“We tracked game on elephants. We helped vets treat orphaned baby elephants. My wife began calling me The Elephant Man. I believe it was a compliment.”
Something very odd happened in Sub-Saharan Africa about 100 million years ago. The entire landmass shifted and one major river no longer had anywhere to flow. So it flooded an ultra-flat desert region, forming the world’s largest wetland oasis. That paradise is now known as the Okavango Delta – an amazing place to explore on a bespoke luxury adventure among the renowned lodges and camps of Botswana.
On the delta’s fringes, the water fights a losing battle against the arid wastes and eventually just vanishes. But in its heart lies an astonishing maze of lagoons, channels and half-submerged islands. The unique wetland ecosystem supports a huge population of lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, wildebeests, hippos, buffaloes and crocodiles, plus countless exotic birds. Even if you’ve encountered a lot of wildlife on past adventure trips, you won’t escape a sense of awe. As one of our local friends puts it: “if you only see 10% of what sees you on a given day, it’s been a great day of game viewing”.
The traditional way to explore Botswana’s delta wilderness is by mokoro or dugout canoe, gliding silently over the crystal-clear waters. We can also arrange a private helicopter for an aerial tour or fly-in camping on remote delta islands. An even more original approach is on the back of an elephant: you get closer to the game, and even lions won’t challenge those amiable two-ton giants. We can introduce you to the husband and wife founders of Elephants for Africa, who’ll explain their conservation efforts as you help dart, tag and assist with the rehabilitation of orphaned youngsters.
In addition to your explorations in the Okavango Delta, we’d recommend a visit to the Linyanti Game Reserve, famed for the hundreds of elephants you’ll meet during the dry season – perhaps exploring on horseback from your private luxury camp.
You might also spend time in the Makgadikgadi saltpans, a lunar landscape in the middle of the Kalahari Desert that offers a surreal combination of silence, solitude and brilliant light from the vast dome of blue sky. And after the rains come, it’s home to an incredible array of wildlife, including one of Africa’s largest concentrations of zebras. Settled into a palm oasis in comfortably appointed 1940s-style tents, you have the perfect vantage point – and if you’re up for it, we’ll introduce you to some Kalahari bushmen so you can join them hunting on foot.
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