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Botswana & Zambia Okavango Delta & Victoria Falls

A 12-day, small group birdwatching and wildlife tour to Botswana and Zambia

Travel with top-rated southern Africa specialist Joe Grosel on this small group “fly-in safari” to one of the last great wilderness areas on the planet - the Okavango Delta. We’ll take small charter planes and boats into the Delta, where we stay in small, exclusive camps surrounded by the African bush. We’ll also visit Chobe National Park in Botswana, famous for its riverfront birding and excellent mammal watching - and see the spectacular Victoria Falls in neighbouring Zambia. Bird and mammal highlights from our previous tours here include Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret, African Wild Dog and Sable Antelope.

Tour Dates



Joe Grosel

Max Group Size: 10
Duration: 12 Days

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Cost: £6795*

inc return flights, outbound from London Heathrow-Livingstone and returning Maun-London Heathrow

Deposit: £700

Single Supp: £825*
Land Only: £5795

* Prices Provisional (tba)

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3AFR view Victoria Falls (1a) Botswana Mar 2013 Jo Latham P1000338

Our March tour to Botswana begins with a visit to spectacular Victoria Falls, in neighbouring Zambia © tour participant Jo Latham, www.wildlifephotocards.co.uk

Talk to anyone who has visited Botswana and you will know that here is the ultimate African experience. “Like Kenya used to be” is the phrase often applied, for the as yet unspoilt wilderness of this landlocked southern African country is blessed with abundant birdlife and plentiful mammals. Tourists are relatively few, but the facilities are both exclusive and excellent. In March, the vegetation is lush and green, many of the resident birds are breeding, and migrants from both further north in Africa and the Palearctic abound - although chances to see key specialities such as Slaty Egret, African Skimmer, Greater Swamp Warbler, Brown Firefinch and the sought-after ginger giant, Pel’s Fishing Owl will doubtless be the main draw!

Our adventure begins with arrival in Livingstone, from where we pay a visit to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the spectacular Victoria Falls - named in honour of Queen Victoria by the celebrated Scottish missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone, who is believed to have been the first European to gaze upon this wondrous sight. More than a mile across, the waters of the “smoke that thunders” plummet vertically for over 350 feet - the largest single sheet of falling water in the world. The localised Schalow’s Turaco and Tropical Boubou inhabit the fringing mist forests, shrouded in spray from the falls.

Having been blown away by the falls, we drive west to the border and take the ferry from Zambia, across the broad waters of the Chobe River, into neighbouring Botswana. Our destination, world famous Chobe National Park, is renowned as amongst the finest in all Africa. Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Kori Bustard, Yellow-billed and Red-billed Oxpeckers, and the huge Southern Ground Hornbill are among a host of birds we could see. Mammals are plentiful too, with African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Plains Zebra, Impala and Giraffe - along with their attendant predators. Lion, Leopard and Spotted Hyena are possible, but Chobe’s extensive woodlands are perhaps best known for the rare African Wild Dog. We will hope to be lucky to see this endangered mammal during our three-night stay at the park.

From Chobe, we travel on to our ultimate destination, the Okavango Delta. Remote and inaccessible even today, the Okavango wilderness is a wildlife paradise second to none. Just getting there is an adventure in itself, for we must fly in by private light aircraft. We spend five nights within this immense inland swamp, split between two comfortable camps in the northeast sector of the delta.

Following the summer rains, in March the Okavango’s waters will be rising, spreading out over 15000 sq kms - an area the size of Yorkshire! With five full days at our disposal here, we will have plenty of time to look for all the delta’s specialities and much more besides, as we explore the vast seasonal wetlands by safari vehicle and by mekoro, the traditional dugout canoe, propelled serenely through the swamps in time-honoured fashion... by a man with a pole!

The delta's birdlife is prolific, with Goliath Herons, Saddle-billed and Marabou Storks, Spur-winged and African Pygmy Geese, and African Fish Eagle amongst a plethora of wetland species. All in all, our stay in the Okavango should make for a fabulous finale to this most exciting African tour!

African Wild Dog and Pel’s Fishing Owl are notoriously unpredictable in their movements and favour certain areas more in certain years. For this reason, we plan to keep our exact itinerary flexible to book the best combination of fly-in camps to suit these and our other main target species. We will always be visiting Victoria Falls and Chobe as described, and in 2013 we also visited Xaxanaka and Shinde Camps in the delta. In 2015 and again in 2017 we visited Sango Safari Camp in the famous Khwai concession, and Delta Camp on a remote island only reachable by plane and boat. Each trip will visit a combination of two of these wonderful lodges or ones of a similar standard and experience.

Guide Joe Grosel was born and raised in South Africa and is widely acknowledged as one of Africa's foremost birdwatching and wildlife tour guides, with over 20 years specialising in trips across the Afro-tropics - including Limosa’s trips to South Africa and Namibia, as well as making a dozen or more visits to Botswana. Joe’s experiences range from field research in Kruger National Park to field guide training.

African Pygmy Goose landing Ethiopia Callan Cohen Feb 2012 IMG 8254

The Okavango's birdlife is prolific with the king-size Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle and (above) the diminutive African Pygmy Goose amongst a plethora of wetland species to be seen © Callan Cohen


Please keep in mind that this is Africa and the itinerary below outlines our planned programme of excursions and accommodations for the tour. However, it may occasionally be necessary to re-order the programme or change to nearby lodges of an equivalent standard to those indicated depending on availability and local conditions at the time.

Days 1 - 2     

Our birdwatching and wildlife tour to Botswana and Zambia begins with an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Johannesburg, and onward connection to Livingstone (Zambia). We may well see the mist clouds rising from Victoria Falls, from the air as our 'plane approaches!

Joe will be waiting to welcome us on arrival at Livingstone airport, from where we transfer directly to our riverfront guesthouse on the beautiful Zambezi River. The property has many large riverine trees, alive with birds - and boasts a garden list of more than 180 species! Pel’s Fishing Owl is regularly heard, and sometimes seen, in the garden. Striking White-browed Robin-chats hop around the edges of the lawn and Grey-headed Bush-shrike can be seen in the trees, while Brown Firefinch and Hartlaub’s Babbler frequent the denser tangles. The secretive African Finfoot also quietly patrols the water's edge beneath the trees.

There are large mammals here, too! Bushbuck, Hippo and African Elephant move through the property regularly as it lies close to the border of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ means ‘the smoke that thunders’ and refers to the nearby Victoria Falls, which we’ll either visit this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Time allowing, we’ll also take a small boat trip on the river. Night Livingstone

Days 3 - 5                                                       

This morning we’ll spend in the Victoria Falls area - and as this time of year has one of the peak water flows, the largest body of falling water in the world is likely to impress! We’ll need to take our raincoats along to protect us from the spray from the falls. With luck, we might even see Schalow’s Turaco in the misty forests that are kept permanently moist by the water. As a spectacle, ‘the smoke that thunders’ is every bit as awe-inspiring as one is led to believe, with the mighty Zambezi River, here more than a mile wide, plunging into sheer chasms that are more than 100m deep. Don’t forget your camera - and lens cloth! Veiled in dense clouds of spray, the mist forest is home to such treats as Collared Palm Thrush, Tropical Boubou, Orange-breasted Bushshrike and Collared Sunbird.

Later in the morning, we’ll travel first by road and then by ferry, crossing the wide Chobe River from Zambia to the frontier town of Kasane, in neighbouring Botswana. The cross-border journey will take about two hours, before arriving at our lodge close to the edge of Chobe National Park, where we stay three nights.

Chobe National Park is covered by extensive mixed woodlands that are most famous for the chances of encountering African Wild Dogs, also known as Painted Hunting Dogs. It's by no means guaranteed that we will see a pack of these beautifully marked and declining hunters, as they have the largest home ranges of any predators - but this is a good place to start! We might also see the regal Sable Antelope in the woodlands, with its elegant swept back horns and black body. The Chobe River forms the heart of the reserve and the herds of African Elephant and Cape Buffalo that frequent it are the largest in Botswana (although the herds will likely be more dispersed across the park at this time of year as the pans should still have rainwater in them from the summer).

Around 400 species of bird have been recorded in the vicinity of Chobe and March is the perfect time to see a mix of European and Afrotropical migrants, as well as its many spectacular resident species. Both African and European Hobbies should be about, and Woodland, Grey-hooded and African Pygmy Kingfishers feed on insects in the woodland. The bush can also be alive with cuckoos at this time of year, with Klaas’s, Diederik, Red-chested, Black, African, Levaillant’s, Striped and European all possible! Warblers too are passing through and can include Marsh, Great Reed, African Marsh, River, Garden and Common Whitethroat.

Being close to the river, the surrounds of our lodge are excellent for birding and we have the freedom to bird on foot here.

A boat trip on the Chobe River will surely be another highlight of our visit, with a multitude of birds and mammals to be seen. Slaty Egret, Squacco and Rufous-bellied Herons, African Fish Eagle, White-crowned and Long-toed Lapwings, Little and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, and Pied and Giant Kingfishers are just some of the enticing bird species, while mammals including Elephants, Hippos and two swamp specialist antelopes - Red Lechwe and Puku - abound. Three nights near Chobe National Park

Days 6 - 10                                                  

Much of wilderness Botswana is inaccessible by road (in fact, there pretty much aren’t any!), so this morning we’ll travel by private light aircraft southwards from Kasane. We'll fly for about an hour before landing at a small airstrip near our small camp in the famous Khwai concession, on the edge of Moremi National Park, in the Okavango Delta. Sango SafariCamp will be our home for the next three nights as we enjoy excursions by both land and water in search of the area’s abundant birds and mammals.

We’ll use game-viewing vehicles that are ideal for watching from and for photography, and we’ll also go out in the small dugout canoes known as mekoros, with a traditional “poler” to push us quietly through the maze of watery channels through the swamps. We’ll glide quietly past Malachite Kingfishers and White-fronted Bee-eaters, which barely seem to notice our presence, while Chirping Cisticolas, an Okavango speciality, scold from the reeds.

The area not far from the lodge is regularly frequented by African Wild Dogs and we’ll make full use of local knowledge and any recent sightings to try and catch up with a pack. Other predators to watch for here include Lion, and the elusive Leopard, which always requires a bit of luck to see.

The enormous Wattled Crane is the rarest of its tribe in Africa, but the swamps around here are a reliable spot for this elegant species. Raptors can be excellent, too! Besides the abundant African Fish Eagles, signature bird of Africa’s wetlands, we shall be looking out for the powerful Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Dickinson’s Kestrel, and Black-breasted and Brown Snake Eagles. We might well hear Lion roaring in the evening from our lodge, and Elephants, Giraffe and Plain’s Zebra are common. Black-and-white Swamp Boubous call from around the camp, and Red-billed Spurfowls are plentiful. Mixed bird parties in the woodlands are likely to reveal the presence of such species as African Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Brubru, Chinspot Batis, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Red-headed Weaver and White-browed Scrub Robin.

One of the advantages of visiting this area is that it is a “community game reserve”, where we are permitted to take night drives (which are not allowed in Botswana’s national parks). On these, we might well encounter a variety of nightjars, including Square-tailed and Rufous-cheeked, and owls such as the giant Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, flashing its fashionable pink eyelids.

After our final morning’s activities at Sango, we transfer by small plane and then by boat to Delta Camp, which lies deep within the Okavango. Few places can match the tranquil remoteness and wilderness here, where the principle form of transport is by local canoe and there are no roads or vehicles!

Our exclusive camp is sited on the edge of a river where Hippos cavort, so we’ll need to be escorted to the luxury permanent tents by a security guard after dinner - just in case they are grazing in the camp! The dense riparian trees in the area are home to a few pairs of one of the most sought-after birds in all Africa: the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl. Many birders have stories of failing to see this ‘ginger giant’ and although success can never be guaranteed, we will make a special attempt to find one at its day roost near the camp.

We’ll also hope to get good views of one of the Okavango’s special birds - the striking Slaty Egret, with its characteristic yellow legs and vinous-brown throat. Many other species of waterbird should also be present, including African Spoonbill; Coppery-tailed Coucals sun themselves on the reeds as we drift by, dwarfing the tiny Black Crakes that scuttle along the edges as chestnut and green African Pygmy Geese fly up from among the waterlilies. Predatory Nile Monitor Lizards can be seen along the edges of the channels.

As with the other camps, there is often some 'downtime' after lunch to relax at the camp during the heat of the day - perhaps photographing some of the colourful birds and butterflies, or simply chilling out beside the pool.

In the evenings, there is time to enjoy a drink around the campfire before dinner. Three nights at Sango Camp, followed by two nights at Delta Camp, Okavango

Days 11 - 12             

After a farewell breakfast at our camp this morning we take the 45-minute private flight to Maun (or sometimes Livingstone, according to international airline schedules).Bidding farewell to Joe, we board our flight back to Johannesburg with onward overnight connection from there to London.

We arrive back at London Heathrow on the morning of Day 12, where our birdwatching and wildlife safari to Botswana and Zambia concludes.

3AFR mammal Leopard Botswana Mar 2013 Jo Latham 9666

Picture purr-fect! This superb study of a Leopard was taken on our March tour to Botswana © tour participant Jo Latham, www.wildlifephotocards.co.uk

What To Expect

A 12-day, small group “fly-in safari” to one of the last great wilderness areas on the planet - the fragile Okavango Delta. We’ll take small charter planes and boats into the Delta, where we stay in small, exclusive camps surrounded by the African bush. We’ll also visit Chobe National Park in Botswana, famous for its riverfront birding and excellent mammal watching, and see the spectacular Victoria Falls in neighbouring Zambia. Bird and mammal highlights can include the sought-after Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret, African Wild Dog and Sable Antelope. Expertly led by our top-rated Africa specialist, Joe Grosel.

The climate is tropical. Late February -March marks the end of summer in Botswana and Zambia, with temperatures in the range of 15-35C (59-95F), typically averaging 25-35C (77-95F). Cooler if there are late afternoon thundershowers (which are still possible at this time of year and can bring lower temperatures).

Excellent photographic opportunities for birds and large mammals on this tour.


240-280 species


30-40 species


9 nights accommodation (one night Zambia, 8 nights Botswana) at a hand-picked selection of excellent guesthouses, safari lodges and permanent tented camps. All rooms have private facilities.

[Please note: we plan to use the accommodations mentioned in the detailed itinerary, but sometimes for logistical, operational and/or wildlife reasons they may need to be substituted with alternate camps of a similar standard in a similar area. Should a change be necessary, please be assured that it will not affect your enjoyment of the tour - or the range of species to be expected.]


All main meals are included in the tour price, commencing with lunch on arrival in Zambia on Day 2 and concluding with breakfast on departure from the Okavango on Day 11. Food is good, with most main meals taken at our lodgings, and lunches either as picnics or at the lodges.


Easy. Short walks. Near Chobe and Moremi National Parks, we travel by safari vehicles specially adapted for wildlife viewing. At Delta Camp, we take short walks on foot in the vicinity of the camp with local safari guides. Comfortable walking shoes are suitable.


Scheduled flights outbound from London Heathrow-Johannesburg and onward to Livingstone (Zambia), with British Airways or South African Airways. Please note there are no direct flights from the UK to Victoria Falls, so all routes involve a change of planes (usually in Johannesburg).

Our return routing will depend on airline schedules at the time (these can vary year on year), but will usually be from Maun (Botswana) to Johannesburg and onward to London Heathrow (but possibly routing from Livingstone-Johannesburg-London Heathrow, as airline schedules and contracts dictate).

Our tour price also includes the three domestic flights by private charter light aircraft into / out of the Okavango Delta.

IMPORTANT NOTE!  All travellers to Botswana must please take note that the small planes used when transferring between lodges have a strict total maximum luggage limit of 20 kg per person including hand luggage, optics and cameras. Moreover it is absolutely essential to travel with a soft bag that can be 'stuffed' into the narrow fuselage - hard, rigid suitcases simply will NOT fit and therefore get left behind! But it is not necessary to being much heavy clothing, and it is easy to get one's washing done at the lodges most nights (which dries quickly).

Ground Transport   By boat, mekoro canoe, minibus and/or four-wheel drive safari vehicles.

Boat Trips

Our tour price includes the cost of boat trips on the Zambezi River at Livingstone, and along the Chobe River in Chobe National Park. There are no roads in the heart of the delta, where we must explore the Okavango's vast seasonal wetlands by mekoro, the traditional dugout canoe, propelled serenely through the swamps in time-honoured fashion... by a man with a pole!

3AFR mammal Giraffe suckling Polokwane Game Reserve S Africa Callan Cohen May 2008

Mammals are plentiful in Chobe National Park, where we are likely to see Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Plain’s Zebra, Impala and (above) Giraffe, along with their attendant predators © Callan Cohen

1 CH, Botswana & Zambia tour I have been on birding tours for over 50 years and have yet to find a leader as good as Joe in all aspects of the role. It is no surprise he is training other guides in South African parks... This was a wonderful tour in a beautiful country with very friendly people. [empty string]
2 CRH, Botswana & Zambia tour Absolutely wonderful tour. Our leader Joe is so knowledgeable, not only about birds, but the whole life system of the African bush, and of history, people and every living thing. It was a privilege to travel with him. [empty string]
3 JP, Botswana & Zambia tour Absolutely the best birding trip I have taken (out of 45). Amazing close wildlife experiences every day, great birding and accommodation / meals etc. - close to perfection. Callan was a walking encyclopaedia and taught us so much. And a lovely group of participants. [empty string]
4 HB, Botswana & Zambia tour ...One of the best birding trips considering the species available. Animal viewing was exceptional. Joe and the local guides were superb... [empty string]
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