• Walking Chief’s Island, Okavango Delta, Botswana

    • Dates: 4 Departures 2015
    • Group Size: 2 minimum and 6 maximum
    • Price: USD 2,215 (June 2015)
      USD 2,330 (July - September 2015)
      Single supplement and SADC rates available on request
    • walk
    • Mokoro-ride
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    • Base-camp
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    Escape the city rush and join any of our exclusive walking safaris for an exploration of the game rich Chief’s Island in the heart of  the Okavango Delta. Whether on foot, or slithering down its meandering waterways, be prepared to be dazzled by the beauty of dancing wattled cranes, or being spellbound by the gaze of Pel’s Fishing Owls, standing your ground, or, ceding right of way to Botswana’s Ellie herds, tracking down the many resident lions that traipse this swampy paradise, and above all, sharpening every sense in your body as you tune into sounds, spoors, scats and the many clues that lie ahead of your stride.

    Lead by a team of experienced guides eager to share their backyard with you, and pampered back at camp by a cook and waiter, you will spend three very comfortable nights in a rustic mobile tented camp, with a night at either end staying at the charming and luxurious Moremi Crossing or Gunn’s Lodge.

    Detailed Itinerary

    Day 1: Arrival in Maun and charter flight to Moremi Crossings

    On arrival in Maun you will be met by an AG representative and escorted through to your departing chartered flight. Your last chance to send a text, WahatsApp or email becomes very real…and before you know it the glittery sparkles and shimmering’s of the Delta’s waterways and lagoons, unequivocally signal the start of your next adventure.

    Delta-from-the-Air-web

    On landing at Gunn’s Camp you will be transferred by boat to Moremi Crossings and before you finish applying your suntan lotion, finding your shades and tightening your cap you’ll be dodging resident Hippos, slowing down for a grazing Elephant next to the channel and locking your gaze onto a Malachite Kingfisher darting past your boat, a Little Bee-eater snatching a dragonfly in mid-air and  “fossilised” Goliath Heron sedately feeling the waters. On arrival at the lodge you will be shown to your room, and after lunch, a short siesta and the chance to slip into your most comfortable safari clothes, trusty shoes, cap, bandana, etc…you’ll set off by motorised craft on a PM game viewing safari.

    Joined by your fellow trekking companions you start the search for channel and floodplain specials such as Elephant, Hippo, Red Lechwe, Wildebeest, Impala and per chance the elusive sitatunga. Bird diversity takes off and the numbers are always a great commodity to bank on in the Delta. Observing the many creatures and plant species that fringe the channels could have on entertained for weeks Black Crakes ravaging snails, or a monitor swimming up current, a happy Fish Eagle flying away, barbell in its talons, and a cry of proud joy, carpets of water lilies attracting bees, dragonflies and butterflies, and the magical papyrus…lots and lots of papyrus.

    Fish-Eagle-and-Barbel-web

    By the time you get back, you realise its been a whole half a day without thinking about work…the taste of what the Delta has on offer and taste of what is to come has already eclipsed all your worries or concerns, and/or duties that should’ve, could’ve, would’ve been dealt with…you are officially on break, enjoying time you deserve the most, your time.

    Back at camp, the camp staff, chef and trackers will summon you for a short briefing on tomorrow’s program and also to stock up the crates with your choice of drinks, as well as any dietary requirements or preferred food to take with to your satellite camp.

    After supper, serenaded by thousand frogs, a local Scops Owl and the occasional snatch of a nearby barbell breaking the surface, you are lullabied to a slumber draped in white, fresh, cool bed sheets.

    Day 2: Mekoro rides, Walks and first night out in the Delta

    Your bedroom view is framed by a treed horizon, with thick misty clouds hugging the water and hints of a cloudless blue-sky rolling-in its hue. The clean chilly morning air is being pierced by a dawn chorus lead by melodious White-browed Robin Chats, the brazen croaks of a nearby Redbilled Francolin, the grunts of a distant Hippo, the whistling of spur-winged geese flying by, the liquid warbles of a Little Rush Warbler, distant cackles of a Redbilled Woodhoopoe family emerging from their roost, the clean whistling’s of a Swamp Boubou and the distinctive approach of steps towards your veranda bringing that first morning cup of freshly brewed coffee.

    Shower, breakfast and goodbyes to the camp staff at Moremi Crossings will see you on your way to your first walk and mekoro exploration of the Delta.

    Approach-by-mekoros-web

    A team has already been deployed ahead of you to setup camp. In the meantime, your morning will consist of a slow approach to camp that may include a walk and certainly a fascinating look at “life by the water’s edge” as you sit low in the water in your mekoro enjoying the most privileged of all angles. Soon you’ll notice dimorphism in water-lily blooms, the delicateness of water pistols, the flying prowess and diversity of dragonflies, the nimble beauty of Damselflies, the cryptic painted reed frog and per chance a bold Flap-necked Chameleon clambering away from reed to reed, perhaps even a numb baby croc stranded in a raft of floating vegetation.

    Flap-necked-Chameleon-web

    Before reaching camp a walk to stretch your legs ensues, a perfect time to also go over necessary formalities regarding how walks will be conducted. A slow meander under gigantic Nyala and Jackal berry trees should soon produce the first set of Meyer’s Parrots, Meeve’s Long-tailed Starlings, Retz’s Helmetshrikes and possibly your first roosting Pel’s Fishing Owl.  Out in open and flooded savannah we will be on the lookout for Dickinson’s Kestrels, Saddlebilled Storks and endemic Slaty Egrets to mention some. Often a spooked out Bushbuck barks and bolts out of your way, Impala are heard rutting in the clearings, kudus and their incomprehensibly large ears have locked to your advances and before you emerge into the clearing they bolt in different directions like floating ballet dancers, white tails flared out seeking the safety of denser cover. Warthogs remain on their knees, feeding like lawn creepy-crawlies, aware of you but boldly unabashed by your presence. A troop of baboons peacefully socialising on the ground tells your guide everything he/she needs to know to proceed forth.

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    Walking around elephant droppings, watching your step fit inside their footprints, catching a whiff of their scent as you walk past a rubbing post, it all adds to the excitement and anticipation of your first encounter on foot with these gentle giants.

    By now the sun will be high, the heat noticeable and the birds would have quieten down, its time to reach camp.  Your approach is met by the big smiles of your cook and camp manager, a cold welcome drink and a cold wet face cloth to revitalize your spirit, a comfortable chair in a gentle breeze and shade of massive Mangosteen trees welcomes you to your new base for the next three nights.

    The camp is simple, rustic and remote but comfortable, practical and extremely well designed to run like clockwork. See Camp details below.

    After being shown you to your tent, the camp layout, a few more basic camp rules, and having been served a light and scrumptious lunch, you will be free to do as you please whether a siesta, a chat, dozy sit, write, read, photograph or scrutinise the lagoons edge for the tell tale droppings of White-backed Night-Herons or another Pel’s Fishing Owl…all goes, so long it makes you content.

    As soon as the heat relents, you will set off on your first proper walk on Chief’s Island.  Afternoon walks tend to be more sedate than morning walks, but they can be surprisingly entertaining as well.  Towards the end of the day, faunal day shifts and night shifts mingle and meddle as the sun drops and clouds turn red, it is now time when predators venture out from their shady hideouts and head for a drink at the waters’ edge, always interested in some “window shopping” as they check what has gathered at the waters edge. This is also the favourite time for Elephants to take a bath, for Hippos to get closer to shore, Grey Duiker and Steenbok to break cover and chance the odds in exchange of a tranquil feed. Sitatungas to emerge from their papyrus fortress. It is too Wattled Cranes favourite time to dance, for Verreaux’s Eagle Owls to start hooting, and Broad-billed Rollers and Collared Pratincoles to hawk for insects over tranquil waters.  A flurry of different nightjar species (Fiery-necked, Square-tailed and Natal) awake now and start to fill the evenings airwaves with their magical calls.

    You will return to camp at dusk to the sound of incredibly loud yet strangely restful raucous bullfrogs and a cacophony of frog bleats, grunts and bell-like calls emanating from the reeds ahead, always-upbeat welcome and end to your day.  A hot shower, a change of clothes and your favorite tipple to sit’n relax around the campfire with friends and/or relatives, is the best prelude to a great evening, and round up to a great day.

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    A fire cooked meal now awaits; a little gastronomic miracle delivered by your local cooking deity will most likely cap the experience, especially if you have never tried before how amazingly well Monkey Orange sauce cuts through the fattiness of a lamb stew, or how delicious a water-lily relish complements any dish, or how local water chestnuts clear your palate, or perhaps if lucky you can try a freshly caught, pan fried bream. 

    Eating or sitting by the fire with your night cap, your tracking ranger, the smell of Leadwood smoke wafting through camp, the cozy feel of your special sweatshirt that can now only be worn in the bush, the pings of a nearby feasting fruit bat, the stories that inevitable brew around camp fire, the shared moment of silence whilst listening to the closest pride roaring’s, and what star constellations adorn the zenith above, are all part of your firsts day experien

    Days 3-4: Walking Chief’s Island

    An early wake up call and a hot drink will get everyone at camp going before sunrise. Morning banter will likely be centered on the direction and relative proximity of the last Lion roars heard this dawn, a quick listen to locate where are the vervets or baboons acting agitated, and to check who had Hippos chomping grass by their heads at some point last night. Sleeping in the bush is very much related to the quality of your earplugs, but if you really want the full experience, be done with them and let your brain decide what is worth noting or sleeping through.

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    The fun part about bush walks, especially the first one on the agenda, is that it is utterly impossible to “chair” effectively, keep a bearing of any sort or pre-empt where it will take you. Like an interactive digital magazine, your tracker will be constantly reading the sands, sniffing the air, listening to the “airwaves” and making several and every call to approach one species or the other. Safety is paramount and no one else but your tracker decides on the plan and the approach taken. However, fear not for his and your interests are more than likely perfectly aligned, if not symmetrical.  Walking is done as a unit, and pace dictated by the tracker. Two guides top’n tail the procession, a tracking scout (armed, or unarmed…depending on the area you are walking) leads the way, whilst a support guide carries some water, a radio and a first aid kit.

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    It is impossible to guarantee what sightings will be had, but from June through to September game is packed and it is rare a moment when you are not on sight of several species and herds of them, for the dates of these walks have been selected to coincide with the “flood”, a time when open land is at a premium and game congregates on what little unflooded land is left in the Okavango Delta. For anyone that enjoys walking, have been to the bush before, and is patient enough, bush walking offers a far more intimate and rich experience of the bush than game-viewing aboard open top 4×4’s.  It is not a case of one being better than the other, they in fact complement each other beautifully, but just like every contract requires its own fine print… bush walks allow the discerning and curious to fully understand, witness and enjoy the detail and bigger picture at once.

    The chosen tracking rangers are professional, highly scrutinized and thoroughly trained.  They are committed individuals that will endeavor to decipher the environment as you walk through it with as much detail as they can muster. Be it tracking, talking about animal behavior, birds, butterflies, insects, plants, trees, ethno botany you can be guaranteed there is little they do not know about their backyard, or will endeavor to find out and share with you.

    Indeed the feeling, excitement and exhilaration of picking up a track, following it for a few kilometers and stumbling upon a resting lion, a dozing pack of Wild Dog or a treed Leopard is indescribable. Equally incredible is lucking upon a bumbling Honey Badger, a hunting mongoose, a rock python on the move or a Monitor raiding a crocs nest all pretty much once in a life time experiences.

    There is no doubt that in this part of the world you will become well acquainted with Botswana’s elephants, for here they are decidedly omnipresent. Relax and enjoy them, let your guide read their intentions and keep you at a safe distance, but whilst you share common and close ground with them try closing your eyes and let their smell and gentle rumbles rock your core. Among personal favorite experiences I would rank snorkeling in shallow channels-exhilarating, finding 6 different Pel’s Fishing Owls on our last walk-most accomplishing, following a small barbel run-amazing, and a pack of wild dogs hunting duiker with the assistance of a Bateleur that acted as a drone decoy-INCREDIBLE.  

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    The walks bearing, what to target and general focus of the walk will be discussed before setting off on each walk.  Each and every day you will be supported by mekoros and polers to reach your walks’ starting point, alternatively you will set off walking from camp, never knowing in which direction will fate shall lure the walk.  A morning walk generally keeps one on the trail for about 4 hours, with plenty rest and pee stops, water and informative stops to learn about termitaria, dung beetles, mistletoes, golden orbs, etc.

    One normally returns to camp, to rest by around 1000-1100 am, followed by lunch and some r&r whilst escaping the heat of the day.  PM walks normally start at 1500-1530 and get back to camp before dark.

    Hot or cold showers in the afternoon may be arranged on request for all participants as well as any special, and reasonable, dietary requirement.

    Day 5:  Return to Moremi Crossings

    After your last morning walk you return to camp for brunch, a refreshing shower, a short rest, a quick re-pack, and a soothing slither back to Moremi Crossings on board a mekoro and once again taking-in all the beauty of the Delta’s waterways.  Back at Moremi Crossing’s you have a last choice to engage on one more afternoon game viewing outing aboard a motorized craft, or simply stay back, rest, reminisce and watch the sun go down (and the moon come up!) at the lofty and sumptuous veranda of Moremi Crossings.

    A farewell dinner with your fellow travellers and your loyal bush-team will bring this amazing walking safari to its end.

    Day 6: Charter transfer back to Maun

    After breakfast, at a time that shall be announced by your camp manager (and which will have been scheduled to enable your connection out of Maun) you will be transferred by boat to the nearest airstrip (15 minutes) and flown by chartered flight back to Maun International Airport.

    Once more you find yourself flying over a glitter carpet made out of lagoons and waterways, as you route back to Maun. Whereas days ago you saw just miles and miles of rugged untamed wilderness, now you look discerningly at its contours and colours, knowing what to expect, and wondering when will be the next time you are able to traipse those sands again!

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    DEPARTURE

    DATES

    LODGE USED

    GROUP SIZE

    JUNE 2015

    10 – 15

    Gunns Camp

    2 min. and 4 max.

    JULY 2015

    4 – 9

    Moremi Crossings

    2 min. and 6 max.

    AUGUST 2015

    24 – 29

    Gunns Camp

    2 min. and 4 max.

    SEPTEMBER 2015

    19 – 24

    Gunns Camp

    2 min. and 4 max.

    Additional Information

    Climate: June is an excellent month to walk in Chief’s, the dry season start in earnest and sightings of wild dogs improve markedly as they begin to den before dropping their litters. Temperatures drop to their coldest by the end of June with night temperatures reaching as low as 2 degrees Celsius, nights can therefore be rather nippy and fresh, however daytime temperatures rise up to a very comfortable 25oC ideal for walking in the Okavango Delta. The bus is still green, but leaf drop has started, non-permanent pans dry up and deep in the Delta the flood has commenced.  By mid July the waters have reached the height of the flood. The bush is dry and dusty, yet the waterways are full and swollen. What land has not yet been inundated, is no experiencing extreme drought, grasses are drying out and bushes are leafless…visibility is now EXCELLENT. July night time temperatures remain cold, whilst daytime are slightly warmer and the incidence of sunny days and crisp blue skies prevails. The flood has now narrowed down considerably the amount of grazing and browsing available, game is concentrated and so are predators. Access to walk starting points is mostly done via mekoro.  By August the bulk of water has filtered through the system, flooded areas throughout the Okavango Delta are draining and Maun is seeing the waters reach its bank in earnest. Temperatures remain warm during the daytime with peaks approaching 30oC and nighttime averages rising to around 10oC. September sees winter coming to a dramatic end, with nighttime temperatures rising steadily and rapidly, and day temperatures comfortably amidst the 30’soC. The skies are clearer than ever and brilliant sunshine is experienced. Water levels have slowly and noticeably started to drop.

    Difficulty: This is a walking safari, and you will hike on average 6-8 kilometers each day across country that is generally VERY flat. An average-good level of fitness is required. We recommend that you undertake some moderate aerobic activities (hiking, jogging, fast-walking, bicycling) for at least 30 minutes a session three or four times a week for at least a month before you come.

    Accommodation:  Nestled under stately Jackal berry Trees, on an island in the heart of the northern Okavango Delta, lays our exclusive, rustic, quaint and hugely practical mobile base camp. Facing a quiet and tranquil waterway, each tent has been strategically positioned to offer splendid views across the snaking waterways, floodplains, lush islands and open grasslands fringing Chief’s Island. Its idyllic setting was carefully chosen to provide the best possible exploratory base camp of the riches and beauty of Chief’s Island.

    The camps’ layout is simple and linear, with an open kitchen at one end, showers and long drops at the other end and a row of four twin-bedded 2m x 2m domed safari tents, each one endowed with comfortable cots, foam mattress, sheets, duvets, pillows, fleece blankets, towels, face cloths, soap and shampoo. A side table with mozzie repellant, and both a torch and an outside paraffin lamp to lit up the interior, plus a bassinette to wash your hands or splash your face when needed. Hot or cold water for your shower is provided on request, ready for you on your return from a walk, or in the evenings. These are gravity showers with an easy to use showerhead. Long drops are endowed with comfortable seated thrones, toilet paper and as expected the best view in the house.

    All meals are cooked in camp by our resident chef, served and enjoyed together with camp staff if space and time allows it. A cooler box with ice and an assortment of cool drinks, spirits and beers is run on a trust basis.  Comfortable camping chairs surrounding the campfire are an enticement to sit & relax, share, ponder and recount the daily experiences.

    Camp-cots-web

    Price Includes:  Charter flights to Gunn’s Camp from and back to Maun, all transfers to and from airports/airstrips on landing in Maun, on safari accommodation with fully equipped private camps and two nights at Moremi Crossings or Gunn’s Camp.  Two motorized boat game viewing safaris, unlimited use of mekoros, services of professional walking guides, a camp chef , all meals, a trust-bar in camp replete with sodas, mineral water, beers and evening wines, snacks, access to the concession and park, camping and permit fees. 24/7 office support.

    Price Excludes: International flights, visas, excess baggage charges, telephone calls, laundry, items of personal nature, travel and medical insurance, tips, and any activities not specified in the itinerary.

    Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc. As our groups are small they fill up quickly.

    Maximum of 2 singles allowed per departure

    Departures can run with 1 person if you are willing to pay for 2

    No children under the age of 12 years

    Tour Overview

    • Dates: 4 Departures 2015
    • Length: 6 days
    • Group Size: 2 minimum and 6 maximum
    • Price: USD 2,215 (June 2015)
      USD 2,330 (July - September 2015)
      Single supplement and SADC rates available on request
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