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This no-frills budget safari follows a circular route from South Africa into Zimbabwe and Botswana, and then back to South Africa, staying at basic lodges along the way.
Highlights on the Southern Africa Lodge Safari include:
An affordable Vic Falls, Okavango Delta & Chobe Lodge Safari combining top natural and wildlife highlights on a memorable African journey.
During this trip, you are likely to come across activities that encourage tourists to participate in lion, elephant or other wildlife interaction. This includes walking with lions, riding elephants and any other tourist operation putting travellers in close contact with animals that would normally live wild and separate from human contact.
We absolutely do not encourage or endorse this type of wildlife interaction operation. For more information on why this is not good for Africa's wild animals, please see our detailed blog post on the subject.
Our journey begins in Pretoria, known as the Jacaranda City for it purple-blossomed trees in spring. Leaving the Pretoria, a shuttle transfer takes us up north through scenic landscapes to Polokwane, the capital of the Limpopo Province. This region is recognised as a leading eco-tourism destination boasting a rich cultural heritage.
Reaching our lodge in Polokwane we meet up with our guide and the rest of the group members travelling from Kruger Park, as part of a longer safari. Then we head to a cultural village in the area. Here we find out more about the Bakone people, a subgroup of the northern Sotho ethnic group. The open-air museum is a reconstruction of a traditional northern Sotho village as it would have been some 250 years ago. See how the Bakone tribesmen used to make fire, brew beer and prepare maize meal getting a glimpse into old African traditions.
After our cultural experience at the living museum, we head to our lodge nearby for a relaxing evening around the fire in the outdoor boma area.
Continuing north this morning we cross into Zimbabwe at the busiest land border in South Africa, the Beitbridge post. Once in Zimbabwe, we continue our long drive up to Bulawayo, second in size to the capital, Harare. Bulawayo is a pleasant and interesting destination featuring colonial British architecture, museums and art galleries.
The surrounding area hosts various historical and natural attractions, including Matobo National Park and other protected areas. Tonight we stay at a guest house with a peaceful garden, located on the fringes of Bulawayo.
Today we enjoy a half-day tour to Matobo National Park, exploring with local guides in an open safari vehicle and on foot. This intriguing place has plenty to offer visitors with highlights including rich wildlife, ancient San (Bushmen) paintings, the grave of Cecil John Rhodes and sacred Ndebele sites.
Matobo is an important sanctuary for black and white rhinos, and if conditions are right, the guide takes us in search of these endangered creatures on foot. Sighting the elusive leopard and the remarkable concentration of black eagles here, are among the wildlife highlights. We also experience the unusual scenery of Matobo Park on our game drive, witnessing the granite boulders scattered across the hills in this dramatic landscape.
On day three, you have the option of upgrading to a full-day tour of Matobo Park which includes a visit to the burial site of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes at World’s View.
Early this morning we set off on the long drive north to Victoria Falls, spending most of the day driving. Arriving at our accommodation in the early afternoon, your guide briefs you on the optional activities at Vic Falls and helps you to make bookings. Then you can spend some time exploring the markets, cafes and shops in the town of Victoria Falls on foot before we visit the famous Victoria Falls - one of the natural wonders of the world.
Walking through the lush forests along the falls we stop at viewpoints and marvel at Vic Falls. Locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means the 'Smoke that Thunders' - an apt description of the roaring falls that send up a plume of mist.
After the awe-inspiring spectacle of Vic Falls, we gently cruise along the Zambezi River, watching the animals and birds along the scenic banks as the sun sets. The leisurely boat cruise includes dinner and drinks and is followed by free time to relax at the hotel or go out on the town.
Note: We may visit Victoria Falls the following morning instead due to time constraints.
There are no fixed plans for day five. After breakfast at the hotel, you are free to enjoy the activities of your choice.
Get your adrenaline pumping by doing the bungee jump off Vic Falls Bridge, going gorge swinging or taking the zip-line ride across the Batoka Gorge. Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River, famous for its world-class river rafting. Another highlight - flying over Vic Falls in a helicopter, plane or micro-light! Back on the ground, you can go horse riding, enjoy high tea at a local hotel, do a game walk or explore the historic town of Victoria Falls.
Moving on from Victoria Falls, we cross into north-western Botswana and travel to Kasane, near Chobe National Park. Arrive at the lodge, have lunch and take it easy by the pool, before setting off on an afternoon game drive and boat cruise in Chobe Park.
On our 4x4 game drive, we explore the Chobe River area of this famous national park encompassing 10 566 km² of the African bush. The national park is most famous for its big elephant herds, whilst lion, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, hippo and various antelope species are also found here.
Later in the afternoon, we take a boat cruise on Chobe River, watching the sunset over the scenic wilderness. The river draws an abundance of birds and wild animals so keep an eye out for creatures big and small, from hippo and elephant to plover and fish eagle. Return to the lodge for dinner and a restful night beside the river.
Up early for breakfast before we drive south to Nata, where we pause for lunch and snacks. Then we continue west to our lodge in Gweta, the closest town to Nxai Pan National Park. Nxai Pan is part of the Makgadikgadi salt pan complex, one of the largest salt flats in the world.
Arriving at the lodge with its oasis-like setting you can dip in the pool and rest up, or set off on an optional excursion to the nearby baobab forest. On the optional trip, you visit the huge, old baobab trees in the Gweta area, best known for the impressive Baines’ Baobabs, and enjoy sundowners in the bush.
Up early as usual, we have breakfast and join a local guide for a short walk in a Tswana village. Glimpse the modern and more traditional ways of life in rural Botswana, visiting various places of interest in the village. Next up: Maun, the closest town to the wild Okavango Delta. Stop to top-up on supplies, personal items and snacks - in readiness for our journey into the remote wilderness.
Our safari camp is located outside of town on spacious grounds with shady trees and a pool, so relax and enjoy. Tonight it's time to pack and prepare for our wild adventure into the Okavango Delta.
Following rough dirt roads, we drive to the Okavango Delta in 4x4 vehicles, crossing the Buffalo Fence built to keep cattle out of the delta. Reaching the watery channels of the delta we meet up with local guides, climb into mekoros (dugout canoes) and continue our journey on water. The locals pole us through the water in the traditional style mekoros, standing in the back like gondoliers. Sit back and take in the scenery as we move slowly into the peaceful delta habitat - seeing the birds, insects and other creatures in the unspoilt bush around us.
The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world - a truly wild and unique ecosystem that is about 1.6 million hectares in size. At camp, we have lunch and settle in before exploring the wetland area on foot. We take a walk on one of the secluded islands of the delta moving from the reed-lined banks into the bush to discover the small miracles of nature and possibly encounter large mammals too.
This evening we have dinner and sit around the campfire, chatting and listening to traditional Tswana songs performed by our guides. Fall asleep to the sounds of animals calling in the night, after an unforgettable day in the magical delta.
Wake up bright and early in the heart of the wild Okavango Delta. We walk into the bush with our guide to see the flora and fauna in detail, learning more about this unique environment. The bush walk is a thrilling way to experience the delta as large mammals may be encountered along the way. Back at camp, we tuck into breakfast and pack up for our journey back to Maun. Back in the mekoros the local guides slowly pole us through the tranquil channels to the meeting point where the vehicles await. The 4x4 vehicles take us the rest of the way, via rough bush roads back to Maun.
Arrive at the camp outside of Maun, have lunch and a hot shower, take a nap or cool off in the pool. Alternatively, you can take the opportunity to fly over the Okavango Delta in a small, fixed-wing plane. The scenic delta flight is a spectacular way to view the delta in all its glory - looking out over the fertile plains and winding waterways from above, spotting elephants, giraffes and other animals below. You also have the option of going to Maun with your guide this afternoon to visit the shops and markets.
Start the day with an early breakfast, then we are off to our final game viewing destination - Khama Rhino Sanctuary. A full day on the road - we skirt the edges of the massive Kalahari Desert, passing Mopipi village on the remote fringes of the Makgadikgadi Pans.
This afternoon we arrive at Khama, near the border with South Africa, and embark on our last game drive. The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a protected area run by the local community, which benefits from tourism activities. The sanctuary was established to restore the Serowe Pan to its natural state and re-establish wildlife populations in the area, especially rhinos. The nearby Defense Force base offers the endangered rhinos protection in Khama Rhino Sanctuary, ensuring that the population remains stable.
The local rangers conduct the late afternoon game drive, offering insight into the flora, fauna and history of the sanctuary. The reserve is home to an abundance of birds and animals, including eland, Burchell's zebra, giraffe, kudu, springbok and other antelopes, as well as predators such as leopard, hyena and caracal.
After our dusk game drive in Khama, we head to our final safari lodge located inside a private nature reserve along the Limpopo River. The private game reserve covers 3500 hectares of wilderness in the Tuli Block region of southern Botswana. Here we may see giraffes, various antelopes, crocodiles, hippos, zebras and an abundance of bird species so keep your eyes open. Tonight we share a final dinner together at the safari lodge, celebrating our adventure through Southern Africa.
We spend the last day of this Southern Africa adventure driving south to our last stop, Pretoria. From the Tuli Block, we travel down to the Martin's Drift border post where we cross the Limpopo River into South Africa.
Arriving back in Pretoria in the mid-to-late afternoon our Vic Falls, Okavango Delta & Chobe Lodge Safari comes to a close.
Please note that this safari requires a mandatory Safari Pass (Local Payment) at an additional cost. The Safari Pass includes most of the tour highlights and activities, as well as some accommodation en route. This compulsory payment can be made when booking your tour, or at the start of your trip, payable directly to your tour guide. Contact African Budget Safaris for the detailed itinerary listing what is included in the Safari Pass and see the Full Pricing above for rates.
On this budget tour, accommodation is mostly in twin share rooms with twin beds in basic chalets, cabins or bungalows with en-suite bathrooms. Most of the places that we stay at have a pool, restaurant and bar. Some of the accommodation is a little more basic but still comfortable, clean and safe.
We spend one night bush camping under the stars in dome tents in the Okavango Delta – an unforgettable wildlife experience!
Transport on this tour will be in a comfortable mini-bus or microbus. Except in Chobe Park when we embark on game drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles and in the Okavango Delta where dugout canoes (mekoros) are used.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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