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Drive to top wildlife destinations and scenic gems in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, encountering local cultures and staying at basic lodges along the way.
Go game viewing in the famous Kruger National Park of South Africa and take a game walk in a Polokwane game reserve, before driving to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Head into scenic Matobo National Park for wildlife spotting and a bush walk, before driving to the mighty Victoria Falls, taking a boat cruise on the Zambezi and enjoying an array of optional adventure activities.
Emark on a 4x4 game drive and sunset boat cruise, looking out for wildlife and birds in Chobe National Park. Enjoy an optional sundowner trip to the expansive Makgadikgadi Pans, or visit the ancient baobab trees near Gweta. Then travel to Khama Rhino Sanctuary and do a 4x4 game drive, before returning to South Africa.
An entry level budget safari to beautiful, culturally diverse and game-rich places in Southern Africa.
Set off east from Johannesburg, driving along the Panorama Route of Mpumalanga in South Africa. This long drive takes us via the scenic Blyde River Canyon, stopping to view the Three Rondavels rock formations and have lunch along the way to our first lodge.
Enjoy dinner and the peaceful gardens at the lodge not far from Kruger Park.
Up early, we drive to Kruger National Park. Enter the park as the gates open and spend a full day exploring South Africa's most famous national park with a professional guide.
Covering almost 2 million hectares of game-rich wilderness, Kruger promises the wildlife adventure of a lifetime. After spotting animals in the early morning we stop at a rest camp for lunch and a rest during the heat of the day. Shop for curios, swim in the pool, relax in the shade and have lunch at the camp's restaurant (own account). Then we head back out into the bush to catch the afternoon wildlife action, looking out for predators and other animals.
Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier safari destination, and one of Africa's finest game parks. Home to a staggering diversity of flora and fauna, including numerous large mammals, such as the Big Five of Africa - elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo. Inhabitants include hippos, giraffes, zebras, wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas and various antelope species, from impala to kudu. There are about 507 bird species, in addition to the 147 mammal and 114 reptile species in Kruger.
Head back to the lodge, leaving Kruger Park before the sun sets.
Up for breakfast and the drive north into the Limpopo Province, travelling through gentle hills and valleys scattered with citrus farms.
Reaching Polokwane we set off on a bush walk in a local game reserve to get up close and personal with mother nature. This 3200 hectare reserve hosts many mammals, including white rhino, giraffe, zebra and various rare and common antelope species, along with over 200 kinds of birds, some unusual species amongst them. Look out for birds, animals and the smaller miracles of nature as we walk through the bush.
Sit back around the fireplace at our lovely overnight lodge, under shady trees close to Polokwane Game Reserve.
A long drive north today - we cross from South Africa into Zimbabwe at the busy Beitbridge border and head up to Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe.
Located in south-western Zimbabwe, the city of Bulawayo is noted for its historic attractions and cultural richness, hosting numerous museums, art galleries and colonial-style buildings along its tree-lined streets.
Our guest house is located on the fringes of the city in a peaceful garden.
Rise and shine early on day five as we are off to Matobo National Park. We meet up with local guides and drive into the scenic national park in our open safari vehicle.
Matobo National Park is a unique destination offering excellent game viewing, cultural intrigue and historical insights. Wildlife species include endangered black and white rhinos, which we search out on foot with our guide, when conditions allow. The park is home to an exceptionally high concentration of black eagles and shy leopards, along with other animals and birds.
The dramatic Motopos Hills are of special cultural significance to the Ndebele, who have sacred sites tucked away in the hills. The area was home to the San (bushmen) some 2000 years ago, with a good collection of rock art remaining today. The boulder-scattered hills are also the chosen burial place of imperialist and mining magnate, Cecil John Rhodes. The controversially placed grave of British colonial, set on sacred tribal grounds, can be visited at World’s View.
Leaving bustling Bulawayo, we set off on the long drive north to Victoria Falls and our accommodation in the town. Settle in and have lunch, looking over the various activity options and making bookings for the following day. Spend some time exploring the markets, cafes and shops in the town of Victoria Falls on foot before we visit the famous Victoria Falls
After lunch you can walk around Victoria Falls town, with its markets, cafes and shops. Then we visit Victoria Falls National Park where we witness the natural wonder of Victoria Falls. When you see the impressive spray rising from the plummeting waters of Vic Falls, you can understand why it is called the Smoke that Thunders or Mosi-oa-Tunya, as it is called locally. Follow walking trails through the lush forests to view the powerful Vic Falls, getting close enough to feel the mist and get the full impact of this awesome spectacle.
Later in the day, we embark on a chilled-out sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River, sipping on sundowners and watching the scenery go by. Watch the birds and keep an eye out for animals, like hippos, buffaloes and antelopes, along the river.
Day seven - do whatever you choose. Take it easy at the hotel pool and stroll through historic Victoria Falls town for some sightseeing, or jump at the chance to get adventurous and do something wild.
The Batoka Gorge is the site of numerous adventure activities - gorge swinging, zip line rides, canoeing and bungee jumping from Vic Falls Bridge. Go white water rafting on the Zambezi, in season, or take to the skies for a spectacular flight over the falls - by helicopter, microlight or plane. There are also village tours, game viewing activities, tram rides and more.
Eat out, sample the local nightlife or return to the hotel at the end of a memorable day in Africa.
Settle in and have lunch at the lodge in Kasane, near Chobe, before we embark on a game drive in Chobe Park. Venture into the 10566 km² Chobe in an open 4x4 game vehicle in search of wildlife and birds. This Botswana game park is famous for its huge elephant herds, and other animals include lion, leopard, giraffe and antelope species.
Later in the afternoon we take a laid-back boat cruise on the Chobe River, watching a beautiful sunset over the African bush. A variety of animals and plenty of birds can be spotted on the cruise, with Chobe offering superb boat-based game viewing.
Return to the lodge along the peaceful river, unwinding in the bar and admiring the stars.
Day nine starts with an early breakfast before the long drive to Gweta, on the fringes of the Makgadikgadi Pans. Driving south-west at an easy pace we stop for lunch in Nata and look out for elephants and buffalos en route to Gweta village.
Our next lodge is located near Gweta, just east of the Nxai Pan National Park section of the Makgadikgadi Pans, in a dry area scattered with big, old baobabs. The famous Baines' Baobabs are one of the most special features in this area, along with the expansive salt pans of northern Botswana.
In the afternoon you can join optional activities or kick back and relax by the pool at the lodge. Choose between an optional 4x4 drive to Nxai Pans, where you stop for sundowners, or go on the Baobab Forest Walk to see these impressive ancient trees and enjoy sundowners in the bush. Visiting the bleached and arid open plains of Makgadikgadi Pans you experience one of the largest salt pans in the world - a quiet and solitary place. After the rains the pans come alive with short grasses attracting a host of herbivores and shallow lakes drawing birdlife, including flamingo flocks.
Early breakfast, before visiting a Tswana village on foot. We stop in at a local school and shop on our guided walk in the village, getting a glimpse into life in rural Botswana.
Then we leave Gweta, driving west to Maun - the travel base for trips into the famous Okavango Delta. Pause for shopping and a bite in Maun, before heading to our leafy lodge outside of town. This evening you can unwind at the lodge bar, swim in the pool and prepare for our adventure into the Okavango Delta tomorrow.
Up early in the morning we venture into the wild Okavango Delta in a 4x4 vehicle, via rough dirt tracks. On the outskirts of the delta we switch to water-based transport, climbing into traditional-style canoes, called mekoros. From here on in, local guides pole us along the reeded waterways, passing secluded islands as we move deeper into the rugged bush. The guides skillfully propel the dugout canoes along the channels using long poles, all the while sharing their knowledge of the local habitat with you.
We have lunch at our remote tented camp and spend the afternoon exploring on foot or by mokoro, taking in our truly wild surroundings. The delta is home to a diversity of wild animals and birds which can be spotted on nature walks and mokoro trips. You can also sit back at camp, simply enjoying the pristine environment and watching for birds and other creatures.
The Okavango is the world’s largest inland delta, and one of the last wild habitats on earth, offering a unique and special wilderness experience. Flowing from the Angolan Highlands the delta waters fan out over the plains of Botswana emptying into the desert in an intricate network of watery streams and lagoons.
Tonight we gather around the flickering campfire and listen to the traditional songs of our local guides. Then we retire to the sounds of unspoilt nature, falling asleep under the stars in the middle of the bush.
Wake up to the sounds of twittering birds in one of Africa's wildest habitats! And off into the bush we go, on a nature walk with our experienced local guide - looking out for wildlife and birds at this active time of day. Take a closer look at the rare and fascinating flora and fauna of the delta as you explore on foot, ready to encounter the surprises of the bush, big and small.
After a light breakfast at camp we get back into the mekoros and make our way peacefully out of the beautiful Okavango Delta. Switch to 4x4 safari vehicle and return to our lodge near Maun in time for lunch. Enjoy a hot shower, a nap and downtime at the lodge or go into Maun with the guide to browse, shop and meet the locals.
Alternatively you can take an optional flight over the Okavango Delta, taking in this remarkable natural feature from above. Aerial views offer perspective on the vast delta network and a chance to spot wildlife roaming on the plains below, from giraffe and buck to hippo and elephant.
Tonight we enjoy the comforts of our safari camp, eating in the dining area and unwinding in the bar before retiring to our en suite cabins.
Departing from Maun after breakfast, we set off on the long drive south through the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana.
Travelling via the small town of Mopipi, we arrive at our final game viewing destination, Khama Rhino Sanctuary, in the afternoon. This community-based wildlife initiative was formed by a group of locals in 1989 when the hunting area of Serwe Pan was converted into a rhino sanctuary. The money generated from the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is used to benefit the community in the area, as well as helping to protect the rhinos. This sanctuary is located near a Defense Force Base in southern Botswana, providing constant protection for the endangered rhinos.
This afternoon we set off on our last game drive in an open safari vehicle. As we drive through Khama Rhino Sanctuary the local guides share their knowledge and help us to spot animals and birds. Wildlife sightings include an abundance of animals, such as zebra, impala, giraffe, black-backed jackal and wildebeest.
On our final night we stay at a lodge near Khama Rhino Sanctuary, enjoying a final dinner together.
Return to South Africa, crossing the border at Martin's Drift on our long journey. Traverse the Limpopo River and drive all the way down to our final stop - Johannesburg, South Africa's economic centre.
Our Best of Southern Africa Budget Lodge Safari concludes in Johannesburg late this afternoon.
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 shared rooms with twin beds in simple cabins or chalets with en suite bathrooms. Most of the establishments 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 at a mobile camp in the Okavango Delta – a wildlife experience of a lifetime!
Transport on this tour will be in a comfortable mini-bus or microbus. Except 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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