Waterfall, Wildlife and Pans

DRIVE IN THE UNEXPLORED

  • Zimbabwe and Botswana
  • Duration: 18 days
  • Self-drive

Areas of Interest

David Livingstone became the first European to see Victoria Falls in 1855 and named them in honor of the British Queen.

Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In more modern terms Victoria Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world.

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as, at the height of the rainy season, more than five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge, over a width of nearly two kilometers, into a gorge over one hundred meters below.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 5,604 ft (1,708 m) and height of 354 ft (108 m), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is rough twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width, Victoria Falls is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls.

Sundowner cruises operate above the falls, and the area is also famous for the private flights on small aircraft, as well as the bungee jumps. Rafting in the Zambezi river is exciting, as well as canoeing and kayaking. If you are looking for an active holiday, Victoria Falls and the Zambesi River is the place for you.

Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 6,000 square miles. It is located in the northwest corner of the country, and it is closed to the Victoria Falls. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park’s elephant population is one of the largest in the world. The Park has three distinctive Camps and administrative offices at Robins, Sinamatella and the largest one at Main Camp.

The winter months are considered from mid-May until early August. The days are warm with beautiful blue skies, and the evenings can get extremely cold and temperatures below freezing are not uncommon. Summer months go from September through to May. Hot to extremely hot days and warm evenings. The rainy season is generally between late November and April.

August, September, October and early November are by far the best months for game viewing in this park. Water becomes extremely scarce and the animals congregate around the few pumped waterholes. During the rainy season, the lush fields are the scene for an abundance of grazing. The animals disperse and game viewing becomes difficult, but not impossible. This is the green season and has it’s own magic as this is when the park and all the animals rejuvenate themselves, feeding like crazy on the abundance of food. Newly born animals can be seen everywhere and the birdlife is absolutely prolific.

Nxai Pan National Park covers more than 810 square miles and is located in Northern Botswana. It is a fossil lake, and the landscape is famous for the baobabs. Wildlife varies from cheetah to gemsbok, eland, lions and the other predators. The highlight of the park is the Baines Baobabs, a group of five baobabs, recently painted by Prince Charles.

Makgadikgadi National Park is part of the Makgadikgadi Pans, a large area that of 4,600 square miles. The landscape is characterized by the salt pans, with a few land islands scattered in the area. The wildlife includes large herds of blue wildebeest, flamingoes, plain game and the famous meerkats. On the western side, thanks to the fact that the Boteti River is now flowing again, and wildlife viewing is very rewarding. Stargazing is also a famous highlight of the Makgadikgadi. The complete darkness produces the brightest stars you could ever imagine.

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve, also known as the CGKR, is one of the largest in the World, with its 20,000 square miles. Depending on the season, you will find the best cheetah population in Botswana, as well as all the other predators (December through May). The most famous part of the CKGR is Deception Valley. The area was home for the American researchers Mark and Delia Owens, who wrote the best seller The Cry of the Kalahari (a must-read).

Itinerary

Authenticity, essence, and wilderness. One of our best-selling itineraries, a point-to-point adventure in which you will start in Livingstone with the Victoria Falls, you will go into Zimbabwe and you will then finish in Botswana. The political situation in Zimbabwe is now getting back to normal, and it is safe to travel. Tourists are few and prices are competitive, but the main parks are still cared for and well worth visiting. Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is not to be missed, as well as the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

  • Day 1 & 2 & 3 – Waterberry Lodge – Victoria Falls

Your adventure will start with the visit to Victoria Falls, a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. You will stay at the Waterberry Lodge, located on the banks of the Zambezi River, amongst Mopane woodland. A sunset cruise on the river will be the ideal way to relax and enjoy the amazing moments of your holidays. We will be happy to help you plan any of the activities of your interest during your stay at the lodge.
Service: Full Board

 

  • Day 4 – Shumba Dam Campsite – Hwange National Park

This morning you will leave the lodge and move to the Zimbabwe border where you’ll cross the Zambezi and head south to Hwange. You will reach a great little campsite called Shumba Dam, which is a beautiful viewing spot with an excellent hide for game viewing about 10 miles from Sinamatella. Each site consists of an enclosed picnic area (usually with shady trees or thatch cover) and a small ablution block with running water.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 5 hours

 

  • Day 5 – Masuma Campsite – Hwange National Park

You will still stay at Hwange but in another nice campsite. Also, in this case, the hides in the area will be an incredible opportunity to spot the wildlife in a different setting from the day before.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: a game drive from one camp to the other

 

  • Day 6 & 7 – Davison’s Camp – Hwange National Park

A mind-blowing experience with the team at Davison’s. The lodge is located in the private Linkwasha Concession – one of the most prolific wildlife areas in Hwange National Park. Hidden within a treeline, this classic African safari camp overlooks an open plain and a waterhole that is a favorite drinking spot for elephant and buffalo.
Service: Full Board
Driving time: 3 hours

 

  • Day 8 – Nata Lodge Campsite

Today you’ll drive to the border at Pandamatenga where you’ll cross into Botswana, then head south to Nata. A small little city, an ideal stop to enter into Botswana. The drive and the time at the border crossing may make this day a bit long. At the campsite, you can choose to have dinner in the restaurant if you do not wish to cook. There is also a swimming pool at the lodge which campers are welcome to use.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 5 to 6 hours

 

  • Day 9 – South Camp Campsite, Nxai Pan National Park

Today you drive to Nxai Pan to camp at South Camp, which is situated in a wooded area roughly 20 miles north of the main entrance. The camp is nothing special, but Nxai Pan is something special. The landscape is incredible, and the wildlife abundant. There is a healthy population of cheetas, who hunt on the plains, and the large herds of elephants do show up in the afternoon at the waterholes for drinking.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 3 hours

 

  • Day 10 – Baines Baobab Campsite, Nxai Pan National Park

Today you will visit the area of the Nxai Pan around the famous Baines Baobabs. Botswana is packed with fantastic campsites, but few are more inspiring than Baines’ Baobabs in Nxai Pan National Park.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 3 hours

 

  • Day 11 – Njuca Rest, Makgadikadi National Park

We discovered this camp by chance, and since then, we have decided to add the place to our iconic itinerary. It is again a special place, in a special park. Njuca Rest Camp is part of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Two sites operated by the Department of Wildlife & National Parks which need to be pre-booked. Each has its own rustic bush toilet and shower, there is no water here. You will experience an amazing stay, and the stargazing is fantastic.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 3 hours

 

  • Day 12 – Khumaga Campsite, Makgadikgadi National Park

After an early start to visit the salt pans of Makgadikgadi, you will head to Khumaga, on the banks of the Boteti River. The spots are often overlooking the river, and the view is relaxing and invigorating. The campsite is a large flat area with extensive shade.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 3 hours

 

  • Day 13 & 14 – Tau Pan Camp, Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The time has come to take a wonderful rest in one of our favorite lodges, the Tau Pan, in the world-famous Kalahari Desert. Tau Pan is the first semi-permanent camp inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and offers truly incredible views from the elevated ridge of an ancient sand dune, an unusual experience in a land as flat as Botswana, and overlooks the famous Tau Pan – recognized for its stark beauty and remoteness.
Service: Full Board
Driving time: 4 hours

 

  • Day 15 & 16 – Piper Pan, Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Probably one of the most remote corners in the Kalahari, and one of our favorites. Piper’s Pan is only a few miles away from Tau Pan, but the ecosystem is completely different. A perfect flat grass. In the rains, it’s green and often covered with the plain game such as springbok and gemsbok. Around May, it has usually turned a beautiful gold. Depending on the seasonality, we will choose the best campsite for you.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: 3 hours

 

  • Day 17 – Motopi Pan, Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The last game drive into the Kalahari will bring you towards the Motopi Pan, your last night in the desert. You will exit the Kalahari from the Tsau Gate, and the campsite is about 30 miles south of the gate and is a well-maintained and shaded area.
Service: Rooftop tent and self-catering
Driving time: a game drive from one camp to the other

 

  • Day 18 – Royal Tree Lodge – Maun

Today you will drive north to Maun and to Royal Tree Lodge. Royal Tree Lodge is a private game reserve located twenty minutes from Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta.
The lodge is situated on the banks of the Thamalakane River with an abundance of wildlife including giraffe, zebra, springbok, ostrich, eland, gemsbok and kudu as well as an extensive variety of bird life.
Service: Bed & Breakfast
Driving time: 5 hours

v-adventures