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Get set for an adventure packed with majestic wildlife, remote desert landscapes and natural wonders in southern Africa. From the stunning beauty of Cape Town and burnt orange sunsets over Namibia's Fish River Canyon to a river cruise through Chobe National Park, this Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid, is the ultimate small-group adventure. Get set to canoe down the Okavango Delta, embark on a game drives in Kruger and Etosha national parks and admire the raw power of Victoria Falls from multiple angles. With plenty of time allocated to explore at your own pace, plus a local crew with all the best advice, see this chunk of Africa with ease and independence in 30 unforgettable days.
Day 1: Cape Town
Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. With its stunning coastline, modern cityscape and nearby mountains, Cape Town is one of Africa's most exciting cities. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. If you do happen to arrive early, why not get out and explore Cape Town, perhaps taking a walk in Newlands Forest, jumping on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, or heading down to the waterfront to see Cape Town Stadium up close.
Day 2: Western Cape
Leaving Cape Town behind, travel up the Western Cape (approximately 6 hours). Sit back, relax and enjoy the sprawling scenery. Tonight, you will stay on a working farm with your small group. This is a great chance to gain an insight into everyday life in this remote part of South Africa.
Day 3: Orange River
Journey to the Orange River, the beautiful natural border between South Africa and Namibia (approximately 9 hours). En route you will pass through Namaqualand, which is renowned for its wildflowers that spring up from late July to mid-September. Traditionally known as the Gariep River, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa (2200 km). Its source is high up in the Drakensberg mountain range in Lesotho, and it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay in South Africa.
Day 4: Fish River Canyon
This morning there is the chance for an optional canoe adventure on the Orange River. Floating leisurely down the stream is a great way to discover the beauty of this region. Head further west into the desert lands of Namibia towards Fish River Canyon (approximately 4–5 hours). At 500 metres deep and over 160 km long, Fish River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world. At any time of year there are remarkable photographic opportunities here as you watch the colour of the granite rocks change as the sun goes down.
Day 5: Sesriem
Be ready for a long travel day as you drive toward the fabled dunes of Namibia (approximately 10 hours). You will have the opportunity to stop at a market or shop to stock up on supplies before tomorrow's bush camp. Upon arrival, stretch your legs and take in the exciting desert scenes. You will be situated in the most famous part of the Namib Desert, among the vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. Get an early night in preparation for your dawn hike tomorrow.
Day 6: Sossusvlei / Bush Camp
Wake up before dawn and scramble to the top of the dunes for a dramatic sunrise view across a vast sea of sand. The colour changes as the sun creeps up above the horizon, and the views are nothing short of incredible, providing a spectacular setting for your brunch. The dunes themselves are some of the highest in the world and home to much animal life. Afterwards, jump in the back of a pickup truck for a trip to Sossusvlei – the incredible salt and clay pan just nearby (approximately 30 minutes each way). You'll have plenty of time to explore this mysterious desert oddity. In the afternoon, drive to your bush camp in the heart of the Namib Desert (approximately 4 hours).
Day 7: Swakopmund
Continue to Swakopmund (approximately 4 hours). Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an ideal place for outdoor activities. The township has an interesting German–Namibian atmosphere, which makes it a pleasant place to simply walk around and explore.
Day 8: Swakopmund
With free time today, it's worth checking out the Germanic architecture and taking advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping. If you're after a dose of history and culture, you can stop in at the lighthouse and visit the Swakopmund Museum. Active types and thrill-seekers might like to take advantage of the many outdoor activities on offer – this town is the adventure-sports mecca of Namibia.
Day 9: Swakopmund
With another free day in this beautiful seaside town, you might like to do some reading, relaxing and swimming. Alternatively, you can venture further afield – perhaps to the Okakambe Trails or the Camel Farm (both located in the same area, around 12 kilometres east of town). A horse ride or camel ride is a great way to see the desert from a different perspective.
Day 10: Spitzkoppe
Travel to Spitzkoppe (approximately 6 hours). Experience the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while travelling up the Atlantic Coast. Visit one of the most stunning areas of Namibia, the wild lands around the mountain of Spitzkoppe, also known as the Matterhorn of Namibia. Although you shouldn't try to climb to the top, there are some excellent hikes and guided walks throughout the area, which is rich in plant life and even has some bush paintings to be found. The Spitzkoppe is known for its stunning beauty and the thousands of ancient Bushmen rock art paintings that are still viewable. Be sure to look out for the sunset from your bush camp this evening – the landscape is known to take on dazzling oranges and reds.
Day 11: Etosha National Park
This morning, set off and travel to Etosha National Park (approximately 9 hours), stopping at a market or shop and ATM if required. Etosha is among the world's premier places to view wildlife. A wide range of southern Africa's wildlife roams here, including all the big carnivores and the five rare or endangered species: black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. Tonight, there is an option to take an evening game drive in the park before spending the night at the particularly spectacular Okaukuejo Camp. The camp overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night.
Day 12: Etosha National Park
Enjoy a full-day game drive in Etosha National Park. Game viewing in the park is relatively easy due to the constructed waterholes and the large, sparsely vegetated pans. The bushland surrounding the pans is difficult to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to usually allow for some sightings. Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, which means significant numbers of elephants, antelope and other herbivores reside here. This evening you will spend the night at Namutoni Camp.
Day 13: Grootfontein/San People
Leaving Etosha behind, visit Hoba Meteorite on the way to your camp for tonight. The Meteorite is the biggest meteor that has been found on earth until today. Continue to your camp which is located 50 kilometres outside Grootfontein (approximately 5 hours). This will be your base for visiting the San people tomorrow. Arrive at your camp, stretch your legs, perhaps enjoy a cool drink and kick back with your fellow travellers.
Day 14: Grootfontein
Embark on a 180-kilometre round-trip to visit the San people. You will go out walking with some of the tribe, listening to their stories and songs. You'll soon discover that they communicate in a unique and fascinating Khoisan dialect, commonly known as a 'clicking' language. The San are the oldest ethnic group in Namibia, having inhabited southern Africa for an estimated 20,000 years. Around 30,000 of them live in Namibia, but only 2000 still follow a traditional way of life. The San have a deep understanding of nature and ecology, living in harmony with their environment.
Day 15: Bagani
Head to Bagani, where you will set up camp for the night. Bagani is a small, friendly town with some good hiking trails along the river and plenty of nice spots in which to relax and soak up the ambience. This area is the homestead of the local Mbukushu kings.
Day 16: Okavango Delta
Drive across the border into Botswana and head south along the Okavango Panhandle (the narrowest part of the delta) to Seronga. Here you'll leave your vehicle and join your transport for the journey into the delta (approximately 4 hours). Boarding boats out into the swamps, travel to Gao Island to meet your mokoro team and start exploring the Okavango Delta with them. Each mokoro (small dugout canoe) takes two people and is poled along through the meandering waterways by a local tribesman. Punting along past birds and lily pads, you'll hear hippos occasionally piercing the peaceful atmosphere with their charming grunts. On the first night here, you'll camp on an island away from civilisation.
Day 17: Okavango Delta
Continue your trip around the delta and then return to Gao Island before heading to the relative civilisation of Umvuvu Camp with its (usually) hot showers and small bar. Today there is an option to take a nature walk with your guide. This is a great chance to discover the beautiful natural surrounds, gain some insight into the history of the local area and look out for animals such as giraffe, zebra and elephants.
Day 18: Bagani
After your exciting Okavango adventure, return to Bagani for the night. There will be time to relax, or to take part in one of the many activities on offer. Bagani offers a range of boat trips and fishing excursions. There are also many excellent hiking trails to explore. Ask your leader about how to take up one of these options.
Day 19: Chobe National Park
Setting off from Bagani this morning, embark on a pretty long drive (approximately 8 hours). Don’t fear – your destination, the incredible Chobe National Park, will be well worth it. Enter Botswana at Goma border, which is also the gateway to the park. Once arrived, take an optional cruise down the Chobe River – one of the best ways to witness some of the park's many animals.
Day 20: Chobe National Park
Enjoy an early-morning game drive. Adventuring through the park, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close to the wildlife. With luck you’ll spot a variety of creatures – lions, buffaloes and any number of exotic birds. Botswana's first national park is famous for its high concentration of elephants, so keep an eye out for them. They can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts cheetahs, hippos, and crocodiles who like to sun themselves by the water's edge. In the afternoon, perhaps take an optional boat cruise to gain a different view of these amazing animals.
Day 21: Victoria Falls
Travel on to Victoria Falls (approximately 3 hours), crossing the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi. Though a visit to Victoria Falls' is optional, it is highly recommended – if you didn’t see the waterfall, have you actually been to Victoria Falls? The staggering curtain of water is about 1.6 kilometres and cascades 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 metres and the falls become an impressive raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see little islets in the river below. Gather your travel crew together tonight for dinner and say goodbye to those not heading south to Johannesburg.
Day 22: Victoria Falls
Take another day to soak up the surroundings at Victoria Falls. Maybe it's time to head on the water on an optional boat cruise, or instead, you could get an unforgettable bird's eye view from a scenic helicopter experience. If you are interested in the optional helicopter flight, Intrepid endorses the operator 'Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe'. Your leader can help you arrange this, if you're keen.
Day 23: Hwange National Park
Leave Victoria Falls behind and head to Hwange National Park (approximately 5 hours, depending on traffic) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust – one of the projects The Intrepid Foundation supports. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and the Trust’s role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care. At Hwange National Park, you will explore this stunning wildlife arena in an open 4WD vehicle. It became the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a national park in 1929. Today, Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife, with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. The elephants of Hwange are world famous – here you'll find one of the largest elephant populations in Africa.
Day 24: Matobo National Park
Leave Hwange in your dust as you make tracks for Matobo National Park (approximately 5 hours). Shortly after leaving Hwange, stop at the Painted Dog Conservation Centre. The loss of quality habitat and poaching are driving the painted dog (also known as African wild dog) towards extinction. Learn about how they protect and increase the range and numbers of painted dogs in Zimbabwe and the Hwange ecosystem as a whole. Then it's on to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. Take a stroll through the streets lined with old colonial buildings and stop in at a local cafe or restaurant for lunch before heading to your camp for the next two nights. Home to a large population of black and white rhinoceroses that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place.
Day 25: Matobo National Park
This morning, have a unique experience tracking rhinos on foot with the help of your guides. Here there will be the chance to spot other game – the park is home to klipspringers, leopards, warthogs and springhares, among others. You can also learn about the various local plants and trees, including wild pear and paperbark, while discovering San paintings and the intriguing rock formations of the park. After a cold lunch, venture to a nearby village and meet some of the local people.
Day 26: Makushu Village
Get up nice and early for a day of travel. You'll cross a very busy border post, the only direct border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The drive is about 400 kilometres (approximately 6–8 hours). Your destination today is Makushu – a small village in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Upon arrival in Makushu, you will be met by a local village guide, who will ensure you are well taken care of. You will be staying with homestay host mothers in their family homes. With your own room within the family home, you will get a true feeling of what it’s like in the village – certainly a unique and memorable experience for travellers.
Day 27: Makushu Village
Rise and shine to the sounds of local village life – enjoy a day with your hosts in Makushu. As with any small town, no two days are the same, but you will be involved in traditional village activities, depending on what tasks are required on that day. Start the day with a gentle 2.5 hour hike through the village and it's surrounds. Afterwards some things you may get up to today include traditional floor making, beading, dancing, beer tasting and cooking. Today is a true opportunity to interact with the local villagers and learn of traditional Venda ways.
Day 28: Kruger National Park
Journey to Kruger National Park (approximately 8–9 hours). There will be an opportunity to stop at a shop or market for any camping supplies you or the group might need. One of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa, Kruger National Park is home to over 500 bird species, 100 species of reptile and 150 mammal species, including the Big Five and the endangered African wild dog. Your wildlife experience begins as soon as you enter the park. You will head straight into prime game viewing areas, spotting anything from antelopes and elands to cheetahs and rhinos.
Day 29: Kruger National Park
Rise early and have a light breakfast of coffee and rusks before embarking on a full-day game drive in the truck. Most of the day will be spent game viewing, bird watching and stopping at various waterholes and viewpoints. Depending on the season, you might catch sight of a saddle-billed stork with its distinct red beak, or the blue waxbill which is commonly found foraging for seeds in the scrub. In the afternoon when it's warm, take some time out to relax. Later on, there is an optional night drive with the park guide to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two.
Day 30: Johannesburg
It's time to head to Johannesburg (approximately 9–10 hours). There’s plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. You will take in amazing vistas at the viewpoint over Blyde River Canyon and Bourke's Luck Potholes. This trip finishes on arrival in Johannesburg at the finishing point hotel.
- Fish River Canyon - Canyon entrance
- Sossusvlei - 4x4 Tour
- Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
- Cape Cross Nature Reserve - Cape Cross seal colony
- Etosha National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
- Grootfontein - San Bushman cultural experience
- Okavango Delta - Mokoro safari
- Okavango Delta - Nature Walk
- Chobe National Park - Dawn Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
- Hwange National Park - Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
- Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust Visit
- Hwange - Painted Dog Conservation visit
- Matobo National Park - Rhino Tracking, Open Safari Vehicle Park Visit & San Rock Paintings
- Makushu Homestay - Floor making, Beading, Cooking or Dancing
- Makushu Homestay - Morning hike
- Kruger National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
- Panorama Route - God's Window Viewpoint
- Panorama Route - Bourke's Luck Potholes
27 Breakfast(s) Included
17 Lunch(es) Included
23 Dinner(s) Included
Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?
Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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