BOTSWANA WILDERNESS WALKING SAFARI
BOTSWANA TRIP PLANNING
What to expect on this trip
Meals are specially prepared over the fire and served in the dining tent by our very own safari chef. Meals and snacks are abundant and fresh despite the remote setting. Our safari chefs pride themselves on being able to prepare quality meals despite it being over the fire, guaranteeing surprise and awe from our guests. Alcoholic beverages, sodas, juice and water are provided throughout the safari. In major towns such as Gaborone, Maun and Victoria Falls, you will be booked on a bed & breakfast basis.
Specific dietary requirements are catered for provided we are notified when making your booking. Be aware that specialist gluten free/vegan foods are not always available in Botswana so please discuss your particular requirements with us prior to your safari. Any food allergies should be noted well in advance to ensure they are properly prepared for.
In order to prepare for the walks on this trip, we encourage you to exercise 3-4 days per week for 1-2 hours at a time for several months leading up to the trip. Activities such as biking, hiking, walking, skiing, and running are great for conditioning. Please consult your physician about your participation on this safari if you have any concerns regarding your health. In general, the key to having a great experience is having an open mind, a flexible attitude and an adventurous spirit!
Kalagadi: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is located in southwest Botswana. Walk Botswana has exclusive use of the region for mobile walking safaris with just a small group of operators, so it is very unusual to see other safari groups when visiting this region. Although it is not a popular game viewing area, it is rather unique due to its remoteness and for the opportunities it provides for interacting with local communities. The silence here is incredible - a place you really feel that you have all to yourself. The local community has a strong desire to develop this region into an area where the community benefits from wildlife tourism rather than just poaching. In general, Botswana is not known for its cultural interactions as East African countries are, so being able to include this region on a trip is rather special, with exposure to genuine bushman tribes who live as they have for ages. Any interactions with bushmen are incredibly educational, observing not only the level to which they ‘know’ the bush and the landscape around them, but also the holistic way in which they do things. The bushman slow life down with such grace and provide insights to the natural world around them that are truly magical.
The geography of this region can feel quite barren with the habitat mostly acacia savannah and sweeping golden grasslands. There are striking white salt pans scattered around which are often bordered with red sand dunes on the southern side. It is important to note that seeing animals in this area is a benefit rather than a given. Animals we may encounter here include eland, gemsbok, springbok, meerkats, red hartebeest and certainly birds(desert species you won’t see in the Delta), as well as warthog and ostrich. There are also lions, cheetah, brown hyenas (very unlikely to see in the Delta), aardvark and more.
The best time to visit the Kgalagadi, is from late April to early August. It will be warm during the day and quite chilly at night, with comfortable conditions for walking. Heading into September through November, the Kgalagadi region can get quite hot and thus walking safari conditions are less ideal.
The Okavango Delta: The Okavango Delta, a popular game viewing area, is the other main region of Botswana that we visit. Here we have the potential of seeing the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) on foot depending upon the time of year. This is more of a landscape-based experience and game viewing can be seasonal and of course like most genuine wildlife experiences, not guaranteed. Rhinoceros sightings are highly unlikely; however, elephant sightings will be common and definitely a special experience. Lions and leopards can be skittish while encountering humans on foot, but we do see them from time to time. Game such as giraffe, zebra, impala and kudu are also daily sightings for walking safaris.
Charter flights: Charter flights are typically included in our itineraries; these aircraft are light and very compact. A certain amount of stepping and bending is required to get into the seats and passengers are more likely to experience travel sickness in these small planes than on larger commercial flights.
Game Drives: If you have opted for the “hiker” or “stroller” categories, you will have the option to go on game drives. These excursions at the camps/lodges are in open 4x4 safari vehicles. Due to the nature of the terrain the roads are often bumpy and can be a little strenuous for passengers. Open vehicles also expose travellers to the elements more than closed vehicles, meaning greater exposure to the sun in summer and cold winds in winter. Generally safari vehicles have a canopy overhead to minimise exposure to the elements; however, at times we do not use them in order to enhance photographic opportunities.
Seasonal Considerations with Walking Safaris: In winter (May – September), expect warm temperatures during the day and very cold nights in accommodations with canvas walls. Hot water bottles, extra blankets and ponchos may be provided to keep you warm in camp and on your game drives. In summer (November – April) you will experience hot days and nights with rainstorms in the afternoons. It is imperative to increase your fluid intake considerably, to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion, symptoms of which include but are not limited to migraines and nausea. In September and October both the days and nights are incredibly hot and may cause discomfort. See temperature chart below.
REGIONS WE VISIT
A Typical Safari Day
The day starts with the rising of the sun. Your wake-up call will be between 5am and 6am - a gentle “koko” (‘knock knock’ in Setswana) at the entrance of your tent. Your wash-hand basin will be filled with steaming hot water and freshly made tea and coffee will be served around the campfire. Wake up to the warmth of the morning sun at the dawn of a new day. A light breakfast will be served before the early morning game drive. We do our best to get out as early as possible as this is key game viewing time of the day.
During the morning activities you will undoubtedly stop for coffee and a little morning snack overlooking a beautiful scene. Having spent the morning exploring the surrounding wilderness in search of Botswana’s hidden treasures either on foot or game drive, you will return to camp for a bountiful lunch spread. We sporadically do a bush lunch in a separate location to your camp to change the scenery for you and then return to camp afterwards. Commonly, just as the animals retreat to escape the heat of mid-day, so will you. This is your time to enjoy reading, chatting, taking a shower, just relaxing or taking a nap, the well-recognised ‘siesta’ time of the day. If you are on an explorer’s walking safari, we do spend some of the lunch and siesta time of the day out in the bush rather than returning to camp, especially during days where we are walking from one location to another. In this case, we will be carrying lunch with us or have a bush lunch set up where we too will take a little snooze mid-day to recuperate for the rest of the days walk.
Later in the afternoon you will head out into the wilderness once more as the animals awake from their days slumber and gather at the watering holes to quench their unforgiving thirst. As the sun sets on the horizon, one can only marvel at the sheer splendour of an African sunset and with refreshments in hand, toast to the wonder of nature. We do warn you that this is prime game viewing time of the day, so don’t be surprised if our guide shivy’s you back onto the car for some more game viewing action with your drink in hand! On your return to camp, you can enjoy a hot shower under the starry night sky and gather around the warmth of the camp fire with your fellow companions to relive the day’s events and excitement. Enjoy a three-course dinner served with a selection of wines against the magical backdrop of the African night sky. Retreating to the comfort of your tent after enjoying a night cap around the campfire, you can fall asleep to the calls of the African wild. Good night!
On moving days, the safari team will pack down the camp, travelling ahead in the back up vehicle to prepare the camp for your arrival at the next location. When travelling between locations, the route is most commonly through the parks and reserves and is therefore an extension of your daily game drives. A picnic lunch can be enjoyed en-route.
It is important that you arrive in Gaborone from your international flight one night prior to the first day of your safari. South Africa Airways offers direct flights from New York City airports to Johannesburg, South Africa with good connections to Gaborone. We will arrange a pre-tour hotel in Gaborone upon request.
Your safari will end in Maun, Botswana unless you choose to book an extension to Victoria Falls (Walk Botswana can arrange transfers and accommodations for this extension - see Zimbabwe extension). You may book your return international flight departing from Maun on the afternoon of the final day of your safari, however to play it safe, we advise spending a night in Maun after your safari and booking your international flights out for the following day. We can assist with booking post-tour accommodations for you if this is what you choose.