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Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana - 2020

Johannesburg • Chobe National Park • Hwange National Park • Victoria Falls National Park • Kruger National Park
  • $346
  • 15
  • 25
17 DAYS FROM $5,799
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Cape Town, South Africa

6 DAYS FROM $1,499


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Prepare to fall in love with safari on this exciting adventure in Southern Africa. Join us as we visit three different countries and explore four of Southern Africa’s most celebrated national parks.

In Botswana, we’ll cruise along the Chobe River, the perfect opportunity to encounter huge herds of elephants. In Zimbabwe, we’ll go on a walking safari in a private concession in Hwange National Park, getting closer to the wild than ever before. Close as we may be, we’ll still be treated to luxurious comfort in the Vantage-exclusive Iganyana tented camp. In South Africa, we’ll take game drives along routes that promise some of the best opportunities to see lions and hyenas in Kruger National Park.

Along the way, we’ll have opportunities to see the “Big Five” of safari animals amongst many others. And, in addition to Africa’s most iconic animals, we’ll view some of its most spectacular landscapes, including the thundering power of the Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Natural Wonder of the World.

We’ll also engage with the local people we meet, learning about their fascinating cultures and making friends along the way. Eat a township-style lunch in South Africa’s Soweto, sing and smile with the schoolchildren of Chinotimba in Zimbabwe, or listen to tribal tales of the Shona and Venda people under the stars in Hwange. We’ll also stop to appreciate the history of the area, as we stop by Nelson Mandela’s former home.

Throughout our adventure, your comfort and safety are assured. We’ll enjoy luxury accommodation at every destination, including the world-famous Victoria Falls Hotel and two tented safari lodges.

With 18 excursions ­— including 13 safari activities — and seven Cultural Discoveries, this adventure is much more than your average safari. It’s a taste of everything that makes Southern Africa so special.

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

Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to South Africa, arriving in Johannesburg on Day 2.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Johannesburg, one of Africa’s most important cities

Today you’ll arrive in Joburg, as it’s affectionately known — one of Africa’s most exciting and energetic cities. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a Vantage representative and transferred to your sophisticated and centrally-located hotel. You have the rest of the day to rest and relax after your journey.

DAY 3:

Tour Soweto and visit Nelson Mandela’s former home

After breakfast, we head off to Soweto — an abbreviation of "South-Western Townships." This historic township was at the heart of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, and many of the country’s most important leaders lived here at one time or another. In fact, Vilikazi Street in Soweto is the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners have lived: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Once a run-down shantytown, Soweto has become an important part of Joburg’s economy, and is now home to many successful businesspeople and several affluent neighborhoods. Our guide will show us both sides of Soweto and provide us with fascinating descriptions of life here.

We visit Vilikazi street, stopping at the house where Nelson Mandela lived before he was arrested, and tour the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which commemorates the role students played in the struggle against apartheid. We’ll lunch at a vibrant local restaurant, where we’ll get a taste of township hospitality.

After lunch, we’ll return to our hotel and enjoy an afternoon of relaxation around the pool. This evening, we’ll all get together for an orientation meeting and a Welcome Dinner.

Included Features:

  • Tour of Soweto
  • Visit to Nelson Mandela’s House
  • Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum visit
Cultural Discovery:
  • Traditional local lunch in Soweto

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Fly to Chobe National Park in Botswana and take a sunset river cruise

This morning, it’s back to the airport — but this time our flight will be much shorter. When we land in Kasane in Botswana, we’ll transfer to Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa on the banks of the Chobe River, right next door to Chobe National Park.

We’ll have time to relax and unwind at the lodge before we head out on a sunset cruise on the Chobe River. The river, which forms the northern boundary of Chobe National Park, is a magnet for wildlife year-round, and especially in the dry season. Hippos and crocodiles patrol its waterways, and huge numbers of elephants come to bathe and drink. We may also see the rare and unusual puku antelope, along with zebra, wildebeest and buffalo. Bring your binoculars along, as the birdlife on this river is exceptional. When the sun has set and stars start to twinkle, we’ll return to the lodge for a delicious buffet dinner.

Included Feature:

  • Boat cruise on Chobe River

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

Spot wildlife on a Chobe game drive and relax on a Vantage-exclusive river cruise

This morning, we’ll go for an early game drive inside Chobe National Park — one of Africa’s great wildlife destinations. We’ll explore its beautiful landscapes of lush forests and thick bush while keeping an eye out for the thousands of elephants, huge herds of buffaloes and majestic prides of lions who live here.

After our game drive, we’ll return to the lodge to freshen up before we board the luxury Chobe Explorer. On our Vantage-exclusive Chobe River cruise, we’ll float along in effortless comfort, relaxing in the comfortable lounge or swinging in suspended, shaded loungers on the upper deck. From our elevated position, we’ll watch the scenery go by, soaking up the beauty of this incredible wetland. We’ll also keep an eye out for pods of chortling hippos, herds of playful elephants, languorous crocodiles, and graceful red lechwe antelope that are common in these parts.

At lunchtime, we’ll go down to the restaurant on the lower deck for a traditional African ‘braai’, or barbeque. (For those who aren’t big meat eaters, there will be vegetarian options.) Later, as the sun sets, bathing the landscape in a golden glow, we’ll return to our lodge for a leisurely dinner.

Included Features:

  • Morning game drive
  • Safari cruise on Chobe river

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Experience a professional photo safari followed by an afternoon game drive in Chobe National Park

You’re in for a real thrill today: a pro photo safari on the Chobe River. After an unhurried breakfast at the lodge, we’ll board special boats equipped with swivel chairs and mounted, state-of-the-art DSLR cameras with zoom lenses.

Your guide is a photography expert who’ll teach you how to use the camera equipment and show you how to get the best wildlife photographs. As you float along the Chobe River, you’ll be able to take frame-worthy pictures of elephants, crocodiles, hippos, fish eagles, and more. And, when you leave, you’ll take the memory card with you: a treasure trove of spectacular wildlife photos you took yourself.

But the excitement isn’t over yet. After lunch at the lodge, we’ll go for an afternoon game drive in Chobe National Park. With our newly-honed photography skills, we’ll be able to make the most of the gorgeous light of the ‘golden hour’ and capture even more memorable moments. We’ll return to the lodge for dinner with our senses saturated in the wild beauty of the bush.

Included Features:

  • Chobe photo safari
  • Afternoon game drive

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Travel to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and explore our private concession on a game drive

Embark on an optional morning luxury Chobe cruise, or enjoy a morning at leisure. After breakfast, we’ll cross the border into Zimbabwe and drive to Hwange, to reach our luxury tented safari camp, partaking in lunch en route. Iganyana Tented Camp is a Vantage-exclusive property that recalls the safari days of yore while offering delightfully modern indulgences. Once we’ve settled into our spacious, air-conditioned tents we’ll seek out wildlife on an afternoon game drive on our private concession.

Throughout our Hwange stay, we'll have the privilege of exploring a carefully managed private concession, so we’ll encounter fewer vehicles and be less likely to frighten animals away. We’ll be sure to scan the surroundings for wild dogs, as this part of Zimbabwe is famous for them.

On our return, we’ll sip sundowner drinks on the raised viewing deck and watch as elephants and other game wander up to the nearby waterhole for their evening drink. After a delicious dinner, we’ll relax with stargazing around the fire and see if we can spot the Southern Cross constellation, known to locals as The Giraffe Stars. Then we’ll head to bed for a blissful night’s sleep, lulled by the sounds of the African bush.

Included Feature:

  • Afternoon game drive

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:

Spot wildlife in Hwange on morning and afternoon game drives and hear traditional tribal tales

An early morning safari in Hwange National Park is an excellent opportunity to see some of the magnificent predators this park is known for. In the cool of the early morning, nocturnal hunters are still out and about. If we’re lucky, we may see lions stalking their prey, or spot a leopard snoozing in a tree with the tasty remains of an unfortunate impala after a successful night’s hunt.

Lunch will be served back at our tented camp, then we’ll set out for an afternoon game drive in our private concession. For animals in Africa, afternoons are the peak time to head to their local water hole for a drink. And, since Hwange has a plethora of well-frequented water holes, afternoon game drives are always productive here. As animals of all sizes, from baboons to buffalo, gather around the water, so too do their predators, hoping for an opportune moment for an easy kill.

Excited by a day full of wildlife sightings, we’ll return to camp for dinner, cooked over the coals by our accomplished chef. Then we’ll gather around the fireside once more. Cultural Discovery: Here, under the sparkling blanket of the Milky Way, a local storyteller will enthrall us with traditional tales of the Shona and Ndebele tribes.

Included Features:

  • Morning game drive
  • Afternoon game drive
Cultural Discovery:
  • Local storyteller around campfire

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

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

After breakfast, we’ll don walking shoes and neutral-colored clothes. We’re about to go on a walking safari! These thrilling adventures are only offered in special parts of national parks and we’ll be led by a highly experienced professional safari guide.

On foot, we’re much closer to the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of the bush. We may trace the outline of a lion’s paw-print in the sand; crumble fragrant wild basil between our fingers; track the call of a giant eagle owl; sneak up on prancing zebras; or discover the mystery at the heart of an antlion den. Every walking safari is different; every square foot of wilderness has stories to tell — and our guide knows them all.

After lunch at camp and a relaxing afternoon, we enjoy another exclusive safari adventure: an evening game drive. As dusk falls, our guide will use his sharp eyes and a spotlight to find elusive nocturnal animals such as big-eyed bush babies, spotted hyenas, and bat-eared foxes. Nighttime in the bush is simultaneously serene and exhilarating and we’ll return for dinner with rosy cheeks and hearty appetites. This evening, enjoy a special performance of traditional African dance — a perfect coda to our day.

Included Features:

  • Morning walking safari
  • Afternoon game drive, optional evening game drive
Cultural Discovery:
  • African dance music performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Learn about African painted dogs and take a tour of the Victoria Falls

This morning we bid a reluctant farewell to the friendly staff of Iganyana. But, before we leave Hwange, we stop to visit the camp’s namesake. Iganyana means Painted Dog, and, as Vantage travelers, you’ll be contributing to the conservation of these beautiful but severely threatened animals.

At the Painted Dog Conservation Center, we’ll learn more about these distinctive dogs with their Mickey Mouse ears and coats brushed in black, white and gold. Once plentiful, only a few thousand of these graceful hunters remain. We’ll hear about their lives and what threatens them. We may even have the chance to see some of the rescued dogs the center rehabilitates.

We drive on to the town of Victoria Falls, where we check in to the utterly elegant Victoria Falls Hotel. We’ll enjoy lunch overlooking the lush hotel lawns, which offer a spectacular view of the mists from the Victoria Falls. But, we’ll be getting much closer to them soon!

On a guided tour of Victoria Falls National Park, we'll be able to explore the cataracts from various scenic overlooks and viewpoints. The roar of the falls is overwhelming, and the spray so heavy that we recommend wearing a raincoat. After soaking up the unforgettable sight and awe-inspiring might of the falls, we return to the colonial tranquility of our hotel for a splendid dinner.

Included Features:

  • Visit Painted Wild Dog Conservation Center
  • Visit Victoria Falls National Park

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Choose to fly over the falls, visit a craft market, and enjoy dinner with a local family

This morning, you may decide to wake up early to take the "Flight of Angels." This spectacular helicopter ride will give you an angel's eye view of the falls. And, the extended “Zambezi Spectacular” flight also includes aerial game-viewing along the river. The falls are impressive from any vantage point, but soaring over them is an experience that promises to entrance you.

After breakfast, we’ll visit a local market. This is a fun opportunity to interact with local artists and, of course, the perfect chance to bargain for souvenirs, such as the distinctive stone carvings Zimbabwe is famous for.

We have the afternoon free to stroll around the town of Victoria Falls, or luxuriate in the sunshine beside the hotel pool. Tonight, we’re invited into the home of a local family for dinner. Zimbabweans are some of the friendliest people in the world, and these evenings are always full of laughter and fellowship.

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit Victoria Falls Craft Market
  • Local home-hosted meal

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: Flight of Angels,

Flight of Angels

  • 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:

Meet children at a Vantage Cares school and enjoy a bush dinner in Victoria Falls National Park

This morning you can enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast, or you may opt to go on an exciting early morning Elephant Encounter. This 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 save them, is both enlightening and rewarding.  

This afternoon, we’ll visit Chinotimba Primary School, where we’ll be greeted with smiles and songs 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 you’re helping to do by traveling with us. Many travelers say this is one of the unexpected highlights of the trip.

Later, you may choose to take a cruise on the Zambezi River. Glide along this timeless waterway, and be treated to a talk about the "Trails of David Livingstone." You’ll be floating along the very same stretch of river the legendary explorer once navigated, and a third-generation Zimbabwean storyteller will reveal Livingstone lore that few history books include.

This evening, we’ll drive into Victoria Falls National Park for an unforgettable African experience: an exclusive three-course dinner in the bush beneath a blanket of stars. Safari guides will be on hand to enhance the evening with their knowledge, and we’ll be entertained by local dancers as we dine.

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit local school
  • Traditional safari bush dinner

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: Elephant, Wildlife Trust & Village Experience,

Elephant, Wildlife Trust & 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.

Zambezi River Cruise

Zambezi River Cruise

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 2.5 hours
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Afternoon tour
Although Victoria Falls is famous for its spectacular cascades, the wide and smooth stretch of the Zambezi River above them should certainly not be overlooked. On this special cultural cruise, we’ll sip sundowners and watch the sun set over this timeless waterway, while listening to a talk about the ‘Trails of David Livingstone’. Our sightseeing boat will be floating along the very same stretch of river the legendary explorer once navigated, and our third-generation Zimbabwean storyteller will reveal Livingstone lore that few history books include. After hearing these riveting tales, we’re sure to look at Livingstone’s life a little differently. Your guide will also help point out wildlife along the river’s edge, including hippos, crocodiles, and even elephants. Snacks and drinks are included.

DAY 13:

Fly to Kruger National Park in South Africa

After breakfast at our hotel, we transfer to Livingstone Airport for our flight to the Kruger National Park. It’s a short drive from here to our tented safari camp on the banks of the Sabie River.

This riverside lodge is conveniently close to the park gates, and provides us with a tranquil base to explore one of the largest game reserves in Africa, and South Africa’s first national park. We’ll spend the afternoon at leisure, perhaps taking a brief hike on the grounds, or simply sitting on the banks of the Sabie River with a chilled glass of Chardonnay. Dinner is at our lodge tonight.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 14:

Explore the Kruger Park on a full-day game drive

This morning, we’ll enjoy breakfast at the lodge, and then collect our cameras and binoculars ready for a full-day game drive in the Kruger National Park.

The route we’ll take offers one of the best chances of seeing lions in Kruger, as there’s always prey along the river. And, the sheer number of animals in the Sabie River area means that there's a high kill rate here. Many game trails cross the road, so we’ll probably drive very slowly, as there’s always the prospect of good sightings.

Birders will want to train their binoculars on the large trees lining the watercourses. The marulas, matumis, jackalberries, and acacias are important food sources for the many birds in this area. We’ll also look out for birds of prey such as vultures and eagles over the floodplains. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch at a scenic spot inside the park, returning to our lodge in time for dinner.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day game drive

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

Round off your safari with two more Kruger game drives

By now we’re well on our way to becoming safari experts, so we’ll appreciate the opportunity to experience Kruger in the early morning and evening. We’ll be up with the birds this morning for our first game drive, hoping for a sighting of predators still out hunting, or enjoying the spoils of a successful kill.

We’ll return to our lodge in time for lunch and a little down time, before we return to Kruger Park for one last, lovely game drive. Afterwards, we’ll share a Farewell Dinner at the hotel, bidding a fond and lingering goodbye to the magic of Africa.

Included Features:

  • Morning game drive
  • Afternoon game drive

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

Depart Kruger and return home

After breakfast, you’ll transfer to Nelspruit airport for a flight to Johannesburg. In Johannesburg, you’ll connect with your return flight home. Or, if you’ve chosen the optional post-trip extension, you’ll fly directly from Nelspruit airport to Cape Town.

Included Meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Cape Town, South Africa

FROM: $1499 PER PERSON | 6 DAYS | $250 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 Adventure Leader 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 - 2020

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