Trailing giraffes and brown hyenas on an early-morning game drive in the bushveld. Sleeping under the stars on a private deck in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Spotting local birdlife from a traditional mokoro dug-out canoe in the Okavango Delta. Ker & Downey’s safaris combine game-viewing experiences with low-volume impact, and, next year, the tour operator will debut new 11-day itineraries in Botswana that focus on showing travelers the country’s remote and varying terrain.

Botswana (about the size of Texas) is home to a mix of biodiverse ecosystems, from the Kalahari Desert in the country’s southwest corner to the vast Okavango Delta, a 5,700-square-mile network of channels, lagoons, swamps, and islands that borders Namibia and Zimbabwe in the north. Ker & Downey’s new trip will introduce travelers to it a wide variety of landscapes. Here’s what to expect:

A lion lounges in the Kalahari Desert. (Getty Images)

Upon arrival in Johannesburg, travelers are whisked through customs with a guide’s assistance, then transferred to the city’s secluded 53-room Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa for an overnight stay before departing the next day for the Kalahari. More than 200 bird species – including ostrich, which commonly walk the plains – live in this game reserve, as well as impalas, wildebeest, and antelope such as gemsboks and springboks. In the Okavango Delta, just eight tents bedecked in 1920s-style furnishings make up Ker & Downey’s outlying Kanana Camp, which runs on solar power. From this quiet base, guests set out on fishing excursions, bush walks, and game drives to scout for lions, crocodiles, hippos, lechwe antelope, and migratory visitors such as yellow bill storks.

On day five, travelers head to the Moremi Game Reserve and check into Okuti Camp, where villas constructed with reeds sit on raised platforms to allow for better wildlife viewing. (The camp was designed to resemble a traditional African village.) At this reserve, guests go on game drives to see herds of elephants, plus lions, cheetahs, and the occasional leopard.

A portion of proceeds from the trip will benefit the Bana Ba Letsatsi center in Maun, located just outside the Okavango in northern Botswana. The program provides food, clothes, education, and skills training to more than 250 local children.

Customizable departures begin on January 1, 2021. Virtuoso travelers receive a welcome bottle of wine and a spa credit. Find more information and connect with a Virtuoso travel advisor here.


Top photo: Elephants in the Okavango Delta (Getty Images). This article is sponsored by Ker & Downey. 

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