Current Tours

We're running one or two trips per year in May to this remote, less-frequented region.   Your itinerary was designed by National Geographic acclaimed "Champion of the Okavango", Dr. Karen Ross with the help of Glen Ross, a long time Botswana resident and owner of a local specialized travel company.  They will each lead one of our 2023 trips.

Scroll down to learn all about the trips.   Otherwise, for itinerary and price details specific to each trip, click below on the trip of your choice.  

 

2024:  Be notified when our 2024 trip is posted by clicking here

 

 

Why join CNH Tours to Southern Africa?

With the help from a wildlife conservation champion of the region (Karen Ross) and with support from someone with nearly 20 years of experience running a custom tourism company in the region (Glen Stephen at Liquid Giraffe), we’ve assembled the elements of a one-of-a-kind 14 day small group trip to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife destinations.  We've added cultural / historical components which, all told, will give you an authentic taste of Southern Africa.   Most of the places you’ll be experiencing are UNESCO World Heritage sites – they’ve been formally recognized as being of global significance by the international community.   

Specifically, the trip includes:

  • Stunning land and seascapes of Cape Town along with the region’s cultural vibrancy (South Africa)
  • Rugged semi-desert ecosystems of the Kalahari, guided by local bushmen (Botswana)
  • Ancient secrets of Tsodilo Hills (Botswana)
  • Magnificent African wildlife of Okavango – both at its panhandle and in the Delta (Botswana)
  • Magic and history at the breath-taking Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

Why is a Galapagos specialist offering the Okavango and surrounding sites?

This is a fair question. CNH Tours does not organize or sell trips to destinations unless we feel we are intimately familiar with them.  For 20 years we have focused exclusively on Galapagos for the simple reason that we personally know no other wildlife destination so well.    

It’s only because we were able to bring Karen Ross and Glen Stephen on board that we feel we can offer this particular trip.  We asked them to design this one-of-a-kind custom visit, one they considered would be the best 2 week trip to the region, and to do it during what they considered to be the best time of year to appreciate the diverse attributes of the places you'll be going to.  This trip is the culmination of their work.  

 

Trip Vision

Some places on Earth are of such outstanding natural and cultural significance that the countries of the world have come together to identify and help conserve them.  To do this, they created the World Heritage Convention - a tool that encourages countries to put forth, for the benefit of present and future generations, sites that are of global value. 

This trip will focus on such World Heritage sites in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. 

Because these places are far away and difficult to access, you will likely not be returning anytime soon.  You’ll want to maximize your chances of being exposed to the best of what the region offers, both in terms of wildlife, and in terms of the historical/cultural context.     You’ll be spending a good part of your days outside, on small boats / safari type vehicles or on light to moderate walks in the hills.   You’ll witness a variety of ecosystems and their wildlife.   We feel that at the end of a fascinating, but perhaps a bit tiring day, you’ll appreciate comfortable accommodations. 

To this end, we’ve ensured that you’ll not only be seeing some of the world’s most outstanding places, but that you’ll be able to unwind in some of the most comfortable lodges / camps on offer.    On top of all that, the small group environment will be led by a people having an intimate familiarity with the region.   This will ensure that you’ll have the best possible understanding of how the ecosystems you’re visiting are being conserved in light the challenges they face. 

 

 

Your tour leaders

Heather Blenkiron & Marc Patry (1-14 May) and Karen Ross (13-26 May)

What is the role of a tour leader?

A tour leader is the trip's concierge - someone always on hand to be sure that all is going as swimmingly as possible during your trip.  They are there to address any concerns, issues or problems.  They can act as intermediaries between the guests and the managers of the hotels / lodges / restaurants, ensuring that specific needs are properly attended to. 

A tour leader is not a guide or local interpreter.  On our trip, each of the destinations we will visit will have their own stable of experienced professional guides, intimately familiar with the ecosystems we will be exploring.  They will accompany you an all the outings, ensuring you get the most out of your outings.   

 

Heather Blenkiron & Marc Patry (1-14 May)

Heather and Marc own and operate CNH Tours, and company they established in 1999.   

Most CNH Tours Galapagos alumni will know Heather.   From 2002 until 2018 (when Kelsey Bradley joined the team) she was the only front person at CNH Tours  - personally involved in helping thousands of people arrange their Galapagos trip of a lifetime. Those who book the Okavango trip will have communicated with her husband Marc.  While he created CNH Tours in 1999, he handed it over to Heather in 2003 when he took up a job at UNESCO's World Heritage Centre in Paris - there, he monitored the state of conservation of World Heritage sites, among other things (Marc's bio). They spent 18 months in Nairobi before returning back to Canada in 2015, when Marc joined Heather at the helm of CNH Tours.  

Marc & Heather (not quite a savanna ecosystem)

 

Dr Karen Ross (13-26 May) [1]

Karen was born and raised in Kenya. She has a doctorate in wildlife ecology from Edinburgh University, carrying out her PhD research in Kenya under the supervision of the famous elephant zoologist, Dr Iain Douglas Hamilton.   She was hired by Hugo van Lawick (renowned wildlife film maker - and Jane Goodall’s former husband) on a filming job which led to her work with the BBC, producing the book “Okavango: Jewel of the Kalahari”.  The book was first published as a companion to a BBC three part documentary of the same title.  

Karen’s subsequent work in the Okavango Delta was part of critical conservation activities in Botswana, including the protection of the Okavango Delta from mining threats and upstream water withdrawals from Namibia.  She led the NGO pressure to curtail the proliferation of fences in the Okavango region (fences are harmful to the movement of wildlife), co-founding a forum between different government ministries and between government and civil society. 

During decades of conservation work in Botswana, mainly with Conservation International, it became clear to Karen that overarching protection for the Okavango Delta would be given through UNESCO World Heritage designation, considered by experts to be long overdue. From 2007 Karen motivated the Government of Botswana to consider this important listing. From then she collaborated on this effort with the Government of Botswana, Okavango communities, national and international conservation NGOs, the tourism sector and numerous other stakeholders, including government authorities in neighbouring Namibia and Angola.  

She was a lead editor of the World Heritage nomination dossier[2].  Thanks to this lengthy and intense work, the Okavango Delta finally made it on to the World Heritage list in 2014.  Karen's relentless efforts at conserving this iconic wilderness has led to her being crowned "The Champion of the Okavango" in the National Geographic magazine.

Once you’re booked on the trip, Karen will become your main contact point with CNH Tours.  She’ll be answering emails and helping you best plan for your time in Africa.  

 Karen in an Okavango Delta mokoro

[1] For more on Karen’s background, see:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-s-ross-75528017/ 

[2] The complete dossier contains fascinating information.  It is a huge file, but well organized.  You can find it here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/129548 

 

 

Species checklist

Below is a partial list of iconic and less iconic species you are likely to see while on the trip – though nothing is absolutely guaranteed.   You will note that most of the iconic African savanna type animals are on the list, along with many more lesser known, but equally fascinating mammals, birds and reptiles.   You will also have the opportunity to get acquainted with a very wide diversity of plant species.  Plant diversity will be most pronounced during your visit to Cape Town, which is located in one of the world’s richest centres of plant speciation with very high levels of endemism (e.g. plants found nowhere else on Earth).

Site

Mammals

Birds

Trees and Shrubs

Victoria Falls area

Elephant

Lion

African Buffalo

Hippopotamus

Nile Crocodile

Impala

Blue Wildebeest

Chacma Baboon

Arrow Marked Babbler

Crested Barbet

Little Bee Eater

Reed Cormorant

Coppery Tailed Coucal

Black Crake

Wattled Crane

African Darter

Fork Tailed Drongo

African Fish Eagle

Grey Go Away bird

Helmeted Guinea Fowl

Hammerkop

Squacco Heron

Red Billed and Yellow Billed Hornbill

Sacred Ibis

Pygmy Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Brown Snake Eagle

White Backed Vulture

 

The mist created by the massive wall of falling water in the Victoria Falls support rainforest type vegetation along its upper edges – species such as  pod mahogany, ebony, ivory palm, wild date palm, batoko plum.  Further back the vegetation reverts to the typical southern African dry woodland of mopane trees and miombo woodland, and an increasingly rare species - the Mukwa tree.

Nxamaseri vegetation is typified by Papyrus, water lilies (both blue and yellow night-flowering) as well as the elegant “Tsaro” Date Palm, and the Water BerryTree.

 

In Tsodilo Hills the Mongongo Tree is prized by San Bushmen for their edible nuts.

 

Thousands of islands support a classic array of Okavango trees: the Sausage Tree, the Africa Ebony, the Livingston Tree, the Yellow-bark fig, the Baobab and the Hypahene Fan palm . They all have edible fruits that are enjoyed by giraffe, elephants, monkeys, parrots… and people.

Waterways are carpeted with water lilies, while parasitic bladderworts on pool edges hint at low nutrient levels in the water. The river edges are framed by bullrushes and Phragmytes reeds that replace the Papyrus of the northern Delta.

 

Dinaka is situated in the Kalahari and vegetation  is suitably adapted to desert conditions. Prominent species include the Camelthorn acacia, the Shepherds tree and medicinal plants such as the Devilthorn. The brandy or raisin bush is used for bushman bows and arrows and the fruits eaten for their high sugar content. Bulbs are prolific and provide water, as do the Tsama melons – favoured by the San Bushmen.

 

Nxamaseri / Tsodilo

Vervet Monkey

Zebra

Impala

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Okavango Delta

Lion

Leopard

Wild Dog

Elephant

Giraffe

Hippopotamus

Spotted Hyaena

Red Lechwe

Vervet Monkey

Sable Antelope

Waterbuck

Zebra

Dinaka area

White rhino

Lion

Gemsbok

Eland

Side Striped Jackal

Zebra

Greater Kudu

Springbok

Cheetah

Red Billed Buffalo Weaver

Grey Headed Bush Shrike

Jameson’s Firefinch

Pale Chanting Goshawk

Southern Black Korhaan

Ostrich

Double Banded Sandgrouse

Blue Waxbill

Emerald Spotted Wood Dove

Cape Town area

 

African Penguin

African Black Oystercatcher

 

Cape Floristic region is one of the world’s great centres of plant diversity.   It is home to over 9,000 vascular plant species, of which 70% are endemic (found nowhere else on Earth).

The entire  Cape Floral Region Protected Areas were designated a World Heritage site in 2004, and includes Table Mountain which extends into Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens. The Fynbos biome is the dominant floral type in the Cape.

 

 

 

Terms & Conditions & Insurance

Terms and Conditions

Booking Terms

  1. CNH Tours, through its local partner (Liquid Giraffe) acts as a booking agent for hotels, airlines, air charters, bus companies, ground transportation, boat purveyors or owners, and other independent contractors providing accommodation, transportation, and/or other services.  Each of these companies is an independent business with its own management and is not subject to the control of CNH Tours / Liquid Giraffe.  CNH Tours through Liquid Giraffe has carried out its due diligence in ensuring that these service providers are fully accredited / respect national regulatory frameworks, and it may not be held liable for any errors or omissions on the part of these third party service providers.  
  2. The transportation, accommodations and other services provided by the ground operators are offered subject to the terms and conditions contained in the tickets, exchange orders or vouchers issued by them and/or their suppliers.  As CNH Tours / Liquid Giraffe does not have the right to control the operations of the independent operators and their suppliers, it cannot be liable for any personal injury or property damage which may arise out of these services.

Payments

  1. Your trip is booked and confirmed on a first come, first served bases only on receipt of a 25% non-refundable deposit.  There shall be no binding contract until the deposit has been received by CNH Tours.  Failure to remit your advance payment on time will result in an automatic change of status of any confirmed space to a provisional basis;
  2. Unless alternative arrangements are made, the balance is due no later than 125 days prior to commencement of the trip. If the balance has not been received by this date, CNH Tours shall be entitled to treat the reservation as cancelled, and consequently to forfeit such part of the advance payment as determined solely by CNH Tours;
  3. Payments for services can be made by cheque, electronic bank transfer or credit card. A charge fee of 3.6% will be applied to credit card payments to cover the transaction cost.

Cancellation, Refunds &  Transferability

  1. Any cancellation of a booking must be in writing (email is accepted) and shall only be effective upon its acknowledged receipt by CNH Tours;
  2. The deposit is non-refundable. Any payment on the balance is refundable up to 120 days prior to trip commencement, after which point it will be non-refundable.   
  3. Any request to amend or change a booking once it has been confirmed may be accommodated subject to space availability and may incur additional costs;
  4. No refunds are given (1) for lost travel time or substitution of facilities, (2) for itineraries amended after departure, (3) for circumstances arising beyond CNH Tours / Liquid Giraffe's control, necessitating alternative arrangements being made to ensure the safety and/or further participation and enjoyment of your safari, (4) if you do not appear for any accommodation, service, sightseeing or trip segment, or (5) if you leave your trip after it has begun, or miss any scheduled sightseeing, activities, meals or accommodations
  5. TRANSFERABILITY: The trip is entirely transferable should situations arise that you would have someone else travel in your place.  There may be relatively modest transfer fees associated with the re-assignation of the commercial flights in the region and other such costs. Please inform us as soon as possible of any such changes and preferably no later than 3 months prior to departure, which would keep transfer costs down. 

Insurance

For your safety and general protection, we require that all guests have emergency medical insurance. We strongly recommend that you obtain the following types of insurance, which are commercially available:              

  • Loss of personal effects
  • Trip cancellation / interruption

All of our guests are automatically covered by our complementary US$200,000 emergency medical evacuation insurance for the duration of the 14 day itinerary.   

Proof of emergency medical insurance to be submitted before your invoice balance is due.  
CNH Tours does not sell travel insurance.

 

COVID / FORCE MAJEURE

Testing / vaccination requirements may be in effect for this trip.  CNH Tours cannot guarantee what kinds of national entry requirements will be in place when you embark on the trip.  We strongly recommend that you be prepared to be tested at your expense for border crossings, and that you get vaccinated to reduce the chances of any problems.  CNH Tours cannot be held liable for any disruptions to the trip due to COVID-related problems, or for any other such force majeure situations.  Should the trip be disrupted or need to be cancelled, CNH Tours will do all it can to ensure your investments is protected, but cannot make any guarantees.  We recommend you acquire appropriate travel insurance that reflects your degree of risk tolerance.  

Carbon Neutral

CNH Tours purchases carbon offsets on your behalf, making your in-country travel carbon neutral. We purchase them via The Gold Standard's platform.  For more info, see:  https://marketplace.goldstandard.org/collections/projects.   For more information on carbon offsets, see our guide here.  

Upon booking, you will receive a document with the terms and conditions for your trip.  Should there be any discrepancy between that document and this page, the document will have priority.