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BOTSWANA SAFARI 2014

Our 2014 Safari to Botswana is SOLD OUT, but the following itinerary is an example of trips we intend to offer in the future. If you are interested in Botswana as a destination please contact us for further information.

BOTSWANA SAFARI 2014

Wildlife of the Delta in the Desert

14-DAY ITINERARY WITH OPTIONAL 3-DAY EXTENSION TO PILANESBERG, SOUTH AFRICA

The desert and dry scrub land of Botswana is suddenly punctuated by a turquoise jewel – as the life giving waters of the Okavango Delta fan out across the Kalahari. Born in the Angolan highlands, the Okavango River flows into the desert creating a vast web of waterways and islands before disappearing into the Kalahari sands. This abundance of water in an otherwise dry landscape means unparalleled wildlife riches. Great herds of elephant, buffalo, giraffe and antelope feed along the waterways and lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs take advantage of abundant prey. The Okavango is also a paradise for birdwatchers. The majority of this trip explores the Okavango ecosystem which includes the Moremi Game Reserve. We will also journey to the plains and swamps of Savute and the elephant-dominated shoreline of the Chobe River to witness the wildlife spectacle contained within Chobe National Park. From the dry scrublands of Chobe we will travel back to South Africa for the flights home or, for those participating on the optional trip extension, to visit the wildlife-rich Pilanesberg National Park. This park contains many species not found in Botswana including both white and black rhinos. The abundant wildlife set against a backdrop of spectacular scenery is the reason why Botswana is such a sought after destination for nature lovers. EcoQuest Travel is proud to invite you to explore the best of Botswana as we seek the wildlife of the delta in the desert.


Day 1 – Saturday, September 20: Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa

We will depart from our US gateway city (Atlanta) on our long overnight flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. We will not depart for Johannesburg until the evening, so there will be plenty of time to reach Atlanta from your home cities. Please plan to arrive at your home airport no later than two hours prior to your scheduled departure time. Also, please plan to meet the group at our departure gate for South Africa, no later than two hours prior to our scheduled departure time.

Day 2 – Sunday, September 21: Arrival in South Africa and Transfer to Pretoria

We will arrive in South Africa in the late afternoon. After clearing immigration and customs, we will transfer to our accommodations at the Crane’s Nest Guesthouse in South Africa’s capitol of Pretoria. The Crane’s Nest is a beautiful, tranquil little hotel with comfortable rooms that will be a welcome retreat after our long journey. Once we have settled into our accommodations we will walk to the nearby Blue Crane Restaurant for dinner. After dinner we will return to our hotel for a night of much needed rest. (D)

Day 3 – Monday, September 22: Rietvlei Dam Nature Reserve and Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary

This morning we will get a taste of the high bushveld in South Africa as we visit the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. This reserve, located remarkable close to Pretoria, was originally set aside in 1948 to protect land surrounding the dam. Over time, as the urbanization of Pretoria spread, it has become an important sanctuary for many bird and mammal species. Indeed many of the large mammal species traditionally found in this area have been pushed into protected areas and this reserve provides critical habitat for Blesbok, Black Wildebeest, Oribi, Springbok, Eland, Red Hartebeest and both Southern and Mountain Reedbuck. We also hope to see zebra, hippo and if we are lucky white rhino and cheetah. The birdlife in the reserve is prolific and we will look for grassland species among the rolling hills and waterbirds from the bird blinds near the lake. We will have a picnic lunch in the reserve and after lunch we will drive back to our guesthouse. In the afternoon we will visit Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary which is adjacent to our hotel. This sanctuary is home to 189 species of birds including South Africa’s national bird – the blue crane. Although the cranes here have been rescued and are not “wild” the other species found in this small sanctuary are wild and free to come and go. We will spend the afternoon exploring the sanctuary and viewing birds from the blinds before we walk back to the guesthouse to prepare for dinner at a fabulous restaurant called Kream. We will transfer to Kream for a great dinner which could include some of the delicious wild game that South Africa is famous for. Dinner tonight is on our own as I wanted to insure you could select from the entire menu rather than a fixed menu. (B,L)

Day 4 – Tuesday, September 23: Flight from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana; Bush Plane to the Okavango Delta

This morning we continue our journey as we transfer to our flight from Johannesburg to the city of Maun in northern Botswana. We should arrive in the early afternoon, and after clearing customs and immigration, we will board our private bush plane for an incredibly scenic flight to the Moremi Game Reserve deep in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Our accommodations for tonight and each night while we are on safari will be our own private mobile tented safari camp. Africa is best experienced under canvas, but that does not mean that we will go without comfort! Our luxurious spacious tents include comfortable beds complete with duvets, pillows and battery-powered lamps for illumination. Each tent has its own en suite bathroom and a bucket shower. There is a dining tent for meals and a hot shower and cold drinks will be waiting for us after each long day in the field. Our camp will be fully mobile and, besides catering to our needs, the camp staff will break camp down and set it back up when we change locations – all while we are searching for wildlife. Our camp will be more rustic than the lodges located within the national parks, but being able to sit around a campfire listening to the sounds of an African night is pure magic and Africa at its purest. (B,L,D)

Days 5, 6 & 7 – Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 24, 25 & 26: Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve

After breakfast we will begin three days of exploring the Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve. The Okavango is one of the most remarkable ecosystems on earth and is home to an astonishing diversity of animals. The Delta covers over 6,000 square miles and is a mosaic of habitats including clear lagoons dotted with palm-fringed islands, lush open savannahs, rivers, Mopane forests and vast floodplains. Hippo, crocodile, red lechwe and large herds of elephant, buffalo and giraffe are common near the water. Impala, wildebeest, tsessebe, waterbuck, sable antelope and perhaps even the elusive sitatunga can also be found. Predators are prevalent with lions, leopard and hyena commonly seen. The Okavango is a paradise for bird watchers. As might be expected waterfowl and other waterbirds are abundant, but the wide range of habitat types also support a host of hornbills, parrots, shrikes, plovers, finches and weavers. Raptors and owls are very common and with luck we might spot the rare giant Pel’s fishing owl. On one of our days we will take a boat and spend the whole day exploring the papyrus-lined waterways of the Okavango. Boating is a unique way to get close to wildlife and may yield species difficult to see while land based. The other two days will be spent in the Moremi Game Reserve. Moremi is part of the Okavango ecosystem and is one of the best game viewing areas in all of Africa. The timing of our visit coincides with the early dry season when the bush has thinned out making wildlife sightings easier. As a result there should be an abundance of excellent photographic opportunities. Along with the species mentioned previously, we will also be on the lookout for reedbuck, ostrich, roan antelope, greater kudu, zebra, cheetah, ratel (or honey badger), bat-eared fox and both black-backed and side-striped jackals. Moremi is also a great place to find African wild dogs. Along with the fantastic diversity of mammals, Moremi is home to spectacular numbers of birds. Eagles, hawks, kites and falcons hunt abundant prey, vultures clean up numerous kills and thousands of red-billed quelea flock together forming dense, synchronously, moving clouds. Majestic wattled cranes and huge southern ground hornbills stalk the grasslands and colorful bee-eaters, barbets, rollers and waxbills flit in the treetops. It will truly be a privilege to spend three full days in this remarkable ecosystem! To coincide with the peak of animal activity, our days will normally consist of an early morning and late afternoon game drive with time to rest and relax during the heat of the day. After our late afternoon game drive we will return to camp for hot showers, cold drinks, great food by candlelight and a campfire under a vast swath of stars sweeping across the African night. (B,L,D)

Days 8, 9 & 10 – Saturday, Sunday & Monday, September 27, 28 & 29: The Savute Area of Chobe National Park

Today we will journey north out of the Okavango Delta area to the southern portion of Chobe National Park – known as Savute. Savute is normally an arid region of dusty plains punctuated by small man-made waterholes, but recently the rains have been very heavy. As a result the once dry Savute channel now has water flowing through it into Savute Swamp. Animals adapt to these changing conditions and by the time we arrive for this trip Savute should be lush and green and full of game. Savute is famous for large prides of lions and herds of bull elephants. The lions and elephants will still be there, but should be joined by large herds of zebra and antelope taking advantage of the flush of new plant growth. Despite Savute being wetter than normal, the waterholes will still draw the grazers in to drink. The predators know this making these waterholes ideal places to watch the action-packed drama that is Africa unfold. We will have three full days to explore Savute and once again camp will travel with us. (B,L,D)

On the morning of the 14th we will break camp and travel north to the Chobe River where we will spend two days exploring this section of the park. This section of Chobe National Park is dominated by huge herds of elephant. It will be possible to see literally hundreds of elephants and these herds are some of the most vocal and active in Africa. The constant trumpeting, mock charges and occasional sparring with each will make our encounters with these herds very exciting! This area of the park is also good for hippos, crocodiles, lion, greater kudu, sable antelope, African fish-eagles and Nile monitor lizards. Game viewing is often good in the mid-day as other animals come to river to drink after the elephants disperse. The permanence of the Chobe River also means this area is great for birds. One of our game drives will take place in a boat along the Chobe River – which should produce an exciting game viewing experience! We will have two full days in this part of the park and will return to the comfort of our tented camp each night. (B,L,D)

Day 13 – Thursday, October 2: Kasane – Joburg to Flights Home or on to the Pilanesberg National Park Extension

After breakfast we will bid farewell to our tented camp and safari staff before traveling east out of Chobe National Park to the town of Kasane. Once we reach Kasane we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg. After arriving in Johannesburg, those not participating on the optional extension will check-in for your flight back to the US. Those participating on the extension will transfer to Pilanesberg National Park. (B,L)

Day 14 – Friday, October 3: Arrival in the US and Transfer to Flights Home

Those of you not participating on the optional extension will arrive at your US gateway city early this morning after your long overnight flight. Once you clear immigration and customs you will transfer to your departure gates for your home cities.

OPTIONAL 3-DAY EXTENSION TO OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK

Day 13 – Thursday, October 2: Kasane – Joburg to Pilanesberg National Park

After breakfast we will bid farewell to our tented camp and safari staff before traveling east out of Chobe National Park to the town of Kasane. Once we reach Kasane we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg. After arriving in Johannesburg we will transfer to Pilanesberg National Park (about an hour and a half to two hour drive from Johannesburg). We should arrive at Pilanesberg in the early evening and after checking in at our accommodations at Kwa Maritane Game Lodge we will have dinner. After dinner we could check the waterhole hide to see what nocturnal animals may be lurking about. (B,L,D)

Days 14 & 1 – Friday & Saturday, October 3 & 4: Pilanesberg National Park

We will have two full days to explore Pilanesberg National Park. Pilanesberg is contained within the rim of an ancient volcano. Within the crater the bushveld of the east and the desert of the west merge creating an area of high wildlife diversity. Springbok, gemsbok, brown hyena and other arid zone specialists mix with species more characteristic of the bushveld such as impalas, kudus and spotted hyena. This picturesque park also offers us the opportunity to see species that we will not see during our safari in Botswana including both white and black rhinos, mountain reedbuck, springhare, klipspringer, Jameson’s red rock rabbit, rock and bush hyraxes, and the aforementioned springbok and brown hyena. Each morning we will depart at sunrise for our morning game drive when animal activity is at its peak. We will return to the Lodge in the late morning for a full breakfast/brunch and have a chance to rest during the heat of the day before returning to the Park for the late afternoon wildlife activity period. We also may have a bush brunch – where we take our full breakfast/brunch with us to eat while wildlife watching. Abundant water in the valley floors create nutrient rich grasses that attract herds of Burchell’s zebra, red hartebeests, blue wildebeests, warthogs, giraffe and elephants. The abundance of game support lions, leopards, cheetah and brown hyenas. Among the mammals will be a striking diversity of birds – with over 300 species found in the park. Our afternoon game drives will last until after it gets dark gradually becoming a night drive. This twilight time as day fades into night brings out a host of seldom seen nocturnal animals such as aardwolf, lesser bush baby, Cape porcupines, genets and owls. As night takes over the twilight we also hope to have the thrilling opportunity to view predators in action. We may also take night drives after dinner to enhance our chances of seeing the rarer nocturnal denizens. Each night we will return to the Lodge for a great dinner and comfortable night’s sleep! (B,D)

Day 2 – Sunday, October 5: Johannesburg and on to the US

This morning we will have one more early morning game drive, and breakfast, before packing up and preparing for our long journey home. Later in the morning we will transfer back to Johannesburg International Airport with lunch along the way. Once we arrive at the airport we will check in with South African Airways for our international flight home and transfer to our departure gate. We will depart for the US in the early evening. (B,L)

Day 3 – Monday, October 6: Arrival in the US and Transfer to Flights Home

We will arrive in our US gateway city early this morning after our long overnight flight. Once we clear immigration and customs we will transfer to our departure gates for our home cities.

* Please note that EcoQuest Travel, Inc. will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.

Cost:

$6,498.00/person all-inclusive tour package
$554.00/person estimated airfare within Africa
$7,052.00/person all-inclusive

The cost for the post-trip extension to Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa is: $1,246.00/person based on a minimum of four participants. This cost will drop if we have six or more participants – for details please see the “Group Size” section below.

Airline Ticketing:

International airline tickets are not included in the above costs. EcoQuest Travel is a full service tour operator and we will gladly assist you with your flights for this tour. We do not charge a service fee for this assistance to clients who book a tour with us. We are aware, however, that clients often prefer to use frequent flyer miles, or points, to purchase tickets or to shop online. Regardless of which method you choose EcoQuest Travel will be happy to help you with ticket prices, scheduling and ticket purchase. If you decide to obtain airline tickets on your own please make sure to check with EcoQuest Travel prior to purchasing your ticket to make sure the flights you have chosen will work with the tour itinerary and that the tour has sufficient participation to operate. Please be aware that once purchased, most airline tickets are non-refundable and carry a financial penalty for any changes. Also, it is essential that we receive a copy of your flight itinerary so that we may track you in case of missed connections, flight delays or other mishaps that might impact your arrival. To help you plan, right now a round trip ticket from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa is approximately $1300.00.

Please note that our airline tickets within Africa (Johannesburg to Maun and Kasane to Johannesburg) are included in the tour cost, but due to the volatile nature of the airline industry, we are only able to provide an estimated airfare at this time. The actual date of ticketing will determine the price. Typically, we are accurate in our estimates, but please note that there may be a difference in pricing at the time of ticketing. If ticket prices at the time of booking are lower than our estimates the savings will be passed on to you. Likewise if ticket prices exceed our estimates at the time of booking you will be invoiced the difference.

What’s Included:

  • Airfare within Africa (Johannesburg – Maun; Kasane – Johannesburg)
  • Private Bush Plane flight from Maun to the Okavango Delta
  • Land and boat transportation within Botswana and South Africa
  • All accommodations – based upon double occupancy (single supplement is available at an additional cost)
  • All tours within the scheduled itinerary
  • Meals are included throughout the safari –except for dinner on 9/22 (see your itinerary for details)
  • Permits, National Park entrance fees and guides
  • The leadership services of EcoQuest Travel professionals

What’s Not Included:

  • Round-trip airfare from the US to Johannesburg, South Africa (see the Airline Ticketing paragraph above)
  • Gratuities (for drivers and guides in Botswana and South Africa)
  • Fees associated with obtaining or renewing your passport
  • Travel insurance (please see the Travel Insurance Section below)
  • Costs associated with pre-trip medical planning (such as vaccines)
  • Gifts and items of a personal nature

Travel Documents:

A passport valid for at least 6 months after our arrival is required for travel in both Botswana and South Africa. No visa is required for US citizens to enter Botswana or South Africa.

Group Size:

Botswana is best experienced with a small intimate group of people and this trip has been designed for only eight participants. The trip cost is also based on these eight participants. The cost for the post-trip extension to Pilanesberg National Park is based on a minimum of four participants. If we have six or more participants on the Pilanesberg extension the cost will drop to $1,082.00/person.

Health Requirements:

The Governments of Botswana and South Africa only require vaccination against yellow fever if you are arriving from infected areas. There is no risk of yellow fever in either Botswana or South Africa so a yellow fever vaccination is not necessary for this trip unless you visited a country where yellow fever occurs immediately prior to our trip. There are several vaccines that would be prudent to consider prior to traveling in Southern Africa. These include Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Hepatitis B. One should also check to make sure that vaccines against Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis, Measles/Mumps/Rubella and Polio are up to date. Malaria is present in the areas we will visit in Botswana and the use of anti-malarial medications should be considered mandatory for this trip. Malaria is not present in the areas we will visit in South Africa. Information on travel related diseases and vaccines to prevent them can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website at: www.cdc.gov/travel
We highly recommend discussing all medical issues related to travel with your doctor well in advance of the proposed travel date (at least 6 months prior to departure).

Payments and Reservations:

A deposit of $1,500.00 per person is required along with your reservation form in order to reserve space on the trip. This will help insure airline seating space and necessary early deposits during this busy time of year. The reservation form is available here and can be filled out online and submitted via email, or downloaded and mailed.

We encourage you to send the deposit well in advance of the date the first payment is due, as paying the deposit is the only way to secure your spot. Personal checks, money orders and credit cards are accepted. If paying by personal check it should be made payable to EcoQuest Travel, Inc. and on the memo line please indicate: For Botswana Trip 2014. If paying by credit card please phone your credit card information in to EcoQuest Travel at: (919) 963-3038. EcoQuest Travel accepts Visa, MasterCard and most bank debit cards. After your initial deposit the remaining balance will be invoiced in two payments according to the schedule below.

If you are participating in the main trip only:

  • A payment of at least $2,776.00 is required no later than March 1, 2014.
  • The remainder of the trip expense ($2,776.00) will be due on or before June 6, 2014

If you are participating on the optional post-trip extension to Pilanesberg, you will be invoiced in two payments according to the schedule below. (This will be adjusted if we have at least six participants).

  • A payment of at least $3,399.00 is required no later than March 1, 2014.
  • The remainder of the trip expense ($3,399.00) will be due on or before June 6, 2014.

As far as purchasing your international airline tickets are concerned we will address this as soon as we have everyone signed up for the trip. It is my hope we can move forward with the ticketing process in the fall of 2013.

Cancellation:

The initial deposit, as well as subsequent payments, will be used to purchase airline tickets and pay deposits for accommodations, travel arrangements, etc. in Botswana. Therefore, if you must withdraw from the trip, irrespective of reason, a refund will not be possible. We strongly suggest that you protect yourself with the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. We will try to retain a wait list for this trip and it is possible that if you end up not being able to participate we will attempt to find a replacement for you; however, it is your responsibility to find a replacement or to have insurance.
Please note that in the event EcoQuest Travel, Inc. cancels this trip, due to circumstances beyond our control or low trip participant numbers, a refund of the initial deposit and any payments made will be issued.

  • Please note that in the event EcoQuest Travel, Inc. does not have enough participants for this trip a refund of the initial deposit of $1,000.00, and any subsequent payments, will be issued.

Travel Insurance

EcoQuest Travel, Inc. partners with Allianz Global Assistance (formerly Access America) to provide the best possible travel insurance for our clients.  They offer trip cancellation and worldwide emergency services (such as emergency evacuation and emergency medical services) as well as a host of other benefits.  You can find more information on EcoQuest Travel’s website (www.ecoquesttravel.net) including how to get quotes and sign up. You do not have to use Allianz Global Assistance and may choose to use another company. In either case, EcoQuest Travel, Inc. strongly suggests the purchase of trip cancellation/medical insurance. If you do decide to purchase travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance please give them the following EcoQuest Travel vendor (or ACCAM) number: F031120. This number identifies that you are working with an Allianz Global Assistance partner.

Note:  Pre-existing conditions will be waived by Allianz Global Assistance if you purchase travel insurance within 14 calendar days of your initial trip deposit.  For more information please see our website. To locate the travel insurance section of our website look on the destination page in the “click to go to” section on the right hand side of the screen under “purchase insurance.”

General Information

Upon receiving your deposit and reservation form you will be sent an information packet containing flight information, baggage requirements, hints on what to bring and other useful information. The climate will vary from potentially hot and dry during the day to quite cool at night and, though unlikely, the possibility of rain should be prepared for. You will want to bring a camera, film and binoculars. Again, a more exhaustive list will be provided after you are registered for the trip.

Trip Leaders:

David Davenport: Zoologist and President – EcoQuest Travel

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