As our bush flight prepared to land in the Linyanti Concession we could see huge herds of elephants deep in the Linyanti swamps. The sight was dizzying as it seemed to be an innumerable amount of elephants. It took us by surprise, but the remote concession in Northern Botswana that borders Chobe National Park is known for its huge herds of elephant.
Our first stop was at African Bush Camps’ Linyanti Ebony Camp situated on the banks of the Linyanti Channel. The private concession gave us the promise of exclusivity in one of the most fabulous places to go on safari.
It’s tough to think of a better place for a safari than African Bush Camp’s private concession located in the greater region known as Linyanti, located between the Greater Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. It all plays into an ecosystem that is interlinked as the Linyanti Channel.
Over the years this extremely remote region of Botswana has grown in popularity for the access to wildlife it provides. We’d heard that it was a magical region to go on safari, and it truly was.
African wild dogs have always been a favorite animal of ours and for good reason. Close to our camp at Linyanti was a pack of eight that gave us plenty of entertainment. After spotting them one evening our expert guides, Dutch and 007, set us up to find the pack the next morning. Which we managed to find in no time while on the hunt.
The first glimpse came as an impala darted through the bush. Not far behind, the dogs, came flying through the bush in pursuit. They yipped, howled, and barked in excitement as Africa’s most successful hunters coordinated their pursuit.
It all ended in failure with the dogs resting in the shade until the absent Alpha male charged through the bush announcing he’d made a kill, another short chase through the bush lead to their meal. We spent three hours that morning with the dogs hunting, eating, resting, and socializing. Welcome to the Linyanti Concession.
After that exciting morning and with temperatures creeping up over 40C we needed to relax and there is no better way to relax in this region than a mokoro ride.
The traditional mokoro has long been the means of transportation for the tribes that called the flood plains of Northern Botswana home. Now made in traditional fiberglass, these mokoros used resemble their traditional wood dugout style. They are operated by a poler, who has years of experience navigating these channels on mokoro.
With elephants on the horizon, we slipped in and out of reed channels while listening to our polers share their secrets of Botswana floodplains. Of course, no day would be complete without sundowners after our mokoro ride.
To recap it all night finished off with a delicious meal and South African wine along with our fellow safari guests — one of our favorite traditions on safari. Days in Linyanti can be exciting or relaxed as you’d like because seclusion and exclusivity are some of the area’s greatest strengths along with fantastic animal density.
The fortunate few that get to visit this special part of Botswana are also spoilt for choice with safari activities such as game drives, bush walks, mokoro rides, night drives, nature walks, bird watching, and a scenic helicopter flight. Guests are more or less guaranteed to have an incredible safari with African Bush Camps in Linyanti.
Much of this stems from their hospitality which goes above and beyond. The members of staff were friendly, helpful, and ready to make sure all of our needs were attended. Most importantly are the guides who you will spend a lot of time with. We had two of their finest guides with us during our time in Linyanti, Dutch and James (nicknamed 007).
They weren’t just good guides, but probably our favorites of all time (and we’ve been on A LOT of safaris). An inherent ability to judge animals and their expert knowledge made them wonder how they could predict their movements and gave us confidence on foot. Most importantly we had a genuinely good time with them cracking jokes and underneath was their strong passion for the job at hand.
Best Time to Visit Linyanti/Northern Botswana
Spotting wildlife in Linyanti, like most safari regions in Africa, is best in the dry season. The dry season in Botswana and Linyanti is at its peak from late May to September, the winter. The season makes it easy to spot animals in the bush as they concentrate around sources of water. Water is a precious resource in Northern Bostwana and large herds of buffalo, elephants, and zebra migrate to the Linyanti channel for a source of water.
October to December is the green season which coincides with the beginning of summer. Temperatures during this time begin to rise and regularly reach over 40° Celcius or 100° Fahrenheit. Rains begin to fall in October and by December most wildlife disperses into the Chobe National Park as water pans fill and nutrient-rich hardwood tree flourishes for elephants.
The increased foliage provides greater camouflage. There is a brief shoulder season after the rains stop between April and May before the peak season arrives in June. If you plan to travel to Northern Botswana in the high season plan in advance as most camps will be fully booked.
The Linyanti Landscape
The Linyanti region sits in the heart of the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area or KAZA, a protected international wildlife corridor that is a joint legal initiative between Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and Angola. Linyanti itself is not an official park or reserve but refers more to a region. This is a wildlife region with a number of private concessions that sit around the Linyanti Channel and Swamp which is the outflow of the Okavango Delta.
The landscape of Linyanti consists of riverine woodland along the Linyanti Channel, surrounding lagoons, and bodies of water. The landscape varies greatly where there is water, as you’ll now find open grasslands, swamp, and forest. Outside of the channel, there is the dry woodland that inhabits much of the Kalahari Sands. It’s a prime habitat for the elephants when they have vegetation, but in the dry season, the animals push into the swamp and channel.
The wildlife viewing in Linyanti is incredible and we had some of our best wildlife viewing experiences while on safari. There is a large number of elephants, lions, hippos, wild dogs, buffalo, and red lechwe. It’s also a prime habitat for the rare sable and roan antelope, but we never saw them during our few days there on safari. Other animals to be found include kudu, zebra, waterbuck, impala, baboons, crocodiles, and plenty of hippos.
What stood out for us were the elephant and predators interactions that you don’t find everywhere. African wild dogs are some of the most incredible safari animals to see in the wild and Linyanti is famous for its wild dog packs.
African Bush Camps have three camps on their Linyanti concession, Linyanti Bush Camp, Linyanti Ebony, and a mobile camp Linyanti Expeditions. Linyanti Ebony is their smallest camp with just four tents. Three of them are twin-tents that sleep two and one more spacious unit that is perfect for families. The family tent has a lounge area, two en-suite bedrooms, a self-contained lounge area, and a roll-top bath in one bathroom.
It is possible to book Linyanti Ebony exclusively for groups with a minimum of 8 people. Our group had the entire camp to ourselves which gave a very relaxed feel in between activities.
The camp is situated on a series of stilted decks and tents that allow for commanding views of the Linyanti Channel and floodplain from the flood banks. In the dry season, the animals move to the plains and channel in search of water so we had constant animal sightings from the tents that included elephants, buffalo, zebra, and hyenas.
The main lodge is a small footprint with a lounge, a fire pit, a bar, and a table. It’s a classic safari camp setup with a number of African decor elements scattered throughout and everything you could need to be comfortable including a plunge pool.
Personal tents all include a desk, hot water, flush toilets, and a deck to enjoy the views. For a wilderness area far from the vestiges of civilization they offer amazing luxuries, that make you wonder how the camp manages to pull it all off.
The atmosphere of the large canvas tents allows for the sounds of the bush to enter. At night predators roam and you frequently wake to lions roaring, hyenas calling, or a leopard growling. This is Botswana at its best and the romance of a small camp is spellbinding.
Linyanti Ebony Camp Rates
We really appreciate the openness of African Bush with a clear explanation of rates for booking their camps on their website. Unlike many safari companies in the region, they accept direct bookings and can help you plan the safari of your dreams. Find the rates below for Linyanti Ebony in 2020.
- Jan / Feb / Mar / Dec
- USD 609 per person per night
- Child (7-15): USD 305
- Apr / May / Nov
- USD 720 per person per night
- Child (7-15): USD 360
- Jun / Jul / Aug / Sep / Oct
- USD 990 per person per night*
- *Single supplement of USD 220 applies
- Child (7-15): USD 495
Typical Day on Safari in Linyanti
- 05h30 – Wake up call
- 06h00 – Light bush breakfast
- 06h30 – Depart on morning activity. We recommend doing walking safaris in the morning as after about 9:00 temperatures will get too hot to walk.
- 09h00 — Bush Coffee
- 11h30 – Return from morning activity and get ready for lunch.
- 12:30 – Siesta time! Now is the perfect time to relax, read a book, or jump in the pool
- 15h30 – Afternoon tea and coffee
- 16h00 – Head out on afternoon activity. Usually accompanied with sundowner drinks
- 19h00 – Return from afternoon activity and relax with drinks before dinner.
- 20h00 – Dinner time!
- 22h00 – Sleep! It’s been a long day on safari
General Info for Traveling in Botswana
Visas to Botswana
There is no visa needed for most nationalities. A visa for up to 90 days is offered on arrival for free. Your passport must be valid for six months and contain at least two blank pages.
Cash in Botswana
Having enough USD before you enter is sure to make life easier most camps operate on USD and the staff along with guides will happily accept USD as a tip. Pula is the national currency in Botswana. However, the word “Pula” literally means “rain” in Setswana. Botswana receives very little rainfall so the word pula is actually a phrase of delight. If you hear people screaming or chanting pula it means something great has happened! It also brings new meaning to the phrase “making it rain.”
People in Botswana
The people of Botswana are not known as “Botswanans,” but instead they are Batswana or Motswana (singular). In case you were wondering the Batswana are friendly and accommodating people with a great pride for their country.
Want To Know More About Botswana?
We drove around Botswana and love the people and the country. Read more about travel in Botswana!
Book A Safari in Botswana
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They made suggestions for camps and lodges then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. With experts on staff, they can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details much like a travel agent.
What to Pack For Botswana?
There are a few things that one should pack for an African Safari. We help you create your safari packing list and share some of our favorite safari products.
Overland Tour in Africa
Traveling Africa on your own can be daunting to many travelers. However, there is no need to fear with overland tour companies who will show the ropes and a great time. You can check out some of them here to compare the different companies and possibly score a discount.
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Africa so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere. The tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, but a water purifier, like the Grayl waterbottle, works well!
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm.
For more professional photographs we use our Fuji XT-3, and LOVE IT.
I used this a lot in the on my Ruaha safari. Early mornings in the park can be pretty chilly so it helps break the cold. Once the sun comes out temperatures climb and things get very dusty. So, I use the shemagh to cover my face and electronics.
If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Africa then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Africa.
I cannot stress a good pair of shoes enough because if you land anywhere outside of South Africa a quality pair of hiking shoes will be hard to come by. If you plan to walk around a lot get thick rubber soled shoes as acacia thorns are prone to stab through thin shoes. Cameron learned the hard way one day when he pulled a thorn out of his foot that went straight through his thin rubber sandals.
Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).
We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is they’re useful beyond Africa as they are a travel staple and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.
I like two pairs, one pair is made by prAna and rolls into capris and the other are convertible pants. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Zion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price.
I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in Africa. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding in the mountains. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Africa. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
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