At a Glance
Dates: August 3rd - August 11th, 2023
Extension: We offer a two-night extension to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Prices: £3,450 pp sharing (with a £1,300 single supplement), excluding flights.
In a sentence: The magic of tracking is truly brought to life in this stunning landscape, a rare chance to experience Botswana on foot.
For many, tracking is something of a mystery. It is something many clients witness guides do during the course of a safari, yet even the basics of tracking and trailing wildlife can seem scarily complex to many safari-goers. Have you ever wanted to learn the basics of this ancient skill, and gain a deeper understanding of the bushveld and the stories it tells? If so, then this trip is certainly for you.
This trip takes in the stunning landscapes of the Tuli Game Reserve, in the far south-east corner of Botswana. "Tuli" translates as "dust" in the local language, and this entire area is coated in fine dust, making it an incredible area in which to track and trail the region's wildlife. Flanked by Zimbabwe and South Africa, this area holds significant cross-boundary populations of charismatic wildlife including Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Bush Elephant and much more.
Tuli is a rarity in Botswana, in that it is divided into a number of private concessions. We will stay at Tuli Wilderness, a remote and little-visited area owned by tracker extraordinaire Stuart Quinn. Stuart has a wealth of experience on foot in this area, and his ability to translate the tracks left behind by local wildlife is second to none. The wildlife here does not exist in the densities found in the north of Botswana, but with patience and perseverance we may get lucky and track our quarry down, with our key targets being Leopard, Lion and Cheetah. We will stay in the remote and rustic Mohave Camp, an excellent base situated in one of the areas with the densest populations of Leopard in all of Botswana.
We will also spend time in the world-famous Mashatu Game Reserve, which offers exceptional game-viewing. An excellent area for African Wild Dog and even Caracal, this will provide a sure-fire fix for all wildlife enthusiasts. We will be able to enjoy game drives and the use of specialist photographic hides during our stay.
Our optional two-night extension takes us north to Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Despite re-introduction programmes in the north of the country, this sanctuary remains the best place in Botswana to see both White Rhino and Black Rhino. We will have the opportunity to track these animals on foot, as well as search for the sanctuary's rarer wildlife on game drives and night drives.
On arrival into Polokwane, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and transferred the 2.5 hours north to the Pont Drift border post. Here, we will go through border formalities, before continuing for a further one hour through the Tuli Game Reserve to Tuli Wilderness. As we drive, be sure to keep an eye out for South African Giraffe, as their range does not extend north to Tuli Wilderness.
On arrival in Tuli Wilderness, we will be met by the excellent team here, including management couple Stuart and Julie Quinn. After introductions, we will make the very short drive to Serolo Camp on the banks of the Limpopo River. This beautifully appointed camp is situated in gorgeous gallery forest, and we will have an opportunity to settle in during the early afternoon.
As evening sets in, we will have our first game drive, focussed on the riverine forest. Our home for the next few days is set well away from the Limpopo, so this is a great opportunity to soak in this atmospheric area. Tuli's famously grumpy Bush Elephants may grace us with their presence, and it is not uncommon to stumble across African Wild Cat, Spot-Necked Otter and much more during drives in this area. There is even an excellent spot for Pel's Fishing Owl, a birding treat, near camp. On our return to camp, we will be treated to an evening meal before retiring to our comfortable tents. Be sure to keep an ear open, Leopards are heard from camp most nights.
This morning we will again have an opportunity to explore the forests around Serolo Camp, before we will transfer the hour or so's drive to Mohave Camp. Mohave is extremely well-situated, with previous visitors seeing Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Wild Cat, Cape Porcupine and Civet all from camp! The camp itself is remote and rustic, comprised of one main dining area and three simple huts, each accommodating two people. Hot showers and flush toilets are available.
Once the heat of the day fades, we will head out in a vehicle to locate some fresh tracks and begin our first trail of our trip. Stuart and his team are sensational trackers, and will be able to impart much of their knowledge to the group. We will begin to learn how to identify species by the spoor they leave behind, understand how they were moving through a particular area and do our best to locate the wildlife responsible for the tracks. If lucky, we may come across Lion, Leopard or even Cheetah tracks - if we do, we will be sure to do all we can to track the animals down for a high-octane on-foot experience.
Following our first tracking session, we will return to camp for a home-cooked meal, before setting out once more, this time for a night drive. It will be very chilly, so wear lots of layers! Night drives in Tuli can be truly extraordinary, although luck and persistence is always necessary. Previous visitors have located mating Leopards, Cheetah cubs, Brown Hyena pups, Honey Badger, Cape Porcupine, Bat-Eared Fox and African Wild Cat, so truly anything is possible.
Days Three to Five
The next three days in Mohave will be devoted to tracking and trailing the area's iconic wildlife. Our movements for each day are flexible and determined by what the group wants to see, or what wildlife has moved through the area. The reserve is completely unfenced so we could find evidence of a wide range of species - African Wild Dogs even come through the reserve from as far afield as Hwange NP in Zimbabwe!
Morning and evening are the best times to track, but we can intersperse tracking sessions with game drives if desired. We highly recommend a walk up Eagle Rock, home to booming populations of Leopard, Lion and Hyrax, as well as a breeding pair of Black Eagles. The panoramic view from the top of Eagle Rock is quite something and well worth a visit. We also recommend night drives each night after dinner - these can be bitterly cold, especially if you're in the tracking seat at the front of the vehicle, but can be hugely rewarding.
A final morning's tracking is in order today, before we must sadly say goodbye to Tuli Wilderness and make the two-hour drive to Mashatu. Our accommodation here will be Mashatu Tented Camp, a beautiful and sophisticated camp which retains its wilderness feel.
Once settled in, a game drive to explore our new surrounds is a great idea. African Wild Dogs are a real possibility here, and the Leopard population is doing very well indeed. The highlight of an evening game drive, however, is the chance to encounter Caracal and other rare nocturnal wildlife as darkness sets in - we will do our very best to find these special cats in Mashatu.
Days Seven to Eight
We will have two full days to experience all that Mashatu has to offer. Morning and evening game drives are available, and we strongly recommend taking the opportunity to visit a photographic hide at least once. These hides are situated at well-visited waterholes, at water level. This unique perspective allows for incredible photographic opportunities, particularly of the reserve's beautiful Bush Elephants. There is also the opportunity to enjoy walking safaris, or horse-riding safaris, during our stay.
The group will have the opportunity for a brief morning drive today. Those returning to Polokwane will then be transferred the three hours or so back to the airport.
For those heading to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, we will make the five-hour trip, aiming to arrive mid-afternoon. This will give us the opportunity for both an evening game drive and night drive to familiarise ourselves with this small fenced reserve. The sanctuary was created to preserve Botswana's fragile population of Black Rhino and White Rhino, and is the only place in Botswana where sightings of both species are reliable. Our accommodation will be in the sanctuary itself, where very basic rooms are available.
Day Ten (Extension)
We have a full day to explore Khama Rhino Sanctuary today. During the morning, we will track Black and White Rhino on foot and, if lucky, we may have excellent photo opportunities of both species.
Black Rhino can be challenging to find in the sanctuary, so we may devote our final evening and night tracking down this elusive creature from the game vehicle.
Day Eleven (Extension)
We will depart early this morning for our seven hour transfer to Polokwane, from where we will take our homeward flights. Should you wish to spend an additional night in Polokwane, we are happy to arrange this for an additional fee.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in August 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources, and when tracking is at its very finest. The tour will run from August 3rd to August 11th with the extension ending on August 14th.
The cost of this trip is £3,450 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. We regret that a single supplement of £1,300 must be levied for the trip as a whole. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,400 plus any single supplement must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Polokwane at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter South Africa or Botswana. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your departure from South Africa and has at least two blank pages. You may also need to provide documentation confirming you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in the Botswana in August is pleasant and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 24 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 7 degrees Celsius, although it will feel much colder than this during night drives - be sure to pack warm clothes.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing South African Rand.
Safety and Security
There are currently no security concerns in the areas visited by this trip.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.