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This budget lodge safari covers a lot of ground, taking you to top wildlife, cultural and historical highlights in South Africa and Zimbabwe. In just one week this basic lodge safari travels all the way from Pretoria to the natural wonder of Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River.
Starting in South Africa, encounter Africa's magnificent wildlife on game drives in the Big Five Kruger National Park. Go on to encounter northern Sotho culture at Bakone living museum near Polokwane. Then explore Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe to experience the rugged landscapes and discover its rich history and cultural significance. Go in search of rhinos and other wildlife and birds in this mysterious park, before travelling further north to magnificent Victoria Falls.
This South Africa, Zimbabwe & Vic Falls Budget Safari kicks-off in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa.
Leaving the Jacaranda City, as Pretoria is known, we spend a full day on the road, driving east into the Mpumalanga Province through one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa - the Panorama Route. Driving along the edge of the escarpment we take in the spectacular views over Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest vegetated canyons in the world. Along the way, we stop to view the hut-shaped rocky hills known as the Three Rondavels.
After a lunch stop, we complete the long drive to our lodge, located about an hour's drive from the world-famous Kruger National Park. This evening we have dinner and ease into holiday mode at the lodge set in lovely gardens.
Up early for our first day of wildlife viewing in the African bush. We set off for Kruger National Park, entering the vast wilderness area as soon as the gates open. Early mornings are excellent for spotting animals and birds as many creatures are most active at this time of day, so keep your eyes peeled!
During lunchtime, we stop at a rest camp in the park for lunch (own account) and a refreshing dip in the pool. After our break from the African sun, we continue game viewing in the nearly two-million-hectare game park. Kruger is one of the finest wildlife havens in Africa, offering superb game viewing across its diverse biomes. Later in the day, the predators begin to stir, so hopefully we will sight carnivores from the array found here.
Kruger Park is South Africa’s flagship national park. Teeming with wildlife this diverse game park is home to about 147 mammal species and 114 reptile species, as well as about 507 bird species! The Big Five of Africa are found here - elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo, as well as a dazzling array of other mammals - giraffe, zebra, cheetah, hippo, hyena and numerous antelope species.
We make our way out of Kruger Park before sunset, game viewing en route. Head back to the lodge for rest and relaxation after an exciting day of game viewing in the bush.
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.
On day four we depart Polokwane for the long drive north into Zimbabwe. We cross into Zimbabwe at the busy border post of Beitbridge. After completing the sometimes time-consuming border crossing, we continue all the way to Bulawayo.
Our accommodation 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.
We get up early on day five and make our way into the nearby Matobo National Park for a half day tour with local guides. Driving through the boulder-scattered hills and wooded valleys of Matobo we take in the dramatic and rugged scenery from our open safari vehicle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is of cultural, historical and geological significance, as well as being an important wildlife haven.
We look out for rhinos on our game drive, as Matobo is home to a successful rhino breeding program and intensive protection zone for black and white rhino. If conditions allow, our guide may take us in search of rhinos on foot. Other wildlife that we may see includes giraffe, wildebeest, various other antelopes and even leopard. The Matobo National Park also hosts one of the highest concentrations of black eagles in the world.
A number of ancient San (bushmen) paintings are scattered across the caves and granite boulders of the rocky Matopos Hills, evidence of the tribe's habitation some 2000 years ago. The contested burial site of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes lies up on a hill at World’s View. You can visit the famous grave on an optional full-day tour upgrade (at extra cost) with local guides. These hills are sacred grounds of the Ndebele, hence the controversy over Rhodes's requested final resting place. Matopos Hills are of special cultural significance to the Ndebele, who have sacred sites tucked away in the hills.
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, we set off on a leisurely boat cruise along the Zambezi River. A mellow and scenic end to an exciting day. Sit back and watch a beautiful sunset, spotting birds and animals, whilst sipping on sundowners. After our dinner cruise on the Zambezi, we return to the lodge and have the option of sampling the local nightlife.
On our last morning, we head to the natural wonder of Victoria Falls waterfall, ending our tour on a high note. Standing before the impressive waterfall you can feel the mists and hear the crashing waters that give it the name - the Smoke that Thunders, from the local name - Mosi-oa-Tunya. The largest sheet of falling water in the world, Victoria Falls is an awe-inspiring sight.
Our affordable South Africa, Zimbabwe & Vic Falls Budget Safari finishes after our visit to the mighty Vic Falls.
The remainder of the day is free for you to have fun and explore, participating in optional adventure activities of your choice. The array of optional activities includes scenic flights by helicopter, micro-light and plane, bungee jumping and world-class whitewater rafting among many more.
Accommodation is not included on day seven and optional activities are at extra cost. We highly recommend that you book an extra day or two at Victoria Falls to enjoy adventure activities and explore further.
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 basic chalets or bungalows/cabins, with en-suite bathroom facilities. Most of the places that we stay at have a pool, restaurant and bar.
Transport on this tour will be in a comfortable mini-bus or microbus.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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