Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana - 2019

Johannesburg • Chobe National Park • Hwange National Park • Victoria Falls National Park • Kruger National Park
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Prepare for the ultimate southern Africa safari.

This adventure is unlike any other. Feel the edge-of-your-seat excitement of our African safari tour, as you seek out the Big Five and countless other creatures that roam this land in four of Africa's most stunning national parks. See the iconic beauty of the landscapes — not to mention the jaw-dropping power of Victoria Falls, a Natural Wonder of the World — and feel the warmth as you’re introduced to the welcoming people here. Bringing you to three different countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana), this comprehensive safari adventure is a riveting introduction to a fascinating region.

This remarkable African safari, which includes 24 included tours and Cultural Discoveries and a visit to Victoria Falls (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), takes you to three of the region’s most spectacular game parks: Kruger, Hwange, and Chobe. Plus, enjoy three remarkable included experiences: Your Private Photo Safari, a full-day Chobe River cruise, and a Vantage-exclusive tented camp. The photo safari offers you an exclusive chance to capture extremely high-quality photographs using professional equipment, with the help of an expert guide. Plus, embark on a delightful, full-day river cruise on a brand-new ship, Chobe Explorer. Spot a range of wildlife along the way, while enjoying a barbecue lunch, sipping special sundowner cocktails, and more.

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 waterhole favored by local wildlife.

Yet that’s only the beginning. You’ll also delve into the fascinating culture on our Africa tours, whether you’re visiting Soweto, stopping by a local school in Zimbabwe, or learning about the efforts to save the rare painted dog at a conservation center — a total of seven Cultural Discoveries. This is so much more than your average safari — it’s an immersion in what makes southern Africa so unforgettable. Join us and experience the Best of Africa at the best value in deluxe travel, guaranteed.

Click here to get a glimpse of the wildlife you may encounter on this adventure — plus, tips on how to capture the perfect photo for a lifetime of memories.

Johannesburg to Kruger 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 with 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:

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

After breakfast, we transfer to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport for a flight to Kasane, Botswana. On arrival we 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 & Dinner

DAY 5:

Seek out wildlife on a Chobe game drive then set off on a Vantage-exclusive 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 6:

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 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, enjoy an afternoon 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 dinner at our lodge.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Optional luxury cruise, travel to Hwange in Zimbabwe and embark on a game drive

After breakfast, you have the option of joining an indulgent and elucidating tour: Chobe in Style, Luxury Morning River Cruise that includes a 4-country lecture. Spot wildlife as a local regales you with tales of this region, and relax in these remarkable environs. You’ll even conclude with an exclusive champagne farewell. We transfer via coach from Botswana 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, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Chobe in Style - Luxury Morning River Cruise with a 4-country lecture

Chobe in Style - Luxury Morning River Cruise with a 4-country lecture

  • Approximate Cost: $129 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Chobe, Botswana
  • When: Morning Tour
Before you say your final goodbye to the Chobe River, take one last luxury cruise on its iconic dark waters. This morning, you’ll be collected at the jetty to board your luxury private boat, The Chobe Style, with comfortable lounge seaters. Choose between a water-level view on the lower deck, or a bird’s eye view on the upper deck, and settle into the luxurious leather seating. As you cruise in style past hippos, elephants, and other wildlife, a local storyteller will tell you about the history of this fabled river where four countries meet. You’ll hear some fascinating stories about the area’s journey from a war-torn region to one of the most sought-after safari destinations, the meeting of two iconic African rivers whose floods feed the mighty Victoria Falls, and much more. But, that’s not all. The gentle cruise will take you to the famous Raft Restaurant in the middle of the Chobe River, where you’ll be greeted with a traditional song by the smiling and beautifully dressed staff. Here, you’ll be treated to a private exclusive Champagne farewell with delicious hot canapés. With 360-degree views of the river and overlooking what is arguably the most game rich island in the whole of the Chobe region, you’ll enjoy your last wildlife viewing on the Chobe River in a setting and style like no other. This tour would be a wonderful treat for a loved one, or a great way for solo travelers to get to know each other. To keep this excursion as comfortable and exclusive as possible, we have limited guests to a maximum of 15 people, so make sure to book early!

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 night 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. Revel in an entertaining African music and dance performance this evening.

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. En route, we'll make a stop at 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. Unforgettable Moment: Upon arrival, we check into 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. We enjoy a guided visit to Victoria Falls National Park. 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, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

Considering 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: $179 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 12-15 minutes
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning Tour

When David Livingstone wrote about his first sight of the Victoria Falls, he said that “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. The ‘Flight of Angels’ actually gives you the chance to see the falls as an angel — or an eagle — would. The most popular of the helicopter flights, it lifts off less than two miles from Victoria Falls town center and takes you over the Zambezi River to fly a complete circuit above the Falls in both directions. The 12 to 15-minute flight gives you the best possible views of the falls, and will certainly leave you agreeing with Dr Livingstone.

Zambezi Spectacular Flight

Zambezi Spectacular Flight

  • Approximate Cost: $349 USD per person
  • 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. This 25-minute scenic helicopter flight over Victoria Falls guarantees spectacular views, making a complete circuit over the Falls in both directions. You’ll also fly over the zig-zagging Batoka Gorge and see the eight past positions of the Victoria Falls, carved away by the water over the millennia. Finally, you’ll fly over Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, where you can spot wildlife from the air.

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 that is 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. Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, we visit the Chinotimba Primary School, where we meet some delightful children eager to share their lessons. 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 Africa 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, Vic Falls Wildlife Trust laboratory, and Local Village Experience,

Elephant, Vic Falls Wildlife Trust laboratory, and Local Village Experience

  • Approximate Cost: $295 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning tour
Pay a visit to The Wallow, a large, thatched boma overlooking the Masuie River, which provides a magnificent setting for guests to enjoy an elephant interaction in the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary.

Arrive to fresh welcome towels and tea, coffee, croissants and muffins. After an introductory talk, you’ll notice the elephants emerging from the bush to take up their positions in front of the deck, according to hierarchy. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to get so close and to elephants, and you’ll be able to stroke them, and feed them treats. The staff are knowledgeable, and the love, trust and understanding between handlers and elephants is heart-warming to see.

You’ll then hear more about the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (a Vantage Cares program), and have an opportunity to exclusively visit the Wildlife trust’s laboratory for a lecture and firsthand experience on the great efforts that goes into wildlife conservation. The tour continues with a visit to Mpisi village, where the chief will do a presentation and take you to visit a few households. Here you’ll get to see the various huts families live in, and learn about the daily chores and work done in a traditional household. At the kraal, you’ll see their livestock and get to know about traditional animal husbandry practices.

Trails of David Livingstone - Zambezi River Cruise

Trails of David Livingstone - Zambezi River Cruise

  • Approximate Cost: $99 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! Snacks and drinks are included.

DAY 13:

Transfer to storied 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 14:

Begin your explorations of 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 buffalos, 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 before continuing to seek out wildlife on an afternoon game drive. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

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, eagle,s 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 lodge, and then head back out in search of more of Kruger’s magnificent wildlife in the afternoon. Dinner is at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 16:

Depart Kruger and return home

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

Included Meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Cape Town, South Africa

FROM: $1099 PER PERSON | 6 DAYS | $183 PER DAY

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 - 2019

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