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This affordable Southern Africa Camping Safari explores top wilderness areas, game parks and travel destinations in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Starting in Cape Town we embark on a Cape Flats Township Tour and travel north to Namibia via the scenic Cederberg, Namaqualand and Gariep River. Next up, Namibia's Fish River Canyon and the world's oldest desert, the Namib. Then visit seaside Swakopmund and see Bushman rock paintings in Spitzkoppe. Next, its off to Etosha National Park for game viewing, before an overnight in Namibia's capital, Windhoek.
Crossing into Botswana we experience the Kalahari Desert on a guided Bushman Walk before our camping trip in the pristine Okavango Delta. The next stop is the game-rich Chobe National Park, before continuing to Livingstone at Victoria Falls in Zambia. On to Zimbabwe we explore scenic Matobo National Park, near Bulawayo.
Lastly the Cape Town to Namibia, Botswana & Kruger Overland Safari, crosses back into South Africa, journeying to the Greater Kruger Area, via Limpopo. This epic African Safari Trip ends in Johannesburg, after game viewing in the famous Kruger National Park.
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. The Cape Flats township tour gives us a chance to experience some of the vibrant local township culture. 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 there is the option of sampling some of the local wines of the region. Tonight 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.
Please 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 open fields of Namaqualand wildflowers (in spring) to rockier and more arid terrain closer to the Namibian border.
With its source in Lesotho’s Drakensberg Mountains the Gariep (former Orange River) is South Africa’s longest river and almost traverses the continent of Africa. We camp on the banks of the Gariep River on day two of this Southern African Safari, enjoying a marvelous African sunset.
Here you have the option of hiking to the viewpoint above the campsite and taking a canoe trip on the Orange River, which is safe for swimming!
The camp is remote but not too basic, with facilities including hot showers, flush toilets and grass covered camping sites. Unwind at the camp's bar and soak up the peaceful river setting under a blanket of bright stars.
This morning we embark on the optional canoe trip or swim in the river and relax at camp, before continuing north into Namibia. This Southern African country is a desert land of stark contrasts, best known for its impressive sand dunes.
We cross into Namibia at the Vioolsdrift Border Post and continue to the Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa and arguably 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.
After our overnight near the Fish River Canyon we continue driving north into one of the oldest deserts in the world, the Namib Desert.
Sesriem lies close to the Namib Naukluft National Park, serving as a good base for exploring this arid 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, absorbing the still vastness of this barren terrain. There is an active watering hole at the campsite, where wildlife can be spotted, including the striking desert-adapted oryx.
This morning we enter the Namib-Naukluft Park, one of the largest game parks in Africa and Namibia’s largest conservation area, covering 50 000 sq km of dunes, plains and estuarine terrain.
In the Namid-Naukluft Park we visit some of the world’s tallest sand dunes, 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 from the top of a tall sand dune. We climb to the top of famous Dune 45 to watch the sun rise over the open desert.
After a well-deserved breakfast we continue deeper into the park for an optional nature walk in Dead Vlei, amid the giant sand dunes – a real glimpse of Namibia’s unspoilt natural environment. Bring your camera – the shifting colours of the desert as the sun climbs throughout the mid/late morning offer some brilliant photographic opportunities. From the dramatic desert dunes we head to Sesriem Canyon to see the ancient sedimentary layers in this narrow gorge.
Departing from the Namib, 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 when 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 Namib Desert we explore the vibrant town of Swakopmund, located between the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. The quaint colonial town of Swakopmund is Namibia’s premier seaside resort, featuring palm-lined avenues and beach side promenades.
Take a sightseeing stroll though 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, some of which include lunch.
Departing from Swakopmund our safari adventure takes us north into the Damaraland region of Namibia making our way to Spitzkoppe, also called the "Matterhorn of Namibia".
The remote Spitzkoppe area is scattered with exposed granite formations that we explore to see the ancient rock paintings of 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 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.
Our next destination on this safari adventure is Etosha National Park, the "Great White Place" dominated by a vast salt pan.
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 entire day game viewing on day 10.
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 get to enjoy some nightlife after our days spent out in the untamed wilderness areas of Southern Africa. Explore Windhoek, located in the 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, known as 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 the nomadic Bushmen tribes that were once the only inhabitants in 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/Bushman. 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 huge African skies.
In the morning we continue to Maun from where we will be exploring 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. 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.
Maun itself is a lively tourism hub situated along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe 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 native 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 birds 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 15 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 dug out 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. 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 explored on 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 unfenced, providing the opportunity to view wildlife, particularly elephants up close, as they move freely from one waterhole to the next. It's a thrilling experience to see animal behaviour at such close quarters.
From Elephant Sands 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 north-eastern 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 flood plains 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.
This morning 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 kilometers from Vic Falls, considered the largest sheet of falling water in the world, at 1 708 m’s wide and 108m’s high. We visit Vic Falls, a must see! Witnessing the impressive spray rising from the Zambezi as it plummets over 100 m’s at Vic Falls, you will understand why it is called the “Smoke that Thunders” - a translation of the local name, Mosi oa Tunya. When the Zambezi is flowing strongly the spray at Vic Falls can be seen from as far as 20 km’s away.
In the Vic Falls area you are free to explore Livingstone town or participate in the variety of adventure activities. Your guide will brief you on the activities available here, from white water rafting to bungee jumping. 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.
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.
We depart from Livingstone after breakfast today. Passing through Victoria Falls town on the Zimbabwe side of the mighty Zambezi, we take a scenic drive to Bulawayo.
Bulawayo is a pleasant city, known for its cultural richness and historic highlights. If time allows you can walk along the wide streets lined with trees and admire the old colonial buildings of the city. Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, hosting art galleries and museums, parks and other attractions.
Our overnight campsite is located just outside of Bulawayo and features a swimming pool and fishponds on the leafy grounds.
We get up early and make our way into the nearby Matobo National Park with local guides. Driving through the boulder scattered hills and wooded valleys of Matobo we take in the dramatic and rugged scenery from our open safari vehicle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is of cultural, historical and geological significance, as well as being an important wildlife haven.
We look out for rhinos on our game drive, as Matobo is home to a successful rhino breeding program and intensive protection zone for black and white rhino. If conditions allow our guide may take us in search of rhinos on foot. Other wildlife sightings include giraffe, wildebeest, various other antelopes and sometimes the elusive leopard. The Matobo National Park also hosts one of the highest concentrations of black eagles in the world.
A number of ancient San (bushmen) paintings are found in Matopos Hills, dating back as far as 2000 years ago. The contested burial site of British imperialist and mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes is located at World’s View. The location of Rhodes's grave is controversial because these hills are sacred grounds of the Ndebele.
Continuing our journey south, we cross the border at Beitbridge, over the Limpopo River and into South Africa. The second largest river in South Africa, the Limpopo River acts as an important source of water for this dry and arid region as well as acting as a natural boundary between South Africa and its neighboring countries, Botswana and Zimbabwe, before it flows through Mozambique and out into the Indian Ocean.
Our road trip takes us to the town of Tshipise and our next camp, located in the hills next to the Honnet Nature Reserve. This northern area of the Limpopo Province hosts hot springs and thick groves of mopani, red bush-willow and jakkalsbessie trees, as well as the third largest Baobab tree in the country.
From Tshipise we make our way to the world-renowned Kruger National Park in the Mpumalanga Province. We spend two nights camping in the Greater Kruger Park area, which covers over 24 000 km² of savannah and rugged bush.
The Greater Kruger area was recently 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. 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 Kruger game drives on day 24, take us in search of the Big Five of Africa 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.
On our first night we are treated to Shangaan tribal dancing and singing and on our last night we celebrate our time together and share stories from the road.
On the final day of our safari through Southern Africa we depart from Kruger Park, driving west through one of the most scenic parts of South Africa to our last stop, Johannesburg.
In the late afternoon or early evening our Cape Town to Namibia, Botswana & Kruger Overland Safari comes to an end as we arrive in the bustling city of Johannesburg, the economic powerhouse of Southern Africa. We recommend a post-safari overnight stay in Johannesburg this evening.
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. Other transport includes mekoros (dugout canoes), 4x4 safari vehicles and a river boat.
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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