Choosing the right safari destination can be a real challenge. There are so many amazing experiences on offer, and they differ widely from destination to destination. Due to this, many people opt to combine countries, cherry-picking the most unique experiences from each, to create a truly bespoke trip.
For the safari connoisseur, one of the most appealing combinations is Namibia followed by Botswana. They may be neighbours, but these two beautiful countries are polar opposites in terms of what they offer. Having travelled extensively in both countries, I am going to touch on my favourite regions in each.
Top picks in Namibia
Namibia is a country of stark beauty and enormous diversity in terms of its peoples, its wildlife, and its geography. My ideal trip would start in the capital,Windhoek, from where I would take a light aircraft south to the towering dunes ofSossusvlei– this is quintessential Namibia, where the oldest desert in the world stretches out as far as the eye can see. Two nights is a reasonable amount of time to spend here, although I could be persuaded to stay for a third night and treat myself to a morning of sailing over the dunes in a hot air balloon!
From Sossusvlei I’d move on toDamaraland, maybe splitting my stay with time in the south to see the huge herds of desert-adapted elephant that roam here and to take a look at the rock art at Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After that, I’d venture to the north of the region in search of rhino, as this area is home to the largest number of free-roaming black rhino left on Earth.
For travellers looking to explore the remotest corners of the country, Damaraland makes a great stopping point on the way up to the Skeleton Coast. At the latter destination, you find a wild coastline littered with whale and seal bones, punctuated by ghostly shipwrecks in varying stages of decay. Move inland and this desolate landscape reveals some well-kept secrets, for it is home to a surprising amount of desert-adapted wildlife – lion, elephant, and giraffe, to name a few. I would definitely spend three nights here, as there is a lot to explore.
My next stop would be even farther north, up towards the Angola border to theKunene river– this is the only permanent source of water in the entire region. This area is truly unique, comprising a riverine oasis in the middle of the desert. It is also home to the Himba people of Namibia, and you can visit their homesteads and learn about their culture. Personally I found this a very authentic and culturally sensitive experience.
After my stay in the Kunene region, I would then head back to Windhoek and get ready for the Botswana portion of my journey. I realise that, at this point, many of you might be asking, ‘What about Etosha?’ Well, when combining Namibia and Botswana it is just not possible to visit every part of each country, at least not without several weeks’ holiday and an exhaustive budget! While Etosha National Park is one of my favourite destinations – I’ve visited over seventy times! – it just can’t compare with the wildlife experiences that Botswana, and in particular the Okavango Delta, have to offer.
Top picks in Botswana
One point worth mentioning is that it is no longer possible to fly directly between Namibia and Botswana, which can be a little frustrating! The options are to go via Johannesburg or viaVictoria Falls, the latter being the preferred choice of most people – and a night or two spent admiring the Falls is no hardship!
From the Falls, I would transfer by road intoBotswanabefore hopping on a light aircraft and flying down to the beautiful Okavango Delta. The Delta covers a vast area, up to 22,000 square kilometres when in full flood. There are many different experiences to be had in this wetland paradise, and you could take a very long safari! However, when combining a safari here with Namibia, it is best to keep the safari shorter and choose a region of the Delta that will give you a good diversity of experiences.
For this reason, I would opt to visit the northern Okavango Delta, the region above the Moremi Game Reserve. This area is home to a handful of excellent camps and lodges at varying levels of cost and luxury including Shinde Camp and Little Vumbura. But what makes it really attractive when on a combined trip like this one, is the variety of activities available. These properties have access to some of the most game-rich parts of the Delta, so the wildlife viewing is excellent here. To balance this, the camps and lodges also have access to some of the Delta’s deep water channels, so guests can enjoy water activities during most of the year. Not every property in the Delta is able to offer game drives and mokoro boat rides, so if you are just visiting one camp then you need to be careful which you pick, if you want a full range of activities.
If you’d like more information on how to plan your safari combination, feel free to call us on +44 (0)20 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected]
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