AT A GLANCE
This is one of our most popular safaris. It provides a great combination of some of Southern Africa’s biggest attractions. We will start in Windhoek and after a four day visit to Etosha National Park which is Namibia’s and one of Africa’s biggest and best known parks, we will continue up to the Caprivi Strip of Namibia.
Here we will explore the lesser known Bwabwata and Mahango National Parks as well as the big rivers in the Caprivi, the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi Rivers. Finally we will move on to Chobe National Park in Botswana and finish off in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We will do lots of game drives and boat cruises and stay in top quality lodges along the way. We can extend this safari to include Sossusvlei and Damaraland in Namibia as well as the rest of Botswana and/or Zimbabwe.
This Private Guided Safari can be booked for any date as per your planned travel dates
Windhoek to Etosha National Park
After breakfast at your hotel in Windhoek, your guide will load your luggage into the vehicle, and we will set off northwards towards our exciting first destination of this safari; Etosha National Park!
Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is encircled by magnificent mountains, expansive valleys, fertile farmlands, lodges and luxury guest farms. The landscape of the Greater Windhoek area surrounding this bustling (small) city is characterised by vast valleys, thick scrub, rocky hills, and covered in golden savannah. It sits at 1,700 metres (5,600 feet) above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Hochland plateau area between the Auas and Eros mountain ranges. Windhoek is home to about 400,000 people at a low density of only 63 people per square kilometre and has over 300 sunny days per year. There are several nearby reserves and conservation entities that will interest nature lovers, including Daan Viljoen Game Reserve, Avis Dam and Na’ankuse.
The drive to Etosha will take about 4 to 5 hours, but it is a fantastic way to get to know the “lie of the land” here in Namibia. We will pass through Okahandja (known as “the garden town of Namibia”) before passing close to both Okonjima Nature Reserve and the Waterberg Plateau National Park. The next town we go through will be Otjiwarongo, one of the fastest growing towns in Namibia and home to a large population of German-speaking people. Next up is Outjo in the Kunene region of Namibia. Apart from being known as the main gateway to the southwestern section of Etosha, Outjo is also home to REST, the Rare and Endangered Species Trust, where fantastic work is being done with species such as vultures and pangolins.
We will make a few stops along the way to stretch our legs and have a bite to eat. We will reach our lodge just outside the Andersson gate in the afternoon, and if there is time we will go for a short game drive inside the park.
We will settle in at our comfortable lodge, have dinner and enjoy our first taste of Namibian cuisine, and then have a good night’s rest; there is much excitement to come!
Etosha National Park (Southwestern side)
We will explore the southwestern side of world famous Etosha park today, going for a morning drive after breakfast and returning to our lodge for lunch and a break in the heat of the day.
Undoubtedly one of the great parks of Africa, the huge Etosha National Park in north-central Namibia’s Kunene region covers more than 22,300 km2 (8,620 sq mi) and is synonymous with big game and wide open spaces. The name Etosha actually means “great white place” referring to the massive (130km/80mi long and 68km/42mi wide) dry saline pan in the middle of the park, believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago, and one of the most inhospitable places on earth. A local Bushman/San legend about the formation of the Etosha pan tells of how a village was raided and everyone but the women slaughtered. One woman was so upset about the death of her family she cried until her tears formed a massive lake. When the lake dried up nothing was left apart from a huge white pan.
Etosha is home to a staggering amount of wildlife, both common and rare, including several threatened and endangered species. The mammal list is at over 110 species, including African Elephant, White and Black Rhinoceros, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Giraffe, Spotted Hyaena, Zebra (2 species), Greater Kudu, Springbok, Gemsbok (Namibia’s national animal), Common Warthog, Impala (and the localised Black-faced subspecies), Honey Badger and many more. It is the best place in the world to see Black Rhinoceros. Very rewarding wildlife viewing is practically guaranteed in Etosha!
In the drier months of the year, almost all the animals tend to congregate around the waterholes dotted around the massive park. They come to drink water and are inevitably followed by predators; this allows us to sit and wait at some of the waterholes and wait for the action to come to us. This is what sets Etosha apart from other parks in southern or east Africa; unique indeed!
We will return to the lodge after our afternoon game drive to enjoy dinner. Remember to look up before settling into your bed tonight – the African night sky, undisturbed by city lights out here in the bush, is truly amazing.
Etosha National Park (Southwestern to eastern side)
We have another full day to enjoy Etosha today, but we will also slowly make our way to the eastern side of the park, where we will overnight today. We will stop at Halali camp in the middle of the park for lunch.
Your guide will decide, with your input as to your fauna and flora sighting preferences, what the best routes will be to follow. All our guides know Etosha intimately and will make sure you see all that this great African wildlife park has to offer.
The dominant vegetation in Etosha is Mopane Colophospermum mopane. The western areas of the park support mainly mopane scrub, whereas there are extensive woodlands of tall trees in the southern parts. One of the most spectacular trees in the park is the African Moringa Moringa ovalifolia, or “ghost tree”, a unique and sometimes grotesquely shaped tree. The second most common species is the Red Bushwillow Combretum apiculatum, known locally as “kudu bush” because Greater Kudu and other game species browse the nutritious leaves, whilst rhinos consume entire branches and elephants prefer the bark.
Etosha not only boasts some fantastic trees and mammals, but also has a bird list of more than 350 species, including regional specials like Kori and Ludwig’s Bustard, Secretarybird, Blue Crane, Violet Woodhoopoe, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Pallid and Montagu’s Harrier, Ruppell’s Parrot, Pygmy and Red-necked Falcon, Bare-cheeked, Black-faced and Southern Pied Babbler, Yellow-throated and Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbill, and Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser. We will naturally look for these on our drives in the park, as well as around our lodge grounds.
Etosha is also home to smaller mammals like Meerkat, Banded and Yellow Mongoose, Scrub Hare and Southern African Spring-hare, as well as rare one like Temminck’s Ground Pangolin, Aardvark, Aardwolf and Cape Porcupine. Over 110 reptile species also occur in the park, along with 16 amphibian species and up to 50 species of fish during flood years.
Tonight we will be at another comfortable lodge just outside the park’s Von Lindequist gate in the east, where we will sit around a fire after dinner, chat about the day’s sightings and enjoy another spectacular African night sky.
Etosha National Park (eastern side)
We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in Etosha’s game-rich eastern section today, returning to our lodge in the heat of the day for lunch and to relax.
Named a game reserve in 1907 by the governor of then-German South West Africa, Etosha was elevated to the status of national park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa which administered South West Africa during that time. Since then it has become one of the main reasons visitors from all over the globe come to Namibia, and annual numbers are over 200,000. Although Etosha is best known today as a spectacular refuge for an abundance of animals, it is also a part of the world that is providing critical evidence for the existence and evolution of ancestral animals. The rocks in the hills near Halali camp have revealed fossil life as old as 650 million years!
One of the great features of the camps inside Etosha is the floodlit waterholes at the perimeter fence, where guests can sit and enjoy game coming to drink only a few metres away; a special treat that to remember forever!
Etosha is also a photographer’s dream, with the contrasts in light, colour and textures particularly dramatic. Many a guest’s “lifer shots” of African animal and bird species were taken in this park. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular, so better get those cameras and phones ready!
After another fantastic day in the park, we will return to our lodge and freshen up. We will then enjoy dinner and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we are off to the Caprivi!
The Okavango River
We will leave Etosha relatively early this morning after breakfast, making our way northeast. We are heading for the Caprivi, one of Namibia’s (and southern Africa’s) hidden secrets. The Caprivi with its lush green woodlands and big wide rivers is completely different from what we have experienced in Etosha, and a further illustration that Namibia is not all dust and sand!
Caprivi, or the Caprivi Strip or just “the panhandle”, was named after German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi, who negotiated the acquisition of the land in an 1890 exchange with the United Kingdom at the infamous Berlin Conference. Caprivi arranged for the strip to be annexed to German South West Africa in order to give Germany access to the Zambezi river and a direct route to Africa’s east coast, where the colony of German East Africa (now part of Tanzania) was situated. The river later proved unnavigable and inaccessible to the Indian ocean due to the largest waterfall in the world, the Victoria Falls, being in the way! During the 1970s and 1980s the Caprivi Strip was at the heart of the Namibian war of liberation, with the South African defence force hunkering down along the entire stretch of land. At Namibia’s independence in 1990 it became one of the thirteen regions of the country.
The panhandle protrudes eastward for about 450 km (280 mi) from the north-eastern corner of Namibia, and is about 32 km (20 mi) wide on average. Thanks to generous annual rainfall, it is a land of fertile, flat floodplains surrounded by perennial rivers, and something completely different from the arid rest of the country of Namibia. The Caprivi is bordered by Botswana to the south, and by Angola and Zambia to the north, and crossed by the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi rivers. Its largest settlement is Katima Mulilo, a lively commercial town on the banks of the Zambezi.
The area is incredibly rich in wildlife, and has become an ecotourism hotspot, with massive growth potential still to be realised. Within Namibia the Caprivi Strip provides by far the most significant habitat for the critically endangered African Wild Dog. It is also an important corridor for African Elephant herds moving from Botswana and Namibia into Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Apart from wildlife viewing, other Caprivi activities include angling for Tiger Fish, boat cruises and canoe trips on the rivers, while other attractions include Popa Falls and Impalila Island.
It is a long drive for us today to get to the western side of the Caprivi, but it will be worth it. Our lodge is situated on the banks of the mighty Okavango river, with stunning views.
The Okavango river begins in Angola, and then flows into Botswana, draining onto the Moremi Game Reserve, a total length of 1,600 km (990 mi). Before it enters Botswana, the river drops 4 metres in a series of rapids known as Popa Falls, a favourite with photographers.
Depending on our arrival time, we can either relax at the lodge or do a late afternoon game drive in nearby Bwabwata National Park, or even go for a sundowner boat cruise on the river.
We will enjoy dinner and a good night’s rest while listening to the sound of hippos in the Okavango…
Bwabwata and Mahango National Parks
After breakfast this morning we will do a mixture of game drives in Bwabwata and Mahango National Parks, as well as a boat cruise on the Okavango river if we didn’t do one yesterday afternoon.
These two parks form the “Mahango Core Area”, as well as being part of the much larger Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) that incorporates 16 parks in 5 countries over its vast 520,000 km2 (201,000 sq mi) area. Bwabwata National Park, or just “Buffalo” to the locals, is named after a village in the reserve and means ‘the sound of bubbling water’, and was established in 2007. The park is 6,100km² (2,350 sq2 miles) in size and extends for about 180km from the Okavango river in the west to the Kwando river in the east, with Angola to the north and Botswana to the south. On the eastern side of the Okavango river is the other smaller part of the core area, namely Mahango Game Reserve. It was established in 1986 and covers an area of 24,462 hectares (95 square miles).
It is a flat region of grassland, swamps, shrubland, floodplains and riverine woodland, with a few sand dunes on the horizon. The deciduous woodlands are dominated by trees such as wild seringa, false mopane, camelthorns and Zambezi teak.
The parks are home to almost 100 large and numerous small mammal species, including African Elephant, big herds of African Buffalo, plenty of Hippopotamus, the rare Roan and Sable Antelopes, Greater Kudu, Red Lechwe, Sitatunga, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, the vulnerable Spotted-necked Otter and many more.
Almost 450 bird species have been recorded in these two parks and surrounds, including regional specials like Black-winged Pratincole, Slaty Egret, Wattled Crane, Western banded Snake Eagle, African Skimmer, African Pygmy Goose, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-backed Night Heron, Allen’s Gallinule and Dickinson’s Kestrel. The area is recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.
The parks also contain almost 1,000 flora species in 88 different families, along with many reptiles (including Nile Crocodiles), amphibians and fish species.
A favourite and famous spot in Bwabwata is Horseshoe; as the name suggests, a large oxbow lake on the Kwando river with picturesque white-sand beaches, surrounded by beautiful Zambezi teak woodlands.
Between game drives we will have lunch back at the lodge while enjoying more stunning views of the Okavango river. We will also return to the lodge for dinner and another night under the great African sky.
The Kwando River
We start the morning with breakfast after which we proceed further east along the Caprivi Strip.
After a drive of about 3 hours we will reach our next lodge and have lunch. It is situated on the banks of the beautiful Kwando river. The Kwando, also spelled Cuando sometimes, is 731 km (454 mi) long and runs from the central plateau in Angola into the Linyanti swamp in the north of Botswana. Below the swamp, the river is called the Linyanti river and, farther east, the Chobe river, before it flows into the mighty Zambezi river.
In the afternoon we will explore this section of the Bwabwata National Park, or maybe even venture into the 737 square kilometres (285 sq mi) Mudumu National Park, with a mixture of game drives and boat cruises. We will see elephants, and plenty of them! Besides the pachyderms, we will try and find African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Sable and Roan Antelope, Lechwe, Sitatunga, Tsessebe and many other mammals.
From an avian perspective we will look for all the local specials we looked for yesterday, along with other great birds like Rufous-bellied Heron, Black-faced Babbler, Swamp Boubou, Collared Palm Thrush, Meves’s Starling, Southern Ground Hornbill, Bennett’s Woodpecker, African Wood Owl and many more.
We will return to the beautiful lodge for dinner and a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we cross the border into Botswana!
Chobe National Park
After breakfast this morning you will be transferred to Kasane, driving through Katima Mulilo, the unofficial capital of the Caprivi Strip and a town that played a vital role in the South African Border War (1966 to 1990) and the Caprivi Conflict (1994 to 1999). Katima, as the locals call it, is located on the banks of the Zambezi river in lush riverine vegetation, and is a haven for an incredible amount of bird species, as well as naughty monkeys!
You will cross into Botswana at the Ngoma gate, which must surely be one of the most scenic border posts anywhere, as it overlooks the breathtakingly beautiful Chobe river floodplain.
The last 60 km of your journey will be in Chobe National Park. The 12,000 km² (4,400 sq mi) Chobe park, taking its name from the river of the same name, covers an incredible diversity of ecosystems, ranging from arid plains and dry channels to fertile grasslands, dense woodland and watery swamps. Its diverse habitats support a high density and rich variety of animals and birds (over 500 species). It was Botswana’s first national park, established in 1967.
After settling in at your lodge in Kasane you will enjoy a sundowner drink while revelling in the great view over the Chobe river. Kasane is a small town bordering Chobe and is the perfect base from which to explore the park. It is not uncommon to have wildlife walking right down the town’s main street! It is close to Africa’s “four corners”, where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe almost meet. The town briefly obtained international fame when actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton remarried here in 1975.
You will enjoy another great dinner at the lodge and fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush; listen for the “good lord deliver us” of the Fiery-necked Nightjar and the “who who, who-are-you” of the African Wood Owl. Africa is special indeed.
Chobe National Park
Your entire day is dedicated to exploring Chobe!
You will do a game drive and a boat cruise and depending on the time of the year, you will decide which to do first.
Chobe is home to some of Africa’s highest concentrations of game, with the region boasting the largest continuous African Elephant population on the continent, about 80,000 individuals at the last count. Seeing these giants crossing, playing in and swimming in the Chobe river is a sight you will never forget.
Apart from the large number of pachyderms, Chobe is also known for its excellent game viewing boat cruises along the Chobe river, which attracts plenty of animals and birds, and offers guests some of the best sunset views anywhere in Africa. In the southwestern area of Chobe lies the Savuti Marsh, hosting some of Africa’s highest year-round concentrations of wildlife, especially predators. Chobe’s Lions are world renowned for having learnt how to prey on African Elephants, occasionally even adults!
You will naturally see lots and lots of ellies, but you will also search for African Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodile, Giraffe, Sable Antelope, Puku (at the southernmost limit of its range), Lechwe, Waterbuck, Bushbuck and huge herds of zebra. Some of the special birds you could see include Southern Carmine Bee-eater, African Spoonbill, Racket-tailed Roller, Copper Sunbird, Brown Firefinch, Orange-winged Pytilia, Slaty Egret, Rosy-throated Longclaw, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Half-collared Kingfisher and White-crowned Lapwing.
Chobe is also famous for being the base for many world renowned wildlife photographers. Many award-winning photos, videos and documentaries have been captured here.
You will be returned to your lodge in Kasane for dinner and a good night’s rest.
After breakfast and a final activity you will cross into Zimbabwe, the third and final country on our fantastic ECCVF safari.
It is a short drive of about 80 km from Kasane to Victoria Falls, and remember to keep an eye out for wildlife as this road is famous for some incredible roadside sightings.
After arriving in the town of Victoria Falls you have the option of going straight to the falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke that Thunders” (the falls visit is an optional extra). It is the largest waterfall in the world by volume, A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. However, no amount of cold facts can prepare you for the sight of the unfathomably vast and powerful falls. It truly is majestic, and a must-see for adventure and wildlife travellers from all over the globe.
After settling into your lodge or hotel in the town itself, you will have the afternoon open for relaxing, shopping at one of the curio markets, or any of the following additional (optional) activities:
• Helicopter flights over the falls and surrounding area (highly recommended)
• Bungee jumping
• Sundowner boat cruise on the Zambezi river
• Half-day birding trip around town and the falls
Dinner tonight is for your own account, but we can gladly assist in suggesting one of the many excellent hotel restaurants in town.
DAY 10: Departure
After a relaxing final breakfast you will be transferred to the nearby Victoria Falls International Airport for your homeward flight, or for your connecting flight to another southern African safari destination (please arrange you transfer directly with your lodge or hotel – this is for your own account).
We can easily extend this safari to include some of the fantastic parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana or South Africa. Please enquire and we will gladly assist.
Do you have a quick question about this safari? Speak to a specialist at
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