Tour type: Overland
Group size: Min: 4 | Max: 20
Accommodation: 2 to 4-star hotels, lodges & camps
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle & 4x4 safari jeeps
Highlights: Victoria Falls, Hwange & Matopos National Parks, Great Zimbabwe, Panorama Route, Kruger National Park, Johannesburg
This 9-day adventure explores the heart of Zimbabwe including Hwange and Matopos wildlife parks, and Great Zimbabwe, before crossing into South Africa for fantastic wildlife at Kruger National Park and ending in Johannesburg. This is an 'accommodated' tour, staying in hotels and lodges rather than camping.
We start this epic adventure in the adventure capital of Africa, Victoria Falls, where there are plenty of optional activities to fill up any extra days you might want to include. Heading south you'll visit both Hwange and Matopos National parks before reaching the famous ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Continuing south, we cross over the border into South Africa and spend time relaxing in the thermal springs at Thipiese. Next stop is the bright lights of Johannesburg where you'll spend a night to enjoy the city before continuing onto the Kruger National Park. We'll spend three days exploring this excellent wildlife park before returning to Johannesburg along the Panorama Route visiting the spectacular Blyde River Canyon en route.
Note: the itinerary below is written with the optional Activity Package included - please check the Options tab for full details. This Activity Package is being phased out for 2020 departures and more activities included in the standard tour price. Please contact us for detailed 2020 itineraries and inclusions.
We leave Victoria Falls this morning so we recommend you arrive at least 1 day pre-tour. If you need help in booking extra nights and airport transfers we can assist with this.
We depart Victoria Falls and head towards the Hwange National Park. At around 14,650km2 the Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe and home to one of Africa's largest elephant populations as well as over 100 other mammalian species and 400 different bird species. Upon arrival in Hwange we will enjoy a game drive through the park.
Route: Victoria Falls to Hwange NP ±230km
Activity Package: Afternoon game drive in Hwange National Park
Optional Activity: Zambezi Sunset Cruise, Bungee Jump - Solo, Helicopter Flights, White Water Rafting
Gwango or Hwange Main Camp
Options available while on tour
Single room supplement (ZIOVZK)
Extra day in Victoria Falls - pre-tour
Arrival airport transfer in Victoria Falls
Activity Package 2018 - Zimbabwe & Kruger
We depart Hwange NP and heads towards the Matopos National Park. The National Park occupies a total area of 44,500 hectares and was established in 1953. The park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. We will enjoy an afternoon game drive during our time in the park.
Route: Hwange NP to Matopos NP ±380km
Activity Package: Afternoon Game Drive in Matopos National Park
Traveller's Guest House
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Okavango Delta Upgrade (camping)
No visit to Zimbabwe could possibly be complete without visiting the world-famous Great Zimbabwe ruins. Dating from around the 11th century BC these iron-age ruins have been the source of much speculation and disagreement over the years. Built without any mortar some of the walls are up to 5 metres high and still standing after so many centuries. This site was also home to 8 carved Zimbabwe birds, the image of which is found on the Zimbabwean National Flag.
Route: Matopos National Park to Great Zimbabwe Ruins ±360km
Included highlight: Visit the Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Norma Jeans Lake View Resort
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we will depart Zimbabwe and cross the border into the Limpopo province of South Africa. Thipiese was developed in 1936 and was formerly spelt Chipise - the name is said to be derived from chia fisu "burn, be hot" referring to the mineral springs at 65°C. This afternoon you will have time to relax in the warm mineral pool.
Route: Great Zimbabwe Ruins to Tshipise ±370km
Forever Tshipise Resort
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we leave early for the journey towards Johannesburg, the City of Gold. Upon arrival in Johannesburg you will have the chance to relax, repack and get ready for the next part of your journey. Belvedere Estate offers travellers a wonderful opportunity to spend the evening enjoying a traditional buffet meal served by the Estate. This is an optional meal which you can book via your guide.
Route: Tshipise to Johannesburg ±485km
Optional activity: Dinner out Johannesburg
Options available while on tour
An early start from Johannesburg, we follow the footsteps of old traderoutes through the Province of Mpumalanga, famous for its coalfields to the Lowveld and on to the breath taking Kruger National Park. This evening we enjoy a sundowner drive before being treated to some local dancing and dinner around the camp fire.
Note - the order of activities while in Kruger may change without prior notice to allow for the best opportunities for game viewing and experiences, so please allow for some flexibility.
Route: Johannesburg to Greater Kruger National Park Area ±480km
Activity Package: Sundowner drive
Included Highlight: Local Dinner and Dance
Nkambeni Safari Camp - Permanent en-suite tents
Today we have a full day of game viewing planned in an open 4×4 vehicle inside Kruger National Park. This gives you some fantastic photo opportunities so keep your eyes open for elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo, known as Africa's 'Big Five' as well as many other species of animals and birds.
Activity Package: Full day 4x4 Game Drive in Kruger National Park
Included Highlight: Afternoon game drive in main truck (Only for those who did not purchase the activity package).
Nkambeni Safari Park - permanent en-suite tents
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Okavango Delta Upgrade (camping)
We'll re-visit the park this morning for a game drive in our expedition vehicle. Then, we'll leave the park and drive along the beatifully scenic Panorama Route, visiting God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels. In the evening we return back to the park accommodation for dinner.
Included Highlight: Morning game drive in main truck / Panorama Route
Nkambeni Safari Camp - Permanent en-suite tents
Okavango Delta Upgrade (camping)
We rise early this morning to enjoy a guided bush walk in the park. Exploring on foot gives a unique opportunity to appreciate the smaller details of this great wilderness area. We'll then drive back to Johannesburg where your tour ends upon arrival at the welcoming and comfortable Belvedere Estate which is located out of the city but close enough to Johannesburg airport for reasonable airport transfers. We recommend that you book at least 1 more night post-tour rather than flying out this evening in case of any delays. We can help you in organising extra nights if required. A traditional meal is available at the estate tonight, bookable through your guide the day before arrival.
Route: Kruger National Park to Johannesburg
Optional activities: Traditional dinner at Belvedere Estate
Options available while on tour
Extra day in Johannesburg - post-tour
Departure airport transfer in Johannesburg
Please plan to add at least 1 extra day before & after your tour. 2020 departures have more activities included in the price and do not require an additional activity package. Private charters are also available on any date.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Rainbow is a stylish hotel within walking distance from the Victoria Falls, the town centre, close to the railway station as well as the commercial district.
Rainbow is a stylish hotel within walking distance from the Victoria Falls, the town centre, close to the railway station as well as the commercial district. This hotel offers incredible attention to detail, personal service and offers the base from which to pursue adrenaline pumping sporting activities.
It is easily reached by tarmac road and falls within the Victoria Falls district's confines. The distance from the lodge to the airport is roughly 25km and the town centre is a mere 4km away.
The lodge is located next to the Zambezi National Park and it's possible to spot some hippos, crocodiles or game coming in for a drink from the rooms. And if you'd like to see even more of these beasts, the nearby crocodile farm and various game parks offer good close-up views
All rooms have air conditioning, colour television, computer hook up, telephone, ensuite bathrooms, and enclosed balconies. Suites have, in addition, a separate lounge, mini bar and another TV lounge. The hotel has 88 rooms in total.
Belvedere Estate is a 4-star establishment with 15 en-suite, fully equipped, self-catering rooms, a sparkling swimming pool, braai boma, two lounges, dining area, snooker room, bar and friendly, welcoming staff.
Belvedere Estate is a 4-star establishment with 15 en-suite, fully equipped, self-catering rooms, a sparkling swimming pool, braai boma, two lounges, dining area, snooker room, bar and friendly, welcoming staff. With a range of snacks, lunch and dining options, we welcome you look forward to sharing your stories and experiences with you.
Belvedere Estate is set on 2.5 hectares of lush gardens neighboured by a bird sanctuary, keeping you in touch with nature while being only a stone's throw from the heart of the City of Gold. Lovingly and tastefully decorated, every attention to detail has been met with luxury furnishings, high quality finishes and a hint of Europe meets Africa in the rich colours and textures.
Nkambeni Safari Camp
Kruger National Park
At Nkambeni Safari Camp we are committed to the preservation of pristine wilderness areas and providing you with the true experience of the wonderful scenery of the Lowveld of Mpumalanga.
At Nkambeni Safari Camp we are committed to the preservation of pristine wilderness areas and providing you with the true experience of the wonderful scenery of the Lowveld of Mpumalanga.
Nkambeni Tented Camp offers a wide range of outstanding facilities to make your stay in the Kruger Park an enjoyable and true nature experience. There are tons of activities in and around the Kruger National Park for you to experience the wonderful scenery the Lowveld has to offer.
The accommodation at Nkambeni Safari Camp consists of 146 beautifully appointed luxury timber and canvas tented suites.
No concrete and no foundations means no damage! In addition, the construction is low maintenance and this means that annual levies will remain well below industry norms. Combine these principles with luxury and comfort and enjoy the accommodation at Nkambeni Tented Lodge.
Construction at Nkambeni Tented Lodge conforms to the highest standards of low impact eco-friendly criteria.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
The accommodation on this tour is designed to bridge the gap between a basic camping tour and an expensive lodge holiday. So, we use good quality hotels, lodges and camps rated at the local 2 to 4-star level, the majority of it en-suite. In some places more basic properties or permanent safari tents may be used. We aim always to use accommodation that is in keeping with the local area so there is a good variety. Local star ratings may vary slightly from international standards. Accommodation is based on twin or double en-suite rooms, chalets, bungalows or safari tents. All couples will be given a private double room. Friends booking together will also share a room. Single travellers will need to pay the additional single room supplement. At some of the places we stay basic camping is also available but your tour is based on proper accommodation throughout.
Note - Accommodation providers are subject to change without notice. The properties listed are our preferred options, but sometimes due to availability or other issues with the property, we may substitute another property of similar standards.
Due to the nature of the overland trip, the majority of your meals will be cooked by our cook and eaten beside the vehicle. Meals will not normally be eaten within the accommodation. The reason we run our trips in this way is that we feel it fits in better with this type of trip and it also helps to keep our prices competitive with other companies offering similar tours.
Breakfast: As breakfast is served very early in the morning (if there is driving or activities to be done) it is a simple but filling breakfast: Tea and coffee, breads and spreads, cereals, yoghurts, fruits and on occasion, when there is time for a later breakfast, guides will serve a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, porridge, bacon or beans.
Lunch: Lunch is generally served at a picnic spot next to the road en route to a destination. As the guides only have approximately 45 minutes to get everyone off the truck, prepare lunch and then get everyone back on the truck again, lunches consist of sandwiches and salads (rice salad, pasta salad, tuna salad and green salad) which are quick and easy to prepare but which are quite filling. They do have meal plans which they should stick to, to ensure that there is variety on a day to day basis.
Dinner: This is when the guides get time to prepare a delicious meal and they focus on a substantial protein, vegetable and carbohydrate dinner. We serve traditional cuisine consisting of braais (BBQ), potjie (stew), bobotie (mince), spaghetti and fish and chicken dishes. All meals (on both accommodated and camping tours) that are included in the itinerary are prepared at the full service adventure truck. This is a unique adventure in itself where you get to dine under the stars with your new found friends and experience the real sights and sounds of Africa!
Victoria Falls is undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful treasures. They border Zimbabwe and Zambia and are the region’s most visited tourist hotspot. The falls are by no means the world’s biggest waterfall, however ,at 1700 m wide and 108 m high their length and the vast volume of water which find its way to the falls via the Zambezi river makes them one of the most spectacular. David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view the Victoria Falls and wrote: "It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight". The older, indigenous name of Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘the Smoke that Thunders’) is the name in official use in Zambia, and the falls spray water into the air which can be seen for miles, including in the surrounding game reserves and national parks. Due to its immense power and size, the waterfall is surrounded by a rich mythology. The local Tonga people of the Zambezi believe that a river god, Nyaminyami, resides in the water in the form of an immense snake. When the Kariba Dam was built in the 1950s, the Zambezi River flooded three times, causing many deaths and much destruction. The local people believe Nyaminyami caused the terrible floods in his anger at the construction.
The unusual form of Victoria Falls enables virtually the whole width of the falls to be viewed face-on, at the same level as the top, from as close as 60 metres, because the whole Zambezi River drops into a deep, narrow slot like chasm, connected to a long series of gorges. Few other waterfalls allow such a close approach on foot.
The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a chasm 60–120 m wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau. The depth of the chasm, called the First Gorge, varies from 80 m at its western end to 108 m in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110 m-wide gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end, through which the whole volume of the river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges.
There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank and Livingstone Island near the middle. At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams. The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Leaping Water (called Devil's Cataract by some), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.
While staying here, guests can also embark on bush safaris – on foot, horseback or in a vehicle, embark on a Zambezi cruise along the waters before the falls, or try some exciting white water rafting. While on these Victoria Falls safaris guests will have the chance to see crocodiles, hippos and other African wildlife.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park, the largest park in Zimbabwe, is one of Africa's finest havens for wildlife and is home to Africa’s Big 5 large concentrations of zebra and giraffe. Elephant make up the largest proportion of the biomass, and are so prolific that culling has been periodically considered. It is also home to many predators and endangered species – lion are sighted frequently, while leopard and rhino are seen less often. It is also the only protected area where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers. The population of wild dog to be found in Hwange is thought to be of one of the largest surviving groups in Africa today. The birdlife is varied and up to 400 species can be spotted, making the area a birder’s paradise, especially in the wet season.
The park, covering just over 14 600 square km, is situated on the main road between Bulawayo and the world famous Victoria Falls. The landscape varies from sparse woodland to savannah grasslands and granite outcrops. An interesting feature of the area is its fossil dunes – ancient sand dunes held together by vegetation.
Matopos National Park
Less than an hour’s drive from Bulawayo, this park is set in a sea of fascinating granite rock formations. It is the oldest in Zimbabwe, established in 1926 as Rhodes Motopos National Park, a bequest from Cecile John Rhodes, who founded Rhodesia in 1890, inaugurating 9 decades of colonial rule. The beautiful rocks are said to be his favourite place, and he was buried there. The jumble of granite domes more importantly has a deep significance for the ancestral people. Other historical sites can be found here, the most fascinating being the rock paintings left by the San bushman who lived in these hills about 2 000 years ago, and various archaeological sites dating back to the Stone Age.
A large section of Matopos National Park is fenced to contain wild game including some of the more beautiful larger antelope (kudu, sable and eland) as well as black and white rhinoceros. The park boasts the largest concentration of black eagles and leopard in an area of its size in the world. The Motobo Hills, with their distinct rock formations, were formed 2000 million years ago with granite being forced to the earth’s surface and weathered into fantastic shapes such as the famous balancing rocks, known as Mother and Child Kopje. Here, you’ll find over 200 tree species, 100 grass species, 175 birds and 88 mammals. It’s important to wear long trousers and closed shoes while visiting as there are also 39 types of snakes. Walking tours, canoeing, game viewing, drives and picnics are among the most popular activities, however you can also go boating here, fishing and horse-riding. Spend an evening soaking in the tranquil atmosphere and listening to the sounds of the surrounding wildlife.
Great Zimbabwe Ruins
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins in Masvingo are sub-Saharan Africa's most important and largest stone ruins. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1986, the ancient and long-abandoned city of high-walled granite structures were built out of millions of stones balanced perfectly on top of one another without the aid of mortar. Hence the name ‘dzimba dzembabwe’ or ‘houses of stone’. It is not known exactly when the walled city was built, but it is believed to be around the 11th century, when the local people were becoming increasingly influential – controlling gold and ivory trade with the Swahili, Portuguese and Arabs who were sailing down the Mozambique coast. As the Great Zimbabwe people flourished, they built an empire whose huge stone buildings eventually spread over 500 square km. It is thought that as many as 18,000 people lived here during its heyday. It was the seat of political power and was a true force to be reckoned with; a formidable African palace, perhaps the largest during its time in Southern Africa.
By the 15th century, Great Zimbabwe was in decline due to overpopulation and political discord. When the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century in search of rumoured cities built of gold, Great Zimbabwe had already fallen into ruin.
There have been many theories as to who was responsible for building the magnificent monuments; some believed that Great Zimbabwe was built by Phoenicians or Arabs. It wasn't until 1929 that archaeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson proved that Great Zimbabwe was built by black Africans. Nowadays, various tribes in the region claim that Great Zimbabwe was built by their ancestors. Archaeologists generally believe that the Lemba tribe is responsible.
Great Zimbabwe gave modern Zimbabwe its name as well as its national emblem - an eagle carved from soapstone, many of which were found at the ruins.
Kruger National Park
Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares is the largest in South Africa and unrivalled in the diversity of its wildlife. Approximately 145 mammal species including the ‘Big Five’, a list of over 500 bird species, some of which are not to be found elsewhere in South Africa, and 336 tree species occur in the park. When the first tourist cars visited the park in 1927, they made their own camps in thorn-bush enclosures and had to carry weapons to protect themselves from predators. During the Second World War the park was closed to the public, and reopened in 1946 under new management. Today it is one of the most famous safari destinations in the world with all the facilities that one would expect from a world class holiday destination, but it has retained the untamed, unspoilt environment where you can experience Africa just as you imagined it.
The Panorama route in Mpumalanga follows the edge of Blyde River Canyon, and includes some breathtaking views of the Three Rondavels, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Pinnacle. Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world, and got its name in 1840 (‘blyde’ meaning ‘joyful’) from the Voortrekkers who passed through on their way to Lorenzo Marques (now Mozambique). It is one of the most spectacular canyons in Africa and its cliffs rise between 600 m-800 m from the riverbed. Possibly the best view in the whole of the Blyde River Canyon is of the "Three Rondavels - three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon. Their tops appear to have a hut-like rounded roof. They are named after the Swazi Chief Maripi’s wives - from the lowest to the highest, they are Magabolle, Mogoladikwe and Maserote.
Where the Blyde River and the Treur River meet, water erosion has formed one of the most remarkable geological phenomena in the country, known as ‘Bourke’s Luck Potholes’. Over thousands of years, surreal cylindrical rock sculptures created by whirling water have formed a series of dark pools which contrast artfully with the streaked white and yellow lichen covered rocks. Following the road and the Treur River south, there are further viewpoints; Wonder View, God’s Window and the Pinnacle.
Johannesburg is the largest and most populated city in South Africa, its business hub, and the second largest city in Africa after Cairo. Gold was discovered in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand in 1886 by an Australian prospector, George Harrison. This discovery started a major gold rush as fortune hunters came to the area from all over the world. A huge labour force of contract workers sprang up to work in the mines and within three years Johannesburg became the largest settlement in South Africa. It is now the economic and financial core of the country, and although mining is no longer practiced within the city bounds, the headquarters of most of the mining companies can be found here.
Everything here is faster than anywhere else in Africa, something this city has prided itself on ever since the gold rush..The streets of Johannesburg boast a rich historical background while its suburbs are home to some of the savviest businessmen in Africa. However, it’s not all about business in this economic terrain and Johannesburg offers a wealth of sights for visitors including the beautiful Kruger National Park, Emmerentia Dam and the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. It’s also close to the world renowned Sun City, the popular Gold Reef City and the Blyde River Canyon. Most visitors embark on tours to Johannesburg to take in the sites of the townships. Soweto in particular offers fantastic opportunities for township tours as well as a glimpse into South Africa’s history. The Apartheid Museum is also part of these tours and delves visitors to Johannesburg into South Africa’s past. Johannesburg’s Sandton is also the sight of the best shopping ground in South Africa with shopping malls offering all the latest and hottest haute couture and labels seen on the world’s catwalks. Johannesburg is also known as the world’s largest human-made forest, with over 10 million trees planted throughout the city.
This tour is run in conjunction with our local partners in South Africa. You will travel in one of their specially designed overland trucks throughout this tour, giving you a great vantage point from which to enjoy the scenery and incredible wildlife. Our professional and knowledgeable local guides will help to make your experience unforgettable and fun. The maximum number of people on this tour is 20 (the trucks have 25 seats)
The vehicles we use are amongst some of the finest on the road. However, do not forget the nature of an adventure tour. This is not a bus trip. Nor do we provide up-market tours. These are still tours aimed at the adventurous traveller. Though the vehicles are comfortable with large windows and great visibility, there are no onboard toilets or air-conditioning.
Each expedition vehicle is fitted with the following:
Partaking in an adventure tour in Africa involves covering hundreds if not thousands of kilometres in a truck, and our tours are as much about this journey as they are about the destinations we visit. Use your time in the truck to talk to your fellow travellers, play card games, have a drink, walk around, take note of the world passing by your window and make the most of this unique opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.
Some roads you travel on will be smooth and easy while others could take up to an hour to cover 1 kilometre. There is just no telling what could happen with road, weather, traffic and other conditions that may exist that will either increase or decrease the amount of time you spend on the road so take your watch off, put your iPad away, turn off your phone and just relax. An average driving day could take anything from 5 to 14 hours in the truck, it all depends on the day.
The tour itinerary shows an indication of the distance to be covered on a particular day. Please don’t assume that your travel time will be equal to that which you can travel in your car on the autobahn… no, it will be much, much slower! We will stop for shopping, bathroom breaks, photo stops, activities and a whole lot more. If you are looking to only experience specific destinations and are not interested in the journey, perhaps overland adventures are not for you.
Some game safaris are carried out using 4x4 jeeps/safari vehicles - see your tour itinerary for details. These may be open-roofed or enclosed. You must not leave the vehicle or lean out through windows without express permission from the guide.
International Flights: We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people living in different places and with varying travel plans, except on some Escorted Tours and package promotions, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
The vast majority of our tours are designed such that you can arrive and depart at any time on the first and last days of the set tour itinerary, with your arrival and departure airport transfers included in the tour price. However, on our Overland tours, you should not arrange your onward international flights or other travel for the day the tour is due to end (unless the final day does not involve any travelling and finishes after breakfast). Similarly, many of our Overland tours depart their first port of call on the first morning, and you will therefore need to plan for any flights to arrive at least one day beforehand.
Airport Transfers: Arrival and departure airport transfers are included on Small Group, Shoestring and Tailor-made tours but available as extra options on all our African Overland tours, as long as you have accommodation booked with us on that day. If you add extra accommodation before and/or after the tour that you do not book with us, then you will also need to arrange your own airport transfers.
Departure Taxes: Various countries may require that you pay an Airport Departure Tax when departing on an international flight. Please note that all departure taxes must be paid in hard cash currency and US Dollars are normally the best currency to use for this. Departure taxes can vary from US$10 - US$60 depending on the departure point.
We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. So, the expedition vehicles we use on our South & East Africa overland adventure tours have a maximum of 25 seats and on this tour will carry a maximum of 20 travellers.
In South & East Africa we provide fully trained, local English-speaking tour leaders, drivers and crew for all our tours. This tour will feature 2 crew – a driver, and assistant/cook who will help with washing up, clearing away, cleaning of the truck etc. You may assist with this if you wish, and a limited amount of help is expected and appreciated (eg. Washing your own plates & cutlery) but you are not obliged to do any more than that unless you wish to. During the tour we may also use a variety of local specialist guides for activities and tours included in the itinerary.
In general tipping in restaurants is expected and is around 10% for good service, more if you have received exceptional service, and, feel free not to tip at all if you received poor service. Tipping taxi drivers etc is really at your own discretion and not always expected. If in doubt please ask your guides. It is expected to tip porters and car guards etc. Ask your guides how much is appropriate in local currency. The recommended amount for Serengeti and Masai Mara guides is around USD5-7 per client per day.
Our guides do work hard but they are also paid at (and often above) industry levels for this work. Our Crew can be tipped if you feel that they have done a good job and/or gone above and beyond the call of duty. The best way to arrange tips is to elect one person in the group to collect the money. On Small Group & Shoestring tours we recommend around USD 3-5 per person per day per guide as a fair tip. On longer Overland tours we recommend USD1-2 per day per person, per guide as a fair tip. So if you have 2-crew on a tour, we would recommend that 2 envelopes are used and each crew member’s name written on one. Place what you feel is fair into each envelope and the elected person can give these to the crew at the end of the tour. If you do not feel that the crew deserve a tip, please, do not tip them. You must remember that tipping is only for exceptional service and is not at all compulsory or expected.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
South Africa: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Namibia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Botswana: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted or travelled through an infected area.
Zimbabwe: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Zambia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Malawi: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Tanzania: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Kenya: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Uganda: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Sudan: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. A certificate may also be required for those departing Sudan.
Morocco: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria not normally present. Yellow Fever certificate not required.
The above information can change at short notice. For up to date health information & vaccination requirements we recommend that you contact your medical practitioner or a travel clinic.
Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting.Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.
Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
If you are travelling on an Overland tour or your trip includes wildlife safaris then please bear in mind that you may be travelling on bumpy roads and/or rough ground for several hours at a time. This can be very uncomfortable or painful if you have a bad back, and make such conditions worse. Please contact us if you have any concerns.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities. Encounters Travel will not be held responsible if travellers are denied entry because they are not in possession of the relevant visas. We therefore recommend you re-check requirements with the relevant embassy/consulate around 4 weeks before travel.
You should also be in possession of a valid onward or return flight ticket, or proof of other means of transport enabling you to leave the country that your tour passes through or finishes in. In addition you should carry proof of sufficient funds to cover you during your time in the country (eg. credit card).
Should your tour be re-entering a country, please ensure that you have a multiple entry visa that allows this. Some countries have a visa on arrival service which can be more convenient and cheaper. However, for peace of mind and to speed up the border crossing process, Encounters Travel advises that you to get your visas prior to your trip if possible.
On all our Overland tours we strive to strike a balance between including plenty of meals, tours and activities and being accessible and affordable.
The main tour price covers all your accommodation, transport, most meals and a range of tours and activities. We then offer an additional 'Activity Package' which includes a range of activities and tours which we consider to be strongly recommended to make the most of the destinations you will be visiting. Our itineraries are written with this optional activity package included, with notes on each day of the itinerary where this applies. While you may still be able to book these activities while you are on the tour, they are then subject to availability. So, if you would like to do any of these activities, to avoid disappointment you should book the activity package in advance. You can do this any time before arrival.
Note: While our principle is to offer these activity packages at 'cost price', you may find that sometimes there is a difference between the price of our Activity Package and the sum of activity prices available locally. This can happen for several reasons; we set an annual rate while many of our suppliers have seasonal pricing; suppliers may charge in various different currencies, and we need to fix long term term exchange rates; and finally sometimes we may need to estimate prices where suppliers have not yet released them when our rates are published.
In addition, there are further Locally Available Options on this tour. These have been chosen to give you more of a taste of what is available in the region and sometimes to offer an adrenaline rush during a relatively sedate tour. All these local options are offered and operated by professional local activity providers and Encounters Travel is not responsible for your booking or time while taking any of these options. Prices for these options are given on our website, but please bear in mind that are given as a guide only and may very seasonally and can change from time to time. Availability is subject to seasonal daylight hours and our time-keeping that day.Please check the Options section for more information and prices.
LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES: Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.
OVERLAND AND SAFARI TOURS: Please keep in mind that these are adventure tours in an adventure vehicle (truck or 4x4) and luggage should not include any solid Samsonite style suitcases. On our accommodated overland tours most of our trucks have lockers for the luggage (locker sizes: 37,5 cm high, 32 cm wide, 80 cm deep). Only a soft bag will fit in these lockers. A suitcase is far more difficult to store and make secure in our vehicle and this is part of the reason we ask for a backpack or tote bag to be used as your luggage. The other reason is that you need to walk from the truck to the accommodation and often over sand or uneven terrain. Your luggage on our Overland tours is limited to ONE backpack and ONE daypack weighing no more than 20kg. As a general rule, if you cannot lift your own luggage - you’ve got too much stuff! Most people make the mistake of bringing too many clothes. A quick reminder - suitcases are not suitable on our overland tours – especially huge Samsonite-style cases! Small wheeled cases are OK for safari tours.
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: Kit for all weather conditions including: • 2/3 shorts/skirts • 1 jacket/anorak • Tracksuit/pullover • 2 pairs of long pants/jeans • 2 pairs of walking shoes/boots/trainers • 1 pair of sandals • 3 or 4 T-shirts/short sleeve shirts or sundresses • 2/3 Long Sleeve Shirts • Smart casual change of clothes • Swimwear • Underwear & socks • Sun Hat – preferably that covers the back of your neck. • Raincoat • Kikoi/sarong
Your clothing should be easy to wash and dry and should preferably not need ironing. Avoid synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Many people underestimate how cold Africa can be – remember that jersey/jacket! There are also nights that are warm but you must still wear clothes that cover arms and legs from mosquitoes. Take a set of casual but smart clothes for the occasional evening out in a restaurant or club. If you wear glasses (or contacts) it is also advisable to bring a spare pair.
While on wildlife safaris it is important to wear dull coloured clothing - olive, mushroom, brown, khaki, stone are ideal.
You should avoid white (stands out too much), black or blue (attracts tsetse flies), and camouflage (illegal in many countries for civilians)
Additional Items: • Towel & facecloth • Baby wipes/ Wet Wipes • Personal toiletries • Sleeping bag • Torch & enough spare batteries • Camera & spare batteries and memory cards • Water bottle. (A 2-litre Coke bottle works well...) • Penknife • Insect and Mosquito repellent • Suntan lotion, sun block & after sun lotion • Sunglasses • Watch • Biodegradable laundry detergent • Passport (plus a copy of your passport & visas) • Extra passport photos • Vaccination certificate • Money • Travel plug • Neck pillow • Small sewing kit • Plastic bags • Clothes line and pegs • Small scrubbing brush • a small padlock for your luggage locker in the truck • Small basic First Aid kit (painkillers, band aids, after-sun lotion, eye drops, anti-diarrhoea tablets etc.)
DAY PACKS: Please check the itinerary for your specific tour if you will need a little daypack. For example on our Cape Town to Vic Falls overland tour you will need a smaller bag, big enough to bring basic equipment (toiletries and clothes) for 2 nights. The daypack is for your Okavango Delta Excursion, where you cannot bring your entire luggage.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.