Arrive in Livingstone and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your tour leader scheduled for the evening. Enjoy a welcome braai (traditional african BBQ) and drumming session and get to know your fellow travelers. Livingstone is great base to kick-off this southern African adventure, to see both natural wonders and take part in some exciting activities. Contact SAFPAR on arrival on +260 21 3 320606 or visit their website to see what activities they offer – www.safpar.net. 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. 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 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).
Approximate Distance: 80 km Estimate Travel Time: 3-4 Hours (depending on border crossing) To arrive to Chobe National Park in Botswana, you will cross the Zambezi River by ferry at a significant point, where Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet, creating a border area of four countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. You will stay over just outside of the park near the town of Kasane. This afternoon, take an optional game drive in the park, or an afternoon sunset boat cruise along the Chobe River - your best opportunity to view hippo, crocodiles and watch many elephants wallow in the water. Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, and is situated along the Chobe River. It has one of the largest concentration 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.
Approximate Distance: 370km Estimated Travel Time: 4,5 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: 150 km Estimate Travel Time: 1.5 Hours Today we head south from Chobe National Park travelling to Gweta. 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 also visit a 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 to Maun: 200km Estimate Travel Time to Maun: 2 1/2 Hours Departing very early, we travel towards Maun, the base for our 2 night excursion into the Delta. 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. By midday on Day 5, 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 (dug-out canoe) that'll take us into the Delta (approximate time in the mokoro is 1-2 hours depending on which campsite we go to). 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 (or Okavango Swamp), the world's largest inland delta. "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 kms of 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. Accommodation on the excursion is in pitched tents with very basic shared facilities. In the afternoon of day 6, we say goodbye to the Okavango Delta and arrive back in Maun to stay in a comfortable hotel, have a shower, and to be reunited with your luggage. Note: If you pre booked the Okavango by plane theme pack, you will be flying today.
Approximate Distance: 625 km Estimate Travel Time: 8 Hours (depending on border crossing). Today we continue our journey, south-west and into Namibia. Gobabis is situated west from the Buitepos border post, and serves as an important link to South Africa on the paved Trans-Kalahari Highway. Gobabis is in the heart of the cattle farming area, and is considered to be the capital of the east and also known as the "Little Texas" of Namibia. In fact Gobabis is so proud of its cattle farming that a statue of a large bull with the inscription "Welcome to Cattle Country" greets visitors to the town. This area is on the western edge of the Kalahari Desert, and is traditionally in the land of the Herero people. Like many other towns in Namibia, Gobabis developed around a mission station (Gobabis means "place of discussion" in the Nama language), in this case established in 1856 by Friederich Eggert of the Rhenish Missionary Society.