An affordable overland journey through five beautiful Southern African countries - South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
This diverse safari combines scenic wonders, cultural highlights, wildlife gems and historic attractions, both famous and less visited. Explore the remote mountains of Lesotho and Swaziland, relax on the sandy beaches of Mozambique and go game viewing in South Africa's renowned Kruger Park. In Zimbabwe, visit famous Hwange Park, Matobo Hills and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, ending with Victoria Falls.
Along the way you stay at comfortable lodges and camps, camping for only four nights.
This Southern Africa Highlights Safari starts in the cultural and commercial capital of South Africa - Johannesburg. We depart from the selected pre-tour lodge, leaving the megacity early (06h30) in the morning.
From the 'City of Gold', as Johannesburg is known, we drive south through the arid Free State region of South Africa to Lesotho. Crossing into Lesotho we travel up into the mountains of this small, landlocked country which lies almost entirely over 1000m above sea level. Winding our way up into the lush mountains we soak up the beautiful scenery of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
On our first two nights, we stay in comfortable riverside huts at a mountain lodge tucked away in the lofty mountains of Tsehlanyane National Park. Tsehlanyane is one of Lesotho's two national parks and forms part of the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park. Take a walk in the natural surroundings if time allows or simply enjoy the fresh mountain air and scenic landscapes surrounding the lodge.
Day two begins with a delicious breakfast at our riverside lodge in Lesotho. The whole day is spent exploring the scenic Maluti Mountains of the Tsehlanyane area and experiencing the local culture.
Your guide takes you on a walk in the rugged mountains to admire the stunning vistas of the peaks and valleys. Leading you to lovely waterfalls and rural villages the guide tells you more about the cultural traditions and history of Lesotho. Formed in 1822 as Basutoland, Lesotho became an independent country in 1966 after almost a century of British colonial rule.
This afternoon you can embark on an optional pony trek along winding mountain trails. Lesotho is renowned for its pony trekking on hardy and steady Basotho ponies. Ponies have served as the dominant form of transport in this rugged mountainous region since the early 1800s when one of King Moshoeshoe's chiefs gifted him a pony.
For those not heading into the hills on horseback, you can unwind at the lodge. Soak up the tranquillity of the remote Lesotho mountains and walk to the nearby village to meet the local Sotho people.
On day three we take in the rugged beauty of the Maluti Mountains as we drive back into South Africa and north into Swaziland. This is also a small, landlocked country, but unlike Lesotho, Swaziland is bordered by Mozambique as well as South Africa. Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa covering only 17364 km² of which almost 60% is owned by the royal family. This is the only absolute monarchy in Africa, ruled by King Mswati III.
We travel through undulating hills and fertile farms on our way into the Kingdom of Swaziland, crossing the border late this afternoon. En route to our lodge in the Hlambanyatsi Pine Forest region, we pass through the administrative capital city of Mbabane, set amid Dlangeni Hills. Despite western influence Swazi people still practice old traditions and Nguni ceremonies characterised by energetic dancing and symbolic costumes.
Today we visit Sibebe Rock, the second largest monolith (single rock) in the world. After breakfast, we drive through Mbabane to Sibebe Rock.
This massive granite rock is some 800 metres tall and is estimated to be about three billion years old! Exploring the base of this geological wonder we find out more about its history and the mythology surrounding the huge, exposed rock. Experience the unique and endemic plant and bird life found in the Sibebe area, while taking in the solitude.
We have lunch at the bottom of Sibebe Mountain before returning to our lodge. The leisurely drive takes us via local markets and craft stalls where we encounter the proud Swazi people and get a closer look at their interesting culture. Keep an eye out for the beehive huts typical of Swaziland as we drive.
Time to hit the road again as we head to Maputo, capital of Mozambique. Travelling through the game-rich Royal Hlane National Park in north-eastern Swaziland, we cross into neighbouring Mozambique. We drive through rural Mozambique, passing small villages and plantations en route to Maputo, which we reach in the afternoon.
Arriving in Maputo we take a city tour to view some of the landmarks and highlights of this eclectic city. The tour is conducted using local transport, adding to the excitement of our authentic exploration of the once grand city, formerly called Lourenço Marques. Once a major hub on the old spice and slave trade route of East Africa, Maputo holds a fascinating mix of historical and cultural elements, with strong Arabic and Portuguese influences.
Tonight we eat out (own expense) in the vibrant capital with a unique Latin flair.
On day six we drive north along the beautiful coastline to Maxixe. From here you take the local ferry across the bay to Inhambane, travelling by traditional dhow or boat. Reaching Inhambane your guide is there to collect you in the tour vehicle. We spend some time exploring Inhambane, once a major port on the East African trade route. Visit a local market bursting with activity and view the remnants of colonial times in the historic town.
Then we drive just south of Inhambane to our lodge right next to the Indian Ocean. Day seven is set aside for lazing on the idyllic beaches of sunny Mozambique, swimming and walking along the sandy shores. You can also go snorkelling or scuba diving (optional extras) in this region, which is famous for its rich marine life. Taking a day trip to Tofo - one of the best places in Africa for diving with whale sharks and manta rays is a worthwhile optional extra.
After an easy start to the day, we leave our lodge on the beach near Inhambane and travel down to Xai-Xai.
We spend the night at a resort tucked away in the dunes that lie between the freshwater lake and the ocean at Xai-Xai. This afternoon you can explore the area and enjoy the beaches of the seaside holiday town.
Today we say goodbye to the Indian Ocean coast, travelling back into neighbouring South Africa.
Our long drive takes us through remote rural areas dotted with small villages and on into the legendary Kruger National Park. Entering the Big Five territory of Kruger we scan the wilderness for wildlife and birds.
Tonight we set up camp inside the world-famous Kruger National Park. Dinner is prepared over the open fire and enjoyed under the stars. We sleep in two-man dome tents at one of the rest camps in the middle of the African bushveld.
Rising early on day ten, we have coffee at camp and watch the sunrise over the untamed bush. This beautiful time of day is ideal for spotting birds and animals as they begin to stir. Soon, we pack up camp and head out into Kruger National Park.
Most of the day is taken up with game viewing in this massive game reserve, covering some 19 485 km² of wilderness. South Africa's flagship national park, Kruger is one of the best safari destinations in Africa. Keep your eyes open for the Big Five (rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo), along with a wide diversity of other amazing animals. Wildlife sightings include endangered wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, hippos and all kinds of antelopes, such as kudu, roan, tsessebe and wildebeest.
Along the way, we break for a picnic lunch at one of the rest camps, before proceeding north through the park. In the northern section of Kruger Park, we have excellent chances of encountering cheetahs, as this area is known for its sightings of this big cat.
In the late afternoon, we leave Kruger Park via the Pafuri Gate in the far north, making our way to our nearby lodge for the night.
Time to cross into the final country we visit on this remarkable journey - Zimbabwe. After crossing into Zimbabwe at the Beit Bridge border post this morning, we continue to Masvingo in the south-eastern region.
In the afternoon we visit the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, the most famous archaeological site in the country. Built between the 11th and 15th centuries this renowned historical site hosts the extensive ruins of a once powerful city, at the heart of Queen Sheba's kingdom according to legend. As we walk around the impressive old ruins your guide tells you more about the mysterious monument and its cultural significance.
On night 11 we camp near the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
This morning we explore the pleasant city of Bulawayo, enjoying its tree-lined streets and old colonial buildings.
Then we make our way to our next camp, near Matobo National Park, one of the top highlights of Zimbabwe. Matobo is special for a number of reasons, particularly the rich historical and cultural value it holds, and the important role it plays in wildlife conservation.
In the afternoon we embark on a game drive in the beautiful Matobo National Park, admiring the strange, boulder scattered landscapes of this wild region. Matobo hosts sacred Ndebele sites, the grave of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes and ancient San rock paintings. The park is home to endangered black and white rhinos, a high concentration of black eagles and various other animals and birds.
This afternoon in Matobo we also go rhino tracking on foot - a thrilling wildlife adventure! After our memorable rhino walk, we continue our game drive, returning to camp in the early evening.
Northwards to Zimbabwe's leading game reserve, Hwange National Park.
Hwange is rated as one of the best safari destinations in Africa. The park covers some 14 651 km² of rugged wilderness inhabited by over 100 mammal and 400 bird species. The Big Five of Africa can all be spotted here, with Hwange being world known for its massive elephant population.
Reaching our camp near Hwange we have lunch before setting off on an exciting afternoon game drive. We go game viewing in an open-sided safari vehicle and also take a bush walk to get a closer look at the plants and creatures of the African bush. Buffalo, elephant and zebra herds are often sighted along with giraffes, an array of antelopes and various predators such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas.
Tonight we camp in two-man dome tents at a camp overlooking an active watering hole, visited by a variety of animals.
On day 14 we drive north to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe's most famous travel destination and one of the top natural wonders of the world. Dubbed as the Adventure Capital of Africa, Vic Falls is a must-see highlight in Southern Africa.
Arriving at the town of Victoria Falls we head to the spectacular waterfall to see it up close. Looking up at the massive curtain of falling water evokes a sense awe as only Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders, can. After visiting the largest waterfall in the world you are free to participate in adventure activities of your choice and explore the area.
We spend two nights in Victoria Falls allowing enough time to enjoy the thrilling activities and local culture. Optional activities (own account) include helicopter flips, bungee jumping, white water rafting and boat trips. Less adrenaline-inducing options include visiting a tribal village and local curio markets, exploring the old colonial outpost of Victoria Falls and walking to the big tree.
On one of the evenings, dinner is included, whilst other meals are for your own account at local restaurants or the lodge near Vic Falls.
On the final day of our Southern Africa Highlights Safari, we have breakfast at the lodge and say our goodbyes.
Our local office can arrange airport transfers (own account) if required.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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