South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe | The Jewels of Southern Africa

South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe | The Jewels of Southern Africa

About this trip 

Southern Africa is rich with culture, history, vast landscapes, and a host of diverse animals to match, and this 13-day itinerary embraces it all. Begin your exploration in Cape Town, South Africa, where you’ll examine the country’s complicated history and witness breathtaking vistas along the whale-watching coast. At Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, you’ll have several days of game drives for encounters with big predators and other grasslands wildlife. Take in the immense grandeur of Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River before heading to Chobe National Park in Botswana, home to one of the largest game concentrations in Africa and famous for its elephant and lion populations. Along the way, discover just a few of the multitude of African cultural identities through interactions with local community members.

Highlights

  • Go on game drives and walking safaris for a chance to see iconic wildlife like elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffalo, zebras, wildebeests, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and more.
  • Learn about conservation initiatives to protect the highly endangered painted dog, also known as the African wild dog.
  • Explore Bo-Kaap, the historic Malay quarter of Cape Town, and participate in a hands-on cooking workshop in a local family home.
  • Visit Robben Island in Cape Town, where former president Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists were once imprisoned.
  • Take a sunset cruise at magnificent Victoria Falls, considered the world’s largest waterfall.
11 Travelers

$7,495

Land Cost

Group size

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

$6,995

Land Cost

Group size

Book 15 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

En Route

Day 1

Depart the US on your overnight flight to Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town

Day 2

Upon arrival in Cape Town, after clearing customs and immigration, you will be met by a local representative and taken to the hotel. Check in and have some time to relax. This evening, receive an orientation to the program, followed by a welcome dinner at Gold Restaurant.

Dinner included
Overnight at Southern Sun Waterfront

Cape Town

Day 3

This morning, we'll visit Walker Bay. The picturesque drive takes us over the mountains to the seaside town of Hermanus on the southern coast of the Western Cape. Set between mountains and the sea, Hermanus offers some of the greatest land-based opportunities for whale watching in the world. Close sightings of the southern right whale are likely from August to November. Visit a working abalone farm in the Hermanus New Harbour to learn about the history of the area and abalone in South Africa. Discover the biology and life cycle of this mysterious mollusk and the unfortunate demise of wild stocks due to over-harvesting and poaching. See the abalone in its natural environment and be introduced to abalone farming. After an informative introduction, take a guided walk to experience the aquaculture industry at one of the oldest and largest abalone farms in South Africa, Abagold. Visit Abagold's state-of-the-art abalone hatchery, where broodstock are cared for and baby abalone (spats) are produced. Experience the farming activities of feeding, tank cleaning, and sorting as we walk among the 40,000 baskets on the farm. We'll also be treated to an abalone tasting. The return drive follows the coastline, with further possibility of whale (and even dolphin) sightings. Stop at Stony Point near Betty's Bay to see the African Penguin colony here. It is one of only two shore-based breeding colonies in South Africa. Sharing the breeding site with the penguins are the endangered White-breasted and Cape Cormorants and the vulnerable Bank Cormorant. This evening, enjoy a three-course wine pairing dinner at Clos Malverne Wine Estate and Restaurant in Stellenbosch.

Breakfast-Dinner included
Overnight at Southern Sun Waterfront

Cape Town

Day 4

We begin our day at the Nelson Mandela Gateway, next to the iconic clock tower on the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront. Board the ferry for Robben Island in Table Bay, where former president Nelson Mandela and other political anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned for many years. Upon our return, we'll explore the heart of the Bo-Kaap, the historical Malay quarter of Cape Town, for a Cape Malay cooking safari. Take a leisurely stroll through some of the district's streets for a chance to appreciate the extraordinary collection of pre-1840 architecture that resulted in this area being declared a national monument. Then, learn about the ingredients to make a typical Cape Malay dish during an informal, hands-on cooking workshop in a Bo-Kaap family home. Mix masala, fold samoosas, and explore the art of balancing the delicate flavors of a Cape Malay curry. Over a glass of faloodah (a traditional, lightly rose-scented milk drink), our host and cooking instructor will explain more about the ways in which food, history, and religion are interwoven in the Bo-Kaap culture.

Breakfast-Dinner included
Overnight at Southern Sun Waterfront

Hwange National Park

Day 5

After breakfast, board the flight to Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe; from here, we'll be taken to our camp at Hwange National Park. This afternoon set out on a game drive. The area enjoys a high concentration of wildlife and is famed for its large elephant herds, with an estimated population of 30,000 to 50,000 individuals. The park's grasslands and mopane woods are also home to lions, giraffes, zebras, and African wild dogs. This evening, have dinner at the camp joined by a local storyteller, who will share tales of the local Ndebele and Shona tribes.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Miombo Safari Camp or similar

Hwange National Park

Day 6

Today, experience the rare opportunity to go on a walking safari. This special experience is allowed only in specified corners of select national parks. We'll have a chance to view animals from a safe distance, joined by experienced guides to whom the wildlife are accustomed. This afternoon, visit the Painted Dog Conservation Center and learn how this once-thriving canine has all but disappeared. Early this evening, when many animals are at their most active, we'll set out on a game drive.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Miombo Safari Camp or similar

Livingstone

Day 7

This morning, check out and head north. Our first stop is at the Elephant Camp for a conservation talk, elephant interaction, and lunch. Continue on to Victoria Falls, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This impressive cataract straddles the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. At more than 5,600 feet wide and with a drop of over 350 feet, Victoria Falls is the world's largest sheet of falling water. The nearby town of Livingstone is named after 19th century Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, believed to be the first European to ever see the falls. After arrival and check-in at our lodge on the Zambian side, enjoy a sunset cruise on the wild Zambezi River, an ideal backdrop for a talk about the history of the region. Tonight, enjoy a Zambian feast with an impressive African drumming performance at The Boma.

Breakfast-Lunch- included
Overnight at AVANI Victoria Falls Resort

Livingstone

Day 8

This morning, visit the Tongabezi Trust School. Since it was first established in 1990, it has grown from a preschool class of 15 children to a primary school with over 240 students. The school has charity status and is completely funded by donations from all over the world that help with a food program, medical program, and building projects. This afternoon, enjoy a guided walk in Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side.

Breakfast- included
Overnight at AVANI Victoria Falls Resort

Chobe National Park

Day 9

Today, travel west to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Bordered by the banks of the breathtaking Chobe River, the park is famous for its rich elephant and lion populations. During a late afternoon sunset cruise on the river, we'll look for hippos, crocodiles, elephants, water buffalo, and some of the park's many bird species.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa or similar

Chobe National Park

Day 10

After breakfast, drive to the countryside, visit a local village, and learn about living in the bush. After lunch at the lodge, have free time to rest and relax. This afternoon, enjoy more wildlife-viewing during a river safari.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa or similar

Chobe National Park

Day 11

Continue exploring Chobe with a morning and afternoon game drive. Tonight, gather for a farewell dinner at the lodge.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa or similar

Depart

Day 12

After one last early morning game drive, we will say farewell and head to Kasane International Airport for our return flights home via Johannesburg.

Breakfast- included

En route

Day 13

Arrive home following your overnight flight.