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Arrive at any time. Livingstone is great base to kick-off this southern African adventure, to see both some natural wonders and take part in some exciting activities.
The town of Livingstone is a regional transport center, being located near the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe, and serves as a base for the many visitors to see this part of Africa, and the impressive Victoria Falls, a mere 12km from Livingstone.
The Victoria Falls waterfalls occur in a country that is perfectly flat. From its source on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Zambezi River meanders for 1300 km across the wooded plateau of Zambia, eroding for itself a shallow valley on its mild descent to the site of the falls. The river eventually found a weak spot on the lower lip of the surface over which it passed, and forced a passage which was steadily deepened into an exit gorge. During the last half million years the river has scoured out eight of these cracks across its bed. The Victoria falls occurs where the river is 1688 m wide, presents the spectacle of an average maximum of 550 million liters of water a minute tumbling over the lip of the trench in five main falls, the Devil’s Cataract, Main falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow falls and the Eastern Cataract.
The highest of these is Rainbow falls, on an average 108 m high. A peak flood sees 750 million liters of water in one minute hurtling over the falls.
The name Zambezi comes from the Tonka tribe, also meaning Great River, but the Sotho-speaking Kololo people of the upper reaches of the river gave it the well-known name of Mosi o a Thunya (smoke that rises). The Lozi people call it by the same name but translated it into smoke that sounds. The Ndebele call it aManza Thunqayo (the water that rises like smoke). The Namibian people call it Chinotimba (a noise-making place like the distant sound of digging).
Today we journey to the area of Chobe National Park, home to the largest elephant population in Southern Africa. The best way to appreciate one of Botswana's national parks and its thousands of resident elephants, crocodiles, and hippos, is on an optional sunset boat cruise on the Chobe River. You may also choose to embark on a game drive in search of lions, antelope, and of course elephants.
Kasane is situated on the banks of the Chobe River, near its mouth. This is where the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet, creating a border area of four countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, and is situated along the Chobe River. It has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa and one of the world's last remaining sizeable wilderness areas. By size, this is the third largest park (11,000 sq km) of the country, though it is definitely the most diverse and spectacular.
The park is probably best known for its spectacular elephant population: with over 120,000 it has the highest elephant concentration of Africa. Moreover, most of them are probably part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population on Earth. The elephant population seems to have solidly built up since 1990, from the few initial thousands. By chance, they have not been affected by the massive illicit exploitation of the 1970's and 1980's. Elephants living here are Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of all known elephant species. Yet they are characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks. Damage caused by the high numbers of elephants is rife in some areas. In fact, concentration is so high throughout Chobe that culls have been considered, but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected. During the dry season, these elephants sojourn in Chobe River and the Linyanti River areas. During the rain season, they make a 200 km migration to the south-east region of the park. Their distribution zone however outreaches the park and spreads to north-western Zimbabwe.
Enjoy a free morning at leisure in Chobe National Park, beforecontinue to the village of Nata, located near the bizarre salt pans of Makgadikgadi, an immense area devoid of anything but salt and shimmering horizon.
Makgadikgadi pan consists of two main pans, namely Ntwetwe and Sowa pan, both of which are surrounded by myriad smaller pans. Although it is totally devoid of any water, people used to live there before it was declared state land. Villagers were allowed to graze their livestock inside the boundaries during dry season.
Enjoy a village walk, in the afternoon which will be conducted by Nata’s village representative. All guests will be shown various aspects of village life such as visiting a Clinic, the “smouses”, the village entrepreneurs and viewing the ‘kgotla.’ We will also visit a primary school where the children will be dressed in traditional attire (opportunity to give donations to children in form of clothes/stationary etc. Time permitting and not possible in school holidays or weekends).
Time permitting, enjoy an optional sunset tour to the Sowa Pans, leaves around 16h00/17h00 latest. (Min 4 x pax) Guests will be transferred to the Sowa Pan for an open vehicle scenic drive. Sit amidst the wild, enjoy sundowner snacks while observing the amazing scenery and sunset.
Depart this morning for Maun. The name of this village derives from the San word for 'place of the reeds'. As the gateway to the Okavango Delta, the area is filled with wildlife. We spend the afternoon looking for some of the wide variety of birdlife, before a sunset boat cruise. Make sure you keep an eye out for the wildlife as we glide between the channels on the delta. In the evening, enjoy a traditional dance and learn about local culture.
Leaving Maun, we spend the next coupel of days in the Okavango Delta as we drive in customized safari vehicles about 1-2 hours (depending on which dock we go to) to the "dock" where we hop into a mokoro, a dug-out canoe that will take us deep into the delta. After a 1-2 hour mokoro trip, we arrive at our basic “bush camp”. Enjoy game walks, mokoro trips (occasionally unavailable due to seasonality), birdlife and game viewing in the pristine wilderness area of the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta.
"Where all this water goes is a mystery", Aurel Schultz, 1897
The area of the delta was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 square km of the desert. Each year some 11 cubic kilometers of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami. The water entering the delta is unusually pure, due to the lack of agriculture and industry along the Okavango River. It passes through the sand aquifers of the numerous delta islands and evaporates/transpirates by leaving enormous quantities of salt behind. This precipitation processes are so strong that the vegetation disappears in the center of the islands and thick salt crusts are formed. The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding, which begins about mid-summer in the north and six months later in the south (May/June). The water from the delta is evaporated relatively rapidly by the high temperatures, resulting in a cycle of cresting and dropping water in the south. Islands can disappear completely during the peak flood, then reappear at the end of the season.
After our morning cruise on the Okavango Delta, we travel into the heart of the Kalahari. Get a glimpse of how the San adapted to the Kalahari Desert. Learn fascinating wilderness survival skills by local Bushmen on an optional Bushman walk.
Evening Sundowner drink at the “GAT” old quarry (included).
Ghanzi, located western part of Botswana on the northern rim of the Kalahari Desert, is the administrative center of Ghanzi District, and is also known as the "Capital of the Kalahari". Ghanzi is an intriguing town, and is primarily a farming community that supplies the Botswana Meat Commission with most of the required beef produce. In fact, it is the starting point of a 800 km long cattle trek—one of the longest in the world. Cattle are driven on horseback or by truck across the Kalahari southeastward to slaughterhouses at Lobatse.
Ghanzi mostly consists of a variety of ethnic cultures for instance the Bushman, Bakgalagadi, Baherero, Batawana as well as Afrikaners. Other spellings include "Gantsi," which is more consistent with the national language of Botswana, Setswana, "Ghansi," and "Gantsi."
Stay in traditional bushman huts tonight.
Leaving the Kalahari, it's a full day driving to get back to Windhoek. With a population of 230,000, and an altitude of 1654m, Windhoek is the capital of Namibia.
Windhoek was originally the centre of a Nama leader, Jan Jonker Afrikaner, who defeated the Herero inhabitants of the region in the mid 19th century. Windhoek became the seat of colonial rule in 1892, as the capital of the colony of South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). They built a fort that eventually spanned a town that grew under its protection. During World War I, Windhoek was captured by South African troops and became a British dominion. Until the independence of Namibia was inaugurated in 1990, Windhoek was recognized as the capital of South West Africa as administered by the South African government.
The city of Windhoek was traditionally known by two names: Ai-Gams, by the Nama people, which literally refer to the hot springs that were once part of Windhoek, while the second name, Otjomuise, meaning a place of steam, was given by the Herero people. Both traditional names refer to the hot springs.
Depart at any time.