Usual group size: min 2 / max 7 passengers
The Northern Botswana Safari takes a maximum of 7 passengers in a vehicle, with 3 passengers given 'middle' seats. It is customary for travellers to swap seats during the course of the safari allowing each passenger a variety of view points and some time 'up-front' with the guide for the chance to make the most of his invaluable knowledge.
Age of travellers: min 12 / max 100 years old
The camp sites used on these safaris are in high density wildlife areas and are unfenced so for safety reasons there is a minimum age restriction of 12 years. Only children over this age can join this scheduled group safari. A private tailor-made safari can be arranged on request to accommodate families travelling with younger children.
On some dates, the Northern Botswana Safari may run in reverse: beginning in Livingstone and ending in Maun. Talk to us at Wild about Africa for more details.
The Northern Botswana Safari is conducted in English.
Activities and driving
On a comfortable mobile camping safari, long driving distances between camps are typical and vary between two and five hours. However, like on this Northern Botswana Safari, these journeys are commonly within the national parks and reserves, and are incorporated into daily game drives with a picnic lunch en route, so the time is not wasted - you will still be viewing wildlife with knowledgeable guides, and enjoying a variety of surroundings.
This type of overland travel enables you to appreciate the subtle changes in the environment as you move from one area to the next, and to learn about the forces that caused these changes and shaped the contrasting landscapes around you. In other words the journey itself can be just as much a thrill as the destination.
High water levels caused by heavier than usual rains in the Angolan Highlands, which feeds the Okavango Delta, and more localized rains in Botswana can make some roads impassable. This may mean that when transferring from one campsite and wildlife area to another your guide may have to detour, taking a longer than usual route to your destination. Consequently driving times on these days can differ to those advised in the safari itinerary.
Game drives are the primary activity on this safari but a mokoro (dug-out canoe) excursion is also included during your time in the Khwai Reserve. Wherever possible a private camp site is booked within the Khwai community reserve (Days 5-7). Walking safaris and night drives are not allowed in Botswana's national parks, including Moremi. However, if you are camping in, or near the Khwai community reserve, these activities may also be possible depending on wildlife movements and local conditions - they are often an added bonus to your safari experience.
A typical day on safari
You'll be woken up a little before dawn (sometime between 5 and 6am depending on the time of year) by one of the camp team calling a gentle koko near the entrance of your tent - knock knock in Setswana. The canvas basin outside your tent will have been filled with warm water for your morning wash and, after freshening up, you'll join the rest of the group around the campfire for tea or coffee and a light breakfast. The best times of the day to enjoy wildlife activities are the early morning and the late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler and the animals are at their most active. As the sun rises you'll head out on your first game drive, hoping to catch sight of predators who are usually most active in the very early morning.
Morning game drives typically last four to five hours depending on what you see. Returning to camp you'll be served a well deserved lunch in a shady spot before whiling away a couple of hours napping, chatting, reading or doing some gentle bird watching. Later in the afternoon the group will head out once more in search of animals as they start to stir, perhaps gathering at a waterhole to quench their thirst.
Returning to the camp just after sun set, you'll usually meet around the campfire for a pre-dinner drink and a chance to re-live the day's memorable sightings. A three-course dinner is normally served under the stars before a night-cap back round the fire and a good night's sleep.
On days spent moving from one location to another, the safari team will break camp just after the group sets off on the early morning game drive. They'll then travel ahead of you to set up at the next site in preparation for your arrival. You and your guide will drive at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the wildlife sightings and changing landscapes en-route. There's often a stop mid-morning for tea or coffee and biscuits, and a relaxing picnic lunch is provided under a shady grove of trees later in the day.
The Northern Botswana Safari includes a light aircraft transfer. The maximum luggage limit on these flights, and therefore the safari, is 20kg (44lbs) per person including reasonable camera equipment. Your luggage must be packed in small squashable bags. This is seldom a problem as light, casual clothing is all that is needed except in the winter months (June to August) when we recommend you pack at least one warm jacket and a thick jumper or fleece along with woollen gloves and a hat.
This comfortable camping safari to northern Botswana includes, transport in a custom-built, open-sided safari vehicle, transfers by road and light aircraft, accommodation, camping equipment, private campsite fees, park entrance fees, the services of a knowledgeable guide and usually three meals a day.
During your safari, drinks such as mineral water, soft drinks, beer, wine and the ingredients for a G&T are included. If you prefer whiskey, vodka or brandy, local brands of these can be included provided they are requested in advance of travel. Drinks whilst in Maun and Livingstone are for your own account and the bill is to be settled directly with the lodge or hotel before you depart.
The mobile camps on the Northern Botswana Safari will be lit by paraffin or oil lamps each evening. An LED rechargeable lantern will be supplied in each tent. Even so, we strongly recommend that you also take with you a good head torch which will let you read a book or catch up with your safari journal at night. We suggest you spend a little money on this essential safari item to avoid a lot of potential frustration in the bush.
A limited laundry service is offered during full days in your mobile safari camp, not on a moving day. Clothes will be hand washed only and the service will depend on the availability of water and on the weather. If you would like items laundered please mention this to your guide or one of the camp team. For cultural reasons we ask you not to include smalls in your laundry. Water and washing powder can be made available to you should you wish to wash these yourself.
If you have any dietary requirements, special requests medical conditions that you would like us to be aware whilst on your camping safari of we ask that you tell us well in advance. A good way to do this is to note these in the 'Special Requests' box made available on the booking form. Whist we cannot always guarantee a special request the safari operators and lodges will always try hard to help.
Visa and passport requirements
It's important that you take responsibility for checking that you satisfy any visa and immigration requirements for the countries to which you travel on this trip. Only you know your own circumstances, and visa regulations do change periodically, often without any warning or announcement.
Having said that, even though it remains your responsibility, we'll always do best to advise and help where we can. Firstly, we recommend most strongly that you check that your passport will have at least six months left to run when you travel - we recommend a validity of nine months to prevent any problems. Secondly, that you will have at least 3 clean pages for each time that you pass through customs (these must be visa pages, not pages for amendments and endorsements which are found at the back of some passports). Most countries require this, and we have had recent reports of Namibia, South Africa & Kenya actively enforcing this restriction and refusing entry to those who don't comply. (If you will be passing through customs in more than one country, you need to make sure that you have sufficient blank pages for entry and exit stamps at each destination.)
Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission directly rather than rely on our comments below, but to help you do this here are some notes relevant to your trip. If you are at all unsure of which countries you are visiting or passing through, or have any queries at all, please contact us immediately. We would be happy to guide you where we can.
Botswana and South Africa: It has long been the case that most nationalities do not need a visa for holidays in Botswana or South Africa.
Zambia: Most nationalities do require a visa for Zambia, although these can easily be bought on arrival in US dollars cash. For most nationalities, the cost of a single entry visa is currently US$50 and the cost of a double entry visa is US$80.