Zimbabwe & Botswana game tracker accommodated safari

“This alternative circuit of Southern Africa takes in some of its finest yet less explored wildlife habitats, from the remote north of Kruger, to off-the-beaten-track Zimbabwe.”

Highlights

Kruger National Park | Big Five | Great Zimbabwe Monuments | Matobo National Park | Hwange National Park | Victoria Falls | Kasane | Chobe National Park | Maun | Swimming in the Okavango Delta | Camping on an island | Khama Rhino Sanctuary | Kalahari Desert | Makgadikgadi Pans | Bush walks | Bird watching | Optional: white water rafting, bungee jump, scenic flight

Map

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24 Dec 2016
US $ 2555
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07 Jan 2017
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14 Jan 2017
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28 Jan 2017
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04 Feb 2017
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25 Feb 2017
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18 Mar 2017
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25 Mar 2017
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08 Apr 2017
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15 Apr 2017
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29 Apr 2017
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20 May 2017
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03 Jun 2017
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10 Jun 2017
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24 Jun 2017
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01 Jul 2017
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08 Jul 2017
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15 Jul 2017
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22 Jul 2017
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29 Jul 2017
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05 Aug 2017
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12 Aug 2017
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19 Aug 2017
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26 Aug 2017
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02 Sep 2017
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09 Sep 2017
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16 Sep 2017
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23 Sep 2017
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30 Sep 2017
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07 Oct 2017
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14 Oct 2017
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21 Oct 2017
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28 Oct 2017
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04 Nov 2017
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11 Nov 2017
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18 Nov 2017
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25 Nov 2017
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02 Dec 2017
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23 Dec 2017
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Our top tip:
Bring a torch for the nights spent under canvas - it gets dark early!
Trip type:
Small group, max. 12 people. Min age 12.
Activity level:
Moderate.
Accomm:
Chalets, hotels and permanent tented camps.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accommodation, safari guides, transport, listed activities, most meals, sleeping bag and pillow.
Meals:
All breakfasts, 12 lunches, 10 dinners.
Vouchers
Accepted
Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Zimbabwe & Botswana game tracker accommodated safari

Environment

Message from co-Founder of this Tour Operator. My name is Bruce and I am a founder of this tour operation. I believe that the old conservation tactic of the setting aside areas of "exclusion" for conservation are outdated.

The reality is that in order for effective, sustainable conservation to take place, there needs to be an interest from the society of that country, conscious effort from government and local "buy in" from the local communities. Sadly the world is in a place where economic benefit is the overriding driving force of action and as such conservation is directly linked to economic benefit. Sustainable tourism is therefore absolutely essential for conservation to be effective. Not only for local communities to see value in conservation, but for countries as a whole to place value in protecting their natural heritage.

I believe there is a deep and instinctual link between our humanity and our natural environment. Inherently we all want to know that the wild places are still out there. And Eco-tourism gives us that opportunity, as we so often hear, to "rebalance" or "rejuvenate".

The various promises and commitments detailed below are only a representation of what it is that we do. I sincerely hope that our tours offer our clients an opportunity to experience the wonders of the African continent, and in some small way through focusing itineraries around wildlife and national parks, we contribute to environmental conservation both economically and spiritually.

If you join one of our trips, and have practical feasible suggestions about our responsible travel practices, please contact us. We strive to improve our operation and if we can do more for conservation in Africa, then we're all ears!

Low impact tourism & supporting local communities:
• Small group travel: We specialise in small group travel with a maximum group size of 12 clients & minimum of 4. Small groups ensures a small impact on the destinations we visit when compared to larger groups. Smaller groups create an intimate safari experience, and mean that when we interact with local cultures and stay in environmentally sensitive areas, we do not leave a large footprint.
• Fuel consumption: By traveling in a small group your carbon foot print is approximately ½ of self drive safari. The average pick-up car hire runs on approximately 12ltr/100km with generally 2 people per vehicle and this equates to approximately 6ltr/100km pp. Our average safari truck runs on 25ltr/100km with an average of 9.5 clients per tour and this equates to 2.6Ltr/100km pp. So, by joining a small group tour, your fuel consumption is less than half of doing a self-drive 4WD or pick up trip.
• Cooking: We cook using gas as far as possible and, whenever feasible, avoiding cooking using fire or coal which depletes limited wood resources.
• Wooden carving curios: We do take clients to local curio markets to support the local communities. If they want to buy a carving, we encourage clients purchase only small wooden carvings instead of large pieces. This is in an effort to again conserve the forests around the carving markets.
• Waste: We ensure that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop, including oil traps, oil recycling, cleaning products etc).
• Entrance fees: All entrance fees for the national parks in each country are used by the local authorities to maintain the condition and infrastructure of the national parks, and run regular anti-poaching patrols. These are often supplemented by government grants. The national parks support a large number of local community members often providing housing and schooling for the staff families. For us as a tour operator, supporting the various national park boards is an essential element to each tour.
• Accommodation: On all tours wherever possible we use locally owned accommodation establishments which are involved in local responsible tourism initiatives. This provides direct benefits to local communities through employment. We avoid large hotel chains and more commercial properties but opt for simple self-catering lodge, B&B’s and tented camps for accommodation in rural areas. By doing this we create an intimate environment for group away from large scale tourism and the communities around the accommodation benefit directly through employment and this creates pride and further interest in sustainable tourism as the communities have tangible benefits from tourism. Our tours focus on out of the way destinations, and as such, our “spend” is distributed into rural areas.
• Drinking Water: Each client, drinking 5 litres per day from 1 litre plastic bottles produces 100 waste plastic bottles on a 3 week safari. On this calculation, we would pollute the environment (and waste energy resources in plastic production) with over 250,000 plastic bottles per year! So as solution, each of our vehicles has a tank of clean drinking water that is filled up along the journey. This is safe tap water. We do not provide bottle water we encourage clients to drink the local clean drinkable tap water wherever possible in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottle waste produced by the purchase of bottled drinking water.
• Water conservation: We are acutely aware that in many areas that we visit water is a scarce resource. Clients are encouraged to be conscious of water usage and not to take long showers or waste water.
• Wildlife: On all game drives, our trained and qualified guides ensure that our groups interact with wildlife in the appropriate way. Slow movements, no loud noises and to respect the animals “personal” boundaries. Our philosophy is that we are visitors in the amazing places that we visit, and we do not want our presence to impact the wildlife and environment in any negative way. We also enforce a policy of not feeding any wildlife (animals habituated to human feeding will turn aggressive in the future which often results in authorities being forced to kill that animal) and to appreciate the natural state of the areas that we visit and to leave the area in exactly the same condition that it was when we arrived.
• Local guides & communities: On each tour you will travel with two guides for the entire trip. In addition, we also employ local guides for certain activities on tour. These local initiatives help to maintain local cultures and also sustain the ideals of wildlife conservation. Tourism, goodwill and conservation all work together and we aim to maintain the delicate balance at all times! The employment of local guide adds value to our clients visit because they can gain specific local knowledge and expertise from the people who actually live permanently in the area they are visiting. These interactions also give our clients the chance to meet local people and see how tourism is benefiting Africa, piece by piece.
We use local guides at:
Botswana: Okavango Delta, Chobe NP, Ghanzi San Bushman excursion, national parks
South Africa: Mkuzi village walk, Qunu Mandela historical site, Kozi Bay
Swailand: Hlane walking
Lesotho: Malealea Lodge pony trekking guide
Malawi: Boat excursion on Lake Malawi
Mozambique: Dhow excursions
Namibia: Brandberg walk and drives (part of the Tsiseb Community Conservancy), Spizkoppe walk, Gariep River canoeing, Sossusvlei 4WD drivers,
Zambia: Lower Zambezi Canoe excursion, South Luangwa game walks and drives, Vic Falls optional activities
Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Matobos NP, Hwange NP, Victoria Falls
For more information on each of the community projects please talk to your guide or contact us.
• Local crafts and produce: At all local markets where fresh produce and crafts are sold and produced, we encourage the clients to barter (gently and in good humour) with the local people. This not only allows the clients to get involved with the local way of life, and interact directly with the local people, but also provides them a platform to experience local life first hand. Having said that, we explain to the clients by bartering too hard for a good deal might seem like a lot of money at the time, but if the amount being haggled over is converted to either US$, Euro or GBP, it amounts to very little. This is the local livelihood and we advise them to keep this in mind at all times.
• Underprivileged Children Groups: We operate a number of tours into the national parks of South Africa for underprivileged children from schools based in Johannesburg, South Africa. PEN Organisation is an independent, non-governmental and social development organisation. Its activities focus on neglected and abandoned children and orphans, as well as disadvantaged families. We try to run these tours as often as possible during the course of a year. We believe that the youth are Africa’s future and that environmental education is important. This opportunity allows them to see for themselves wildlife (perhaps for the first time), nature conservation at work, and also show them employment opportunities that are available in the conservation or tourism industry, and possibly encourage them to follow a career in tourism (for this reason we aim these groups at 14-18 year olds).
• Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre: We assist a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a Gymnogene, and spotted eagle owls. All birds are treated in a small makeshift clinic, and then kept in aviaries until they have recovered. Once able to fly, or care for themselves again, they are moved to a 'flight' aviary, for a period until they have regained strength. They are then released back into the wild. Those birds which are unable to be released are kept in large aviaries and fed through various donations. We assist the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint and other items on their wish list.

Community

Okavango Delta: We use local community 'polers' to take us into the Okavango Delta. The polers have an intimate knowledge of the Okavango Delta, and their employment as guides ensure that the local community benefit from tourism and ensures that these areas are conserved for future generations.
The Okavango Delta, 1000th World Heritage Site, is an important wildlife refuge for many animals, both resident and migratory. It attracts thousands of tourists to Botswana annually, and maintaining the pristine nature of the environment is very important to the country. Water from the Delta is integral to the continued sustainability of the Botswana tourism industry. Without water, the environment would no longer support such diversity. There have been many talks about damming upper sections of the Kavango River which feeds the Okavango Delta. Should this go ahead it will disrupt the natural system of the Delta and adversely affect the wildlife and the industry as a whole. Tour leaders will explain all of this to clients so that clients are made aware of what potentially could happen if this plan is implemented. The more people who are made aware of the threats to this ecosystem, the less likely it is to happen. By people visiting the Delta, creating jobs, and allowing the delta to make much needed funds, the less likely it is that the planned dam will go ahead.

Okavango SOS trees project: Okavango Botswana: For hundreds of years, the local communities in and around Botswana's Okavango Delta have used the wood of the sausage tree to craft their traditional mokoro (dugout canoes). The knowledge and skill have been passed down from generation to generation and, up until recently, has been a sustainable practice. With increasing numbers of people visiting the Delta each year, more mokoro are needed and as a direct result, more and more Sausage Trees (Kigela Africana) are being felled and the tree is sadly disappearing from the region. A traditional wooden mokoro will have to be replaced every five years, thereby placing increased pressure on the dwindling Sausage Tree supply.
As a solution we have established a project to encourage polers in the local communities to buy replica fibreglass mekoros, which have a lifespan of approximately ten years, are more stable and are produced with much less negative affect to the environment. As such, sponsorship for each fibreglass mokoro is needed, and a portion of the tour cost will be donated to the project, but we also will offer our clients the opportunity to contribute to this worthwhile cause. Please feel free to contact the our office for more information on the SOS Trees project or if you would like to make any contributions towards this project. It is something that is close to all of our hearts and we have been successful in replacing 30+ (circ. 2015) mekoro thus far.

Wild Camping in Botswana: As a camping tour this means our environmental impact is minimal. We stay in designated campsites, and leave it in a pristine condition. Litter is strictly policed. The potential of creating wildfires is great, so the group is briefed on smoking restriction and how to dispose of cigarette butts.
All camps are un-fenced, so the potential is there for the wildlife to come into camp and clients are briefed as to the restrictions of keeping to camp and not wandering away from the confines of the campsite.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary: The Khama Rhino Sanctuary (KRS) is a community based project that was established in 1992 to assist is saving the endangered rhino, restore the wildlife area (8585 hectares) and provide economic benefits to the local community through tourism. Rhinos were introduced in the sanctuary as it is being used as a breeding centre for the re-introduction of both black and white rhinos into the national parks of Botswana after the natural population had virtually been hunted to extinction by poaches. Proceeds from visitors to the park help with the rhino breeding programme and go to the local community.
While there have been further reintroduction of rhino’s by operators in Botswana by bringing rhino in from South Africa, Khama Rhino Sanctuary is still an integral part of rhino conservation in Southern Africa.

Reviews of Zimbabwe & Botswana game tracker accommodated safari

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 15 Sep 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The whole experience on this African adventure was fantastic and exceeded our expectations - from the numerous animals, to the ever changing landscape and cultures of each of the countries visited - each day was a highlight!

We loved the walking safaris looking for (and finding) White Rhino's, the open air driving safaris, the wilderness of the Okavango wild camping and mokoro trip with hippos. We really enjoyed the Great Zimbabwe Monuments and the views from World's View - a great cultural aside to safaris.

We loved going to the mokoro poler's village - it was a unique insight to real rural African life. All the accommodations were great in their own way - tree houses, tented accommodation with the sound of hyenas and hippos just yards away, little thatched hideaways, Rainbow Hotel in Vic Falls - most were in fabulous settings.

And last but not least our guides Patrick Page and Chris Zulu were absolutely wonderful - great company, fantastic cooks and extremely knowledgeable about animals, African politics, history - they really made this vacation special.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


We took far too many photos (3000!!) and at times felt we should have just been watching and soaking up the atmosphere - beware of living through a camera lens - if you miss a shot - there'll be someone in the group who has the perfect picture!

Don't over pack (I took a coat for cold September mornings - which I didn't wear - a fleece would have sufficed). Bring some washing powder for smalls (Although some lodges had a laundry service it worked out quite expensive at $1 an item). Be prepared for long drives - bring a few books to read.

Be on time - we were lucky to have a small group and we were all punctual - but I can imagine it would be a nightmare with more people! The itineraries and distances mean that the prompter you leave the more exciting things you can do on the way or get to some relaxation time at the other end of your journey. We were usually up at 5.30/6am and very early to bed!

We didn't have any problems changing money (which we had to do for each country - the dollar isn't as ubiquitous as expected) and would have probably been better off taking sterling and changing that rather than from sterling to dollar to rand. Remember to take enough for tips for guides, meals etc.

Enjoy every moment!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes to all three. We used local guides at the majority of places we visited - and particularly in Zimbabwe, felt there was a direct impact from our visit on the local economies. We stuck to the rule of leaving nothing but footprints - which cannot be said of other visitors to some areas. All visits to the national parks give valuable support to the conservation work and we also had the opportunity of going to the Painted Dog Sanctuary and donating for upkeep of rehabilitating dogs and local school workshops/camps. If I could have taken a thousand bicycles over for some of the villagers in Zimbabwe - I would have.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Absolutely brilliant - exceeding our expectations on every level.

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