Kruger rhinos by Jen

Best of Southern Africa Budget Lodge Safari

Tour Length14 days
Priced from pps $1948 R28225 £1474 1723 A$2750 C$2614 NZ$2832 Full pricing info
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Summary of this Lodge Safari

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  • Max. Group Size 12 Travellers
  • Starts & ends in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Accommodation Lodge & Camping Combo
  • Transport Microbus / Open 4x4 Game Viewing Vehicle / Overland Vehicle
  • Wildlife Big 5, Elephant, Exceptional Birding, Leopards, Lions, Rhino & More
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Quick Itinerary Overview

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 searching out the Big Five and more. Visit Bakone cultural village near Polokwane, 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.

Embark 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 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.

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Itinerary for this Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Blyde River Canyon & Panorama Route
  • Game Drives in Kruger National Park
  • Bakone Cultural Experience near Polokwane
  • Explore Matobo National Park
  • Victoria Falls Visit & Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River
  • Game Drive & Boat Cruise in Chobe Park
  • Tswana Village Tour & Optional Baobab Forest Trip
  • Okavango Delta Bush Walks & Mokoro Rides
  • Game Drive in Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Day 1: Pretoria to Hoedspruit - South Africa

Set off east from the leafy administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria. 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. This beautiful region is known as the Panorama Route, offering spectacular scenery.

Enjoy dinner and the peaceful gardens at the lodge not far from the legendary Kruger Park.

  • Accommodation: Lodge - Twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms
  • Travel: about 460 km / 10-11 hours
  • Dinner

Day 2: Kruger National Park - South Africa

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. Enjoy dinner and a laid-back evening of recounting our wildlife adventures of the day.

  • Accommodation: Lodge - Twin share rooms with en suite facilities
  • Travel: Full day - including game drives
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 3: Kruger Area to Polokwane - South Africa

Up for breakfast and on the road to Polokwane. We drive through rural Limpopo Province, passing valleys planted with citrus trees and traversing scenic mountain passes.

This region is recognised as an eco-tourism destination with a rich cultural heritage. Upon arrival in Polokwane, we set off for 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.

  • Lodge - Twin share cabins with en-suite facilities
  • Travel: about 320 km / 7-8 hours
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 4: Polokwane to Bulawayo - Zimbabwe

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.

Our guesthouse for tonight is situated on the fringes of the pleasant city, known for its historical highlights and natural attractions. After a full day on the road, you can walk along the wide streets lined with trees and admire the old colonial buildings of the city, if time allows. Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, hosting art galleries and museums, parks and other attractions.

  • Accommodation: Guesthouse or similar - Twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms
  • Travel: about 600 km / 10 hours
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 5: Bulawayo & Matobo National Park - Zimbabwe

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 various 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 as part of the full day tour upgrade.

  • Accommodation: Guest House - Twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms
  • Travel: Half day - game drives & wilderness walk
  • Optional Activities: Upgrade to full day tour including historical and village tour
  • Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6: Bulawayo to Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe

Today we leave the lively streets of Bulawayo and spend the morning driving north to Victoria Falls. In the early afternoon, we arrive at our lodge in the town of Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls waterfall. At the lodge, your guide gives you an overview of the activities available at Vic Falls and assists you with making bookings for tomorrow. Then you can relax at the lodge or spend some time exploring the markets, cafes and shops in the town of Victoria Falls on foot.

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. After our dinner cruise on the Zambezi, we return to the lodge and have the option of sampling the local nightlife.

  • Accommodation: Hotel - Twin share rooms with en-suite facilities
  • Travel: about 450 km / 8 hours
  • Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7: Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe

This morning we visit Victoria Falls National Park to witness the natural wonder of the Victoria Falls waterfall. 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.

This afternoon - 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 whitewater 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.

  • Accommodation: Hotel - Twin share rooms with en-suite facilities
  • Breakfast

Day 8: Victoria Falls to Chobe National Park – Botswana

Say goodbye to Vic Falls and cross into Botswana this morning. Next stop - Chobe National Park, home to one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa.

Settle in and have lunch at the lodge near Kasane, 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.

  • Accommodation: Lodge - Twin share rooms with en-suite facilities
  • Travel: about 90 km / 2 hours
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 9: Chobe Area to Gweta – Botswana

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 of northern Botswana. This afternoon at the lodge you can rest after the long drive and take a dip in the pool, or you can head to the nearby Baobab Forest to see these giant trees. The optional guided walk visits the impressive baobab trees near Gweta, pausing for sundowners out in the bush.

  • Accommodation: Lodge - Twin share chalets with en-suite facilities
  • Optional Activities: Baobab Forest Sundowner Trip
  • Travel: about 450 km / 6.5 hours
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 10: Gweta to Maun – Botswana

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 village 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.

  • Accommodation: Safari Camp - Twin share chalets with en-suite facilities
  • Travel: about 250 km / 4 hours
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 11: Okavango Delta – Botswana

Up early in the morning, we venture into the wild Okavango Delta by 4x4 vehicle, via rough dirt tracks. Reaching 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, 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 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.

  • Accommodation: Delta camp – Pre-erected, twin share tents with basic en-suite facilities (bucket shower and toilet)
  • Travel: about 60 km / 2 hours
  • Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 12: Okavango Delta to Maun – Botswana

Wake up to the sounds of twittering birds in one of Africa's wildest habitats! And off into the bush, we go for 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 at the bar before retiring to our en-suite chalets.

  • Accommodation: Safari Camp or similar - Twin share chalets with en-suite bathrooms
  • Optional Activities: Okavango Delta Scenic Flight (5-seater plane)
  • Travel: about 60 km / 2 hours
  • Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 13: Maun to Khama Rhino Sanctuary – Botswana

Departing from Maun after breakfast, we set off on the long drive south to Khama Rhino Sanctuary. We get up early for a hearty breakfast before hitting the road for a full day of driving. Our long drive takes us along the edges of the Kalahari Desert region in central Botswana, via the small, remote town of Mopipi.

Arriving at Khama Rhino Sanctuary in the late afternoon we embark on an open vehicle game drive in this compact and game-rich park. The local guides share their in-depth knowledge of the bush and its inhabitants with you on the game drive, giving you the chance to learn more about the flora and fauna. Sightings include rhinos, giraffes, black-backed jackals, zebras, wildebeest, springbok and many more, as well as birds. Khama is a community-based wildlife sanctuary formed by locals in 1989 when the hunting grounds of Serwe Pan were converted into a sanctuary for rhinos. Khama Rhino Sanctuary benefits the local community and helps protect the endangered rhinos, along with other wildlife.

After our 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 adventures in Southern Africa.

  • Accommodation: Lodge or similar - Twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms
  • Travel: about 700 km / 11-12 hours
  • Breakfast / Dinner

Day 14: Pretoria – South Africa

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 - Pretoria, known as the Jacaranda City.

Our Best of Southern Africa Budget Lodge Safari concludes in the pleasant city of Pretoria this afternoon.

  • Travel: about 400 km / 6 hours
  • Breakfast

Safari Pass - Local Payment:

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.

Tour Accommodation:

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!

Tour Transport:

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.

Optional Extras and Excursions

For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.

Botswana

  • Okavango Delta Flight 
  • Baobab Forest Sundowners

Zimbabwe & Victoria Falls

  • Matobo NP full-day tour (upgrade)
  • Gorge Swing 
  • White Water Rafting 
  • Half-day Canoe Trip
  • Chief Mukumi Village Tour 
  • 15 Min Helicopter 
  • 15 Min Microlight 
  • Sunset Cruise 
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For confirmed pricing on these optional items, please drop us an enquiry

Botswana

  • Okavango Delta Flight 
  • Baobab Forest Sundowners

Zimbabwe & Victoria Falls

  • Matobo NP full-day tour (upgrade)
  • Gorge Swing 
  • White Water Rafting 
  • Half-day Canoe Trip
  • Chief Mukumi Village Tour 
  • 15 Min Helicopter 
  • 15 Min Microlight 
  • Sunset Cruise 
+Included in the Tour Price
  • Transport
  • Accommodation & bedding
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • English speaking driver / tour leader 
  • Activities as per itinerary
+Not Included in the Tour Price
  • Visas and travel insurance
  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Optional activities
  • Laundry, tips to driver and local guides
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Safari Pass (compulsory)
+Departure Dates

This Safari will depart with a minimum of 2 clients booked and a maximum of 12 people.

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