Okavango Delta safari in Botswana

“Two weeks of Botswanan beauty,with game walks, wild camping and even a trip into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls. Rude not to really.”

Highlights

Okavango Delta | Mokoro canoe ride | Makgadikgadi Salt Pan | Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls | Chobe River cruise | Chobe National Park | Game drives on Savuti Marsh | Moremi Game Reserve | Maun

Description of Okavango Delta safari in Botswana

This sixteen day Okavango Delta safari holiday in Botswana focuses not only on the world famous wetlands, Africa’s largest at over 15,000km² reaching out in different directions across the Kalahari Desert, but also other natural and cultural wonders of northern Botswana. Such as Chobe National Park, one of the most wildlife filled parks in Africa, particularly famous for its elephants of which there are as many as 100,000. The Savuti Marsh is also part of the park, a wetland fed by the eponymous river and where annual rains attract massive gatherings of wildlife greats such as zebra, lion and wildebeest.

The Moremi Game Reserve is another of Botswana’s beauty spots, differing from national parks because it was founded by local communities to put a stop to hunting and overdevelopment that was threatening the wide array of wildlife that favour these magnificent habitats. These include elephant, lion, leopard and cheetah as well as over 400 bird species which thrive on the wetlands and islands.

The Okavango Delta itself is, of course, the highlight for many travellers, although a trip over the border into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls is one spectacular diversion. However, there are few things in the world that beat the experience of travelling through the Okavango in a traditional canoe, or mokoro, with local ‘polers’ telling tales and identifying the creatures that inhabit the landscapes they have been stewards of for generations. From hippos to giraffes, lions to elephants, we have thankfully two days here to explore on land and on water.

This holiday is all about being out there in the wilderness, with eleven nights of fully serviced camping, staying in two person tents. There are also two nights in hotels.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Okavango Delta safari in Botswana

Environment

Accommodation & Meals:
You will spend most nights full service camping and two nights in a standard hotel. We predominantly use small businesses for accommodation in order to keep investment local and benefit the communities we visit directly. Campsites used are either locally owned, or a percentage of their income goes towards, schooling, or nature conservation & community projects. We strive to always leave a campsite in a better condition than when we arrived and to use gas whilst cooking instead of using limited firewood resources. Almost all meals are provided and your local tour leader will endeavour to source fresh produce wherever possible. Meals might include fresh fruit, cold meats and cheese, potjies (stew) or braais (barbecue) etc.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Community:
We spend three days and two nights the polers from the Poler’s Trust in the Okavango Delta. This is a community based project, which was formed with the aim of creating an eco-tourism business which would benefit all of the people in the area. By using these facilities and going on boat tours with the Poler’s Trust, we ensure that we are helping the local community by providing employment and supporting environmental initiaves. At this camp, you can also explore the many facets of traditional African life, which promotes cultural exchange: participate in BaYei and Hambukushu music and dancing, see how delicious local food is made and buy handmade souvenirs like woven baskets.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise on the wildlife, environment and culture that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. By supporting and employing these people we are helping to ensure that their wildlife areas, scenic beauty and historical significance generate value for the community and are therefore appreciated and protected from development and exploitation. For example, we employ local site guides in Chobe National Park.

Charity:
Our local partners support the Save Our Sausage Trees initiative in Botswana, which aims to address the issue of depleting forests in the area. The Mekoro is a boat used by the people of the Okavango Delta and it is crafted traditionally out of a single mature Kigelia Africana tree (or sausage tree). Although increased tourism has had some obvious benefits to the area, this has also brought a higher demand for Mekoro boats and therefore more trees are being cut down. As a wooden Mekoro only lasts about 5 years, there are hundreds of these trees being felled per year and not enough to sustain this. We have consulted with the Okovango community, and we have agreed to pay half the price of a fibreglass Mekoro if a poler wants to purchase the other half, in order to save the trees.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Okavango Delta safari in Botswana

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 19 Apr 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing wildlife at really close quarters - the time the leopard strolled through our camp.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take dollars and lots of torch and camera batteries (and a headband mounted torch). Don't be too quick to book tours with the tour operators agent in Zambia. They didn't impress us. Take the Bradt guide to Botswana.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


**** - but only if the friend was able to rough it a bit.

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the leopards.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you are aware that the camping is very basic - no mod cons here! Toilet is hole in ground with a plastic chair on top - shower is bucket in tree and this has to do two or three showers! According to the itinerary, Moremi would be full of wildlife which indeed it was. We then went on to Nata and the salt lakes expecting to see a bird sanctuary and vast numbers of birds but there were none! This was because it is the dry season and therefore there was no water to lure the birds - we were all disappointed in this, although the salt lake was very tranquil. If we had known the aforementioned we would have spent more time in Moremi instead and scrapped the visit to Nata.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Am sure that our holiday benefited local people and possibly no impact on the environment as limited time spent in each location and site always left how we found it.

4. Any other comments?


Beware if travelling with South African Airlines - no leg room at all - absolutely awful if on a long haul and we all caught fleas even though the cabin was sprayed with insecticide! Everyone agreed that no way would they travel with that airline again - although service on the plain was good. Overall the holiday was fantastic, wild life great, the food excellent and although no mod cons you soon realise how little we really need to live day to day and how much we take for granted over here. A very satisfying holiday. Would go again.

Reviewed on 10 Jun 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It will be very hard to be brief but I will try to do so. Firstly it is very rare to return from a holiday 100% satisfied but in this case we did. The most memorable part of the holiday was the locations of the campsites. Right there in the midst of the wildlife. On warm nights, scented with wild sage, we drifted of to sleep to the sounds of hippo's deep bellied chuckles, lion's roars and elephant's trumpeting. Magical!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


My first tip to other travellers is my only gripe. And this really was the fault of the operator. We were informed that we might be required to pay $60 each for a visa in Zambia, but that no one had ever had to pay it yet. In fact it is always payable and is, at present $65. The lady who met us said she frequently tells the operator this but unfortunately they ignore her. There are very few expenses but tipping is expected and so it is advisable to carry small denomination notes. Dollars, Pula or Sterling are all acceptable. There is little opportunity for changing travellers cheques. We took 30 tennis balls and 4 Frisbees to give to the children we met. Better for them than sweets and much more fun than pencils. To see the huge grins on their faces was wonderful. Travel with an open mind. It was a bit primitive but well worth it to be so close to the wildlife.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Botswanan people were used throughout. Our guide, Mr Fish, was wonderful. His knowledge of, and ability to spot,wildlife was just amazing. We had a chef and two camp helpers, all locals, and all fantastic. We hardly had to lift a finger. Everything possible was done to minimise impact on the environment. The campsites were left entirely litter free and we even stopped to clear up litter left by other people. Great care was taken to ensure that while we enjoyed watching the animals we did not interfere with or annoy them.

4. Any other comments?


How would we rate the holiday? Well it is up there with the best. A bit expensive for basic camping but we appreciate that that keeps the number of tourists down. there is little opportunity to get away from the group so it is essential to try and get on with everyone. I could go on for pages about all the fantastic things we saw and did. I got to swim in the Okavango Delta! How cool is that. The animals were plentiful and all in such good condition.

We have safaried in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe but agree that Botswana is far the best. Thank you for recommending this trip.

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