Get ready to explore the untamed bush of Southern Africa on foot, by boat, in traditional canoes and on game viewing drives!
Wildlife and wilderness highlights in Botswana include game viewing in Khama Rhino Sanctuary, taking a boat cruise on the Chobe River, venturing into the pristine Okavango Delta on bush walks and mokoro rides and discovering the vast Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Also visit the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and experience both the traditional village life and contemporary township culture in Southern Africa.
In South Africa you soak up the beauty of the Panorama Route, travelling into Blyde River Canyon. Encounter Africa's Big Five and an abundance of other wildlife and birds in world-renowned Kruger National Park.
This Exclusive Budget Safari is an authentic African camping experience, providing more style and comfort than a standard camping tour.
At the start of this 16-day Experience Southern Africa Safari we gather for an important tour briefing at 6:00pm and welcome you to Southern Africa.
You are free to relax at the hotel and explore the bustling city of Johannesburg, before the evening meeting at the hotel on day one. Johannesburg, known as the City of Gold, is a vibrant economic capital of Southern Africa. This cosmopolitan city is home to the largest urban forest in the world and offers a unique window into South African life, its turbulent history and melting pot of contemporary cultures.
We strongly recommend attending the tour briefing on day one, as this is when we collect your important contact information and insurance details from you. If your flight is set to arrive too late for the meeting, then we advise booking a flight for the day before the tour, so that you can join the meeting. Pre-tour accommodation can be arranged with us if required.
On day two we depart from the dynamic city of Johannesburg, driving northeast into the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa.
We travel towards the world-famous Kruger National Park, passing through the scenic Panorama Route, which runs along the Drakensberg Escarpment and down into the Lowveld. The Panorama Route is one of the most picturesque parts of South Africa, a country blessed with a diversity of beautiful scenery.
Driving via the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world, we admire the spectacular views from God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and The Three Rondavels.
As we enter Kruger Park the Big Five game viewing adventure begins! Our game drive takes us to game-rich areas of this world-famous national park, in search of the Big Five of Africa (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), along with a staggering array of other wild animals and birds.
Day three begins early in the morning, with a refreshing coffee and some rusks (tea biscuits), before setting off into the bush on a game drive. Mornings are an excellent time for game viewing as many animals are at their most active in the early morning hours. The bulk of our day is spent exploring this untamed wilderness area on game drives, stopping at watering holes en route to spot wildlife and birds. In the evening we venture back out into the bush on a thrilling night drive in an open safari vehicle. This exciting sunset drive takes you in search of the unusual and shy nocturnal creatures of Kruger Park.
Covering some 19 485 km² of African bush, Kruger Park is one of Southern Africa's biggest game reserves, inhabited by 150 mammal species, more than 500 bird species and 100 reptile species. In addition to the Big Five of Africa, Kruger is also home to endangered wildlife, including African wild dogs and black rhinos.
On both nights we camp inside Kruger Park at a campsite featuring shared facilities with hot and cold water.
Arriving at Mokopane we set up camp on a cattle farm surrounded by rolling hills, on the outskirts of town. This working Nguni cattle farm is called Thabaphaswa, meaning 'the black and white mountain' in the local language. The Nguni are a colourful breed of cattle that are culturally significant and deeply rooted in local traditions.
This evening we are treated to warm South African hospitality and a traditional dinner prepared by local villagers. We visit a village near the farm to experience the local way of life and meet a traditional artist. After our cultural encounter we return to our peaceful camp, set under starry African skies.
Set in the scenic African bushveld dotted with aloes and thorn trees, Mokopane was established in the 1800's by the Voortrekkers (colonial Dutch pioneers). The Mokopane area is rich in minerals, such as platinum and diamonds, as well as being one of the country's most important farming regions, with produce including citrus fruits, tobacco, cotton and maize.
We hit the road early today, driving to the town of Palapye, in southern Botswana.
Tonight we camp just outside of Palapye at an intimate campsite.
Day six sees us travelling north through game-rich Botswana to Nata. Tonight we camp on the fringes of the Makgadikgadi Pans, a stark and eerie dry land. Here you can explore the otherworldly salt pans on an optional three-hour open vehicle drive, to experience the endless horizons of this desolate terrain. Once an enormous inland lake the now dry Makgadikgadi Salt Pans stretch out over 12000km² in deep silence, amid the ancient Kalahari Desert.
In the rainy season the pans are transformed into grassy plains dotted with shallow lakes, attracting various wild animals and numerous migratory birds, including impressive flocks of flamingos. In the dry season however the strange mirages and empty, cracked-clay landscapes return to Makgadikgadi, one of the largest salt pans in the world.
Facilities at our campsite include a swimming pool, gift shop, ATM, restaurant and lounge-bar area.
We are off to the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on day seven, stopping for lunch on the banks of the Zambezi River along the way.
Arriving at Victoria Falls, we visit the spectacular waterfall to discover for ourselves why this natural wonder is called Mosi oa Tunya, which means 'The Smoke that Thunders'. Victoria Falls is ranked as the largest waterfall in the world, at 1.7km's wide and 108m's high - an awe-inspiring sight year round. As the Zambezi plummets into the narrow gorge below Vic Falls sends up a magnificent spray reaching over 400m's into the air during the rainy season when it can be spotted from miles away. Although not as thunderous during the dry season, Victoria Falls and the gorge below are clearly visible at this time, because there is less mist rising off the falls.
We stay at a conveniently located campsite in Victoria Falls town, close to all the action and adventure activities. You have the option of upgrading your accommodation at the camp's reception (extra cost).
At this stage of our combination trip new travellers may be joining your group while some fellow travellers may be departing, and a new safari guide may also be taking over from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. A group meeting is held to brief you on the next stage of your tour and meet any new travellers joining the group.
During your time at Victoria Falls you may come across an optional 'Walk with the Lions' activity. We do not recommend this activity as professional wildlife conservationists advise that habituating lions to humans can shorten their life span and may lead to human-lion conflict.
For the optional Helicopter Flight (12 minutes or 25 minutes ) we recommend using Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe and your guide can help make arrangements for this activity.
On day nine we cross back into neighbouring Botswana and make our way to the famous Chobe National Park, renowned for its huge elephant populations.
This afternoon we take a relaxing boat cruise on the Chobe River, an excellent opportunity to get up close to elephants, as well as other wildlife and plenty of birds. As we cruise along we look out for elephants along the banks, or even swimming in the river, along with the abundance of hippos and crocodiles lurking in the shallow waters. Other wild animals that are often sighted on this laid-back boat cruise include lions, zebras, cheetahs, buffalos and a range of antelopes.
Chobe is home to some of the highest concentrations of game in Africa and was the first national park established in Botswana.
Tonight we camp near Chobe National Park at a campsite with flush toilets, hot and cold showers, and WiFi access.
This morning you have the chance to take an optional sunrise game drive in Chobe National Park to explore its diverse habitats in search of the wild animals and birds inhabiting this scenic Botswana game park.
Then we drive to the lively town of Maun, in northern Botswana. Maun is a popular travel hub that serves as the gateway to the pristine Okavango Delta.
The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, formed by the waters of the Okavango River emptying into the arid Kalahari Desert from the Angolan Highlands. This beautiful wetland system is a one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon, creating a 16000 km² natural oasis in this otherwise arid desert region.
Over the next few days we will experience the beauty and diversity of the remarkable delta, soaking up the peace of its meandering waterways, remote islands and fertile flood plains. If we are lucky we will also encounter some of the wildlife inhabiting the scenic delta, from hippos and crocodiles, to elephants, buffalos and big cats.
We camp just outside of Maun tonight, at a basic campsite with shared facilities.
Our two-day delta adventure begins on day eleven, as we head in to this watery wonderland to discover its unique magic.
We explore the intricate network of clear waterways by mokoro canoes, the traditional dug-out vessels used in the delta. The mokoros are poled along the tranquil channels and lagoons by local 'polers' who stand in the canoe and guide it through the waters with a pole, in a similar way to gondoliers.
We also experience the untamed delta ecosystems on foot, heading into the bush on guided nature walks with knowledgeable guides. Walking in this unspoilt wilderness is a great way to spot the unusual animals and abundance of birds inhabiting this watery maze. On day 12 we venture into the delta on a sunrise walk with experienced guides, going in search of numerous birds and wildlife, including elephants.
After our early morning bush walk we return to camp for a well-deserved breakfast. The remainder of the day is free for you to swim in the clear streams, walk in the unspoilt bush, try your hand at poling a mokoro and simply kick-back. In the afternoon you can choose to join a guided bush walk or set off on a mokoro ride to admire more of the rich flora and fauna.
Both nights are spent camping on a secluded island in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Camping in the bush is an ideal way to immerse yourself in nature and get back to basics, with only a bush toilet and no showers. Our nights are spent under starry skies, taking in the sounds of nature in this truly wild place.
Today we break-up camp and glide out of the Okavango Delta in our mokoros. Arriving back at the poling station we return to Maun, and our camp on the fringes of town.
Today you also have the chance to take an optional flight over the delta (at extra cost). The scenic delta flight provides a superb overview of this complex ecosystem from above, giving you a whole new perspective of this vast natural gem.
We overnight at a simple camp with shared facilities, outside of Maun.
We drive south through Botswana today heading to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, located on the outskirts of the Kalahari Desert.
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary was established to protect black and white rhino populations and is integral to white rhino conservation efforts in Botswana. The Khama project practises wildlife tourism and sustainable natural resource management to deliver economic benefits to the local Batswana community. Our visit here helps support the local communities and protect the highly endangered white rhinos.
In the early evening we embark on a game drive, exploring Khama Sanctuary in search of rhinos, zebras, giraffes, leopards, ostriches and wildebeest. Sunset is an excellent time for game viewing as many animals are most active at this time of day.
Returning from our game drive in the evening we unwind beside the campfire and fall asleep under starry African skies.
Please note: If we arrive at Khama Sanctuary too late to embark on the sunset game drive, we will take a sunrise game drive on the following day instead.
On day 15 we drive back into South Africa where our exclusive budget safari began.
Our next destination is the historic township of Soweto, a bustling urban area of Johannesburg. Arriving in this metropolitan residential area we explore the streets by bicycle, meeting the friendly locals and getting a real feel for this vibrant place. Cycling in Soweto is a great way to experience the mix of local cultures and gain an understanding of South Africa's tumultuous past.
Here we find out more about the renowned Soweto Uprising of the 1970's and the struggle for freedom from apartheid, visiting local landmarks and a former migrant workers' hostel. On our Soweto tour we witness the deep economic divide in this nation, encountering grand homes and match-box shacks standing side-by-side.
Our colourful Soweto cycling tour finishes at about 3:00pm, bringing this adventure-filled Experience Southern Africa Budget Safari to a close.
Avoid booking any international flights departing before 8pm this evening. Post-tour accommodation can be arranged with us (when booking your safari), should you choose to stay in Johannesburg for an extra night or more.
Activities listed as optional in the itinerary are not included in the tour price and are for your own expense. See Optional Activities & Excursions tab.
This tour includes 8 nights of camping accommodation (with facilities), 2 nights of bush camping (with no facilities) and 2 nights of camping (with basic facilities). The tour also includes 1 night of hotel accommodation, a 1 night farmstay and 1 night of guesthouse accommodation.
On this tour accommodation is primarily in spacious two-man dome tents (larger than standard dome tents), equipped with camping beds. Camping is mostly at basic campsites with facilities.
On this tour 15 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 12 dinners are provided. We recommend a budget of USD 470 for meals not included in the itinerary.
This camping safari is an overlanding trip, which means that some group participation is required along the way. This is an exclusive camping safari however, which means that the tour operates with 3 crew members (guide, driver and assistant). Having extra staff on board means that less participation is required from clients on this tour.
The limited participation is usually in the form of helping with meal preparation and the setting up or dismantling of tents, and sometimes helping your guide/cook with shopping for supplies.
The above itinerary serves as a guide and is subject to changes (such as last minute route changes), due to factors including weather conditions and seasonal variation.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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