- Full Itinerary
- Photo Gallery
- Travel Details
- Trip Reports
- Know Before You Go
- Other Trips You May Like
Embark on a true African safari to Botswana and neighboring Namibia, where the wildlife is pristine, and our days are timed with the rhythm of nature. Southern Africa is visually exciting—each of its unique habitats have distinct features, most famous of which are the expansive Okavango Delta and stunning red dunes at Sossusvlei. This year for the Botswana portion of our safari, we feature tented safari camps that are two of our founder, Peg Abbott’s, favorites—places that have consistent sightings of Wild Dog, Leopard, Lion, and Cheetah in addition to habitat variety for great birding and some wonderful creature comforts that create a most memorable stay.
Find numerous Elephant along with Zebra, Warthog, Giraffe, various antelopes, and impressive birds including Southern Ground Hornbill, Secretarybird, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Malachite Kingfisher, and Lilac-breasted Roller, all classic birds of Africa, as well as regional specialty species like Slaty Egret, Wattled Crane, Kori Bustard, Pel’s Fishing Owl, and possibly White-backed Night-Heron in Botswana, and Rosy-faced Lovebird, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Dune Lark, Herrero Chat, and Rockrunner to name a few.
From Maun, Botswana, we fly from camp to camp, saving long drives and giving us fabulous views of the Delta. The two camps provide a contrast, and as large mammals move around, give us the best chance possible of seeing predators. Both camps are outside of Moremi National Park, though ecologically linked to it, which enables us to do night drives, giving us a chance to find species such as Aardwolf, Bat-eared Fox, and other elusive species. Activity at the famous Gadikwe Lagoon rookery for Yellow-billed Stork, Marabou, and various herons is at a peak; we visit by boat from Kwara for a spectacular highlight and excellent photography!
We then fly from Maun to Windhoek to continue our journey with an incredible circuit in Namibia, exploring some of the most stunning arid-land scenery in Africa from lovely lodges, and then spending in-depth time in renowned Etosha National Park. Find additional species here from the stately Oryx to abundant Springbok, coastal and desert regional specialty birds and strange and legendary plants like the giant Welwitschia.
If big game, southern constellations, a rainbow of colorful African birds, and the enchanting sounds of wild Africa beckon, our Botswana-Namibia journey across two countries of Southern Africa is sure to entice.
- Experience the Namib, the world’s oldest desert, famous for massive red dunes at Sossusvlei
- Look for signature birds like Rockrunner, Herero Chat, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, and Dune Lark
- Walk amidst the granite outcrops of the Erongo Mountains, known for impressive wildlife, rock art, and over 200 species of birds
- See one of the most bizarre plants on the planet, the Welwitschia
- Watch exciting raptors such as African Black (Verreaux’s), Martial, and Booted Eagles, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Lanner and Peregrine Falcons, Rock Kestrel, and more
- Enjoy the colonial seaside town of Swakopmund and visit Etosha National Park
- Explore the Okavango Delta’s papyrus-lined channels and lagoons and legendary wetlands and Mopane forests of Moremi Game Reserve
- Look for Pel’s Fishing Owl, White-backed Night-Heron, colorful nesting bee-eaters, and Sitatunga along the Okavango River
- Live “National Geographic moments” in real time on each morning and afternoon game drive
- Find signature birds like Slaty Egret, Black Heron, African Openbill Stork, Hamerkop, African Fish Eagle, Southern Ground Hornbill, bustards, hoopoes, and of course, the stunning Lilac-breasted Roller
- Capture that ultimate African sunset—acacia tree, Giraffes, Leopard, and more
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Fri., Sept. 27 : Morning Arrival to Maun, Botswana | Flight to Kwara Camp
Welcome to Botswana! You are met at the airport, with a short time there to meet up to the staff from Kwando’s Kwara Camp who will help you check in for the charter flight today.
Today we fly from Maun airport to our first safari camp. It’s a scenic flight, a little over an hour, in a small aircraft designed to land on bush airstrips. There we meet our expert local guides in their rugged 4-wheel drive safari vehicles. They review safety guidelines, and we go to camp to settle in. Often, we enjoy afternoon tea with snacks before heading out for a game drive in the afternoon when activity is high.
Kwara Camp in the Kwara Private Reserve shares a 30-kilometer water boundary with Moremi Game Reserve, allowing free passage of all species. It is over 400,000 acres and hosts a fabulous mix of upland and wet habitats in a mosaic attractive to herds of Lechwe, Impala, and other antelopes.
Your “tents” are hardly that—they feel luxurious on their raised platforms, with antique furnishings, spacious inside bathrooms that include indoor and outdoor showers, and a private patio with view of a lagoon. Delightful cuisine is featured and at day’s end you can listen to night sounds from your large and comfortable bed. One could get used to this safari life!
Accommodations at Kwara Camp (B,L,D)
Sat., Sept. 28 - Mon., Sept. 30 : Three Full Safari Days from Kwara Lodge
Kwara Lodge is our base for the next three exciting days of exploring. We rise early to be out with the animals. We look first for predators that are easier to find at dawn and dusk; our guides are expert trackers and have often followed the resident Lion pride, African Wild Dog pack, or Cheetah family for months, such a help to our finding them. After assessing the action from the night before, we switch gears to watching other species, birds, and mammals. Our group all helps with spotting … we see so much! Roads go out from the lodge into different habitats, so every day is different, and we often feel that we are experiencing a National Geographic moment, one right after the other.
One morning, we enjoy a boat ride that takes us up to a quiet lagoon where an active heron rookery is exciting. We moor the boat and watch as stunning, Yellow-billed Stork and gangly Marabou fly back and forth. There are numerous other herons, cormorants, and ibis. We travel a channel to get there, and on the route, Malachite Kingfisher often perch in close view, their jewel tones just captivating. The Okavango region is not unlike our Everglades, a slow moving, major river system that allows water to fan out across the otherwise arid landscape, transforming it into a paradise for wildlife. It is the largest Ramsar designated site in the world, set up to protect globally important wetlands.
Do not be surprised if an Elephant feeds along the lakeshore as you take your after-lunch rest, or if Green Pigeon come to roost in the large shading tree. Camp is one of the few places you can walk safely, so it is fun to birdwatch as you come and go between your tent and the main dining area. There may be a roosting Pearl-spotted or Barred Owl, a dashing, Crimson-breasted Shrike, one of the snazzy African woodpeckers, or a mixed flock with some of the tree-dwelling species.
The food is healthy and delicious and yes, there are sweet treats for dessert and with your tea. Drinks are included and served at sunset out in the field if we wish (we often choose based on animal activity as this is also prime photo time) or once we return to camp. African sunsets are memorable; once we savor the sunset it is back to the lodge to freshen up and join a lovely gathering for cocktails or tea followed by dinner in the open-air tent or out under the stars.
One night we take a drive to find more elusive mammals and perhaps Verreaux’s Eagle or other owl species.
Accommodations at Kwara Lodge (B,L,D)
Tues., Oct. 1 : Flight to Lagoon Camp | Afternoon to Sunset Boat Trip
This morning we enjoy a last game drive out from Kwara for one more chance to see additional species. We then have brunch, freshen up, and pack up before heading to our next camp in the Linyanti part of the ecosystem. This is another great chance to see the Okavango Delta region from the air; it’s fun to spot herds of Elephant in the water or crossing between waterholes, big herds of African Buffalo, or Giraffe.
At a new camp, we continue the rhythm of safari; an early morning game drive, followed by a hearty brunch, and then time for a siesta, in-camp viewing, and photography or relaxing. Then, it’s an afternoon game drive or sunset boat cruise lasting until sunset. Dinner is after dark, under an airy tent with candlelight and stars and more delicious and varied entrees with fresh fruits and greens.
Accommodations at Lagoon Camp, Linyanti Channel (B,L,D)
Wed., Oct. 2 : Full Safari Day from Lagoon Camp along the Linyanti Channel
Lagoon Camp sits in a spectacular place where desert meets water. Landscapes reveal upland tracts of Mopane Forest set in a mosaic of open savanna amid papyrus-lined water channels, lagoons, and mature riverine forests. Aquatic animals and water birds abound, along with herds of plains game and predators. It has an amazing combination of vegetation types, animal species, and bird life. One of the treats is seeing Yellow-billed and Red-billed Hornbills calling from the crowns of trees. Birdlife abounds and there are babblers, shrikes, coucals, rollers, barbets, and the gaudy and comical African Hoopoe. Black-backed Jackal, Warthog, Kudu, Impala, and Red Lechwe are often observed here. African Wild Dog also find a stronghold here and with luck (and persistence) we may find them! Leopards enjoy resting in massive, often flowering Sausage Trees.
Why the early start? Nocturnal hunters like Lion and Spotted Hyena are finishing their hunts, while browsers and grazers (Waterbuck and Kudu) are feeling relieved as daylight offers them better visibility. It is also the time when the diurnal predators such as African Wild Dog and Cheetah start their hunting forays. Birds are vocal and easy to find.
After our mid-day siesta, we head out again, this time looking for those same animals finishing their hunts while the nocturnal predators are starting theirs. Elephant and Giraffe appear out of nowhere, and it is not uncommon to have Lion and other wildlife laying in the shade of a Mopane tree along the road. We are the eyes and ears for our drivers as they take us deeper into the heart of this game preserve. It takes a bit of getting used to, but after a while you are picking out Zebra in the dappled shade that makes them seemingly disappear.
At Lagoon, we enjoy time on the river by boat as well as our explorations by 4-wheel drive. Elephant are often feeding on the river margin. We watch for a deep-water tolerant antelope, the Sitatunga. And we listen for Chirping Cisticola and with luck, may have a chance at seeing the rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. Each bend of the channel is good tern, shorebird, and wading bird habitat, with many to inspect at close range!
In the evening we gather around the fire for drinks and light appetizers before dinner (and after dinner for those that like to linger around the campfire) where we discuss our day’s sightings, photographs, and experiences. Most often we do our species checklist after lunch, when we have good visibility and good energy.
Accommodations at Lagoon Camp, Linyanti Channel (B,L,D)
Thurs., Oct. 3 : Return to Maun | Afternoon to Relax or Explore
We have a last wonderful morning at the Camp. We take a small plane flight back to Maun, likely stopping at other Camps along the way, part of the fun as we see the landscape and wildlife from the air.
In Maun we are met at the airport and drive a short way to our lodge adjacent to the Thamalakane River that runs through town. Settle in and enjoy time to relax by the river and pool, or enjoy some local shopping. There are some lovely stores by the airport with native art and crafts and a basket cooperative. In the evening we enjoy some birding along the river, and dinner at a fun local brew pub.
Accommodations at the Cresta Riley Hotel (B,L,D)
Fri., Oct. 4: Flight to Windhoek, Namibia
We have the morning to bird by the river or run any errands needed ahead of our charter flight. Then it’s time to move on to new terrain and our exciting days ahead in Namibia. Lunch is not included today as its at or near the airport and people most often scatter to do their shopping; there are good cafes to choose from or pick up something quick if you prefer.
The River Crossing Lodge just outside of Windhoek is in a perfect location to start the Namibia portion of our journey. The landscape reminds us of New Mexico, with acacia savannah and golden hued grasses under puffy white clouds. River Crossing Lodge is perched in the hills above the city. We check rocky slopes close to town that should yield Short-toed Thrush, White-tailed Shrike, Barred Warbler, and with luck, a favorite trip bird for some, the Rockrunner. At night, the city lights make its presence more obvious, but during the day it’s easy to feel miles away from anywhere in this landscape of beautiful rolling hills, rocky outcrops, and gold lit valleys. The simple cottages perch above the slopes with spectacular views of the valleys and vistas below. Dining is right there, and they serve delicious meals.
Accommodations at River Crossing Lodge, Windhoek (B,D)
Sat., Oct. 5 : Windhoek | Okonjima Reserve
Wake up to the sound of Rosy-faced Lovebird raucously playing on the roof and eaves of the lodge. Walk the grounds and enjoy sightings of Southern Cordon-bleu and Black-faced Waxbill coming to water and African Grey Hornbill exclaiming loudly as they feed in spreading acacias. Pririt Batis, a striking little bird, is often on site here. We start with some birding at Avis Dam, a great area to bird with easy walking. Over the water we should find aerial-feeding Bradfield’s and Palm Swifts, Rock Martin, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and both Greater-striped and Pearl-breasted Swallows. Wetland birds occur and South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler, and Red-billed Teal are usually present. In the shrublands surrounding the dam, Desert Cisticola, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Black-chested Prinia, and a variety of seedeaters are easily seen.
At midday, we head through the modern and clean city of Windhoek and on out to Okonjima Reserve. This is a three-hour drive, and our plan is to arrive in time for a game drive. Along rocky outcrops we can look out for Hartlaub’s Spurfowl and Rockrunner as we go. Our lodge area is known for good chances to see some of the more elusive species such as Brown Hyena, Leopard, and even Pangolin.
It is also an excellent area for birding. Thornveld species around the lodge include Damara Red-billed, Monteiro’s, Yellow-billed and Grey-billed Hornbill, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Carp’s and Ashy Tit, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Chestnut Weaver, White-tailed Shrike, Rüppell’s Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Violet Woodhoopoe, Red-eyed Bulbul, Namaqua Dove, Southern Pied and Bare-cheeked Babblers, Marico Sunbird, Pearl-spotted Owlet, and Southern White-faced Scops and Scops Owls.
Accommodations at Okonjima Plains Camp, Okonjima Reserve (B,L,D)
Sun., October 6 – Wed., October 9 : Four Full Days in Etosha National Park
Today we enjoy some birding around the camp, then head on to the incredible Etosha National Park where we have a prime location to watch wildlife and enjoy ample space to explore. Etosha is one of the most magnificent game parks in Africa, teaming with large mammals and a grand mix of birds; the current park list features close to 400 species of birds.
For many, our time here is a highlight of the Namibia portion of the tour, where Elephant, Zebra, and other species congregate at scenic waterholes and birds abound. We start here, then continue to fanciful, isolated mountain ranges that contain unique species and, on the coast, passing through vast stretches of Namib Desert.
The main habitat upon entering Etosha is Mopane scrubland. Kori Bustard, the heaviest flying bird at 19 kg, is a signature species here. In some areas, Acacia nebrownii may be in bloom, a favorite food of giraffes. The small yellow pompoms provide protein-rich food for many browsers here and birds love them too.
We are based in the park at two different camps, two nights on each side of the park, so that we experience a good mix of habitats while in this large, protected area. Our plan lets us explore without retracing our steps with more time for birding and finding wildlife. Both of our camps provide wonderful game viewing at night as well as providing opportunities to see nightjars and owls.
Etosha National Park is famous for its large game populations and during our stay here we should see Lion, Elephant, Burchell’s Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Oryx, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, and several smaller antelopes. Among the rarer species regularly seen are Black Rhino (especially at waterholes at night), Cheetah, and Black-faced Impala, a subspecies only found in Namibia. We take time to see the various species well and there are excellent photographic opportunities.
By the Von Lindequist Gate on the eastern side, we find the open grasslands are home to Namibia’s isolated population of Blue Crane, Temminck’s Courser, Grey-backed and Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks, and Eastern Clapper Lark. The elusive Black-faced Babbler occurs in dense Terminalia woodlands in this area. Birding is great right from our lodgings, perfect for early morning birding options.
On our cross-over day near the center of the park, the Halali area is wooded, a great stop for us as it’s the best site to see Violet Woodhoopoe, Bare-cheeked Babbler, and Carp’s Tit. Trees and shade are most welcome at this great rest stop and picnic site.
We then move on to the grassy plains north of Okaukuejo Camp which are the best areas in the park to see Buffy Pipit, Southern Ant-eating Chat, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Pink-billed Lark, Double-banded Courser, Northern Black (White-quilled) Korhaan, and Spike-heeled Lark. Raptors are abundant and we should see Martial Eagle, Secretary Bird, Bateleur, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Tawny Eagle, and Greater Kestrel. Migrant raptors such as Western Red-footed Kestrel, Lesser Spotted Eagle, and Yellow-billed Kite can be seen in large numbers during the wet season.
Accommodations at Onguma Forest Camp (eastern side) & Okaukuejo Camp (western side), respectively (B,L,D)
Thurs., Oct. 10: Etosha to the Erongo Mountains—A Geologic Wonderland!
This morning we leave the park and head for a fantastic area to continue our exploring. The Erongo Mountain Range, an expanse of rugged and picturesque wilderness with fanciful geologic features, is one of Namibia’s most iconic places to visit, and in addition to excellent birding we find magnificent caves and rock painting sites, and an impressive array of wildlife species. The hoofed mammals include Wildebeest, Impala, Blesbok, Waterbuck, Kudu, Mountain Zebra, Oryx, Eland, Springbok, and this lovely range is home to over 200 species of birds. There are also Rhino, Elephant, Warthog, and Giraffe, and with luck we even have a chance at finding predators including Leopard and Cheetah.
During our drive, look for the spectacular Secretarybird, hunting for its prey. We also may get looks at Yellow Mongoose and Steenbok, as well as two more game type birds and Burchell’s Sandgrouse.
We stay at The Erongo Wild lodge, located in the spectacular Erongo Mountain hills. Birding in this area is rewarding and supports many of the Namibian near-endemics such as Violet Woodhoopoe, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Rüppell’s Parrot, White-tailed Shrike, Carp’s Tit, Rockrunner, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, and other species like Freckled Nightjar and Rosy-faced Lovebird. The whole environment is photogenic and magical.
Accommodations at The Erongo Wild, Erongo Mountains (B,L,D)
Fri., Oct. 11: Erongo Mountains | Namibia’s Scenic Coast | Swakopmund
Today we enjoy an early morning walk among the geologic formations at Erongo. Our main species this morning is the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. After breakfast, we pack up and make our way out of the mountains and over to the coast. This is a good day to watch for raptors such as the African Black (Verreaux’s) Eagle, Martial Eagle, Booted Eagle, and Black-chested Snake Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, and Rock Kestrel are all fairly common.
Along the way, there is a rich diversity of plant life including Welwitschia plant, the only member in the family Welwitschia and one of the more bizarre plants on the planet, on the western foot of the mountain. This plant is distantly related to the conifers of Europe; some of these plants are estimated to be 300 – 550 years old; the oldest determined age was 920 years. We drive via Spitzkoppe, one of a series of impressive granite inselbergs that rise steeply out of the desert plains. It is at this imposing batholith that we have our best chance of finding the near-endemic Herero Chat.
As we continue, the landscape becomes more arid and we look for the arid specialty species such as the rare and declining Burchell’s Courser, and many other sandy desert species like Stark’s Lark and other strategic species like Karoo Long-billed Lark. Other species that we may find include Mountain Wheatear, Familiar and Karoo Chats, Pale-winged Starling, Red-faced and White-backed Mousebirds, Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Cisticola, Black-chested Prinia, and Sabota Lark.
On the plains surrounding these hills we should see Rüppell’s Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Chat Flycatcher, Verreaux’s and Booted Eagles, Augur Buzzard, and African Hawk-Eagle. Lanner Falcon also occur in the hills, as do Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp’s and Ashy Tits, White-throated Canary, Layard’s Warbler, White-tailed Shrike, Double-banded Courser, Sabota, Red-capped, Spike-heeled, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Mountain Wheatear, Pale-winged Starling, Bradfield’s Swift, Rockrunner, both Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbills, Dusky and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Marico and Chat Flycatchers, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Great Sparrow, Sociable Weaver, Scaly-feathered Finch, Lark-like Bunting, and the handsome Ground-scraper Thrush.
Swakopmund is a popular seaside resort because of its old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere. Swakopmund exudes romance and history, which makes it a rich cultural melting pot of old and new. The town is an eclectic mixture of Bohemia and Bavaria which makes it home to artists, hippies, strait-laced descendants of German settlers, stately Herero women in Victorian dresses, and hardworking miners, game rangers, safari operators, and fishermen. Dining selections are excellent here and we enjoy some of our favorite restaurants.
Accommodations at Pension Rapmund, Swakopmund (B,L,D)
Sat., Oct. 12 : Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
We spend most of the morning birding around the Walvis Bay Lagoon and we have our first chance here to find Dune Lark, Namibia’s endemic beauty. We are early for the peak numbers at Walvis Bay (October to April) when migrant birds have moved in from the northern hemisphere by the thousands but there are still plenty of species to see, and the variety of the birds around the lagoon is impressive. This area has the highest density of Chestnut-banded Plover, a near-threatened species, in the world. The Walvis Bay Lagoon happens to be one of Africa’s most important shorebird stopovers (it is a RAMSAR site), where we see incredible numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos and some extremely localized species, such as the diminutive Damara Tern.
Resident birds of the lagoon include Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, White-fronted Plover, and Three-banded Plover, as well as the sought-after Chestnut-banded Plover. Migratory species like Common Greenshank, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel, and Bar-tailed Godwit are possible.
We stop in at the Swakopmund salt works to look for Gray’s Lark. This pale-colored desert lark can be difficult to locate as it blends in perfectly with the expansive gravel plains that it frequents in the true Namib Desert. Another good find would be the pale form of Tractrac Chat, as well as Familiar Chat, Red-capped Lark, and with luck, Rufous-eared Warbler and Karoo Eremomela. Some of the water birds encountered can be White-breasted, Bank, Cape, and Crowned Cormorants, Cape Teal, Blue-billed (Hottentot), Red-billed and Maccoa Ducks, Cape Shoveler, Grey-headed Gull, and Little Grebe. Greater and Lesser Flamingos should be here feeding, and Chestnut-banded Plover is possible.
We return to enjoy another night in the seaside town of Swakopmund, known for its wide-open avenues, colonial architecture, and its surrounding otherworldly desert terrain. Founded in 1892 as the main harbor for German Southwest Africa, Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. While touristy, we have fun here and are assured of some fun dining in a local restaurant.
Accommodations at Pension Rapmund, Swakopmund (B,L,D)
Sun., Oct. 13 : Namib-Naukluft National Park | Sossusvlei & Deadvlei
Today we head down the coast, then leave behind the cold Benguela Current and head to one of the most beautiful areas of the Namib Desert at Sossusvlei, stopping regularly to look for arid zone specialists such as Ludwig’s Bustard, Sociable Weaver, Pygmy Falcon, Lappet-faced Vulture, and Burchell’s Courser. The dry river courses and drainage lines are well wooded, and we should see species such as Dusky Sunbird, Rosy-faced Lovebird, and Scaly-feathered Finch along the way.
The Namib is the oldest desert in the world, with oases for a rich and sometimes odd array of mammal, plant, and birdlife. Throughout the Namib, Fiscal Shrike sit atop enormous Candelabra trees. At one stop the road comes close to aged granite mountains that skirt the plain. This is a good spot to try for Rockrunner. Elephant Trees, a succulent Moringa species, find purchase here on the stony slopes, which are smooth red basalt and granite with inclusions of feldspar—lovely! Down the road we stop to pay tribute to an enormous candelabra Euphorbia (E. virosa), that some Southern Fiscal (a type of shrike) often decorate with impaled armored ground crickets. Quiver trees (Aloidendron dichotoma) stand sentinel over a majestic view of the distant hills; take in the smell of Namib Myrrh (Commiphora virgata).
Our accommodation is situated within the Namib Naukluft National Park at the edge of the dune complex. Individual tented cabins are rustic yet modern, designed to blend in with the stark environment and keep a light footprint on the landscape with their straightforward design. Enjoy spending time in the lodge’s sheltered outdoor spaces with low comfortable seating in covered areas adjacent to sculptures of dead acacia trees, lighting contrived from the dead wood, the local building material, and expanses of glass. Feel immersed in the Namib here within granite outcrops and expansive desert views. Rooms are spacious, air-conditioned and all have private baths and patios. Perfect to take in the immense sense of peace and quiet that this vast desert brings. You may see Oryx right from your room!
Accommodations at Dead Valley Lodge, Sossusvlei (B,L,D)
Mon., Oct. 14 : Full Day at Sossusvlei National Park
Because our lodging is in the park, we have an hour advantage over the many people that visit the heart of the park at Deadvlei today. We get up by starlight and depart for Deadvlei and the Elim Dunes as the sun starts to rise. During our drive, we keep our eyes peeled for Bat-eared Fox, Black-backed Jackal, Brown Hyena, and Cape Fox. Those that wish can hike to the vlei (saltpan) between enormous dunes, the largest about 1000 feet in height. Deadvlei is a large flat area where fine clays and silts have collected over the years, and when dry, crack into a cobblestoned pavement of rounded clay tiles. The pan is punctuated by the skeletons of camel thorn trees, dead for 800 or more years, when subterranean water flows shifted and left this area dry. Those that don’t climb can readily wander and enjoy photography. These are photo-worthy moments!
After the magical light of early morning, we move on to explore patches of vegetation at the base of the dune, where Dune Lark occurs in their namesake habitat. They are just the color of their environment, the iron red of the sand, and the creamy white of the vlei.
After lunch and a break at the lodge, we head back up the road along the Tsauchab River looking for “animalscapes,” mostly of Oryx backlit by the reddening dunes of sunset. We can hike into the scrub in search of more Dune Lark, and reptiles such as the Namib Sand Snake. The thorny Nara shrubs capture sand and provide food, shade and shelter to small animals and birds. They are leafless; with photosynthesis occurring in the green stems, which helps to preserve water. Here and there we could see the raised tunnels of the Golden Mole, an endemic that lives here.
Accommodations at Dead Valley Lodge, Sossusvlei (B,L,D)
Tues., Oct. 15 : Sossusvlei National Park | Flight to Windhoek
This morning, enjoy a relaxed nature drive to some dunes where we can look for birds, reptiles, and mammals, depending on what we may have dipped on. Watch for Karoo Chat, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard, Burchell’s Courser, and other arid adapted species such as Yellow Canary, Cardinal Woodpecker, and Pririt Batis.
We get up by starlight to be at the park gate for first entry and sunrise at Sossusvlei. Marvel at some of the largest sand dunes in the world, all a deep orange-red color that glows with first light. We spend the morning exploring this magnificent landscape with its unique natural history. Learn about desert plant adaptations, look for lizards, and study animal tracks left in the sand. One of the impressive sights to behold in the park is the massive nest of Sociable Weaver that often houses a pair of Pygmy Falcon.
We take a mid-morning scenic flight back from Sossuvlei to Windhoek (see the dunes from the air!) with plans to get back in time to connect with outbound flights from Windhoek from 1:30 PM onward. (B,L)
Haretebeest & Zebra by Art Cimento
Greater Kestrel by Art Cimento
Elephant by Art Cimento
Spitzkoppe Scenic by Art Cimento
Eurasian Moorhen by Art Cimento
Brandberg White Lady Lodge, courtesy of brandbergwllodge.com
Baboon by Art Cimento
Lion females and cubs by Peg Abbott
Chacma Baby eating by Greg Smith
Weaver by BBS
Desert Quiver Camp, courtesy of desertquivercamp.com
Desert Quiver Camp, courtesy of desertquivercamp.com
Desert Quiver Camp, courtesy of desertquivercamp.com
Hohenstein Lodge, Courtesy of ondili.com
Pied Avocets by Art Cimento
Bare-cheeked Babbler by BBS
Green-winged Pytilla by BBS
Kori Bustard by Art Cimento
Whte-faced Owl by BBS
Adult Leopard by Peg Abbott
Hohenstein Lodge, Courtesy of ondili.com
Hohenstein Lodge, Courtesy of ondili.com
Drinking Giraffe by Art Cimento
Ostrich by Art Cimento
Cheetah by Art Cimento
Oryx Scenic by Art Cimento
Namibia Scenic by Art Cimento
Batelear by Art Cimento
Sociable Weaver by Art Cimento
African Scops-owl by Art Cimento
White-quilled Bustard by Art Cimento
Broncos Lizard by Art Cimento
Elephants by Art Cimento
Dalmara Red-billed Hornbill by Art Cimento
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the journey is $9890 DBL / $11,990 SGL. Singles are extremely limited; please ask directly for costing. This cost includes accommodations for 18 nights, all meals as specified in the itinerary, airport transfers, professional guide services, other park and program entrance fees and miscellaneous program expenses. Tour cost does not include transportation from your home city to Maun, departing Windhoek, optional activities such as fishing, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone charges, gratuities for guides, lodges and drivers, or at some locations, beverages from the bar. Cost does not include internal flight from Maun to Windhoek; this flight will be booked for you so we can stay together as a group and will be added to your invoice. *Subject to final cost of internal flights too early to quote.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival Airport: Maun International Airport (MUB) in Botswana
Arrival Details: Plan to arrive September 27, no later than 2:00 PM. We have a charter flight at 3:00 PM on the first day.
Departure Airport: Hoseo Kutako International Airport (WDH) in Windhoek, Namibia
Departure Details: Plan flights to depart October 15, after 1:30 PM
Travel Tips: We suggest that you arrive in Maun the previous night to rest up from your travels and make sure you don’t miss the charter flight on the first day of the tour. We recommend the Crest Riley Hotel, which can be booked online. It’s a comfortable hotel with a restaurant and bar on site as well as nice grounds for birding. They will meet your flight for a hotel transfer. There are some nice local restaurants nearby as well as a women’s basket cooperative that are easily accessible via taxi.
You can also fly to Maun from Cape Town or Johannesburg the morning of September 27, but note you must arrive by 2:00 PM to make the charter flight. We can connect you to our travel agent who can help make flight arrangements. Naturalist Journeys will book internal flights. There are small plane flights with luggage restrictions in Botswana to reach our lodges, so this is going to be a pack light trip!
Visa Requirements: US citizens do not require a visa for tourist visits of this length.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Bryan Shirley graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Japanese/International Economics. He lived in Japan for 3 years when he was 20 and fell in love with the language and culture and has been guiding and birding there ever since. Besides guiding in Japan, he regularly leads tours for Japanese birding groups around the US and other countries. When not guiding he has been involved with various DWR and USFWS projects such as relocating Sage Grouse, breeding bird surveys, and bird-related projects for private environmental consulting firms. He also has volunteered his time to serve as president of Utah County Birders and organizes the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Counts for Provo and Payson, Utah where he currently resides. He currently is a member of the Utah Bird Records Committee.
Other trips with Bryan Shirley
Japan Birding & Nature FULL! See Summer in Hokkaido, Japan!January 7 - 23, 2024
Guyana: Unspoiled WildernessMarch 8 - 20, 2024
Texas Hill Country: Birds + Full Solar Eclipse! FULL!April 4 - 9, 2024
NEW! Wild Japan: Summer In HokkaidoJune 18 - 29, 2024
Arizona Monsoon Madness Birding & Nature in a Season of Wonder!August 1 - 8, 2024
Nevada's Great BasinAugust 23 - 31, 2024
Japan Birding & Nature January 7 - 23, 2025
- Japan Birding & Nature
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport is valid for six months AFTER your return date, with at least two entirely blank pages. No visa is required for tourist visits of this length.
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Botswana and Namibia and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Plan your flight reservations arriving into Maun Airport (MUB), Botswana and out of Windhoek (WDH), Namibia. Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Special rules apply due to use of small aircraft in Botswana. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
- The Botswana portion of your journey is remote, so remember there is no shopping once past Maun, until your arrival to Windhoek, the two towns we encounter on our route. Laundry services are available at the camps in Botswana.
Arrival into Maun Airport (MUB)
Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your ground operator, with a copy to our office. You may also phone or text your guide. Quite a few of your guides will set up a WhatsApp connection so you can also reach your guide by phone.
Maun is a very small airport, and your guide will meet you at the airport. Once in Maun you will pass through immigration, customs, and then look for a driver from the Cresta Riley hotel there to meet your flight and take you to the airport. They will likely be either inside or outside the main door leading out of the airport.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Departure from Windhoek (WDH)
On the final day of our journey, you will fly back to the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek in time to meet afternoon flights out. If you need to overnight for a morning flight out the following day, please let us know and we can arrange that for you (additional cost).
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
You must have a passport in good condition and valid for at least six months AFTER your scheduled return date. You must have three or more blank pages. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:
It is always wise to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs but at the time of writing, a tourist visa for is not required for US citizens in advance - your airline will provide a tourist card. However, you may need to show your travel tickets as proof that your return date does not exceed the maximum allowed tourist stay.
If you are from another country, please contact the Botswana and Namibia embassy websites for differences in documentation guidelines.
As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of a medical emergency.
Vaccinations: Bring copies of your current vaccination records with you. Although there are no required vaccinations to enter Botswana or Namibia as of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. Your physician may recommend other preventative immunizations like DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis), which is recommended every 10 years. Check the CDC websites for both Botswana and Namibia or reach them by phone at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
Yellow fever: In the past, South Africa required proof of vaccination for yellow fever (YF) if coming from other African countries, but that has now been lifted (unless low-risk status changes for any of these countries). Botswana, however, may require a YF vaccination certificate if you have traveled through or originated travel from an area with yellow fever. Please consider this if you are traveling ahead of time (up to a few months prior) in African countries other than South Africa or Namibia or some countries in South America, such as Peru. If you have a current yellow fever vaccination certificate, definitely bring that with you. If you don't, is a vaccine that is highly recommended for any travel to Africa since requirements can change with any outbreak at any time.
Malaria: Even though you are here during the dry season, you do travel in Malarial-risk areas - mainly while in the Okavango Delta area. Your doctor is likely to recommend that you choose anti-malarial medications. The CDC website has a Malaria data you may want to review:
Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).
We generally follow the published itinerary but do network with other guides and park staff and may make changes if we hear of great wildlife sightings or a new opportunity. The joy of our travel is flexibility, and we make every effort to do the things you particularly want to do.
Your guides will cover the next day’s plans at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Safari life provides us a relaxing atmosphere so it’s easy to keep track of each other and pace as we go. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
Weather & Climate
September and October in both Botswana and Namibia is the dry season, and accordingly hot, with temperatures ranging in the 90’s°F during the day, and mid-40’s to mid-50’s°F at night. On the six safari dates, it can be dusty in camp - a cooling camp shower helps during our mid-day break. Just be prepared, bring appropriate clothing, and choose clothing to stay comfortable. On safari it is COLD first thing in the morning and HOT mid-day.
Annoyances & Hazards
There can be mosquitos and other biting insects (including the Tsetse Fly), so long sleeves, long pants, and insect spray containing 20 – 30% DEET is a must. During the dry season, we generally have little insect life, but be prepared if we encounter some. The sun is also very strong, so plan to protect yourself against it, too. Your guides will go over all the other biting (and exciting) critters to avoid when you arrive – most are rare finds.
It is also important to remember that Botswana has many large predators, so always follow your guide’s directions carefully and thoroughly when in the field and at the lodges. They will not be letting you out of the vehicles often in lion country – one termite mound can hide a full-grown male! We also take precaution around elephants, but you will be able to get wonderful photos and have a sense of being very close. Animals DO enter and walk around the mobile camp area, they will discuss what to do, but it’s basically to remain very quiet and still in your tents, not always the easiest thing to do if an Elephant is munching the acacia tree nearby. When your safety is of issue your safari guides may be firm and gruff – the message simply must come across and be understood, in the bush they are captains of us all.
Food & Drinks
Our lodges pride themselves in preparing healthy and varied food for you. To be out early on a schedule to hit activity peaks for wildlife, they typically give you tea and coffee and some fruit and biscuits early for the morning game drive and you return to a lavish brunch. After brunch, there is a rest period, and you reconvene over tea with savory and sweet snacks before going out again. Dinner is typically after sunset, and cocktails are served ahead around the fire. We have the option to stop for “sundowners”, but we also keep in mind that this is the primo light of the day for photography and excellent for wildlife viewing, so expect on some days that we prefer to return to camp, freshen up and then do cocktails and dinner. A mix of both customs is nice.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Please, pack light! Dress is very informal. You may wish to change for dinners, but casual dress is suitable at all locations.
Laundry services are complimentary at the Botswana lodges but may not be available at all your Namibia lodges, so we suggest packing travel-sized laundry soap and expect to do hand laundry. Those laundry “sheets” that substitute for soap are great for travel.
In Botswana we use small aircraft between Maun and each camp. Moremi Air runs different sized planes, and they schedule them very close to departure, so we do not know if we have will get two small planes, or one larger one that holds the full group. They do have luggage size restrictions and weight restrictions made for the smallest plane, so if we get the big one there is less to worry about, but no guarantees. To date, they have not enforced weight for us on our camera bags, nor have we been weighed at places other than Maun, but we all tried to comply to not pack grossly overweight. A few of the larger bags can go inside the plane – only a few of them – but this is at the discretion of the pilot. Most go under the plane wing in small compartments, so a duffle they can stuff easily is best. If wheels are on the duffle, they just have to fit within the widest reach. See the MOREMI AIR restrictions handout and know you have some leeway, such as your photo bag – they are used to these! They have the right to charge you extra for baggage, but to date they have not done so.
Camera gear, phones, laptops can all suffer from dust and in Botswana there is plenty. Have good protective cases and we suggest you bring a towel-size microfiber cloth (3 x 5 ft. approx. size) that you can quickly wrap over your gear as you are out on a dusty safari.
Plan to get newer currency, you may have to alert your bank ahead or start planning ahead now. You do not need to change money for either country. But note that US Bills must be 2006 and newer and 2013 and newer is the best. Make sure that bills are in good shape, torn or damaged bills will not be accepted. US Dollars are good most anywhere if they meet this requirement. South African Rand are also widely accepted.
People often ask how much spending money to bring. Part of the answer depends on how much you want to shop. The lodges will have small gift stores, a few take credit cards but as these depend on Wi-Fi, credit card use is not always available. Drinks are included at the Botswana lodges; in Namibia you can often run a tab and pay upon check-out but having cash as backup is a good idea for your small purchases and gratuities.
An ATM is the easiest way to change money if you wish to do so or need to replenish your supply; make sure you know your PIN number. You should also inform your bank and your credit card companies that you will be traveling outside the country to avoid a freeze on your account ? many banks do this as a security measure when unexpected purchases are made.
Souvenirs are tempting, the most unique to Botswana are baskets. A medium sized basket runs about $60 USD, a small one about $30 and large ones $100-$150.
Tipping has long been part of the African safari tradition and is expected. Our Naturalist Journeys guide can bring envelopes for the local guides, and most lodges have a prominent staff tip box. To avoid awkward situations, we give guidelines here for tipping, but please know that tipping is always voluntary and should depend on the kind of service given. In general, you tip only once, at the end of your stay at any location. You should tip when possible in cash, in local currency, USD or Rand. Tipping by credit card means a long wait for staff at lodges to get it and often no guarantee that they do.
Safari guides are tipped separately; this is the person from each lodge in Botswana who coordinates your game drives and outings. In Namibia, you have one safari guide with you for the full time. The safari guide is the main person to make your safari successful, from finding wildlife to keeping you comfortable; the industry standard for the lead guide is $20 USD per day. If we have different guides on different days, they simply share this. The driver and tracker should be tipped at half of this amount. We will try to map out tips in more detail for you with the Schedule at a Glance document sent ahead of your journey.
You will find camp staff at the lodges well trained and eager to please, many of them live away from their families for long periods of time, and the gratuities are a big incentive to them with much appreciation. You interact mainly with the wait staff, but behind them is a whole team making it all happen from chefs to maids and cleaners, and security guards. The lodges have a “General Tips” box that you can put an envelope into at the end of your stay. For Camp or Lodge Staff to share, figure a range of $10-$20 per day, depending on how personal the service and the number of persons you interact with.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
There is no Wi-Fi outside Maun on your route in Botswana. The lodges have emergency satellite communication if needed but it is not generally available. In Namibia there is more access to cell phone communication.
If you plan to bring your cell phone, it is important that you know how to turn off your data or that you speak with your provider before the trip to purchase a temporary international data/calling plan, if you plan to use your cell phone during the trip. Wi-Fi may be available at lodges in Namibia (not Botswana), though there may be fees, and these are determined by how much data you use, so be aware of that if people are sending you photos, etc. There are free apps available on smart phones that offer free international calls and texts, and you may want to research this ahead of time and download them; we use WhatsApp frequently. If you use your phone for a camera, be sure to have a good pocket or secure place to put it, it is easy to slip off the seat of the safari vehicle!
In Namibia, power sockets are of type D and M. The standard voltage is 220V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. A power plug adapter and a voltage converter can be found online or at most electronics stores. Please read carefully, and note if you are also in South Africa, you want to check on adapters and converters for that country as well. Many people carry a universal adapter, to have options. More information is available at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Botswana generally uses electrical plug type D but not the small or normal round plugs, it may be best to buy one labeled M, the VERY LARGE ROND PIN plug, technically known as BS 546 (South African 15 A/250 V). This type of plug is not generally on a universal plug combination set. It is technically a type M but may be called a type D – make sure its large with very FAT prongs.
From the web for Botswana:
What is the difference between Type D and Type M plugs? The Type M plug has 3 rounded pins and is almost identical to the Type D Indian plug except that the Type M is much larger. The Type M plug used to be the old UK standard plug before changing over to the newer type G plug, as such most Commonwealth countries can be found using the Type M plug.
An adapter can be found online or at most electronics stores. Please read carefully, and note if you are also in South Africa, you want to check on adapters and converters for that country as well. Many people carry a universal adapter, to have options.
A good reference link is https://www.ceptics.com/products/south-africa-travel-adapter-type-m-ultra-compact-ct-10l-3-pack
In September, Botswana is 9 hours ahead of USA Pacific time and they do not use daylight savings time. Namibia is 8 hours ahead of USA Pacific time and follows Daylight Savings Time. A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please Pack Light!
For all of the journey, soft luggage is also much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 40 pounds. What works to meet the size requirements for Moremi Air is to put two smaller bags inside of one larger duffle for international, then you can break it up if need be for the small flights.
In Botswana, Moremi Air has strict restrictions on baggage size as bags must be put through small rigid compartment doors on small aircraft – soft duffels that are not fully-stuffed work best. While not strictly enforced, non-compliance can cause delays for all so please try to meet requirements on the PDF of the airline regulations provided for you (also on the Moremi Air website).
Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
Overall, there is low humidity and low rainfall. You most likely will not encounter rain. Depending on the country and locations, cooler evening temperatures could range from lows in the mid-40’s to mid-50’s°F, with moderate to hot days into the 90’s°F, or even hotter (into the 100’s°F) if there are heat waves in Botswana. Check a weather website closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.
WARNING! As with several other African countries, Namibia is moving towards banning non-reusable plastic bags and currently bans them in all protected areas and national parks. We strongly advise against bringing any. If you wish to bring a bag for laundry, shoes, etc., we advise a lightweight nylon bag, packing cube, or reusable cloth tote as a substitute. We suggest a reusable toiletry bag in place of a Ziploc-style bag. Violations of the ban could result in fines, so please double-check your luggage before you leave!
Clothing & Gear
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy to wear and launder. Prepare for dust. Seek an alternative to Ziploc-type bags - sealable, reusable, 2-gal. tight-weave or garmet-type storage bag and microfiber towels is one option to protect your optics. Several of our lodges and camps provide laundry service.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended, and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
- Lightweight long pants, 2-3 pair
- Shorts (optional)
- Light weight long-sleeved shirts, 2-3 (loose fitting keeps you cool and are great to layer over T-shirts or sleeveless shirts for staying cool)
- T-shirts or equivalent, 3-4
- Lightweight sweater (fleece is ideal, but a sweatshirt will do)
- Jacket and warm hat and gloves
- Poncho – pocketsize/compact
- Comfortable clothes for evening (clean field clothes are appropriate, think comfortable!)
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks (lightweight, and easy to hand wash and dry)
- Comfortable walking shoes with thorn-proof tread (such as tennis shoes)
- Lightweight hiking boots
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel day, safari days in vehicles, i.e. Tevas (optional)
- Hat with broad brim– a safari style hat with a tie-down is great for vehicle time
- Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when hot and sweaty, or camera dust cover)
- Bathing suit (optional)
- Field vest (optional a great source is Big Pockets)
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
- Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, and a photocopy of your passport ID pages to be kept in a separate location
- Health card showing vaccinations
- Small daypack or fanny pack to carry field gear
- Money pouch/belt, or someplace to carry your money and passport with you at all times
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining or dusty)
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
- Alarm clock (or use your phone)
- Walking stick (optional, but recommended if you’re use to using one)
- Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent (containing DEET)
- Toiletry articles – tweezers can come in handy in this land of thorns!
- Pocket-sized tissues
- Reusable bags are good for organizing storage and two-gallon size can be helpful keeping dust from optics
- Universal adapter/converter combo
- Cell phone and charger
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining or dusty).
- Camera and extra batteries, digital chips etc., lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual. Do a good check for all this before leaving (0ptional)
- USB cord for transferring photos from camera to tablet/laptop (optional)
- Portable external hard drive if you intend to take many photos (optional)
- Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
- Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB cord and charger (optional)
- Water bottle (or plan to reuse our store-bought water bottle if prefer)
- Travel-sized laundry detergent for doing a bit of laundry by hand
- Travel sewing kit
- Earplugs (if you are sensitive to noise at night – optional)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Padlock for luggage (optional)
- Steri-Pen or other water treatment/filter device (like LifeStraw) to treat local water, this will help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional but highly recommended!)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Personal medication
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, medical prescriptions and any medical alerts
- Insurance information
- Vaccination records
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Antibacterial hand-cleaning soap in small bottle or as individually wrapped moist towelettes
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Botswana and Namibia; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Species Profiles & Nature
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Walvis Bay, Namibia
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
African Bird Club
“Botswana’s Freshwater Oasis for People and Wildlife” – Article, WorldWildlife.org Magazine
Bird Checklist for Botswana – Avibase
Flora & Fauna of Botswana
Botswana Hippos (fun facts)
Namibia Birding Checklist
Namibia’s Wildlife Facts – World Wildlife Fund
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
“Robust Legal Safeguards Secure Botswana’s Wildlife” – Article, African Wildlife Foundation (awf.org)
Botswana National Parks – Wildlife Conservation
Okonjima Nature Reserve
Etosha National Park
Erongo Mountains Nature Sanctuary
Namib-Naukluft National Park (Includes Sossusvlei & Deadvlei)
The Okavango Delta (UNESCO)
Conservation in Namibia
Geology & Geography
Geology of Namibia – Concise brochure format
Namibia: The World’s Oldest Desert
The Ecoregion of Northern Botswana
Okavango - Freshwater Ecoregion
Sossusvlei & Deadvlei
History & Culture
Botswanan History & Culture
Namibian History & Culture
Helpful Travel Websites
Arrival: Maun, Botswana - Maun International Airport (MUB)
Departure: Windhoek, Namibia - Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH)
National Passport Information Center
Homeland Security Real ID Act
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information
- Botswana: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Botswana.html
- Namibia: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Namibia.html
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Botswana: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/botswana?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001
- Namibia: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/namibia?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories
- Botswana: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/botswana
- Namibia: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/namibia
Travel Health Pro (UK)
- Botswana: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/33/botswana
- Namibia: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/157/namibia
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs
- Botswana: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/botswana/
- Namibia: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/namibia/
Date & Time
- Botswana: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/botswana/maun
- Namibia: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/namibia/windhoek
Photo credits: Banner: Springbok by Arne Smith on Unsplash; Giraffe by Peg Abbott; Blue and Violet-eared Waxbills by Peg Abbott; Elephants Walking Away by Peg Abbott; Dead Trees by Marcelo Novais on Unsplash; Lesser Flamingo, Bob Rodrigues Thumbnails: Jaguar (Peg Abbott), Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Greg Smith), Southern Ground Hornbill (Nina Hale), Blue Crane (Art Cimento), White Helmetshrike (Art Cimento), Northern Carmine Beeeater (NJ Stock), Giraffe (NJ Stock), Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Art Cimento)