Expeditionary safari in Botswana's Okavango

HEAD TO THIS SURREAL ENVIRONMENT IN BOTSWANA TO EXPERIENCE WILDLIFE ON A DIFFERENT SCALE

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Where
BOTSWANA
When
MAY TO SEPTEMBER
How long
6 NIGHTS
How much
FROM £3,200 PP
why
UNREAL WILDLIFE; OUT ON THE WATER; WALKING
staying in
BRILLIANT MOBILE CAMPS

AN EXPEDITON IN TO THE HEART OF THE OKANGO

A MAGICAL MOSAIC OF LAGOONS, WATERWAYS AND ISLANDS - THIS IS AN EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER.

The Kalahari Desert is not a barren land of rolling sand dunes as its name might suggest. Instead it's made up of extensive grasslands, bushveld, low-scrub and tree islands. This is ideal pasture for many large herbivores (elephant, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe etc), which  in turn attracts their predators (lion, leopard, hyena and wild dog). The one commodity that is in short supply however is water, which all large mammals require regularly.

Serendipitously, the Okavango Delta provides water in spades; literally creating a mega-oasis in the middle of a desert.

The best way to understand and exoplore this unique phenomenon is to spend time in both the "wet" and "dry" parts of the delta. The "wet" is an area of thousands of permanent waterways seperated by innumerable islands and the best way to get around here is by boat and on foot.

Counterintuitively perhaps, more water does not necersarily mean more animals, you really can have too much of a good thing. So while the "wet" area is incredibly scenic and the birdlife is amazing and you will see some mammals - notably elephants, hippo, buffalo and the marsh-specialist lechwe  - to witness the best of Okavango's wildlife requires time spent in the dry country on the edge of the delta where the wildlife has access to water but also substantial grazing plains.

We've designed this expeditionary safari to do exactly that - by taking you straight deep in to the wet heart of the delta, camping on islands and exploring by boat and foot; before going on to Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana's richest and most diverse National Park where you'll have a chance to ecounter an incredible array of mammals from aardwolf to zebra.  

Natural High shines rays of adventurous light into some of the least explored, most exciting corners of the wider world”

- Financial Times

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Day 1

ARRIVAL IN BOTSWANA

The speed that you will leave the first world and enter the wilderness is outlandish. An hour after passing through the perfectly conventional and modern Maun airport you'll be aboard an aluminum boat hurtling towards the heart of the delta.   The large four-stroke engine is mercifully quiet so conversation with your pilot guide is possible and it's surprisingly manouverable an comfortable.

Day 2

Exploring the Delta

Your base for the next three days will be an island campsite reserved exclusively for your use. While you may encounter a few other boats while you are out and about, see the odd mokoro (dug-out canoe - now largely fibreglass) and hear the occasional light aircraft overhead the camp has an extraordinarily private feel to it. Large walk-in tents with proper beds and en-suite bathrooms with bucket showers and chemical loos provide plenty of comfort. When not in camp eating, drinking or resting you'll be exploring the vicinty on foot or in the boat. Walking in Botswana's National Parks is forbidden (only permitted on private concessions - along with off-road driving and night drives) although, for reasons that nobody seems particulary sure of, there is a brazen disregard for this particular rule on the islands in the middle of the delta.

Day 3

Pack up the boat

The Okavango Delta largely defies description and really needs to be seen to be believed. It is catergorically not a swamp, in fact the waters are ridiculousy clear, caused by a combination of fact that the water is always moving, but not fast enough to carry much sediment, and great stands of papyrus that act as a massive filtration system.    

Day 4

Dry off in Moremi National Park

After the watery-wildernesss that is the heart of the delta the sudden dry and relatively parched atmosphere of the Moremi can be quite a shock. Persevere however as the rewards are huge. Quite possibly the greatest showcase for Africa's large predators on the continent - and often interaction between them being witnessed - Moremi has a long and rich history of wildlife documentary making and you'll soon see why.

Day 5

Off the beaten track with mobile camps

One of the real strengths of Botswana has been it's long-sighted ablity to manage its parks in such a way that people are not on top of one another - and among the many effective measures facilitating this is the collection of private camp sites that can only be booked on an exclusive basis by a reputable safari outfitter. This allows for incredibly privileged to areas deep with in the park.

While neither "wet" mobile in the delta, or the "dry" mobile in Moremi are participatory - ie all the setting and breaking of camps is done for you and your tents are serviced, it' also true to say that the focus is firmly on what's outside the tent and you won't find any of the theatrical accoutrements such as bone-china tea cups or Persian rugs that are a feature of some of the more flamboyant, and expensive, operators. The meals are wholesome and hearty rather than gourmet but the ability to get you in amongst the action is second to none.  

Day 6

The big game of Botswana

One of the reasons that Moremi holds such a diverse collection of large mammals is that it receives the richest deposits of sediment from the annual floods, thereby producing the most nutritious grasses, that attract the largest herds of antelope - which as sure as night follows day attract predators of every niche.

Couple this with a good range of habitat - both grassland and riparian woodland - and this creates optimum conditons for a fantastic array of antelopes, carnivores and large herbivores.  

Day 7

Homeward bound

From Moremi it's the dry back in to Maun for your flight out and a chance to reflect on the remarkable diversity encountered in the space of less than a week.

A NOTE FROM ROD

INSPIRATION FOR THIS TRIP

Botswana has a well-earned reputation for being the best organised country on the continent, where little goes wrong and where incredibly luxurious lodges are magicked-up in the bang-in amongst awe-inspiring animal interaction. Lovely, but oh so smooth...

I was therefore absolutely stoked to have my preconnceptions shattered and find proper adventure alive and well in the middle of the Okavango. I'd arrived here straight from leading a multi-day expediton through the Kafue National Park in Zambia, a place very close to my heart and a journey that's incredibly hard to beat in terms of both variety and adventure - we'd walked, boated, ballooned, driven and survived a hippo attack on our canoe along the way. I knew the wildlife would be compable, arguably evenly better, but I was pretty sceptical that it would have anything like the same feeling of pioneering travel. How wrong could I be? 

There is something very special about being on board a craft with all your provisions for the next few days; food, drink, tents, bedding, firewood spread around you. Speeding up the channels past multiple elephant and hippo, with my wonderfully laconic host muttering occasionally about time I had not a care in the world. Then sunset came and went, stars appeared and still we motored on, more tentatively now as unable to read the sandbank and ineviatbly beaching ourselves on a few, requiring enterring in to the not entirely croc-free water to man-handle us afloat. Some time in the early part of the night we reached our destinantion and pitched camp and over the next few days explored the watery wilderness that is the Okavango by boat and on foot, taking refreshing dips in water deemed too clean for crocs by the locals, but never did the feeling of freedom, derived by the pure joy of journeying in the unkown that first day ever leave me, it still hasn't. 

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Our experienced travellers include:

Olly Williams
Olly Williams
Rod Tether
Rod Tether
Catherine Ronan
Catherine Ronan

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

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First class. Experts in the holiday adventure field. Great to deal with

"First class! Natural High are experts in their field. All the boxes are ticked which leaves you to travel without any worries. Excellent destinations, superb accommodation and all the logistics are taken care of. Natural High tailor holidays exactly to your needs. Would highly recommend and we will be using Natural High again."

Anonymous

Perfect family Safari!!

"Our family Kenyan safari trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary was perfectly planned by Catherine from the moment we landed in Nairobi, to our last day. We traveled to Ol Malo in Laikipia, Lewa House in Lewa Downs, and Tangulia Mara in the Maasai Mara. Each place offered incredibly talented and informative guides, and gracious, loving staff. The variety of animals we saw was breathtaking. Our grand daughter celebrated her 14th birthday with special pancakes and singing in Ol Malo, and then a beautiful candlelit dinner under the starry night in Lewa. Our 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated at Tangulia Mara with an amazing day watching the migration of the wildebeest in the Maasai Mara, and beautiful intimate dinner party and dancing with the entire staff during the evening.
Thank you, Natural High, for the best trip of our lifetime!"

Anonymous

Fantastic Zambia holiday - South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi

"We cannot thank Natural High and Catherine enough for such a fantastic holiday. During the planning, Catherine answered endless questions from our family and supported us every step of the way in coordinating our separate itineraries (which can't have been easy when we were a party of 11 and all travelling from different locations!). The South Luangwa has become our favourite Africa destination - and Flatdogs our favourite camp! Catherine was very thoughtful in arranging extra surprises for our group as we were celebrating a special birthday. The staff at Flatdogs treated us so well, and they were very open to letting us have large family dinners at various locations around camp. The guides were so enthusiastic the entire week!
We had our own separate holiday afterwards for just the two of us at Chongwe River Camp in the Lower Zambezi. Catherine was so supportive and flexible in helping us identify a suitable camp within an easy distance of Flatdogs, which also provided a different range of activities (boat safaris, tiger fishing and canoeing in addition to game drives!).
All in all a brilliant holiday (Flatdogs and Chongwe were the perfect combination), and everything went so smoothly. We are very much missing enjoying our G&Ts whilst watching elephants in the sunset...!"

Edgar & Alexandra Bailey CR

Absolutely amazing Family Celebration at Flatdogs!

"Outstanding service from Catherine who really understands what we want from our holiday. Catherine always goes the extra mile to choose the very best camps for us; to make sure all arrangements are in place; and to make sure we are treated as special guests when we arrive. This trip was an extra challenge given the size of our group - 11 with age range from 4 to 64 and wide range of "Africa experience" and in choosing Flatdogs, she made the best call possible - it was an amazing trip and could not have been better! Jess, Adrian and all the staff made sure our stay was fabulous; the guides were superb; the accommodation wonderful; and the "treats" -sundowners; brai; pimms; picnic; evening meals together (with hippos, bushbabies and elephants in attendance) and drinks at the fire were all that we could have hoped for - all in all, a really special family holiday."

Anonymous

outstanding organisation and service

"really know the regions they deal with well, excellent organisation of our trip, great understanding of our needs, flexibility and quick follow up, outstanding local representatives, very good pricing. we used them before and will for sure do again."

VCA

 

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