Southern Africa River Safari: Exploring Africa's Mighty Rivers and Lakes - 2019

Johannesburg • Chobe National Park • Lake Kariba • Hwange National Park • Victoria Falls
  • $472
  • 18
  • 21
20 DAYS FROM $9,898
Extend Your adventure (1 available)
Okavango Delta

5 DAYS FROM $4,999

Save up to 10%
The earlier you reserve, the more you can save with SmartPay!SM
FREE Single Supplements on every departure, save up to $1,299 — reserve now!
This tour includes all meals, promoted features, and local alcoholic & non alcoholic drinks during your stay!

Experience a different kind of safari: An all-inclusive adventure that illuminates Africa’s most stunning rivers, lakes, landscapes, and wildlife. As you gently glide along the timeless rivers, gazing out at the golden grasses and thick-trunked baobab trees, your perspective expands. The traditional rugged exploration of African landscapes is balanced with the smooth glide of leisurely sails, as the scenes that have transfixed adventurers for centuries unfold before you.

You’ll get off the beaten path and on to some of Africa’s most beautiful waterways — all the while experiencing some of the best wildlife viewing imaginable. The Zambezi, a serpentine waterway once explored by David Livingstone. The Chobe, a river so dense with wildlife that it has become practically compulsory for any safari enthusiast. Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake, which is home to a fascinating ecosystem and striking scenery.

Of course, you’ll embark on traditional game drives as well, exploring three iconic national parks — Chobe, Matusadona, and Hwange — to maximize your viewings of the Big Five and so much more. You’ll also gain unique insight into the culture here, whether you’re visiting a village on Impalila Island in Namibia, savoring lunch at a local restaurant in the heart of South Africa’s Soweto township, or making an uplifting visit to Zimbabwe’s Chinotimba Primary School, a heartwarming Vantage Cares site.

Enjoy 21 included features and safari activities, five Cultural Discoveries, and the singular sensation of seeing Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Natural Wonder of the World. And the luxury? Beyond compare. Sail aboard the 16-passenger African Dream, a ship so deluxe that it features a 1:1 crew-to-traveler ratio. Stay at the Vantage-exclusive Iganyana Tented Camp, a secluded 16-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. Plus, two brand new, utterly indulgent lodges — Cascade Island and Old Drift — await us, offering soul-soothing serenity in the heart of a wildlife-rich wonderland.

This all-inclusive program allows you to see the wilds of Africa from a different perspective: the rivers and lakes of this celebrated continent. Take to the waters of southern Africa and have the best African safari experience imaginable  — join us on this incomparable adventure!

Johannesburg to Victoria Falls

Close All

DAY 1:

Depart home for Johannesburg, South Africa

Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to South Africa.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Johannesburg, one of South Africa’s most fascinating cities

Arrive in “Jo’burg,” one of Africa’s most important cities. Upon arrival, we have the remainder of the day to rest up after our journey.

DAY 3:

Get to know Soweto, historical center of the “Rainbow Nation”

After breakfast, we set off on a tour showcasing the changes taking place in the developing area of Soweto. Once known only for its shantytowns, Soweto is also home to many successful businesspeople and boasts upscale neighborhoods. We witness both sides of this historic township as your guide provides unique insights. 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, 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:

Fly to Kasane and transfer by boat to your deluxe riverside hideaway in Namibia

We’ll transfer to the Johannesburg airport today for our flight to Kasane in Botswana. Upon arrival, we’ll make the short drive to the small private boats that await us. Within minutes, a breeze is blowing through our hair as we venture along the reed-fringed river on the way to our deluxe tented camp. In addition to enjoying the scenery, we’ll likely start to see the first of many animals along the way — whether it’s some of the hundreds of bird species or perhaps a few hippos or crocodiles basking in the sun. Our stay will be at Cascade Island Lodge, a luxurious getaway tucked away on Impalila island, bordering 4 countries: Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana & Zambia. We’ll have delightful moments of tranquility as we look out over the river from the deck in the common area, or perhaps while lounging on your own private deck with a plunge pool.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

Embark on land and water safaris in Chobe National Park

One of the many highlights of this safari is the variety it affords travelers — including in the ways you’ll experience Africa’s rugged beauty. Today, you’ll see it from the comfort of a private safari vehicle and aboard specialized private boats. 

In the morning, you’ll enjoy a game drive in Chobe National Park, seeking out the fascinating array of wildlife that roam this region. When it’s time for lunch, we’ll enjoy a delectable meal in an unlikely setting: aboard a “floating restaurant” in the middle of the Chobe River. The friendly staff enhances what is a delightfully unique experience, as you enjoy a traditional barbecue (called a braai) with an delightful view. We’re on the water already, so it’s an easy transfer to our private boat for more explorations of this region. Float along this timeless waterway past Sedudu Island and its marshes, keeping a keen eye open for the pods of hippo, herds of elephants, massive crocodiles, and red lechwe that are common in these parts. Back at our lodge, we’ll enjoy dinner in our secluded and romantic setting, listening to the sounds of the African evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Visit local villages on Impalila Island and African folktale evening

We’ve been introduced to the prodigious wildlife and prolific beauty here, so now we’ll get up-close-and-personal with its culture. Visit authentic villages on Impalila Island, getting a chance to discover the traditional customs of the people (and perhaps being invited into their homes). It’s a fascinating glimpse at the lives of people so far removed from our own, and a powerful opportunity for connection that goes beyond cultural differences. We’ll then head back to the lodge for lunch, and perhaps take advantage of the private plunge pool at your bungalow. You can also choose to head out on the water to explore more of your surroundings on a private boat. Tonight, a local will regale us with tales of the traditions of this region.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Fly to Lake Kariba, the largest man-made lake in the world

Still reveling in our Chobe River experience, we’ll leave our lodge and transfer to Victoria Falls Airport, Zimbabwe, to connect with our charter flight to Lake Kariba. This massive man-made lake — the world’s largest, in fact — wascreated by the gigantic Kariba Dam. Built in 1955, the dam serves as a source of electricity for 70% of the country. We’ll learn about the lake, which is 140 miles long and spans a distance of 25 miles at its widest point, as well as the lands that were flooded to create it. You’ll then be transferred to your boat to begin your cruise aboard the deluxeAfrican Dream. Dinner is on the ship.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 8:

Experience the unique waterscapes of Kariba

At dawn, we’ll sail through this picturesque lake, the rising sun shimmering on the water as treetops poke from its surface. We’ll hop on smaller tender boats to reach other areas, including the Gache Gache River, following its serpentine path past pristine inlets, and keeping an eye out for some of the unique wildlife here. The serenity is delightful, and everywhere we look there are reminders that all of this was once dry land. After lunch back on the African Dream, we’ll explore the Sanyati Gorge, another striking setting that showcases the beauty of this region. As we’re soaking in the scenery, our guide will be telling us about the creation of the lake as well as its fascinating ecosystem. We’ll enjoy dinner and a restful evening onboard.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

Discover the treasures of Matusadona National Park

Part of the thrill of safari is in the unexpected sights — you never know which creatures you may spot next. An expert guide will be with you on your safari in Matusadona National Park today, making sure you don’t miss a thing. Our game drives through this rugged and beautiful landscape (ringed by the eponymous mountains) in search of some of the captivating wildlife here: elephants, hippos, crocodiles, buffalos as well as thousands of birds. As we’re rolling through this landscape, we’ll learn more about how the park was created — specifically, Operation Noah. This remarkable rescue operation for wildlife saved more than 6,000 animals, including a number of big cats and other large mammals. The monumental effort allowed these creatures to reside in the park, where hunting is prohibited. After your game drive enjoy a small private boat cruise to get even more up close and personal with Matusadona’s wildlife. Both lunch and dinner will be onboard our ship.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

Fly to Hwange National Park and our Vantage-exclusive tented camp

After breakfast, we fly to Hwange Airport, where we will transfer in safari vehicles to our tented camp. 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 wilderness views. Once we’ve had time to settle in, we’ll seek out the wildlife here on an afternoon game drive (we’ll scan the surroundings for wild dogs, as this region is famous for them). Dinner is at the camp this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

Seek out the wildlife of Hwange and listen to local stories by the fire

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. Morning and afternoon game drives introduce us to the sweeping beauty of the greater park. Our open safari vehicles let us witness the drama of the bush up close, traversing mopane forests and clusters of Zambezi teak trees. Lunch is served back at the tented camp on our viewing deck overlooking the migrating plains of the park. 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 12:

Embark on a walking safari and a 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. We’ll definitely keep an eye out for some of the whopping 420 different bird species. After lunch back at camp, we enjoy another game drive in the bush, before returning to camp. 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. After a day spent exploring the private concession, return to camp to enjoy dinner and perhaps a cocktail in the lounge, recounting the day’s adventure with your fellow travelers.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 13:

Transfer to Victoria Falls, a Natural Wonder of the World

This morning, we transfer via motorcoach to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where we’ll check in to our brand-new luxury camp, the Old Drift Lodge. Seamlessly harmonizing with the natural environment while offering modern luxuries, this brand-new camp offers spacious deluxe tents with stylish furnishings, indoor and outdoor shower, private plunge pool, and star bed, and more. After we settle in, we embark on 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 lodge this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 14:

Walking safari and afternoon cruise along the Zambezi

Cultural Discovery: This morning, set off on a walking safari along the banks of the Zambezi, followed by a visit to a local market where you can interact with vendors and, if you choose, contribute to the local economy by purchasing some souvenirs. 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. Fresh from one of these remarkable experiences, we’ll visit the esteemed Lookout Café, a restaurant situated on the edge of the gorge that offers breathtaking views.

In the afternoon, embark on a cruise along the Zambezi River. While watching the rays of the setting sun dance on this timeless waterway, you’ll enjoy a talk entitled “Trails of David Livingstone” given by a third-generation Zimbabwean storyteller. As you float on the same stretch of river that the legendary explorer once drifted down, your raconteur will highlight 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.

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). This is just one of so many experience you’ll be talking about long after you return home.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & 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
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: $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. 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 15:

Meet the children of a local school

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. This afternoon, we bid farewell to the mighty Zambezi River with an afternoon cruise, followed by a Farewell Dinner at the lodge.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & 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

Pay a visit to the Elephant 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. Upon arrival, welcome teas, coffees, croissants, and muffins will be served. After a brief introduction to the individual elephants, guests have an opportunity to interact with these gentle giants on a personal level. A short talk will follow, telling the guests more about the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (a Vantage Cares program), along with an opportunity to interact with Sylvester the cheetah. The tour continues with a visit to Mpisi village, where the chief will do a presentation and conduct a tour. From here you are taken to see a few households, where you will experience the various huts that each family would live in, and learn the daily chores and work done in a traditional household. You will then move on to the kraal, where their domestic animals would be seen. Fascinating traditional animal husbandry practices will be explained, along with the various uses each of the animals may be put to.

DAY 16:

Depart for home

After breakfast, we transfer to the Victoria Falls airport for our flight to Johannesburg and our return flight home.

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.

Contact Vantage

CALL 1-800-848-5773

View Journey Map

Be prepared for
your journey with
our Safari
get your gear

Southern Africa River Safari: Exploring Africa's Mighty Rivers and Lakes - 2019

Call us to reserve your next vacation:

Earn up to $1,200 cash and
a FREE trip as a Vantage
Chat with an Expert
Promo Code: WB50500
Please provide this promotion code to your Vantage call center agent.