Arrive in Windhoek and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your tour leader scheduled for the evening. With a population of 230,000, and an altitude of 1654m, Windhoek is the capital of Namibia. Windhoek was originally the centre of a Nama leader, Jan Jonker Afrikaner, who defeated the Herero inhabitants of the region in the mid 19th century. Windhoek became the seat of colonial rule in 1892, as the capital of the colony of South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). They built a fort that eventually spanned a town that grew under its protection. During World War I, Windhoek was captured by South African troops and became a British dominion. Until the independence of Namibia was inaugurated in 1990, Windhoek was recognized as the capital of South West Africa as administered by the South African government. The city of Windhoek was traditionally known by two names: Ai-Gams, by the Nama people, which literally refer to the hot springs that were once part of Windhoek, while the second name, Otjomuise, meaning a place of steam, was given by the Herero people. Both traditional names refer to the hot springs.
Approximate Distance: 470 km Estimate Travel Time: 5 Hours Today we continue through the eastern part of Namibia, and cross into Botswana and travel into the heart of the Kalahari. Get a glimpse of how the San adapted to the Kalahari Desert. Learn fascinating wilderness survival skills by local Bushmen on an optional Bushman walk. Evening Sundowner drink at the “GAT” old quarry (included). Ghanzi, located western part of Botswana on the northern rim of the Kalahari Desert, is the administrative center of Ghanzi District, and is also known as the "Capital of the Kalahari". Ghanzi is an intriguing town, and is primarily a farming community that supplies the Botswana Meat Commission with most of the required beef produce. In fact, it is the starting point of a 800 km long cattle trek—one of the longest in the world. Cattle are driven on horseback or by truck across the Kalahari southeastward to slaughterhouses at Lobatse. Ghanzi mostly consists of a variety of ethnic cultures for instance the Bushman, Bakgalagadi, Baherero, Batawana as well as Afrikaners. Other spellings include "Gantsi," which is more consistent with the national language of Botswana, Setswana, "Ghansi," and "Gantsi." Stay in traditional bushman huts tonight.
Approximate Distance: 330 km Estimate Travel Time: 5 Hours (depending on border crossing). Today we travel along the northern portions of the Kalahari Desert throughout the day - this is a severely arid, barren, though awesome landscape. After arrival in Maun, the biggest town in the Okavango Delta area, you can pick up any supplies and prepare for your 1 night/2 day journey into the Okavango Delta. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and has for a long time enjoying the reputation of being Botswana’s own frontier town. Today it is one of the fastest growing towns in Africa. It was originally established in 1915 by the Batawana, a splinter group of the Bangwato. The name Maun means “place of reeds”. Maun, although officially still a village, is the fifth largest town in Botswana. It is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native huts. Maun is the "tourism capital" of Botswana and the administrative centre of Ngamiland district. Maun has developed rapidly from a rural frontier town and has spread along the Thamalakane River. It now boasts good shopping centres, hotels and lodges as well as car and 4-wheel drive vehicle hire. It still retains a rural atmosphere and local tribesmen continue to bring their cattle to Maun to sell. This community is now distributed along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe can still be seen grazing next to local donkeys, goats and cattle.
Estimate Travel Time: 3 hours After leaving some of our luggage in Maun, we begin our fantastic 2 day/1 night excursion into the delta as we drive in customized safari vehicles about 1-2 hours (depending on which dock we go to) to the "dock" where we hop into a mokoro, a dug-out canoe that will take us deep into the delta. After a 1-2 hour mokoro trip, we arrive at our basic “bush camp”. For 2 days, enjoy game walks, mokoro trips (occasionally unavailable due to seasonality), birdlife and game viewing in the pristine wilderness area of the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta. Note: If you pre booked the Okavango by plane theme pack, you should be flying today. "Where all this water goes is a mystery", Aurel Schultz, 1897 The area of the delta was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 square km of the desert. Each year some 11 cubic kilometers of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami. The water entering the delta is unusually pure, due to the lack of agriculture and industry along the Okavango River. It passes through the sand aquifers of the numerous delta islands and evaporates/transpirates by leaving enormous quantities of salt behind. This precipitation processes are so strong that the vegetation disappears in the center of the islands and thick salt crusts are formed. The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding, which begins about mid-summer in the north and six months later in the south (May/June). The water from the delta is evaporated relatively rapidly by the high temperatures, resulting in a cycle of cresting and dropping water in the south. Islands can disappear completely during the peak flood, then reappear at the end of the season.
Approximate Distance: 200km Estimate Travel Time: 2.5 Hours Enjoy one last sunrise in the delta before travelling back to Maun by mokoro. We stop in Maun, pick up our luggage, have lunch and continue to the village of Gweta, located near the bizarre salt pans of Makgadikgadi. The town is situated between the larger towns of Nata and Maun and is on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans, an immense area devoid of anything but salt and shimmering horizon. Makgadikgadi pan consists of two main pans, namely Ntwetwe and Sowa pan, both of which are surrounded by myriad smaller pans. Although it is totally devoid of any water, people used to live there before it was declared state land. Villagers were allowed to graze their livestock inside the boundaries during dry season. Upon arrival in the afternoon enjoy a village walk which will be conducted by Gweta’s village representative. All guests will be shown various aspects of village life such as visiting the traditional doctor, the “smouses”, the village entrepreneurs and viewing the ‘kgotla.’ We will visit the primary school where the children will be dressed in traditional attire and demonstrate some traditional “Motswana” dancing… every dance has a story to tell!! (not possible in school holidays or weekends). Time permitting, enjoy an optional sunset tour to one of the smaller pans (Nxaisini Pan) – leaves around 16h00/17h00 latest. (Min 4 x pax) Nxaisini Pan is a small pan about 15km away from Gweta with a natural spring that supplies the resident animals. Guests will be transferred in an open vehicle to Nxaisini pan where they will sit amidst the wild, enjoy sundowner snacks while observing the amazing scenery and sunset behind the old beautiful baobab.
Approximate Distance: 150km Estimated Travel Time: 1,5 hrs We stay 50km north of the pans at Elephant Sands. Go on an optional gamewalk in the conservation area of the state forests. This is a hunting area and all of the "big 5's" are present. It is well known for the Elephants that roam the area and they even get into the camp for a quick drink of water out of the swimming pool.
Approximate Distance: 370km Estimate Travel Time: 4.5 Hours Today we journey to the area of Chobe National Park, home to the largest elephant population in Southern Africa. The best way to appreciate one of Botswana's national parks and its thousands of resident elephants, crocodiles, and hippos, is on an optional sunset boat cruise on the Chobe River. You may also choose to embark on a game drive in search of lions, antelope, and of course elephants. Kasane is situated on the banks of the Chobe River, near its mouth. This is where the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet, creating a border area of four countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, and is situated along the Chobe River. It has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa and one of the world's last remaining sizeable wilderness areas. By size, this is the third largest park (11,000 sq km) of the country, though it is definitely the most diverse and spectacular. The park is probably best known for its spectacular elephant population: with over 120,000 it has the highest elephant concentration of Africa. Moreover, most of them are probably part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population on Earth. The elephant population seems to have solidly built up since 1990, from the few initial thousands. By chance, they have not been affected by the massive illicit exploitation of the 1970's and 1980's. Elephants living here are Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of all known elephant species. Yet they are characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks. Damage caused by the high numbers of elephants is rife in some areas. In fact, concentration is so high throughout Chobe that culls have been considered, but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected. During the dry season, these elephants sojourn in Chobe River and the Linyanti River areas. During the rain season, they make a 200 km migration to the south-east region of the park. Their distribution zone however outreaches the park and spreads to north-western Zimbabwe.
Approximate Distance: 80km Estimate Travel Time: 3 Hours (depending on border crossing) Cross the Zambezi River by ferry to enter into Zambia and continue to Livingstone. We will spend the last two days of our tour here, a great base to see both natural wonders and take part in some exciting activities. Get up close (and wet from the spray) while awing at the immense Victoria Falls, raft the whitewater of the mighty Zambezi, and for the more adventurous, bungee jump with the Victoria Falls in view. Tonight you will participate in a drumming session before enjoying a traditional African braai (BBQ) on your last night in Livingstone. David Livingstone was born on March 19, 1813 in the village of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. He first studied Greek, medicine, and theology at the University of Glasgow and while working in London, joined the London Missionary Society became a minister. He originally planned to gain access to China through his medical knowledge. The Opium Wars, which were raging at this stage with no signs of peace on the horizon, forced Livingstone to consider other options. From 1840 he worked in Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana), and in the period 1852–56, he explored the African interior, and was the first European to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfall, which he renamed Victoria Falls after his monarch, Queen Victoria. The Victoria Falls waterfalls occur in a country that is perfectly flat. From its source on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Zambezi River meanders for 1300 km across the wooded plateau of Zambia, eroding for itself a shallow valley on its mild descent to the site of the falls. The river eventually found a weak spot on the lower lip of the surface over which it passed, and forced a passage which was steadily deepened into an exit gorge. During the last half million years the river has scoured out eight of these cracks across its bed. The Victoria falls occur where the river is 1688m wide, presents the spectacle of an average maximum of 550 million liters of water a minute tumbling over the lip of the trench in five main falls, the Devil’s Cataract, Main falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow falls and the Eastern Cataract. The highest of these is Rainbow falls, on an average 108 m high. A peak flood sees 750 million liters of water in one minute hurtling over the falls. The name Zambezi comes from the Tonka tribe, also meaning Great River, but the Sotho-speaking Kololo people of the upper reaches of the river gave it the well-known name of Mosi o a Thunya (smoke that rises). The Lozi people call it by the same name but translated it into smoke that sounds. The Ndebele call it aManza Thunqayo (the water that rises like smoke). The Namibian people call it Chinotimba (a noise-making place like the distant sound of digging).