See African wildlife and native cultures in Namibia, Botswana, and Zamibia

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Zebras in Botswana (Photo: G.A.P Adventures)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on July 9, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, Alberta, Argentina, Botswana, Cairns, Chile and Easter Island, destination, eco travel, Fernie, Grand Canyon, Italy, Joshua Tree, Maine, Minnesota, Molly Feltner, mountain, Vietnam, wildlife.

Outfitter: G.A.P Adventures
Price: $695

Portable four-post beds and vintage wines aren't what most ordinary travelers would think to pack on an African safari, but those are exactly the inclusions coming standard on the growing number of luxury safari packages being marketed to Americans these days. That's all well and good for those who can afford it (and want it), but you shouldn't have to take out a second mortgage to see some elephants and lions in the wild. Unfortunately, even tours without all the fine dining and upscale accommodations included can cost thousands of dollars per week.

That's what makes the price of G.A.P Adventures' Delta and Falls Experience trip through Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia so remarkable. G.A.P keeps its prices down by using campsites, serving simple but hearty meals, following less traveled itineraries, and emphasizing authentic experiences over high-end comforts.

"They are not a typical travel company—they offer a more 'real' and rustic experience," says Rashed Ahmad of Toronto, who traveled with the company in April to celebrate his 25th birthday. "The purpose of traveling [for me] is not to relax but to learn and grow as a person by experiencing things outside of your comfort zone. G.A.P operates on this philosophy, and that's why I chose them."

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On this 10-day journey, you'll have the opportunity to walk through the Kalahari Desert with a local San Bushman; camp on an island in the Okavango Delta, an oasis where countless animals come to drink; and tour Botswana's Chobe National Park, home to the world's largest population of elephants. On dugout canoe trips, nature walks, and game drives, you also have the chance to see many of Africa's famed animal species including zebras, hippos, lions, giraffes, cheetahs, and antelopes. A visit to Zambia's Victoria Falls—among the world's largest with a width of more than a mile—caps off the adventure.

The details

The base price of the tour is $495 per person, plus a local payment of $200, which covers a tour leader and local guides, most meals, camping and hotel accommodations, guided excursions, and ground transportation. Airfare, airport transfers, and some activities cost extra. You'll also need to bring your own sleeping bag. Trips are scheduled every month of the year but the best time to visit is from April to November, when the weather is drier and wildlife congregate around water sources, making for easier viewing. For air travel, plan on booking an open-jaw flight that arrives in the Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport in Namibia and departs from the Livingstone Maramba Airport in Zambia.

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