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Travel from Zanzibar's pristine coastline to the southern hub of Cape Town with Lonely Planet and Intrepid to see an array of amazing African vistas. Sample the exotic flavours of Africa's 'Spice Island', relax on Kande Beach at Lake Malawi, scale the sand dunes in Sossusvlei, glide through the Okavango Delta by local mokoro and keep your eyes peeled for elephants, hippos, crocodiles and lions on your multiple included game drives. With an expert local leader and a small group of eager travellers joining you each step of the way, this incredible adventure will open your eyes to the natural beauty of southern Africa.
Day 1: Stone Town
Welcome to Zanzibar! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm where you'll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. Aside from this important meeting, there are no planned activities for the day and you are free to explore on your own. Filled with pristine white-sand beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has had a colourful history – everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast evokes what the island must have been like in centuries ago. The old part of Zanzibar's main city is known as Stone Town, and the best way to see this is on foot, exploring the markets, shops, mosques, palaces and courtyards. When the sun is setting, why not grab a drink from a bar overlooking the seafront. A seafood curry at a local restaurant is also a great choice. You'll spend the night in Stone Town at a basic inn.
Day 2: Zanzibar Northern Beaches
Once checked out of your Stone Town accommodation, consider booking in to an optional guided tour of the island's spice plantations, learning all about the history of this town's spice trade. You will have the opportunity to smell and taste various spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, plus sample some teas made with these spices too. After lunch, head to the Northern Beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await. This is the Indian Ocean at its best.
Day 3: Zanzibar Northern Beaches
Enjoy free time in this beautiful archipelago today. There are many ways you can spend your day – perhaps talk to your leader for any recommendations they might have. Snorkelling in search of exotic fish is an excellent option, or you could take a traditional dhow boat on the water. You might also like to feast on a sumptuous lunch of grilled local seafood, or just relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book. It's totally up to you!
Day 4: Stone Town
Spend a final morning relaxing on the sandy northern beaches before returning to Stone Town for an afternoon and evening at leisure. Maybe ask you leader where to grab a urojo, a unique and delicious street treat made from potatoes and noodles stewed in a stock of tumeric, mango, flour and more. Or maybe grab a sugarcane juice and have a wander. You've got a long day of driving ahead tomorrow so make the most of your free time while you can!
Day 5: Mikumi National Park
Embrace an early start to catch a 7.30 am ferry to the mainland, then make tracks for Mikumi. It’s approximately an 8-hour drive to your first camp spot, but you’ll get a great look at all that renowned Tanzanian landscape on the way. Gaze out at vast plains dotted with baobab and tamarind trees and maybe catch a glimpse of some of the elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and leopards that call the park home. Once you arrive at your camp spot, your leader will show you the ropes (literally) and help you set up and get comfortable for your night in the tent.
Day 6: Iringa
This morning there is a chance to wake up early to enjoy an optional 4WD game drive into Mikumi National Park. Then drive to Iringa (approximately 5 hours). You will set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement. The area is filled with natural bush land which can make it a bird watchers paradise. Maybe make the most of this rural setting by doing some stargazing before you retire for the night.
Day 7: Chitimba
Enter Malawi and travel to your campsite at Chitimba (approximately 10–12 hours). Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa,’ is dominated by its lake, which covers almost a fifth of the country and provides a livelihood for many Malawian people. Fishermen, fish traders and canoe and net makers all ply their trade on Lake Malawi. A common sight is that of a fisherman in a bwato (a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at the break of day.
Day 8: Lake Malawi
Travel from Chitimba to Kande Beach on the shore of Lake Malawi (approximately 6 hours). There will be a chance to stop at a shop or market for any supplies you might need along the way. Enjoy a relaxing getaway from the commercialism and crowds with a few days on the lake’s more peaceful beaches. Your campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore of Lake Malawi.
Day 9: Lake Malawi
Enjoy free time to soak up your idyllic surrounds. You might like to participate in one of the many water-based activities on offer, like snorkelling or pedal boating. Ask your leader for their recommendations. As well as chilling out on the lake’s sandy shores, make sure you take the opportunity to meet some local Malawians – easily some of the friendliest people in Africa.
Day 10: South Luangwa National Park
Journey through southern Malawi and enter Zambia, continuing to South Luangwa National Park (approximately 9–10 hours). There will be border crossing formalities on the way, and a chance to stock up on goods at a shop or market and visit an ATM. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its lagoons is some of the highest in Africa. Take in the beautiful scenery and the abundance of wildlife, watching out for colourful birds and herds of elephants.
Day 11: South Luangwa National Park
Rise early for an exhilarating morning game drive in a 4WD, then head back to the camp for lunch (as this is the hottest part of the day). If the conditions are right, perhaps return to the park for an optional game drive at night. A village walk is another good option, if you'd like a snapshot of daily life in the local community.
Day 12: Petauke
After breakfast, take a visit to a workshop where local craftswomen make all the jewellery by hand using natural materials from the South Luangwa valley. The project is set primarily to empower women and raise awareness against poaching. Then head further south to Petauke (approximately 6 hours).
Day 13: Lusaka
Head for your camp just south of Lusaka City (approximately 6 hours). Arrive, stretch your legs and take a stroll to discover the town. Though it's fast developing, Lusaka retains a strong African feel, and the locals are usually up for a chat.
Day 14: Harare
Travel to Harare today (approximately 8–9 hours). The first part of your journey takes you to the border with Zimbabwe. After crossing, continue to Harare. There will be a chance to explore the town, stock up on whatever you need at a market or shop and use an ATM.
Day 15: Great Zimbabwe Ruins / Masvingo
Drive to Masvingo (approximately 5–6 hours). This colonial settlement – the oldest in Zimbabwe – makes the perfect base for exploring the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. The ancient city, now a World Heritage site, was first constructed in the 11th century and is believed to have been the seat of power for a monarch. Spend a few hours exploring this intriguing site before heading off to camp.
Day 16: Bulawayo
Travel to Bulawayo (approximately 5–6 hours). Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city. There is some impeccable colonial architecture to take in here. Enjoy free time this afternoon to explore town. You might like to browse some local markets or chat with the locals. The Natural History Museum and National Art Gallery are also worth checking out.
Day 17: Bulawayo
Perhaps get up early and take the option to visit Matobo National Park. Home to a significant population of black and white rhinos, this optional activity gives you the unique experience to track these magnificent animals on foot. There will also be the chance to spot other game – klipspringers, leopards, warthogs and springhares, among others – while learning about local plant and tree species. This impressive wildlife park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes – the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matopos area has great spiritual and cultural significance to local San communities, and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. Take a short hike to see San paintings and learn about local history and culture.
Day 18: Victoria Falls
Depart Bulawayo and make the 6-hour drive towards Victoria Falls. Stretching 1.6 kilometres wide and falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below, the falls for which the area is named are a sight to behold. Although a visit to the falls themselves is optional, it is highly recommended. The entrance fee to the falls is not included, as groups that book ahead are required to tour the site with a local guide, and we feel that seeing these waterfalls should be an uninterrupted sensory experience. In the wet season, the spray created from this feat of nature can rise 400 metres and can often be seen from kilometres away. It’s no wonder that the local name for Victoria Falls is Mosi oa Tunya, or the 'Smoke that Thunders'. Though dry season travellers should not despair! You’ll get an unobstructed view of the falls and the chance to see the islets in the river below. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer.
Day 19: Victoria Falls
Today is a free day to enjoy the many activities on offer. If you are interested in the optional helicopter flight (12 minutes or 25 minutes) we endorse the following operator only: Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe. Your local leader can help you arrange this, so feel free to ask them or find out more information at the activity centre.
Day 20: Victoria Falls
With another free day to enjoy the falls, why not try to check them out from another angle? An optional boat trip could be on the cards today, or otherwise just some time to chill at your accommodation. Check out your Lonely Planet app if you're wanting some more ideas, too!
Day 21: Chobe National Park
This morning is free for you to continue enjoying all that Victoria Falls has to offer. Afterwards, travel to Chobe National Park in Botswana (approximately 2–3 hours) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, one of The Intrepid Foundation’s projects. 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. Continue your journey to Botswana's first national park, which is famous for its high concentration of elephants, so keep an eye out! They can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River.
Day 22: Chobe National Park
Rise and shine for an early-morning game drive. Adventuring through the park, you will get the opportunity to get up close to the wildlife – with luck you will spot a variety of animals and any number of exotic birds. As well as the Chobe icon, the elephant, the river also attracts hippos and crocodiles – the latter like to sun themselves by the water's edge. Cheetahs also come down for a drink. The birdwatching is excellent here too – look out for eagles, kingfishers and marabou storks, among hundreds of other species. In the afternoon perhaps take an optional cruise down the Chobe River – one of the best ways to enjoy the park's animals.
Day 23: Bagani
Today you will enter Namibia, driving from Kasane to Ngoma Bridge, and on to your camp at Bagani (approximately 7 hours). Bagani is a small, friendly town with some good hiking trails along the river. There are also plenty of nice spots in which you can simply relax and soak up the ambience. This area is the homestead of the local Mbukushu kings. You will have the opportunity to stop at an ATM and a market or shop today. Your camp has flush toilets, showers and Wi-Fi. Upgrades are also available (subject to availability).
Day 24: 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). Take a boat across the swamps 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 waterways by a local tribesman. Reeds and lily pads line the streams, and birds startled by the mokoros rise out of the long grasses. Punting along, you'll hear hippos occasionally piercing the peaceful atmosphere with their grunts. On the first night here, you'll camp on an island well away from civilisation.
Day 25: Okavango Delta
Continue your trip around the delta and then return to Gao Island before heading to the relative civilisation of Umvuvu Camp. This camp usually has hot showers, and there's a small bar at which you can relax and perhaps enjoy a refreshing sundowner. 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 take some photos.
Day 26: Bagani
Cross the border back into Namibia and return to Bagani to camp for the night. Various boat trips, fishing trips and guided hikes are possible from Bagani, so if you're feeling active, get out and make the most of it. Those who are feeling bold might even be able to challenge the local kids to a soccer match – don't expect to win though! Retire to your camp in the evening and enjoy this welcome break from the road.
Day 27: Grootfontein
Drive to your camp situated 50 kilometres outside of Grootfontein (approximately 7 hours). The town of Grootfontein, part of the Otavi Triangle, tends to get very green in the warmer months but dries out markedly in the winter. If it's springtime, you'll likely see jacarandas in bloom.
Day 28: Grootfontein/San people
Embark on a 180-kilometre (112-mile) round-trip to visit the San people. The oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, the San, have lived in this region for at least 20,000 years. Listen to their stories and songs and learn how those who still adhere to a traditional way of life emphasise the importance of living in harmony with the environment.
Day 29: Etosha National Park
Travel about 6 hours to Etosha National Park, making a short detour to stop by Hoba Meteorite, the biggest meteor that has been found on earth. While Etosha National Park is home to a wide range of southern Africa's wildlife, including the big carnivores and five rare or endangered species: black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. Game viewing in Etosha is relatively easy due to the man-made 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. Embark on an optional evening game drive here in the evening, then spend the night at Namutoni. Accommodation upgrades are on offer here.
Day 30: Etosha National Park
Enjoy a full-day game drive in Etosha National Park. Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, which means significant numbers of elephants, antelope and other herbivores reside here. The park is also home to some 340 species of birds – keep an eye to the sky where you might spot a soaring eagle. Tonight, you will stay at the particularly spectacular Okaukuejo Camp. The camp overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night. Upgrades are not available at this location tonight.
Day 31: Spitzkoppe
Travel to the mountain of Spitzkoppe, the 'Matterhorn of Namibia' (approximately 9 hours). The wild lands around this superb granite peak are some of Namibia's most stunning. The mountain itself is 700 million years old and 1987 metres (6519 feet) high. Although you shouldn't try to climb to the top, there are some excellent hikes to do in the area, rich in plant life and with 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 hues of orange and red.
Day 32: Swakopmund
Continue to the town of Swakopmund (approximately 5–6 hours). Be dazzled by the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while you're travelling up the eerie Atlantic Coast. You'll be able to stop along the way to access an ATM and market if you need some supplies.
Day 33: Swakopmund
Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an example of the extraordinary German culture that's found in all major settlements in Namibia. It's worth wandering around town to admire the beauty of the Germanic architecture and take advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping.
Day 34: Swakopmund
Today is another free day to enjoy this fun beachside town. 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 thrillseekers might like to take advantage of the many outdoor activities on offer – this town is the adventure sports mecca of Namibia.
Day 35: Sesriem
Drive to Sesriem, your base for exploring the incredible Namib Desert region (approximately 6–7 hours). The most famous part of the Namib Desert is its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon was formed when the Tsauchab River carved a gorge 30 metres into the gravel deposits about 15 million years ago. Now, the river flows out to the dune fields that stretch for hundreds of miles up the coast and dries up in a clay pan at Sossusvlei. The dunes – the highest in the world – are stunning, with magnificent flaming tones created by the brightly coloured sands.
Day 36: Sossusvlei/Konkiep River
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 are simply incredible and provide a spectacular setting for your brunch. Afterwards you will 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). Enjoy some time to explore this incredible and mysterious desert oddity. Later, continue to your camp past the small town of Bethanie (approximately 6 hours). Your camp has basic facilities, with showers, flush toilets, Wi-Fi and optional upgrades.
Day 37: Fish River Canyon
Check out the town of Bethanie before heading further south into the vast desert lands of Namibia towards Fish River Canyon (approximately 3–4 hours). At 500 metres deep and over 160 kilometres long, Fish River Canyon is one of the very largest canyons in the world. During the dry season, the riverbed tends to dry out completely, leaving only a few puddles. In the wet season, after the summer rains, the river can turn into a spectacular raging torrent. 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 38: Orange River
Departing Fish River Canyon, travel to Noordoewer in southern Namibia (approximately 5 hours). Pitch your tent on the scenic banks of the Gariep (Orange) River, which stretches 2200 kilometres (1367 miles) – the longest river in Lesotho. The river’s source is high up in the Drakensberg mountain range, and it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay in South Africa. The Orange River is responsible for transporting diamonds and creating the deposits that can be found along the Namibian coast.
Day 39: Western Cape
Depart your camp first thing in the morning and head to Klawer, a town named after the Afrikaans word for a wild clover blooming after rainfall. The surrounding countryside is beautiful, and if there's time, you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of it. Perhaps take a delightful walk around the nearby mountains and farms before settling in for a relaxing evening.
Day 40: Cape Town
Head to Cape Town (approximately 5 hours), where your trip ends upon arrival. With its stunning coastline, modern cityscape, nearby mountains and a plethora of nearby vineyards, this is one of Africa's most exciting cities. There's no accommodation provided for tonight, but this can be arranged – please enquire at the time of booking this trip.
- South Luangwa National Park - 4x4 Dawn Game Drive
- Petauke - Jewellery workshop project
- Masvingo - Great Zimbabwe Ruins guided visit
- Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust Visit
- Chobe National Park - Dawn Open Safari Vehicle Game Drive
- Okavango Delta - Mokoro safari
- Okavango Delta - Nature Walk
- Grootfontein - San Bushman cultural experience
- Etosha National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
- Cape Cross Nature Reserve - Cape Cross seal colony
- Sossusvlei - 4x4 Tour
- Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
- Fish River Canyon - Canyon entrance
37 Breakfast(s) Included
24 Lunch(es) Included
29 Dinner(s) Included
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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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