Trip Number: 13815A
Staff: Mary O'Connor
- Experience classic safari camping in idyllic locations
- Enjoy extensive opportunity to observe and photograph African wildlife and birds
- View thundering Victoria Falls
- Guided game drives in customized safari vehicles with knowledgeable
- Two commercial flights within Africa
- All meals, drinks, and gratuities; comfortable lodging
- All entrance and camping fees within the national parks and reserves
Photo: Martha Greason
This nature safari visits some of Africa's most scenic and wildlife-rich areas.
Botswana is one of the last frontiers of African wilderness where the flavor
of unspoiled Africa prevails. After meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa we'll
travel by commercial air to Maun, Botswanato to meet our safari guides. In rugged
SUVs we'll drive to Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai Reserve, Okavango Delta, Savuti
Channel and Chobe National Park for premium game viewing. From Chobe we'll cross
the Chobe River into Zambia to explore the trails surrounding Victoria Falls
as well as visit the historic city of Livingston.
Botswana is considered Africa's success story, with a lack of tribal and racial
conflict, a forward-thinking government, widely available health care and educational
opportunities. Botswana achieved independence in 1966, prior to the discovery
of vast diamond deposits. Since then it has maintained a peaceful democracy
and stable economy. Many Americans first became acquainted with Botswana through
the film, "The Gods Must Be Crazy." It was filmed in the extensive
Kalahari Desert, which covers two-thirds of the country. More recently, the
delightful people of Botswana were introduced to readers who enjoyed the series
by Alexander McCall Smith, the first of which was "Number
One Ladies' Detective Agency."
We'll visit Botswana's verdant northern area, where the Chobe and Okavango
Rivers create one of the most extraordinary wildlife habitats in the world.
This is truly a naturalist's and ornithologist's paradise. The prolific, magnificent
birdlife will delight every visitor. With personalized, classic camping service,
we'll have an experience very different from those who sleep behind concrete
walls. Nothing can compare to the experience of sleeping under canvas, close
to the sounds and sights of the African night. While the mobile camps are not
luxurious, one advantage they have is the flexibility to move in order to follow
the animals, and each tent does have private bathroom facilities "en-suite".
Days 1-3: Our trip begins at the Johannesburg Airport where
we board an Air Botswana flight (included in trip price) to Maun, Botswana.
Here we'll meet our safari guides and head toward the Moremi Game Reserve. This
vast area of northern Botswana is a blended system of reserves separated only
by lines on a map. The animals and birds move without hindrance between Moremi,
Okavango, Savuti and Chobe. This enormous size area together with the diversity
of ecosystems result in making the wildlife of northern Botswana so very spectacular.
We can't predict just how long it will take to reach our first campsite. It
depends on what wildlife presents itself because we'll stop to watch. Over the
next days we can expect to see the "Big African Five" (elephant, lion,
leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhino) plus giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, kudu,
tsessebe, red lechwe, waterbuck, reedbuck, duiker, bushbuck, warthog, hyena,
baboon and vervet monkey in good numbers. Cheetah, sable antelope, eland and
wild dog are also here plus many other species. Soon we'll settle into our comfortable
tents and the routine of early morning, afternoon and sunset game drives that
last up to two hours, then enjoying time back at camp and relaxing over our
delicious meals. Hot water will be delivered to your personal shower upon request.
The camp crew will have it ready and waiting.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Days 4-6: Time to break camp and send it on to our next campsite
in the Khwai River area. By the time we arrive at our new home after a day of
game viewing, everything will be set up and ready. This spectacular region is
in the heart of the Okavango Delta and home to an impressive wildlife spectacle.
Lion and leopard are particularly numerous. By now you'll have been dazzled
by the birds of Africa. We'll be thrilled by the lilac breasted roller, kingfishers,
lesser jacana, coucal, saddle-billed stork, marabou stork, kori bustard, secretary
bird and ostrich. There are too many to name but over the days of our safari
it should be easy to identify at least a hundred.
Days 7-8: Our crew will move ahead to set up the next camp
while we spend our time enjoying the animals and birds with no camp chores to
worry about. What makes safari so fascinating is observing the animal behavior
and interaction. We'll see different animals in the floodplains. In addition
to those named in the first three days, there are sitatunga, crocodile, hippo
and otter. Birds of the wetlands include different storks, flamingos, bee-eaters,
hornbills, and various geese, along with predators such as eagles, hawks, vultures,
owls and others. In this area over 350 bird species have been recorded. This
campsite is in the Savuti area of Chobe National Park, which has the most interesting
human history in the region. Around the evening campfire, our guides will tell
these stories as well as answer our questions about the animal behaviors we
have observed during the day and discuss conservation issues.
Days 9-10: We'll move farther north into Chobe National Park.
This park, which is just over the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is a good
bit larger than Connecticut. It encompasses a wide variety of terrain, from
a lush river region in the north (where myriad game come to drink) and unremitting
dry bushland in the south. Chobe is famous for its herds of elephants. They
trample around everywhere -- 45,000 are said to make Chobe their home. Watching
elephants is fascinating and one cannot help but admire these huge, intelligent
beasts. Nowhere in Africa can elephants be seen in such numbers as in Chobe.
Of course, this is also the kingdom of the big cats and hippos as well and many
species of antelope.
Days 11-12: We'll bid good-bye to our safari guides, cross
the Chobe River and be in Zambia. A bus will be waiting to drive us about an
hour east to the Zambezi Sun Hotel, situated next to Victoria Falls. Of course,
the falls are a world-famous sight with a 350-foot drop and over a mile in width.
It is a sight to behold. After a short walk to get oriented, we'll be free to
explore the various hiking paths on our own. Dinner both nights will be at the
hotel, as will breakfast. Lunches here are on your own, leaving participants
to pursue individual interests. While some keep exploring, others may be relaxing
in the beautiful swimming pool and enjoying the lovely gardens. A bridge crosses
over to the Zimbabwe side of the falls (visa sold on-site and fee is not included)
where there are also many hiking trails. Zimbabwe is not included in our itinerary
and a decision to cross over should depend on political conditions at the time.
On the afternoon of Day 12 an excursion into the historic town of Livingston
is included. The Livingston Museum is renowned for its collection of Dr. Livingston's
memoirs and has exhibits on the art and culture of Zambia.
Day 13: After breakfast we'll leave for our scheduled departure
and flight to Johannesburg where our safari ends. But memories of the safari
sights and sounds will last a lifetime.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Martha Greason
Our nights in the tented camps include spacious and comfortable stand up tents
with two beds (including bed linen), storage space and battery lamps. The bathroom
facilities are attached to the sleeping area so there is no need to go outside
to use them. There is no plumbing but a regular toilet seat sits on a newly
dug short drop hole with material provided to keep it pleasant during the short
stays at each campsite. The shower consists of a five-gallon bucket hanging
six feet above the ground. This is filled with hot water as needed and operated
by a pull cord. A wooden platform keeps one's feet above the water, which is
drained outside. A washstand and basin for each person is filled with warm water,
morning and night. Three delicious, nutritious meals are served every day plus
some snacks. All food, drinks and water are carefully handled so there is no
worry of disease or infection. Drinks included are mineral water, soft drinks,
beer, wine, and gin and tonic while camping. Drinks are not included while at
the Zambezi Sun Hotel, nor are lunches included there.
This trip has been designed for the adventurer and lover of nature and animals.
It is suitable for anyone over 12 years of age in good heath and stamina. We
will be in remote areas very far from good medical services. We will not be
walking while in the game parks nor leaving the immediate campsite on foot because
of the presence of predatory animals. This lack of exercise is difficult for
some so it is suggested to bring a jump rope, Frisbee or something else with
which to get moving. A spirit of adventure and a flexible attitude are most
necessary and will bring many rewards. Safety among the animals should not be
a concern, but it is imperative to follow the safety instructions given. The
camp crew is alert and guarding the campsite at all times.
Equipment and Clothing
No special equipment is needed for this safari. Most participants want to
bring binoculars and camera. A complete packing list will be sent by the leader.
- Lonely Planet Guide to Botswana and Namibia.
- McIntyre, Chris, The Bradt Travel Guide to Botswana.
- Main, Mike, Visitors' Guide to Botswana.
- Moss, Cynthia, Portraits in the Wild. (Strongly recommended to understand
the habits of the big mammals.)
- "Botswana: In the footsteps of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency with
Alexander McCall Smith," a film by Mats Ogren
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Botswana and Zambia face many of the same problems as other African nations
concerning population, land use, and conservation. But unlike many other African
nations, Botswana recognizes the value of wildlife and genuinely wants to preserve
it. Policies regarding the hunting and selling of ivory are changing and are
some of the complex issues to be discussed during our trip. One of our conservation
objectives will be to gain an understanding of the forces that create these
problems. We will have the opportunity to meet knowledgeable people who can
help us understand the complex issues at stake. We will learn about government
programs that have made local people partners in conservation. We will also
become aware of the effect foreign visitors have on the land, on the conservation
of wildlife, and on the local people. We will tread lightly, with respect for
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Mary O'Connor began leading African safaris for Sierra Club in 1986 and has returned many times. She finds each and every safari a fascinating experience with some unique, never-to-be-forgotten highlights. She feels it a great privilege to spend time in the "Garden of Eden" with such beautiful creatures living naturally as they have for eons. Mary is a retired school teacher whose desire to see the world and learn about all its cultures go back to her lifelong fascination with geography. In addition to leading safari trips to Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, this will be her fifth trip to Botswana. Mary has also led many trips to Latin America as well as China, Turkey, Czech Republic, and Ireland. Travel has long been her passion with over 90 countries visited. She welcomes your emails and phone calls with any questions you have about this safari because she loves talking about Africa.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips