An epic safari to Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe staying at comfortable safari lodges along the way. This Budget Lodge Safari combines wild game viewing, colourful cultures and gobsmacking scenery to create the supreme African Experience.
Unforgettable highlights in Namibia include the ancient Namib Desert's Sossusvlei Dunes, Deadvlei and Sesriem Canyon, and the game-rich Etosha National park. Also, visit coastal Swakopmund, discover Waterberg Plateau, visit the Cheetah Conservation Foundation at Otjiwarongo and walk with the San Bushmen.
Travel through the fertile Caprivi Strip to Botswana where we visit the pristine Okavango Delta, Botswana's Crown Jewel. Other highlights in this spectacular country are the Khwai River, Makgadikgadi Pans and Chobe National Park, home to one of the largest elephant herds in Africa.
On the last few days of this inspirational journey, we go game viewing in Hwange Park and spend time at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. End on a high note at Vic Falls, with optional adventure activities and a relaxing boat cruise on the Zambezi River.
The ultimate African experience, done in style!
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.
This epic African adventure starts off in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Arriving at the international airport in Windhoek, we welcome you to Southern Africa and drive you to your overnight guest house in a quiet suburb of the city.
Spend the afternoon resting at the friendly guesthouse after your flight, taking a dip in the pool and enjoying the leafy gardens. For the more energetic you can head into this pleasant and cosmopolitan city on foot. Windhoek is a laid-back and efficiently run city, where African culture and markets meld with German colonial influences and architecture.
At 6:00 pm on the first evening you meet up with your guide and fellow travellers at the guesthouse for tour briefing. The rest of the night is free for you to unwind at the lodge, or venture into the friendly city for dinner.
On day two we depart from modern Windhoek, driving southwest via mountain passes and pretty landscapes to the ancient Namib Desert. This is said to be the oldest desert in the world, dating back tens of millions of years. Here we visit the Namib Naukluft National Park staying at a desert camp near Sossusvlei for two nights.
Day three starts early to ensure that we witness the inspiring sight of sunrise over the undulating sea of red-orange sand dunes. We drive to the famous Sossusvlei Dunes stopping to take photographs of the glowing colours of the sand as the day breaks.
We explore the world’s tallest sand dunes, towering over 300m high, at Sossusvlei, and marvel at the immensity of this sandy sea. Then we visit Deadvlei, one of the must-see highlights in the iconic Namib in Namibia. The cracked clay ground stands in stark contrast to the skeletons of dead trees - with black finger-like trees dotting the white earth here. This striking scene is all the more enchanting given its setting amid the ochre dunes of the desert. The dry lake is usually parched but at times we might see some water shimmering in Deadvlei.
After experiencing the magnitude and empty silence of the unforgettable desert landscape, we head into the deep gorge that is Sesriem Canyon. Another well-known feature of the Namib Desert, this narrow chasm shows layer upon layer of exposed rocks that have been eroded over millions of years by the flow of the Tsauchab River.
Today we travel north through the solitary open spaces of the Namib Naukluft National Park in Namibia, passing from orange dunes fields to grey gravel plains.
As we drive through the Namib-Naukluft Desert the electrifying energy and timeless atmosphere of this vast land engulfs us. This arid terrain hosts some of the rarest and most unique animals and plant species on earth. We keep our eyes open for the distinctive oryx antelope, the desert-adapted mountain zebras and light-footed springbok, amongst others. Unusual flora surviving in this harsh area, includes the peculiar looking Welwitschia Mirabilis, with a large protected specimen (over 1 500 years old) found here.
Our journey to Swakopmund takes us via the coastal village of Walvis Bay where we visit the lagoon to see its rich bird life. Numerous water birds can be found at the Walvis Bay Lagoon, including huge flocks of flamingos.
In the late afternoon, we arrive at the seaside resort town of Swakopmund, a charming place where Africa blends with European flavours. Take a walk around the quaint town with its wide streets and sidewalk cafes, or stroll along its lovely beaches.
On day five of our budget lodge safari, we travel inland crossing the country as we head to the Waterberg Plateau Reserve in the northeast of Namibia.
Arriving at the Waterberg Plateau we set off on a short hike in this lush national park. The reserve is dominated by the impressive red sandstone plateau and known for its significant role in conserving flora and fauna. Waterberg Plateau Park provides sanctuary to a variety of rare and endangered animal and bird species, such as rhinos and Cape vultures. Our walk reveals the beauty of this wilderness area and with any luck some of its inhabitants too.
From Waterberg National Park we drive to the Cheetah Conservation Foundation (CCF) at Otjiwarongo. The CCF is a world leader in cheetah conservation, focusing on conserving cheetahs in the wild habitats where they naturally occur. The centre runs integrated conservation programs based on research to address major threats to this big cat. This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the biology and genetics of cheetahs, the ecosystems that they are a part of, and the conservation work being done to conserve them.
After visiting the cheetah centre we travel to Etosha National Park, considered one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. We spend the night at a lodge located on a rocky outcrop near Etosha. This afternoon you are free to take a dip in the pool, enjoy the views over the Mopane and Seringa forest and explore the natural surroundings on foot. You also have the option of taking a game drive (extra cost) at the lodge.
This morning we have breakfast and make our way into Etosha National Park, the premier game viewing destination in Namibia. The national park consists largely of the Etosha Pan, with the name Etosha meaning the “Great White Place” in the Ovambo's Ndonga dialect.
Over the next two days on safari, we will go in search of the plethora of wildlife found here, including Africa's Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. Animals sighted on game drives in Etosha Park, range from cheetah, hyena and giraffe to zebra and an array of antelope species, including striking gemsbok and springbok.
After our rewarding game drives, we stay at an established rest camp inside the national park, enjoying night-time game viewing at the watering holes under spotlights.
Here we embark on a novel guided tour of the Living Museum of the local Ju’Hoansi-San. This local bushman community is open to visitors who want to see how they go about their lives. This authentic cultural excursion takes us through an open-air museum, displaying the unique culture and tribal practices of the traditional San people in Namibia. We walk with local hunters in search of bushmeat and wild plants, watching them set snares and start a fire using the original Ju/’Hoansi method.
After our interesting bushman encounter and lunch in a shady spot, we hit the road for Rundu in the far north of Namibia. Our overnight lodge is set in lush gardens just east of Rundu, alongside the perennial Okavango River. Arriving in the late afternoon it's time to put our feet up in the natural setting of the lodge and take a dip in the pool.
On the morning of day 10, you can do an optional activity (extra cost), choosing between an early boat cruise, or a visit to Mbunza Living Museum, a Kavango cultural school and community initiative.
We then continue east into the western part of the Caprivi Strip, an unusually lush finger of Namibian land sandwiched between Botswana, Zambia and Angola, up to Zimbabwe. Our next overnight lodge is next to Mahango National Park on the western banks of the Okavango River.
This afternoon we embark on a game drive in Bwabwata National Park, consisting of Caprivi Game Park and Mahango Game Reserve. The national park lies between Botswana and Angola, forming an important migratory corridor for elephants and other wildlife. We explore this wilderness area stretching from the Okavango River to the Kwando River, looking for elephants, buffalos and antelopes, such as kudu and roan, as well as an abundance of birds.
We make our way to the gateway of the world-famous Okavango Delta, Maun. This afternoon you can spend time in this travel hub experiencing the lively safari atmosphere, or you can retreat to the lodge for some rest and relaxation by the pool.
Probably the most unforgettable activity here is a scenic flight over the massive untamed delta, an optional outing you won't forget.
Rise and tuck into breakfast before our local Botswana guides fetch you for your trip into the watery delta.
We drive to a nearby mokoro (traditional canoe) station and switch modes of transport. Leaving the wheels behind we glide through reed-lined channels and tranquil lagoons in our dug-out canoes. The canoes are poled along by local guides, standing in the vessels like the African equivalent of gondoliers.
This is the ideal way to explore the pristine Okavango Delta - moving quietly through the bush at a leisurely pace which makes it easier to spot birds and animals. The Okavango is a truly wild place where you can immerse yourself in nature. This one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon flows into the Kalahari Desert instead of flowing into the sea like other deltas.
Our mokoro trip is followed by some time to get comfortable at our next camp, set near the well-known Khwai River. Then we enjoy dinner at camp and venture into the bush on a nighttime game drive. The night drive is an excellent way to sight some of the more elusive nocturnal creatures of Botswana and even catch a hunt.
The Khwai area is ours to explore on 4x4 game drives today.
We look out for the range of wild animals often spotted in this wilderness area, renowned for its high concentrations of mammals. The Khwai is known as an outstanding spot for seeing elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and endangered African wild dogs. This is also a haven for birds, especially raptors and wildfowl.
Due east, we drive to the Makgadikgadi Pans of Botswana today. This is one of the largest salt pans in the world, covering some 30 000 km² of arid terrain.
In times gone by the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans was covered by a gigantic inland lake, but today it stands dry and barren. This vast land of nothingness is one of those special places where you can feel the ageless power of nature in real solitude.
This afternoon we stop in at the Nata Bird Sanctuary, which offers superb views over the mesmerizing Sowa pan, forming part of the Greater Makgadikgadi Pans network.
Please note: we visit the salt pans if time allows, subject to road conditions and water levels.
Chobe Park, on the other hand, is famous the world over as an exceptional safari destination. This top African game park hosts one of the largest elephant populations on the continent as well as some of the highest concentrations of game.
Besides its enormous elephant herds, this 10,566 km² game park is well-known for its supreme bush sunsets and boat-based game viewing.
Participate in some of the various optional activities on offer in the Chobe region of Botswana, or laze like a lizard by the pool on the afternoon of day 15. Day 16 kicks off with an exciting game drive in the beautiful Chobe National Park, the primary focus being on spotting wildlife, of course. With any luck we encounter some large cats and other predators, maybe even witnessing a kill in action.
In the afternoon we embark on a relaxing boat cruise on the Chobe River. This laid-back cruise is a super way to enjoy some close-up wildlife encounters, especially with wading hippos, crocodiles and elephants. We usually get to witness an inspiring African sunset from the boat, a blissful way to end an eventful day in the bush.
Crossing boundaries we travel into Zimbabwe on day 17 of our unforgettable trip through Southern Africa.
Next highlight - Hwange National Park. Another game viewing gem in Africa, this is Zimbabwe's pride and joy of safari travel.
Hwange Park, like Chobe, is home to great big herds of elephants, as well as extra large herds of buffalo. Here you can see plenty of zebras and numerous giraffes along with all of the endangered species found in Zimbabwe.
On day 18 we drive around in Hwange Park searching for predators, grazers, browsers and scavengers
Nearing the end of our grand African safari we turn north towards our final destination - Victoria Falls. Vic Falls is the largest sheet of falling water in the world sending up a huge cloud of spray as it plummets into Bakota Gorge below.
During our time here we highly recommend visiting the powerful Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. You can take an optional guided tour of Victoria Falls with a guide who will take you to some excellent viewpoints and tell you more about the waterfall. The locals call the waterfall Mosi oa Tunya which means 'the Smoke that Thunders' and standing at Vic Falls the reason for this epithet becomes clear.
Later today we embark on a laid-back Zambezi River boat cruise. The boat cruise takes us along the mighty Zambezi upstream of Victoria Falls waterfall, providing an opportunity to see animals and birds on the riverbanks and view the cloud of mist rising up from Vic Falls as the sun sets.
Share a hearty breakfast with your fellow travellers at the lodge before parting ways this morning.
We transfer you to the airport in Victoria Falls for your onward flight, saying goodbye... until your next adventure in Africa.
Please note: We recommend spending an extra few days in Victoria Falls (post-safari) to allow time for doing more activities in the Adventure Capital of Southern Africa. Take yourself to new heights on thrilling helicopter rides, bungee jumps, gorge swings and zip line rides, or brave the full force of the mighty Zambezi and go white water rafting. Other wild activities that don't involve dizzying heights are canoeing, nature walks, game viewing, cultural excursions and canopy tours.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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