Botswana, Wildlife Tours

The Flowering Deserts of the Kalahari – by Tented Camp

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Group Tour
9 Days
From 5280
Big Cat Safari
Budget
Off The Beaten Track
Photographic

Tour Introduction

9 Days from  5280 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

We have timed this safari for when the rainy season is coming to an end in Botswana.  This is when the deserts and salt pans of the Kalahari are in full bloom with flowers and new life, making it a photographer’s dream.  Thousands of zebra and other herbivores migrate to the desert at this time making the most of the succulent new growth.  This area is also home to a large number of desert-adapted resident animals such as brown hyaena, oryx, aardwolf, meerkat, bat-eared fox and stunning black-maned lions.

Being a desert area, rainfall is generally low here but passing cumulonimbus clouds will provide a dramatic background to your photos.  A few of these will give some heavy showers, particularly in February and March.

The safari takes you deep into the heart of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and far off the beaten track.  You will travel to two different mobile camp locations with single nights in excellent wildlife lodges at the start and end.

The abundance and diversity of wildlife in the region is astonishing. You can hope to see many of Africa’s larger ungulates, including elephant and giraffe. Carnivores present include spotted hyena, cheetah, leopard and the unique black-maned lion, whilst African wild dogs make passes through the area. To a birder’s delight, around 250 bird species have been recorded in the CKGR.

An experienced naturalist guide will escort you throughout the nine days, taking you on multiple safari drives in an open-sided, four-wheel drive and providing all of your transfers. The friendly crew of camp staff ensure that the well-equipped campsite is set up at each location prior to your arrival, whilst a chef prepares high quality meals for you. A variety of drinks and refreshments are readily available, tents are ensuite, and the staff incredibly attentive, all helping to make sure your camping experience is comfortable and enjoyable. This is not camping as you might know it.

Sat around the campfire with your travel companions, under astounding starry night skies, listening to the whooping calls from a clan of spotted hyena, or the humbling roar of a male lion, will live with you for a very long time.

Please note: tours are based on a minimum of 2 people with a maximum group size of 7.  Transport will be in specially designed safari 4×4 with fridge and retractable canvas roof.  Guaranteed window seat for each passenger.  Minimum age for children is 12 years.

Full Itinerary

Price from  5280 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Maun to Boteti River

Fly Johannesburg to Maun. Met and Maun Airport and transfer to Leroo La Tau, on the western bank of the Boteti River, which forms the boundary of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. First game drive in the open safari vehicle at sunset.

Staying at Leroo La Tau. Includes Dinner.

Day 2
Boteti River To Deception Valley

After breakfast you will be driven into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve via its Matswere Gate. You will be spending the next four nights in a very remote, mobile camp in Deception Valley. This is true wilderness and even the drive to the valley might offer some incredible wildlife sightings.

Staying at Letaka Tented Camp Deception Valley. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Deception Valley

A relative oasis within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, this once river valley (it flowed thousands of years ago) is grassed and bordered by wooded dunes. When seasonal rains do appear, the area becomes very lush, sustaining a large population of megafauna. Even during the dry season, herbivores such as gemsbok, springbok, oryx and greater kudu remain along with cheetah, a resident pride of lion and several leopard. Your experienced guide will join you on multiple game drives over the next few days.

Staying at Letaka Tented Camp Deception Valley. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Deception Valley

Deception Valley exploration day

Staying at Letaka Tented Camp Deception Valley. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Deception Valley

Deception Valley exploration day

Staying at Letaka Tented Camp Deception Valley. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Deception Valley to Passarge Valley

Today you will head to the north western area of Central Kalahari, to your next private mobile camp in the Passarge Valley. You will drive through seemingly endless dune fields and have the chance of seeing ostrich, giraffe and hyena amongst many other animals that inhabit this part of the Kalahari.

Staying at Letaka Tented Camp Passarge Valley. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Passarge Valley

The exceptionally remote Passarge Valley is a wildlife-rich wilderness in pristine condition. The grasses here are highly nutritious thanks to the topography and geology of the area. The valley is particularly good for spotting the unique black-maned lions of the Kalahari, as well as the endangered African wild dog. Other mammals that can be seen include the aardwolf, meerkat, eland and bat-eared fox. Your guide will be joining you on safari drives in the Passarge Valley.

Staying at Letaka Tented Camp Passarge Valley. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Passarge Valley to Tau Pan Camp

Say farewell to to the mobile camp team and drive south with your guide to Tau Pan Camp. The drive could offer many more wildlife sightings and in the afternoon you will have the opportunity to join a walking experience with the San Bushmen. Spend your final night of the tour in the excellent accommodation of Tau Pan Camp, overlooking the scenic salt pan.

Staying at Tau Pan Camp. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Depart Maun

Enjoy a final morning guided walk or drive around Tau Pan, and then board a chartered flight from the local airstrip, arriving back at Maun Airport in time for your onward flight.

Includes Breakfast.

Tour Accommodation

Botswana Makgadikgadi Pans

Leroo La Tau

Overview

This 4-star lodge, run by Desert and Delta safaris, is up there with the best regarding wildlife watching potential from your doorstep.

Leroo La Tau is located on the bank of the Boteti River. This waterway forms the western boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. After being completely dried up for 20 years due to sustained years of drought, the river has once again flowed since 2009 thanks to heavy seasonal rains in the Okavango.

A major drawcard to the Boteti River is to witness one of the largest zebra migrations in Southern Africa. The zebra population here swells as they come to graze on the valley’s nutrient-rich grasses, as part of their annual passage between the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi salt pans. Many other herbivorous species are present, and with them, predators including lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena.

Each suite looks directly over the valley, and a purpose built hide down the riverbank provides exceptional big game viewing. Fabulous breakfasts and lunches are served along with three course dinners, that are eaten in a communal setting along with other guests.

A small pool provides an ideal way to cool off after a safari drive or walk, and the lodge’s staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming. An optional night sleeping under the stars, out on the salt pan is possible.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
12
Facilities

Outdoor swimming pool, communal fire pit area, game-viewing hide, bar, dining area and lounge, small shop selling locally made crafts and souvenirs and a large communal deck for dining and socialising.

A daily laundry service is included in your stay, and there is a library above the reception area that is well stocked with books and games. The Wi-Fi is patchy but good enough in the main building.

The 'open' bar means you are free to help yourself to a selection of beverages at any time.

All of the suites have a ceiling fan, en suite bathroom and private veranda overlooking the river valley below.

Local Wildlife

Lion, cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyena, jackal, caracal, genet, zebra, elephant, giraffe, steenbok, wildebeest, Chobe bushbuck, impala, kudu, porcupine, crocodile, hippo

Optional Activities

Guided game drives in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, boat excursions (dependent on water level), cultural excursions to Khumaga village, day trips to Nxai pan and Baines Baobabs, and a 'sleep out under the stars' experience.

Botswana Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Letaka Mobile Tented Camps

Overview

A mobile safari tour is an intrepid and unique way of experiencing Africa’s remaining wilderness regions. Venturing further off the increasingly beaten bush trails of Southern Africa is likely to reward you with extraordinary wildlife viewing. Within Botswana, Letaka Safaris are experts in this type of tour. Their access to private reserves and remote campsites, exceptional staff, and superb regional knowledge, provides them with a cutting edge.

A team of guides and crew will join you and your travel companions, setting up the mobile camp at each location along your itinerary route. The safari chef and camp assistants will ensure you are well supplied with excellent meals, which are eaten in a communal setting with your companions.  Drinking water, soft drinks and a selection of alcoholic beverages are all included in your stay.  Mobile showers are even available within your private ensuite area, adjacent to your tent.

Their modern fleet of open-sided, four-wheel drive vehicles ensure excellent wildlife viewing potential in comfort, whilst the guides are highly professional and experienced.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
6
Facilities

The tents are a 4 x 3m Sahara style with a high roof, 2 x 3m ensuite bathroom and a 2 x 3m covered (open-sided) private porch area.

Solid base camp beds made up with mattresses, sheets, duvets and pillows. Ensuite areas consist of a long drop toilet and a bucket shower. Showers can be ordered as hot, cold or warm. *The guide withholds the right to limit water use and showering depending upon the availability of water. Towels and basic toiletries provided.

Tents have an oil/paraffin lamp on the veranda and in the bathroom and within the tent itself, a LED rechargeable camp light is supplied.

Local Wildlife

Depending on the region and campsite location, certain species may be more prevalent and easier to spot than others. In the Kalahari, Okavango and Chobe regions however, you could possibly see: Lion (including black-maned), cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, wild dog, aardwolf, caracal, honey badger, elephant, giraffe, zebra, greater kudu, impala, gemsbok, steenbok, springbok, oryx and eland. Hundreds of bird species including good numbers of raptors and ostrich are present.

Optional Activities

Game drives, bushmen guided walks, mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) excursions.

Botswana Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Tau Pan Camp

Overview

Tau Pan is the first permanent camp inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), famous for its breathtaking night skies and amazing scenery and cloud formations. Tau Pan Camp is situated on the edge of the beautiful Tau Pan and commands stunning views of the permanent Tau Pan water hole and the endless Kalahari horizon.

Situated on an established sand ridge overlooking Tau Pan, the camp has only eight custom-built desert rooms under thatch (including 1 family room). All rooms are en-suite and adapted to the surrounding environment. The main area consists of dining room, lounge area and a viewing deck. The camp also offers a swimming pool, interpretation centre/library and curio shop. Tau Pan Camp is adapted to the surrounding environment and runs on solar power.

After the summer rains, CKGR completely transforms as the blue sky fills with huge clouds, and the plains and pans burst into life with sweet grasses. This is one of the best game viewing areas in Botswana at that time of year, but not many people seem to be aware of it so visitors are few. CKGR is home to animals such as springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest in their thousands and is quite a sight to behold. Predators abound with plentiful lions – especially the famous Kalahari black-maned lion – cheetah, leopard and jackals

Activities include game drives in open 4×4 vehicles, stargazing and guided walks with a San bushman who will answer your questions regarding San culture, from birth to marriage to bush survival. Tau Pan is a national park, a very ecologically sensitive area, and for this reason no night drives or off-road driving is permitted.

Please note that the camps in the Kalahari offer true exposure to the bushmen, or San people, and not a “staged experience”. Today’s San people have integrated into western culture and are employed in many of the lodges in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and surrounding areas. Although they keep their traditions alive and provide a fascinating cultural perspective, they do not walk around in traditional clothing.

Where specific activities with San people are offered, these are sensitively presented in a non-patronising manner so as to avoid exploitation of these fascinating people.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
9
Facilities

Thatched en-suite guest rooms. Dining room, lounge area, viewing deck, swimming pool, interpretation centre/library and curio shop.

Local Wildlife

Classic desert species such as oryx, springbok, bat-eared fox and tortoise. The desert comes alive in the rainy season bringing many zebra, wildebeest, antelopes and carnivores including black maned lion and cheetah. Honey badgers and brown hyena are also often seen here and around 220 bird species have been recorded.

Optional Activities

Game drives (daytime only) and San bushmen walks.

Route Map

Departure Dates

Tour Dates
Adult Price
Single Supp
05/05/2024
5280
1297
02/02/2025
5280
1297
02/03/2025
5280
1297
30/03/2025
5280
1297
11/05/2025
5280
1297
08/06/2025
5280
1297

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

Includes the charter flight from Tau Pan back to Maun Airport

Best Visited:

February to June

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Jonathan Morris

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

On behalf of my wife and myself, I would like to thank all at Reef and Rainforest for arranging so superbly yet another exceptional wildlife experience.  As you are aware our ‘expeditions’ tend to be species led and this year’s brief was to observe and photograph the ‘Three Big Cats of Africa’ in a truly wild setting (i.e. no fences).  Your recommended  destination, Botswana, did not let us down, in fact the whole trip proved an outstanding success in all aspects.

We stayed in three camps (three nights in each) across the Okavango Delta and surrounding area, each provided a different environment which ensured our aims were met. Each camp was run to a very high standard, was extremely comfortable and provided excellent meals. The quality of guiding and tracking in all our camps was of the highest standard. As Botswana manages its natural resources so well all the camps were small (no more than 18 guests) ensuring a very intimate safari experience in pristine wild African habitat.

I am delighted to report our big cat objectives were realised. All observations were lengthy and offered excellent photographic opportunities.  However, unexpectedly, the highlight of our spectacular trip turned out to be sightings of two separate packs of African Painted Dogs. We visited two dens, the first had a very healthy number of adult dogs, approximately fifteen and eighteen pups. The second had seven adult dogs and sixteen pups. At Lebala we had the privilege of spending a prolonged period of time following the pack of dogs as they hunted, an experience we will never forget.

When one also considers the significant mammal and bird species we observed, Botswana is truly a must visit destination for the wildlife enthusiast. Incidentally we also observed three serval and two African wild cats.  We also thoroughly enjoyed our few days at Victoria Falls, possibly the most spectacular waterfall in the world, the hotel in Zimbabwe was excellent. Viewing the falls from the Zambian side and also the helicopter flight are both well worth doing.

This was our third consecutive trip with Reef and Rainforest, and I would be very surprised if there is not a fourth being planned very soon. Thank you all once again.

Mr JW - Ettrickbridge