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Botswana Photography Safari with Ben Mcrae tour
Chobe National Park Gweta Botswana Photography Safari with Ben Mcrae Trip
Makgadikgadi Pans Maun Botswana Photography Safari with Ben Mcrae Trip

Botswana Photography Safari with Ben Mcrae

Intrepid Travel Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Full on
Physical Level: Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
11 days
From: $ 3,583 $ 326 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Travel in a small group of 12 with a guaranteed window seat.
  • Join multiple aware winning landscape & people photographer Ben Mcrae on this 11 day journey through Botswana.
  • This trip is designed for beginners to professionals and all tastes are catered for. Ben will be on hand to offer full hands on tuition.
  • The thundering Victoria Falls is one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, a phenomenon of sight and sound.
  • A morning Game drive in the Chobe National Park get you up close and personal with gnus, zebras and other wondrous wildlife.
  • Get up close and personal to resident elephants from an underground photography bunker.
  • Spend time exploring the Makgadikgadi Pans, looking out for meerkats and meandering elephants, and enjoy a sundowner in the shadow of an old baobab tree.
  • Journey out into the Moremi Game Reserve for a unique mobile bush camping experience. Nothing quite compares to falling asleep 'under canvas' to the sound of the African bush!
  • Learn more about the Kalahari from the knowledgeable San people as they sing and dance with you by the campfire, then spend a full day with them learning more about one of Southern Africa's oldest inhabitants.

Short Description

Join multiple award winning landscape & people photographer Ben Mcrae on this 11 day journey through Botswana. This trip is designed for beginners to professionals and all tastes are catered for. Ben will be on hand to offer full hands on tuition. At each location he will offer insightful workshops on how to capture what is before you; landscapes, animals, people, astrophotography and, editing sessions. Game Drive in 4x4’s in Chobe national Park, Spot wildlife on a Chobe River Cruise, Track Meerkats in the Makgkadigkadi Pans, Enjoy sundowners by ancient Baobab trees, get up close and personal to resident elephants from an underground photography bunker, venture into Moremi National Park for a night of mobile camping and Game Drives, Spend a full day with the San Bushmen and learn about these fascinating hunter-gatherers.

Style Small group tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions Roundtrip air to/from trip start & all internal transport
Start City N/A
End City N/A

Itinerary

Day 1 Victoria Falls

An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Excellent optional activities include a boat cruise along the Zambezi, morning and afternoon game drives, or walks in the Zambezi National Park. You might also choose an awe-inspiring helicopter flight over the Falls and the Zambezi Gorges. Tonight you will dine at the incredible Boma Restaurant, whose menu has been known to include warthog, buffalo, crocodile, impala and more. Throughout the meal you'll be entertained with local song and dance. Everyone is given an African drum and encouraged to join the party. (If you don’t wish to join in with the drumming you may wish to choose an earlier session for dinner.) The evening is also an ideal opportunity to get to know your photographic guide, Ben McRae. During the night’s festivities, Ben will have a chance to speak to you personally. However, this is not just a meet and greet. Ben will be looking to learn what you would like to take away from this experience, and any specific skills you would like to develop over the course of the trip. As Ben will also be offering personalised lessons during the trip, this time together will allow him to understand your photographic journey and how he can help you in the coming days.

Day 2 Chobe National Park

This morning you will visit the magnificent Victoria Falls, named by Dr David Livingstone in honour of his English queen. One of the world's true natural wonders, Victoria Falls form the largest sheet of falling water in the world, when in full flow. The group will enter the park as soon as the gates open to make the most of the early morning sun, which rises behind the falls and illuminates the vast plumes of spray that bellow from Bakoka Gorge. Your photographic guide will lead you to the best vantage points to capture the sunrise. During the morning you will be able to cover the falls from many different perspectives, ensuring you come away with a range of images of this spectacular waterfall. Your Intrepid leader will also be available for those who wish to learn more about the falls and its detailed history. After your tour, follow the Zambezi River to Botswana and make your way to Chobe National Park (100km approximately 2–3 hours, not including border formalities). You will arrive at your lodge at around midday. In the afternoon, embark on a boat safari along the picturesque Chobe River, one of the photographic highlights of this trip and an ideal location for spotting bird life such as saddle-billed storks, malachite kingfishers, fish eagles and beautiful bee-eaters. As well as hippos, crocodiles and large families of elephants. We will be using a custom made 'Pangolin' photography boat with individual photographic seats. Each seat rotates a full 360 degrees and is equipped with a mounting to rest a DSLR camera zoom lens. Seats are arranged down the centre of the boat which allows maximum storage space on either side for extra lenses and gear. More importantly, it also limits any potential obstruction by the adjacent photographer. Swimming elephants are a special sight on the Chobe River and these boats provide a unique vantage point. We are able to get into the perfect position every time - without fail. The hull is very stable and there is also plenty of room for all your equipment. Ben McRae will be on hand to offer tips and advice from his many years in the area. Due to our smaller group size and the room we have on board there will be a chance to get more personalised photographic tuition during the afternoons session if you wish. You will spend the night in a chalet located just outside Chobe National Park.

Day 3 Senyati Safari Camp

This morning you will enjoy a game drive in Chobe National Park. The early departure will hopefully allow the group to photograph some of the park’s predators in the warm morning light. The park is famous for its lions, leopards and wild dogs and it’s possible to spot these predators at the river’s edge. The strip of reserve that runs parallel to the river offers some of the best game viewing in Africa and predatory kills are frequently seen here. As this is a game drive, nothing can be promised but Chobe is likely to leave you with full SD cards and happy memories. After a few hours, return to the lodge for breakfast. It is essential to wear extra layers of clothing in the morning as the game drive will make use of an open vehicle.  We then make our way to Senyati Safari Camp situated in the Lesoma Valley. The camp is self catering and your crew will prepare meals during your stay here. Although Senyati Safari Camp is very private, the waterhole knows no privacy. A variety of animals come and go throughout the day. The waterhole is frequented by a good variety of species such as hyena, banded mongoose, warthogs, roan antelope, monkey baboons, buffalo, sable, elephants and the occasional leopard. In the afternoon the group will spend time in an underground photography bunker which, after a short climb down a ladder and a walk through the bunkers, will bring you to viewing seats looking out through small slits onto a waterhole. The viewpoint is a mere three metres from the water’s edge. This Hide provides photographers with an amazing perspective on the action. Silence is a must in the bunker. While it is possible to see herds of elephants here, nothing can be guaranteed. Ben will also be offering his advice while observing from an elevated deck overlooking the waterhole. Stay overnight at Senyati Safari Camp.

Day 4 Makgadikgadi Pans

Rise early and perhaps spend some more time in the underground photography bunker. This extra time might allow you to capture an amazing photo or two of thirsty predators or antelope stopping for a morning drink. Heading south, you will continue your journey (410 kilometres, approximately 6 hours) to the Makgadikgadi Pans for an afternoon excursion. Witness the immensity of this sprawling salt flat, one of the largest in the world. Later you will head to Gweta Lodge, located near the edge of the pans. In the afternoon, leave the lodge in an open game vehicle to and travel out to the Nxaisini pan. Here you’ll sit out in the wild enjoying sundowners and snacks while observing the amazing scenery and beautiful baobab trees. There may be an opportunity to take part in an astrophotography or startrail session ( time dependent ). Depending on the moon phase you will be given a step-by-step walkthrough on how to create amazing night images and stunning star trails. Ben will be on hand to ensure you understand each step in the process before introducing light painting techniques into these images. Back at the lodge, relax in the lounge area while you take in your surroundings and reflect on the day's adventure.

Day 5 Makgadikgadi Pans

Today we will spend a full day out exploring the Makgadikgadi Pans. With the aid of trackers you’ll spend some time in the company of the local meerkat colony, and look out for elephants that meander their way down to the watering hole to quench their thirst. Today’s photography will focus on capturing some of the smaller creatures we encounter. Ben will offer some unique ideas to help create images that have depth and character. You may also be introduced to less common techniques that will help add another dimension to your photography portfolio.

Day 6 Maun

After breakfast this morning, it's time to head to Maun, the gateway of the Okavango Delta (approximately 4 hours). For those interested, there is the opportunity to fly over the delta in a small plane for a bird's-eye view. This is a great way to appreciate the vast scale of this waterscape. Your leader can give you more information on this optional activity and how to reserve a place.Those who choose to take the additional flight will have a short workshop with Ben to cover techniques on capturing images from the sky. If you elect not to join the additional flight, the afternoon yours to spend as you please. This evening there will be a chance to sit down and undergo a post-processing workshop. In this class you will be shown some subtle techniques for making your images pop. Ben's attitude to post-processing is to try and capture images as best you can in camera while in the field, but with a few digital enhancements and selective editing you will be shown how to fine-tune your images for extra impact. This session will also show you how to process the photographs you took in Gweta. Please note that this workshop may take place on Day 8.

Day 7 Moremi Game Reserve

Journey out into the Moremi Game Reserve for a unique mobile bush camping experience. You will be joined by expert local guides and staff who have grown up in the bush or in rural Botswana, and so will have the best tips for spotting wildlife. Your camp will be set up within the Moremi Game Reserve before you arrive. Enjoy an afternoon game drive in the park before settling in at camp for the night. Nothing quite compares to sleeping 'Under Canvas' and drifting off to sleep to the sounds of the African night. In addition to travelling deeper into the Okavango Delta, today’s session will help further refine your wildlife photography skills. Ben will be on hand to offer further advice on composition, exposure in testing conditions, and to help develop some new techniques you may have not used before.

Day 8 Maun

Enjoy a morning game drive before heading back to Maun, You may like to organise an optional flight over the delta if you missed out on Day 6. The scenic flight offers a bird's-eye view – a great way to appreciate the immensity of this watery world. Your leader can give you more information on this activity and how to book.

Day 9 Ghanzi – Central Kalahari

Travel on to Ghanzi, the 'Capital of the Kalahari' (400 kilometres, approximately 7 hours). Your accommodation tonight is at a community project in Ghanzi and is a little more basic than what you will encounter throughout your journey. However, the concept and experience of Dqae Qare San Lodge is well worth it. It is run and owned by the local San Bushmen and supports the San D'Kar community through employment. There is an impressive concentration of bird life here, and you may wish to go for a walk before dinner to stretch your legs after today's long stint in the vehicle. A three-course meal, prepared by the local women, will be served in the communal lounge and dining area. There is also an 'honesty' bar with wine, beer and soft drinks available to buy.  Later this evening you will be treated to an enlightening cultural experience. As you sit around the campfire, the Bushmen will conduct a ‘healing ceremony’. The Bushmen dance in a sand circle around the flames, slowly working themselves into a trance by their chanting and dancing, while others are seated outside the circle, clapping and singing. Occasionally the dancers will leave the circle to place their healing hands on their fellow Bushmen. It’s a privilege to sit and witness this traditional ceremony. There will be a number of opportunities to take photographs during the ceremony. Using the low light you will be able to create some interesting images with movement and flash. A tripod is recommended to ensure images are sharp and to reduce motion blur.

Day 10 Central Kalahari

Make the most of the opportunity to spend a full day with the San people. Learn more about these fascinating people believed to be Southern Africa's oldest inhabitants. The community delight in sharing their culture and extraordinary knowledge of the Kalahari with travellers through bush walks, traditional dancing, fire making, craft making, trapping and story telling. Today you will explore a number of different photography styles, with Ben taking the group through a portrait workshop. He will be able to observe and provide feedback to you throughout the shoot. Ben will also offer advice on how to create environmental portraits, which is one of his favourite styles of photography. There will be an additional workshop for those who’d like to learn how to use off-camera flash.

Day 11 Windhoek

Cross the border into Namibia today and head to Windhoek (560 kilometres, approximately 9 hours, including border formalities). This trip will end on arrival. Notes: It's best not to book any flights out of Windhoek tonight. The airport is a one-hour drive from town, and although you should comfortably make it to the hotel in Windhoek by 5pm, it can be difficult to get to the airport in time for outbound flights. No accommodation is included for tonight, but can be requested at your own expense.

Availability

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Price From $ 3,583
Price Per Day: $ 326 per day
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3,899 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

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Botswana Photography Safari with Ben Mcrae

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Company Reviews

Logistical nightmare and boring stories

1.0
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Turkey Encompassed tour, 2022.
I rarely bother with writing bad reviews because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But this is one of the worst purchase experiences in my 40 year life, so I hope this information can be helpful to you and keep you from a regretful purchase.

For a little context, we had 5 people on this tour. Two in their late 20s, one in their 30s and two in their 40s. The tour-mates made the tour bearable, but the tour itself was a disaster.

Let me list the ways this tour not only fell below expectations, but ruined an otherwise wonderful stay in a country full of warm people.

1. Hotels are below grade. They booked us in $25 a night (for two) hotels that smell like cigarette smoke, when we paid $250 a night (for two) for this tour. There were 3 nights like this out of 14. We know because we checked prices on some of these hotel rooms. Yes we know that our rate includes the bus, the guide and some of the entrance fees. By the way the tour did not include food. Taking into account the company’s margins it should still leave at least $150 a night to book us a decent room. So instead of enjoying a good night’s sleep I was taking allergy pills and wearing masks to get through the night. This is not ok.

2. We did not have a tour leader. Most tours have a tour leader who manages the logistics and a local guide who walk you through the sites. This tour tries to save money by making one person do both. This means the logistics was a nightmare, and no one took care of the tour people. Let me elaborate.

3. Time estimates are all over the place. We stopped at Troy and he said we will be there for 45 min. He started telling us historical facts in a boring way for 30 min, then we finally took a walk together and we didn’t exit until 1.5 hours later, that’s 2x the predicted time. This happened again at Ephesus, with an estimate of 3 hours without no bathroom access, in the raw 40C heat with no shade, and then it became 4 hours with such conditions. Keep in mind that the guide has been to this site at least 100 times already. To be this far off is appalling. Lunch times are unpredictable, so one day it’s at noon and the next day it’s at 3pm. And there’s no warning, so luckily we did not have diabetics on the tour. We were only 5 in the group, and it’s already chaos. I can’t imagine if it’s 10 or 12 people. I’ve never seen a tour managed so poorly.

4. The guide did not care about the health of the group. I understand the the guide is not the tour doctor, but it’s really basic human decency to check in, especially as a leader. Every person had tummy problems once or more during the trip. And people will say so out loud too, and obviously looked unwell at meals. But he never asked about it, or checked in on anyone afterwards. For all the talk of “hospitality” in the Turkish culture, I am amazed at this lack of care.

5. The stories are boring, we Google’d the info instead. When you get only one local guide for two weeks and you get a great one, awesome. But if you get a bad one, prepared to be bored out of your mind. This guy had credentials. Graduated four years from guiding school in Turkey and 15 years of actual guiding experience. But man, the stories, if you can even call them that, are boring. Lists of dates and facts is not a story. A 2 min story takes 30 minutes to tell. You might as well watch a YouTube video instead and learn more. An interesting aside, when the tour started, we had a kick-off meeting at the hotel. The travel company’s branch manager was there along with the guide to observe the kick-off meeting. The manager told us this tour guide is “one of their best.” Oh my. If this is the best they have then you have no hope of getting a good tour guide with this company my friend. Stay away.

6. You get no information, logistically speaking. This is the kicker. We booked a tour so we didn’t have to research what’s around the corner. The point of a guide is to guide you. To give you heads-up about where we’re visiting, how long it’ll be, where the good picture spot is, on-site conditions so you can be prepared for rough terrain, heat etc. you get the idea. But no. Nothing. In fact, I had to ask every-single-day for even the basic itinerary the next day. There was one day in Cappadokia when the guide took us for a one hour walk near the rock formations. The “walk” turned out to be a real bush-wacking experience, scaling slippery gravel, dropping into dry river beds between small canyon rocks, and exposed to bare sun in 100F heat for the entire “walk”. I would at least call that a hike and tell people to put on hiking shoes. I actually had hiking shoes that stayed useless in my suitcase while I scaled the steep gravel in unsuitable footwear. Luckily nobody got hurt. But this tour is rated for any age, as in a 65 year old can join, and I don’t know what could’ve happened then. It was a one-way walk so there was no turning back either
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I traveled with Intrepid on a 2-week…

5.0
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Meals5.0
I traveled with Intrepid on a 2-week trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenian. The trip leader, Kesenia, escorted us to all the highlights these countries had to offer. We were met along the way by local guides who explained the history of the places we were visiting. Everyday was an adventure where we enjoyed great food, breathtaking scenery, and meeting local people. Spring is a great time to go and see mountains still covered in snow and trees starting to bloom.
All dedicated travelers should go to the Caucuses.
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I am a fairly experienced traveler: the worst trip ever

1.0
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Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
I am a fairly experienced traveler and have used several travel companies similar to Intrepid and consistently had great experiences. As a single mother, I wanted to give a memorable summer vacation to my 14-year old daughter, so based on the descriptions of the company’s Alaska Summer Family Vacation tour, I decided to pay close to $5,000 for both of us for this tour plus more than $2,000 for the air fare to do so.
I don’t even know where to begin. The guide was very short with me, rude to my daughter (several times he completely ignored her questions and attempt to having conversations with him) throughout the trip.

The native heritage center we were scheduled to visit on the first full day was closed (the business hours are CLEARLY stated on their website), so the guide took us to the Anchorage museum and just left us there for 4 hours - thank goodness I brought some snacks with us! When I asked the guide if there was any cafe at the museum, he, without a pause, immediately said “it’s closed”. As we walked through the museum, there it was, a nice cafe selling food. Finally, after 4 hours of killing time there, he took us to a lunch place PAST 3. Then the rest of the day was free. Basically it went on like this for the entire course of the tour, aside from a 6-hour cruise to glaciers (provided by a third party). In Seward, we had a lot of free time and we wanted to try and hike up the very popular Mount Marathon (we are both experienced hikers), so I asked him if the trail was open. He never got back to me until the last day, and he said it would take full 4 hours (a lie - only 2 hours per it’s website) to do the hike and it’s very, very steep (true), so we decided not to do it when we got some time in the afternoon. We were so upset when we found out it would take only 2 hours - we would certainly have done this popular trail but thanks to him who clearly couldn’t be bothered to provide accurate information, we missed this opportunity.

I was beginning to be concerned towards the end about how uneventful, literally lame and inactive this tour had been and how unhelpful the guide had been. My daughter started to complain about how incredibly “un-Alaskan” its been. Not a single hike contrary to the tour descriptions. Its been very wet, but that’s why we were all told to bring rain gear and be ready and we were ready. But nothing happened and our precious and very expensive time kept on flying by.

The worst came when we were driving back from Seward to Anchorage. The guide told us we could hike to see the Portage Glacier but “weather permitting”. Once we got to the information center, he outright told us “we have 2 options: 1. we hang out at the information center due to rain (?!?); or 2. we keep on going to Anchorage”. See, hiking was not an option we were given! There was another family with us and we all went to the visitor center to “hang out”, only viewing the glacier fr the distance. At this point, it was simply ridiculous and asked the guide why hiking was not an option. He very sharply, and intensely dismissively responded “it’s raining and it’s all about safety”. ???? I told him then why the trail was open and people have been going on the trail. He repeated it’s a matter of safety. He told us we could hang out at the center and watch a 20-minute “movie”. I asked the other family in the tour and one of them said she invested more than $400 for rain gear and its been completely wasted, and they were thinking also how underwhelming the tour had been. Then the heritage center we arrived. He told us we had 4 hours there. 4 HOURS in such a small, very compact place!!! My daughter and I essentially went around and around and around to kill 4 hours of our precious time. At that point, I realized my $5,000 I saved up was completely wasted, and asked the guide this was not worth the money, he could not keep doing this. You know what he said after a while? He said he’s been in touch with Intrepid about me complaining!!! I was super polite, never, ever complained up to this point, and he threatened me for “complaining”???? Looking back, I never once saw him wearing a rain jacket, not once. He just did not want to get wet!! I later called the office of the Portage glacier office on the same day and asked if the rain in the morning posed ANY danger. The person on the phone was very confused about why the rain could possibly be considered dangerous, and said “ well the trail has been open”. When I emailed BEFORE the trip was over to Intrepid about how the trip went and his incredibly bad behaviors, the email said I should have brought the concerns to the guide. When asked where $5,000 was spent for, complete silence. Stay away from this company. As soon as I brought up the financial worth, they just went silent. All the glorious “mission” of the company they put out, I guess the quality of the tour is not their interest. Money is.
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I lost my holiday money with intrepid

1.0
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Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
I booked a trip with Intrepid and paid for it. About a week later they told me they could not give me place on the trip, but they have not refunded money so I can't afford to book anything else. I cant get through to them on the phone and after two weeks I fear I will never get mt money back.

I have now incurred bank charges for the cost of a holiday I didn't get. I will be complaining to ABTA about the appalling practice of charging for non-existent holidays. Intrepid must be making a fortune from holding everyone's money for a month.
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I travelled the Premium Turkey in Depth…

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
I travelled the Premium Turkey in Depth in mid June 2022. It was excellent, and exceeded my expectations in many ways. This was my four trips with Intrepid. Our Group Leader Nilufer is the best, Nilufer has taken care of all of us in the whole trip. The two drivers are really good too. We had a small group, we got along extremely well like family.
How could I ask for more! Highly recommend to other travellers if they want to see the real Turkie. Some of the hotels are not up to the standard as premium. Otherwise I would not hesitate to give five stars.
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Spain Portugal Trip

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Spain architecture is stunningly beautiful and the people of Portugal are very laid back. It was a great trip, beautiful cities in both countries and the weather was perfect. I’ve used Intrepid before and highly recommend them because they get you out with the people in the country you’re visiting and are environmentally conscious. My recommendation would be they use public trains more than the public buses.Touring with people from other countries is a real treat.
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

Roundtrip air to/from trip start & all internal transport Custom-built overland vehicle,On foot,Open 4WD vehicles,Boat,Private vehicle

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 12

Accommodations

Fully Serviced Mobile Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night),Lodge (9 nights)

Guides

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Additional Information

Finish point

  • Hotel Thule
  • 1 Gorges Street
  • Windhoek
  • NAMIBIA
  • Phone: +264 61371950

Trip ID#:

intrepid-UBKP

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