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.
Mashatu is located in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve of Botswana which shares unfenced borders with national parks in Zimbabwe and South Africa including the Mapungubwe National Park, a World Heritage Site. This vast area forms part of a cross boundary wildlife conservation area protecting the substantial biodiversity of fauna and flora in this region.
Mashatu Lodge is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. 14 luxury suites lie along the camp’s perimeter and are designed to allow absolute privacy and a communion with the bush and its inhabitants. Watch elephants splashing at the waterhole, listen to the lyrical melody of the woodlands kingfisher on a branch overhead, smell the grassy scent of the bushveld, touch the bark of an ancient tree and inhale a breath of air so pure, it’s intoxicating.
Part of the charm is the exclusive adventure safaris which, over and above the vehicle safaris, feature horse-back safaris, cycling safaris and walks in the wild. Photographic hides add an aspect to the adventure safari, which is unique and thrilling to professional photographers or lovers of wildlife. These added adventures are guaranteed to bring visitors into intimate contact with the remarkable wilderness found at Mashatu.
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
Zarafa Camp is an intimate, four room exquisite tented camp located on the 330,000 acre Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe/Savute corridors. Its villa, the Dhow Suites, consist of two tents and private main area and operates entirely independently of main camp. Few camps rival the location […]Read More ›
The 118,000 hectare private Sapi Concession was awarded to Great Plains Conservation to manage and look after in 2016. Immediately the concession was converted to operating as a private photographic reserve. A myriad of steps were implemented to minimise the various impacts humans had had on the area prior to this conversion. This amazing wildlife […]Read More ›
Mara Plains Camp is a one-of-a-kind, seven tent camp located in the private 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy, just on the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. This intimate camp, one of Kenya’s only two Relais & Chateaux properties (other being sister property ol Donyo Lodge), blends the finest in wildlife viewing with the […]Read More ›
“Tembo” meaning Elephant and reflects more than just a place and a name honouring the animals on these plains. It speaks to long and unique relationships we have with elephants. We draw on their pace and their essence for the atmosphere in camp.The ‘territory’ of this camp is built into the thick riverine forest located […]Read More ›
About 2 years ago, a group of travel-giddy friends put their safari planning in Kili’s hand’s for a Secret Safari. Here’s the original itinerary: We can’t tell you everything they did, but here’s some of Kili’s photos: Read about Kili’s Return to RwandaRead More ›
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 […]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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