Arrive in Livingstone and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your tour leader scheduled for the evening and enjoy a traditional african braai (BBQ) and drumming session, a good way to 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: 370 km Estimate Travel Time: 4.5 Hours 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. Optional activity at Elephant Sands: Bushwalks
Approximate Distance: 150 km Estimate Travel Time: 1.5 Hours Today we head south 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 1 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). 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. 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 on day 6.
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.
Approximate Distance: 200 km Estimate Travel Time: 2 Hours 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 or game drive in the mornings before we depart to Windhoek. Travelling west towards the capital will take you further into the fascinating country of Namibia. Take an optional city tour, or visit one of the many handicraft markets in this historic city. 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.
Approximate Distance: 450 km Estimate Travel Time: 6 Hours (including game drive in own vehicle). Leave Windhoek and head north to Etosha National Park through the Namibian countryside. Etosha in waMbo means "the great white place of dry water" or “white place of mirages” . As one of Africa’s highlights, the Etosha National Park offers a variety of wildlife and phenomenal natural beauty. Explore the pans and the park on game drives, with excellent opportunities to spot lion, giraffe, elephant, rhino, and antelope. Upon arrival in the area, in the afternoon, continue on a game drive in search of elephants, herds of antelope and lions around the waterholes. Game drives are done in our air-conditioned touring vehicle. Night/Day game drives can be done in open vehicles (optional, at extra cost). The following day, enjoy another game drive in the park. A brief animal count of Etosha National Park: 30 000 Blue Wildebeest; 25000 Springbok; 23000 Zebra; 5000 Kudu; 3000 Hartebeest; 3000 Gemsbok; 2600 Eland; 450 Giraffe; 2000 Elephant; 260 Lions; 20 Black Rhino; 325 Bird species. The Etosha Pan dominates the park. The salt pan desert is roughly 130 km long and in places as wide as 50 km. The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer months, when it attracts pelicans and flamingos in particular. Perennial springs attract a variety of game and birds throughout the year, including the endangered Black Rhinoceros and the endemic Black Face Impala. The name Okaukuejo is derived from oKakwiyo, meaning “place of the fertile women”. It began as a veterinary post created by the Germans during a rinderpest epidemic in 1897. In 1901 a small fort was built here as a military stronghold.
Approximate Distance: 180 km Estimate Travel Time: 2 Hours from Etosha Gate Enjoy one last morning game drive in search of the "Big 5", and begin moving south into the stony desert landscapes. Otjiwarongo is said to mean "pretty place" or "place of fat cattle" - an apt description as the area is well known for its cattle ranching. A Rhenish mission was established here in 1891 and a German military post was established in the vicinity in 1904.
Approximate Distance: 460 km Estimate Travel Time: 6 Hours Today we head south-west to Swakopmund where we will spend 2 nights. Here you can explore this historical town or try some of the numerous activities available, such as dune boarding and a dolphin cruise. Looking out over the beautiful desert landscapes we begin moving east into the interior of Namibia. On this route we pass through a moon landscape and see the imposing Spitzkoppe, also known as the “Matterhorn” of Namibia in the distance. The Spitzkoppe is a well-known landmark between Usakos and the coast. Rising some 700m above the flat surrounding plains, the Gross Spitzkoppe has a height of 1728m. Immediately to the east are the Pondok Mountains, which owe their Afrikaans name to their resemblance to African huts. About 10kms west is the 1572 m high Klein Spitzkoppe. Geologically the area correlates with the Damara Sequence which dates back some 700 million years! Vast amounts of lava were extruded through the Spitzkoppe with subsequent intrusion of granitic magma forming the Spitzkoppe. Erosion has since exposed the granitic cores to form typical Inselbergs, or island mountains. In 1486 Portuguese Diego Cáo landed at what is now Swakopmund and erected a stone cross in honour of John II of Portugal. This is known as Cape Cross is more commonly known presently as a Cape Fur Seal breeding colony. Almost a full four centuries later, the area, then known as South West Africa, was under Germany control. In choosing a location for a port, German captain Curt von Francois chose this site, north of Walvis Bay (an already existing English-controlled port), at the mouth of the Swakop River, for creating an artificial harbour. A military fort was built here in 1892, which was the beginning of Swakopmund. The building of the railway began in 1895. After the First World War, Germany lost occupation and the port/harbour was automatically displaced by Walvis Bay. Namibia is well known for its desolate northern coastline called the Skeleton Coast. Along the West coast of Namibia flows the Cold Benguela Current. Also along the coastline is a very hot desert. What happens is that the cold, moist air from the sea mixes with the warm air from the desert and forms a very heavy mist. This mist over hundreds of years has caused many shipwrecks along the coast and if the sailors survived they soon perished in the unforgiving desert. It is from this, and from all the wrecks and shells of stranded ships along the coast, that the region received its name. As you approach the coastline you may see the band of mist.
Approximate Distance: 260 km Estimate Travel Time: 5 Hours Today you will cross a few dry mountain passes, and descend into the void regions of Namib Desert. The following day is spent exploring the natural wonders of this bizarre environment. You will visit Sossusvlei - a clay pan, enclosed by the world’s largest sand dunes, up to 300m high. Here you will have some free time to enjoy the sand dunes on your own. We will also make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, a small canyon typical of the area, and invisible from even a short distance away. We will spend the nights on the edge of the Namib desert, south of Sossusvlei. Enjoy a sundowner drink at a beautiful lookout point on the farm (included). The name Namib is of Nama origin, with the modern spelling referring to a desert, but a particular part of the desert, specifically a large plain. The desert is classified as either extremely arid or hyper-arid, with a mean rainfall or less than 100mm of rain per year. The dune sands are primarily derived from sediments washed down the Orange River and then moved northwards by the long shore drift plus the dominant southerly quadrant winds. The winds move the sand northwards and inland, trapping it by wave action in coastal embayment. The types of dunes found are Star dunes, formed as a result of wind coming equally strong from all directions; Barchan dunes, crescent shaped and formed where wind is mainly from one direction and with a shortage of sand and the Linear dunes, which are long dunes with sharp crests that tend to lie in parallel rows. They are a result of two dominant winds in the central Namib- Southerly and easterly winds. Linear dunes form in a south to north direction. The 14km long Sesriem Canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River rising in the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains to the east, and flowing through to Sossusvlei. Walking through the canyon takes you on a journey back 10-20 million years ago when sedimentary layers of gravel and sand were deposited and cemented together by lime. The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings. But look a little higher and you might see a lanner falcon or the soaring spread of a lappet faced vulture with a wingspan of 2.6m. An amazing variety of wildlife has adapted to live in this inhospitable place such as lizards that only put 2 feet down at a time and the black tok-tokkie beetle who leans forward to allow droplets of morning mist run down its body into its mouth.
Approximate Distance: 375km Estimate Travel Time: 5.5 Hours Relax and enjoy the morning at our desert lodge, located in a beautiful area with natural wonders. Embark on a morning game drive, take a guided hike in the surrounding area, or just relax and enjoy the desert morning on a rare morning off travelling. In the afternoon, we cross the incredible south-eastern section of the Namib Desert en route to Keetmanshoop for the evening.