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Start with Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, then explore scenic deserts, rivers and wildlife reserves in Botswana and Namibia, staying in three to four star lodge accommodation en route.
This laid-back and beautiful Deserts, Rivers & Wildlife Safari is designed for budget conscious travellers over the age of forty.
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 southbound Deserts, Rivers & African Wildlife Safari begins at Victoria Falls - one of the most famous natural wonders in Africa. We start off with a group meeting at 15h00, so that your guide can tell you more about the journey ahead.
Before and after the pre-safari meeting at the lodge you have time to explore and jump into adventure activities. The following day is also free for you to do as you please - explore the historic town of Victoria Falls and take on exciting outdoor activities, resting at the lodge in between excursions.
Visiting the mighty Vic Falls waterfall is an unforgettable experience, an absolute must. This is the largest waterfall in the world - a thundering mass of water plummeting 108 metres into the Batoka Gorge. Standing before Victoria Falls you will see why it is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means 'The Smoke that Thunders'.
There are numerous adventure activities to choose from, including hair-raising options such as bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, white water rafting down the Zambezi River and flying over Victoria Falls in a helicopter, micro-light or fixed-wing plane. Other options include visiting the local market and historical attractions, taking a tram ride and canoeing on the river.
On day three we cross into Botswana, heading to Kasane and our lodge along the Chobe River.
In the afternoon we take a sunset boat cruise on the Chobe River - an ideal way to spot wildlife and birds up close. Moving slowly along the river also gives us time to admire the scenery and catch a spectacular sunset.
On the morning of day four you can take an optional game drive inside Chobe National Park, one of Africa's most renowned game parks. Chobe Park is best known for its large population of elephants and also hosts high concentrations of other mammals, including predators such as lions and hyenas.
Today we drive up to the border with Namibia, travelling through Chobe National Park, before crossing into the fertile Caprivi Strip region of this otherwise arid country.
Our next lodge is located next to the Kwando River offering lovely views over the lush bush and open flood plains. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing in the natural setting beside the river, watching for animals and birds visiting the area, or head out on an optional late afternoon game drive (own account) in search of wildlife.
Day six - continue to the Okavango River, moving west along the Caprivi Strip.
Tonight we stay at a comfortable lodge looking out over the river and neighbouring Angola. You can take a boat cruise this afternoon (own account) enjoying the lush surroundings and keeping an eye out for small animals and birds.
Next up - the famous Etosha National Park of Namibia, one of Africa's top game viewing destinations.
Entering the striking and harsh habitat of Etosha Park the game viewing adventure begins. This game park is home to numerous wildlife species, including the most famous large mammals - lion, elephant, leopard, wildebeest, giraffe, cheetah and rhino, as well as the striking oryx (gemsbok) and various other antelopes. We game drive to the Namutoni Restcamp inside Etosha National Park, enjoying spotlit game viewing at the waterhole after dark.
On day eight we drive on through the untamed bush, making our way west to Okaukuejo Restcamp. On our morning and afternoon game drives we stop at waterholes to see animals and birds coming to bathe and drink. Tonight we get to watch for wildlife at the camp's floodlit waterhole, which attracts a variety of nocturnal visitors.
One more spin in the wild world of Etosha, eyes open for animals and birds, as we leave the park. From the big game territory of Etosha Park with its shimmering saltpan, we drive into the rugged and remote wilderness of Damaraland. This arid region has an eerie beauty to it - with its barren, rocky landscapes largely free of human development.
The next lodge on our safari is perched on the ridge of a hill overlooking the open plains, rocky koppies and ancient riverbeds. Spend the afternoon soaking up the stillness of this stunning setting and splashing in the natural-stone swimming pools at the lodge, or explore the barren surrounds on foot, before settling down for some incredible stargazing.
On day ten we make our way to the west coast of Africa, travelling across the open gravel and dry grassland plains of Damaraland to meet the icy Atlantic Ocean. Tracing the dramatic coastline south, we arrive in the town of Swakopmund - the top seaside holiday spot in Namibia.
There are no planned activities in the afternoon or on day 11 in Swakopmund, allowing you to do what you like. The town offers activities suitable for families, cultural buffs and adventure-seekers. Walking in the town you can see old European architectural styles in the churches, monuments, colonial era buildings and other traces of this African towns' colonial German-influenced history. Stroll along the sandy beach or on the jetty, brave a dip in the cold waters, visit the aquarium or museum and sit at a sidewalk cafe.
You can go sea kayaking, take a dolphin cruise or go fishing for the day. More adventure-based activities (own account) include sand boarding and quad biking on the dunes near Swakopmund, skydiving and hot air ballooning and scenic flights over the desert and ocean terrain of this stunning area.
Moving further south we drive inland into the ancient Namib Desert where dune fields stretch out as far as the eye can see. We cross open gravel plains driving into the famous red-orange dunes of Namibia. Our next lodge sits on the outskirts of the desert - surrounded by sandy scrub-covered hills and flats of the semi-arid desert terrain.
On day 13 we wake early and head into the Namib Desert to visit Sossusvlei. Driving into Namib-Naukluft National Park as day breaks we watch the dunes light up in glowing warm colours. We see some of the world's highest dunes in the Sossusvlei Dunes area, walking 5km through the desert to reach the actual pans of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei.
The stark pans consist of pale coloured, clay ground dotted with dead trees, fringed with low shrub and acacia vegetation, and encircled orange to red sand dunes. Photographic opportunities are superb in this setting of contrasts -where cracked clay earth, blue skies, ochre dunes and silhouetted tree skeletons meet.
This afternoon we walk through the narrow Sesriem Canyon to see the effects of ages of erosion in the sedimentary layers of rock exposed in the gorge.
After breakfast we head out of the vast Namib Desert travelling over mountains and onto the central plateau where Windhoek lies.
We spend the night at a hotel in the capital of Namibia, where you can enjoy the local nightlife and cuisine.
This morning you are free to walk around the city of Windhoek, visit the attractions and see the sights. Later you are transferred to the airport where this fabulous, yet affordable safari comes to an end.
Pre-tour and post-tour accommodation and return airport transfers can be pre-booked for Victoria Falls and Windhoek through African Budget Safaris.