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BOTSWANA Okavango Through the Lens

BOTSWANA

OKAVANGO THROUGH THE LENS

Maun  |  Okavango Air Safari  |  Okavango Bush Camps: Moremi Game Reserve  |  Meno A Kwena  |  Okavango Desert Camp: Makgadikgadi Pans National Park  |  Okavango Island Camps  |  Maun

DURATION

13 Days

EXPEDITION LEADER

Greg Nelson

DATES

14th – 26th August 2022

GROUP SIZE

Maximum 12 travellers

FITNESS LEVEL

Moderate

TOUR STATUS

Available

THE STORY

Okavango Through the Lens

 ‘It is almost as if the Okavango is a single organism, with the different communities serving the function of specific organs and working together to ensure the well-being of the whole – a kind of super-organism.’  – Spike McCarthy

Declared a World Heritage site in 2014, the Okavango Delta is the jewel of the Kalahari and is one of a very few large inland delta systems without an outlet to the sea. Known as an endorheic delta, its waters drain instead into the desert sands of the Kalahari Basin. It supports the world’s largest remaining population of elephants, who by their passage, shape and reshape the delta’s channels and landscapes. Beneath its crystal waters, each square metre of peaty deposit may contain as many as 50,000 crustacean eggs and myriad other building blocks for life. Each winter, floods pulse down the Cubango River from the highlands of Angola to refresh and reset this extraordinary ecosystem.

However, beyond its teeming wildlife and serene beauty, few know of the origins of the Delta – how it functions, the key elements and patterns that give it its great profusion of life and what pressures and dangers it faces in an uncertain future.

Our one-of-a-kind expedition explores each of these elements, as we immerse ourselves in the astonishing biosphere of the Okavango Delta from three unique perspectives. Limited to just 12 people, we begin our explorations with a spectacular private air safari, flying low over the Delta and following the Cubango River into Namibia, before landing in our mobile tented bush camps in the wildlife-rich Moremi Game Reserve. We then venture out to a remote desert camp situated on an immense salt pan on the edge of the Kalahari. This expedition concludes spectacularly with an exclusive waterborne expedition through the Okavango Delta itself on boats custom made for game viewing. Here you will be based on a remote island in a specially prepared mobile tented camp.

To further enhance this exploration, we have asked internationally renowned BBC and National Geographic cameraman Greg Nelson to be Arcadia’s Storyteller and lead the expedition. In a career spanning almost forty years, there is very little Greg doesn’t know about photographing and filming wildlife. For the duration of the expedition, Greg will assist you in creating your book, photo essay or film of your experience. In fact, as soon as you secure your place on the expedition, Greg will be in contact to help you plan your approach and advise you on your photographic equipment.

Expedition Highlights

Discover the remarkable Okavango Delta from three perspectives – exploring bush, desert and water environments

Learn from legendary master filmmaker and wildlife photographer Greg Nelson

With a guaranteed window seat, we spend our first full day in our privately chartered plane exploring the Okavango and Cubango River Biosphere on a spectacular air safari

Waterborne and 4x4 wildlife safaris to remote, off-the-beaten-track locations in the Delta

Four private flights allowing for unforgettable birds-eye views over the Okavango

Luxurious stays in exclusive mobile camps in the style of the old explorers

Camping out under the stars on the extraordinary salt pan of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

ARCADIA EXCLUSIVES

On every Arcadia expedition we give you insider access to the most unforgettable and thought-provoking local experiences, curated exclusively by us for our guests. Here are some of the Arcadia Exclusives on this trip:

Day 01 – Arrival Maun, Botswana

On arrival at Maun airport, you shall be met by an Arcadia Expeditions representative and transferred to the Royal Tree Lodge. Relax and take a swim in the pool before moving down to the banks of the Thamalakane River for sundowners and our expedition briefing with Arcadia Storyteller Greg Nelson, followed by a welcome dinner at the lodge.

 

Royal Tree Lodge | Meals: D

Day 02 – Air Safari, Bush Camp: Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta

After breakfast at the lodge, you are transported to Maun domestic airport to board your private charter Caravan aircraft to explore the Okavango Delta from the air with a leading expert on the Delta. On this extraordinary sightseeing flight, we take in the vast expanse of wetlands as it stretches from the Kalahari all the way to the panhandle, where the Cubango River fans out into channels to form the Delta.

 

Each guest is guaranteed a window seat that affords incredible views of the Okavango Delta, Kalahari Desert, Northern Namibia and the Caprivi Strip. We touch down for a picnic lunch before flying on to our tented camp in the Moremi Game Reserve, just minutes from our exclusively erected bush camp. After a short siesta, we head out in search of game. Moremi is the home to nearly 500 species of birds and a vast array of other wildlife, including Buffalo, Giraffe, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Hyaena, Jackal and Red Lechwe. There are also healthy numbers of endangered African Wild Dog in the reserve and it’s common to see them ranging out on a hunt in the early evening.

 

Each evening, the team chooses an idyllic spot to stop for sundowners before we return to camp for hot showers. Joining our group for dinner in camp will be an expert Geologist/Hydrologist to set the scene for us on the extraordinary Biosphere of the Okavango.

 

Okavango Bush Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Day 03 – Bush Camp: Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta

This morning you are awakened just before dawn with a steaming cup of tea and then head off with the rising sun in search of game. August is the height of the dry season. With the vegetation and surface water having dried off, the animals are more concentrated on the permanent water holes and channels that intersect the reserve. At this time, large family herds of sixty elephants or more migrate through the reserve to Linyanti and Chobe. After returning to camp for a sumptuous breakfast, there’s a chance to relax and read in camp and watch the animals pass by (and occasionally through) camp. Following a late lunch, we head out to explore once more, with our passionate Storyteller Greg Nelson on hand to help you seek out and capture the Delta’s incredible wildlife on film.

 

Joining us for dinner in camp will be one of the team members from a Conservation Ecology Research Station in the Delta.

 

Okavango Bush Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Day 04 – Bush Camp: Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta

The great benefit of a mobile camp set up specifically for our group is that, unlike a lodge, the game trails are unimpeded by permanent structures and so the animals continue along their familiar paths – both day and night. It is a serene and often unforgettable experience to simply spend the day in the shade at camp and see what comes along! It’s not unusual for a leopard or a lion kill to take place in close proximity to camp – the sounds of these great predators and then the squabbling of scavenges can continue for much of the night.

 

Okavango Bush Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Day 05 – Bush Camp: Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta

Wildlife Director of Photography for some of the world’s leading international media outlets, Greg Nelson is the perfect companion to accompany our game viewing and pass on tips on how to best compose the perfect wildlife photograph or video.

 

As you become one with the environment of the Delta, it’s impossible not become impassioned by the threats that face it. As a direct result of Covid-19, incidents of poaching of Elephants and Rhino are on the rise in the Delta – the lack of tourist numbers has emboldened the poaches. To further explore the future of wildlife in the Delta, joining us in camp for dinner will be one of the team members from a leading wildlife foundation.

 

Okavango Bush Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Day 06 – Meno A Kwena

After breakfast in camp, you will be transported to a nearby dirt airstrip to meet your private charter to Meno A Kwena. A hidden gem perched on a rocky clifftop above the Boteti River, the camp looks out across the vast Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, where you are immersed in a completely different environment to the wetlands and islands of the Delta. It’s here where the floods of the Delta spread out on to the salt pans and disappear – ‘the river that never finds the sea’. Water is life, and, as the Boteti River is the only permanent water source in the area, it attracts a rich array of resident game and a procession of migratory wanderers.

 

The camp was originally used by Southern Africa’s legendary explorers, and although the owners have added a few little touches and quirks here and there, it’s refreshingly and stylishly simple. The real treat at Meno is the connection with nature; when an elephant provides your alarm call in the morning, and you can game view straight from your private veranda – nothing else really matters.

 

Meno A Kwena | Meals: B,L,D

Day 07 – Desert Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

After a leisurely breakfast we head out into the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park where baobabs stand like sentinels above the shimmering expanses of crusted salt. This is the desert in its most iconic state, and a jaw-droppingly magical sight. We travel out across the Nxai Pan with its endless landscapes dotted with umbrella acacias and clumps of mopane woodland to Meno’s desert camp specially prepared just for us.

 

After sundowners and a meal cooked on the campfire, you can snuggle up in warm and cosy swags and fall asleep under an impossibly perfect view of the heavens.

 

Desert Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park | Meals: B,L,D

Day 08 – Meno A Kwena

We return to Meno a Kwena for lunch, a place that’s steeped in history. This was the camp used by legendary explorers and crocodile hunters, back in the days when there were no vehicle trails across the Kalahari. Over the years, it’s been carefully refurbished, but the old-world charm and rustic quirkiness is as present as ever. You’ll find a roof fashioned from an old parachute, a lounge jam-packed with knick-knacks and trinkets from decades of travel, and an enormous crocodile skull to name but a few! This is a camp with heart, soul and a real flavour of Botswana. The position of the camp, perched atop a cliff overlooking the Boteti, is quite simply the best spot in the area for migration viewing, and the sightings are astonishing.

 

Spend the rest of the day lounging on the day bed or by the swimming pool whilst the action happens below. At night, retreat to the dining table for a feast of flavour, accompanied by flickering lanterns and stories of old. Joining us for dinner in camp will be a local historian to share their insights on the early exploration of the Delta.

 

Meno A Kwena | Meals: B,L,D

Day 09 – Island Camp: Okavango Delta

After breakfast you depart the camp and board our private charter flight from Meno A Kwena northwards across the Delta to Xaxaba Airstrip located on an island deep in the Okavango. Here we you will be met by our boat team and head out to explore, each foray takes in game watching, birding, photographing or just relaxing onboard and taking in forever changing wilderness.

 

Lunch will be served on one of the many islands along the way. As the afternoon draws towards evening, we head to camp, where you will find your comfortable private classic tent with bedding and bathroom facilities (hot shower and bush toilet). This will be our base from which to explore the remote reaches of the delta. We head out for a short sundowner cruise on a palm-framed hippo pool close to camp. We are then treated to a sumptuous sit-down three course dinner by the campfire.

 

Okavango Island Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Day 10 – Island Camp: Okavango Delta

Early morning coffee and cereals will be ready before exploring the island on foot, after which a cooked breakfast will be served before we board the boats to explore. In this area the Delta opens up, with vast landscapes and more opportunities of encountering game. From time to time we stop off on islands along the way to explore them on foot and stretch your legs where a picnic lunch will then be laid out under the trees.

 

As the shadow begin to draw, we return to camp where another three-course sit-down dinner is conjured up from the campfire by our chef. The evenings are spent gazing at stars reminiscing about the day’s experiences and in the mornings, you can choose to explore the island, or just sleep-in and enjoy a leisurely morning in camp.

 

Okavango Island Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Days 11&12 – Island Camp: Okavango Delta

Over the next two days, we head out on full day journeys to experience the diversity of the upper reaches of the Delta, which offers a complete contrast to the previous days. Picnic lunches will be served on a sand bank or on one of the islands along the way.

 

Okavango Island Camp | Meals: B,L,D

Day 13 – Island Camp & Departure from Maun

After a final camp breakfast, your last morning on the delta is spent relaxing and drifting down stream before making your way back to Maun for your onward journey.

 

Meals: B

IMPORTANT

Okavango Delta Floods

This expedition has been created to coincide with the high period of the flood and the Delta’s waterborne expedition component is contingent on there being enough water to travel. While we have every expectation that the floods will make this part of the expedition possible, the possibility of low water levels may require the itinerary to be adapted or changed to navigate the Delta safely and in a timely manner. Worst case scenario is, with a very low flood, that the boating component would be limited to navigate selected channels and we would be base at alternat bush camp location.

 

Resident scientists, wildlife and environmental experts

Due to the unpredictable schedules and unforeseen events, the availability of the resident scientists, wildlife and environmental experts cannot be guaranteed. However, every effort will be made to ensure a representative from the organisations mentioned in the itinerary are able to join us on some evenings.

YOUR EXPERT EXPEDITION LEADER

Greg Nelson

Greg is an internationally renowned cameraman specialising in African wildlife. He is a Wildlife Director of Photography for some of the world’s leading international wildlife outlets including the BBC Natural History Unit, Animal Planet, National Geographic and the Smithsonian Channel.

Greg’s early career began as a TV news cameraman and editor in Africa and Asia. He has worked filming in war zones such as the Rwandan Genocide, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the Afghanistan conflict. From covering earthquakes in Japan to filming stories charting the rise of China, Greg has travelled the globe capturing history’s most important moments, with a personal career highlight being the filming of the release of Nelson Mandela.

Armed with his passion for the natural world, it was the African wilderness that brought true purpose for Greg. Together with his young family, Greg moved to the heart of the African bush and began documenting the lion prides on the reserve he and his family lived on, which led to a successful series of full-feature lion documentaries sold to the Discovery Channel. Since this time, his career has taken him to wilderness areas across the African continent, his creative eye documenting not only life in the wilderness and natural behaviour, but also the plight of its flora and fauna.

Whilst living and working on wildlife reserves, Greg came into contact with many safari lodge guests and began to accept requests to lead game drives. After many of these pleasurable interactions, leading a safari became a natural progression. Greg is now based in Cape Town with his wife and four children and when not leading safaris, continues his career as a distinguished wildlife cameraman.

ACCOMMODATION HIGHLIGHTS

DATES & PRICES

$15,850

PER PERSON, TWIN SHARE
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $1,290 per person

14th - 26th August 2022
13 DAYS

INCLUSIONS

  • Meals as per itinerary (12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners) including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Domestic flights as per itinerary
  • Private airport transfers (arrival and departure)
  • Accommodation as stated on a twin-share basis
  • Porterage at airports and hotels
  • All land transport by 4×4 vehicles, river boat and charter plane
  • Services of an Arcadia Expedition Leader and English-speaking local guide throughout
  • Sightseeing as specified including entrance fees to sites mentioned in itinerary
  • Reusable responsible travel water bottle with daily drinking water provided
  • Gratuities/tipping for local guides, drivers, hotel staff and restaurants for included meals
  • All taxes

EXCLUSIONS

  • Return international flights
  • Passport and visa charges
  • Items of a purely personal nature (i.e. telephone calls, laundry etc)
  • Excess luggage
  • Lunch and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in itinerary
  • Travel insurance

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