Dunes, Deltas and Falls
Day 1 Livingstone
Arrive in Livingstone and make your way to the camp site. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your CEO scheduled for the evening. Please make sure you have all of the necessary visas for this tour by the time of the welcome meeting. It is very important to read the Visa section in our trip details to make sure which visas you will need, if any. Please note that not all nationalities are able to obtain a visa on arrival at the border. *Please note: if you have pre-booked the Okavango Delta Flight your CEO will inform you when you will do the activity throughout your tour, days are subject to change: Okavango Delta Flight (Day 5 - Okavango Delta). For more information on the Extra see the Optional Activities section. Livingstone is 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. Please note that the entrance fee to the Victoria Falls is not included in this tour. 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).
Day 2 Livingstone (1B)
Approximate Distance: 120km Estimate Travel Time: 3.5 Hours Today we will cross the border from Zambia to Botswana. The name of the border posts are Kazungula border post on both sides. Botswana visas is not available at the border, so please make very sure if you do need a visa before arrival. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Botswana. The currency in Botswana is Botswana Pula (BWP.)You will be able to money in Kasane To arrive to Chobe National Park in Botswana, you will cross the Zambezi River 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 all the Africa continent and one of the world's last remaining sizeable wilderness area. 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.
Day 3 Chobe River (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 350 km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs Today we head south from Chobe National Park travelling to Gweta. When the rain comes, it brings life to the pans, as it fills just a few centimetres awaking the dormant fish and aquatic shrimps from the mud. The surrounding grasslands also team with life and are home to an impressive number of antelope that attract a wide variety of predators. What is known today as the Makgadikgadi Pans is only a relic of what used to be one of the biggest inland lakes Africa has ever seen-Lake Makgadikgadi. The Makgadikgadi pan consists of two main pans, Namely Ntwetwe and Sowa pan, both of which are surrounded by myriad smaller pans. The pans are situated between the Nata-Maun road and the Francistown-Orapa-Rakops road. The pans are about 12 000 square km. Makgadikgadi Pans National park is situated 162 km east of Maun and 143 km west of Nata (to the left of the Makgadikgadi pans). It was declared a game reserve in 1970, but in December 1992 it was enlarged and declared a national park. Today it comprises 4900 square km. It was initially state land. Although it is totally devoid of any water, people used to live there before it was declared state land. Villagers where allowed to graze their livestock inside the boundaries during dry season.
Day 4 Gweta (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 250 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Accommodation: Basic bush camping Once we are in Maun, you can pick up any supplies and prepare for our excursion into the Okavango Delta. We recommend you buy a 5 litre bottle of water to take with you into the Delta, this should be sufficient to use as drinking water but also for cleaning purposes. Or if time permits take the optional flight over the Okavango Delta. Note: if you have pre-booked the Okavango Delta Flight, you will be flying on Day 5. 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 After a night camping outside of Maun, leave extra luggage with the overland truck, then begin the exciting excursion into the delta and travel about 1-2 hours (depending on which dock we go to) to the "dock" where we hop into a mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe, that'll take us deep into the delta. After a couple hours in mokoro, we arrive to our basic “bush camp”. Please note that there will be no shower tonight, as our camp is very basic in the wild - you will be compensated by the incredible landscape and wildlife! On the morning of Day 6, enjoy the mokoro ride into the delta along with birdlife and game viewing in the pristine wilderness area of the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta. In the evening count the shooting stars, sing with the locals or just unwind and enjoy your sundowner and sit around the campfire. 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 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.
Day 5-6 Maun/Okavango Delta(2B,2L,2D)
Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs Set off early from the delta and pass through Maun before continuing through the western part of Botswana, the heart of the Kalahari to Ghanzi. 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. 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."
Day 7-8 Kalahari/Windhoek (2B,2L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 580 km Estimate Travel Time: 8 Hours (depending on time at the border) Today we will be crossing the border from Botswana to Namibia. The name of the border posts are Transkalahari border post on the Namibian side and Mamono post on the Botswana side. We have been experiencing a lot of problems with people that need visas for Namibia. Namibian visas is not available at the border, so please make very sure if you do need a visa before arrival. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility, so please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Namibia. The currency in Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (N$). You will be able to change money in Windhoek. Please note that this is a COMBO tour. Some of you group members might leave in Windhoek and you might also get new members to your group. Windhoek is the capital of Namibia, It has a population of 230,000 and is a major trade centre of sheep skins. Windhoek was originally the centre of a Nama chief, who defeated the Herero inhabitants of the region in the 19th century. Germany occupied the region in 1885, and it became the seat of colonial rule in 1892, as the capital of the colony of South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). 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. It continues today as the capital of the Republic of Namibia. The city of Windhoek is traditionally known by two names: Ai-Gams, from the Nama people, which literally refers 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 reference the hot springs.
Day 9-10 Etosha National Park (2B,2L,2D)
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. Upon arrival in the area in the afternoon, we continue on a game drive around the huge dry pan to find the elephants, herds of antelope and lions around the waterholes. After sunset you can watch some animals at the watering holes near the camping area, which is safe, being well lit with flood lights. Game drives are done in our overland vehicle. Night game drives are done by Namibia Wildlife Resorts in open vehicles (optional, at extra cost). The following day, enjoy another game drive en route as we travel towards the eastern side of Etosha. 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. Etosha National Park in Namibia was first established in 1907, when Namibia was a German colony known as South West Africa. At the time, the park’s original 100,000 sq km made it the largest game reserve in the world. Due to political changes since its original establishment, the park is somewhat less than a quarter of its original size, at 22,912 sq km, but still remains a very large and significant area in which wildlife is protected. 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. Periannual 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 (our first night’s camp) 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. Namutoni, our camp for the second night in the park, was named after a spring found in the area. The waMbo called the spring oMutjamatund (high landmark). The name got distorted through the years. In 1903 a small fort was built at Namutoni, and it was maintained as a police outpost and customs post by the Germans.
Day 11-14 Damaraland/Spitzkoppe/Swakopmund (3B,3L,2D)
Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimate Travel Time: 8 Hours (including game drives) Enjoy one last morning game drive, and begin moving south into the stony desert landscapes into Damarland. In the afternoon explore the area, which is adorned with rock engravings and petrified fossil forests. About 100 000 Damara people live in Namibia, they share a common language with the Nama but have no kinship. The Damara have mystified anthropologists as they are a group of Bantu origin who speak a Khoisan dialect. Due to their resemblance to some Bantu groups of West Africa it is speculated that the Damara were the first people to migrate to Namibia from the north. There is evidence that the Damara have kept small herds of stock for centuries, they also grow tobacco and pumpkins, and in more recent time they have begun cultivating vegetables and corn. Prior to 1870 the Damara occupied most of central Namibia, but large numbers were displaced or killed when the Nama and Herero began to occupy this area in search of better grazing. When the first Europeans visited Namibia the Damara were a group of semi-nomadic gardeners, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers. They also had skills in mining and metal work. However in 1960 the South African government settled the Damara people in the area of Twyfelfontein and Khorixas, now known as Damaraland. The area has poor soil and irregular rain fall, and as such this has changed the way of life of the Damara and many now work in urban areas, with only about one quarter of their numbers actually residing in Damaraland. This area is a famous for the bushmen paintings found in the region. The valley is known in the Damara language as Uis (fountain). This natural spring (when is flowed) attracted game animals and man. But the consistency of water flow has always been erratic, thus the Europeans named it Twyfelfontein (Doubtful fountain).There are numerous well-preserved rock engravings here. Their origin is uncertain, but they are probably the work of Bushmen or Nama artists and are estimated to have lived in the area 5 000 years ago.
Day 15-16 Namib Desert (2B,2L,2D)
Travel to the granite peaks of Spitzkoppe. Enjoy sweeping views of the beautiful landscape, and camp in the bush to really get close to nature. Explore on your own by foot, and be sure to check out the night sky—it's great for star-gazing! Our basic bush camp will have long-drop toilets and no running water.
Day 17-18 Fish River Canyon/Gariep River (2B,2L,2D)
Heading south through Damaraland, en route if time allows, we’ll have a chance to visit some of the local attractions, such historic rock engravings, a petrified fossil forest, or see the “organ pipes”. We will spend 2 nights in Swapokmund, here you can explore this historical town or try some of the numerous activities available, such as dune boarding and a dolphin cruise. Also, eet our local friends and explore the back streets and local culture on guided interpretive walk. Swakopmund has mind-boggling lunar landscapes, unforgettable sunsets, and bizarre prehistoric Welwitchia plants. The Topnaar people who live in the valley of the Swakop River derived the name from the mud, flotsam, and general detritus washed down during its infrequent floods, which reminded them of very loose evacuation of the bowels. 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 will see the band of mist. In 1486 Portuguese Diego Cáo landed just north of what is now Swakopmund and erected a stone cross in honour of John II of Portugal. Known nowadays, as Cape Cross, the area is commonly visited by tourists looking for the large population of Cape Fur Seals that inhabit the coast. NOTE ON ACCOMMODATION: In Swakopmund, we stay in backpacker's (hostels) or small guest houses, which will give us a break from camping and to be better located than the campgrounds in the area. Here, the accommodation is based on several people sharing dormitory-style rooms, with possibly 6 to 8 people sharing a room. Although we will try, we cannot guarantee to be able to divide the group into different dormitories based on gender lines. As such, males and females may have to share the same sleeping quarters for these nights. The bathrooms and showers are private, but may also be shared between both males and females
Day 19-20 Cederberg/Cape Town (2B,2L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimate Travel Time: 7 Hours Day 8-9 Namib Desert (2B,2L,2D) Day 8 Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimate Travel Time: 7 Hours Day 9 Appriximate Distance: 95km (excluding drive to Sossuvlei) Day 8 Arrive in the area in the afternoon where we will be camping on a private farm on the edge of the Namib Desert. Here you can do a walk with a local expert who will explain the desert and its mysteries to you. Day 9 We will leave early morning towards Sossuvlei campsite, where the towering red sand dunes of Sossusvlei form the gateway into the Namib Desert. Here you will really feel as though you’re in the middle of nowhere. The afternoon is spent exploring this 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 can take a guided walk at the sands dunes, and enjoy some free time to enjoy them on your own. Also, make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, a small canyon typical of the area, and invisible from even a short distance away. 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 toc tokkie beetle who leans forward to allow droplets of morning mist run down its body into its mouth.
Day 21 Cape Town (1B)
Approximate Distance: 560 km Estimate Travel Time: 9-10 Hours (including canyon visit, excluding dune 45 sunrise.) After sunrise we journey to Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa, and arguably the second largest in the world. Spend some time here taking in the majestic beauty of the canyon, watch as a spectacular sunset slips over the canyon's rim. We'll take some time for lunch in the area, we will continue south as we slowly leave the Namib desert behind us. At 650 kilometres in length, the Fish River is Namibia’s longest river. Its source lies in the eastern Naukluft Mountains and flows south-west of Ai-Ais into the Oranje. The canyon itself is situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, and is one of the most impressive natural formations of southern African. It is approx 161 km long, 27km wide at its widest point and 550m deep. It is the oldest canyon in the world, formed approximately 500 million years ago, with some rocks at the bottom dating up to 2600 million years old. The canyon was formed in part by glacial movements (upper section), movement of tectonic plates, and erosion. Four wet periods, or pluvial periods, have occurred in the south-western part of Africa during the last million years, resulting in a large run-off of water, which sped erosion. The plateaus are 220m from the base of the canyon. Catfish can be found in the Fish River below, and they are known to survive the dry season by burrowing into the mud until the water returns. It’s a very slow moving and shallow river – more like a stream. Water levels are normally highest during February until April. The highest recorded temperature at the bottom of the canyon was 58 C.