Discover Africa’s rich and fertile waterways, worthy of World Heritage

See southern Africa's iconic waterfalls, rivers and inland canals on this ten-day Lonely Planet Experience – an overland journey highlighting the magic of Mother Nature. Canoe down the lush waterways of the Okavango Delta, watch hippos wallowing along the shores of the Chobe River, be mesmerised by the mirage of Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and marvel at the crashing white water of Victoria Falls. Pack a camera and an eye for adventure because these lush pockets of wilderness will reward you with incredible animal encounters, awesome photography opportunities and memories to last a lifetime.


Start
Johannesburg, South Africa
Finish
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Destinations
Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Overland, Wildlife
Code
UBOO
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 22

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Support local conservation efforts by visiting the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, the only place left in Botswana where both black and white rhinos reside.

  • Go wildlife-spotting with your small group and expert guides along the river at Chobe National Park, home to the world's highest concentration of African elephants.

  • Camping on a remote island in the heart of the Okavango wilderness is an experience you’ll never forget. As the sun sets and night falls, the sounds of Africa come alive.

  • Explore the magnificent Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, some of the largest salt flats in the world. These mind-bending plains make for some magical photography.

  • Your first glimpse of the thundering Victoria Falls is undeniably captivating. With additional time for optional adventures, you’ll get to view the waterfalls from all angles!

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is an overland trip. That means you’ll be travelling with a group in a purpose-built vehicle, visiting remote communities, setting up your own tent, occasionally roughing it in the bush with no facilities, and getting the best possible views of the Big Five. While the trucks don’t have air conditioning, they do have sliding windows which let in the breeze and make it even easier to take spectacular snaps of the local wildlife. The drive days can be long, but this tour is as much about the journey as the destination. For more information on this style of travel, see Intrepid’s Africa overland page at www.intrepidtravel.com/africa/overland.

  • Camping out in the Okavango wilderness means digging a bush toilet and going without a shower. For most travellers this will be a small price to pay for time spent in such a beautiful and remote island location.

  • As the early bird catches the worm, so the early camper sights the animals. There will be many early starts either to make better use of the safari time or to beat the morning traffic on long travel days. The thrill of spotting your first lion or rhino is well worth any loss of sleep.

Itinerary

Sawubona – welcome to South Africa! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, get out and explore Johannesburg; the country’s largest city. Perhaps visit the cultural hotspots of Newtown, Braamfontein or Maboneng. Otherwise, the sobering Apartheid Museum is well worth your time. After your important meeting this evening, why not head out for an optional group dinner and get to know your newfound travel crew – your local leader will point you in the right direction with bar and restaurant recommendations.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Please ensure that if you choose to explore Johannesburg on your own that you take local advice and consult your group leader as to where it is safe to walk, especially at night.
Leaving South Africa behind, cross the border into Botswana and travel towards the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (approximately 8–10 hours). Situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary has drastically changed from a former hunting area to 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, all of which can be seen grazing the many waterholes. Visiting this project benefits local communities and directly contributes to protecting the endangered white rhinoceros. Later on, head out on a dusk game drive to see the rhinos when they are most active.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Khama Rhino Sanctuary - Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
At tonight’s camp, there may be the option to upgrade to a room for an additional cost (subject to availability).
Jump aboard your vehicle and head to Maun (approximately 8–9 hours). Here there will be an opportunity to stock up on any supplies you might need for your adventure ahead. Maun is the gateway to one of the world's most complex ecosystems, the Okavango Delta. This place is unlike anything in the world – a 16,000 square kilometre maze of lush wetlands and waterways teeming with wildlife. You might see hippos, crocodiles, elephants and big cats, but it's the animals aren’t the only drawcard here – the waterscapes and shimmering horizons will have you gazing for days.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight, you'll stay on the outskirts of Maun at a simple campsite with shared facilities, wi-fi and optional upgrades.
Get right in the action today, jumping aboard a traditional mokoro – a dugout canoe steered by friendly local 'polers' – for an Okavango waterways experience. With some luck, you could spot some of the delta's unusual wildlife and exotic birdlife. Spend some time today exploring the maze of lagoons, lakes and streams on foot too, led by experienced local guides. Tonight, you’ll camp on a remote island right in the heart of the wilderness, falling asleep to the humming and buzzing of the African heartlands.
Accommodation
  • Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
In this far-out camping location, facilities are almost non-existent, so be ready to dig a bush toilet and go without a shower. This is the African wild in all its glory!
Wake up early and head out on a sunrise walk. Along the way, keep watch for elephants, and if the timing is right, you might also come across some Cape buffalo! These noble-looking beasts are more dangerous than they look, and their horns double as a kind of bone shield that's fittingly known as a 'boss'. Returning to camp for breakfast, you’ve got the rest of the day to relax. A refreshing swim, or perhaps a nap, could be on the cards – both good ideas in the warmer part of the day. Alternatively, take another mokoro trip to soak up that serene river atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Okavango Delta - Sunrise Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After taking down your camp, return to the ‘poler’ station by mokoro, before continuing your Lonely Planet Experience to Maun by vehicle (approximately 2–3 hours). Today you'll visit a rural village and interact with some of the locals, providing insight into daily life along the Okavango Delta. The waterways are the lifeblood of so many in this area, so learn more from locals about how important these fertile lands are. Tonight, settle in at camp on the outskirts of town.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro safari
Optional Activities
  • Okavango Delta - Plane Scenic Flight - From USD75 - USD390
  • Okavango Delta - Helicopter Scenic Flight - From USD150 - USD450
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight you will stay in a simple campsite which has shared facilities. Wi-fi and optional upgrades are available.

During the Okavango Delta dry season, you may not be able to visit a rural village, as your night campsite may be different.

The scenic flight prices are dependent on the number of passengers in the plane or helicopter. See your group leader for more details.
Get up early and hit the road for Nata (approximately 6–7 hours). This small town is situated near the stunning Makgadikgadi Salt Pans which are some of the largest on earth, covering around 12,000 square kilometres. This afternoon, take the opportunity to explore the salt pans in an open vehicle. They are naturally dry and salty for a large part of the year, and during this time, the arid landscape has an eerie feel to it as the shimmering mirages disorientate the senses. At other times they take on a layer of grass and, as soon as the rains hit, become a refuge for migratory birds and animals.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nata - Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your campsite tonight is situated on the edge of the pans. It has a restaurant, swimming pool, gift shop, ATM and bar/lounge area. Upgrades are also available (subject to availability).
Hit the road to Chobe National Park (approximately 6–7 hours). Botswana's first national park 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 coming down to drink. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Chobe – an ideal way to spend the afternoon and toast to another day in Africa.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chobe National Park - River Cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your camp tonight has wi-fi available and optional upgrades (subject to availability). It's also close to a supermarket, so you can stock up on supplies while you're here.
Why not wake up early and see Chobe National Park from a different perspective, booking yourself in on an optional morning game drive. Afterwards, travel on to Victoria Falls (approximately 2–3 hours), crossing the border into Zimbabwe just in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi River. Then it's free time to experience the sights and sounds of the mighty falls. This thundering curtain of water is about 1.7 kilometres wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise an incredible 400 metres as the falls become a raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see the little islets in the river below.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls Entrance Fee - USD30
  • Chobe National Park - Open Safari Vehicle Morning Game Drive - BWP410
  • Victoria Falls - Sunset Cruise - USD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Your campsite tonight has wi-fi, an ATM and optional upgrades.

The Victoria Falls entrance fee is not included in the price of the trip as it is mandatory for tour groups with pre-purchased tickets to have a local escort. We feel that seeing these waterfalls for the first time should be an uninterrupted experience.

Your leader may take you to a local activity centre. Intrepid has not risk-assessed all activities and only those listed in Optional Activities are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of anything that has not been risk-assessed or does not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities.

We also ask travellers to avoid the Walk with the Lions experience as it is contrary to our Responsible Travel policy. While wildlife viewing is a big part of many itineraries, we strive to view animals in their natural habitats and with the greatest level of respect.
Your Okavango Experience ends after breakfast and there are no further activities planned. If you’re staying longer in Victoria Falls and are feeling adventurous, you might like to try whitewater rafting, canoeing and flying fox rides. For an incredible scenic helicopter flight, choose Zambezi Helicopter Company (CAA Zimbabwe), the only Intrepid-endorsed operator. Your leader can help you arrange this.
Optional Activities
  • Victoria Falls - Whitewater rafting (full day) - USD130
  • Victoria Falls - Helicopter flight (25 mins) - USD299
  • Victoria Falls - Village & township tour - USD61
  • Victoria Falls - Helicopter flight (12 mins) - USD165
  • Victoria Falls - Whitewater rafting (half day) - USD130
  • Victoria Falls - Gorge swing - USD103
  • Victoria Falls - Flying fox - USD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
While at Victoria Falls you may hear about Devil’s Pool. Intrepid does not recommend the activity here due to the high risk involved. Our leaders cannot assist in organising this activity, as it is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of anything that has not been risk-assessed or does not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle, Open safari vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (6 nights), Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nights), Hotel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Khama Rhino Sanctuary - Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro safari
  • Okavango Delta - Sunrise Walk
  • Nata - Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
  • Chobe National Park - River Cruise

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is available on all nights of this trip, subject to availability.

Essential trip information

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