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Botswana - Birds and Mammals Itinerary

Day 1

You will arrive from Johannesburg to Livingstone in early afternoon and transfer to the lodge a short distance from the town.  The idea to arrive a day early before the tour starts is to give you the opportunity to relax after the long flight.  Our tour will commence early the next morning.  No activities are planned for the afternoon, but a private tour to the Victoria Falls could be arranged. 

Day 2

After breakfast, a minibus will take us to the small border crossing of Kazungula, where we will cross the Zambezi River and enter Botswana.  Here, our open safari vehicle will await us and our full time guide will transfer us to our first camping site along the Savuti Channel on the northern edge of the Chobe National Park. 

As we drive through open plains dotted with woodlands and dry river channels, we are bound to see our first game and even make a reasonable list of birds.  Possible encounters include Long-toed and African Wattled Plovers, White-faced Whistling Ducks, African Fish Eagle, Pink-throated Longclaw, Carmine Bee-eaters, African Paradise Flycatcher and Amethyst Sunbird. 

Days 3-4

We will spend two days exploring the Chobe National Park, which hosts one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa and is best known for its huge herds of Elephant and Buffalo. There are estimated 120,000 Elephants in the park and often they can be seen wondering outside the park unperturbed by traffic or people.  The park also offers great Lion and Leopard sightings, while the Chobe River has astonishing amount of Hippos and Crocodiles.  There is a wealth of mammals in the park, including Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Greater Kudu, Bushbuck, Bat-eared Fox, Spotted Hyena and less conspicuous species such as Honey Badger, African Wild Cat, Caracal and Serval.  Botswana's only population of Puku finds its home here too.  The wealth of birdlife is inconceivable and photo opportunities unparalleled.  Our bird list will tot up quickly with species such as Saddle-billed Stork, Dickinson's Kestrel, African Hawk-Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Kori Bustard, Red-crested Korhaan, Secretary Bird, Yellow-billed Hornbill and Caspian Plover. 

Our game drives and walks will take place early in the morning when birdwatching is at its best, but as the temperature increases, we will return to the camp to relax before engaging in activities again in the afternoon.  We will end every day under the sparkling stars by a campfire, with a G&T in our hand (or other beverages which are included in the price!) and enjoy a three-course dinner, prepared by our own cook. 

Day 5

Today, we will leave Chobe and head for the Khwai Community Concession in the north eastern Okavango Delta, next to the iconic Moremi Game Reserve. Our team will dismantle the camp and transport it ahead of us, where they will put it up for us again.

The Khwai Community Concession was established in 1963 when the wife of Moremi III decided to protect a third of the Okavango Delta for future generations and created the Moremi Game Reserve.  The reserve was the first wildlife sanctuary to be set aside by a southern African community on their own land.  As a consequence, the tribe living in the reserve, agreed to vacate the land and created adjacent Khwai Community Concession, where they developed eco-tourism activities and participate in the conservation of the area.

Days 6-7

The Khwai river flows through the concession area and along the edge of the Khwai’s floodplain where some of the region’s most beautiful mature riverine forest is found, including spectacular stands of Camelthorn and Leadwood.  The adjacent acacia and Mopane woodlands, marshes and open grasslands create a varied environment which boasts one of the best game viewing in the Okavango region and seldom fails to deliver some impressive wildlife spectacles.  We will spend two days exploring the area. 

Elephants thrive here and to encounter predators such as Lion, Leopard, Wild Dog and Cheetah we will not need to be lucky.  Mixed areas of broken woodlands and open grasslands are classic hunting territories for them and because the area has been protected for so long, many of them are very relaxed in the presence of the game-viewing vehicles.  Our sightings of them, therefore, could be closer than anywhere else.  Here, we will also have a better chance than in most places to encounter the normally elusive Roan antelope and other ungulates such as Tsesebe, Blue Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Sable and Impala. 

The Khwai region also hosts abundant birdlife.  The forests are home to Black-collared

and Crested Barbets, Woodland and Striped Kingfishers, White Helmetshrike, Southern Black Tit and Bennett's Woodpecker.   The area has a reputation for hosting a high density of raptors and encounters with species such as Bateleur, Steppe, Tawny, Whalberg's and Martial Eagles, Marsh Harrier, African Hawk-Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk and the rare Bat Hawk are possible.   For the waterbirds, we will explore the Okavango Delta on the mokoros, gliding silently on the crystal clear waters.  This is a very relaxing way to encounter species such as Black and Coppery-tailed Coucals, Allen's and Purple Gallinules, African Crake, African Spoonbill, Giant Kingfisher, African and Lesser Jacana, Saddle-billed Stork, African Pygmy Goose, Goliath Heron, Slaty Egret and Wattled Crane. 

One of the highlights of our stay will be a visit by boat to the Godikwe Heronry, the biggest in southern Africa.  This is a spectacular sight with hundreds of herons as well as Darters, Marabou Storks, Spoonbills and Sacred Ibises, all bickering noisily in the trees.  The Pel's Fishing Owl can occasionally be found roosting here in a giant Jackal Berry tree hanging over the water.

Day 8

Following an early morning breakfast, we will leave Khwai area and undertake a slow drive west to Xakanaxa, situated in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve.  The route follows the riverside and floodplains of the Khwai and Manuchira rivers, and then through the Mopane and Leadwood forests, crossing one of the most scenic areas of the Okavango.   The rivers have an unusually high density of Hippos as well as some huge Crocodiles.   Leopard, Cheetah and Lion are common predators along this route as well as two different packs of Wild Dog.   

 As we enter Mopane woodland, encounters with its common residents such as African Hawk-Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, African Harrier Hawk, and Cardinal, Golden-tailed, Bennett’s and Bearded Woodpeckers are all possible.  The more interesting species that we hope to see here will include Red-headed Weaver, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Chin-spot Batis, Arnott’s Chat, Coppery-tailed and Black Coucals, Black-collared Barbet and numerous cuckoos.

As we arrive to Xakanaxa camp in late afternoon, a fully assembled camp and a three-course dinner will await us. 

Days 9-10

Xakanaxa Camp has one of the best locations in Botswana:  to the north and west of the camp is the Okavango Delta, and dry woodlands border the camp from the south and east.  This means that various habitats are in close proximity and these range from wide-open floodplains, marshes, lagoons, papyrus fringed channels, vast stands of Miscanthus and Phragmites, woodlands and savannah.  As a result, the diversity of wildlife is excellent.

Game viewing here includes just about everything imaginable, with Tsessebe, Impala, Steenbok, Blue Wildebeest, Waterbuck and Sable antelopes, African Buffalo, Elephant, Burchell's Zebra and Giraffe being most common. The speciality of the Okavango, the Lechwe, is also confined to this area. At least four prides of Lion are resident here and the area is amongst the best for viewing the endangered African Wild Dog in Africa.  Other predators that we might see in action include the Leopard, Cheetah and both species of hyenas.

The open waters of Xakanaxa attract the magnificent African Skimmer, Yellow-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle, numerous kingfishers and less spectacular, but localised Chirping and Luapula Cisticolas.  At least five species of hornbill are found here, including the magnificent Southern Ground Hornbill, often seen tramping across the open savannah.  The shaft-tailed and Pin-tailed Whydahs, Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah, and a variety of bee-eaters, rollers and weavers add colour to the splendour of Okavango.

It is virtually impossible to point out the wildlife highlights here.  Something special will await us round every corner and provide great photo opportunities.

Day 11

Following an early morning breakfast, we will say farewell to our camp staff and undertake the drive to Maun to catch our flight home.  We might have time for a few en route stops to view wildlife, but even with prolonged breaks, we should reach Maun in the early afternoon.

Please note that a tour to Namibia/Botswana/Zambia could be combined with this tour.  A five day bird and mammal watching post-tour extension to Cape Town, is on offer.  Please click on the link for details.

For more pictures of the tour visit the Gallery.

Trip report 2014

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Mokoro in Okavango

Pied Kingfisher

African Jacana

Malachite Kingfisher

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Greay-crowned Crane in Botswana

Black-bellied Korhaan

Southern Ground-hornbill


African Fish Eagle

Monitor Lizard in Okavango Delta


Leopard in Botswana

Wild dog


Blue Wildebeest