerable damage from the high numbers of elephants, who push them over and rip off the bark - and some woods have been totally denuded. The most popular area in and just outside Chobe National Park is the short 15 km stretch of Chobe River from Kasane town to the Serondela campsite. Few people come to Chobe without taking a trip on this river to see hundreds of hippopotamuses and crocodiles.
Day 12 - 25th of October - Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
After breakfast we will leave our camp to go to Kasana and further on to Kazangulo where where we will cross the border into Zimbabwe. We will need to buy a visa for those who did not buy one before, and then we will go on to the Victoria Falls. The trip to the Victoria Falls will take about 2 hours.
The Victoria Falls constitutes one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. The Local people call it "Mosi-oa-Tunya" -- the smoke that thunders and the Falls are remarkable. There is a magic about them manifested in the towering column of spray when the river is high, the thunder of the falling water, the terrifying abyss and tranquil lagoons upstream in which hippo and deadly crocodiles lurk.
The Victoria falls is 1708 meters wide, making it the largest curtain of water in the world. It drops between 90m and 107m into the Zambezi Gorge and an average of 550,000 cubic metres of water plummet over the edge every minute.
Remarkably preserved in its natural state, Victoria falls inspires visitors as much today as it did David Livingstone in the 1860's. The falls and the surrounding area have been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialisation.
Victoria Falls offers some amazing opportunities to view some rare and exquisite bird life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Over 600 species of birds can be found at this extraordinary location. The area surrounding the Victoria Falls experiences unique climate which makes bird watching in this area both challenging and rewarding. You can expect to see Great White Egrets, Open-billed Storks, Owls and Egyptian Geese. Yellow-billed Kites, Pygmy Kingfishers and African Pied Wagtails are also relatively easy to spot around Victoria Falls.
The area surrounding the falls is a rainforest and is home to many different species of exotic birds. Area specials include Rock Pratincole, Schalows Turaco, Taita Falcon, Bat Hawk, Western-banded Snake Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Dickinson’s Kestrel, African Finfoot, Lesser Moorhen, Allens Gallinule, Lesser Jacana, Grey-headed Parrot, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Pels Fishing Owl, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Half-collared Kingfisher, Collared Palm Thrush, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Brown Firefinch, Green-winged Pytilia. Today we will give the option; relax in the lodge, visiting the Victoria Falls or going out for birding and wildlife viewing.
We will stay the night in the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.
Day 13 - 26th of October - Last Day
The last morning we again have the option to visit the Victoria Fall or to go birding, but everybody is free to choose. After lunch we will go to the airport to get our flight back to Johannesburg and take our connecting flight home.
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