T he term “bucket list” might be a fairly modern addition to people’s vernaculars, but it’s hard to deny that most would include at least one dream holiday.
For many, the chance to get close to nature they’ve only previously seen in zoos or on documentaries is simply too good to pass up, which is why African safaris have always been such timelessly popular getaways.
There are, of course, plenty to choose from, but one destination that stands out for its sheer beauty and variety of wildlife is the sub-Saharan nation of Botswana, home to more elephants than anywhere else on the planet. But if our tusked friends don’t float your boat, there are plenty of other faunal attractions besides them.
This ten-day trip, run by Peregrine and operated by Flight Centre, will actually begin at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, but after a day visiting the world’s largest waterfall, you’ll head down the Zambezi River and across the border to Chobe National Park.
Famous for its abundance of buffalo, zebras, elephants, impala and other roaming beasts, Chobe is one of the most sought-after safari hotspots on the continent, and you’ll have the chance to take two game drives here. Just make sure you charge your camera before you head out.
As an added bonus, a cruise down the Chobe River will also be set up, giving birdwatchers the ultimate treat thanks to the variety of species there, including saddle-billed storks, malachite kingfishers, fish eagles and bee-eaters.
If you can tear yourself away, the next stop will be Makgadikgadi Pans, where you’ll have chance to discover this immense salt flat and unwind in a rustic chalet in the Nata Lodge oasis.
And no trip to Botswana would be complete without heading to the Okavango Delta, one of Africa’s premier wildlife habitats.
The Unesco World Heritage Site is home to some of the planet’s most endangered large mammals, including the cheetah and both the white and black rhino. Your first day here will be spent in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango.
Everyone will have the opportunity to fly over the delta in a small plane for a bird’s-eye view of your new environs – a great way to appreciate the vast scale of this waterscape. Otherwise, the afternoon is yours to spend as you please.
The next day, you will hop on a speedboat and travel right to the heart of the delta. Guests will stay on a cosy houseboat in the middle of the water and be taken out in traditional mokoro canoes to discover the array of natural canals, lakes, swamps and islands that make up this naturally stunning region.
Each of your two nights here will end with the boat’s captain rustling you up a dinner to enjoy as you gaze out into the watery wilderness. The stunning sunsets in Okavango are regarded as some of the most beautuful to be found anywhere around.
A fitting finale to this trip (if you overlook the visit to your departure point in Windhoek, Namibia) will see you spend the night in Ghanzi, “the capital of the Kalahari”.
Here, you’ll stay in Dqae Qare San Lodge, which is owned and run by San Bushmen and supports the local San D’Kar community by giving its people much-needed employment.
The local women will prepare you a traditional three-course dinner in the communal lounge as you prepare for the evening’s entertainment, too.
Sitting around the campfire, the bushmen will offer an unforgettable insight into their way of life through storytelling and dance.