This affordable Southern Africa Camping Safari explores top wilderness areas, game parks and travel highlights in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.
Start in Cape Town with a cultural Cape Flats township tour and travel north to Namibia via the Cederberg Mountains and Gariep River. This budget camping tour takes you to Namibia's Fish River Canyon, and on into the world's oldest desert in the Namib-Naukluft Park to see the giant red-orange dunes. Visit Swakopmund for optional adventure activities and sightseeing and then view Bushman rock paintings at Spitzkoppe. Next, it's off to Etosha National Park for superb game viewing, before an overnight in Namibia's capital, Windhoek.
Crossing into Botswana we experience the Kalahari Desert on a guided Bushman Walk before camping in the pristine Okavango Delta. The next stop is the game-rich Chobe National Park, before continuing to Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls for optional adventure activities and sightseeing.
The 19-day budget Wildlife and Deserts Camping Safari ends at Vic Falls.
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 budget camping safari starts in Cape Town, known as the Mother City of South Africa. Leaving the landmark Table Mountain and scenic city of Cape Town behind we make our way to the Cape Flats for a township tour of some of Cape Town's famous townships.
Our Cape Flats township tour gives us a chance to experience some of the vibrant local township cultures. Visit community projects and meet some of the local people in South Africa’s dynamic informal settlement areas. This exciting township excursion offers insight into the turbulent history and current state of the country, as well as the daily lives of these South Africans.
Our journey continues north through changing landscapes of South Africa's Western Cape, starting with winelands, fruit farms and green hills.
We spend our first night of camping under African stars in the northern part of the Western Cape Province en route to the Orange River. We stay near the small town of Citrusdal and the Olifants River at a campsite with views out over the majestic Cederberg Mountains. After setting up camp you can do a spot of wine tasting (extra cost), to sample some of the fine regionally produced wines. On the first night, you will have time to get to know your fellow travellers a little better and get into the swing of being on the road in Southern Africa.
Note: We recommend that you arrange to spend a few days in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town before your safari adventure. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town has something for everyone, from outdoor activities and wineland tours to world-class shopping and a lively nightlife.
Next, we travel north through the open landscapes of Namaqualand, marvelling at the fields of wildflowers in springtime. Continuing through rockier and more arid terrain we head to the Namibian border, marked by the Gariep River. Here we cross from South Africa into Namibia at the Vioolsdrift border post.
We camp on the Namibian banks of the Gariep, formerly Orange River, on day two of this Southern African Safari, enjoying a marvellous African sunset. With its source in Lesotho’s Drakensberg Mountains, the Gariep River is South Africa’s longest river, almost traversing the continent of Africa.
You have the option of hiking up to the viewpoint above the campsite and taking a canoe trip on the Orange River (this afternoon or the following morning). Alternatively, you can simply relax in this unspoilt natural setting and take a swim in the river. The camp is remote but not too basic, with facilities including hot showers, flush toilets and grass-covered camping sites Enjoy sundowners and soak up the peaceful river setting under a blanket of bright stars.
Today we embark on the optional canoe trip or swim in the river and relax at camp, before continuing north through rural Namibia. This Southern African country is a desert land of stark contrasts, best known for its impressive sand dunes.
We drive to the Fish River Canyon, arguably the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world. This beautiful natural wonder is around 500m deep and over 160km in length. We explore this scenic area enjoying spectacular views over the sharp “Hell’s Bend” corner of the canyon. We camp overnight not far from the immense canyon in this rugged part of southern Namibia.
From the Fish River Canyon, we continue driving north into one of the oldest deserts in the world, the Namib Desert.
We make our way to Sesriem, which lies close to the Namib-Naukluft National Park, serving as a good base for exploring this striking park. The Namib-Naukluft Park incorporates a vast swathe of the Namib Desert, as well as the Naukluft Mountains in what constitutes Africa's second largest game park.
Tonight we camp under starry Namibian skies in the desert near Sesriem, watching for wildlife at the waterhole where gemsbok are often spotted.
This morning we venture into the Namib-Naukluft Park, one of the largest game parks in the world, and Namibia’s largest conservation area, covering 50 000 sq km of dunes, plains, mountains and pans. In the Namib Naukluft Park, we visit some of the world’s tallest sand dunes, some reaching over 300m high, at Sossusvlei. The towering orange-red dunes at Sossusvlei are ideal for photographic opportunities, especially for sunrise or sunset desert landscape shots.
We climb to the top of famous Dune 45 to watch the sun rise over the open desert.
After a hard-earned breakfast, we continue deeper into the park, taking a shuttle and short walk to Dead Vlei. Here we walk through the giant sand dunes to experience the unspoilt desert environment of Namibia. Bring your camera – the shifting colours of the desert as the sun climbs throughout the mid/late morning offer some brilliant photographic opportunities.
Then we visit Sesriem Canyon, walking into the narrow gorge to see the layers of sedimentary rocks exposed through ages of erosion. Leaving the mesmerising Namib behind, we head to the small town of Solitaire in the Khomas Region of Namibia, where we overnight.
Next, we journey to the Atlantic coast, stopping to take photos as we cross the Tropic of Capricorn. We arrive in Swakopmund where the cool Atlantic ocean breeze and chill waters offer a welcome change from the heat of the desert.
After the silence of the Fish River Canyon and the Namib Desert, we explore the vibrant town of Swakopmund, located between the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. The quaint town of Swakopmund is Namibia’s premier seaside resort, featuring palm-lined avenues, beachside promenades and a distinctive German-infused charm. Take a sightseeing stroll through the unique town and relax at one of the street-side cafes or get your adrenaline pumping on one of the adventure activities. There are plenty of adventure activities to choose from at Swakopmund including kayaking, quad biking, sand boarding and skydiving, as well as scenic flights and guided desert walks.
Only breakfasts are included in Swakopmund, allowing you to fit other meals in according to your activities, which sometimes include lunch. There are plenty of sidewalk cafes and restaurants to choose from in town, with German cuisine and seafood being popular options.
Departing from Swakopmund our safari adventure takes us inland to Damaraland, now part of the Kunene Region of Namibia, making our way to Spitzkoppe.
The remote Spitzkoppe area is scattered with exposed granite formations that we explore to see the ancient rock paintings of the San Bushmen. Visit “Bushman Paradise”, the best example of rock art at this site and look out over the dramatic lands from the natural rock bridge. The peculiar rock formations reach up to 1728m above sea level, offering spectacular views. Explore this dramatic area of Namibia, soaking up its stillness. Witness the ever-changing colours of the rock formations, especially at sunrise and sunset, when they take on intense red shades.
Our Spitzkoppe Camp, located at the base of the rocky mountain, is owned and maintained by the local community. All proceeds from our stay contribute to a better future for the local community at Spitzkoppe.
From Spitzkoppe we continue journeying north-east to Etosha National Park. The game park is dominated by a vast salt pan, called the Etosha Pan, with Etosha meaning the "Great White Place"
We stay inside Etosha Park for the next two nights, camping near one of the watering holes, which are floodlit at night offering exciting nocturnal game viewing. This opportunity to watch wildlife at the watering holes in the night is the game viewing highlight of a trip to Namibia! Commonly sighted wild animals include elephant, giraffe and zebra, as well as sometimes lion and hyena.
We embark on a short afternoon game drive upon arrival in Etosha and spend the whole of day 10 game viewing.
The 20 000 km² Etosha Park is home to thousands of wild animals and is considered one of the most important game reserves in Southern Africa. This vast game park is inhabited by around 340 bird species and over 100 mammal species, notably the endangered cheetah and black rhino, as well as black-faced impala, tsessebe, roan antelope and gemsbok. In the rainy season, shallow lakes form on the pan, with the watering holes supporting Etosha’s wildlife all year-round.
Today we drive south to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, for a night in the town.
In Windhoek, we eat out and enjoy some nightlife, after our days spent out in the untamed wilderness areas of Namibia. Explore Windhoek, located in the geographical centre of Namibia, discovering its colonial German heritage and architecture.
The city of Windhoek is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains of Namibia and lies at 1,680m above sea level.
On day 12 we depart from Windhoek heading west into Botswana and the town of Ghanzi, called the "Capital of the Kalahari".
At Ghanzi, situated “in the middle of nowhere”, we explore the Kalahari Desert's arid landscapes on foot. This vast and flat terrain is remarkable for its beautiful sunsets and open skies, a stargazer’s paradise at night. On our guided Kalahari Bushman Walk we have the opportunity to learn a bit about these nomadic hunter-gatherers, that were once the only inhabitants of this desolate area. Get a genuine glimpse of this fast disappearing ancient culture, supporting an eco-tourism venture that gives the San/Bushman a sustainable income and helps keep their unique culture alive.
Around the campfire at night, you can experience the ancient dance rituals of the San. On special occasions a healing or trance dance is performed, which can last through the night - an intense spiritual experience for both local participants and visitors alike. We camp overnight in the Kalahari Desert area under wide African skies.
In the morning we continue to Maun from where we enter the Okavango Delta, the jewel in Botswana’s crown. The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, covering 1.6 million hectares of natural waterways and pristine wilderness.
Maun is a lively tourism hub situated along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe antelopes can be seen grazing side by side with local donkeys, goats and cattle. This town, founded in 1915, is known as a hard-living 'Wild West' town and today features an eclectic mixture of modern buildings and traditional-style huts. Maun is infamous for its roaming donkeys and goats, that stand around town where the local farmers gather in countless taxis to sell their goods on the roadside.
If time allows then you can take an optional scenic flight over the Okavango Delta this afternoon. The scenic flight gives you a bird's eye view over the delta, allowing you to fully appreciate the vastness of this beautiful Botswana wilderness area. The views over this vast and pristine wildlife haven will take your breath away! Look out for hippos, elephant and buffalo in the waterways and bush and see the watery channels meandering their way through the Delta in the intricate web of this changing wetland system. Alternatively, we may have time for the optional scenic flight on day 16 when we return to Maun.
This morning we drive to a mokoro station on the fringes of the delta in a 4x4 vehicle and then switch modes of transport to the more traditional mokoro. We make our way deeper into the delta by mokoro, a dugout canoe poled along by a local who stands up in the vessel.
Tonight we camp in the Okavango Delta, experiencing this unique wilderness area and its wildlife up close. The delta, with its source in Angola, spreads out in an intricate web of channels on the flat plains of Botswana emptying into the Kalahari Desert. Knowledgeable and experienced local guides will accompany you in this extensive wetland system “poling” you through the labyrinth of winding channels and lagoons in traditional mekoros.
You will also have the opportunity to explore the delta on a thrilling bush walk. Exploring the narrow channels of the delta we look out for wildlife including hippo, crocodile and an array of birds amongst the giant lily pads and tall grasses of the reed-fringed islands.
Our overnight tented camp is set beside a lagoon in the watery Okavango Delta. We stay in twin share tents with en-suite bathrooms at this bush camp, which is often visited by roaming elephants. At night you can hear the sounds of the African bush surrounding you for miles as you sleep under starry skies in this remote wilderness – the wildlife experience of a lifetime!
We glide gently out of the pristine Okavango Delta in mekoros, transferring back to Maun by road from the mokoro station.
Arriving at the camp outside Maun in time for lunch the afternoon is free for you to relax at the lodge and unwind by the pool, or embark on an optional flight over the Okavango Delta - an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the sweeping views over the pristine bush and winding waterways gaining perspective on the sheer size of the wetland system that you explored on the ground.
Leaving Maun we continue along the wildlife corridor where migratory species move between the Nxai Pan and the main Makgadikgadi Pans.
Along the way to Nata, we pause to look at the impressive baobab trees of Botswana. Then we head to Elephant Sands, near Nata, arriving in the late afternoon. Our next camp is unenclosed, providing the opportunity to view wildlife, particularly elephants up close. Watching wildlife move freely from one waterhole to the next, from such close range, is a special African experience.
From Nata, we drive north to Kasane, the gateway to game-rich Chobe National Park in north-eastern Botswana.
Chobe boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, covering 12 000 sq km’s of unspoiled wilderness. Famous for its large elephant population, estimated at around 40000 strong, Chobe Park is an excellent place for sighting elephants among other wildlife. Chobe is home to lion, zebra, buffalo and a variety of antelope species, as well as an abundance of birdlife, including the African fish-eagle.
Here we take a ‘Fish Eagle’ boat cruise on the Chobe River – an excellent opportunity to spot hippo, elephant, buffalo and even lion along the river. Embarking on a Chobe River boat cruise in the late afternoon we admire a scenic sunset and see the abundance of birds drawn to the river.
The Chobe River flows along the Northeast border of the game park and serves as a major watering hole for large herds of breeding elephants, as well as families of giraffe, sable and cape buffalo (especially in the dry season from May to October). The Chobe floodplains are the only place in Botswana where the puku antelope can be sighted, along with numerous carmine bee-eaters in season. During flood times spoonbills, ibis, various stork species, duck and other waterbirds flock to the river area of Chobe.
On the morning of day 18, we enjoy an open vehicle game drive in Chobe, going in search of the abundant wildlife and birds found here. After exploring the wildlife haven of Chobe Park we cover the short distance to our next stop at Livingstone, on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. We cross the Zambezi River by ferry and drive to nearby Livingstone town, where we set up camp on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. Livingstone lies a few kilometres from Vic Falls, the largest sheet of falling water in the world, at 1 708 m’s wide and 108m’s tall.
We visit the Falls to see this natural wonder up close! Witnessing the impressive spray rising from the Zambezi as it plummets over 100 m’s at Vic Falls, you will understand why locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means the “Smoke that Thunders”. When the Zambezi is flowing strongly the spray at Vic Falls can be seen from as far as 20 km’s away.
The days in the Vic Falls area are free for you to explore Livingstone town or participate in the wide variety of adventure activities on offer. During our stay at Victoria Falls, there are plenty of exciting activities to choose from, including white water rafting, scenic flights, bungee jumping, canoeing, game viewing, Zambezi river cruises and more. Relax beside the Zambezi River, keeping an eye out for hippos and crocodiles or take a day trip into Zimbabwe if you feel like exploring. Your guide can provide you with information and advice about the wide array of adventure activities on offer here.
Our overnight camp near Livingstone features a reasonably priced restaurant overlooking the Zambezi River or you could choose to eat at one of the local spots in Livingstone. During our stay at Livingstone breakfast is included in the tour price, allowing for flexibility with your other meals while you are on the move. A budget of between US$15 and $30 per meal is recommended for your other meals.
The action-packed South Africa, Namibia & Botswana Overland Camping Safari ends after breakfast on day 19.
Please note that this tour comes with a highly recommended Adventure Pass. The Adventure Pass is optional and costs extra, but it is strongly recommended because it includes major tour highlights and activities. This local payment can be purchased 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 Adventure Pass and see the Full Pricing above for rates.
Transport on this tour is in a 24-seater, custom-built safari truck. The self-contained truck is fitted with onboard tables, individual lockers (70-litre) and a freezer, as well as safety features. The safari truck also features plug sockets, a library and an i-pod jack. Travel includes mekoro, safari vehicle and riverboat transport.
The group prepares these meals in camp and help with preparation is invited. Most dietary requirements can be catered for on the road, upon request at the time of booking.
Some of our National Park visits and game viewing drives are conducted using local services, to ensure the best quality game driving and to comply with local authority rulings. Using local African guides and service providers also adds to our safari experience and allows us to contribute to the local communities. These local services are included in the Local Payment of the tour.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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