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                                                                        Gavin Blair Safaris

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21 Day Botswana, Namibia & Zimbabwe Safari


Day 1


Arrive Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe where we will meet you and from where we will immediately fly by light aircraft to Mana Pools National Park.  Our flight will take us over the gorges of the Zambezi River to the point where the river flows into Lake Kariba - we will then fly the length of the Lake, passing over the Kariba Dam and the Kariba gorges, finally descending into the Zambezi Valley and Mana Pools National Park.  Enjoy your first afternoon of wildlife viewing as we game-drive upstream through the Mana Pools National Park to our first nights camp.


Day 2


Immediately after breakfast you will be given a lesson in the handling of your canoe before setting off downstream, enjoying the birdlife and wildlife along the riverbanks.  Mana Pools is one of the most scenically beautiful parks of Southern Africa.  Elephant, eland, buffalo, waterbuck and impala as well as predators can be found.  Canoeing gives access to the beautiful channels and islands of the Zambezi River and so plentiful wildlife can be seen from the canoes.  One often comes across elephant or buffalo swimming across the river.  The sunsets on the Zambezi are spectacular and made the more impressive due to the magnificent scenery of the Zambian escarpment opposite.


Day 3


The days activities will vary between canoeing and walking.  From the canoes we will enjoy many good sightings of hippos, crocodiles and the birds of the Zambezi, while on foot there will be many opportunities to experience the smaller mammals and those things often missed when in a vehicle, such as insects, interesting plants and animal spoor, while still having the chance to encounter the larger mammals.  Picnic lunches will be served at shady spots on the riverbank followed by the chance to relax during the heat of the day before continuing downstream to our next campsite.  We will arrive at each of our campsites in time to enjoy the spectacular sunsets over the Zambian escarpment.


Day 4


A last morning wildlife walk before returning to Mana Pools airstrip for the light aircraft flight back to Victoria Falls airport and on to the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, a beautiful brick and thatch lodge that provides the best accommodation in Victoria Falls and is where you will overnight.  The lodge is situated on the edge of Victoria Falls town and looks out across the valley to the Victoria Falls National Park, beyond which you can see the Zambezi River.  Warthogs, banded mongooses, baboons and monkeys are regular visitors, while elephant and buffalo roam in the valley below.  In the afternoon we will take you to the world famous Victoria Falls, locally known as "Mosi oa Tunya", the smoke that thunders.  There will also be the chance to wander around the curio markets of the town and pick up mementoes in the form of stone and woodcarvings (Zimbabweans have the reputation of being Africa’s best carvers).  In the evening we will take you to dinner at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge restaurant, which overlooks a floodlit waterhole from where you can watch the animals coming down to drink while you dine.  Victoria Falls is also the centre for a number of adventure activities such as the best one-day white-water rafting in the world, horse or elephant back riding, scenic flights over the Victoria Falls in a helicopter, microlight or ultralight, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge or a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.  (For additional activities you will need to spend two nights.)


Day 5


Immediately after breakfast you will be transferred by road the short distance to the Botswana border and on to Chobe Lodge where we will overnight. The lodge is situated on the banks of the Chobe River and has a swimming pool. The air-conditioned rooms and outdoor dining area overlook the Chobe River. Baboons, monkeys and warthogs are frequent visitors by day, and by night larger mammals wander by.  In the afternoon we will take a boat out on the Chobe River to photograph hippos, crocodiles, and if lucky, find a herd of elephants swimming and playing in the water. Good bird sightings that include the malachite and giant kingfishers as well as the endangered African skimmer can be found along the river's edge.


Day 6


A full day wildlife viewing in the Chobe National Park where, thanks to the permanent waters of the Chobe River, one can be assured of seeing a wonderful variety of birds and animals including breeding herds of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, roan, sable, kudu, Chobe bushbuck,, as well as keeping a look out for the predators.  This is also the only area in Southern Africa where the puku can be seen.


Day 7


After breakfast we will transit through the Chobe National Park to the Ngoma border post where we will cross the Chobe River into Namibia.  We will then traverse the full length of the Caprivi Strip (the thin strip of land that separates Botswana and Angola) en route to Rundu.  On arrival we will enjoy an afternoon stroll along the banks of the Okavango River in search of some of the many species of birds that inhabit this area.  Overnight at the River Lodge.


Day 8


After breakfast we will depart for Etosha National Park.  The scenery and habitat will change dramatically as we travel.  We will set off on our first afternoon of wildlife viewing in the Namutoni area of the Etosha National Park, home to some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in the whole of Southern Africa.  Alternating between the various waterholes and access points on the Etosha Pan we will observe the comings, goings, trials and tribulations of the animals who live in this harsh environment.  This is also the area of Etosha where we may see the endangered blue crane.  Overnight at Namutoni Bush Camp where we will probably be greeted by kudu and common duiker.


Day 9


A full day wildlife viewing in the Namutoni area of the Etosha National Park, known as the "Great White Place" because of the white clay pans that covers almost a quarter of the park’s 22,270 square kilometre area.  Amongst the large diversity of species you can expect to see this is also the area we will find the rare Damara dik-dik, and perhaps even the less common white rhino.  Overnight at Namutoni Bush Camp.


Day 10


After breakfast we depart Namutoni and spend the day wildlife viewing en route to the Halali area of the Etosha National Park, stopping at the numerous waterholes along the way to see what activity is taking place.  Etosha waterholes are unique in the sheer diversity and impressive concentrations of wildlife they attract, being as the dry waterless interior means that herds of elephant, giraffe, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest, black-faced impala and springbok are frequently drawn from the arid feeding grounds to these waterholes.  Overnight at Halali where the floodlit waterhole attracts regular rhino visitors and other nocturnal animals, so presenting an opportunity for some special night time wildlife viewing.


Day 11


Departing Halali we continue our wildlife viewing while travelling west along the edge of the Etosha Pan, a great ancient salt lake, observing the changing habitat and vegetation en route to the Okaukuejo area of the Etosha National Park.  We will look out for cheetah, spotted hyena, black-backed jackals, warthogs and ground squirrels as well as eland, red hartebeest and kudu.  We will overnight at Okaukuejo.  For those with enough energy there is the famous floodlit waterhole where you can sit up all night to watch the coming and going of the animals including rhino, elephant and lion, with the draw of the water once again resulting in some excellent  wildlife viewing.


Day 12

 

A full day wildlife viewing in the Okaukuejo area of the Etosha National Park.  The waterhole at Okaukuejo is one of the most frequented waterholes in Etosha, and so we will spend most of our time between this waterhole and others in the surrounding area, watching the constantly changing movement of the animals.  Overnight at Okaukuejo.


Day 13


After a last morning wildlife viewing we will leave Etosha and set off for Twyfelfontein.  In the afternoon we will take a scenic drive giving the chance to admire and photograph some of the interesting rock formations, mountainous scenery and the unusual phenomena called "fairy circles".  Along the way we will spend time looking at some of the small and interesting desert creatures, such as beetles, insects, lizards, geckos and brightly coloured agamas, while always keeping a look out for the elusive desert elephant, Hartmann's mountain zebra and bat eared foxes.  We will also make a cultural visit to a Damara “Living Museum” in order to experience aspects of day to day life in a traditional village, before enjoying yet another of Namibia's magnificent sunsets.  We will overnight at Camp Twyfelfontein, a beautiful lodge with endless vistas that is built into the surrounding rock face.


Day 14


We will spend the morning visiting the famous rock engravings that form one of the largest collections of rock art in Namibia. Twyfelfontein is an open air gallery that has gained status as a World Heritage site in order to preserve an almost vanished way of life.  The rocks are also home to black eagles and rock dassies, many of whom will be out bathing in the early morning sunlight.  In the afternoon we will explore the surrounding area, including a visit to the "Organ Pipes" (a mass of basalt slabs in a ravine gouged out by an ancient river and a geological curiosity of the area) and the "Burnt Mountain".  The day will end by climbing a small hill to watch the sun set over the rugged desert landscape, while waiting for the first bats to emerge from a local phenomenon where the earth has opened up, exposing a sink hole of yet undiscovered depths, from which hundreds of bats emerge as darkness descends.  Enjoy the serenade of barking geckos as they too emerge to mark out their territory as the heat of the day dissipates, before returning to Camp Twyfelfontein in time for dinner.


Day 15


After breakfast we depart Twyfelfontein and head southwest.  Our drive to the Skeleton Coast will take us past the Brandberg (Namibia's highest mountain) and the Messum Crater.  The hills of the Messum Crater will also give us our first chance to see the fascinating Welwitschia plant, said to be around 2,000 years old. This unique plant is only found in the deserts of Namibia, which are also home to the largest lichen fields in the world. The drive will take us through beautiful but desolate scenery from the harsh dry interior, home to some extraordinarily adapted desert creatures, down to the ice cold Atlantic Ocean.  Overnight at Cape Cross Lodge.


Day 16


After breakfast and a stroll along the deserted Skeleton Coast shoreline we will visit the Cape Cross seal colony, the biggest mainland breeding colony in the world.  The Cape fur seals flourish in the cold waters of the Benguela Current, which are also responsible for causing the daily mists that drift inland carrying life-giving moisture to the desert plants and animals.  The historical significance of Cape Cross is recorded on inscriptions carved into a granite cross.  There is a monument erected to duplicate the cross originally placed here in 1486 by the Portuguese navigator Diego Cão.  Black-backed jackals can be seen prowling the edges of the colony by day, and by night the brown hyena is a bold predator.  After lunch we will depart for Swakopmund, stopping en route to view a shipwreck.  On arriving in Swakopmund, a very quaint German colonial seaside town with its own particular charm, there will be the opportunity to shop in the local curio markets or visit the very interesting Swakopmund Museum (both a Natural History museum and one that gives a very good insight into the past history of Namibia and its people).  For the next two nights we will base from The Burning Shore, an ocean-side hotel just outside of Swakopmund that is located on the beach, so offering sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.


Day 17


Immediately after breakfast we will set off on a full day of activities exploring the Atlantic coastline.  We will start with a boat trip that will take us through Walvis Bay harbour and to a seal colony at the end of a peninsular.  This is a particularly wonderful opportunity, as approaching the colony by boat gives the chance to see the seals at close quarters playing uninhibited in the sea.  There will also be a good chance of watching dolphins frolicking in the water and riding our bow wave.  In the afternoon we will continue our adventures by heading into the sand dunes to enjoy the thrill of an exhilarating 4x4 off road driving experience.  Riding over the dunes on your own quad bike we will stop regularly to marvel at the plants and wildlife eking out a survival in this sand environment.  The experience will give you a glimpse as to how seemingly impossible it would be to survive in this environment, and so a brief stop will be made to visit a very small Topnaar outpost, to see how this nomadic people (who are an offshoot of the Nama tribe, and part of the Khoisan genetic group who have many similarities to the Bushmen or San), have managed to adapt to the harsh, dry desert of the Namib.  While the sun sets into the ocean we will watch flamingoes and other waders feeding in the mud flats and shallows of the Walvis Bay Lagoon, before returning to the Burning Shore in time for dinner.


Day 18


After breakfast we depart for the Sossusvlei and Sesriem areas of the Namib Naukluft National Park where some of the largest sand dunes in the world occur.  Our journey will take us to the spectacular Kuiseb Canyon and across the Gaub Pass.  At first impression the desert is barren, but in fact there are many species that have adapted to this harsh desert life, such as snakes, beetles, geckos, spiders, the golden mole, the desert chameleon, gerbils, larks, the beautiful gemsbok, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and bat-eared foxes.  Later in the afternoon we will visit the Sesriem Canyon, formed by the Tsauchab River.  We will overnight at Naukluft Dune Lodge, situated at the entrance to the Namib Naukluft National Park - the largest National Park in Africa and the fourth largest in the world.


Day 19


A full day in the Namib Naukluft National Park, where we will see at close hand the beautiful desert scenery and its wildlife.  As the day progresses experience the beauty of the constantly changing colours of some of the world’s tallest sand dunes.  We will walk through the desert to visit Deadvlei, one of the most photographed scenes in the area, and for those energetic enough there will be the opportunity to climb to the top of the highest dune in the area for a 360 degree vista of a magnificent landscape.  The day will end watching the sun set over the dunes and dining under a canopy of stars.   Overnight at Naukluft Dune Lodge.


Day 20


The day will start with an early morning scenic flight in order to admire the vast and stunning desertscape of the Namib Naukluft National Park from a different perspective, returning for a late breakfast before departing Sossusvlei.  Our journey will take us from dune and gravel landscapes, climbing up steep passes through the rugged mountains to reach the high central plateau.  There will be plenty of time for stops en route to enjoy and photograph the dramatically changing scenery as we travel on to Windhoek.   Overnight at Windhoek Lodge. 


Day 21


Windhoek has a number of botanical and historical points of interest that we can visit before transferring you to Windhoek airport, arriving in plenty of time for your onward connections.


Gavin Blair Safaris aim is to give you the maximum safari experience, and as such Gavin will give you the opportunity to be out in the field from dawn to dusk and often beyond - i.e. a safari with Gavin Blair Safaris will maximise your time out in the bush.   You will also have the benefit of a highly experienced and respected guide, who has an intimate and inexhaustible knowledge of the wildlife as well as a very genuine and infectious enthusiasm for all aspects of Africa's fauna and flora - so ensuring a safari adventure not to be forgotten.  Our return rate of 78% is further proof of our high standards and commitment to your enjoyment of the complete safari experience, as the testimonials page on this website will show.


The safari will be exclusive to you, your family and any friends you choose to accompany you - i.e. we do not mix groups unless specifically requested.  Prices, worked out on a sliding scale with the price varying depending on the number in your party, are fully inclusive of all accommodation, air charters, road transfers, park fees (excluding any Government increases between the time of booking and your safari), meals and activities as per the itinerary (except additional activities in Victoria Falls).  International flights are not included and drinks (excluding premium brands) are included in Botswana only.  The vehicles used will be for your exclusive use and Gavin will be your personal guide throughout, offering maximum time out in the field for the duration of your safari.  

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