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    Meerkat Saltpan ride summary

    The Meerkat Saltpan Ride is a five night safari based out of  a permanent camp with two nights fly camping. This new ride takes in all the extraordinary attractions of the Makgadikgadi salt pans and the Kalahari desert with the addition of phenomenal riding and interaction with habituated Meerkat. During the dry season the ride will take guests right out into the middle of the Pans whilst in the green season guests can ride amongst Botswana’s spectuacular zebra and wildebeest migration.  The ride is run on set departure dates but can also be organised on an exclusive basis for a group of family or friends, with a green season and a dry season. The green season is between 1 Nov – 15 April and the dry season is between 16 April – 31 October.

    We also offer horse safaris for those staying at the elgant, world-famous Jacks or San Camp.  This is an incredible opportunity to stay in the ultimate luxury of these elite camps, and have the chance to ride from them as well.

    The Selinda Canoe Trail (3 nights) can be combined with the Meerkat Saltpan Ride  and offers a very adventurous safari to guests – Saddle and Paddle! One or two nights in between on the Thamalakane River Ride helps to join the Makgadikgadi Saltpans Ride and the Selinda Canoe Trail together into a nine or ten night safari. The Selinda Canoe Trail was run for the first time in 2009 when the Selinda Spillway flowed after 38 years, linking the waters of the Okavango with those of the Kwando/Linyanti Rivers. This is an amazing experience with the best that Africa has to offer – adventure, complete wilderness and great wildlife.  As well as canoeing there are also  plenty of opportunities to walk and stalk. This safari is organised on an exclusive basis for a group of family or friends.

    The Thamalakane River Ride based out of the luxurious Royal Tree Lodge in Maun is suitable for riders of all abilities. Families with children or less confident riders who are unable to join rides in big game areas will find this ride particularly appealing and it is available throughout the year over any dates.  We suggest a three night stay.


    Wild and Exotic sample itinerary for the Meerkat Saltpan ride in the Makgadikgadi Saltpans

    This ride through a unique and pristine environment combines three nights at a camp in the Kalahari Desert with two nights fly camping on the Makgadikgadi Saltpans. The ride begins with adventures in the southern Saltpans that are home to a diverse array of wildlife including habituated meerkats, bat eared foxes, honey badgers and black mained Kalahari lion as well as plains game. In addition to riding through this remote wilderness environment you will have the chance to spend time with native Bushmen.

    Day 1: On arrival into Maun we will be met and transferred by private charter flight to Camp Kalahari, where you will be met by your host and guide David Foot. Camp Kalahari s located amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and adjacent to the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park.

    The camp is refreshingly simple, yet comfortable, with a thatch library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for hot Kalahari days. There are 10 spacious Meru tents: 7 twin tents, 2 double tents and a family tent consisting of 2 adjacent tents, accommodating 2 guests in each with an inter-leading bathroom. All have en-suite outdoor bathrooms, flush loos, hot and cold running water, along with comfy beds, crunchy cotton sheets, stripy African blankets and hot water bottles in winter.

    After tea in the beautiful afternoon light, you will head out for an introductory ride – primarily to match horse and rider but also your first opportunity to experience the beauty of this magical area.  After your ride you will return to camp for sundowners followed by dinner and to kraal the horses close by (put them in a pen), before the lions of the Kalahari commence their nightly prowling.

    Day 2: This morning you will rise with the dawn and enjoy a light breakfast followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”.  Stranded on the ancient lake bed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness.  During the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich and the attendant predators. The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent going for the horses but if there has been heavy rain many of these areas will be full of water and possibly full of thousands of flamingos feeding on invisible brine shrimp. You will return to camp for lunch and rest through the heat of the day in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees or cool off in the camp swimming pool.

    After tea, you will head off by vehicle to see some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyena; these consummate desert specialists survive in arid areas where both food and water are scarce. The brown hyena is a timid nocturnal, solitary forager, rarely seen by humans, but in spite of this, they are very social animals, living in clans of up to 10-12 hyenas. You will enjoy a night game drive back to camp, and with the aid of a spot light, look for nocturnal desert inhabitants such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers and perhaps even a black maned Kalahari Lion. On arrival back to camp you will be served a delicious dinner.

    Day 3: Today is a long ride eastwards to Xau Xai Fly Camp, so an early start is imperative.  Be sure to pack a few essentials for the next two days of adventure. The journey will take you away from the edge of the Pans and through the mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long, relaxed canters.  Whilst the area is rich in birds of prey, bustards, korhaans and numerous other unusual dry woodland bird species; there is also a chance that you will sight kudu and the odd elephant bull.

    Passing by the massive Chapmans Baobab, by lunchtime you will reach the famous Greens Baobab proudly positioned alongside the well-travelled Missionary Road, traversed by David Livingstone on his journeys northwards.  The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is scarred with the initials of early travellers dating back some 150 years thus providing a living testimony to the rich history of this area. You will stop for lunch at the adjacent Gutsa Pan under a stand of palm trees where you may find Stone Age artefacts and the hunting blinds used over millennium by the Bushmen. After a rest and siesta in the midday heat and tea you will continue the journey on to Xau Xai Fly Camp.

    Xau Xai fly camp will be made up of comfortable dome tents, a central mess tent, loos and bucket showers. On arrival you will enjoy a long cool drink as you watch the sunset followed by dinner out under the magnificent Kalahari sky.

    Day 4: This morning you will wake to a steaming hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast, before heading off on your horses in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. Thanks to an ongoing habituation programme it’s possible for you to get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. Remember, they are not tame – just used to our non-threatening presence. On chilly mornings, you might well find a meerkat snuggling up to us for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post. By spending quality time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals, you will see how they interact with each other and their environment. You also get the chance to see the desert through the eyes of a meerkat – which, despite the fact that it’s only a foot off the ground, is a pretty spectacular vantage point, and definitely one of the most special and memorable game experiences you will encounter in Botswana.  As the day warms up, you will leave the meerkats to continue foraging, remount your horses and follow trails leading to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater in hidden waterholes. You will return to Xau Xai for lunch, a refreshing shower and a siesta in the shade of the mess tent. In the late afternoon you will ride straight out into the middle of an ancient lakebed, until all that can be seen is the vast flatness stretching in every direction. This is one of the only places in the world where the silence is so complete you can hear the blood circulating through your ears. There is not one visual landmark to be seen on 16,000 square kilometres of baking soda void that is home to countless millions of brine shrimp. You will camp for the night here, sleeping on bedrolls under the silence of a star studded sky having watched a spectacular sunset.

    Day 5: This morning will be like waking up on the moon as dawn greets this extraordinary landscape and the last of the stars disappear, you will ride across the Pans back to Camp Kalahari, we may be lucky enough to see the unusual sight of ostrich deep in the Pans and then from a great distance the famous Chapman’s Baobab. Also known as the Seven Sisters, measuring 25 metres around its trunk, this tree is acknowledged to be one of the largest in Africa, and was the campsite used by early explorers such as Livingstone and Selous when they pioneered through the area. We arrive back at camp for a late lunch and a well earned rest. In the late afternoon we may go for a gentle walk and as the sun dips below the horizon and the last light fades, we will be sure to dwell on these amazing past few days.  Incredible scenery, memorable wildlife encounters and above all superb riding!

    Day 6: Early this morning the horses are loaded and transported back to their home base in Maun. A non riding day commences with an early morning walk with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers of the Western Kalahari. The Bushmen will demonstrate how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills. You will have one more Camp Kalahari lunch, before you bid farewell to Camp Kalahari in preparation for your onward journey.

    Notes:

    The price of this itinerary is on a full board basis based on two people sharing accommodation. A single supplement may apply to anyone who does not wish to share accommodation.

    The price is inclusive of all activities described, internal flights from Maun and all transfers as per the itinerary.

    The price does not include international flights to Johannesburg, flights from Johannesburg to Maun, items of a personal nature, gratuities, and visa fees.

    Please note that it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they obtain the correct visa prior to travel. Wild and Exotic will assist with visa applications if instructed but cannot be held responsible for a client’s failure to obtain a visa for whatever reason

    Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website under the general info tab.

    Wild and Exotic fact sheet for Meerkat Saltpan Ride

    Accommodation:  3 nights Camp Kalahari – 2 nights fly camping, 3x3m dome tents with stretchers, bucket showers and long drop loos.

    Camp Kalahari: Camp Kalahari is refreshingly simple, yet comfortable, with a traditionally built thatch library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for those hot Kalahari days. It is made up of 10 spacious Meru tents: 7 Twin tents, 2 Double tents and 1 Family tent consisting of 2 adjacent tents, accommodating 2 guests in each with an inter-leading bathroom. All tents have en-suite outdoor bathrooms, flush loos, hot and cold running water, along with comfy beds, crunchy cotton sheets, stripy African blankets and hot water bottles in winter.

    Activities: Riding, interactions with habituated Meerkat, walking with Bushmen, Game viewing, learning the historical background of Botswana and the Salt pans and visiting the enormous Baobab trees.

    Children: Over 12 only are allowed unless competent and confident riders. Children under the age of 12 are allowed if joining a private family group.

    Distance and times: The longest ride is 40km between Camp Kalahari and the fly camp, this is a total of six hours in the saddle.

    Drinks: All drinks are included in the price of the itinerary.

    Game / Wildlife: The Zebra, Wildebeest and Springbot migration is from November-May. You may also see Lion and the famous brown Hyena. As part of the itinerary of the Meerkat Salt pans ride you also visit the home of habituated Meerkat. These Meerkat are not tame but just used to the presence of human beings.

    How to Get There: As ATOL license holders (#6445) we can book seats on most major airlines at competitive prices. We are able to make the booking (and fix the best price, less taxes and fuel charges) up to a year in advance with payment not normally due until 8 weeks before departure – this means that we can release your seats at anytime up until payment is due without penalty. We recommend flying into Johannesburg with either British Airways or South African Airways. You will then (depending on flight times) overnight in Johannesburg or connect with your onward flight to Maun (all arranged by Wild and Exotic). On arrival into Maun you will take a small charter flight (50 minutes) to camp.

    Insurance: All guests must have their own medical and travel insurance including medical evacuation. Guests must also wear riding hats to be covered under this insurance.

    Length of Rides: There are two lengths of rides – 5 nights set departure or for private rides a stays of 3 nights at Camp Kalahari can be arranged for a minimum of 4 guests.

    Luggage: 20kg in soft bags including camera equipment and riding equipment

    Meals: All included in the price.

    Medical and safety:  All guides have up to date first aid training. A Safety briefing is given at the start of all safaris. Your guide will carry a radio at all times for emergency use.

    Money: Recommend that you take cash in US$ dollars, for tipping and curios.

    Non-Riders: Non riders are accepted but if they wish to join the fly camping nights they must pay for a private vehicle and guide.

    Power supplies: There is no electricity in camp but there is a charging point in camp for batteries etc. At the fly camp there is an inverter to use for charging off the back up vehicle.

    Riding Ability: Guests on this ride must be competent and confident at all paces.

    Single Supplement: There is a single supplement of 25% for anyone who does not wish to share accommodation.

    Size of the Rides: Maximum 8 guests on set departures but up to 12 for private groups.

    Tack:  Wintec and Trail Saddles are used.

    Terrain: In the dry season riding will be along the edge of the Saltpan. This is flat sandy terrain which allows long fast canters. In the wet season there is water lying on the pans. This means that all fast riding will be done on the grass land and islands of forests that lie next to the salt pans.

    Tipping: The recommended amount is US$10 per person per night for camp staff to be given to the guide for distribution between camp staff and horse staff.

    Type of Horses: There is a selection of crossbreeds – Boerperde/Friesan, Boerperde/Percheron, Shire/TB, Boerperde/TB and Appaloosas.

    Visas: UK and US citizens currently do not require a visa.

    Weather: There are two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. The wet season takes place between 1 Nov – 15 April, and the dry season between 16 April – 31 October. Temperatures in the wet season range from around 35°C to 45°C. Rainfall is high. In the dry season temperatures range from 15°C to 30°C during the day however some nights can drop below freezing. October is the hottest month.

    Weight Limit: 95kg


    Wild and Exotic Thamalakane River ride, Botswana

    Summary

    The Thamalakane River Ride operates from the Royal Tree Lodge, a small intimate lodge with luxurious tented accommodation.  Nestled in 400 acres of riverine trees and acacia woodland on the edge of the Thamalakane River, it is only a short drive from Maun and yet it feels deep in the heart of the bush.

    There are eight stylishly appointed en suite safari tents and superb cuisine can be enjoyed either in the main dining room or out on the expansive shady deck under the majestic leadwood and bird plum trees. A swimming pool to cool off in during the heat of the day and surrounding sun deck are discreetly adjacent to the main area.

    A surprisingly large variety of wildlife roams the Reserve including giraffe, zebra, kudu, eland, oryx, springbok and other species. The different habitats in the reserve encourage prolific birdlife from water birds to the dry woodland Kalahari species.

    Itinerary

    Day 1: On arrival in Maun you will be met and transferred to the Royal Tree Lodge. Once settled into your comfortable accommodation and having had lunch or afternoon tea you will join your guide for a safety briefing before being introduced to the horses. As the day cools down you will set off for a fun afternoon ride around the environs of the reserve where the wildlife is wonderfully relaxed in the presence of the horses allowing for close encounters and great photographic opportunities. You will arrive back before dark and enjoy a sundowner at the lodge followed by a delicious dinner.

    Day 2: You will rise with the dawn this morning for an early morning ride. After a shorter stint with the wildlife you will leave the Reserve and head off into the back country for some lovely long canters through the endless acacia woodlands with a choice of fallen logs to jump if you wish. You will be passing the occasional cattle posts and will have the opportunity to learn how the local Motswana live with their vast free roaming cattle herds. As the morning warms up you will head for the cool riverine woodlands of the Thamalakane River where a sumptuous breakfast set up in the shade of the jackalberry trees has been prepared.

    With appetites duly satiated a leisurely ride will take you along the river whilst enjoying the numerous waterbirds and of course some splashing canters through the shallow waters! Lunch back at the lodge will be followed by a pleasant siesta and in the afternoon a short walk to the river’s edge where you will alight a boat for an afternoon on the water with wonderful bird watching, fishing and of course our favourite sundowners!

    Day 3: After an early morning breakfast you will mount your horses for an all day ride to explore further afield, hopefully reaching the “junction” where the Thamalakane River splits into two – the Nhabe heading west to Lake Ngami and the Boteti heading east to the Makgadikgadi. These rivers were the lifeline that allowed the early explorers, hunters and traders to penetrate deep into this area with David Livingstone being the first European to see the famous Lake Ngami having spent many thirsty days crossing the Kalahari before reaching the Boteti. You will have a picnic lunch is in the shade of the evergreen mangosteen trees and for some there may be a temptation to have a swim.

    The river will guide you home and if the water levels are low enough you may cross the river and ride back on the north bank looking out for the resident hippos as they become more active with the setting sun.

    Day 4: This morning you will have your last early morning ride through the Reserve followed by a welcome hearty breakfast before heading on to your next exciting destination.

    Notes:

    The price of this itinerary is on a full board basis based on two people sharing accommodation. A single supplement may apply to anyone who does not wish to share accommodation. The price is inclusive of all activities described and all transfers as per the itinerary.

    The price does not include international flights to Johannesburg, flights from Johannesburg to Maun, items of a personal nature, gratuities, and visa fees.

    Please note that it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they obtain the correct visa prior to travel. Wild and Exotic will assist with visa applications if instructed but cannot be held responsible for a client’s failure to obtain a visa for whatever reason

    Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website on the general information tab.

    Wild and Exotic fact sheet for Thamalakane River Ride

    Accommodation:  Luxurious Royal Tree Lodge 12km from Maun

    Activities: Riding, boat trips, walking, birdwatching

    Children: All ages

    Clothing List:
    Riding Hat: light weight ventilated of good quality is recommended. Insurance regulations insist on this requirement whilst on horseback.
    Jodphurs / Long trousers.
    Half chaps.
    Riding footwear: these should be comfortable and easy to walk in if required.
    Socks – several pairs.
    Riding gloves.
    Long sleeved collared shirts in neutral bush colours.
    Buff / bandana (to protect face and neck from sun and dust).
    Light weight warm fleece or jacket.
    Lightweight waterproof windbreaker jacket.
    Dark sunglasses on a string.
    Waist pouch to carry lip balm, suncream, small camera and extra batteries and memory card.
    Misc:
    Torch – head torch is recommended.
    Small lightweight binoculars.
    Camera with battery charging equipment, spare batteries and memory cards.
    Broad brimmed sunhat (for when not riding).
    Layers: Cotton long and short sleeved t-shirts, shorts, cotton trousers.
    Sarong and swimming costume.
    Comfortable sleep-wear according to the season (tracksuit recommended for winter months), woollen beanie and gloves.
    Footwear: flip flops, closed shoes/ boots for around the camp.
    Sunblock, insect repellent, lip salve, personal medication, personal toiletries.
    Reading material.
    Passport.
    Insurance and medical details.

    Distance and times: Maximum 20km/4 hours.

    Drinks: Are not included in the price.

    Game / Wildlife: Giraffe, zebra, kudu, oryx, eland, springbok, impala, blesbok, duiker, monkey, ostrich.

    How to Get There: International flight to Maun from Johannesburg followed by 20 minute road transfer

    Insurance: All guests must have their own medical and travel insurance including medical evacuation. Guests must wear riding helmets to be covered under this insurance.

    Length of Rides: From 1- 4 nights

    Luggage: No weight restrictions but soft bags preferred

    Meals: All included in the price.

    Medical and safety:  Guides have up to date first aid training. A Safety briefing is given at start of all safaris. Your guide will carry a radio at all times for emergency use.

    Money: Bring US$ cash for tipping and curios

    Non-Riders: Non riders welcome

    Power supplies: Mains electricity 220v

    Riding Ability: All levels accepted

    Single Supplement: 25% will apply to anyone who does not wish to share accommodation.

    Size of the Rides: Minimum 1 guest, maximum 12 guests.

    Tack:  Wintec and Trail Saddles

    Terrain: Flat firm ground, some areas with wildlife holes to be avoided

    Tipping: Recommended US$10 per person per night for camp staff to be given to the guide for distribution between camp staff and horse staff

    Type of Horses: Crossbreeds – Boerperde/Friesan, Boerperde/Percheron, Shire/TB, Boerperde/TB. Appaloosas.

    Types of Safari / Tours: Riding tailor made to level of riders. Boat trips on the Thamalakane River. Fishing. Bird watching walks.

    Visas: UK and US citizens currently do not require a visa.

    Weather: Jan – Mar: Summer. High rainfall and high temperatures. Highs range from 35°C to 45°C. Lows around 18°C. April – May: Autumn. Dry and warm. Cool evenings and mornings. Jun – Aug: Winter. No rainfall. Cold nights and early mornings. Days are sunny and generally warm. Temperatures range from 15°C to 30°C. Nights can drop below freezing in some areas. Sept – Oct: Spring. Dry and warm. October can be extremely hot. Nov – Jan: Summer. High rainfall and high temperatures. Highs range from 35°C to 45°C. Lows around 18°C.

    Weight Limit: 95k


    Wild and Exotic Exclusive Salt and Spray Botswana itinerary

    Summary

    Wild and Exotic have teamed up with two of the best riding safari operators in Africa to create a unique 10 day riding safari in two of Southern Africa’s most precious and beautiful ecosystems. The rides combines three nights at a camp in the Kalahari Desert, two nights fly camping on the Makgadikgadi Saltpans followed by four nights in the luscious Okavango Delta.

    The ride begins with adventures in the southern Saltpans that are home to a diverse array of wildlife including habituated meerkats, bat eared foxes, honey badgers and black mained Kalahari lion as well as plains game. In addition to riding through this pristine wilderness environment you will have the chance to spend time with native Bushmen, before being transferred by private charter flight across Botswana to the luxurious Macatoo camp, located within a 500,000 hectare private concession on the western side of the Okavango Delta. Mornings are devoted to exploring the game rich Delta landscape, with shorter rides, walks and mokoro expeditions available after a lunchtime siesta.

    Itinerary

    Day 1: On arrival into Johannesburg we will have plenty of time to check into our flight to Maun. On arrival into Maun we will be met and transferred by private charter flight to Camp Kalahari, where we will be met by our host and guide David Foot. Camp Kalahari s located amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and adjacent to the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park.

    The camp is refreshingly simple, yet comfortable, with a thatch library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for hot Kalahari days. There are 10 spacious Meru tents: 7 twin tents, 2 double tents and a family tent consisting of 2 adjacent tents, accommodating 2 guests in each with an inter-leading bathroom. All have en-suite outdoor bathrooms, flush loos, hot and cold running water, along with comfy beds, crunchy cotton sheets, stripy African blankets and hot water bottles in winter.

    After tea in the beautiful afternoon light, we will head out for an introductory ride – primarily to match horse and rider but also our first opportunity to experience the beauty of this magical area.  After our ride we will return to camp for sundowners followed by dinner and to kraal the horses close by (put them in a pen), before the lions of the Kalahari commence their nightly prowling.

    Day 2: This morning we will rise with the dawn and enjoy a light breakfast followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”.  Stranded on the ancient lake bed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness.  During the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich and the attendant predators. The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent going for the horses but if there has been heavy rain many of these areas will be full of water and possibly full of thousands of flamingos feeding on invisible brine shrimp. We will return to camp for lunch and rest through the heat of the day in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees or cool off in the camp swimming pool.

    After tea, we will head off by vehicle to see some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyena; these consummate desert specialists survive in arid areas where both food and water are scarce. The brown hyena is a timid nocturnal, solitary forager, rarely seen by humans, but in spite of this, they are very social animals, living in clans of up to 10-12 hyenas. We will enjoy a night game drive back to camp, and with the aid of a spot light, look for nocturnal desert inhabitants such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers and perhaps even a black maned Kalahari Lion. On arrival back to camp we will be served a delicious dinner.

    Day 3: Today is a long ride eastwards to Xau Xai Fly Camp, so an early start is imperative.  Be sure to pack a few essentials for the next two days of adventure. The journey will take you away from the edge of the Pans and through the mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long, relaxed canters.  Whilst the area is rich in birds of prey, bustards, korhaans and numerous other unusual dry woodland bird species; there is also a chance that you will sight kudu and the odd elephant bull.

    Passing by the massive Chapmans Baobab, by lunchtime you will reach the famous Greens Baobab proudly positioned alongside the well-travelled Missionary Road, traversed by David Livingstone on his journeys northwards.  The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is scarred with the initials of early travellers dating back some 150 years thus providing a living testimony to the rich history of this area. You will stop for lunch at the adjacent Gutsa Pan under a stand of palm trees where you may find Stone Age artefacts and the hunting blinds used over millennium by the Bushmen. After a rest and siesta in the midday heat and tea you will continue the journey on to Xau Xai Fly Camp.

    Xau Xai fly camp will be made up of comfortable dome tents, a central mess tent, loos and bucket showers. On arrival we will enjoy a long cool drink as we watch the sunset followed by dinner out under the magnificent Kalahari sky.

    Day 4: This morning you will wake to a steaming hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast, before heading off on your horses in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. Thanks to an ongoing habituation programme it’s possible for you to get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. Remember, they are not tame – just used to our non-threatening presence. On chilly mornings, you might well find a meerkat snuggling up to us for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post. By spending quality time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals, you will see how they interact with each other and their environment. You also get the chance to see the desert through the eyes of a meerkat – which, despite the fact that it’s only a foot off the ground, is a pretty spectacular vantage point, and definitely one of the most special and memorable game experiences you will encounter in Botswana. As the day warms up, you will leave the meerkats to continue foraging, remount your horses and follow trails leading to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater in hidden waterholes. You will return to Xau Xai for lunch, a refreshing shower and a siesta in the shade of the mess tent.

    In the late afternoon you will ride straight out into the middle of an ancient lakebed, until all that can be seen is the vast flatness stretching in every direction. This is one of the only places in the world where the silence is so complete you can hear the blood circulating through your ears. There is not one visual landmark to be seen on 16,000 square kilometres of baking soda void that is home to countless millions of brine shrimp. You will camp for the night here, sleeping on bedrolls under the silence of a star studded sky having watched a spectacular sunset.

    Day 5: This morning will be like waking up on the moon as dawn greets this extraordinary landscape and the last of the stars disappear, you will ride across the Pans back to Camp Kalahari, we may be lucky enough to see the unusual sight of ostrich deep in the Pans and then from a great distance the famous Chapman’s Baobab. Also known as the Seven Sisters, measuring 25 metres around its trunk, this tree is acknowledged to be one of the largest in Africa, and was the campsite used by early explorers such as Livingstone and Selous when they pioneered through the area.

    We arrive back at camp for a late lunch and a well earned rest. In the late afternoon we may go for a gentle walk and as the sun dips below the horizon and the last light fades, we will be sure to dwell on these amazing past few days.  Incredible scenery, memorable wildlife encounters and above all superb riding!

    Day 6: Early this morning the horses are loaded and transported back to their home base in Maun. A non riding day commences with an early morning walk with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers of the Western Kalahari. The Bushmen will demonstrate how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills. After this fascinating experience lunch awaits at Camp Kalahari before we board a private charter flights straight to the watery Okavango Delta, approximately one hour’s flight to the north. On arrival at African Horseback Safari’s Macatoo Camp we will be met and offered refreshments before an evening ride where we can get to know our horses, before returning to a to a candle-lit dinner.

    Day 7: After being woken by a cup of tea or coffee in bed, followed by a light breakfast with homemade toast and muesli, we will a ride out from camp to stretch our legs and explore this magical area. As the water levels will be high this may involve some galloping, swimming through the flood waters or pushing-on through seas of tall grass following giraffe, zebra, antelope, elephant and buffalo. We will return to camp for a brilliant open air lunch with the guides and there’s usually some wine to encourage a little nap before tea. This evening ride is deliberately slower-paced and is a good opportunity to ask questions and take photographs. Leopard sightings are not infrequent, the bird-life is some of the best in the world and towards sunset there is often elephant or hippo interaction to enjoy. We will enjoy a sun downer out in the bush before riding back to camp to freshen up. There’s no guarantee that dinner is always eaten in the same place…

    Day 8: This morning we will leave camp early to investigate fresh game tracks, joining semi-aquatic red lechwe as they thunder through the water meadows. The water in the delta is at its highest levels so there will be plenty of opportunities to ride through the water. A champagne breakfast is waiting for us under a large baobab tree. The evening ride is spent exploring the lower flood plains where elephant often gather at a pool, large herds of lechwe are forming in the wetlands and perhaps there maybe hippo and crocodile in the area. There is also a good potential of buffalo sightings with impala, tsessebe and kudu moving inland onto the islands.  As dusk closes in we will gather for drinks around the fire before dinner.

    Day 9: This morning we will ride deeper into the heart of the delta, along some of the high palm islands which offer great sweeping views of the Delta plains. After tea we will do a slower ride to the magical tree house where we will have the option to spend the night out, sleeping high up in the tree tops under the stars. To be out in the wilderness so freely in the Okavango bush like this is a wonderful experience and one that few people experience.

    Day 10: After waking up amongst the trees to the call of the African Fish Eagle, we will splash through water on the vast open plains, home to blue wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra. The riding may be fast as we approach deep reedy areas full of bird life including open-billed storks, squacco herons, slaty egrets, egyptian geese and many more. We will return to Macatoo along the myriad of waterways lined with large trees to prepare for our onward private charter flight back to Maun. On arrival into Maun we will check in to our flight to Johannesburg. On arrival into Johannesburg you will have plenty of time to check into your lfight home. End of Wild and Exotic services.

    Notes:
    The price of this itinerary is on a full board basis based on two people sharing accommodation and inclusive of all 3 private charter flights. A single supplement may apply to anyone who does not wish to share accommodation.

    The price is inclusive of all activities described and all transfers as per the itinerary.

    The price does not include international flights to Johannesburg, flights from Johannesburg to Maun, items of a personal nature, gratuities, and visa fees.

    There are no set departures for this ride, as it is a tailor made holiday specifically arranged at the request of the Client.

    As ATOL license holders (#6445) we can book seats on most major airlines at competitive prices. We are able to make the booking (and fix the best price, less taxes and fuel charges) up to a year in advance with payment not normally due until 8 weeks before departure – this means that we can release your seats at anytime up until payment is due without penalty.

    Please note that it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they obtain the correct visa prior to travel. Wild and Exotic will assist with visa applications if instructed but cannot be held responsible for a client’s failure to obtain a visa for whatever reason. UK citizens currently do not require a visa for South Africa and Botswana. Please note a South African transit visa is required for non UK clients travelling to Botswana.

    Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is enclosed with your booking form.

    Botswana general information and map

    Capital: Gaborone

    Getting there: Visitors to Botswana usually fly into Maun (for the Okavango Delta) via Johannesburg in South Africa, or Kasane via Livingstone in Zambia. The flying time to Johannesburg is approximately 11 hours from London and from Johannesburg to Maun is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.

    Time: GMT plus two hours

    Try not to miss: Chobe National Park for huge herds of elephant, the Okavango Delta for diverse wildlife and unique 17,000 square km ecosystem, the Selinda Reserve for hippo eating lions, the Kalahari Desert for interaction with the San bush people and the Makgadikgadi salt pans for rare desert wildlife, quad biking and sleeping beneath the stars.

    Visas: No visa is required for UK citizens visiting for up to 90 days. Non-UK residents do require a South African transit visas to travel to Botswana.

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    “We all had the most wonderful trip to Botswana. In particular, David Foot in the salt-pans was the most wonderful guide and we had 5 incredible days with him. He was such fun, and I don’t know quite what he thought of 8 rather loud middle aged English people, but he put on a very good show! I would definitely be interested in going back there.”
    Caroline Sykes, Meerkat Saltpan ride, September 2013


    Meerkat ride

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