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    The Desert, the Savannah, the Delta

    The Desert, the Savannah, the Delta

    Namibia e Botswana

    • Periodo Ottimale: 16 Agosto - 1 Settembre 2020
    • Giorni: 16
    • Zona di interesse: Namibia e Botswana
    • Costo: € 5190,00
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    Wildlife viewing trip dedicated to the exploration of the most representative animals and spectacular habitats of South –western Africa, under the expert guidance of a Biosfera Itinerari team Biologist.

    • Etosha – the arid savanna, rhinos, sprinkboks and large predators
    • The Namib – the most fascinating dunes of the Planet, the gemsbok and the fauna of the desert
    • The Okawango Delta, among the most thrilling and unusual ecosystems on Earth – the Lechwe and the fauna of wet habitats, hippos, lions and elephants
    • Moremi and Khwai – Roan and Black antelopes, the African wild dog; one of the richest area in terms of biodiversity

    ClimateBiogeographic ProvinceBiodiversity

    The coastal area is almost totally rainless, yet its air is almost always at or near the saturation point. The cold Benguela Current flows northward along the coast, chilling the air above it and thus producing fog. This cool air moves inland as a southwest sea breeze, creating a temperature inversion about 1,000 feet (300 metres) thick, with fog below and hot, dry air above. At the coast there is little difference in temperature between day and night or between winter and summer. Temperatures are usually between (10 and 16 °C). Along the inland margins, summer temperatures normally reach the low 30s° C.

    Etosha National Park has a savanna desert climate. The annual mean average temperature is 26 °C. In winter, the mean low temperatures are in the 6 °C neighborhood, and in summer they can exceed 45 °C. There is a big daily thermal amplitude, and saisonière.

    The Delta’s profuse greenery is not the result of a wet climate; rather, it is an oasis in an arid country. The average annual rainfall is 450mm and most of it falls between December and March in the form of heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures are as high as 40 °C during the hot and wet months (December to February), 30 °C from March to May.

    The Namib Desert ecoregion extends along the coastal plain of western Namibia, from the Uniab River in the north to the town of Luderitz in the south. It extends inland from the Atlantic Coastline to the foot of the Namib Escarpment, a distance of between 80 and 200 km. The vast and old desert (dated from around 55 million years ago) is characterized by its sparse and highly unpredictable annual rainfall. That’s because the easterly trade winds emerging over the Indian Ocean lose most of their humidity when rising over the eastern escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, lose further moisture and reach the western escarpment of Namibia warm and dry on their way over the continent. These air masses move down onto the low-lying Namib and produce extremely hot and dry winds. In addition, the prevailing local southwesterly winds, cooled down by the Benguela current along the west coast of South Africa, produce an inland movement of cold air, which is overlain by the warmer, lighter air. This inversion prevents the convectional rise of the cool, humid air and thus no clouds are formed. The cool air does, however, regularly form a stable layer of fog, which is blown inland as far as 50 km. This coastal fog is the life-blood in the Namib and is an important factor contributing to the remarkably high diversity of animal life in this extremely arid environment.

    Etosha’s drainage system, which straddles the border of Angola and Namibia, includes the ephemeral shallow streams, inter-linked water courses locally known as oshanas (grass covered temporary water channels) and pans (circular shaped depression temporarily holding water, often endorheic) of the Cuvelai River. The main source of water to Etosha Pan is from the Cuvelai drainage system. The landscape in the Etosha ecoregion consists of saline desert with dwarf savanna fringe around the Etosha Pan. Within the savanna fringe is a mosaic of grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands. The Etosha Pan is a salt pan, lying on a basement of impermeable limestone that has been eroded away by wind to form a depression into which floodwater flows and then evaporates, leaving salt deposits. Clay pans in the area are much smaller depressions in sandy areas that are permeable to water, and the soils are rich in nutrients.

    The Okavango Delta is a very large (6.000-8.000 km²), swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. To the north the ecoregion is composed of mopane woodlands and scrub woodlands, while to the south by undifferentiated woodland and scrub woodland.

    Namib: The region, isolated between the ocean and the escarpment, is considered to be a constant island of aridity surrounded by a sea of climatic change. The lengthy dry period has had a profound influence on the region’s biodiversity. The region has remained a relatively stable center for the evolution of desert species, and has resulted in a unique array of biodiversity with high levels of endemism and numerous advanced adaptations to arid conditions. In the animals the high species richness and endemism is made up largely of reptiles. There are almost 70 reptile species in the ecoregion, of which more than 25 are considered endemic to the ecoregion. Several endemic reptiles, including two desert lizards, the wedge-snouted sand lizard (Meroles cuneirostris) and the small-scaled sand lizard (M. micropholidotus), the barking gecko (Ptenopus kochi) and the day gecko (Rhoptropus bradfieldi) are unusual in that they all dive beneath the sand to escape danger. Among endemisms, some small rodents (Gerbillurus tytonis and Bathyergus janetta), moles ((Eremitalpa granti) and bats (Laephotis namibensis and Myotis seabrai). Mammals include gemsbok (Oryx gazella) and springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) and the rare Hartmann’s zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae). The predators of the Namib Desert are cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), brown hyenas (Hyaena brunnea) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), Cape foxes (Vulpes chama) and bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis). Lions, elephants, black rhinos, white rhinos, giraffes and hippos were all shot out by colonial settlers. The desert does not have a very high level of avian richness, with only 180 species recorded to date. This is due to the extremely arid terrain and a lack of rivers, with even ephemeral rivers absent in the southern part. Six birds are considered endemic to the Namib Desert: the dune lark (Certhilauda erythrochalamys), Benguela long-billed lark (C. benguelensis), Gray’s lark (Ammomanes grayi), bank cormorant (Phalacrocorax neglectus), tractrac chat (Cercomela tractrac), and Rüppell’s korhaan (Eupodotis rueppellii). The dune lark is strictly endemic to this ecoregion while the gray’s lark, Rüppell’s korhaan, and C. benguelensis are found only in this ecoregion and the Kaokoveld Desert ecoregion.

    Etosha: This ecoregion is one of the most important areas for vertebrate diversity in southern Africa, particularly for mammals. While the severe environment conditions of the Pan allow a very specialized fauna to survive (some crustacea, the ostrich, some ground squirrels and the endemic Etosha agama (Agama etoshae), dams on pan’s borders (especially in the southern sector of the region) favour large congregations of ungulates. Among these: zebra (Equus burchelli), wildebeest (Connocheatus taurinus), springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis), elephant (Loxodonta africana), giraffe (Giraffa camelopardus), black rhino (Diceros bicornis), gemsbok (Oryx gazella), eland (Taurotragus oryx), kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), steenbok (Raphicerus campestris), Damara dik dik (Madoqua kirki), and black-faced impala (Aepyceros melampus petersi). Lions, leopards, cheetah, spotted and brown hyena are among the main predators. The bird checklist is astonishing, with more than 340 species recorded.

    Okavango: the Okavango Delta represents one of the most diverse region in southern Africa. The number of identified species is 1,300 for plants, 71 for fish, 33 for amphibians, 64 for reptiles, 444 for birds, and 122 for mammals. The local occurrence of different species of these taxonomic groups in the Okavango Delta is mainly due to a hydrological gradient from permanent streams and swamps to seasonal floodplains, riparian woodlands, and dry woodlands. The typical South African mammal assemblage is represented. Some highlights include the sable antelope (Hippotragus niger), the Lechwe (Kobus leche), the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) and the Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spelei). The endangered African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) has a stronghold here.

    Detailed Program
    • Day 1: International flight to Windhoek. Brief visit of the town, and briefing of the expedition. Overnight stay at hotel.
    • Day 2: Departing from Windhoek you will be crossing the spectacular Spreetshoogte Pass on your way to the gates of
      Sossusvlei. Upon arrival you can spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the view of the surrounding areas.Rest of your afternoon can be spent at leisure. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 3: Exploration of Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon. The spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 325 metres, the highest in the world.The Dead Pan is a large ghostly expanse of dried white Clay, punctuated by Skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees,about 600 years old. The dunes of the Namib Desert have developed over a period of many millions of years. The incredible fauna adapted to the severe desert habitat. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 4: Depart after breakfast and drive via Solitaire, Gaub Pass and Walvis Bay to Swakopmund. Overnight stay at hotel.
    • Day 5: Leaving this coastal town and drive via Usakos to the vast regions of the Erongo Mountains, most probably the most pristine area in Africa. Nature Drive and visit to the Rock engravings. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 6: Drive via Omaruru and Outjo to the Etosha National Park. Afternoon safari for exploring the incredible wildlife of the Etosha Park. Accommodation at lodge inside the park, which gives the opportunity to experience Etosha’s nightlife at the floodlit waterhole.
    • Day 7: Full day safari in Etosha National Park. In its centre lies a vast saltpan surrounded by grass and thorn savannah, Mopane bushland in the west and dry forest in the north-east. About two million years ago, this area was an enormous lake, fed by the Kunene. River. However, the lake slowly dried up because over time, the river changed its course. Today the pan is a shallow
      depression and has an approximate size of 5,000 km². Of the 114 mammal’s species found in the park, several are
      rare and endangered, such as the black Rhino and cheetah.
    • Day 8: Transfer and safari into the eastern side of the park. Here the dense stands of Mopane forests support a
      large variety of antelopes and predators such as leopards, while it offers a variety of migratory as well as nonmigratory
      bird species safe cover and nesting sites. In the late afternoon, exit the park through the eastern gate. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 9: Travel via Tsumeb and Otjiwarongo to the Okonjima Plains area. Safari en-route. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 10: Transfer to the incredible Kalahari Desert, a vast sandveld region which extends over central and western Botswana into eastern Namibia and the Northern Cape. Safari en-route. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 11: Set off via Windhoek and cross the border onto Maun. Safari en-route in one of the most spectacular game reserve of the whole austral Africa. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 12-13: Two full days exploring Khwai, Moremi and Savuti areas. The exceptional location of Khwai makes it a regular host to elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs. This the perfect location for observing the perennial drama of the African Bushveld. Activities at the lodge include morning and afternoon game drives, in our own concession, and into Moremi or Savuti, never forgetting our drives along the Khwai River.
    • Day 14-15: Two full days for the mobile camp experience within the Moremi area, for a more direct contact with the african wilderness.
    • Day 16: Drive back to Maun and international flight to Italy.

    The trip will be led and accompanied by one Biosfera Itinerari expert biologist guide who will be responsible of logistics, activities and tour guidance.

    The price includes:
    • Mineral water while on safari
    • All land transfers with private vehicle
    • Toyota Landcruiser 4×4 or Toyota Long Base fully equipped for safari
    • Driver and guidance from a Biosfera Itinerari Biologist
    • All taxes imposed by government authorities and Park entry fees
    • Double bedroom lodge accommodation full board
    • All excursions as in the Detailed Itinerary and Program
    • A comprehensive travel insurance
    Not included:
    • International flight and airport taxes
    • Cost of  Procedure Management (30 euro)
    • Visas
    • All meals while on Windhoek and Maun
    • Facultative scenic flight above the Okawango Delta on the last day
    • Cancelling insurance (facultative)
    • Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
    • Voluntary activities and service tips, and in general everything not mentioned in section “The price includes”
    Price
    € 5190,00 The travel package price can vary in case of change of the currency exchange rate.

    Disclaimer 1: Please note this is an indicative and standard itinerary. Dates, activities and the succession and length of each part of the itinerary may change each year, and can be rearranged with the participants. Upon request by the participants, we will send the definitive and detailed programme to be evaluated at least some weeks prior to the confirmation deadline.

    Disclaimer 2: We will generally honor the posted prices, but these are subject to change at any time due to action or decisions made by local authorities. In such situations, and in the hope that will not happen, we will send all the ministries official communications to all participants, free from ambiguity and in total transparency. We reserve the right to correct the final price to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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