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This affordable Southern Africa Camping Safari explores top wilderness areas, game parks and travel destinations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia.
Start with game viewing in South Africa's premier Kruger National Park before exploring the fascinating Matobo National Park of Zimbabwe. Visit Victoria Falls on the Zambian side, then encounter the wildlife of Chobe National Park and Elephant Sands. Experience the wild Okavango Delta by traditional dugout canoe and on foot, camping on a remote delta island.
Travel into the Kalahari Desert and take a guided Bushman Walk, crossing into Namibia to overnight in Windhoek. Drive north to Etosha National Park for unforgettable game viewing and continue to Spitzkoppe and the strange landscapes of Damaraland. On to the coast, we spend time in Swakopmund, followed by an adventure into the world's oldest desert - the Namib, where we walk in the red-orange dunes and marvel at the desert imagery. After peering over the massive Fish River Canyon we cross back into South Africa, stopping at the Gariep River. Lastly we overnight in the Cederberg mountains and journey to our last stop - the beautiful city of Cape Town.
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.
On day one of this Southern Africa Overland Camping Safari we depart from the bustling city of Johannesburg, the economic powerhouse of Southern Africa, heading west into one of the most scenic parts of South Africa.
We travel through the Mpumalanga Province along the Panorama Route, with highlights including the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels. We descend from the beautiful escarpment with its spectacular views, heading for the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
We spend two nights camping within the Greater Kruger area, which covers over 24 000 sq km’s of South Africa. The Greater Kruger area was formed when fences between Kruger National Park and the private game reserves bordering the park were removed. The establishment of the Greater Kruger enables the diverse wildlife found in these wilderness areas to move freely between Kruger Park and its neighbouring game reserves.
Enjoy Shangaan tribal dancing and singing on our first night and take a full day 4x4 game drive in Kruger National Park proper the next day! Kruger is South Africa’s flagship game park and top travel destination, boasting an unrivaled diversity of plants and animals, ranging from the dwarf mongoose to Africa’s Big Five - elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo.
Our game drives in Kruger take us in search of the Big Five and a variety of other wildlife, such as giraffe, zebra, cheetah, hyena and various antelope species. With around 507 bird species, 147 mammal species and 114 reptiles game drives in Kruger Park offer excellent photographic opportunities. In addition to its abundance of wildlife, the untamed Kruger Park is also rich in archeological and historical sites.
After our fantastic wildlife adventure game viewing in Kruger National Park, we travel north through South Africa’s lush countryside to Tshipise, in the northern Limpopo Province.
We camp at the foot of a rolling koppie, next to the Honnet Nature Reserve. Dense indigenous woodlands grow in the area, which also hosts the third largest Baobab tree in South Africa. We relax at the resort and enjoy a soak in the hot springs.
Day four takes us across into Zimbabwe. Our destination today is near Bulawayo, the second biggest city in the country. Bulawayo hosts big parks, old colonial British buildings and wide, tree-lined streets, along with the bustle and colourful elements of urban Africa.
We spend the night near Bulawayo, at a grassy camp with trees and fishponds, as well as a swimming pool and WiFi. Tomorrow we will be visiting the nearby Matobo National Park - one of the natural, historical and cultural gems of Zimbabwe.
Today we explore Matobo National Park with knowledgeable local guides. This is a wild region of unusual beauty, featuring huge granite boulders and rocky hills.
Matobo is home to significant wildlife and bird populations - including exceptionally high concentrations of black and white rhinos, and black eagles, as well as elusive leopards. If conditions are right the guides lead us into the bush in search of rhinos and other animals.
Ancient San (Bushmen) rock paintings are found tucked away in these hills, where sacred sites of the Ndebele are also located. Colonial tycoon Cecil John Rhodes is buried at World's View at his request - a controversial site for the British imperialist's grave given its cultural significance to local tribes.
After exploring the beautiful Matobo National Park we travel to our next stop - Victoria Falls. We drive via the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe before crossing into Zambia, where we make our way to Livingstone, on the Zambian side of Vic Falls. For the next two nights we camp at a pleasant resort on the banks of the Zambezi, near the Victoria Falls waterfall and the safari hub of Livingstone.
An included visit to the natural wonder of Victoria Falls brings you up close to the largest sheet of falling water in the world, at 1 708 m’s wide and 108m’s high. When you witness the impressive spray rising from the Zambezi as it plummets over 100 metres at Victoria Falls, you will understand why it is called the “Smoke that Thunders” or “Mosi oa Tunya”, as Vic Falls is called locally. When the Zambezi is flowing strongly the spray at Vic Falls can be seen from as far as 20 km’s away.
During our time 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. You will be briefed on the selection of activities on offer and assisted with bookings for the following day.
Today is free for you to explore Livingstone town, unwind at the resort, or participate in some exciting adventure activities.
Relax beside the river at the resort and cool down in the pool, in between your adventures. End your day with an optional sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River, keeping an eye out for hippos and crocodiles while enjoying sundowners. You can also take a day trip into Zimbabwe if you feel like exploring further and your tour guide can give you useful advice about visa requirements.
Our overnight camp near Livingstone features a reasonably priced restaurant overlooking the Zambezi River. During our stay in 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.
We depart from Livingstone after breakfast, taking the short drive to Kasane, near Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Botswana’s premier game park, Chobe National Park covers 10566 sq km’s of unspoiled wilderness in north-eastern Botswana. Chobe game park is famous for its large herds of elephants and the Chobe floodplains are the only place in Botswana where the puku antelope is found.
This diverse national park is also home to lion, zebra, buffalo and a variety of antelope species, as well as an abundance of birdlife, including the African fish-eagle. We take a late afternoon boat cruise looking out for hippos, elephants, buffalos, lizards, baboons, antelopes, crocodiles and a variety of birds. This laid-back boat cruise on Chobe River is an ideal way to spot wildlife and birds up close and take in the stunning bush scenery at sunset.
On day nine, we embark on a open 4x4 game drive in Chobe, ranked one of the top game parks in Africa. Sightings include an array of large mammals, including predators such as lion, leopard and African wild dog.
Then we leave Kasane and Chobe Park behind, making our way south to Nata. Keep an eye out for elephant and buffalo wandering along the road. Our destination for today is Elephant Sands - set in the bush where wildlife roams freely. Relaxing at the bar, pool and campsite animals are often spotted up close here!
Today we head west along the outskirts of the massive Kalahari Desert and arid salt pans, driving to Maun - the gateway to the Okavango Delta.
We overnight near the safari hub of Maun, before setting off on our trip into the Okavango Delta. Either this afternoon or when we return to Maun after camping in the Delta, there is usually time to take an optional scenic flight over the Okavango Delta – a breathtaking experience that enables you to view the vastness of this pristine wilderness area.
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. The delta, with its source in Angola, spreads out in an intricate web of channels on the flat plains of Botswana emptying into the desert.
This morning we set off for the fringes of the delta in a 4x4 safari vehicle, meeting up with our local Tswana guides. These knowledgeable and experienced local guides will accompany you in the extensive wetland system “poling” you through the labyrinth of winding channels and lagoons in traditional dugout canoes, called 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.
We spend a night camping in the Okavango Delta, experiencing this unique wilderness area up close. Our overnight tented camp is set on the banks of a tranquil lagoon, in an area of the watery Okavango Delta often visited by elephants. We stay in tents with twin beds and en suite bathrooms, at our basic but comfortable bush camp. 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!
Wake up in the Okavango Delta, surrounded by the untamed bush. Enjoy the natural setting at camp before we glide out of the delta in the mekoros, watching for animals and birds along the way.
Reaching the collection point beside the waterways we switch to 4x4 vehicle and return to Maun, arriving at camp in time for lunch. In the afternoon you can cool off in the pool and rest at camp or head off on an optional scenic flight. The flight takes you over the winding waterways and wild plains of the unique delta, just visited. Elephants, hippos and other animals are often spotted from above so keep an eye out.
On day 13 we leave Maun and drive southwest along the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Our next stop is at the town of Ghanzi, called the "The capital of the Kalahari". At Ghanzi, situated “in the middle of nowhere”, we explore the area’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 Bushman Walk we have the opportunity to learn a bit about the nomadic San Bushmen tribes that were once the only inhabitants in this desolate area.
Around the campfire at night, you can experience the ancient dance rituals of the San Bushman. On special occasions this could be a healing or trance dance, and is an intense spiritual experience for both participants and visitors alike.
In the morning we continue travelling west crossing into Namibia, where we make our way to Windhoek.
We stay in the heart of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, for the night and get to enjoy some nightlife after our days spent out in the untamed wilderness areas of Southern Africa. Explore Windhoek, located in the center of Namibia, discovering its colonial German heritage and architecture.
Departing from Windhoek our journey takes us north to Etosha National Park, the "Great White Place" dominated by a vast saltpan. We stay in Etosha Park for the next two nights, camping at rest camps near floodlit watering holes, offering exciting nocturnal game viewing.
The 20 000 sq km 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.
We take a short afternoon game drive upon arrival in Etosha and enjoy a full day of game viewing the following day.
We leave Etosha National Park game viewing en route to look out for animals not seen on the previous days. Next we make our way back south travelling through the eerie landscapes of Damaraland to Spitzkoppe. The Spitzkoppe area is scattered with exposed granite formations that we explore to see the ancient rock paintings of San Bushman tribes. The most impressive of these rock paintings is called “Bushman Paradise”.
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-orange hues. 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.
We drive along some of the striking Atlantic coastline, known as the Skeleton Coast en route to 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 and beachside promenades. Take a sightseeing stroll though the German-influenced 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.
Leaving Swakopmund we drive south, stopping to take snapshots as we cross the Tropic of Capricorn. Our next overnight stop is the smallest town in Namibia - Solitaire. Located in the Khomas Region, time slows down to a crawl in this remote settlement.
From Solitaire we continue our drive southwards heading into one of the oldest deserts in the world, the Namib Desert. We make our way to the Namib Naukluft Park, where we visit some of the world’s highest sand dunes, reaching up to 300m in the Sossusvlei area.
First stop in the Namib Naukluft Park - the towering Dune 45. Climb to the top of this much-photographed dune to view the immense expanse of dunes fields. This is one of the largest game parks in Africa and Namibia’s largest conservation area, covering 50 000 sq km of dunes, plains, mountains and pans. Following a hearty breakfast we drive further into the park to catch a shuttle and then walk to Dead Vlei. A walk amongst these tall, red-orange dunes provides ideal photo opportunities of Namibia's unspoilt natural beauty.
From the spectacular dunes and flat pans we travel to Sesriem Canyon to walk in the narrow gorge and see layer-upon-layer of sedimentary rocks revealed through erosion over the ages. Tonight we camp near Sesriem, watching for game at the waterhole where gemsbok are often sighted.
We continue south through arid landscapes scattered with quiver trees and rock formations, making our way to the Fish River Canyon.
In the afternoon we visit 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 and more stunning photo opportunities.
Next, we cross into South Africa leaving the unforgettable deserts and vast game parks of Namibia behind. Continuing south we drive to the Gariep River, camping in this dramatic setting overnight. With its source in the Drakensberg Mountains the Gariep, formerly named the Orange River, is South Africa’s longest river, almost traversing the continent.
Relax at our camp along the water’s edge, taking a swim and enjoying nature. Or embark on an optional canoeing trip looking out for the abundance of birdlife in this remote area.
Leaving the Orange River we proceed south into the Namaqualand area of the sparsely-populated Northern Cape region of South Africa. Namaqualand is best known for its prolific display of blooming wildflowers in spring (between August and October).
We overnight at a picturesque campsite near the Olifants River where you can enjoy an optional wine tasting. Walk in the vineyards and enjoy the fresh mountain air or sample some of the good wines of the Western Cape.
We travel south passing the rich fruit-growing area of Citrusdal and admire the spectacular views as we meander down the Piketberg Pass towards Cape Town.
Lastly we reach the beautiful city of Cape Town, our final stop on this amazing Southern Africa Budget Camping Safari. We recommend that you arrange to spend a few post-tour days exploring the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. 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.
Please note that this tour comes with a highly-recommended Adventure Pass at extra cost. We strongly recommend this optional Adventure Pass as 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.
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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