Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting. If you arrive early, get out and explore Johannesburg, a city of remarkable contrasts. Perhaps visit the culturally rich areas of Newtown, Braamfontein or Maboneng. The eye-opening Apartheid Museum is well worth your time. Notes: Please make sure that if you explore Johannesburg on your own that you get local advice as to where it is safe to walk, especially in the evening. The level of crime here may be higher than what you are used to.
Leaving South Africa behind, cross the border into Botswana and travel toward the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (approximately 8–10 hours). Situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a conversion of a former hunting area into a conservation project. Built to protect Botswana's only remaining populations of both black and white rhinos, the sanctuary is also home to other wildlife including zebras, giraffes, leopards, ostriches and wildebeest, all of which can be seen around the many natural waterholes. Visiting this project benefits local communities and contributes to the protection of the highly endangered white rhinoceros. Later, head out on a dusk game drive to see the rhinos when they are at their most active. At your camp there will be the option to upgrade to a room for an additional cost (subject to availability).
Jump aboard the truck and head to Maun (approximately 8–9 hours). Here there will be an opportunity to stock up on any supplies you might need for the journey ahead. Maun is the gateway to one of the world's most renowned and complex ecosystems, the Okavango Delta. This place is unlike anything in the world – a 16,000 square kilometre maze of wetlands made up of meandering waterways, green islands, lush plains and prolific wildlife. You might see hippos, crocodiles, elephants and big cats. But it's not the animals that are the main attraction – it's the incrediblly diverse ecosystem and atmospheric waterscapes. Tonight you'll stay on the outskirts of Maun at a simple campsite with shared facilities, WiFi and optional upgrades.
Traverse the waterways by mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe navigated by friendly local 'polers'. With some luck, you might spot some of the delta's unusual wildlife and exotic birdlife. Spend time exploring the maze of lagoons, lakes and streams on foot, led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. Tonight you will camp on a remote island in the heart of the wilderness. In this far-out spot, facilities are non-existent, so you will dig a bush toilet and go without a shower. It's all part of the Okavango experience. At night, fall asleep to the humming and buzzing of the African wilderness.
Wake up early and venture out for a sunrise walk. Along the way, keep watch for some elephants. You might also come across some Cape buffalo, if the timing is right. These rather noble-looking creatures are more dangerous than they look, and their horns make for a kind of bone shield that's fittingly known as a 'boss'. Returning to camp for breakfast, take the rest of the day to relax. A refreshing swim, or perhaps a nap, is a good idea in the warmer part of the day. Alternatively, take another mokoro trip to soak up more of that delightful river atmosphere.
After taking down your camp, take the mokoro back to the poling station and then travel once again to Maun (approximately 2–3 hours). Today you'll visit a rural village and interact with some of the locals. This will give you an insight into daily life on the Okavango Delta and perhaps some background history on these awesome sprawling waterways that are the lifeblood of many. Tonight you will camp on the outskirts of Maun at a simple campsite which has shared facilities. WiFi and optional upgrades are available.
Get up early and hit the road for Nata (approximately 6–7 hours). This small town is situated just near the stunning Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, which are some of the largest salt flats on earth, covering some 12,000 square kilometres. This afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore the pans in an open vehicle. The pans are naturally dry and salty for a large part of the year. During this time the arid landscape has an eerie feel to it as heat mirages disorientate the senses. At other times they take on a layer of grass, and as soon as the rains hit they become a refuge for migratory birds and animals. Your campsite tonight is situated on the edge of the pans. It has a restaurant, swimming pool, gift shop, ATM and bar/lounge area. Upgrades are also offered.
Hit the road for Chobe National Park (approximately 6–7 hours). Botswana's first national park is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants, which can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts wallowing hippos, a variety of birdlife, crocodiles sunning themselves by the water's edge, and cheetahs and lions which come down to drink. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Chobe River, a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Your camp tonight has WiFi access and optional upgrades. It's also close to a supermarket, so you can stock up on supplies while you're here.
Perhaps wake up early and see the Chobe National park from a different perspective, on an optional morning game drive. Travel on to Victoria Falls today (approximately 2–3 hours). You will cross the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi. Then it's time to experience the sight and sound of the mighty falls. This thundering curtain of water is about a mile wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 metres and the falls become an impressive raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see little islets in the river below. Your campsite tonight has WiFi, an ATM and optional upgrades. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Those staying longer can choose from various activities and excursions, including white water rafting, canoeing and flying fox rides. For an incredible scenic helicopter flight, choose Zambezi Helicopter Company (CAA Zimbabwe), the only Intrepid-endorsed operator. Your leader can help you arrange this.