In our view, this is a contender for best walking-focussed safari in the Okavango owing to its excellent setting, its genuine bush-camp atmosphere, and its friendly, dedicated camp team headed by a personable, very guest-focussed Matswana guide. Emphasis is placed on flexibility and as the camp only accommodates 6 guests, activities can be planned consensually – the main focus is walking, but mekoro are also available, and there’s a single vehicle which is useful for taking you off to other walk start points, or for very discretely dropping off a small table of drinks at strategic sundowner spots. The standard format is 3 nights but our recommendation is to go for a 4-night sequence if possible.
Footsteps across the delta highlights
- Genuine semi-permanent bush camp in a beautiful setting
- Very good walking country, with excellent wildlife
- High quality guiding and friendly, dedicated camp staff
- A flexible, intimate, small group experience
- Groups stay together for the full walking safari itinerary
- Excellent fresh food, deep mattresses, and extra-large bucket showers
- Laid back atmosphere backed up with attention to detail and thoughtful hosting
Footsteps IN DETAIL
Footsteps camp is located on the northern side of the Shinde Private Concession of the Okavango Delta (Concession NG21), which shares a long border with the northern flank of the Moremi Game Reserve. It benefits from proximity to perennial water channels in the heart of the Okavango Delta whilst at the same time offering access to extensive walking terrain.
Two camp positions are used and these are rotated every two years to minimise environmental impact; the Four Rivers site is a delightful, spacious position beneath tall leadwood trees, with tents facing south-west over a permanent lagoon. Behind the camp lies particularly good walking territory with large, open spaces containing water pans, interspersed by lines of tall trees and thicket. The Sycamore site is similarly good – it has direct access to shallow channels suitable for mekoro use, which are driven to when staying at Four Rivers.
Both camps take over an hour to reach from Shinde Airstrip, which in turn is a 30-minute light aircraft transfer from Maun – the journey involves crossing flood plains by vehicle, with a mokoro transfer in the middle. This is very much a wilderness location and you certainly feel cut off here.
The camp is naturally rustic, but there are lots of little spoils that set this apart from run of the mill bush camping safaris. For starters, the three large Meru-style guest tents feature very comfy, deep mattresses, dhurries spread over the groundsheet to give a homely feel, fresh linen (how do they get it SO white?), long-drop loos plumbed into the ground (no unsightly holes), extra-large bucket showers (hot water on demand) featuring spacious canvas surround, slatted wooden floor, and a canvas shower-tidy with biodegradable soap and shampoo – colourful African kikois are provided so that you can look chic and discreet as you move between tent and shower, not that anyone will see you of course!
Footsteps is a semi-permanent bush camp, so there are no wooden decks here, nor personal plunge pools, but that would be missing the point entirely. Lighting is minimal, with solar powered paraffin-style lanterns in the tents, and sandy pathways around the camp atmospherically marked with solar jar lanterns hung on sticks.
Just before dawn, a gentle “knock! knock!” signals the call to another exciting African day, this accompanied by the “splosh! splosh!” of hot water filling the canvas washstand outside your tent. Once dressed, a full breakfast awaits you in the mess tent to set you up nicely for the day’s activity. There is no prescribed, mechanical format, but activities revolve around walking, the raison d’etre for coming here. Morning walks typically last until late morning (depending upon what you encounter, and heat), at which point you return for a decent lunch and possibly a shower. A siesta, either in your tent, or in a hammock, is an essential part of the safari ritual necessitated by early starts. You will then be revived by tea ready for your afternoon activity lasting until sundown. As is always the way in the bush, a fire is lit on a small clearing of sand, and storytelling, laughter and reflection can begin, taking you through to dinner and that all-important comfy mattress.
You’ll have the opportunity to experience a variety of habits during the course of your walking safari at Footsteps, either walking along the edges of deep-water channels, swamps and lagoons, where you’ll find stands of papyrus and reeds, and groves of waterberry and fig trees, viewing a wide variety of water birds and hippos, and animals venturing out to drink, or exploring away from the channels, across sandy, grassy plains, and past ancient former tree islands.
Other than walking, mokoro trips are is possible from the Sycamore camp position, which can be accessed easily from Four Rivers by vehicle when staying at the latter (the lagoon at Four Rivers is too deep for mekoro and this poses a hippo threat). A vehicle is always on hand, which gives you flexibility to walk in areas further afield and to ferry you back to camp at dusk – it’s great to be able to end your walk at a strategic sundowner spot away from camp and find that a small table with drinks and nibbles has miraculously appeared in the middle of the bush – of course, the vehicle has brought it there, with no or minimal noise, and then retreated so as not to spoil the sense of wilderness that you are enjoying on foot. As dusk draws in, you’ll then be picked up and taken safely back to camp. Game drives are also possible should you want them, but we recommend that you combine Footsteps, where the focus is on walking, with visits to other camps where game drives and/or water-based excursions are the main activities.
Footsteps Across the Delta walking safaris run between 1st March and 30th November, although we recommend going after mid-April to minimise the risk of rainfall. From May through to August is when the floodwaters typically fill the swamps and floodplains, although walking areas are still extensive here. It becomes drier and hotter as you progress towards November, which marks the end of the dry season.
How to join this safari
Walking safaris at Footsteps Across the Delta follow a fixed departure format and usually last for 4 days and 3 nights, although an additional night can be added if you are the first to sign up. To join a safari, simply contact us with your preferred dates. If the camp is free, we will then create a departure for you (min 2 persons) and it will then be opened up for others to join, up to a maximum of 6 persons. Alternatively, if a safari is already running over that period, we will advise the exact dates and whether there are spaces available for you. Guests joining a safari departure start and end at the same time. This is a good thing as it can be disruptive and feel discontinuous when others join or leave a safari halfway through.