Safari in three epic game parks from Zimbabwe to South Africa

This Lonely Planet Experience takes you through three of southern Africa’s most phenomenal game-viewing sites in search of the world’s most spectacular wildlife – Hwange National Park, Kruger National Park and Matobo National Park. Spend nine days in search of the Big Five (that’s lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo) and more on this journey through South Africa and Zimbabwe. Plus you’ll enjoy time in a traditional village in the Limpopo province and visit South Africa's modern capital – all the while uncovering Africa's incredible and diverse natural beauty. Join Intrepid and Lonely Planet on an adventure into the wild.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Finish
Johannesburg, South Africa
Destinations
South Africa, Zimbabwe
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Overland, Wildlife
Code
YBOP
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

  • Visit the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and anti-poaching efforts.

  • Pay the elephants and lions of Hwange National Park a visit in an open-air safari vehicle, stopping along the way for the perfect wildlife photographs.

  • Track rhinos on foot with an expert local guide in Matobo National Park – an exhilarating way to experience the wildlife of Zimbabwe.

  • Immerse yourself in the ancient culture of the Venda people at a two-night village homestay in South Africa's Limpopo province.

  • Marvel at the unforgettable views of Blyde River Canyon. This spectacular gorge is up there with the world's largest and is probably the greenest of the lot.

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 (unless you’re on an Original or Comfort style trip), occasionally roughing it in the bush with no facilities, and getting the best possible views of the Big Five. For more info on this style of travel, see our Africa overland page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/africa/overland

  • The African wild comes alive at sunrise, so there will be some early starts on this trip. The thrill of spotting your first lion or rhino will be well worth any loss of sleep!

  • Please note that this trip can be partnered with other adventures to make a combination trip, which means that some of your fellow travellers may have begun their journey before today. If you’d like to spend more time in Africa, have a look at the ‘combos’ that include this trip’s itinerary, such as Explore Southern Africa.

Itinerary

Mhoro! Welcome to Zimbabwe and the mighty Victoria Falls. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important briefing. If you arrive early, why not check out some of the optional activities around Vic Falls. The Zimbabwe side of the falls offers the broadest view of this colossal natural wonder, and the scenic helicopter flights are incredible – if you opt for one, choose Zambezi Helicopter Company (CAA Zimbabwe), the only operator Intrepid endorses.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Victoria Falls - Canoe trail (full day) - USD185
  • Victoria Falls - Flying fox - USD50
  • Victoria Falls - Gorge swing - USD103
  • Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls entrance - USD35
  • Victoria Falls - Helicopter flight (25 mins) - USD299
  • Victoria Falls - Helicopter flight (12 mins) - USD165
  • Victoria Falls - Village & township tour - USD61
  • Victoria Falls - Whitewater rafting (full day) - USD130
  • Victoria Falls - Whitewater rafting (half day) - USD130
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.

You may notice businesses offering an optional Walk with the Lions experience. We ask all Intrepid travellers to avoid this activity as it is contrary to our Responsible Travel policy. While wildlife viewing is a big part of many of our itineraries, we strive to only view animals in their natural habitats and to do so with the greatest level of respect. The lion walking industry directly contributes to the captive breeding and canned hunting of lions.

While at Victoria Falls you may hear about Devils Pool. Intrepid does not recommend the activity here due to the high risk involved. Our leaders cannot assist in organising this activity.
Leave Victoria Falls behind and head to Hwange National Park (approximately 5 hours, depending on traffic) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust – one of the projects The Intrepid Foundation supports. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and the Trust’s role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care. At Hwange National Park, you will explore this stunning wildlife arena in an open 4WD vehicle. It 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 – here you'll find one of the largest elephant populations in Africa.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hwange National Park - Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
  • Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
At tonight's camp, there is wi-fi as well as optional accommodation upgrades (subject to availability). Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent or your leader for more information.
Leave Hwange in your dust as you make tracks for Matobo National Park (approximately 5 hours). Shortly after leaving Hwange, stop at the Painted Dog Conservation Centre. The loss of quality habitat and poaching are driving the painted dog (also known as African wild dog) towards extinction. Learn about how they protect and increase the range and numbers of painted dogs in Zimbabwe and the Hwange ecosystem as a whole. Then it's on to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. Take a stroll through the streets lined with old colonial buildings and stop in at a local cafe or restaurant for lunch before heading to your camp for the next two nights. Home to a large population of black and white rhinoceroses 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 Matobo 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.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hwange - Painted Dog Conservation visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your campground tonight has shared facilities, wi-fi access and optional upgrades (subject to availability). Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent or your leader for more information.
This morning, have a unique experience tracking rhinos on foot with the help of your guides. Here there will be the chance to spot other game – the park is home to klipspringers, leopards, warthogs and springhares, among others. You can also learn about the various local plants and trees, including wild pear and paperbark, while discovering San paintings and the intriguing rock formations of the park. After a cold lunch, venture to a nearby village and meet some of the local people.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Matobo National Park - Rhino Tracking, Open Safari Vehicle Park Visit & San Rock Paintings
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Get up nice and early for a day of travel. You'll cross a very busy border post, the only direct border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The drive is about 400 kilometres (approximately 6–8 hours). Your destination today is Makushu – a small village in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Upon arrival in Makushu, you will be met by a local village guide, who will ensure you are well taken care of. You will be staying with homestay host mothers in their family homes. With your own room within the family home, you will get a true feeling of what it’s like in the village – certainly a unique and memorable experience for travellers.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
At your homestay tonight, each room is equipped with a double bed, with some hosts having two or three guestrooms. On arrival at your home and on meeting your host, you will receive a homestay kit. Each kit is fitted with clean linen (duvet, pillow, towel, face cloth, sheet), a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitiser, mosquito repellent, tea, coffee, cup, sugar and milk. True South African long-drop toilets situated outside of each home are available. These facilities are clean and well kept. Homestay hosts supply guests with hot water every morning and evening via portable bucket baths.
Rise and shine to the sounds of local village life – enjoy a day with your hosts in Makushu. As with any small town, no two days are the same, but you will be involved in traditional village activities, depending on what tasks are required on that day. Start the day with a gentle 2.5 hour hike through the village and it's surrounds. Afterwards some things you may get up to today include traditional floor making, beading, dancing, beer tasting and cooking. Today is a true opportunity to interact with the local villagers and learn of traditional Venda ways.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Makushu Homestay - Floor making, Beading, Cooking or Dancing
  • Makushu Homestay - Morning hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Journey to Kruger National Park (approximately 8–9 hours). There will be an opportunity to stop at a shop or market for any camping supplies you or the group might need. 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. Your wildlife experience begins as soon as you enter the park. You will head straight into prime game viewing areas, spotting anything from antelopes and elands to cheetahs and rhinos.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kruger National Park - Night 4x4 Game Drive - ZAR440
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your campground, situated within the park itself, has shared facilities, hot and cold water, and optional upgrades (subject to availability). Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent or your leader for more information.

On occasion, especially during the peak months of May, June and July we are unable to secure campsites within the Kruger National Park. In this instance we will camp outside the park.
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. Depending on the season, you might catch sight of a saddle-billed stork with its distinct red beak, or the blue waxbill which is commonly found foraging for seeds in the scrub. In the afternoon when it's warm, take some time out to relax. Later on, there is an optional night drive with the park guide to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kruger National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
Optional Activities
  • Kruger National Park - Night 4x4 Game Drive - ZAR440
  • Kruger National Park - Sunset 4x4 Game Drive (from price) - ZAR325
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
It's time to head to Johannesburg (approximately 9–10 hours). There’s plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. You will take in amazing vistas at the viewpoint over Blyde River Canyon and Bourke's Luck Potholes. This trip finishes on arrival in Johannesburg at the finishing point hotel.
Included Activities
  • Panorama Route - God's Window Viewpoint
  • Panorama Route - Bourke's Luck Potholes
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
No accommodation is provided for tonight, but this can be arranged when you book this trip. If you're wanting to catch an outgoing international flight, it's important to book it for 10 pm or later, to allow for delays that your group may encounter.
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

8 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle, Open safari vehicle

Accommodation

Camping with facilities (6 nights), Homestay (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Hwange National Park - Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
  • Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust Visit
  • Hwange - Painted Dog Conservation visit
  • Matobo National Park - Rhino Tracking, Open Safari Vehicle Park Visit & San Rock Paintings
  • Makushu Homestay - Floor making, Beading, Cooking or Dancing
  • Makushu Homestay - Morning hike
  • Kruger National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
  • Panorama Route - God's Window Viewpoint
  • Panorama Route - Bourke's Luck Potholes

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

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Vic Falls to Kruger trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on all nights of this trip, except for nights 5 & 6 where we stay in a homestay. The single supplement is subject to availability.
2. This trip finishes upon arrival in Johannesburg on Day 9. Please do not book any flights until after 10 pm this evening.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

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