Explore the contrasting lands of southern Africa

Experience the extremes of southern Africa's landscapes on this journey from the thunderous Victoria Falls to cosmopolitan Cape Town. Travel down lush waterways in the enigmatic Okavango Delta, cruise past elephants and birds on the Chobe River, climb giant sand dunes in Namibia, camp to the sounds of Africa's wildlife and spot big cats, rhinos, zebras and antelopes on Etosha National Park's arid plains. Visit the people who make their homes here, from cheerful delta mokoro polers to the fascinating San Bushmen. Get ready for this unforgettable tour through a land of contrasts.

Start
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Finish
Cape Town, South Africa
Countries
Botswana,
Namibia,
South Africa,
Zimbabwe
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
YXOF
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 22
Carbon offset
1 104kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Scramble to the top of Sesriem, one of the world's highest sand dunes
  • Visit the incredible seal colonies of Cape Cross near Spitzkoppe
  • Spot exotic wildlife on a full-day game drive through Etosha National Park
  • Learn about the hunter-gatherer traditions of the San Bushmen outside of Grootfontein
  • Glide down Botswana's Okavango Delta on a mokoro
  • Hear the roar of the mighty Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side

Itinerary

Mhoro! Welcome to Zimbabwe. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4pm. 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 you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early 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. Those who arrive early can choose from many optional activities and sights to see around Victoria Falls. Upgraded accommodation is available – please ask at reception or speak to your leader. WiFi is also available.

Notes: 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, which opposes the exploitation of 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 you pay for the activity goes towards lion research, we believe the negative impacts on the lions' rehabilitation far outweigh this. You may also hear about the Devil's Pool. Intrepid does not recommend this activity due to the high risk involved. Our leaders cannot assist in organising this activity.
Visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. This staggering curtain of water is about a mile wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 metres and the falls become an impressive raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see little islets in the river below. Today your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. Perhaps take a scenic helicopter flight over the falls for an incredible bird's-eye view of it all. Tonight you'll enjoy a final dinner with your fellow travellers. Your camp has WiFi, flush toilets and showers. Upgrades are availabile (subject to availability).

Notes: We have not risk assessed all activities offered, and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. If you are unsure about any, check with your leader. 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 Intrepid's Responsible Travel ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles. If you are interested in the optional helicopter flight (12 minutes or 25 minutes), choose Zambezi Helicopter Company (CAA Zimbabwe), who we endorse exclusively. 
This morning is free for you to continue enjoying all that Victoria Falls has to offer. Afterwards, travel to Chobe National Park in Botswana (approximately 2–3 hours). Take an optional cruise down the Chobe River – one of the best ways to enjoy the park's animals. Botswana's first national park is famous for its high concentration of elephants, so keep an eye out for them. They can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. Your camp, located outside of the park, has flush toilets, showers, WiFi, ATM and optional upgrades.
Enjoy an early-morning game drive. Adventuring through the park, you will have the opportunity to get up close to the wildlife. With some luck you will spot a variety of beasts and any number of exotic birds. As well as the Chobe icon, the elephant, the river also attracts hippos and crocodiles; the latter like to sun themselves by the water's edge. Cheetahs also come down for a drink. The birdwatching is excellent here too – look out for eagles, kingfishers and marabou storks, among hundreds of other species.
Today you will enter Namibia, driving from Kasane to Ngoma Bridge, and on to your camp at Bagani (approximately 7 hours). Bagani is a small, friendly town with some good hiking trails along the river. There are also plenty of nice spots in which you can simply relax and soak up the ambience. This area is the homestead of the local Mbukushu kings. You will have the opportunity to stop at an ATM and a market or shop today. Your camp has flush toilets, showers and WiFi. Upgrades are also available (subject to availability).
Drive across the border into Botswana and head south along the Okavango Panhandle (the narrowest part of the delta) to Seronga. Here you'll leave your vehicle and join your transport for the journey into the delta (approximately 4 hours). Take a boat across the swamps to Gao Island to meet your mokoro team and start exploring the Okavango Delta with them. Each mokoro (small dugout canoe) takes two people and is poled along through the waterways by a local tribesman. Reeds and lily pads line the streams, and birds startled by the mokoros rise out of the long grasses. Punting along, you'll hear hippos occasionally piercing the peaceful atmosphere with their grunts. On the first night here you'll camp on an island well away from civilisation.
Continue your trip around the delta and then return to Gao Island before heading to the relative civilisation of Umvuvu Camp. This camp usually has hot showers, and there's a small bar at which you can relax and perhaps enjoy a refreshing sundowner. Today there is an option to take a nature walk with your guide. This is a great chance to discover the beautiful natural surrounds, gain some insight into the history of the local area and take some photos.
Return to Bagani to camp for the night. Various boat trips, fishing trips and guided hikes are possible from Bagani, so if you're feeling active, get out and make the most of it. Those who are feeling bold might even be able to challenge the local kids to a soccer match – don't expect to win though! Retire to your camp in the evening and enjoy this welcome break from the road.
Drive to your camp outside Grootfontein for the night (approximately 7 hours). The town of Grootfontein, part of the Otavi Triangle, tends to get very green in the warmer months but dries out markedly in the winter. If it's springtime, you'll likely see jacarandas in bloom. There is the possibility of an accommodation upgrade here, but WiFi will not be available. 
Embark on a 180-kilometre round-trip to visit the San Bushmen. You will go out walking with some of the tribe, listening to their stories and songs. You'll soon discover that they communicate in a unique and fascinating clicking language. The Bushmen are the oldest ethnic group in Namibia, having inhabited Southern Africa for an estimated 20,000 years. Around 30,000 of them live in Namibia, but only 2,000 of them still follow a traditional way of life. The San have a deep understanding of nature and ecology, living in harmony with their environment.
Travel to Etosha National Park (approximately 5 hours). Enjoy a game drive here in the evening. The park is home to a wide range of Southern Africa's wildlife, including all the big carnivores and five rare or endangered species: black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. Game viewing in Etosha is relatively easy due to the man-made waterholes and the large, sparsely vegetated pans. The bushland surrounding the pans is difficult to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to usually allow for some sightings. You will spend the night at Namutoni. Accommodation upgrades are on offer here.
Enjoy a full-day game drive in Etosha National Park. Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, which means significant numbers of elephants, antelope and other herbivores reside here. The park is also home to some 340 species of birds – keep an eye to the sky where you might spot a soaring eagle. Tonight you will stay at the particularly spectacular Okaukuejo Camp. The camp overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night. Upgrades are not available at this location tonight.
Travel to the mountain of Spitzkoppe, the 'Matterhorn of Namibia' (approximately 9 hours). The wild lands around this superb granite peak are some of Namibia's most stunning. The mountain itself is 700 million years old and 1,987 metres high. Although you shouldn't try to climb to the top, there are some excellent hikes to do in the area, which is rich in plant life and has some bush paintings to be found. Be sure to look out for the sunset from your bush camp this evening – the landscape is known to take on dazzling oranges and reds.
Continue to the town of Swakopmund (approximately 5–6 hours). Be dazzled by the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while you're travelling up the eerie Atlantic Coast. At some stage today there will be access to an ATM and market or shop if you need some supplies. Your accommodation for these nights is a simple, cosy lodge. WiFi is not available at this location.
Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an example of the extraordinary German culture that's found in all major settlements in Namibia. It's worth wandering around town to admire the beauty of the Germanic architecture and take advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping.
Today is another free day to enjoy this fun beachside town. If you're after a dose of history and culture, you can stop in at the lighthouse and visit the Swakopmund Museum. Active types and thrill-seekers might like to take advantage of the many outdoor activities on offer – this town is the adventure-sports mecca of Namibia.

Notes: It's important to check with your leader if you are unsure about the safety of any of these optional activities, as some may not be recommended by Intrepid.
Drive to Sesriem, your base for exploring the incredible Namib Desert region (approximately 6–7 hours). The most famous part of the Namib Desert is its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon was formed when the Tsauchab River carved a gorge 30 metres into the gravel deposits about 15 million years ago. Now the river flows out to the dune fields that stretch for hundreds of miles up the coast, and dries up in a clay pan at Sossusvlei. The dunes are stunning, with magnificent burning tones created by the brightly coloured sands. These are the highest dunes in the world.
Wake up before dawn and scramble to the top of the dunes for a dramatic sunrise view across a vast sea of sand. The colour changes are simply incredible and provide a spectacular setting for your brunch. Afterwards you will jump in the back of a pickup truck for a trip to Sossusvlei, the incredible salt and clay pan just nearby (approximately 30 minutes each way). Enjoy some time to explore this incredible and mysterious desert oddity. Later, continue to the small town of Bethanie (approximately 6 hours), arriving in the afternoon. Your camp has basic facilities, with showers, flush toilets, WiFi and optional upgrades.
Heading further south, deeper into the vast desert lands of Namibia, drive towards Fish River Canyon (approximately 3–4 hours). At 500 metres deep and over 160 kilometres long, Fish River Canyon is one of the very largest canyons in the world. During the dry season, the river bed tends to dry out completely, leaving only a few puddles. In the wet season, after the summer rains, the river can turn into a spectacular raging torrent. At any time of year there are remarkable photographic opportunities here. Note that upgrades and WiFi are not available at your camp tonight.
Departing Fish River Canyon, travel to Noordoewer (approximately 5 hours). Pitch your tent on the scenic banks of the Gariep (Orange) River. Traditionally known as the Gariep River, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa, at 2,200 kilometres. Its source is high up in the Drakensberg mountain range in Lesotho, and it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay in South Africa. The Orange River is responsible for transporting diamonds and creating the deposits that can be found along the Namibian coast. Upgrades are possible tonight (subject to availability), though there is no WiFi available. 
Depart first thing in the morning, heading to Klawer – a town named after the Afrikaans word for a wild clover blooming after rainfall. The surrounding countryside is beautiful. If there's time, you will have the opportunity to explore some of it – take a delightful walk around the nearby mountains and farms before retiring for the evening.
Head to Cape Town (approximately 5 hours), where you trip ends. With its stunning coastline, modern cityscape, nearby mountains and a plethora of nearby vineyards, this is one of Africa's most exciting cities. There's no accommodation provided for tonight, but this can be arranged – please enquire at the time of booking this trip.

Notes: It's important not to book any outgoing international flights for earlier than 7 pm, to allow for possible delays.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
19 breakfasts, 18 lunches, 17 dinners
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Mokoro, Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (16 nights), Cabin (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Visit Victoria Falls
  • Chobe - Dawn game drive
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro trips & bushwalks
  • Nature Walk
  • San Bushman cultural experience
  • Full Day Game Drive
  • Cape Cross seal colony
  • Village Visit - Swakopmund ( Township tour)
  • Sossusvlei 4x4 Tour
  • Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
  • Fish River Canyon

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. This trip finishes upon arrival at our finish point hotel in Cape Town on Day 22. Please do not book any flights until after 7pm 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 Vic Falls to Cape Town trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 116 reviews in the last year.

Vic Falls to Cape Town , June 2016

Vic Falls to Cape Town , May 2016