"We liked the feeling of immersion in the environment that camping provided. Being guided by such a knowledgeable and capable person allowed us to simply relax and appreciate the wonders of nature surrounding us."
Seek out amazing wildlife in Moremi, Savuti, and Chobe national parks in Botswana, and South Luangwa in Zambia. Our amazing guides, Grant Reed in Botswana and Yotam Sakala in Zambia, know where to find the Leopards and other cats and are experts on Southern African mammals, birds, and reptiles. In Moremi, take a boat trip along the famous Okavango Delta. Late afternoon on the great Chobe River is perfect for observing waterbirds and huge herds of elephants down from the hills to drink and bathe. Cross the border into Zambia to see spectacular Victoria Falls beside Livingstone. Travel to Mfuwe in South Luangwa National Park – Zambia's best game area. Night drives are allowed! Each safari member will have a window seat in a spacious stretch Landcruiser. Experience "semi-luxurious" mobile camping in Botswana, a luxurious lodge close to Victoria Falls, then four nights in luxury ensuite safari tents overlooking the Luangwa River in Zambia. Grant and Yotam are professional, fun leaders who know how to make your safari the best.
Cost: $8,500 per person, double occupancy, not including airfare. Review cost details.
Size: 7, not including leaders.
Conditions: A non-smoking safari for people who are very interested in all wildlife and spending the maximum time in the field. This safari includes staying in mobile camps.
Update: This itinerary was updated in September 2010. View the plain text version, great for printing!
Return to top
July 13 - 14, Tuesday - Wednesday International Flights to Johannesburg
July 26, Thursday Fly to Maun then drive to Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta
The last 40 km to our campsite at Xakanaxa in the Moremi Game Reserve, where we can expect to see big ruminants. Some of the less common ruminants, such as Tsesebe (also known as Topi in East Africa), Blue Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Common Duiker and Botswana's smallest antelope, the Steenbuck, do very well in Moremi. Of course, we'll be looking for Lion and Wild Dog (Painted Wolves) today. It will be a good day for raptors with African Hawk-Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Shikra, Little Sparrowhawk, Dark Chanting Goshawk and Tawny Eagle all inhabiting the mopane and adjacent woodlands. Most of Botswana's hornbills including Red-billed, Southern Yellow-billed, African Grey, Bradfield's and Southern Ground Hornbill are all possible to see in one day at Moremi, as well as a large number of brood-parasites, including cuckoos, Shaft-tailed, Pin-tailed and Eastern Paradise whydah, and Greater and Lesser honeyguide.
About Camping: The semi-luxury camp has large tents with en-suite toilets. The food is excellent with three-course dinners prepared by a professional safari chef. We'll be camping in HATAB (Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana) sites. There are no fixed buildings or facilities at these sites and the entire camp is erected and removed by our supply team. Everything is brought in and when we leave a site, there is no trace that we were ever there (once the wind has dusted our tracks). The tents are 9x15 feet (3x5 meter) with high roof and a nine-foot covered area in front of the tent. Camp beds are made up with mattresses, sheets, duvets, and pillows. The rear door of the tent opens to a private en-suite loo. There is a tall wash basin and a mirror outside each tent. The basin is filled with fresh warm water first thing in the morning and again on every arrival in camp. There is also a dining tent, but with the normally excellent weather and skies, the table is often set beneath the stars. Showers are separate from the tents and are in the form of bucket showers hung from a tree with a canvas screen around the shower. Hot showers can be requested and the water is heated in a bucket on the fire. Each tent has a lantern, however it is still good to bring a good flashlight, such as a headlamp, with plenty of spare batteries to use inside the tent. Camera and other gear can be charged through an inverter connected to the safari vehicle battery, this converter provides 220 volts AC. You will need an Old British 3-pin plug adapter, M Plug, 15 A/250 V earthed (this is also called the "Type M" large 15 Amp South African plug).
On safari in Botswana, the best action and beautiful light is early in the morning. After morning game drives, enjoy a delicious lunch followed by a break and possible walk in the camp vicinity. Botswana is built on sand and its soil is the result of thousands of years of termites at work turning wood into soil. On walks it is very interesting to see all the tracks left in the sand by many species. We'll have both an afternoon game drive to be in the field for the best afternoon light, as well as the magic hour of dusk to dark when the nocturnal animals become active. We will stay at the Xakanaxa site in the Moremi Game Reserve for three nights.
Return to top
July 27 - 28, Friday - Saturday Xakanaxa area of Moremi Game Reserve
The birding is tops for aquatic birds and raptors along the waterways. The swampy areas of Xakanaxa are home to African Rail, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Red-chested Flufftail, African Crake, Black Crake, Chirping and Luapula cisticolas, Purple Swamphen, and Allen's Gallinule, to name a few of the rare ones. The open waters attract African Skimmer, Saddle-billed Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, Intermediate Egret, Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, as well as the globally threatened Slaty Egret and Wattled Crane. While we are in the delta, Wattled Crane, Slaty Egret, and other rare birds will be challenges to find and both Kurrichane Thrush and Heuglin's Robin will keep us entertained with their beautiful songs.
Botswana is a land of sand, which would be desert here, except that the water from the highlands of Angola flowing into the delta turns it into a wetland paradise located within the arid Kalahari sands. It rests between shallow fault lines at the end of the Great African Rift Valley. Deserts are low on rainfall, as is Botswana, however, each year floodwater flows into the Okavango Delta from its source in the moist central African highlands over 1,000 km away. These floodwaters flow from their cachement southwards and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife. The Okavango is spread throughout an area of some 16,000 square km. At full flood, the delta is an area of lily-covered lagoons and narrow channels hemmed in by papyrus reeds. The best time to visit this beautiful area is anytime from May to October when the Okavango River floods the delta. The edges of the delta are the best for game viewing, where mammals congregate on the patches of high ground. Since roads in Botswana are built on sand, some can be very dusty, but on game drives we'll go very slowly.
July 29 - 30, Sunday - Monday Khwai in the North Gate area of Moremi Game Reserve
Wild Dogs are becoming very rare and both Moremi and Chobe are reserves where we have a reasonable chance of observing this highly social predator with two packs residing near the Khwai River area and Xakanaxa. Lion, Leopard, Serval, and African Wildcat are well-known predators of the region with Cheetah being much less common. The swampy areas in the west are home to Red Lechwe. Other ungulates include Tsesebe, Blue Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Sable, Roan, and Impala. Spotted Hyena, Chacma Baboon, and Vervet Monkeys should also be spotted in Moremi. We'll take early morning game drives, which should bring us close to the semi-aquatic Red Lechwe grazing on the floodplains.
We will be in a great ecotone area between the contrasting habitats of the marshy backwaters of the Khwai River and the dry-land leadwood and camel thorn woodlands and savannahs. It is truly one of Botswana's birding meccas. Marula trees, a species of fig that produces the delicious liquor, and giant wild ebony trees shelter outstanding birdlife in the delta. The entire length of the river is hunting domain for the Bat-Hawk. Other interesting raptors here are Cuckoo Hawk (rare), Long-crested Eagle, and Black Sparrowhawk, and more commonly, Tawny Eagle, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, and African Hawk-Eagle. The waterways host Africa Rail, Greater Painted Snipe, Lesser Jacana and Lesser Moorhen. Away from the waterways, we will encounter new species of birds, such as a number of hornbills, bee-eaters, rollers, starlings, and others.
July 31, Tuesday Drive from Khwai to Savuti in Chobe National Park
The Mababe Depression is a birder's paradise. The nutritious grasses that grow on the rich soils provide excellent seed for an impressive array of estrillids and viduids. Among these are the magnificently colored Violet-eared Waxbill, Black-cheeked Waxbill, Village Indigobird, Shaft-tailed Wydah, and Paradise Wydah. These in turn provide a good food source for small raptors such as the Little Sparrowhawk, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk, Red-necked Falcon, and Lanner Falcon. Rodents also feed on the grass seeds and there are annual outbreaks of rats and mice. As a result, huge numbers of Secretary Bird, Tawny Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, and Wahlberg's Eagle, can also be found. We will camp in Savuti for two nights.
Return to top
August 1, Wednesday Savuti in the southern reaches of Chobe National Park
The surface water that is pumped up by the government here provides a major attraction for birdlife. In the dry season, thousands of dove and sandgrouse come down to drink in the mornings and are under constant surveillance by Tawny Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle. Red-crested Korhaan are common in the Kalahari Apple-leaf Phylenoptera nelsii veld type that occurs here. The marsh is the home for good numbers of both Chestnut-backed and Grey-backed sparrowlarks, Northern Black Korhaan, Rufous-naped Lark, African Pipit, and Desert Cisticola. Dickenson's Kestrel and Red-necked Falcon are found along the perimeter of the marsh.
August 2, Thursday Drive from Savuti to the Chobe River
The most unusual species of birds on this drive are to be found in the teak Baikea plurijuga woodlands. This broad-leafed woodland, or miombo, as it is locally known, provides good pickings for insectivorous birds that favor canopy habitat. Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Paradise Flycatcher, Pallid Flycatcher, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Yellow-throated Petronia, Red-headed Weaver, and Violet-backed Starling are only some of the species that move around the canopy in "bird parties." Dickenson's Kestrel, Red-necked Falcon, and Lizard Buzzard are some of the raptors to keep an eye out for, while the diminutive White-faced Owl can often be seen roosting in the roadside vegetation. Flappet Lark, Fawn-coloured Lark, and Neddicky are some of the little brown birds that we might encounter around camp. Our camp staff will welcome us on our arrival at the Chobe campsite, where we'll have three nights.
August 3 - 4, Friday - Saturday Chobe National Park, north along the Chobe River
Approximately 300 species of birds have been recorded, including Black, Coppery-tailed, Senegal and White-browed coucals and several kingfishers. The striking Crimson-breasted Shrike often gives itself away by its metallic call. Bat-Hawk, Cuckoo Hawk, and Ovambo Sparrowhawk are some of the more interesting raptors. African Rail, Luapula Cisticola, Quail Finch, and Rosy-throated Longclaw are found on the edges of the floodplain. Large flocks of Great White Pelican investigate the drying pools, and large flocks of the nomadic Red-winged and Black-winged pratincoles, numbering in the thousands, can be found on the drying floodplains. The woodlands support Racket-tailed Roller, Stierling's Wren-Warbler, and Miombo Rock-Thrush.
Return to top
August 5, Sunday Chobe to Livingstone and Victoria Falls then to Mfuwe in Zambia
The highlight in Livingstone will be amazing Victoria Falls, where from the Zambia side you can get excellent photos of the gorges and the falls. This is one of the "Seven Natural Wonders of the World" and deservedly so. Over a mile across, it is the widest curtain of water in the world and with a spectacular drop of 110 meters, the sight of the falls is something to behold. Several species of birds, including Trumpeter Hornbills, do well in the moist forests bordering the falls. Around Victoria Falls itself is a more tropical rain forest, maintained by the mist-spray generated from the falls.
August 6, Monday Fly from Livingstone to Mfuwe in Zambia
August 7 - 9, Tuesday - Thursday South Luangwa National Park in the Mfuwe Sector
Of the primates, Yellow Baboons and Vervet Monkeys are easily seen. More rare is Maloney's Monkey. Bushbabies are seen on nocturnal drives. Night drives are fascinating in the Luangwa, not only for the chance of seeing a Leopard, but also for the many interesting animals that only come to life at night. We have encountered Civets, Servals, Common Genet, Spotted Hyenas, as well as owls, nightjars, foraging Hippos, Honey Badgers (Ratels), a mated pair of Leopards (one stalking an Impala), African Lions, and even the tiny Elephant Shrew. Hyenas are fairly common throughout the valley and their plaintive, eerie cry, so characteristic of the African bush, can be heard on most nights. South Luangwa has a good population of Leopard, but they are not easily spotted and tend to retreat when they hear vehicles. Yotam is very skilled at finding Leopards on night drives and is one of the best trackers in the park. Other carnivores present, but not often seen, include the Caracal, Wild Dog, Serval, and Side-striped Jackal.
The Luangwa River also has an extraordinarily high number of Nile Crocodiles. It is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal. Birds are superb in Luangwa Valley. Many large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows. The Yellow-billed Storks move along with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The striking 1.6-meter Saddle-billed Stork makes quick darting movements into the water. The elegant Grey Crowned Cranes congregate in large flocks at the salt pans. Ground Hornbills emit the sound of a deep base drum early in the morning. The melodious Heuglin's Robin and cry of the African Fish Eagle are very distinctive against the ever present cooing of all the resident doves. Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley and add a lot of habitat for all the birds and small mammals and reptiles. Among the more common trees in the Valley are the Mopane, Leadwood, Winterthorn, some beautiful Baobabs, large Ebony forests, the tall Vegetable Ivory Palm, Marula, and the magnificent Tamarind tree. We will be sad to say farewell to this splendid national park in the Luangwa Valley and the wonderful people who work here.
August 10, Friday Fly from Mfuwe To Lusaka for overnight
August 11 - 12, Saturday - Sunday Flights homeward
Return to top
Costs, Payments and Cancellations: Upon receiving your deposit, we will send trip materials and travel insurance information. Until the final payment date, payments are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person. This fee may go toward another tour if reserved within six months of the departure date of the cancelled trip.
Return to top
To Make a Reservation: Please contact us to assure space availability and to let us answer your questions. Then, print our reservation form, fill it out, and post it to us in the mail with your deposit:
Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris
Return to top
Leaders: Grant Reed is the author of Okavango - Spirit of Life and narrator of From Dust to Dust - The Story of Lake Ngami. Apart from more than 20 years of guiding experience in five African countries and post-graduate work, Grant is currently working on his PhD. He also puts in a lot of time training wildlife guides for the Southern Africa Guide Association. Grant is co-owner of Letaka Safaris in Botswana with his brother. He lectures both in Botswana and abroad primarily on birds, ecology, and conservation in Botswana.
Yotam Sakalahas guided in South Luangwa for six years and knows the Mfuwe mammals and birds extremely well. He participates in the Luangwa Valley Carnivore Monitoring Program and is exceptionally skilled at locating the exciting resident carnivores. Yotam loves sharing his knowledge of wildlife behavior and excellent identification skills.
Flights: Please let us know if you need help arranging your own international air flights inbound to Maun and outbound from Lusaka. The flights during the safari from Livingstone to Mfuwe and from Mfuwe to Lusaka are included in the cost of the trip and will be booked by Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. We are also happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange. We recommend the Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Arrive in Maun (MUB), Botswana around noon on July 26. For most, this means leaving your home airport on July 24 or 25 to connect in Johannesburg, South Africa. Air Botswana has a daily flight from Johannesburg (JNB) at 10:10 am, arriving in Maun (MUB) at 12:10 pm.
Depart from the Lusaka Airport (LUN), Zambia on the morning on August 11. South African Airways has a morning flight from Lusaka (LUN) to Johannesburg (JNB) to meet connections.
Travel Insurance: Emergency Medical Insurance is optional, but encouraged, for this tour. Read about travel insurance and our recommendations and requirements.
Climate: Temperatures vary at this season from cold to very comfortable. It will be very cool in the early morning and in the evening, so bring warm clothes, including warm hat and gloves for early morning game drives. It's the "dry" season, but rain could be encountered, although very unlikely. Insects are not normally a problem at this season.
Trip Materials: Detailed information about your specific tour will be sent to you after you make your reservation with us. These trip materials include information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, packing, etc. Please take a moment to read this important informtation upon receipt.
Conditions: We have a strict non-smoking policy - smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours. We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience. Travel to remote places is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants. For all tours that are ship-based, please note that although we cannot guarantee a request for a specific cabin, we do guarantee that you will be in a cabin of equal or greater value specified in your reservation.
Mailing List: If you would like to be on our mailing list or request information, please use our online information request form or contact us to give us your name, address, email address and phone number. Please note we will never share your personal information with anybody!
Responsibility: Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris, Saratoga, California, act only as agents and shall not be responsible or become liable for any delay incurred by any person in connection with any means of transportation, nor for the loss, damage, or injury to person or property by reason of any event beyond the control of the agency or default of such agency suppliers. We reserve the right to cancel the tour prior to departure in which case full refund will constitute full settlement to the passenger. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour unless arrangements are made at the time of booking. All rates are based on current tariffs, exchange rates and fuel prices and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited. Baggage is at the owner's risk.
Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is registered as California Seller of Travel #2063050-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is a participant in the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). In event of a client canceling where a refund is applicable in accordance with the schedule above, or in the event that CES needs to cancel the trip, all payments for transportation or travel service not provided to the client shall be promptly refunded, unless the client instructs us otherwise in writing. All client payments are deposited into a trust account in accordance with California law. If for any reason a valid refund is not forthcoming, the client may request reimbursement from the TCRC within six months of the scheduled end of the tour. Please feel free to ask us for more information.
Return to top