Uncover the natural beauty of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe

Discover the allure of southern Africa as you roam from the golden plains of the world-famous Kruger National Park and the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls to the watery wonderland of the Okavango Delta and the teeming game parks of Botswana. Whether it's spotting the Big Five, relaxing by dreamy lagoons, experiencing tribal village life or cavorting near raging waterfalls, this adventure tour will fill your memories with the wonders of the African south.

Start
Johannesburg, South Africa
Finish
Johannesburg, South Africa
Countries
Botswana,
South Africa,
Zimbabwe
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
UBOQC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
871kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Stay two nights at Victoria Falls – enough time for just a glimpse of everything this amazing destination offers.
  • Get your paddles out and navigate a mokoro through the Okavango Delta.
  • Try and spot the famous elephants of Chobe National Park swimming in the river – which boast the largest concentration of African elephants in the world.
  • Track rhinoceros’s on foot with a local expert guide in Matabos National Park - an exhilarating way to experience the wildlife of Zimbabwe.
  • Immerse yourself in the culture and way of life of the Hananwa people. You will enjoy a cultural dinner cooked by the locals while listening to your hosts tell stories of this fascinating community.
  • Camp under an Africa sky within Kruger National Park. You can’t get much closer to nature than that!

Itinerary

Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Johannesburg is a sprawling city of remarkable contrasts. In the townships, mansions stand alongside tin shacks and there are as many green parks on the outskirts of the city as there are conglomerations of concrete in the centre. This is a good place to spend a couple of days to get an insight into South Africa's history, and it's a great base for exploring the rest of the country.
Please make sure that if you explore Johannesburg on your own that you get local advice as to where it is safe to walk, especially in the evening. The level of crime here is higher than what you are probably used to, and the risk can be minimised by getting local advice.
Leaving South Africa behind, cross the border into Botswana and travel toward the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (600 km, approx 8-10 hrs).
Situated on the edge of the vast Kalahari Desert, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a result of local efforts to convert a former hunting area into a conservation project. Built to protect Botswana's only remaining populations of both black and white rhinos, the sanctuary is also home to other wildlife including zebras, giraffes, leopards, ostriches and wildebeest, which have all moved in and can be seen around the many natural waterholes. Visiting this project benefits local communities, as well as contributing to the protection of the highly endangered white rhinoceros.
Head out on a dusk game drive to see the rhinos when they are at their most active before returning to camp. At camp there will be the option to upgrade to a room for an additional cost (subject to availability).
Our destination today is Maun (550 km, approx 8-9 hrs).
Maun is the gateway to one of the world's most renowned and complex ecosystems, the Okavango Delta. Here there will be an opportunity to stock up on any supplies needed for the journey.
Formed by the Okavango River as it flows from the highlands of Angola down to a basin on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is unlike anything else in the world. The river has no outlet from the desert and spreads out into thousands of small streams to form a wilderness that is totally unspoilt. The 16,000 sq km maze of wetlands is a wonderland of clear meandering waterways, green islands, lush plains and prolific wildlife. The delta is filled with a diversity of flora and fauna that includes hippos, crocodiles, elephants and the big cats. However, it's not for the game that we come as it can't always be found. The delta is about exploring one of the world's most fascinating ecosystems.
Camp on the outskirts of town at a simple campsite with shared facilities.
The camp has the option to upgrade and access to WiFi.
Traverse the waterways by mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe navigated by friendly local 'polers'. With luck, you might spot some of the delta's unusual wildlife and prolific birdlife. Spend time exploring the maze of lagoons, lakes and streams on foot, led by experienced and knowledgeable guides.

Camp on a remote island in the heart of the wilderness. Dig a bush toilet and go without a shower, it's all part of the Okavango experience. At night, the sounds of the African bush are the only things you will hear - a true wilderness experience!

Wake up early the following morning and venture out on a sunrise walk hoping to catch a glimpse of some elephants and Cape buffalo. Returning to camp for breakfast, take the rest of the day to relax, take a swim or test your poling skills before heading out for an afternoon walk or perhaps another mokoro trip - the choice is yours.
Wake up early and venture out on a sunrise walk hoping to catch a glimpse of some elephants and Cape buffalo. Returning to camp for breakfast, take the rest of the day to relax, take a swim or test your poling skills before heading out for an afternoon walk or perhaps another mokoro trip - the choice is yours.
After taking down our camp, take the mokoro back to the poling station before transferring back to Maun (60 km, approx 2-3 hrs).
Visit a local rural village for an insight into life in the Okavango Delta.
Camp on the outskirts of town at a simple campsite with shared facilities.
Once again upgrades and WiFi access are available.
Up early this morning we hit the road for Nata. (Approximately 305kms, 6-7 hours drive).
Nata is a small town located close to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans - some of the largest salt flats in the world, covering around 12,000 sq km.
This afternoon you have the opportunity to explore the pans in open vehicles.

Surrounded by the Kalahari Desert the pans are naturally dry and salty for a large part of the year. During this time the arid landscape has an eerie feel to it as heat mirages disorientate the senses. However they are seasonally covered with water and grass and as soon as the rains hit become a refuge for migratory birds and animals.
Our campsite tonight is situated on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans which makes up one of the largest salt pans in the world covering some 12,000sq km.

Facilities include a restaurant, swimming pool, gift shop, ATM, bar/lounge area and upgrades possible.
Hit the road bound for Chobe National Park ( 315km, approx 6-7hrs ).
Botswana's first national park, Chobe, is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants, which can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts wallowing hippos, a variety of birdlife, crocodiles sunning themselves by the water's edge, and cheetahs and lions which come down to drink.
Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Chobe River, a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
The camp tonight has WiFi access, upgrades possible and is close to a supermarket.
Travel on to Victoria Falls (Approximately 100kms, 2-3 hours). Cross the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi.
Visit the magnificent Victoria Falls.
The Victoria Falls are an enormous curtain of water, about a mile wide, falling 108 m into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 m and the falls are an impressive raging torrent. The spray from the falls can sometimes be seen from kilometres away. It's no wonder that the local name Mosi oa Tunya means the 'smoke that thunders'. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and it's possible to see little islets in the river below.
The Victoria Falls campsite has an ATM on site, WiFi available and upgrades possible.
Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. If you are unsure please check with your leader.
Please note that it is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles.
Today is a free day. There are many activities and sights to do and see around Victoria Falls.
If you are interested in the Optional Helicopter flight ( 12 minutes or 25 minutes ) we endorse the following operator only: Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe. Your leader can help you arrange this activity.
Responsible Travel Note:
During your visit to the Victoria Falls area you may notice businesses offering an optional 'Walk with the Lions' experience. We recommend that Intrepid travellers bypass this activity as it is contrary to Intrepid's Responsible Travel guideline stating that we 'actively discourage the participation of Intrepid groups in activities which exploit animals - wild or domestic.' Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including Born Free and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that habituating lions to humans can shorten their life and may result in lion-human conflict issues. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards lion research, we feel that the negative impacts on the lions' rehabilitation far outweigh this.

Safety Note:
While at Victoria Falls you may hear about Devils Pool. Intrepid does not recommend this activity due to the high risk involved. Our leaders cannot assist in organising this activity.
Leave Vic Falls behind and head to Hwange National Park. (Approximately 230kms, 5-6 hours depending on traffic).
Hwange National Park became the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a national park in 1929. Today, Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the park's elephant population is one of the largest in Africa.
Explore the park in open 4x4 vehicles.
WiFi access and lodge upgrades are possible at the camp (subject to availability.
This morning we make tracks for Matobos. (Approximately 375kms, 7-8 hours drive)
Make a short detour through the town of Bulawayo, before heading to our camp for the next 2 nights.
Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city and has a very interesting historical past.
In Bulawayo, stay in a campground with shared facilities - upgrades and WiFi access are available.
Home to a large population of black and white rhinoceros that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matopos area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place.
We leave Bulawayo this morning to the Matobo Hills to view the Bushman Paintings, rock formations and scenery in the National Park during the morning. We then leave the National Park and enter the African Villages where we meet some of the local community and visit an African Village.

After a cold lunch we enter the Game park section of the National Park where we track Rhino on foot with our guides. Here there is also the opportunity to spot other game and learn about the different flora.
Cross the border into Botswana and head for Palapye (Approx 6-7 hours depending on the border crossing).
Our campsite tonight is at a cosy campsite in Palapye and only a short drive from town.
Facilities include an evening restaurant, swimming pool, bar/lounge area and upgrades possible.
Up bright and early we have a long drive ahead as we make tracks for Blouberg (approx. 280km, 6-7 hrs ).
We should arrive at our camp late this afternoon.

The camp is situated in South Africa’s Limpopo Province and offers a unique cultural experience. Located at the base of the mountain, where no roads exist due to its rugged and inaccessible nature, it is home for a small community of the Hananwa people who still lead a very traditional lifestyle. There is also the opportunity for an upgrade if required.
On arrival stretch your legs for a short walk with a local guide. Following paths along the base of the Blouberg Mountains, hear stories of a fascinating community, some of whom still follow ancient traditions. The first stop is at a deserted Lutheran missionary village (Bochum) where you will get an understanding of the cross-cultural dynamics of the area.

Proceed to local village taverns (called shebeens) where locals will provide an evening meal, giving you an opportunity to discover traditional meals like mazie and watermelon (Thopi), chicken-based stews (Malana) and a green vegetable called marogo. Take the opportunity to try the traditionally brewed beer.

Please note that this experience offers limited options for vegetarians. Ask your leader about organising an alternative.
This morning we make our way towards the Kruger National Park (365 km, approx 8-9hrs). On route you will have the opportunity to stop at a shop/market for any required camping supplies.
One of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa, Kruger National Park is home to over 500 bird species, 100 species of reptile and 150 mammal species, including the Big Five and the endangered African wild dog.
Our wildlife experience begins as soon as we enter the park. We head straight into prime game viewing areas where we hope to catch a glimpse of some of the amazing animals found here.
Our campground within the park has shared facilities, hot and cold water, and upgrades possible (subject to availability).
Rise early and have a light breakfast of coffee and rusks before embarking on a full day game drive in the truck. Most of the day will be spent game viewing, bird watching and stopping at various waterholes and viewpoints.

Take an additional optional night drive with the park guide to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two.
Transfer back to Johannesburg (600 km, approx 9-10 hrs). There's plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. Take in amazing views at the viewpoint over the awesome Blyde River Canyon and view the Three Rondavels.
This trip finishes on arrival in Johannesburg at our finish point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Johannesburg. Please ask at time of booking.

Please don't book any international flights until after 10pm this evening.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners
Transport
Overland vehicle, 4x4
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (11 nights), Camping (with shared facilities) (3 nights), Hotel (1 night)
Included activities
  • Khama Rhino Sanctuary - Game drive
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro trips & bushwalks
  • Maun - Local village visit
  • Nata Pan Trip
  • Chobe River Cruise
  • Victoria Falls
  • Hwange National Park - Game drive
  • Matobo National Park - Guided walking safari
  • African Ivory Route - Cultural Dinner
  • Kruger Park - Game drive
  • Transport

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. This is a combination trip made up of 2 shorter trips. This means the composition of your group may change in Victoria Falls as some group members leave and new ones join you.
3. This trip finishes upon arrival in Johannesburg on Day 18. Please do not book any flights until after 10pm this evening.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Explore Southern Africa trips score an average of 4.76 out of 5 based on 41 reviews in the last year.

Explore Southern Africa , April 2016

Explore Southern Africa , April 2016

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