Passage Through Botswana and Zimbabwe
DestinationSouth Africa: Johannesburg
Botswana: Okavango Delta, Khwai Private Reserve
Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park
Natural Marvels, Soothing Luxury
Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a world-unique oasis of smoothly meandering waterways, lagoons bubbling with hippos, idyllic minisavannah islands, the “most unexpected of wonders,” as Frans Lanting wrote, “water in the desert,” gently pulsing water that brings life to a dazzling population of wildlife. Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke That Thunders,” far and away the planet’s grandest waterfall—as we like to say, one of the planet’s grandest anythings— brimming with “scenes so lovely [they] must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight,” rhapsodized David Livingstone, the first outsider to succumb to the Falls’ immense charisma. And not far from the colossal cascade, Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park’s archetypal African landscapes, roamed in natural freedom by the fabled Big Five and five score other mammals and 20 score colourful avians, making Hwange one of the continent’s finest game-viewing, traveller-enchanting destinations.
I think I could turn and live with animals. . . . I stand and look at them long and long. . . . Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.Leaves of Grass
- Two invariably amazing nights in the miraculous Okavango Delta, exploring its waterways and nearby plains, marveling at its bountiful, varietal wildlife.
- The set-piece, animal-attracting, bubbling-with-hippos lagoon at Khwai Private Reserve’s Sable Alley camp.
- Exploring the Delta’s varied landscapes on foot and in 4wheel drive vehicles, and gliding in profound peace through its intricately lovely waterways.
- Eventful visits to animal-thronged waterholes in Zimbabwe’s classically African Hwange National Park.
- Based from the lovely Thorntree River Lodge, a fully engaged encounter with the world-marvelous Victoria Falls, on guided walks to its many viewpoints, on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River as it prepares for its plunge, on a thrilling helicopter flight, and at high tea on the verandah of the colonial era Victoria Falls Hotel.
After arrival, we’ll be met and whisked out to the halcyon Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa in Johannesburg’s verdant suburb of Sandhurst. And in the evening, we’ll enjoy dinner at the home of old Micato friends.
It’s hard to be more enthusiastic about the “vast, mesmerizing oasis” of the Okavango Delta than we are. Suffice to say—until you experience it—that the Delta is in the topmost rank of world wonders (and more sweetly accommodating than most).
We fly north from Johannesburg to Maun and on to the intimate, very Africa-chic Mapula Lodge, set on its own serene island in a private 220,000-acre concession, giving us great solitude as we explore the incredibly lush Delta’s gently wending waterways and islands by watercraft, 4-wheel drive vehicles, and on walks with Mapula’s cadre of enthusiastic guides. This part of the Delta is blessed with an exceptionally varied animal population, prominently including the harrumphing hippos at home in Mapula’s lagoon.
A short morning flight takes us to what we think is one of Botswana’s best kept secrets: the Khwai Private Reserve, another Okavangan marvel. Our lodging here is Sable Alley, an inspirationally stylish camp set on its own quiet lagoon. We step out onto the veranda of Sable’s enormous (almost 600-square foot) tents to a close view of the lagoon and its medley of animal visitors.
Khwai’s water- and landscapes vary dramatically: riverine forests, acacia woodlands, and the Delta’s gliding watercourses. We’ll explore them all, in small watercraft, safari vehicles, and on foot, delighting in the reserve’s full African cast of nowhere-else-on- earth creatures—lions, skyscrapey giraffes, bouldery Cape buffalo and peppy, fascinating African wild dogs. “They live the life domestic dogs wish they could live,” as biologist Rosie Woodroffe says.
We fly into Zambia, and along the way we may see a dramatic sight from many miles away: silvery, towering clouds rising up from the flat brown earth. The plume of the world’s most colossal cascade, Victoria Falls.
Our small, astutely designed Thorntree River Lodge is set in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, beside the Zambezi River, upstream from the Falls. We’ll make an arrival-afternoon game drive in the park (lovingly protected rhinos are headliners), or take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi. But Victoria Falls beckons, and we’ll spend Day 9 wandering its many vantage points, strolling through mist in our Micato-supplied rain gear, swooping over the Falls in a helicopter (the famous, pulse-quickening Flight of Angels), continually astonished by one of the greatest wonders in a world full of them.
Somalisa Camp is located in the middle of Hwange, in a vlei, or marshy, animal-attracting area. We arrive in the intimate camp (only seven fully modern, elegantly decorated tents) after a short flight from Victoria Falls and make the first of our eventful game drives in the cooling afternoon, perhaps after a revivifying dip in Somalisa’s aquamarine pool, often with elephants frolicking in a waterhole only yards away.
Hwange is classic African bush country, and our game drives in the park are exceptionally rich; the Big Five are in residence, along with white rhino, zebras by the hundreds, and more than a hundred other mammals, including another large contingent of wild dogs, stately gemsbok, and brown hyenas, crafty and oddly compelling creatures who endear themselves to many veteran safariers. And after game drives we relax on Somalisa’s tree-shaded veranda, enjoy the camp’s top-notch cuisine, and savour safari’s freedom from care.
After a short flight to Victoria Falls—one more chance to see the rising clouds of The Smoke That Thunders—we continue by air to Johannesburg, with day rooms in the InterContinental before our flights home.
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To and from Home | Every date is a guaranteed departure
|Jan. 12 – Jan. 25||May 03 – May 16||Aug. 09 – Aug. 22||Oct. 11 – Oct. 24|
|Feb. 02 – Feb. 15||May 17 – May 30||Aug. 16 – Aug. 29||Nov. 01 – Nov. 14|
|Feb. 16 – Feb. 29||May 31 – June 13||Aug. 23 – Sept. 05||Nov. 15 – Nov. 28|
|Mar. 01 – Mar. 14||June 14 – June 27||Sep. 06 – Sept. 19||Dec. 13 – Dec. 26|
|Mar. 15 – Mar. 28||June 28 – July 11||Sept. 13 – Sept. 26||Dec. 20 – Jan. 02|
|Mar. 29 – Apr. 11||July 12 – July 25||Sept. 27 – Oct. 10||Dec. 27 – Jan. 09|
|Apr. 12 – Apr. 25||July 26 – Aug. 08||Oct. 04 – Oct. 17|
To and from Home | Every date is a guaranteed departure
|Jan. 10 – Jan. 23||May 02 – May 15||Aug. 08 – Aug. 21||Oct. 10 – Oct. 23|
|Jan. 31 – Feb. 13||May 16 – May 29||Aug. 15 – Aug. 28||Oct. 31 – Nov. 13|
|Feb. 14 – Feb. 27||May 30 – June 12||Aug. 22 – Sept. 04||Nov. 14 – Nov. 27|
|Feb. 28 – Mar. 13||June 13 – June 26||Sept. 05 – Sept. 18||Dec. 12 – Dec. 25|
|Mar. 14 – Mar. 27||June 27 – July 10||Sept. 12 – Sept. 25||Dec. 19 – Jan. 01|
|Mar. 28 – Apr. 10||July 11 – July 24||Sept. 26 – Oct. 09||Dec. 26 – Jan. 08|
|Apr. 11 – Apr. 24||July 25 – Aug. 07||Oct. 03 – Oct. 16|
Price Per Person
Land arrangements, per person (2020)
|Jan-May, Nov-Dec 14||June-Oct||Dec.15-31|
|Internal Flights on Safari||$2,650||$2,650||$2,650|
(Johannesburg / Maun / Camp to Camp / Kasane / Livingstone, Victoria Falls / Hwange National Park / Johannesburg) Connections may apply.