During this riding safari you will spend 3 nights in a rustic camp in the Kalahari desert and another 2 nights under the stars – where the endless expanses of the Makgadikgadi salt pans and the sky meet. A sight you will never forget.
If you wanted to describe this 6 day horseback safari with one word, it would be this: wild!
In cooperation with Ucharted Africa co. the entire safari is designed to be a true adventure in one of the most untouched areas on earth – the Kalahari Desert and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
The Kalahari Desert is an unimaginably vast area, spanning over one million square kilometers and covered mostly by characteristic red sand. What sounds barren at first glance, in reality hides many hidden secrets and has a unique charm that can only be found here.
Within the Kalahari Desert lie the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. These salt pans are vast expanses of pristine white landscape that stretch as far as the eye can see. In fact, the area was originally larger than Switzerland and was a huge lake fed by many small rivers. Today this lake has dried up, but during the rainy season life returns abruptly when over 75,000 zebras and wildebeests migrate to this region, followed by lions, cheetahs and other predatory cats. Hundreds of thousands of flamingos and other species such as meerkats and the brown hyena can then be found in the Makgadikgadi salt pans.
During this safari you will spend three of the five nights at the charming and rustic Camp Kalahari. It is situated amidst the acacia and mokolwane palms of Brown Hyaena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans, adjacent to the Makgadikgadi Nxai Pans National Park.
You will arrive here either by classic safari vehicle or by light aircraft from Maun.
You will spend another two nights under the stars of the Makgadikgadi salt pans. The sight you will see is beyond words – the millions and millions of stars will simply leave you speechless and the beauty of the sunrise the next morning is more overwhelming here than at any other place.
- 6 days riding on fantastic horses in absolute remoteness
- Visit the meerkats of the Makgadikgadi salt pans
- 2 nights under the starry sky of Botswana
- Visit of the Zu/’hoasi bush people
- The ultimate landscape for fast gallops
map and overview
3 nights in Camp Kalahari in the Kalahari desert
2 nights in Xau Xai Fly Camp in the Makgadikgadi salt pans
The ride is suitable for advanced to experienced riders only. Children are accepted on the condition that they are extremely competent riders. There is a reduced rate for children.
Children are defined as 18 years old and younger.
Day 1: Arrival
You will fly to the small airport of Maun, from where you will continue your journey to the Kalahari either by light aircraft or by vehicle.
Upon arrival at Camp Kalahari, you will have time to settle in, get a glimpse of the enchanting surroundings or relax by the camp’s pool after your long journey.
After tea, head out in the beautiful afternoon light for an introductory ride – primarily to match horse and rider, but also to experience the beauty of this magical area. Return to camp for sunset, followed by dinner and stabling of the horses nearby before the lions of the Kalahari begin their nightly prowl.
Day 2: Experience the Kalahari
After a light breakfast at dawn, head out on a long morning ride through the “Land of a Thousand Islands.” These palm-covered sand dunes lie on what was once a lake bed and are some of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of Botswana’s wilderness. At the height of the migration season, the islands and adjacent grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich – and of course, the predators that go with them! The white, encrusted pans between the islands are excellent terrain for horses.
Return to camp for lunch and recover from the day’s heat in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees, or cool off in the camp’s swimming pool.
After tea, head out to view some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyena; these consummate desert specialists survive in arid areas where both food and water are scarce. The brown hyena is a shy, nocturnal, solitary hunter that is rarely seen by humans. Despite this, they are very social animals, living in clans of up to 10-12 hyenas.
Enjoy a night game drive back to camp, using a spotlight to keep an eye out for nocturnal desert creatures such as aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupines, honey badgers, and perhaps even a black-maned Kalahari lion.
You will arrive back at camp in time for dinner.
Day 3: Xau Xai
Today is a long ride east to Xau Xai Fly Camp, so the day starts early. The journey takes you away from the edge of the Pans and through mopane and acacia forests interspersed with short grassy areas that make for nice long gallops. The area is rich in birds of prey, bustards, korhaans and numerous other unusual dry forest bird species; there is also a chance of seeing a kudu and the odd bull elephant.
At lunchtime you will arrive at the famous Green’s Baobab, which stands proudly on the busy Missionary Road that David Livingstone traversed on his travels north. The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is littered with the initials of early travelers from some 150 years ago, making it a living testament to the rich history of this area.
Lunch will be at the neighboring Gutsa Pan under a stand of palm trees, where you may find Stone Age artifacts and hunting blinds used by the Bushmen for thousands of years.
Take a siesta in the midday heat and after tea continue your journey to Xau Xai Fly Camp.
Once at the camp, a cool sunset drink awaits, followed by dinner under the magnificent Kalahari sky.
Day 4: Meerkats
Wake up to a steaming cup of coffee and a light breakfast before heading out in search of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants: meerkats.
Thanks to an ongoing habituation program by Uncharted Africa Safari Co, it’s possible to get up close and personal with these fascinating animals. Remember, they’re not tame – they’re just used to your presence.
On cool mornings, a meerkat may well snuggle up to you for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, use your head as a sentry.
Spending a lot of time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals will allow you to see how they interact with each other and their environment. As the day gets warmer, the meerkats go out in search of food. Hop on your horse and follow the well-trodden trails.
Thanks to an ongoing habituation program, it is possible for guests to get up close and personal with these fascinating animals!
Return to Xau Xai for lunch and a refreshing shower.
In the late afternoon, set out on one of the greatest adventures imaginable – a ride into the middle of the ancient lakebed! At the end, all you can see is the vast plain stretching in all directions. Watch the sun set and the stars rise. This is one of the few places in the world where the silence is so perfect that you can hear the blood circulating in your ears.
There is not a single visual sign on the horizon, just 360 degrees of the white landscape of the salt pans, which are inhabited only by you and a few trillion invisible brine shrimp! And this is exactly where we will set up camp. You will sleep on sleeping bags under the silence of the starry sky!
Day 5: Return to Fly Camp
Wake up to the moon! As dawn greets this extraordinary landscape and the last stars disappear, make your way home directly across the pans to Camp Kalahari. You may be lucky enough to see the unusual sight of ostriches deep in the pans and then, from a great distance, the famous Chapman’s Baobab.
It is also known as Seven Sisters and is considered one of the largest trees in Africa with a girth of 25 meters. This large baobab was also the campsite of early explorers like Livingstone and Selous as they explored the area. You arrive at Camp Kalahari in time for a refreshing shower and lunch.
As the sun disappears behind the horizon and the last light fades, review the last few days. Incredible landscapes, memorable wildlife encounters and most of all great riding!
Day 6: Zu/'hoasi
Before your departure, you will have the opportunity to visit the Zu/’hoasi bush people.
Uncharted Africa has been a pioneer and passionate promoter of cultural tourism in Botswana since its inception. They have long believed that cultural tourism is an extremely important tool for the preservation of this unique, but unfortunately rapidly dying culture.
They have worked closely with the Zu/’hoasi people in the Western Kalahari for many years and are privileged to have Bushman women, men and pre-school age children at Jack’s Camp in the Makgadikgadi, spanning four generations.
They will give you a glimpse into the past and show you how they survived in this harsh environment using their extensive and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behavior and survival skills. The Zu/’hoasi lead a semi-traditional lifestyle and share their traditional skills of hunting and gathering food, as well as making jewelry and hunting equipment.
This initiative enables a community to work together and share their knowledge with each other and with our guests, so that the older generation can pass on their knowledge to the next generation.
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the elders of the community in the traditional way before heading out into the bush with the men, women and children.
The focus of the walk is a gentle introduction to the Kalahari and the Bushmen’s way of life. The group will point out the special ecological features of this area and its animal and bird species. Spontaneous gatherings and discussions about the use of plants and wildlife by your Bushman guides make the connection between culture and the wild environment.
Time for another lunch before bidding farewell to Camp Kalahari and continuing your journey.
Camp Kalahari is set amid the acacia and mokolwane palms of Brown Hyaena Island on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans, adjacent to the Makgadikgadi Nxai Pans National Park in Botswana. A thatched central library, living and dining areas with a colorful mix of original African furniture and textiles, paired with traditional campaign style pieces and colonial antiques, are the perfect place to relax and enjoy the serenity of this enchanting area.
This traditional bush camp has ten spacious Meru tents, including six twin tents, three double tents, and a family unit consisting of two side-by-side tents that can accommodate two guests each and share a bathroom.
All guest tents have private covered bathrooms, hot and cold running water and flush toilets, as well as four-poster beds, cozy cotton bedding and hot water bottles in winter.
Xau Xai Fly Camp consists of comfortable dome tents, a central dining tent, toilets and bucket showers.
5,450.00 USD per person sharing.
- All meals
- All rides
- Airport Transfer (For single travelers, there is a 100% surcharge on the quoted road transfer. This will be waived if other travelers also take this transfer)
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Contact SAFARI FRANK to get started on your safari of a lifetime!