When Lifescan executive Kirsten Kempe and her husband, Bob Carlin, a longtime Oracle manager, decided to travel in 2018 with two fellow elite triathletes and their spouses, they turned to custom safari specialist Next Adventure (nextadventure.com). The Berkeley company hosts gatherings in clients’ homes and offices by which travelers glean the latest information on conservation issues, along with practical safari advice.
Next Adventure Managing Director Kili McGowan helped organize an evening at Kempe’s Mountain View home “that was almost like a dinner party, where we got together to talk about what they wanted to do,” she says. The result: a three-week trip that included South Africa’s Cape Town and Johannesburg, and 13 days on safari in luxury camps in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.
I had not heard the call. No one near me had—not the South African behind me, nor the Swedish woman to his left. Not even the Vancouverites, who’d finally silenced the shutters on the shiny new Canons they’d traveled 9,875 miles to test out in Botswana, and who had proven to be the couple in our mud-smacked 4WD who maybe, maybe, could spot something before OB, our guide, had a chance (they got high praise for spying a rare red-billed quelea 30 minutes earlier which sent those shutters aflutter). With two days of game drives already behind us, the five of us now understood when OB sensed something.
We couldn’t be more excited to see this new Wilderness Safaris camp opening in one of the Delta’s most productive areas. New photos by Dana Allen have just been released, and we’re happy to share them below. Not only is it a stunning new camp, it offers both water and land-based safaris as well as the rare opportunity to track black rhino on foot.
More from Wilderness Safaris:
The exclusive Qorokwe Concession encompasses over 26 180 hectares (64 692 acres) in a high-density game area of the south-eastern Okavango, bordering the renowned Moremi Game Reserve, which has been unutilised for more than four years. Exploring Qorokwe reveals a world of diverse Delta habitats supporting a wealth of wildlife, earning the area’s well-deserved reputation as a top Botswana safari destination.
Qorokwe Camp has eight elegant tented suites plus one very spacious family unit with its own splash pool. En-suite facilities feature an indoor/outdoor shower. The magnificent main area is the focal point of the camp and overlooks a lagoon. The dining area, lounge, library and bar are built on raised wooden platforms, all connected by walkways.
- The Qorokwe Concession has permanent water all year round, allowing for outstanding game viewing during every season
- Seasonal palm-dotted and wooded islands, tranquil waterways and dry woodland ensure a year-round variety of game and birds
- Concentrations of all the larger predators are seen in the area
We got to watch these elegant cheetah brothers move through the beautiful countryside, standing up on massive boulders for a better vantage point – every position was taken with great intention. I was humbled while observing their instincts at play, with all of them watching, always looking in separate directions to optimize hunting opportunities and to continually ensure the safety of their clan.
In the last week of April, I traveled to the Northern Tuli Block in far eastern Botswana, which contains southern Africa’s largest private game area, the Mashatu Game Reserve. I had never been to this region of Botswana before and I was awed by the natural beauty and incredible wildlife that I discovered while staying at both Mashatu Tent Camp and Mashatu Main Lodge.
I flew into Johannesburg, South Africa and stayed overnight at the clean, comfortable, well-priced and conveniently located Citi Lodge business hotel, a short walk from the customs and baggage area at OR Tambo International airport.
After a hearty buffet breakfast at the hotel the next morning, I walked over to check-in for my Angel Gabriel charter flight to the Limpopo airstrip. The Angel Gabriel representative met me at an upright banner near gates 60-65, checked me in and a host escorted me, along with a few others on the flight, through to the boarding area. It was a quick and easy 1-hour flight to Limpopo and the plane buzzed with excitement of a group of women from the UK and France who were arriving to do an overland horseback riding safari.
Upon landing at Limpopo, clearing customs into Botswana was about as easy as it gets – I simply walked up to the customs window for a stamp. My Mashatu driver, Spike, was waiting for me and within 10 minutes of landing, we were headed on a 45-minute drive towards my home for the night, Mashatu Tent Camp. It started to rain on the drive to camp, so I layered up in my gore-tex and Spike gave me a Mashatu poncho, which I layered on top. My turnaround time at camp was very fast, as afternoon tea was already under way when I arrived. I grabbed my camera gear, had a quick bite to eat and some tea before departing on my first game drive at Mashatu. It was quite wet out there, which is unusual for this area. We stopped to admire giraffe before driving on to a site where an python had been spotted earlier that day. The python had moved on already, so we drove on, taking in the stunning scenery while Marty, PJ and I started getting to know each other. By lucky coincidence, we happened to be staying at Mashatu at the same time, so I got to spend a bit of time in the bush with Next Adventure travelers! We found a huge male leopard just before sunset and got to spend time with him and enjoy a very close sighting before he started moving on. It was a beautiful sight to watch this leopard move through the bush, elegantly hidden by his mesmerizing spotted coat. A hot shower was very welcome before dinner – the canvas tents on raised platforms at Mashatu Tent Camp are cozy and comfortable and have a classic safari vibe, with an outdoor shower and separate bathroom attached to the back of each tent. This is an intimate camp with a welcoming atmosphere, as all guests gather for dinner around a common table for dinner and share stories from the day.
The next morning was cool and crisp – we huddled comfortably under wool blankets in the vehicle as we left camp before sunrise. Our morning was filled with incredible wildlife sightings, beginning with a young injured elephant whose trunk had been caught in a snare, most likely in Zimbabwe, and was now only about 3/4 of the length of a typical elephant trunk. The elephants in Mashatu often times drink water by placing their trunks down through the deep gravel sandbanks in order to filter river water through the earth to ensure greater purity. This poor injured elephant had to kneel down on her knees in order to access water. She was surviving, but clearly her life is far more difficult following this injury and one can only imagine would be shorter than it would have been without this devastating interference of man.
We left our highly adaptable elephant friend and rolled onward, encountering herds of wildebeest and marveling at the giant Mashatu trees, which are the namesake to the area. Mashatu is known as “The Land of the Giants,” which comes from this massive Nyala berry tree and also the many giants of the wildlife kingdom that call Mashatu home. We passed the gorgeous lilac breasted roller (Botswana’s national bird) and stopped to admire this colorful little beauty before driving on to an elusive sighting that our incredible tracker, Goms, was able to spot from a long distance away at the clearing or the edge of the forest – a bush pig! I’ve included a picture below… this was the first time I had ever seen one. Before long, we were treated to some time with a massive black-maned male lion, who is honestly one of the most gorgeous specimens I’ve ever seen. He is eight years old and does not have any notable scars on his body or his face, which is quite rare, as males must fight to defend their territory, sometimes to the death. This male shows such prowess that he has maintained this territory for many years. A hush fell over the safari vehicle while we all sat gazing upon this magnificent creature. He showed such a gentle command of the land, while at the same time exuding extraordinary power and grace.
Mashatu Tent Camp
Very shortly afterwards, we encountered a beautiful, young female leopard. Our guide, Justice, drove expertly through challenging terrain so that we could follow her and watch her move through the wilderness. She walked immediately next to the vehicle and I found myself transfixed, marveling at her intricate coat. We drove through the stunning countryside spotted with acacia trees herds of zebra and black-backed jackals, running alongside their lifelong mate through the grasslands. We came upon a herd of elephant and were able to watch them feed and got to observe the adorable, tiny youngsters following their mothers. I have a soft spot in my heart for all wildlife but eles are one of my favorites. I always take time to study the texture of their skin and to gaze into those soft, gentle, intelligent eyes. Within the herd, there was a massive bull elephant in pursuit of a female – he wanted nothing to do with us and displayed his dominance with loud trumpeting and head swinging. We knowingly quietly drove away, out of respect for this massive and beautiful creature. Our morning drive came to a close and we headed back to Mashatu Tent Camp, where I quickly packed my things and met Justice for the 45-minute trip over to Mashatu Lodge.
I arrived at Mashatu Lodge in time for brunch and was well-fed before settling into my new, quite luxurious room for the afternoon. Mashatu Lodge has a different feel from the tented camp and is a good match for guests seeking more creature comforts and a larger private space to enjoy while at the lodge. The rooms are spacious and very well-appointed, with a sitting area, spa bathroom with double sinks, a soaking tub and a generous shower with waterfall showerhead, along with a full walk-in closet and dressing area. The lodge has a main covered patio overlooking a very active waterhole where breakfast and brunch are served. The food is fresh and delicious with an impressive amount of variety and many healthy choices. The lodge grounds feature a swimming pool, an internet lounge, a curio shop and my favorite – the Gin Trap – a festive gathering place where safari stories are shared over drinks prior to dinner, which is served under the stars, in the glow of torch light in the outdoor boma.
While at Mashatu Lodge, for the majority of the time, I was very lucky to have a private vehicle with Kaiser as my exceptional naturalist guide and Goms as our keenly aware tracker. We had an incredible time together and definitely became friends over the course of those three days…it’s hard not to bond while sharing in such magnificence. Our first sighting that evening was of the same giant male lion that I had seen earlier in the day. We encountered him walking down dirt tracks where safari vehicles had passed, so he was fully visible – it was a special sighting indeed, as he walked directly towards, adjacent to and beyond our vehicle. Our evening ended with a sighting that was particularly special to me – just before dark we got to spend time with a mother cheetah with three female cubs. I had not seen cheetah since my first safari in Kenya, 17 years earlier, so I was thrilled at the chance to spend time with these elegant cats once more. The four of them were lying flat in a clearing on the grasslands. We stayed with them until dark and then drove to enjoy sundowners and getting to know each other a bit more. On the drive home, due to the expertise of our spotter, I got to see a family of African Wildcat, which is quite a rare sighting. The kittens were tiny and peering out of the bush with innocent and curious eyes.
Checkout this 24/7 live feed video from Pete’s Pond on Mashatu
The following morning started with a long-distance sighting of a leopard crossing the massive, dry riverbed that we were driving through. As the sun continued to rise, we followed her on a seemingly impossible driving route up the very steep riverbank and into the heavily wooded terrain above. Kaiser thought that there was a possibility she might be moving her young cub, which would’ve been really exciting to see, but it turns out that she had apparently already moved the cub earlier in the day. We stayed with her for a while and drove a carefully executed route that our tracker recommended, in order to follow her through the bush. Our sighting culminated with the leopard starting to hunt an impala that was just off her track and out of sight. The leopard determined that the impala was too far away to be worth expending so much effort, but we did get to watch her position into a crouch and begin the process of what would have been a hunt, had the conditions been more favorable. Thrilling!
After this very exciting start to our morning, we continued through the beautiful landscape and came upon a mother cheetah with three sons. The young males were playing with each other and exploring the area for a bit before the mother got up and prompted them to follow her, at which point they all walked off through the bush. Almost as soon as we left this family of cheetah, we came upon another family. The Mashatu terrain of open grassland, dotted with acacia trees, which provide shade and excellent cover, is perfect hunting terrain for cheetah so they thrive in this area. We watched this family under a tree and I was just mesmerized by their markings and their affectionate behavior with each other. After a full morning of cats, we stopped in yet another beautiful spot for coffee and fresh baked goodies, surrounded by ostrich walking in the distance, paired off with their mates.
During my stay, I had a unique treat in store – I got to mountain bike with my guide Mario, riding on the ancient elephant trails that cross the reserve! This was such an exciting adventure and a beautiful way to experience the area. In some ways, it was even more intimate being on a bike, as we peddled across the landscape with herds of impala running through the bush, crossing in front of us and running alongside as we peddled. On our ride, we encountered a herd of elephant almost immediately, so Mario and I stopped and admired them from afar (with my heart pounding), making sure that we weren’t causing them any distress before turning to ride the other direction. One of the unique qualities of staying at Mashatu and being on the private reserve, is that you do have the option to ride mountain bikes and also to choose walking safaris, providing a huge amount of flexibility and variety to your experience. Mashatu is an excellent option for travelers who are interested in being more active while being on safari. At the end of my mountain bike adventure, Mario and I met up with Kaiser and Goms and the vehicle. I said goodbye to Mario and my bike and drove off to end the evening enjoying sundowners and listening to the call to the calling lions. We followed the calls of three females and spent sunset and the transition to complete darkness next to the pride listening to this beautiful, resonant and utterly primal sound.
One of my most memorable sightings at Mashatu was following a coalition of three mail cheetahs who have been together since their birth and are now 15 years old. They look very healthy and are obviously so bonded to each other, it was really heartwarming to see. I’m sure this brotherly bond is one of the reasons for their success as a coalition of hunters and for their long, successful life together. We got to watch these elegant cheetah brothers move through the beautiful countryside, standing up on massive boulders for a better vantage point – every position was taken with great intention. I was humbled while observing their instincts at play, with all of them watching, always looking in separate directions to optimize hunting opportunities and to continually ensure the safety of their clan.
Mashatu Main Lodge
My final wildlife sighting at Mashatu was extremely special, especially for me, because it was the first time I have seen a pack of wild dogs. I am a self-professed “dog freak,” and it was such a joy to see this newly introduced pack of seven wild dogs, who appeared to be thriving after just two months on the reserve. Mother nature seemed to be celebrating with me, Kaiser and Goms when she delivered an absolutely stunning sunset to close our days together on safari at Mashatu. A magical time, indeed!
Karen & Hank are keen photographers who went on their first photo safari last year to Kenya and Tanzania. This year, the focus turned to Southern Africa, specifically areas in Zimbabwe and Botswana that offer exceptional wildlife viewing in November when the dry season transitions with the start of the summer rains.
Mana Pools and Hwange National Parks in Zimbabwe combined with the Linyanti/Selinda Reserve and Okavango Delta of Botswana provided a range of complementary experiences, ecosystems and wildlife, and we selected camps that could perfectly accommodate their interest in a high-quality photo safari.
We just returned from an incredible safari organized by Kili McGowan at Next Adventure. Kili did an amazing job listening to our needs, and creating a custom photo safari itinerary for us. Each camp was special in its own way, and we felt privileged to be able to learn about some of the history and culture in these two countries, as well as achieve one of our primary goals – to obtain outstanding photographs of wildlife! Kili was extremely knowledgeable about the weather and wildlife we were likely to see in each place. We look forward to traveling to Africa again soon and will enjoy working with Kili to plan our future adventures. —Karen P.
Myra came to Next Adventure looking to share a special, once-in-a-lifetime, first-time safari with her sister Toby. After getting to know them and their preferences, we settled on a slightly off-season safari in Botswana followed by a visit to Cape Town.
Early November is fast becoming the ‘not-so secret season’ because it still offers great wildlife viewing but with better availability and lower rates. Here’s what we came up with:
Spending nine days in the bush, camping & traveling through Botswana’s most spectacular parks, encountering wildlife, dining & sleeping under the stars listening to the hippos jostle and the lions roar, all without having to cook a single meal or pop a tent or worry about a single thing other than keeping your camera charged!
It is beyond words.
Starting with a light aircraft flight into the Xaxanaka region of the Moremi Reserve for two nights, we went on to a camp near the Khwai River. After a five hour bumpy, sandy drive through the Mababe Depression, we were met by a few elephants checking out our campsite in Savuti. Then we continued on to the Chobe River, and finally ended up in Livingstone, Zambia for a hot hotel shower and a drenching at the edge of Victoria Falls.
Here is the full itinerary.
So many thanks to my traveling partners and the wonderful team, Mike, Bafana and Talu from Wilderness Dawning.
Every sunrise and sunset, I found the African skies to be as beautiful as the animals. On arriving at my first camp, I saw zebras right across the river! And, elephants, elephants, elephants!
For Redge and Carole’s safari, we developed a 15-day itinerary in Botswana that included the Kalahari, Moremi, the Okavango Delta and Savuti as well as a visit to Vic Falls.
In Moremi, we followed wild dogs. They cornered a lion by jumping in a circle about 3 feet in the air. At the same time on the other side of the car, a leopard showed up stalking wildebeest, and then, because the dogs were noisy, a hyena came as well. All within 30 minutes!
Bruce & Patty first travelled with us 5 years ago on a Wilderness Dawning camping safari. This time around they wanted to return to some of their favorite camps on a self-driving safari in Kruger National Park.
They also planned their own visit to Uganda for Gorilla-tracking, and we wrapped their month-long safari up with a few days camping in Kenya.
Here are their top 7 moments…
Big 5 game viewing is best during the Dry Season. Usually July-October when water is scarce, a great number and variety of animals congregate without the obstruction of thick foliage or tall grass. Perfect conditions for first-time safari goers: it’s easier to find concentrations of wildlife, animals are easier to spot and it’s easier to take great photos.
However, with such perfect conditions, prices go up, availability at the best camps and lodges goes down, and prime wildlife viewing areas get crowded. Now, as more safari enthusiasts return to Africa and the conservation tourism industry matures, the traditional safari season is expanding.
More small owner-operated camps are open during the Green Season with reduced rates, less crowds and the added thrill of having to search for wildlife through dense bush. It is also the absolute best time for waterfalls, spotting baby animals and bird-watching. It’s also possible to find last minute availability on quality scheduled departures or at the best camps in the Serengeti.
Here’s this year’s top picks for summer adventures and holiday safaris…
Grant & Miriam’s three week trip in August of this year included some of our favorite destinations in Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, and they have the photos to prove it… (click thumbnails to enlarge images)
It wasn’t easy culling 4,000+ shots, but here’s a glimpse into some of the things we saw. What you won’t see are the places we stayed, people we met and many, many other pictures of the wildlife and surroundings where we traveled.
Andy and Melinda’s first trip with Next Adventure was three years ago to Tanzania and Kenya. For this year’s trip Kili put together a 17-night safari including Zambia’s renowned South Luangwa National Park, Victoria Falls, Botswana’s Okavango Delta and a day tour of Johannesburg exploring South Africa’s history.
We had a spectacular time! Our camps in Zambia—Kaingo and Mwamba—cater to photographers and each has a hide (blind) from which we got stellar opportunities to see a leopard kill and photograph hippos and elephants.
We got an overview of Botswana’s ecological diversity, from the watery Delta to the barren Kalahari. Selinda was probably our favorite camp (though it is nearly impossible to choose) where an intrepid guide led us to wondrous sightings of African Wild Dogs, cheetahs, and a pride where a lioness dragged a roan antelope to feed seven hungry cubs.
We asked Will & Cindy if they would share some of their stories and pictures from their past trips, and we got this wonderful array of safari memories and their ten best pictures from over the years…
We’ve done three African Safaris with Next Adventure, as well as a more recent India trip that Kili and Louise planned for us. We have so many stories…
The glass-walled cabins in a forest where I opened my eyes from bed in the middle of the night and was looking directly into the eyes of SOME large animal on the other side of the glass, having baboons swarm our jeep in Kruger with “Old Bob” and refuse to leave without handouts…
Earlier this year, we put together a private group camping safari for five friends. The trip started with everyone meeting up in Johannesburg and then moving on to Livingstone for a visit to Victoria Falls. From there, they embarked on a 9-day “Migration Routes Safari” with private air charters to three different mobile camps throughout the Okavango Delta, a great introduction to Botswana’s diverse ecology.
Traveling with your family or a small group of friends can be complicated: making restaurant reservations for a group can be tough or impossible, getting around isn’t easy with tourist maps and a couple of rental cars, and hotel arrangements for groups are expensive and inconvenient. Families and small groups of friends can avoid those complications and experience some great benefits by teaming up on an African safari.
Safari Houses can be a great choice, but one of the most authentic safari options for families and small groups is to buy-out or exclusively reserve small tented camps or private mobile safaris.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Chindeni Bushcamp – Zambia
Sublime, peaceful, tranquil and perfect are just a few of the words guests use to describe Chindeni Bushcamp. Located on the edge of an oxbow lagoon in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, Chindeni Bushcamp accommodates up to eight guests in classic canvas tents with vaulted ceilings and private verandas that reach out over the lagoon.
Spend the day watching birds, hippo and elephant visit the lagoon, or go deeper into one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa on a guided walking safari or game drive.
Naibor Tented Camp – Kenya
Somewhere in the middle of the vast Masai Mara Game Reserve’s 1500 square kilometers sits a small collection of luxury tented camps called Naibor. With three separate camps, Naibor is a great choice for a group or family to explore the Mara. It is perfectly situated to experience the wildebeest migration crossing over the Mara river, plus cultural visits to the nearby Masai communities just outside the reserve can be arranged.
Of course, spectacular sundowners are on the menu, but guests can also enjoy a “bush meal” far out in the rolling grasslands.
Wilderness Dawning Mobile Safaris – Botswana
Wilderness Dawning offers the adventurous family or group 10-day & 14-day overland safaris that “endeavor to enrich our guests and enhance their love of Africa.” Days are spent with some of the best guides in the business game-driving through Botswana’s renowned wilderness areas including Nxai Pan, Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango and Chobe National Park.
Experiencing diverse habitats and a tremendous variety of wildlife while relaxing night after night in a rustic camp under the stars makes Wilderness Dawning’s mobile safaris the ultimate adventure.
Selinda Explorers Camp is also a great tented camp option for families and groups. Read about it here as a Featured Destination.
Get in touch to learn more about these or other safari options for families and small groups.
Photos are courtesy of the camps.
Sometimes, you just want to find a hammock and sway next to a lazy African river. Sometimes, you want to hike far into the bush to listen to the wilderness. Sometimes, there is nothing more important than watching wild elephants drink from the river in which you’re canoeing.
Selinda Explorers Camp is just the place to get up-close and personal with one of Africa’s most treasured wild places. Selinda Explorers Camp is a private, exclusive-use camp remotely-set in Botswana’s remarkable Selinda Spillway, a crucial gathering point for wildlife in the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve. Depending on the day, guests can enjoy a guided wildlife walk, a canoe safari or traditional day and evening game drives.
The camp is easy to miss, accommodating a maximum of 8 guests and having a minimal environmental footprint. Four classic campaign-style tents, furnished with unique and exotic soft goods from north and east Africa, are set in a forest of jackleberry and mangosteen. Selinda Explorers Camp comfortably balances a rustic “bohemian flair” with simple, relaxed luxury.
Due to its size and setting, Selinda Explorers Camp offers families and small groups of friends a private and exclusive opportunity to view the best of Botswana’s wildlife including lion, elephant, hippo and wild dog, as well as Slaty egrets, wattled cranes and sometimes hundreds of buffalo.
Selinda Explorers Camp is the newest in the Great Plains Conservation family of camps. Great Plains Conservation is a unique “conservation organization, which operates ecotourism to maintain conservation as a sustainable land use alternative.” Their executive team consists of some of the world’s most well-known conservationists including Dereck and Beverly Joubert, the renowned filmmakers behind National Geographic’s “The Last Lions” and “Eye of the Leopard.”
Selinda Explorers Camp is a great fit for families and small groups and can be easily added to itineraries with destinations throughout Botswana and neighboring countries.
Get in touch to explore how to include Selinda Explorers Camp in your next safari.Photos of Selinda Explorers Camp are courtesy of Great Plains Conservation.
While Co-Founder Louise is out & about on a 27-day trek in Northern India, we’ve been busy bees putting the finishing touches on three very exciting and very different itineraries:
Namibia – 10 days in Namibia for some of our most enthusiastic clients, The Clarks (WooHoo!) whose daughter has caught the Africa bug and works with World Camp in Malawi.
They’ll be meeting in Windhoek for a safari that takes them to Southern Etosha National Park, Mowani Mountain Camp and NamibRand Nature Reserve. Namibia is one of the most unique destinations in the world: vast and ancient with an incredible diversity of wildlife and ecosystem.
Botswana – Starting from Cape Town and finishing up at Vic Falls, this custom 14-day trip is a great value with visits to all of Botswana’s major destinations including Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, and Makgadikgadi National Park.
We worked very closely with our partners Africa Pass and Desert & Delta to turn this trip around from initial inquiry to confirmed itinerary in less than SEVEN days!
Tanzania & Zanzibar – A very special 12-day honeymoon through Tanzania’s classic Northern Circuit including Tarangire, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, with a final stop on the spice island paradise of Zanzibar, a bright tapestry of Arab, African and Swahili culture with remarkable beaches and a World Heritage Site for a capital.
Stone Town offers a labyrinth of winding lanes and ancient stone houses, Arabian arches and heavy carved wooden doors and a fascinating selection of bazaars, curio shops, art galleries and spice troves.
That’s just a little bit of what we’ve been working on.
Get in touch so we can start working on your Next Adventure…
Maybe our favorite thing is receiving detailed trip reports from our clients after they’ve returned from their custom safari, and this might be the best one yet. Pat and Charley celebrated his birthday on a safari that took them through Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Selous Canoe Trail and Kalahari Desert. We’ll let Pat tell you all about it:
Hi Kili, we had the most amazing trip, thanks to you and Louise. It was a dream come true, and Charley loved EVERY camp, even though he initially had concerns they would be too “fancy” (as I had expressed, he’s a real low-key guy).
He said many times that he was so impressed how you had responded to our discussions and came up with such a perfect itinerary. We loved the diversity of the locations, from the desert to the woodland and waterways.
Of course he loved the canoe trip best, as did I. It was a wonderful end to the journey and I’m glad the sequence worked out as it did.
Tracy and a few friends did a big trip with us back in the Summer of 2012 including gorilla tracking in Rwanda, game drives in the Serengeti and Okavango Delta and a helicopter tour over Victoria Falls. Here’s one of our favorite client pics ever. Great lighting, a very interesting expression and the sense that this leopardess is perched right above us!!!
Here’s another favorite! Everybody loves baby animals, and a baby hippo has got to be one of the cutest.
Today I had lunch with a friend and spent most of the time sharing about my trip and answering questions. When the inevitable “who did you go with?” arose, I said “I went solo” using an absolutely awesome travel agency “NEXT ADVENTURE”. With only a month before I wanted to leave, you listened to my ideas and questions, responding and asking several questions yourself. You reassured me that Africa was an easy place to go solo, but you weren’t sure my goal would be possible at such a late date. Still, you went to work and within 48 hours, the itinerary was pinned down, 80% confirmed (the final 20% all done within 4 days). You even included 3 days of canoeing, having picked up my enjoyment of paddling from our initial conversation, and you added the treat of your “favorite place” in Zambia.
Next Adventure always has an eye on the best up-and-coming safari spots. Our picks for next year are from two very diverse countries, Botswana and Tanzania.
With our intimate knowledge of Botswana, we always have a secret to tell you about the best camp to visit any month of the year. The Okavango Delta’s floods bring a distinct seasonality to the patch-work ecosystems of the region and wildlife viewing varies dramatically between even neighboring spots! Our favorites pics for dry season are Duba Plains, Selinda Camp and San Camp.
In Tanzania, we love combining the seldom-visited northern Serengeti, where the Migration masses without attendant throngs of tourists, with lush and remote Mahale National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. where you can sit next to wild chimpanzees! Our favorite accommodations in these hot spots are Lamai Serengeti and Greystoke Mahale – stylish and upscale camps managed by innovative safari company Nomad Tanzania. Ask us about the best seasons to travel to these hidden gems.
The channel was clear amber in near-dusk.
I saw a kingfisher alight, black
and white, on a papyrus stalk.
And as the kingfisher darted, a soft spray
of pale pollen floated down. I was
hushed then. And heard
the bird chitter. As darkness came, rowing,
the channel was a blue-black
slash in autumn night.
Botswana is an exquisite contrast between lush paradise in the Okavango Delta and stark beauty in the Kalahari Desert. Each year floodwater flows into the Okavango from its source in the moist central African highlands over a thousand kilometres away into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife. Apart from year round excellent game viewing, the beauty of this water wonderland is awe inspiring.
To the north-east of the Okavango Delta are the Chobe and Linyanti Game Reserves with marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands and the world-famous Savute Channel – areas renowned for predators and large concentrations of game, particularly elephant. The grasslands of the Kalahari together with the lunar expanse of the Makgadikgadi saltpans complement and are in total contrast to the verdant, game-rich Okavango and Linyanti regions.
Selinda was probably our favorite camp (though it is nearly impossible to choose) where an intrepid guide led us to wondrous sightings of African Wild Dogs, cheetahs, and a pride where a lioness dragged a roan antelope to feed seven hungry cubs.
Melinda, Berkeley, CA
Borana has always been a special place; a truly family-oriented conservancy, adjacent to the world-renowned Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, that offers outstanding wildlife experiences as well as opportunities to explore a breathtaking landscape through a variety of activities. Borana also offers a range of exclusive-use safari homes and villas, and the newest is Lengishu House.Read More ›
One common question we hear is “How far in advance should I start booking my safari?”, so we put together our recommendations for when different types of travelers should book different destinations and experiences. The first thing to keep in mind is that there are great safaris to be had all year round, but there […]Read More ›
For this edition of our “Personal Picks”, we’re thinking outside-the-box to share four breathtaking lodges in unique, lesser-known parks and reserves that offer an excellent overall guest experience. Magashi – Amalinda – Mashatu – Shipwreck These areas don’t make it on many bucket lists, but they offer a superb safari with an uncrowded, exclusive feel […]Read More ›
In the 1990s, Zimbabwe was booming. It was a sought-after destination, and Next Adventure was one of the few photographic safari experts to specialize in travel to Zimbabwe. Over the past couple of decades, Zimbabwe tourism has struggled, but there is optimism in the air. Three of the most influential safari operators are opening new […]Read More ›
A family vacation is all about sharing special moments, and we can’t think of many moments more special than being out in the wilderness with an expert guide up close to Africa’s great wildlife. Of course, you’ll see elephants and lions, but you’ll also get to feel the heat coming from a termite chimney or learn […]Read More ›
We couldn’t be more excited to see this new Wilderness Safaris camp opening in one of the Delta’s most productive areas. New photos by Dana Allen have just been released, and we’re happy to share them below. Not only is it a stunning new camp, it offers both water and land-based safaris as well as […]Read More ›
As you might have guessed, the Next Adventure team fully supports taking the whole family on safari! As family safaris have grown in popularity, the options for quality family experiences have also grown. Some of the best camps and lodges now provide dedicated family spaces and phenomenal creative resources ensuring a safari with children or grandchildren is a […]Read More ›
We spent several memorable days enjoying boat cruises on the dam, a herd of 100+ elephants and informative walking safaris. I was so excited about the area that I can’t wait to come back and stay at their newly-opened Marataba Trails Camp offering the only Big 5 walking trails in a malaria-free environment! Click any […]Read More ›
Accommodations in Botswana
The most exceptional thing about Botswana is its luxurious and exclusive accommodations. There is a variety of permanent tented camps & safari lodges spread through the Okavango Delta in the Moremi Game Reserve and adjacent private concession areas.
Duba Plains Camp Okavango Delta
Little Vumbura Okavango Delta
Mombo Camp Okavango Delta
Selinda Camp Linyanti
Selinda Explorers Camp Selinda Reserve
The camps and lodges are small exclusive properties catering to only 8 to 22 guests. Many of these are located on private concession areas. All have luxurious tented accommodation and include ensuite bathroom facilities. A bar and dining area are located around a central lounge. Most camps these days have a plunge or swimming pool and all are very attractive and comfortable if not luxurious. They are quoted on an ‘all-inclusive basis’, which includes accommodations, meals, professional wildlife guides and all wildlife activities by open safari vehicle, walks, watercraft or night game drives. Rates include park fees, taxes, most drinks and laundry. For small groups or families, we often can reserve the entire camp on an exclusive basis. Next Adventure quotes a package which includes all charter flights and related services required for your journey. Rates range from a low season of $500 per person per night ‘all-inclusive’ to well over $1,000 ‘all-inclusive’ plus charter and connecting transportation.
Selinda Canoe Trail
Botswana is home to some of the most luxurious and unique safari destinations in all of Africa. Next Adventure is proud to partner with Wilderness Safaris, Great Plains Conservation, Uncharted Africa, Desert & Delta Camps, Ker & Downey Botswana, Kwando Safaris, Sanctuary Retreats, African Bush Camps, Mashatu and many other independent camps and lodges in Botswana. We have a long working relationship all of these providers, have visited most camps personally and have celebrated over 30 years of operations in Botswana!
To enjoy the spoils of Botswana, one pays on an “all inclusive basis,” eliminating the hassle of paying more for premium services. Nightly rates range from a modest low season of $500 per person to over $1000 pp in high season. These fully inclusive privates cover accommodations, meals, professional wildlife guides and all wildlife activities by open safari vehicle, walks, boating or mokoro rides and night game drives (except for camps in the game reserves) and important incidentals such as park fees, light aircraft transfers between camps, taxes, most drinks and laundry. In the company of friendly, informed guides, you will receive detailed descriptions of the country and its people.
Next Adventure quotes a safari package, which includes all light aircraft transfers and related services required. For small groups or families, we can reserve the entire camp on an exclusive basis. At a minimum, one needs at least five nights to visit two areas in the Okavango Delta & Moremi Game Reserve. To include Chobe or Savuti /Linyanti, the typical safari is usually 7-10 days for a good visit and might involve three or four camps. Other areas of Botswana, such as the Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, can also be combined with the Chobe, Okavango and Moremi areas.The gateways for Botswana safaris are Maun (from Johannesburg) or Kasane (from Victoria Falls). Often, our itineraries begin in one gateway and depart through the other. We arrange all charter flights between the camps and overland transportation where needed.
Louise and Kili McGowan have visited almost all the camps and lodges in Botswana and can expertly arrange your visit to these areas on a tailor-made basis. We also specialize in combining your safari in Botswana with the Kalahari Desert or other destinations in Southern Africa.
Cost: We quote an all-inclusive package with meals, activities and accommodations as well as inter-camp flights. Low season rates are in effect December to March; shoulder season is from April to June plus November. High season begins June 15 and runs through October. A typical 8 day safari in low season visiting three camps is about $5,000 per person; $7,000 shoulder season and $10,000 high season (rates are per person).
This ‘desert’ is actually covered with vegetation including stunted thorn and scrub bush, trees and grasslands. The largely unchanging flat terrain is occasionally interrupted by gently descending valleys, sand dunes and large numbers of pans. The pans fill with water during the rainy season, attracting a horde of wild game and they drain in the dry season, creating a visible transition in the flora and fauna in an area that few would want to miss.
In the North-west, the Okavango River flows in from the highlands of Angola and soaks into the sands, forming the 15,000 sq. km network of water channels, lagoons, swamps and islands. The Okavango is the largest inland delta system in the world a bit smaller than Israel or half of Switzerland, forming a labyrinth of channels, lagoons and river lets. The treasure that is the Okavango Delta will be best appreciated by at least three nights stay in a luxurious camp.
MOREMI GAME RESERVE
The lush grasslands are a home to a teeming variety of antelope and other animals including Warthog, Mongoose, Spotted genets, Monkeys, Bushbabies and Tree Squirrels. Seen from the comfort of open tour vehicles or lounge areas in lodges, the Botswana experience is unparalleled for its ability to provide an intimate encounter with nature. A minimum of three nights in this diverse park will enable you to explore its different pockets such as Xakanaxa, Chief’s Island and Eastern Moremi.
An area with distinctive character, Savuti is characterized by the Mababe depression marked by the Magwikwe Sand ridge, the geologically unusual Savuti channel that acts as a magnet to all sorts of game and rare vegetation that’s a testament to Savuti channel’s dynamic. Spend three nights in this paradise for a breathtaking experience.
Botswana – 11-day Luxury Safari & Tour – Livingstone/Vic Falls, Okavango Delta, Kalahari
Okavango Magic: Botswana & Victoria Falls
Kili’s favorite country is Botswana: the lush paradise of the Okavango Delta contrasts exquisitely with the stark silence of the Kalahari Desert and yet both are full of wildlife and birdlife. Botswana’s low-volume/high-revenue tourism policy and stable democracy have made it a shining star for sustainable tourism while ensuring that visitors have a exclusive wilderness experience.
For full details, please view our Botswana Okavango Magic PDF itinerary here.
Learn more about Botswana safari options.
Guided Camping Safaris
One of our favorite trips in Botswana is this simple camping safari with Wilderness Dawning – especially great for families and private groups!Highlights of Botswana: 10 day camping safari
‘HIGHLIGHTS OF BOTSWANA’ is a 10-day camping safari that takes in all that the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park offers. From the outset, with a fantastic flight into our remote camp in Moremi, to the remarkable game viewing that the enigmatic Savuti Channel offers, with the last few days spent alongside two of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, to the safari’s end viewing the magnificent Victoria Falls . The 8 nights spent out this unique wilderness will leave indelible memories of spectacular wildlife and evenings spent around a campfire under billions of stars.
Safari includes 8 nights non-participation camping and 1 night in a safari lodge in Livingstone, transportation throughout is in a specially modified 4×4 vehicle with a professional guide and back-up crew who handle all the camp chores and cooking.
Botswana Safari Destinations
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