Botswana & Victoria Falls High School Expedition

Thanks to innovative and intensive conservation efforts, Botswana is recognized as a global leader in wildlife protection and has offered a safe haven for African megafauna seeking refuge from human development and illegal poaching. Get an inside perspective on modern-day conservation challenges while working in the field alongside top researchers, including our own National Geographic grantees.

June 23 - July 7, 2019
July 21 - August 4, 2019
Airfare is not included. We have arranged group flights from New York to Victoria Falls and return from Maun.

Trip Highlights

  • Work alongside researchers at Elephants for Africa to document herd behavior in the salt pans of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
  • Set out on safari in the Okavango Delta with a National Geographic wildlife conservationist to seek out big cats, giraffes, African wild dogs, and much more.
  • Learn wildlife photography skills, including portraiture and camera trapping, and take photos with an eye to inspiring conservation efforts.
  • Hear from researchers with National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project about their work to preserve and protect Botswana’s unique watery wilderness.

Itinerary | 15 days

Days 1-4

Begin your adventure in Zimbabwe with a visit to spectacular Victoria Falls, known locally as the “smoke that thunders” and considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Victoria Falls’ mile-wide curtain of water is nearly twice the width of Niagara Falls and plunges more than 350 feet into a narrow chasm, creating clouds of mist that sparkle in the sunlight. Get to know your trip leaders and fellow group members while exploring the nature paths that wind through lush forests overlooking these majestic cascades. Photograph the falls from the bridge that spans the border with Zambia, then discuss human-wildlife cohabitation as you walk through corridors specially designed for elephant passage.

View Images

Days 5-9

Cross the border into Botswana and head to Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, a reserve harboring the largest network of salt pans on Earth, as well as zebras, wildebeests, elephants, and an array of other intriguing creatures. Camp at a research base just outside the park and spend a week working alongside conservationists with Elephants for Africa, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the vulnerable African elephant through research and education.

Pull Quote
Exploring the Okavango Delta was definitely the highlight of my trip. I gained lifelong friends; as well as everlasting respect for an interest in wildlife conservation.
Carmen Isidora L., Student Traveler, 2018

Meet the founders of Cameras for Conservation, and learn photography techniques for documenting elephant behavior and ecology, then create a digital photobook of the park’s resident herds. With the help of camera traps and satellite imagery, track elephant movement in the area, and learn how migration patterns are changing in response to human encroachment, habitat destruction, and climate change. Interview local community members to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of human-elephant conflict, and work alongside local teens to brainstorm new strategies for wildlife conservation in the region.

Day 10-15

Travel north to Botswana’s most iconic landscape, the Okavango Delta. A far-reaching network of inland lagoons and floodplains that is home to some of the world’s most endangered megafauna, including cheetahs, white and black rhinos, and African wild dogs. Settle into camp and meet your local ba’Yei guide, a member of National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project who grew up in the delta and has intimate knowledge of this vast and remote landscape. Learn about the program’s efforts to collect data on the delta’s source waters, which are vital to the health of the region and the roughly one million people who source their water from the Okavango; and hear about collaborations with local stakeholders to develop conservation strategies for these important rivers.

Over the next several days, set out on safari across the floodplains alongside your National Geographic expert and explore the delta’s dynamic ecosystem, teeming with big cats, roaming giraffes, and wading buffalo. As you seek out incredible wildlife, document the intricacy of this habitat with your camera and learn wilderness skills from your knowledgeable guide. Conclude the program in the city of Maun, where we’ll present our On Assignment projects to the group and celebrate our journey across southern Africa.

Our high school expeditions are for students in grades 9-12, and offer opportunities to get out into the field and discover fascinating destinations across the globe through the lens of an On Assignment project. Each expedition offers a choice of two or three areas of focus, such as photography, geology, or wildlife conservation. Students travel alongside a team of highly-qualified trip leaders—college graduates with extensive experience in the field, who love working with students. A National Geographic expert joins for a portion of the trip (four to eight days) to share their insights, and inspire students with their passion for the work they do and the places they will discover. The group size ranges between 14 and 28 participants, and the student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.
In Victoria Falls and Maun, we stay in simple guesthouses. In Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and the Okavango Delta, we stay in tented safari camps.

Adjany Costa, Conservationist & Ichthyologist

Meet Our Experts

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Adjany Costa is a conservationist, ichthyologist, and assistant director for National Geographic's Okavango Wilderness Project—an initiative to survey and record the extraordinary biodiversity of the Okavango Delta. Adjany has participated in six different expeditions in the Okavango River Basin, studying the system's freshwater fish. She hopes that her work will support the creation of a marine protected area along the southwest coast of Angola, adjoining the Skeleton Coast in Namibia. Adjany will join the June 23 departure of the Botswana and Victoria Falls expedition.

Koketso Mookodi, Conservation Educator

Conservation educator Koketso Mookodi grew up and studied in Gaborone—Botswana's capital—and then moved to the Okavango Delta to pursue her passion for wildlife. She earned a degree in tourism management, and began educating and empowering the local communities of the Okavango Delta. Koketso is committed to bringing knowledge and self-esteem to the people of the Okavango, and helps equip them to make conscious decisions regarding wildlife and the environment that they share. She is also the Botswana director for the Wild Bird Trust. Koketso will join the July 21 departure of the Botswana and Victoria Falls expedition.

On Assignment Projects

Document your experience with Botswana’s resident megafauna in photographs. Create a photobook distinguishing individuals of an elephant herd, learn about the science of wildlife photography while experimenting with camera traps and satellite imagery, or work alongside local youth competing in Botswana’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. There is a supplemental fee of $150 for this On Assignment project.
Dive into local, national, and international projects aimed at protecting Africa’s wildlife, working alongside National Geographic grantees and leading conservationists to evaluate the threats to Botswana’s diverse species. Deepen your knowledge of human-elephant conflict, learn about collar-tracking, and meet up with local teens to brainstorm novel strategies for protecting wildlife.