SA3 SOUTHERN AFRICA & NAMIBIA TOUR

SEARCH TOUR

with Victoria Falls, Botswana & Swaziland

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Thundering Victoria Falls; Kruger Park safari; Kingdom of Swaziland: Switzerland of Africa; Table Mountain Cable Way; Robben Island Museum; The Namib, world's oldest desert; Rugged Skeleton Coast; Etosha: Africa's undiscovered wildlife gem

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 18 Jul 2015Sat 15 Aug 2015 $9130
Fri 04 Sep 2015Fri 02 Oct 2015 $9130$8750 Discounted
Tue 13 Oct 2015Tue 10 Nov 2015 $9130$8750 Discounted
Sat 16 Jul 2016Sat 13 Aug 2016 $9130
Fri 02 Sep 2016Fri 30 Sep 2016 $9130
Tue 11 Oct 2016Tue 08 Nov 2016 $9130

Optional Single Supplement: $1850 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $920, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.


Tour Overview


This exciting 27-day tour through five Southern African countries kicks off in Johannesburg, a remarkable city of contrasts known as 'The City of Gold', since its foundation in the latter half of the 18th century and its subsequent boom was instigated by the discovery of an abundance of the material in the region; it remains to this day the gold capital of the world. We meander down affluent streets lined with whitewashed mansions and grandiose residences, and saunter alongside poverty-stricken shanty towns of tin shacks and debris, all the while marvelling at the fact that the two are in incredibly close proximity to one another.

Jetting over to witness one of the world's most magnificent natural phenomena at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, we take a few days to explore this abundant area rife with beautifully lush gorges, before making a short stop-off in Botswana to check out Chobe National Park with a river cruise and a spot of wildlife-viewing. Our cultural exploration involves visiting British, German and Dutch colonial towns, traditional, mud-hut housed villages, bustling urban metropolises and quieter rural farming settlements; the entire gamut of cultural nuance on display in Southern Africa. As well as treading off the beaten path, through delightful sceneries of dense rainforest, towering mountains, plunging valleys and colourful flora, we hit the major tourist hot-spots for which the area enjoys worldwide acclaim. Our list of heavyweight attractions includes: the unforgettable rock-spiral vistas in Blyde River Canyon; Kruger National Park -- South Africa's largest game reserve wherein is to be found lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants and zebras; the dream-like technicolour landscapes of the area around the Namib desert in Namibia; and the best-kept secret of safari destinations in Namibia's Etosha National Park, whose astounding abundance of wildlife makes it perhaps the easiest place to view nature at its finest.

Regions visited: Southern Africa
Countries visited: South Africa; Zimbabwe; Swaziland and Namibia


Testimonials


Chobe Natl Park & Capetown were gems of the tour with Mukuni village giving a real insight into the life of rural Africa. Soweto & the Apartheid Museum brought home the viciousness of apartheid.The Blyde River Canyon was stunning. Knysna was a great location as was Mossel Bay with the Dias Museum. The Cango Ostrich farm was interesting &fun. Getting to the top of Table Mtn. was an obvious highlight. Kirstenbosch Gardens were stunning. The Boschendal wine tour was excellent. The local guides throughout the tour were outstanding, their knowledge was extensive & comprehensive & their local detail amazing. The transportation on tour was excellent. We were very impressed with all evening meals. Our tour leader Peter was very approachable at all times,was very knowledgeable, gave clear info, had a great sense of humour & was a key reason why the tour was so successful. EXCELLENT!!!

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Johannesburg
Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Johannesburg is South Africa's financial centre and largest city. This "Place of Gold", as the Sotho word for Gauteng Province suggests, harbours the gold fields of South Africa. No one could have imagined the repercussions when an unemployed miner found a stone bearing traces of gold in 1886. This seemingly insignificant event led to the discovery of the world's richest natural treasure trove. People flocked to the area from all ends of the earth and the open pastoral landscape changed almost overnight. Today in the "New South Africa," Johannesburg continues as the country's -- indeed the entire region's -- economic powerhouse and is evolving into a very vibrant cultural melting pot.

Overnight in Johannesburg (Sandton).

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Johannesburg, South Africa - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Today we fly from South Africa to Zimbabwe where we will spend three nights next to one of the world's most spectacular natural sights, Victoria Falls.

This area has actually been inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years. The first known name of the falls was "Shongwe"; the current name did not come into being until the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone was brought to the falls in 1855 and named them after Queen Victoria. The falls and the nearby town of Victoria Falls are on the mighty Zambezi River, the fourth longest in Africa, forming the border with neighbouring Zambia.

After settling into our hotel, we'll travel by road a short distance to the Zambezi River on which we will enjoy a scenic sunset cruise above the falls. The river here is wide and slow moving; be on the lookout for hippos, elephants, antelope, giraffe and myriad bird species for which the region is famous. After our cruise we will enjoy a lively demonstration of traditional African dancing and drumming before our evening meal.

NOTE: Due to variable flight schedules and weather considerations, the order of Victoria Falls area sightseeing activities may vary at the discretion of your Tour Leader.

Overnight at Victoria Falls.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Victoria Falls: Falls Tour & Leisure Time
Today we have a guided walking tour of Victoria Falls and adjacent national park.

Mosi-oa-Tunya ("The Smoke That Thunders") is one of the most amazing sights in the world: twice as high as Niagara Falls and several times longer. It took thousands of years of erosion for Victoria Falls to appear as and where it does now. During the Jurassic Period (150-200 million years ago), volcanic activity resulted in thick basalt deposits covering large parts of Southern Africa. As the lava cooled and solidified, cracks appeared in the hard basalt crust, which were filled with clay and lime. Erosion and the course of the mighty Zambezi River cut through these softer materials, forming the first of a series of waterfalls.

Our tour is conducted on level paved paths, much of which is shaded by the dense rainforest that exists due to spray from the falls. To walk to the farthest extent, with viewpoints along the way, is about one kilometre, the last part of which is without shade. We encourage you to go right to the dn, as the views are fantastic, including the best look at the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, the brainchild of Cecil Rhodes, part of his grand and unfulfilled Cape to Cairo railway scheme, even though he never visited the falls and died before construction of the bridge began.

The afternoon is yours to enjoy optional activities. You may relax by the pool, do some shopping in the village famous for local artisan crafts, travel to the Zambian side of the falls, or even go elephant back riding or sightseeing by micro-light aircraft or helicopter. Your Tour Leader can help plan your afternoon.

Overnight in Victoria Falls.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: Day Trip to Chobe Park, Botswana
Today we make an early morning excursion into Botswana to visit Chobe National Park, located only 1.5 hours by road from Vic Falls. We complete Customs and Immigration formalities and continue with a fifteen-minute drive to the lodge that we will be using as a base for today's activities.

Our safari starts with a cruise on the Chobe River (shade and refreshments available) that takes us close to the waterfowl and wildlife on the river. Large flocks of birds, big pods of hippos and very large crocodiles can be viewed from the safety of your boat.

Our lunch (included today) is served back at the lodge overlooking the river.

After lunch we board open (covered) safari vehicles and head off into the park to view some of the 70,000 local elephants, buffalo herds, sable, wildebeest, giraffe, and with luck, some resident lion and hyena. The game drive meanders its way back to the park gates for Customs and Immigration formalities and the crossing of the Zambezi River into back into Zimbabwe and the road transfer back to our hotel, arriving at about 18:00.

Overnight in Victoria Falls (dinner on your own this evening).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch

Day 5 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe - Johannesburg, South Africa
Today we fly from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg (flight times are variable).

Overnight in Johannesburg (Sandton).

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Johannesburg - Soweto - Tshwane (Pretoria) - Johannesburg
This morning we have a tour of the city of Soweto.

Soweto unto itself is actually one of the largest cities in Africa with an estimated population of 2 million. It also has one of the most dubious histories of any city in Africa, as it was the site of some of the more infamous events during the struggle against apartheid. The name "Soweto" simply stands for South Western Township, due to its location outside Johannesburg. It was here that thousands of black workers were forced to live in order to provide labour for the gold mines.

We will see the good, the bad, and the ugly of Soweto -- from affluent neighbourhoods to shanty towns; the world's largest hospital, Baragwanath; and the former homes of Soweto's Nobel Laureates, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We also visit the excellent new museum dedicated to the victims of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

En route to Pretoria we will visit the extraordinarily powerful Apartheid Museum, an obligatory stop for visitors and residents alike. The large blown-up photographs, metal cages and numerous monitors with continuous replays of apartheid scenes will make you feel that you were in the townships in the 70s and 80s, dodging police bullets or teargas canisters, or marching with thousands of school children. One can easily spend the better part of a day in this museum; however, for the sake of timing on a busy day, we will be taking in the highlights only.

We continue to Pretoria (recently renamed Tshwane*), the administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa. Surrounded by hilly countryside, this relaxed capital is known for its colourful gardens and lush green parks. We will see Church Square, dominated by its statue of the Boer Republic's first President, Paul Kruger, and lined with buildings of architectural and historical interest. From here we will proceed to a panoramic view of the city at the Union Buildings, the administrative headquarters of the Government of South Africa and scene of Nelson Mandela's inauguration as the New South Africa's first democratically elected State President in 1994.

* Tshwane is the name of a pre-colonial local chief and means "We Are the Same". In 2005 the city council approved the switch from Pretoria to Tshwane as part of an effort to make place names more African.

Overnight in Johannesburg (Sandton).

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Johannesburg - the 'Panoramic Route' - Hazyview
From Jo'burg we head off through the vast wilderness of Mpumalanga (formerly the Eastern Transvaal), the "Land of the Rising Mist". Along the way we travel from the vast grasslands of the High Veld, with its huge farms and ranches, down to the drier Low Veld region characterized by rocky hills and acacia scrub forest. This is an expansive landscape of mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, primal forests, and colourful flora. Steeped in a history of pioneers and fortune-seekers, we will pass many Gold Rush towns and farming communities en route. Lydenburg ("town of suffering") established by Voortrekkers in 1849 lies at the bottom of Long Tom pass. This pass, named after the big gun used by the Afrikaners during the Anglo Boer War, is one of the most scenically dramatic in the country. It links Sabie on the escarpment with Lydenburg on the Drakensberg plateau.

A highlight of our sightseeing today is the spectacular Blyde River Canyon. This great escarpment is the kind of place where brochures and guide books run out of original adjectives to describe the fresh mountain scenery and magnificent panoramic views. The Blyde River Canyon is one of the most spectacular in Africa and its cliffs rise between 600-800 m (2,000-2,640 feet) from the river bed. At the "Three Rondavels viewpoint" is an unforgettable view of three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon. Their tops appear to have a hut-like rounded roof.

Following the road and the Treur River south, there are further viewpoints; Wonder View, God's Window and the Pinnacle. Their names help to conjure up the indescribable vastness of the scenery. From here we continue to Hazyview near Kruger National Park.

Overnight in Hazyview.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Kruger National Park
Early this morning we enter South Africa's largest game reserve, Kruger National Park, named after Paul Kruger, the first to initiate the setting aside of this area as a reserve in the 1890s. Here we transfer to open safari vehicles and make a full-day excursion through the southern sector of this fascinating and beautiful park.

The Kruger Park is an enormous area of flat veld, broken by rivers and comprised of mixed vegetation and terrain. The park, officially founded in 1926, supports more species of wildlife than any other African reserve -- over 137 mammal species, 49 fish species, 112 reptile species, and nearly 500 bird species! With some luck we may see and photograph lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, zebra and many other wonderful African animals.

We return to Hazyview in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Hazyview.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Hazyview, South Africa - Mbabane, Swaziland
We travel south today and enter the Kingdom of Swaziland, an independent country completely landlocked by South Africa and Mozambique, and smaller than Kruger Park! Naturally fortified by beautiful mountains, Swaziland remains one of the last kingdoms in Africa, a continent once dominated by colonialism. The pace of life here is relaxed and the lifestyle traditional; we will see rural people working their farms and tending their herds as we make our way to the vicinity of Mbabane, the capital city.

Overnight in / near Mbabane.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Mbabane, Swaziland - Mkuze Game Reserve, South Africa
This morning we depart our hotel and travel south, descending onto the Swazi Lowveld (lowlands), similar in climate and vegetation of the lowveld region we experienced in South Africa and Kruger Park in previous days. We'll travel through sugar cane plantations and the bustling commercial centre of Manzini, before crossing the border back into South Africa and the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Our destination is Mkuze Game Reserve, which boast an exceptional variety of natural habitats: from the Eastern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains along its Eastern boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forest. A rare type of sand forest also occurs in the reserve. It is renowned among ornithologists, with more than 420 different bird species on record. The Mkuze River curves along the Mkuze Game Reserve's Northern and Eastern borders with a stretch of fig forest along its banks. Fish eagles swoop over the pans, snatching prey spotted from their perches in the fever trees.

Mkuze is overlooked by Ghost Mountain, previously a historic battle field. This mountain is said to be the tombs of the previous Chiefs of the mountain and, according to legend, it has been the scene of a number of bloody fights. With its dramatic silhouette, in the shape of an old woman or witch head, it is not difficult to understand why the mountain is said to be haunted and to be the theatre of paranormal activities.

This afternoon we enjoy an afternoon game drive.

Overnight at Mkuze.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Mkuze - Durban - Port Elizabeth
This morning we have a Zulu cultural experience with a local guide. During our walk to a local village, our local guide and village residents will show us what life was like for Zulus of yesterday, their traditions and belief system, and their contemporary lifestyle, politics, and world view.

We then travel by road to Durban, the 'Garden City' of South Africa. This area was opened up to white settlement by the Voortrekkers in the early 19th century, though the Portuguese were navigating the coast here as early as the late 15th century. Vasco da Gama was the first European to sail along this coast, giving it the name Natal to commemorate his Christmas Day arrival. In 1899 the British and the Boers went to war, but under reconciliation in 1910 formed the Union of South Africa with an agreement signed in what is now Durban's modern-day Main Post Office.

This evening we fly from Durban to Port Elizabeth, the start of the famous "Garden Route." (As this will likely be an evening flight, we will not be including dinner this evening).

Overnight in Port Elizabeth.

Meal plan: breakfast

Day 12 Port Elizabeth - 'The Garden Route' - Knysna OR George
Port Elizabeth is South Africa's fifth largest city and the third largest port. This morning we will have a brief panoramic tour of this city seeing the Market Square and the beaches of Algoa Bay.

From Port Elizabeth we travel along the world-famous 'Garden Route' toward Knysna. This route is parallel to the ocean and features lakes, mountains, beaches, and steep cliffs. This part of the garden route reminds one of the Oregon Coast (USA) with its sand dunes and great surf beaches. We'll make a lunch stop at Storm's River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park, located on the shores of the Indian Ocean. You will have time to walk a short section of the famed Otter Trail, widely regarded as one of the finest in the world, stretching 41 km (25 mi - 5 days) from Storms River Mouth to Nature's Valley.

We continue to Knysna, a charming coastal town with tremendous water and mountain view and a laid-back lifestyle. The town was founded in 1817 by George Rex, reputed to be an illegitimate son of King George III. Known for its picturesque lagoon, the town was first established as a timber port. Today, Knysna is proud of its riviera atmosphere with many sidewalk cafes and shops.

Depending on limited accommodation availability in Knysna, we may overnight here in Knysna or continue a little further down the road to the town of George.

Overnight in Knysna or George.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Knysna OR George - Mossel Bay - Outdshoorn
This morning we travel down the coast to Mossel Bay. Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias arrived here on February 3, 1488, thus proving to his sponsors that Africa had a southern tip; making it theoretically possible to sail from Europe to India. Our destionation is the Dias Museum Complex, which marks the spot of the historical landing of Bartolomeu Dias. The 500 year old Post Office Tree, a national monument, can still be seen at the site, now harbouring a post box shaped as a shoe.

We then head inland and over the Outeniqua Mountains to the Little Karoo (Klein Karoo), a semi-arid yet fertile valley or depression surrounded by formidable mountian ranges. This is the ostrich capital of South Africa with thousands of these unusual birds dotting fields throughout the area. At the turn of the century ostrich feathers were in such demand that the fashion conscious paid a premium and feathered the nests of the barons who built magnificent mansions known as "Feather Palaces." This fine architecture can still be seen around the sedate and pleasant town of Outdshoorn (pronounced 'Oats-horn'), our final destination.

We will have lunch at one of the region's main ostrich show farms, followed by a tour thereof before continuing to Outdshoorn where we finish our day.

Overnight in Outdshoorn.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Outdshoorn - Swellendam - Cape Town
From Oudtshoorn we travel through the Huis River Pass with its spectacular rock formations, and the little farming town of Ladysmith, named after the Spanish wife of British Cape Governor Sir Harry Smith. We cross our second mountain range of the day to arrive in the town of Swellendam, the third oldest colonial town in South Africa, established in 1745. Here you will have time to have lunch and visit several historic buildings built in the charming Cape Dutch style with characteristic whitewashed walls and black, thatched roofs.

We then pass through a vast wheat growing and sheep farming area on our way to Cape Town. In the late afternoon we cross the Hottentot's Holland Mountains (our third range for the day), the centre of South Africa's apple growing region, to arrive in Cape Town, one of the world's most isolated and beautiful cities.

Overnight in Cape Town.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Cape Town: the Cape Peninsula
Today we have the quintessential full-day tour of the Cape Town area: The Cape Peninsula.

Our tour takes us south along the Atlantic Seaboard where we have spectacular views of some of Cape Town's most affluent neighbourhoods and spectacular mountain and coastal scenery. We have a brief photo stop just before Camp's Bay, a pretty surfside suburban community featuring the classic view of the town with the 'Twelve Apostles' peaks as a backdrop.

We continue south along a seaside-hugging route, through the town of Hout Bay and the famous Chapman's Peak Drive, one of the most spectacular marine drives anywhere in the world. The 9km route, with its 114 curves, skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman's Peak, the 593m high southerly extension of Constantia Berg.

Our next stop is the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point. The reserve is a wildflower, bird, and animal paradise on 77 sq km (30 sq miles) of the Cape Peninsula. The reserve is also home to eland, springbok, bontebok, baboon, and zebra. Within the reserve are Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwesterly point on the African continent.

After a break for lunch and free time at Cape Point, we head north again, stopping briefly at the Cape of Good Hope, before continuing back up the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula, passing through Simonstown, founded by the Dutch in 1741 as a naval depot and named for Simon van der Stel, governor of Cape Colony from 1679 to 1697. Today Simonstown is famous for its distinctly English architecture and atmosphere, and the southernmost train station on the continent. Depending on the season, we may stop at Boulders Beach to view a colony of South African penguins.

We complete our loop around the peninsula, past the well-watered eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Constantia, Bishop's Court and the campuses of the University of Cape Town.

Overnight in Cape Town.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 16 The Cape Winelands & Table Mountain
This morning we travel the short distance to Stellenbosch, South Africa's second oldest colonial settlement. After a little spin around the town, we'll park in the centre of town and allow some time for some independent, on-foot exploration. You will notice some of the finest examples of traditional Cape Dutch architecture along the town's famous oak-lined streets.

We continue to one of the area's many wineries for a cellar tour and tasting. The Cape vineyards were originated at Constantia by Jan van Riebeeck in 1685 and were advanced in 1688 by Hugenot refugees who brought their vine seedlings and skills with them from France. The Cape's different soils and climatic variations allow a wide variety of wines to be pressed. Along our route today we will see several wine estates with their delightful Cape Dutch houses, thatched roofs and decorative gables.

Today we include lunch at one of the area's wine estates. After lunch we'll continue our scenic drive through the area before heading back to Cape Town for dinner on your own.

At some point during our time in Cape Town (weather dependent and may move elsewhere in our program), we will take a gondola trip to the top of Table Mountain, a sandstone plateau rising up above the city. The top is approximately 3km wide and at its highest point, Maclear's Beacon, rises to 1085m / 3,580 ft. Over the centuries it has become one of South Africa's most famous landmarks. The steep cliffs and rocky outcrops of the mountain play home to a number of animals and approximately 1,470 species of plants -- more than the entire British Isles!

Overnight in Cape Town.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch

Day 17 Cape Town: Robben Island & City Tour
This morning we travel by boat to Robben Island* for a guided tour of this historic site, formerly an infamous prison and today a museum. Our entire excursion will last about 3.5 hours and include a visit to the maximum security section where Apartheid era freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela, were incarcerated. Robben Island provides a poignant reminder of how far South Africa has come since the dark days of apartheid and is a must-see for anyone heading to the Cape.

After our tour and a break for lunch, our city sightseeing continues; we see the seat of the Parliament, which holds a six-month session here each year, as well as the Malay Quarter with its narrow streets and minarets, and the Castle of Good Hope (exterior), South Africa's oldest building. We also pay a visit to the South African Museum and the National Botanical Gardens of Kirstenbosch, with over 4,000 species of indigenous plants (2,600 are endemic to the Cape Peninsula). The garden's history dates back to the 1660s, when the first Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape. Governor Jan van Riebeeck planted a barrier of Wild Almonds to protect settlers' cattle from the original inhabitants of the area -- and part of this hedge is still in the garden!

* Weather dependent; other sightseeing will substitute if needed.

Overnight in Cape Town.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 18 Cape Town, South Africa - Windhoek, Namibia
Today we fly from Cape Town to Windhoek.*

Flight schedules permitting, we will have a brief tour of Windhoek, a small, rather elegant city with a distinctly German feel about it, located in the country's central highlands. The city is full of trees and gardens, plus some splendid buildings dating from the turn of the century, all jumbled up with post-modernist office blocks in a swirl of ethnic mix. The multicultural nature of Namibia is most evident on the streets, where you can see influences of the Wambo, Herero and Damara people, among many others. Remainder of the day for relaxation in some of the city's fine German konditerais (German-style pastry and bake shops) and/or shopping for souvenirs such as gemstones and tribal crafts.

* NOTE: The cost of this flight is NOT included in the land only tour price. We can quote / book this fare for LAND ONLY passengers at the current rate.

Overnight in Windhoek.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 19 Windhoek - Namib-Naukluft National Park
Today we leave the interior plateau region and head southwest through the Gamsberg Pass to the Namib Desert, through magnificent colours, pastel-basted rock formations, and waves of taupe-coloured grasses. Even the clouds are tinged orange-pink as distant dunes reflect their colour skywards. In the Nama language, Namib means vast, and this is an understatement. At the opposite end of the moisture scale is the parched Namib Desert with endless orange dunes blown into razor sharp ridges by the sand-shifting wind. The famous Sossusvlei sand dunes at 300m (1,000 ft), are the highest in the world, towering over their nearest rivals in Arabia, and just begging to be climbed barefoot.

Animals, insects, and plants have adapted to live in this generally inhospitable region and apart from infrequent rains, rely on the sea mist that rolls far inland. En route we have the chance to see kudu, springbok, gemsbok and black eagles set against some of the most expansive and dramatically rugged scenery in the world.

En route we have several stops for scenery viewing and photos. Upon arrival this afternoon you will have time to wander the land around our lodge and enjoy the multi-hued sands, strange twisted acacia trees, and almost guaranteed perfect sunset.

Overnight in the vicinity of the Namib-Naklauft National Park.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 20 Namib-Naukluft National Park
Very early this morning we drive into the park to a special place called Sossusvlei, a huge dried up pan (vlei) which sporadically holds water, at the base of some of the most spectacular dunes in the Namib. We watch the morning sun light up the apricot coloured sands, the long shadows accentuating the graceful, almost feminine curves of the dune crests. These immense rich ochre sand dunes are one of the most wondrous sights in the world.

Geologists say that this desert, covering most of the Namib-Naklauft Park, could be the oldest in the world. The older the dune, the brighter the colour from slow iron oxidisation and minute fragments of garnets. Dwarfed by the sheer size of the dunes, your footprints look like insect trails and each step forward forms a mini sand-slide. The solitude is immeasurable and your place in the great scheme of life takes on a curious insignificance. Visually powerful and deafeningly silent, this unforgettable experience is a high point of our visit to the Namib. Possible game sightings include oryx antelope, springbok, or ostrich.

At Sossusvlei we have plenty of time to walk into the heart of the dunes, scale a dune or two for panoramic views, and walk across the sand to a pan called Dead Vlei. This spooky place is named as such because of the blackened dead acacia trees that "sprout" from a blinding white pan against an orange dune backdrop. Stupendous.

On our way back to our accommodation we will make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, located near the entry gate to Sossussvlei. It was an important source of water for early inhabitants and even during dry times there is water in the upper reaches, where deep clefts in the rock reduce evaporation. Explorers, transport riders and early travellers used to lower a bucket down to collect the water and it normally took 6 lengths of thong tied together, hence the Afrikaans name 'Ses' meaning six, and 'Riem' meaning thong. The canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River rising in the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains to the east, and flowing through to Sossusvlei. Walking through the canyon takes you on a journey back 10-20 million years ago when sedimentary layers of gravel and sand were deposited and cemented together by lime. The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings.

Overnight in the vicinity of Namib-Naklauft National Park.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 21 Namib-Naukluft Park - Swakopmund
We continue our journey north through Namib-Naukluft Park via Solitaire. As the name suggests, this is a lonely place in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The only reason it exists at all is to service visitors to the park. It used to have one solitary tree, one petrol pump, a take away kiosk and a captive puff adder. But big things have been happening here and there are now two or three petrol pumps, a fully blown cafeteria and small shop. The dead tree is still standing stark against the flat dry landscape, but the puff adder has gone.

We continue our journey through the spectacular rocky Kuiseb Canyon (photo stops en route) -- with possible sightings of baboon, rock hyrax, or, if lucky, leopard -- to the German colonial resort town of Swakopmund. This is Namibia's second biggest town and traditional "summer capital", and one of the most surreal places in this surreal country. You approach the town through the endless expanses of the Namib Desert, one of the world's largest wilderness areas. Then, through the mists (it is almost always misty in the morning and late afternoon) Bavarian spires and elaborate Germanic architecture rise through the fog banks. The boom of the surf on the notorious Skeleton Coast is an ever-present reminder of the icy Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Overnight in Swakopmund.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 22 Swakopmund
Today is free to wander the streets of charming Swakopmund. The town is an eclectic mixture of Bohemian and Bavarian, home to an intriguing mix of artists, hippies, strait-laced descendants of German settlers, stately Herero women in Victorian dress, and hardened miners, game rangers, safari operators and fishermen. Swakopmund exudes romance and history, a rich cultural melting pot of old and new. Nighttime entertainment ranges from sophisticated spins on the casino's roulette wheels, through raucous parties at the many pubs and restaurants, to an assortment of drama, music and cultural events. It is indeed odd to be in a little corner of old Bavaria wedged between one of the world's harshest deserts and even harsher coastlines.

You might wish to take an optional scenic flight along the famed Skeleton Coast where you may get a glimpse of the Damara desert-dwelling elephants, the many shipwrecks that litter the coast, or perhaps the sea of dunes to the south. Your Tour Leader can help you with these and other options.

Overnight in Swakopmund.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 23 Swakopmund - Skeleton Coast - Twyfelfontein
From Swakopmund we travel briefly up the desolate but beautiful Skeleton Coast, the name referring to the treacherous nature of the coast and the fact that it is a graveyard for many ships. The attraction for visitors to this region is its untouched and mysterious barren beauty, swept by cold sea breezes and often enveloped in a dense fog. This fog accounts for the many shipwrecks and the unique ecosystem which gives life to most unusual plants. The strange ‘Elephant's Foot' plant anchors itself in rock crevices, while desert succulents like Lithops look exactly like pebbles until a tiny yellow flower emerges.

We then head into the semi-arid environs of Damaraland, past Spitzkoppe Mountain in the distance and the soaring Brandberg Range to Twyfelfontein. This is stunning country and our journey is broken up by opportunities to stretch our legs, examine interesting stones, plants, bugs etc, and to photograph the amazing landscape.

Overnight at Twyfelfontein.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 24 Twyfelfontein Area
This morning we will examine some of Africa's finest prehistoric rock art -- paintings and engraving dating back some 5,000 years. We also visit a geological oddity known as the Valley of the Organ Pipes, the Burnt Mountain, and the Petrified Forest, where we can also view some welwitchias, a strange looking plant reputed to live for over 1,000 years.

Everywhere you turn are strange rock formations, unbelievable colours, and interesting and unique plants, birds, and other fauna. Our guide will bring to life the natural and human history of this otherworldly and remote corner of the planet.

Overnight in Twyfelfontein.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 25 Twyfelfontein - Etosha National Park
Today we travel toward Etosha National Park.

Etosha has been referred to as the best kept secret in Africa's safari world, and is one of the world's largest national parks. Its concentration of wildlife is extraordinary, and the dependence on water holes throughout so much of the year makes the wildlife readily visible. In fact, it may just be possible to enter the lives of a more spectacular array of creatures with greater ease and intimacy here at Etosha than anywhere else on the globe.

Time permitting, we may be able to have a game drive in the vicinity of our lodge this afternoon.

Overnight in the vicinity of Etosha Park (HOTEL / LODGE).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 26 Etosha National Park
We have a full day game viewing* in the park, which will take us past the Etosha pan itself, a huge shimmering expanse of usually dry lake bed criss-crossed by myriad animal tracks.

When the original lake at Etosha dried out, it resulted in a hard, dazzling white calcrete wasteland where mirages shimmer above the mineral-rich "salt desert." This salt is important to wildlife. The alkaline clay of the pan cannot sustain life, though the surrounding open savannah cam. In years of exceptional rainfall, the park again resembles a lake, albeit only centimetres deep in parts. It can then briefly sustain a rich profusion of micro-organic life that entices thousands of flamingoes to breed here.

Etosha was once the largest natural park in the world, but it has since been re-shaped several times until being reduced to its present size in 1967. The pan, clearly seen from space, is the park's central feature and takes up one-quarter of its area. There are no roads into the pan, but along the southern fringes is a network of trails linking the three main rest camps and natural waterholes in between.

Our pace is leisurely and set by the animals that we encounter. Possibilities include: elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe, and many hooved species, including zebra, antelope, and many many birds.

* For our full days of game viewing in Etosha we will be using open safari-style vehicles (ie Land Rover / Land cruiser) with space for 4-6.

Overnight in the vicinity of Etosha (HOTEL / LODGE).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 27 Etosha National Park
Today we heading over to the eastern side of Etosha, so after breakfast we pack our bags and head out into the park for more fantastic game viewing. Every part of the park supports different species and it is possible that we will see entirely different things today.

Lunch will be at Halali Rest Camp in the centre of the park; we should reach Namutoni by late afternoon, game-viewing en route. Namutoni centres around a historic German fort dating back to 1903 and declared a national monument in 1950.

We leave the park at Namutoni and travel the short distance to our lodge.

Overnight in the vicinity of Etosha (HOTEL / LODGE).

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 28 Etosha - Ombili Bushman Project - Windhoek
We leave Etosha early today and take a short drive to the Ombili Bushman Project where we can spend some time learning about the fascinating lives of today's San people (Bushmen). The village here allows a good insight into how the San of today are coping with the modern world.

We continue to Windhoek on a good, paved road. The Windhoek area is at a refreshing altitude amongst rolling bush-dotted hills and is well watered by rain. It does, however, get so hot that the rain evaporates soon after each dramatic downpour. Winters are bright but very chilly at night and summers wonderfully hot.

Overnight in Windhoek.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 29 Departure
Today we depart from Windhoek.

BON VOYAGE!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Balalaika Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Johannesburg
Country: South Africa

This charming hotel boasts 330 completely renovated and refurbished brand new rooms. All rooms have new carpeting, curtains and furniture,
... controlled air-conditioning and heating, private bathrooms with separate showers, T.V., tea and coffee making facilities, electronic safes, mini-bars.


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Garden Court Sandton City

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Johannesburg
Country: South Africa

Spend time relaxing in the beautiful gardens with outdoor pool, or taking a short stroll to the city's most upmarket
... complexes, all with an exciting range of designer boutiques, restaurants, banks and entertainment facilities. All modern conveniences.

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Kingdom Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Victoria Falls
Country: Zimbabwe

The Kingdom Hotel in Zimbabwe is a luxury hotel on the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls. The establishment is
... ideal choice for the visitor who wants the comforts of a luxury hotel, an environment with natural beauty (such as the Victoria Falls), as well as hotel entertainment such as a casino, spa, numerous restaurants and children’s activities.

The architecture of the luxury Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls resembles that of the city of Munhumutapa, capital of an ancient civilisation in Zimbabwe. Accommodation at the Kingdom Hotel is truly luxurious, with guests being accommodated in 294 rooms: 4 suites; 112 rooms with king-size beds; 102 queen-size beds; 34 with king-size and bunk beds; as well as 40 with twin beds and bunk beds. All rooms are en suite and equipped with airconditioning, satellite TV, telephone, hairdryer, safe and tea/coffee-making facilities.

In addition to a variety of restaurants (Whitewaters, Thundercloud Spur, the Burger Place, the Sweet Hut and Panarottis pizzeria), bars (Rapids Pool Bar, Quartermains Bar, Wild Thing Action bar, the Pit), casino (with slot machines, Black Jack and American Roulette) and four swimming pools, the luxurious Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, also offers a business centre and Internet café, spa and beauty parlour, hair salon, a supervised children’s play area, curio shops and 24-hour room service. Bills from the restaurants and bars can be settled on one, final account.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the capital of the adrenalin junkies. There are light aircraft flips across the Falls, white river rafting and kayaking on the Zambezi River, bungi jumping from the Victoria Falls bridge (for the brave ones), an elephant ride, or a swim in the ‘Devil’s Pool’ (a small rock pool right on the ‘lip’ of the Victoria Falls). The latter must surely rate as one of the experiences you are guaranteed to remember for the rest of your life!

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Hazyview Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hazyview
Country: South Africa

The Hazyview Hotel prides itself on warm, friendly service and promises an effortless tranquility that will restore your soul and
... your senses. The unique location ensures guests of exceptionally good weather and a malaria free environment. En-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, satellite television, personal tea and coffee making facilities.

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Numbi Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hazyview
Country: South Africa

Situated in Hazyview, in the heart of the magical Mpumalanga Province this owner-managed hotel has for the past forty seven
... enjoyed making every customer feel special and welcome. The hotel offers 22 luxurious bedrooms all with air-conditioning, 8 channel DSTV television and highly appointed bathrooms en suite.



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Forester's Arms

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Mbabane
Country: Swaziland

This country-style hotel is situated on 90 ha of beautiful Swaziland highlands in the heart of the Kingdom. Spoil yourself
... our wonderful nine-course dinner by candlelight and choose your wine from our imaginative wine list. All 30 bedrooms are tastefully decorated, with bathrooms en suite, telephones and TV.


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Hawane Resort

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Mbabane
Country: Swaziland

The resort offers 23 ensuite chalets. The units blend Swiss Alps-style peaked roofs with traditional Swazi grass domes. The inside
... natural, earthy and artistic with the bathrooms in particular offering a unique bath and shower combination that resembles a natural rock pool.


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Elephant Lake Hotel St Lucia

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: St Lucia
Country: South Africa

The hotel boasts 56 en-suite, air-conditioned rooms, all sharing a westerly view across the St Lucia Estuary. All rooms are
... with TV, tea/coffee making facilities, electronic wall safes; hair dryer and full range of bathroom amenities.


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The Graywood Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Knysna
Country: South Africa

49 en-suite rooms offer comfortable and convenient accommodation ideal for holiday makers. For added convenience the hotel has a licensed
... swimming pool, and full breakfast buffet.


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Riempie Estate

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Oudtshoorn
Country: South Africa

Embraced by the spectacular views of the Swartberg & Outeniqua Mountains, lies the Riempie Estate, offering 3-star accommodation in 40
... decorated chalets and thatched 'rondavels'. All rooms are en suite with bath and/or shower, air-conditioning, TV, tea and coffee facilities and a hairdryer.


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Commodore Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Cape Town
Country: South Africa

The Commodore Hotel lies where Table Mountain and the sea meet. Overlooking the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, with views of
... Mountain, Robben Island, the Harbour and the Atlantic Ocean, is the luxury accommodation of The Commodore Hotel.

The Commodore Hotel is Legacy’s flagship hotel in Cape Town, epitomising stylish living, quality service and a tranquil setting that have ensured our guests, whether businessmen or tourists, return year after year.

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Galton House

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Windhoek
Country: Namibia

Galton House is Windhoek's newest accommodation establishment. Named after the famous explorer Sir Francis Galton, it has a relaxed but
... style which creates a very welcoming atmosphere. Impressive wildlife photography adorns the walls whilst the rest of the interior is a combination of modern minimalistic and understated chic.

A mere ten minute drive from the centre of town and perched on the edge of Windhoek's northernmost affluent suburb of Eros, guests staying here will be ensured of peace and tranquillity. There is Wi-Fi throughout the property and the eight guest rooms all have wired internet connectivity and satellite television. There is a coffee/tea station available in the reception area and these can also be provided in the rooms on request.

The communal areas consist of a large lounge, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a swimming pool, an early arrival/late departure day room (including toilet, shower, changing and re-packing facility) as well as understated garden areas. There is also a delightful 'al fresco' dining area by the pool where freshly prepared and very tasty meals are served (including lunch and dinner). A number of shops, restaurants and supermarkets are within easy striking distance.

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Sossusvlei Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Namib-Naukluft National Park
Country: Namibia

The rooms are bungalow-style. Adobe walls are shaded by canvas roofs, almost Berber-like in their covering of the slate floors
... The property features a swimming pool, bar, curio shop. Warm beverages and cold water are available at no cost to guests 24 hours a day.


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The Swakopmund Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Swakopmund
Country: Namibia

Built in and around the old Station Building the hotel combines architectural beauty with first-world comfort. The rooms are all
... in a Victorian-style reminiscent of a bygone era of grace and civility. Rooms have individual air conditioning, television, tea/coffee making facilities, bathroom with bath, shower and toilet, direct dialling phones, electronic safes, electric razor plugs, fully stocked mini bars, hair dryers, eight channel TV.


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Mushara Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Etosha National Park
Country: Namibia

Located just 8 km from the Von Lindequist Gate on the eastern boundary of Etosha National Park, Mushara Lodge is
... ideal overnight stop for visitors to the game reserve. The lodge consists of ten spacious chalets, one family unit, a triple room and two single rooms. The name Mushara is derived from the Purple Pod Terminalia tree which grows abundantly on the lodge grounds and in the surroundings. The thatched public area includes a small library with a selection of good books, a bar with an extensive wine cellar, an airy lounge complete with welcoming fireplace for winter evenings, a dining area and a well stocked curio shop. Great attention has been paid to the décor, which is an eclectic blend of traditional African and modern works of art mixed with original older paintings.
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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner daily; most meals in Namibia. All accommodation, transport (internal flights included; flight Cape Town-Windhoek only for land & air passengers), sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, local guides, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air (if applicable), air and airport taxes, Cape Town-Windhoek flight for land only passengers, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, visas, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

SOUTH AFRICA: Oct / Nov - Short-lived thunderstorms are a frequent occurrence, especially in the north. Low water season at Victoria Falls. Dec / Jan: Mid-summer and heat is a factor, especially in the north, though game reserves are green. Vic Falls moderate. Feb-April is late summer when days are usually hot with thunderstorms in the north and dry, cooler weather in the south. High water season at Vic Falls. June / July coincides with "winter" in Southern Africa-warm and dry days and cool-cold nights in the northern regions. Game parks are dry and cool with short grasses that enhance game spotting. In the Cape weather conditions can be highly changeable with wind and rain possible. Medium water levels at Vic Falls.

NAMIBIA: Rains fall in summer (Nov-Apr); temperatures are high. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant. Our departures in April and July occur in the cooler time of year and showers, though short lived, may occur. Expect daytime highs to range from 23-28 C (72-84 F), and cool mornings and nights. Our departures in Oct / Nov will experience hotter temperatures, especially inland (35-40 C / 90 - 100 F), and showers-sometimes heavy-will be a greater likelihood in Nov.

Transport and Travel Conditions

SOUTH AFRICA: Air-conditioned motor coach, 24-40 seater depending on group size (see 'Group Size'). Open safari vehicles in Chobe, Kruger, and Hluhluwe parks. We have some full bus days but routes are scenic, stops are frequent, and roads are excellent. Internal flights via scheduled carriers.

NAMIBIA: Varies depending on group size. Bus transport may be arranged, or the group may be accommodated in multiple Land Rover type vehicles. These are specially modified vehicles and are the best- suited for the conditions we will encounter. Note that air conditioning is VERY rare in vehicles in Namibia in general, though in a dry climate an open window should provide adequate relief. That said, you must remember that you will be visiting a desert environment in which heat and dust are a fact of life. Namibia is also a huge, sparsely populated country with great distances between facilities. We stop for breaks as often as possible, but you must be prepared for some long days and some early starts. For our full days of game viewing in Etosha we will be using open safari-style vehicles (ie Land Rover / Land cruiser) with space for 4-6.

Accommodation

Well-located, air-conditioned, 3 & 4-star hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout (maybe shower only). Some hotels have hairdryers, irons, and outdoor swimming pools. Porter service is available throughout (see 'Inclusions'). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins. There is no camping.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, drivers, local guides at various locations.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)

SA3 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION29 days

TOUR STARTJohannesburg

TOUR ENDWindhoek