This diverse Botswana, Vic Falls & Zimbabwe Safari explores top wildlife, scenic and cultural highlights in Southern Africa.
Leaving Johannesburg we drive into the arid Kalahari Desert region of Botswana to experience the ancient culture and ways of the San. Then we journey into the Okavango Delta, exploring the maze-like waterways on mokoro rides and nature walks, coming face to face with nature in this pristine wilderness area. Take a game drive and boat cruise in one of Botswana's top game parks, Chobe National Park - home to an abundance of elephants, other wildlife and birds.
In Zimbabwe witness the thundering Victoria Falls and get the chance to experience thrilling adventure activities. Explore the cultural and wildlife highlights of Zimbabwe's leading destinations - game-rich Hwange National Park, the impressive Great Zimbabwe Ruins and the unique Matobo National Park.
Travel back to Johannesburg where this action-packed Botswana, Victoria Falls & Zimbabwe Tour comes to an end.
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.
Driving through the North-West Province of South Africa we cross into Botswana and continue along the Trans-Kalahari Highway. We spend the first night of this Botswana, Vic Falls & Zimbabwe Safari on the outskirts of the Kalahari Desert.
This safari comes with an optional Activity Package at an additional cost. The itinerary includes these highly-recommended activities. Contact African Budget Safaris for a detailed breakdown of what is included in the Activity Package and see the Full Pricing Information above for the cost of the Activity Package.
Start the day with breakfast before we drive further into the Central Kalahari region, making our way to Ghanzi. Our camp is located in the Ghanzi area, home to the unique Kalahari San (Bushmen). The San were the first people to inhabit Southern Africa, having lived in harsh desert environments for tens of thousands of years.
After lunch we meet up with local San guides and take a walk in the seemingly barren Kalahari, discovering the rich forms of life found here. The San guides share their deep knowledge of the region's flora and fauna with us, revealing how their ancestors have long survived in this dry environment as hunter-gatherers.
This evening we are treated to a cultural experience giving us more insight into the ancient culture of the San. These semi-nomadic people are known for their vivid traditional stories, as well as their song and dance rituals.
Today we drive northeast to Maun, passing through rural Botswana.
The bustling town of Maun is known as the gateway to the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta. The Okavango River has no outlet to the sea, emptying into the sands of the Kalahari Desert to irrigate some 15,000 km² of Botswana. It takes a good six months for the waters to make their way down from the Angolan Highlands into the Okavango Delta after the rains.
We spend the night at a camp near Maun to prepare for our magical delta trip. The pristine Okavango Delta is the jewel of Botswana and one of the top wildlife destinations in Africa, consisting of a series of rivers, floodplains and waterways. Tonight your guide will fill you in on what to expect in the delta and the activities lined up.
Travellers who opted not to do the Okavango Delta Trip as part of their Activity Package will remain at the camp in Maun. Meals and camping accommodation are included and there are optional activities available in Maun.
Next, we drive to the fringes of the Okavango Delta, taking a boat ride into this amazing wetland area. Cruising along the windy waterways of the delta we head to Seronga where we switch to a safari vehicle that transfers us to our remote delta camp.
After settling in at our exclusive camp we head into the pristine Okavango Delta, exploring by mokoro or on foot. Mekoros are the traditional dug-out vessels used to navigate the maze of shallow delta channels. Local guides pole the canoes through the water, taking us on relaxing mokoro rides that end with sundowners or nature walks in the bush. Not only is the Delta labyrinth a visual delight, but it is also home to an abundance of fauna and flora, including some amazing birdlife.
On day five, we typically rise early and follow the reed-lined channels to one of the secluded islands, where we stop to take a nature walk. Gliding through the delta by mokoro is an ideal way to appreciate this unique natural environment and get a closer look at the marvellous creatures and plants. On our nature walks, we learn about the delta from our guides, looking closely at the plants and signs of wildlife. The wild animals of the delta are unaccustomed to people, but we may see some of these shy inhabitants on our walks. Returning from our nature walks, we spend time unwinding at camp, enjoying the quiet natural setting.
We spend our evenings around the campfire under starry skies in this wild place, surrounded by untamed nature. A truly wild African bush experience - camping in the Okavango Delta, you will be immersed in the wilderness, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of this unspoiled area and its inhabitants up close.
Please note that activities vary according to seasonal fluctuations in the water levels of the delta and local conditions.
Our intimate delta camp is located inside a 100 000 hectare private concession area, offering a unique delta experience. The secluded camp looks out over peaceful delta waterways, blending in with the wild African bush around it.
What makes this exclusive camp particularly special is that it only caters for one group of travellers at a time, so you will only share your delta adventure with your fellow safari-goers. Exploring this private delta concession with our experienced guides, you won't come across other groups, allowing you to escape the crowds. This laid-back camp is located in the remote northern section of the delta, in a game-rich wilderness area attracting buffalo herds and other wild animals, as well as a wide array of birds.
Stay in pre-erected dome tents fitted with camping beds and mattresses, at this bush camp with a low environmental impact on the wilderness. The camp features ablution facilities with hot showers, a bar and lounge area, a plunge pool and a spacious, open-sided boma with kitchen facilities.
The camp is ideal for immersing yourself in nature, listening to the lion's roar amid other sounds at night. Activities offered at the Delta camp include game drives, bush walks, mokoro trips, sunset boat cruises and sundowners on one of the islands, and boma dinners.
We leave the magical Okavango Delta returning to our safari truck for our drive to Nata. Driving east along the northern outskirts of the vast Makgadikgadi Pans, we pass giant baobab trees along the way and get a glimpse of the open salt flats.
This afternoon you have the option of taking an excursion to the salt pans near Nata to experience the desolate landscapes of this harsh environment. The Makgadikgadi Pans complex is one of the largest salt pan systems in the world, covering 30 000 km² of northern Botswana.
Today we continue to Kasane in the far northeastern part of Botswana.
Kasane is ideally located near the meeting place of the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers close to Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Reaching Kasane we head to our safari camp, a few kilometres from Chobe National Park. We camp with shared ablutions at a lodge, overlooking the Chobe River and surrounding bush, and featuring a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Arriving at camp we have lunch at the safari truck and get ready for our game viewing adventure in the famous Chobe National Park, home to one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa.
In the afternoon we embark on a 4x4 game drive in Chobe National Park. Chobe Park is the second largest national park in Botswana, encompassing diverse habitats from lush plains and wooded grasslands to dense forests and swamps. Chobe is best known for its huge population of migratory elephants.
Then we embark on a boat cruise along Chobe River, watching the sunset over scenic Chobe Park. One of Africa's top game parks, Chobe is known for its excellent boat-based game viewing. The game drive and boat cruise provide excellent opportunities for spotting wild animals up close, including hippos, crocodiles, buffaloes, antelope species and elephants.
This morning we drive to Victoria Falls, crossing from Botswana into Zimbabwe. Today we visit the mighty Vic Falls to experience the "Smoke that Thunders" or Mosi-oa-Tunya as the local Kololo call it.
Witnessing the mighty falls is an awe-inspiring experience as the Zambezi plummets over 100 feet into the gorge below forming the largest curtain of falling water in the world at 1,7km wide. Listen to the thundering of Victoria Falls and see the amazing smoke-like spray rising up to 400 meters above the Falls making it visible from as far as 50 km away!
After visiting Victoria Falls, you can jump straight into an optional adventure activity or take it easy and explore the town. Tonight we meet-up for an optional dinner at a local restaurant and your guide helps you to choose and book activities for the next day.
Today is free for you to participate in some of the numerous exciting adventure activities available in the Victoria Falls area.
A popular choice is the Zambezi River White Water Rafting at Vic Falls, said to be some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. There are however plenty of other thrilling activities to choose from including helicopter and microlight flights over Vic Falls, zip-line rides, trips to Livingstone Island, swimming in Devil's Pool and bungee jumping.
Our overnight stay is at the comfortable hotel in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
On day 10 of this Botswana, Vic Falls & Zimbabwe Safari we depart from Victoria Falls, the unofficial adventure capital of Africa.
Setting off from Victoria Falls we travel south to Zimbabwe's flagship national park, Hwange. Arriving at Hwange we have lunch and embark on an open vehicle game drive in this top African safari destination.
Hwange National Park is home to one of the largest elephant populations in Africa, as well as all of Zimbabwe’s endangered species. The game park hosts more than 100 mammalian species, including one of the world’s largest populations of endangered wild dog, and 400 bird species. The Big Five of Africa – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant - are found in Hwange alongside cheetah, hyena, zebra and giraffe.
Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve, the 14650 km² Hwange Park is a real highlight of any safari in Zimbabwe.
Leaving Hwange Park behind today, we drive to the Matobo National Park, just south of Bulawayo. Here we embark on an afternoon game drive in search of wildlife and to soak up the unique scenery. Matobo Park covers some 44 500 hectares (424 km²) and is home to a variety of wild animals and birds.
The game park has been stocked with black and white rhinos, with leopard sightings being another game viewing highlight in the park. Matobo also hosts a range of antelope species, baboons, reptiles, rock hyraxes and birds. Black eagles sightings are another safari highlight in this Zimbabwean park, said to host one of the world's highest concentrations of black eagles, if not the highest. This scenic park also features one of the highest concentrations of traditional San rock art in Southern Africa. Established in 1953, Matobo National Park has several sites of historical significance, including the grave of the prominent settler, Cecil John Rhodes.
The Matobo Hills are regarded as a sacred site by the local Shona, who perform rituals in these ancient hills. The rain shrine of the Ndebele, dedicated to the god of the ancestors, is also found in these hills. The culturally important Matobo Hills consist of exposed granite boulders that were formed millions of years ago, making for a mysterious and surreal landscape.
Next, our journey through Zimbabwe takes us to another treasure of this fascinating Southern African country - the world-famous Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
The impressive Great Ruins of Zimbabwe once served as a royal palace and the capital of the then Kingdom of Zimbabwe. Dating back to the Iron Age this World Heritage Site was built from the 11th century onwards. Legend has it that the ruins were once used by the Queen of Sheba.
There has been much debate and speculation regarding the origins of these ruins, but the general consensus is that the structures were constructed by the forefathers of the Shona. The building was done without the use of mortar, standing testament to the skill of the builders. This extensive complex includes walls that tower up to 11 metres high, measuring as much as 5 metres in thickness.
The renowned bird carvings, out of soapstone, were found here at the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Today these eight carved birds are featured on the Zimbabwean National Flag and replicas are often carved by locals.
Today we head to neighbouring South Africa, travelling into the beautiful Limpopo Province. Our next stop is a small resort town, called Tshipise. Here we unwind and enjoy the mineral hot springs in the afternoon.
Established in 1936, Tshipise lies at the foot of Tshipise hill, surrounded by bush landscapes scattered with old baobabs and indigenous trees. The name, Tshipise, is said to originate from the meaning to “burn, be hot” in reference to the local hot springs that reach up to 65°C. We camp at the foot of Tshipise Koppie tonight.
On the final day of our safari adventure, we drive south along the Great North Road to Johannesburg.
Johannesburg is the economic heart of South Africa, as well as being one of the strongest commercial centres in Africa. The dynamic city of Johannesburg, commonly known as Jo'burg, is a great place to gain insight into the cultures and history of this colourful nation.
Arriving in Johannesburg late afternoon, our 14 Day Botswana, Vic Falls & Zimbabwe Safari comes to a close.
Fellow travellers usually enjoy a final dinner together at the post-tour lodge, which offers a traditional braai (barbecue) that can be booked (extra cost) through your guide.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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