Southern Africa harbours indescribable natural wonders: here, majestic creatures roam their native lands much as they have for centuries. Embark on an unforgettable safari adventure through South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, traveling from the wilds of Kruger National Park to awe-inspiring Victoria Falls and the lush green waterways of the Okavango Panhandle. Watch for the African “big five” in the region’s finest wildlife reserves, meet with National Geographic–supported researchers in the field, and experience local life and culture in vibrant cities.

Trip highlights

Carnivore Conservation Experience, A researcher from the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project will conduct a lecture and join us on a wildlife safari drive to share insights into the behaviour of cheetahs and other carnivores – and efforts to protect them. This National Geographic-sponsored project is part of the Big Cats Initiative.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Guided Tour, Stop and smell the flowers on a tour specially designed for National Geographic travellers. Walk with a botanist through the incredible Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, named one of the “10 most magnificent gardens in the world” by National Geographic.

Zimbabwean Family Dinner, Visit Flatter Ncube’s home and meet her extended family. On her homestead, you’ll sit down to a traditional Zimbabwean dinner made with produce fresh from the gardens. Hear what daily life is like for Ncube and her family over a delicious meal.

Itinerary - 21 Days

Day 1 Cape Town

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.

Day 2 Cape Town

Begin the day with an exploration of vibrant Cape Town, wandering through the multicultural Bo-Kaap neighborhood. Then enjoy an exclusive guided tour of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, named by National Geographic Travel as one of the world’s 10 most magnificent gardens. Later, stop by Boulders Beach to see the resident population of African penguins, and continue to the Cape Point lighthouse and the Cape of Good Hope, the southwesternmost point in Africa.

Day 3 Cape Town

Enjoy a day of leisure in Cape Town, choosing from a variety of optional activities. Hike up iconic Table Mountain or hop on a cable car to the summit, taking in extraordinary views of the city and the Atlantic seaboard. Or explore the Cape Winelands, visiting the historical city of Stellenbosch, touring wine estates with expert guides, and indulging in a variety of tastings and pairings.

Day 4 Cape Town/Johannesburg

Fly to Johannesburg, then take a guided tour of Soweto township. Soweto was an important center of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and home to its leader, Nelson Mandela. Visit the Mandela House Museum and learn about this painful chapter in the country’s history. In the evening, enjoy a traditional South African braai (barbecue) with your fellow travellers.

Day 5 Johannesburg/Greater Kruger Area

Set out towards Kruger National Park via the magnificent Panorama Route, one of the world’s most picturesque drives. Make stops at the dramatic Blyde River Canyon and Bourke's Luck Potholes, and take in panoramic views of the forest-covered valley from the God's Window viewpoint. Continue to our tented camp near Kruger National Park and savour a delicious South African dinner in a boma.

Day 6 Kruger National Park

Rise early and climb aboard an open jeep for a full-day safari in Kruger National Park—home to an extraordinary array of large mammals. Spot elephants, lions, giraffes, and perhaps elusive leopards as we explore this breathtaking wilderness of savanna and scrubland. Return to our lodge in the evening, where you can take some time to relax on the deck and enjoy the nocturnal sounds of the bush.

Day 7 Greater Kruger Area/Karongwe Private Game Reserve

Travel to the Karongwe Private Game Reserve, a pristine wildlife sanctuary located in the Greater Kruger area. Meet with a researcher from the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project—a program funded in part by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative—and learn about efforts to protect the region’s cheetahs and other carnivores. The researcher then joins us for a wildlife-viewing excursion through the reserve.

Day 8 Karongwe Private Game Reserve

Spend the day exploring Karongwe on morning and afternoon safaris with our local guides. Search for Africa's famed "big five" as we drive through the shrublands of the bushveld. Back at camp, relax on deck or take a walk around the grounds.

Day 9 Karongwe Private Game Reserve/Johannesburg

Embark on one last safari this morning, keeping a lookout for Karongwe’s iconic inhabitants. Then head back to the city, where you’ll enjoy dinner in our local guest house.

Day 10 Johannesburg/Victoria Falls

Catch a flight to the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, named after one of the most powerful waterfalls on Earth. Visit a nearby village and go grocery shopping in the bustling market. Then sit down with a local family for dinner, helping your hosts prepare a traditional Zimbabwean meal using the ingredients you picked out, and hear stories about local life and culture.

Day 11 Victoria Falls

Set out for a tour of magnificent Victoria Falls. Scottish explorer David Livingstone named them after Britain’s Queen Victoria, while their older, indigenous name is Mosi-oa-Tunya—“the smoke that thunders.” Opt for a scenic sunset cruise on the Zambezi River; soar above the roaring falls in a helicopter; and much more.

Day 12 Victoria Falls

Continue your exploration of majestic Victoria Falls on a variety of optional excursions. Go whizzing over the Zambezi River on a zip line, glide down the river on a sunset cruise, or feel the spray of the falls on your face as you explore the surrounding paths.

Day 13 Victoria Falls/Hwange National Park

Explore Victoria Falls at leisure this morning, and opt to take a guided tour of this thundering natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site. Later, transfer to the headquarters of Painted Dog Conservation. Learn about this non-profit organization’s work to protect and rehabilitate injured painted dogs (also known as African wild dogs), and hear from a conservationist about the threats to these endangered animals. Afterward, venture out on safari in Hwange National Park, one of Zimbabwe’s largest wildlife reserves and an important elephant sanctuary.

Day 14 Hwange National Park

Set out on a full-day safari through the sweeping grasslands of Hwange National Park. Track the park’s resident elephant and buffalo herds, as well as giraffes, lions, zebras, and the rare African wild dog. This evening, relax on the deck of your lodge, keeping an eye out for the wild creatures that visit the lodge’s watering hole.

Day 15 Hwange/Chobe NP

Depart Hwange and head north, crossing the border into Botswana and arriving in Kasane—the gateway to the stunning Chobe National Park. Settle into your lodge and embark on a boat safari on the Chobe River, the lifeline of the park. Look out for submerged hippos, basking crocodiles, bathing elephants, and an abundance of birdlife from the boat’s deck, and witness a spectacular fiery sunset over the river.

Day 16 Chobe NP

This morning, continue your exploration of Chobe National Park, home to one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. On a safari along the banks of the Chobe River, keep an eye out for elephants, buffalo, lions, zebra, and rare semi-aquatic antelope, as well as an incredible variety of birds. In the afternoon, opt to take a photography river safari on a specialized photography boat.

Day 17 Kasane/Okavango Delta

Catch a flight to the Okavango Panhandle in Botswana, the narrow arm of the Okavango River that feeds into the famed Okavango Delta. Check in to our remote lodge, and enjoy a boat cruise on the winding waterways. This evening, hear about National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project, a multi-year collaboration between international and local experts to survey the Okavango watershed’s biodiversity and ensure its future protection. Watch the National Geographic documentary “Into the Okavango,” and learn about delta conservation projects in the area.

Day 18 Okavango Delta

Explore the breathtaking Okavango Panhandle with expert local guides. Navigate the wildlife-rich channels of the Okavango River aboard a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, and spot all manner of bird life on bush walks. Settle into your tent in our remote bush camp this evening. Enjoy a three-course meal around a roaring campfire while listening to the night calls of the delta.

Day 19 Okavango Delta

Continue exploring the Okavango Delta’s untamed habitat on foot and by mokoro, spotting herons, storks, egrets, and other wading birds. Return to our camp later this afternoon and opt to relax by an open fire, or take a swim.

Day 20 Okavango Delta/Maun

Fly to the frontier town of Maun for an evening of storytelling and traditional foods with celebrated local author Bonty Botumile. Born in Maun, Bonty’s work is dedicated to preserving Botswana’s literary heritage and providing youth with employment opportunities in the arts. Listen as she shares her in-depth knowledge of the region’s cultural history, and cap off the night with a delicious meal and colourful stories around a warm fire.

Day 21 Maun

Depart at any time.

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