Project Ranger fills a critical gap in wildlife monitoring, surveying, and anti-poaching operations of existing NGO’s in Africa through an emergency fund supporting those on the front-lines of conservation. Contributions from private individuals, foundations, and corporate partners will supplement budget deficits with local ground partners by funding salaries, training, and operations of wildlife monitors, rangers and anti-poaching personnel.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s ripple effects are broad; leaving virtually no industry, economy, or continent immune. As travel and tourism has been brought to a standstill, many wilderness areas are left vacant and workers left with uncertainty of personal income. This “perfect storm” of conditions is leaving many endangered animals highly vulnerable to wildlife crime.
The Wildlife Conservation Network created the Rhino Recovery Fund (RRF) with the goal of protecting rhinos from wildlife crime and restoring their landscapes, improving the health of rhino populations and benefiting local people
RRF targets the two biggest threats to the world’s five species of rhino: the illegal rhino horn trade and rampant habitat loss. To combat the rhino horn trade, RRF invest in projects aimed at stopping rhino poaching in Africa and ending the trafficking and demand for rhino horn. RRF also support projects that are restoring habitat so that Africa and Asia’s remaining rhinos can recover in intact, functional landscapes.
Created by the Wildlife Conservation Network in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Lion Recovery Fund funds game-changing conservation actions by the most effective, vetted partners who work collaboratively to bring lions back
Through strategic investments and collaboration with other public and private donors, the Lion Recovery Fund aspires to double the number of lions in Africa, regaining those lions lost over the past 25 years. Lion Recovery Fund are committed to seeing thriving savannah landscapes where Africa’s people, its economic development and its lions all co-exist
To battle this surge in ivory poaching, the Elephant Crisis Fund is identifying and supporting the most effective projects and partners in Africa, and in ivory consuming nations, to end the ivory crisis and secure a future for elephants. The ECF exists to fuel their efforts, encourage collaboration, and deliver rapid impact on the ground – even within 24 hours of a poaching crisis
Launched by Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Elephant Crisis Fund is the most flexible and responsive fund geared towards emergency assistance and innovative investments in both NGO’s and governments combating the poaching, trafficking, and demand elements of the ivory crisis
The Elephant Crisis Fund supports the best efforts from the most trusted organizations working to save elephants. The ECF funds the best ideas. It provides equal access to funding for both large and small, international or grassroots organizations, based on the merit of their projects to deliver impact for elephants and to stop wildlife crime
Pack for a Purpose travelers have taken over 194,783 kgs (428,522 pounds) of supplies meeting essential needs in over 60 countries
Packed for a Purpose makes it possible to have a big impact in the communities you visit by simply using a small amount of space in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects around the world
A commitment to conservation and responsible tourism has been an integral part of the construction of the properties and daily operations ever since Sanctuary Retreats opened our first camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara in 1999
Sanctuary Retreats continues to build long lasting relationships with the rural communities in the areas in which we operate. The goal is to identify and sponsor long-term, viable and self-sustaining projects that will have the support of staff and visitors
In Botswana and Namibia, 8.9% and 15.7% of the population respectively are employed by the tourism sector. One employed person typically supports between five and seven other people
The COVID-19 Village Support program will be transporting food parcels to remote villages to improve the nourishment of communities in the face of this unprecedented viral threat. Furthermore, the Elephant Express buses will be on the road along the panhandle of the Okavango Delta assisting people with access to clinics via dangerous elephant corridors. Your support in this unprecedented initiative is welcome and cherished
The inspiration for Rhinos Without Borders is a response to the dire situation that is facing rhinos in Africa. With rhino poaching at an all-time high, concerned conservationists need to be proactive. Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond, two leading conservation and tourism companies, have teamed up to translocate rhinos from South Africa in order to create new source populations in Botswana’s wilderness areas
In partnership with the Botswana government, the Rhinos Without Borders project has exceeded our original goal to establish a substantial new wild population of rhinos. The success of this project is evident not only in the current total of over 130 animals, but also given the fact that every sexually mature female that has been translocated, has had a calf: breeding is the ultimate litmus test of a successfully translocated population
Building on a strong foundation of science, partnerships and field capability, Rhino Conservation Botswana is dedicated to monitoring and protecting wild black and white rhino in Botswana, contributing significantly to the survival of these iconic African species.
Over the past two decades Rhino Conservation Botswana has been working with its partners, including the governments of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, to help reintroduce black and white rhinos to Botswana. Over the next few years they aim to build populations of rhinos living wild and free in the Okavango Delta until they are of international importance.
Supporting human-wildlife coexistence by providing safe transportation for school children and clinic patients through an elephant corridor
Endlessly fascinating to watch they might be, but elephants can prove more than a little tricky if you find yourself in their path.
For the conservationists among us, the news that certain areas of the Okavango Delta have experienced a steady increase in elephant numbers over the past 15 years has been well received. However, for villagers along the Delta’s panhandle and outskirts, the elephants’ gain could well be their loss, making agricultural land increasingly vulnerable to elephant raiding and humans at risk of fatal encounters with these enormous creatures. Through multiple community meetings, the need for safe transportation for vulnerable community members was identified as a priority.
Natural Selection have provided two buses, joining up with EcoExist and the Okavango Community Trust to launch the ‘Elephant Express’ in January 2020. Insurance is being sponsored by SATIB and the Botswana Insurance Company. Transport will be available through the ‘elephant highways’ identified by EcoExist’s ongoing research in the area. Children from Eretsha, Beetsha and Gunotsoga schools will be safely transported to and from school, and patients heading to Gudigwa, Seronga and Beetsha clinics will be provided with transport during the school day.
The story of Great Plains Foundation has its roots in the earliest days of conservation; when the idea of protecting pristine wilderness was recognized as a public good. From those early models of conservation came the notion that to truly protect wilderness the entire ecosystem needed to be preserved. It is this approach, maintaining and when necessary restoring, functioning ecosystems that guides Great Plains Conservation and its Foundation.
Founded as a hybrid organization, with both commercial and charitable arms, Great Plains Conservation and its Foundation are securing African landscapes of a scale large enough to also protect its resident and seasonal wildlife populations. In that effort, they identify and select key areas that are under threat, often next to national parks, World Heritage Sites, and reserves, and acquire the rights to convert that land to protected areas with economic benefits. For example, Great Plains converts hunting land or agricultural land to wildlife conservation supported by photographic tourism. Their collection of world-class safari camps are also global leaders in sustainability, demonstrating that commercial operations can positively benefit landscapes when done correctly. Great Plains and its Foundation currently manage approximately 1,000,000 acres with plans to expand to 5,000,000 acres across a variety of fragile landscapes.
Cheetah Conservation Botswana aims to preserve the nation’s cheetah population through scientific research, community outreach and environmental education, working with rural communities to promote coexistence with Botswana’s rich diversity of carnivore species.
Botswana hosts the world’s largest population of cheetahs, with an estimated population of approximately 1,700 individuals. This accounts for approximately 25% of the world’s remaining wild cheetahs and between us and our neighbors Namibia, we have almost half of the world’s cheetahs. Due to Botswana’s location in the centre of southern Africa, this population is also crucial to facilitate connectivity between the remaining populations of Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola.
The African Bush Camps Foundation is a registered not-for-profit organization (registration no: MA121/2016) that began operating in 2006 with the vision of creating opportunities that empower rural communities located in vulnerable wildlife areas.
The Foundation’s mission is to partner with these communities to improve their quality of life and achieve long-term conservation through programs focusing on education, conservation and community empowerment.
By directly linking these benefits to tourism these communities learn to positively value wildlife and nature as resources for improving their well being.
While Botswana has grown to be seen as one of the more luxurious (and expensive) safari destinations, we’re glad to report there are still great options for high-quality mobile camping safaris at a range of budgets.
Some are based completely within exclusive concessions while others utilize private campsites in public wildlife viewing areas, but the goal is the same: to truly immerse yourself into the rhythm of the of the Okavango Delta.
I had a fantastic time in Africa. We saw a vast amount of wildlife, virtually everything one could hope for, except for rhinos, which we knew we would not see. We did see elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, wildebeests, buffalo, hippos, warthogs, African wild dogs, baboons, crocodiles, jackals, nine kinds of antelope, and more! The real highlight for me personally was finding, identifying (of course with the benefit of our guides’ expertise), and photographing over one hundred bird species.
Each one was a new thrill. After returning home I uploaded all one hundred or so bird observations to “iNaturalist.org”. Every one of them was seen and commented on (i.e. my identification either confirmed or corrected). Many were picked up by various “projects” within iNaturalist, such as Birds of Botswana, Birds of Southern Africa, and Owls of the World. One photo (Hooded Vulture) was selected as Observation of the Day, and was nominated for Observation of the Month!
Our guides were fantastic in their knowledge of animal behavior, birds, trees, etc. We had KK in Botswana, and Douglas at Davison’s Camp. Douglas was my favorite. He was absolutely delightful, not only in sharing his passion for the wilderness with all its living things, but also in sharing his own personal stories of life in Zimbabwe.
I loved the trip to the village (called ngamo) in Zimbabwe. This may have been my single favorite part of the trip. It was a moving experience to see the enthusiasm and optimism among the 7th graders we met. They sang songs and danced for us. Their joy in doing so was obvious. The principle was very engaging. We met the Head Man of the village and his wife, who shared with us the structure of the village political system, the local diet, the moral code they live by, their views of their government, etc. This was extremely interesting and educational. I also loved the two boat trips, one on the Khwai River and the other on the Chobe River. These provided very nice variety among many game drives in the jeep.
The transitions from one part of the trip to another worked perfectly! In every case, there was someone at the airport or at the border to receive us and guide us along to the next phase. This was amazing.
Some of the highlights/striking things from the Botswana trip were the abundance and variety of animals. And of course our guides knew every single bird. We saw many lions, their cubs, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeests , warthogs, hyenas, wild dogs, hippos and crocs and of course too many elephants to count. One striking event happened near the Chobe River after our boat ride. A herd of of elephants just finished drinking and were lingering near by. It was early evening and a male lion was scouting them out, appearing nonchalant. Suddenly, the herd coalesced and charged the lion who ran right past our vehicle. We broke the quiet rule and burst into applause for the elephants.
The amenities/food that stood out in Camp Davidson were the care the staff took to accommodate my gluten intolerance. The meals were all excellent. In Botswana, the mobile camp staff couldn’t do enough for us. The primitive conditions hardly mattered. The safari vehicles in Camp Davidson were far superior to those used by Wilderness Dawning. We hope they will upgrade them soon.
Planning our safari with Next Adventure was fabulous. We couldn’t imagine more knowledgeable, accommodating and eager professionals. I have recommended Next Adventure to several people and will continue to do so. I don’t think there was anything Jeremy could have done differently to prepare us. There were no surprises and the whole trip went off without a hitch.
Describing to a friend what it’s like to be on safari, well, you are awakened at 5:30, breakfast at 6 and in the vehicle by 6:30. The guides take out out for game drives with a cup of tea at 10 and continue on until lunch. Each day is quite different in that you never know what you will see and the guides always seem to know where to find the animals. You think it can’t get any more exciting and then it does. Seeing these animals in the wild is really breathtaking. Usually there is an afternoon siesta then back to the vehicles for more animal encounters. The guides always seem just as excited as we are at each discovery.
Some of Lance’s wildlife photos
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…