Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana - 2018

Johannesburg • Kruger National Park • Hwange National Park • Victoria Falls • Chobe National Park
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An absolutely unforgettable exploration of South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe brings out the best of this region and makes this one of our most popular tours ever. Watch as the Africa of your imagination comes to vivid, Technicolor life on this small group safari. From the goose bumps you’ll get on game drives in Kruger, Hwange, and Chobe national parks, to standing awestruck in front of Victoria Falls and reveling in the 5-star comforts of your deluxe hotels and lodges, this adventure perfectly blends rugged wilderness with refined pleasures.

Your southern Africa safari includes thrilling experiences. First, an exclusive, up-close-and-personal photo safari on the Chobe River. Capture wildlife pictures that may have seemed impossible before this trip and take the memory card with you — a trove of professional quality photos you took yourself! You'll stay at a remarkable tented camp alongside the Sabie River, Lions Rock Rapids Camp, which offers true immersion in the wilds of this Kruger region. Plus, a true luxury awaits in Hwange: you’ll stay at the Vantage-exclusive Iganyana Tented Camp, a secluded 15-tent getaway that will make us feel as though we have the African wilderness all to ourselves. While we are here, we’ll explore on a private concession in Hwange National Park while also enjoying deluxe amenities like air-conditioned, superbly designed tents with views of a water hole favored by local wildlife. Yet that’s only the beginning.

Our small group allows us to not simply observe the culture, but to connect with it — with the people who live among the natural splendor. You’ll meet children at their school and villagers in their homes. Learn about efforts to save the painted dog in Hwange and set off on a fascinating tour of Soweto, the township at the heart of the revolutionary movement to end apartheid. In total, you'll enjoy seven Cultural Connections like these, not to mention the 17 included activities and game drives. Traveling solo? There are limited free Single Supplements on every departure, ideal for solo vacations.

Our safari tours are equal parts awe-inspiring, spellbinding, and invigorating. One thing is for sure: You will never forget this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Johannesburg to Chobe National Park

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DAY 1:

Depart home for Johannesburg, South Africa

This evening, you’ll fly overnight to Johannesburg.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Johannesburg

Arrive and transfer to your deluxe hotel in the city locals call “JoBurg.” You’ll have the remainder of the day to rest up after your journey and enjoy dinner on your own.

DAY 3:

Visit Nelson Mandela’s house and embark on a Soweto tour

After breakfast, we set off on a tour showcasing the changes taking place in the developing area of Soweto. As the epicenter of the effort to end apartheid, Soweto is a treasure trove of recent South African history. The township was once known only for its shantytowns, but today is home to many successful businesspeople. Your guide will provide in-depth insight on the struggles and triumphs that have taken place in this historic area. Cultural Discovery: As we explore, we stop at the home where Nelson Mandela lived before he was arrested, and tour the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which chronicles the student uprisings of 1976. After lunch at a local restaurant in Soweto, we have the afternoon free back at the hotel. This evening, enjoy an orientation meeting and a Welcome Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 4:

The first of many safari experiences in Kruger National Park

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Kruger National Park. Upon arrival, we drive to our tented camp near this storied park, South Africa’s richest wildlife refuge. This riverside getaway is the perfect way to immerse ourselves in these African wilds before setting off to explore them. As we settle in, we can look forward to daily game drives amidst Kruger’s sweeping wilderness, which is teeming with wildlife ranging from Cape buffalo to leopards. Dinner is at the camp.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

Continue your explorations in Kruger with a full-day game drive

Unforgettable Moment: We’ll fall into the rhythm of Africa today with a full-day game drive, getting an early start so we'll see animals when they are at their most active after the nightly hunt. We’re likely to spot giraffe and zebra today, and your driver-guide is highly trained to help us find the Big Five — lions, elephants, leopards, Cape buffalo, and rhinos. We venture through the Skukuza Triangle along the Sabie River, once home to the native Tsonga people, who lived here peacefully with the wildlife. We pause at a scenic location for a picnic lunch. For dinner on your own this evening, we have our choice of items back at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 6:

Two more Kruger game drives to discover the Big Five and much more

We head out for an early morning game drive. More than 500 species of birds either live here or pass through, including vultures, eagles, and storks, and its 147 large mammal species outnumber any other park in Africa. We keep our eyes open for them all. We'll take a break for an included lunch at the hotel, and then head back out in search of more of Kruger’s magnificent wildlife. Dinner is at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Travel to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and arrive at our Vantage-exclusive tented camp

After breakfast, we fly to Livingstone in Zambia and cross the border into Zimbabwe, arriving at our lodge/tented camp in the late afternoon. Our home in Hwange, Iganyana Tented Camp, is a Vantage-exclusive property that recalls the safari days of yore while offering delightfully modern indulgences. We'll revel in our privacy in the heart of Hwange, enjoying both our wild surroundings as well as spacious luxury tents that include air-conditioning, 24-hour electricity, locally inspired furniture, and breathtaking views. Dinner is included this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 8:

Explore Hwange on a full-day game drive and enjoy campfire tales of local tribes

Throughout our Hwange stay, we have the privilege of exploring a carefully managed private concession, so we’ll encounter fewer vehicles and be less likely to frighten the animals away. A full-day outing today introduces us to the sweeping beauty of the park. Our open safari vehicles let us witness the drama of the grassland up close, traversing mopane forests and clusters of Zambezi teak trees. We break for a picnic lunch in a breathtaking spot. This evening, we have dinner at the camp and gather around the fire pit, under a canopy of stars, as a local storyteller with regales us with tales from the Shona and Ndebele tribes.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

Unique explorations: A walking safari and a night game drive in Hwange

After breakfast, we begin our exploration with a thrilling opportunity to go on a walking safari. This rare privilege is allowed only in specified corners of these big-game national parks. Our experienced guide leads the way, well prepared to detect the proximity of animals and keep us at a safe distance. After lunch back at camp, we enjoy another game drive in the bush, followed by a nighttime game drive to spot the area’s nocturnal animals. Life in our own private camp has its advantages: we enjoy having the place all to ourselves, reveling in the serenity that comes with such exclusivity.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

Transfer to Victoria Falls, where you’ll enjoy a guided visit to this Wonder of the World

This morning, we transfer via motorcoach to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. On the way, we'll visit the Painted Dog Conservation Center. This important organization is dedicated to bringing back this misunderstood animal. Just a century ago, a half million of these beautiful canines, with their round ears and coats of black, beige and gold, inhabited 30 countries. Today, just a few thousand remain, and we'll learn why during our visit. We'll then continue onward to Victoria Falls. Unforgettable Moment: Upon arrival, we check in to the historic and gracious Victoria Falls Hotel. The “Grand Old Lady of the Falls” is a bastion of Edwardian elegance that offers the singular pleasure of being able to see the mists rise from the falls. History can seemingly be found in every corner of this esteemed hotel, yet it has also been upgraded with modern comforts you’d expect from a 5-star hotel. After lunch on your own, we enjoy a guided visit to Victoria Falls, an unforgettable UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s an awesome experience to hear the roar of the falls and feel the mist on your face as we stroll through the subtropical rainforest created by the humid environment. Dinner will be included at the hotel this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 11:

Consider flying over Victoria Falls and enjoy dinner in the home of a local family

We explore the town at leisure this morning. Or you might join an optional “Flight of Angels” helicopter excursion over the falls or a “Zambezi Spectacular” helicopter ride over the falls and Victoria Falls National Park. The falls are impressive from any vantage point, but soaring over them is an experience beyond compare. Cultural Discoveries: Later, we visit the Victoria Falls craft market, where we bargain with vendors for that perfect keepsake. After a free afternoon, we’re invited into the home of a local family for dinner, a rare opportunity to meet Zimbabweans where they live and learn about their daily lives.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: “Flight of Angels” over Victoria Falls,

“Flight of Angels” over Victoria Falls

  • Approximate Cost: $175 USD per person plus $12 conservation fee
  • Approximate Time: 12-15 minutes
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning Tour
Coined by David Livingstone when he first documented discovering the Falls — “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight” — the “Flight of Angels” is the most popular of the helicopter flight options. Lifting off less than two miles from the Victoria Falls town center, the “Flight of Angels” is a 12-15-minute flight over the exquisite Victoria Falls. You will fly a complete circuit over the Falls in both directions, giving you the best views possible. A quick trip up river and back over the Zambezi National Park completes your flight.

Zambezi Spectacular Flight

Zambezi Spectacular Flight

  • Approximate Cost: $345 USD per person, plus $12 per person conservation park fee, payable in cash
  • Approximate Time: 25 minutes
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning Tour
For a longer ride than the “Flight of Angels,” treat yourself to an unbelievable helicopter flight over Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River. Enjoy a 25-minute scenic helicopter flight over Victoria Falls with spectacular views, flying lower than conventional, fixed-wing aircraft. The flight makes a complete circuit over the Falls in both directions, going up river and back over Zambezi National Park. After enjoying spectacular views of the Falls, you’ll fly over the Batoka Gorge of the Zambezi River and the surrounding area, spotting villages below, and pass over Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, with magnificent wildlife viewing.

DAY 12:

Visit a Vantage Cares school in Victoria Falls and savor dinner under the stars

Our final day in Victoria Falls begins at leisure, or you may opt to join for an exciting Elephant Encounter. This truly powerful experience allows you to interact directly with these majestic creatures, and even feed them. Being so close to them — and learning about the work being done to help save them — is both enlightening and rewarding. It’s easy to develop a bond with these intelligent creatures after spending an afternoon with them. The optional tour also includes the opportunity meet Sylvester the Cheetah, who was saved by the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, and visit a local village. Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, we visit the Chinotimba Primary School, where we meet some delightful children eager to share their lessons. Many travelers say this is one of the unexpected highlights of the trip — it’s easy to fall in love with these friendly children and to admire the work of the teachers and administrators. We are greeted with bright smiles and waves from the children and get a chance to interact with them and learn about their lives. Vantage Cares, our philanthropic arm, supports the school, so you can see firsthand the good that you’re helping to do by traveling with us. Later, you might embark an optional “Trails of David Livingstone” cruise on the wild Zambezi River, an ideal backdrop for a talk about the history and culture of the region from a third-generation Zimbabwean. As you float on the same stretch of river that the legendary explorer once drifted down, your storyteller will elucidate parts of Livingstone lore that the statues and history books don’t often tell. There’s no doubt that, after hearing this riveting tale, you’ll look at Livingstone’s life a little differently. Cultural Discovery: This evening, we drive into Victoria Falls National Park for a true African experience — a three-course dinner in the bush beneath a blanket of stars. We enjoy African dancing and entertainment as we dine (weather permitting).

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: Elephant, Cheetah, and Local Village Experience,

Elephant, Cheetah, and Local Village Experience

  • Approximate Cost: $295 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 5 hours
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning tour

It’s one thing to see an elephant, and it’s quite another to be thrillingly close to it – to see the spark of intelligence in its eyes, and run your hands over its rough skin. The same goes for a cheetah; seeing one in the distance is striking, but standing right next to one… well, that is breathtaking. This is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that awaits you today at an elephant and cheetah interaction at Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (a Vantage Cares partner). 

During your visit, you’ll see firsthand the work that is being done at this organization that has spent the past 25 years dedicated to saving orphaned animals.  Your experience with elephants takes “up close and personal” to a new level: You’ll get a chance to feed these majestic creatures – and even pet them! – before watching them wallow gleefully in a nearby mud pit. You’ll also get a chance to meet Sylvester the Cheetah, who was saved by the trust at two days old and today is an “ambassador” for the valuable work being done to protect his precariously vulnerable species. 

Yet your excursion isn’t over yet. Still glowing from this experience, we’ll venture to the nearby Mpisi village, where the chief will bring us on a tour. See some of the houses here, and learn about everyday village life from the people who live here. You’re afforded a fascinating glimpse of their world: watching daily chores, asking questions, and learning about the importance of animal husbandry to their way of life.

In just a few hours, you’ll have a lifetime of memories and quite a few remarkable photos to share with friends and family back home.  Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity. 

Trails of David Livingstone - Zambezi River Cruise

Trails of David Livingstone - Zambezi River Cruise

  • Approximate Cost: $95 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 2.5 hours
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Afternoon tour

Although the enormous torrents are what Victoria Falls is renowned for, the broad Zambezi River above the falls is a scenic wonder that should not be overlooked. Join us on this special cultural sunset cruise. You’ll board a sightseeing boat to explore among the multiple channels and islands that dot the wide river, while you travel back in time and learn about the epic story of David Livingstone. As the sun sets, your on-board guide will discuss the compelling tale of Livingstone’s great impact on African history, as well as his exploration and discovery of Victoria Falls. Your guide will also help point out birds and wildlife along the rivers edge, including egrets, hippos, and even elephants. This is an experience you won’t want to miss!

DAY 13:

Transfer to Chobe National Park in Botswana and enjoy a sunset river cruise

After breakfast, we transfer to Botswana and the banks of the Chobe River. We then transfer to Chobe Safari Lodge, where we'll have time to unwind here and take in the beauty of our surroundings. During your stay, you can do as much or as little as you’d like — explore all day, enjoy the atmosphere of the lodge, or perhaps a little of both.

This afternoon, we head out on a sunset cruise on the Chobe River. The river is a magnet for wildlife of all sorts, from hippos and crocodiles to elephants and baboons. Revel in the serenity of the moment as the setting sun shimmers on the water, while also keeping an eye out for the creatures all around you. You’ll want to bring your binoculars so you can witness incredible river scenes up close.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 14:

Seek out wildlife on a Chobe game drive then set off on a cruise with a braai lunch

In the morning, you’ll enjoy a game drive in Chobe National Park, seeking out the fascinating array of wildlife that roam this region. Later, you’ll embark the luxury Chobe Explorer for a Vantage-exclusive Chobe River cruise that will be as relaxing as it is entertaining. We’ll float along this timeless waterway, keeping a keen eye open for the pods of hippo, herds of elephants, massive crocodiles, and red lechwe that are common in these parts. When you get hungry, settle in at the restaurant for a traditional braai (barbeque) lunch, then relax in the suspended, shaded loungers on the upper deck and watch the scenery go by. Then, sip cocktails at sunset, watching as the landscape is bathed in a warm glow — the perfect end to a delightful day on the water. Dinner is back at the lodge. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

A thrilling Chobe River Photo Safari and a game drive

Unforgettable Moment: You’re in for a true thrill today — a riveting photo safari on the Chobe River. Feel the singular thrill of snapping close-up, professional-quality photos in the heart of the African wilderness. Board your specially equipped, six-passenger boat, designed with 360-degree swivel chairs and a mounted, professional-quality DSLR camera with a zoom lens.  With a photography expert as your guide, float along the Chobe River and snap frame-worthy pictures of some of its most majestic creatures including elephants, crocodiles, hippos, fish eagles, and more. When you leave, take the memory card with you: A treasure trove of hundreds of spectacular wildlife photos you took yourself! Later, cross the river into Botswana for a full-day game drive in Chobe National Park. The park is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, so we’re sure to see a family or two roaming in the dense forests or drinking from the river. We gather tonight for a special Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 16:

Depart Botswana and return home

After breakfast, we transfer to the Kasane airport for our flight to Johannesburg and our return flight home. Or, you will transfer to Victoria Falls for your direct flight to Cape Town to begin your optional post-extension.

Included Meals:


Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Tour Director or local representatives at the destination.

Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.

Note: That hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.

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Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana - 2018

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Journey Best of Africa: South Africa, Botswana & Victoria Falls South Africa: An Elegant Adventure [OFFER]
Price without Air* [PRICE] $7,990 Save more per couple!
Trip Length [DAYS] 12 days More days — most in-depth itinerary!
Per Diem [PERDIEM] $666 Save more per couple per day!
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Extend Your Value Cape Town, South Africa—Enjoy 7 excursions and cultural discoveries in 5 days, from $200 a day! No extensions Since you've come this far we offer you the choice to make the most of your international airfare and extend your discoveries at an unbeatable value!
Sightseeing 23 sightseeing tours & Cultural Connections— a value of $3,445 per couple! 13 Sightseeing Tours 10 MORE TOURS! The most sightseeing plus exciting Cultural Connections planned to enhance your experience and immerse you in the local culture!
Meals 34 meals 26 meals More meals!
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