Country(ies): Botswana , Namibia , South Africa & Zimbabwe
Tour type: Overland
Group size: Min: 4 | Max: 20
Accommodation: 2 to 4-star hotels, lodges & camps
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle, 4x4 safari jeeps & flight
Highlights: Cape Town, Orange River, Cederberg Region, Fish River Canyon, Giants Playground, Sesriem Canyon, Namib Desert, Dune 45, Swakopmund, Brandbert rock art, Etosha National Park, Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls
This comprehensive 20-day tour covers the well worn route from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, crossing South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and ending in Zimbabwe. It's a truly grand African safari. This is an 'accommodated' tour, staying in hotels and lodges rather than camping.
Leaving Cape Town, we head north through the Cederberg Mountain Region en route to Namibia. Crossing the border into Namibia our first stop is the Fish River Canyon where we take a scenic hike along the rim in order to gain some perspective as to just how large this natural phenomenon is. We continue to the Namib-Naukluft Park, which is one of Namibia's geographic gems and at 50,000km2, is one of the largest parks in Africa. There are massive sand dunes in the Sossusvlei desert area as well as the remarkable landscape.
Next we stop at Swakopmund the adventure capital of Namibia, where you can enjoy many fun options such as skydiving, sand boarding and quad biking. We continue on to the Etosha National Park, which boasts an amazing abundance of wildlife making it one of Southern Africa's finest and most important game reserves. We spend plenty of time wildlife viewing before moving onto Namibia's capital city Windhoek. After a short tour of the city we wave goodbye to Namibia and cross the border into Botswana.
Our first stop is at Ghanzi for a cultural evening of tribal song and dance from the San community. We then spend time exploring the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering 17,000km2. We have a full day in this unique inland delta with nature walks and boat cruises on board Mokoro's, traditonal boats used in the Delta. An upgrade is also available to fly into a lodge within the delta for a more in depth experience. We then visit Bostwana's second largest wildlife reserve, the Chobe National Park, before crossing the border into Zimbabwe and our final destination the one and only Victoria Falls, crossroads of Africa.
Note: the itinerary below is written with the optional Activity Package included.
After spending some time in the 'Mother City', we say goodbye to Cape Town as we head towards the Cederberg region of the Western Cape, blessed with towering mountain ranges, lush farmland and snaking rivers.
The Cederberg region is also the home of the Rooibos bush and we'll make our way to a Rooibos tea farm to enjoy a unique brew and learn about the Rooibos and Buchu plants which grow naturally in this mountainous area. Rooibos tea is a herbal drink which is known to be healthier and more refreshing option than regular tea.
We'll have dinner at our overnight accommodation in the Cederberg as we enjoy some South African hospitality.
Route: Cape Town to Citrusdal
Activity Package: Rooibos tea farm visit
Marcuskraal or similar
Arrival airport transfer in Cape Town
Extra day in Cape Town - pre-tour
Activity Package - The Grand Southern Safari 2019
After a peaceful evening in the Cederberg, we make our way north towards the desert vistas of the Namaqualand. We'll stop for some supplies in Springbok before we arrive at our campsite on the banks of the Orange River - South Africa's longest river.
Namaqualand is best visited during the spring months of July-September, as the wildflowers in the area begin to bloom - turning the arid land into a kaleidoscope of colour.
Route: Citrusdal to Orange River
Felix Unite Cabanas, Bundi or similar
The Orange River rises from the Drakensburg Mountains in Lesotho and flows westward through South Africa before flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Travellers from all over the world flock here every year to raft on its peaceful waters, which are generally free from wildlife such as crocodile and hippotamus.
You have an option to head out on a canoe trip this morning before we travel inland, crossing the border into Namibia towards the Fish River Canyon.
Route: Orange/Gariep River to Ai-Ais
Optional activity: River canoe adventure
Ai Ais Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Options available while on tour
We start our day early as we drive to the edge of the Fish River Canyon, as we watch the early morning African sun fill the canyon with light.
We'll spend some time exploring the canyon before we head west towards Keetmanshoop - where we'll trek through the Quiver Tree Forest and Giant's Playground - named after the towering dolerite boulders which have been placed atop one another, create unique rock formations.
Route: Fish River Canyon to Keetmanshoop
Included Highlights: Scenic walk along the rim of Fish River Canyon / Visit to Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground
Schutzenhaus Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We spent most of the day travelling as we make our way into the heart of the Namib desert, towards the dune fields which covers its western reaches. We'll get good insight into the vastness of rural Namibia, taking in the sights of its long sandy roads and sparse farmland.
We'll spend the night camping on the doorstep in the Namib Naukluft National Park, on the doorstep of its dune fields, as we drift off to the sounds of the desert.
Route: Keetmanshoop to Namib Naukluft NP
Namib Naukluft Habitat or Desert Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we make our way to Dune 45, the most visited dune in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert. Its name is derived from the fact that it's the 45th kilometre of road that connects the Sesriem Gate and Sossusvlei.
After climbing the dune, we'll have some breakfast before we hop into a 4x4 towards Sossusvlei, which we'll explore on foot. You'll get an opportunity to see salt and clay pans of Sossusvlei - with dead camel thorn trees one of few remnants in this parched area.
Included Highlight: Walk into Sesriem Canyon, Hike up Dune 45, 4x4 shuttle to Sossusvlei / Deadvlei
Namib Naukluft Habitat or Desert Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We make our way to Swakopmund today, which offers a perfect opportunity to escape the heat of the desert and to have a little adventure.
Swakopmund's architecture resembles a small German town and its palm-lined streets, seaside promenades, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and museums offer plenty of options for travellers looking to have some fun after a long overland journey.
Route: Naukluft Area to Swakopmund
Included activity: Tropic of Capricorn, Walvis Bay Lagoon
Activity Package: Guided desert walk with local expert
Stay@Swakop, Haus Garnison or similar
Options available while on tour
If you're looking to do an activity that will satisfy your adrenaline rush, Swakopmund has a variety of activities to choose from - contact us and we can help arrange them for you.
If you're looking to relax, spend some time exploring its selection of famed coffee shops and bakeries that offer a delightful range of German inspired treats.
Optional Activities: Dolphin cruise, Skydiving, sandboarding, quad biking, dinner
Stay@Swakop, Haus Garnison or similar
The tour starts as we head inland towards Khorixas, seeing the massive granite formations of Spitzkoppe which tower 700 metres over the desert and plains beneath them. We’ll take a walk with a local guide to see some examples of rock art which demonstrate how significant this area and these formations were to the San people who lived here in the past. Finally we continue to our overnight stop for the evening.
Included highlight: Guided walk in Spitzkoppe
Route: Swakopmund to Brandberg (via Spitzkoppe) (250km)
Igowati, Khorixas Lodge or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning we will take a hike of around 1 hour to the famous 'White Lady' rock painting, one of more than 45,000 rock paintings in the area. The terrain is rough and follows the gorge of the normally dry Tsisab River, with the Brandberg (Burning Mountains) which are regarded as the highest in Namibia, surrounding us.
Following our hike, we continue our journey to the Kamanjab area.
Included Highlight: Brandberg White Lady hike
Route: Brandberg to Kamanjab
Toko Lodge or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We start early this morning and head to Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s most famous destinations for game viewing with the sparse grasslands allowing great opportunities to see animals normally hidden in dense vegetation. We then have the afternoon to explore the edges of Etosha Pan on a game drive on our expedition vehicle as we head to our accommodation for the night. The raised height of the vehicle helps with visibility and seeing some of the abundant wildlife in the park. We’ll aim to stop at several waterholes during the way, where concentrations of game can often be seen.
Route: Kamanjab to Etosha National Park (200km)
Included Highlight: Afternoon game drive in the truck
Halali or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We have a full day on safari in Etosha today, exploring different parts of the park on the truck and searching for animals and birds we may not have seen yesterday.
Included highlight: Full day game drive in the truck
Okaukuejo or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We leave Etosha this morning and drive towards Windhoek, Namibia's capital city and also the cultural, social and economic centre of the country. On arrival in Windhoek we’ll take a short walk through the city centre to see some of its best known landmarks. We'll then return to our accommodation for the night which is normally situated half way between the city centre and the airport.
Route: Etosha National Park to Windhoek (420km)
Included highlight: Walk through Windhoek with your guide
Heja Game Lodge or similar
Options available while on tour
After an early start, we say goodbye to Namibia and travel east, crossing the Botswana border into the Kalahari Desert. While very different to the Namib Desert in Namibia, the Kalahari is still dramatic and covers nearly a million square kilometres. The San people have been associated with the harsh desert landscape here for centuries and this evening we experience some traditional tribal dancing from the local San community that also provides an insight into the songs and story telling that form part of their culture.
Route: Windhoek to Ghanzi (500km)
Included highlight: San Tribal dance in the evening
Ghanzi Trail Blazers or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We'll take a walk with local San guides this morning to learn how they use nature and their environment to survive in this harsh desert. We'll then drive to the outback town of Maun, known as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Here you'll have the opportunity to take an optional scenic flight over the Delta (subject to arrival time and weather conditions). This evening we'll talk to our guide in peparation for our full day excursions into the Delta tomorrow.
An upgrade package is available which will fly into the Delta upon our arrival in Maun and then rejoin the group in the morning of Day 9. Luggage restrictions apply of 10kg luggage per person, no bottled water allowed. The airline requires the individual weight of all guests and their luggage prior to check-in to meet safety regulations for flight into and out of the Okavango Delta. Please take no offense to this as it is done for guests safety only.
Please contact us for more details of this Delta excursion
Route: Ghanzi to Maun (300km)
Included highlight: San guided walk
Optional activity: Okavango Delta scenic flight
Upgrade package: Okavango Delta Upgrade
Sedia Riverside Lodge or similar
Okavango Delta Upgrade
The Okavango has a strange and unique ecosystem with the annual rains in regions upriver on the Okavango River flowing down and into the delta where they fan out and create pools, streams and waterholes that vary hugely through the seasons. As a result, programs here are flexible to take account of the changing water levels.
One of the most rewarding and enjoyable ways to explore the waterways and lagoons is by mokoro. We'll leave Maun early and transfer by safari vehicle to the poling station (approx. 1 hour). Our polers will then steer us through serene reed-lined channels that open out into beautiful lagoons. A nature walk may be taken with your poler on one of the many islands, before we return by mokoro through the channels to the poling station. Mokoro trips like this are not primarily game viewing activities but a variety of animals and birds may be spotted on the way, including elephants, zebra, kudu and impala.
Route: Maun – poling station – Okavango Delta - Maun
Included Highlight: Okavango Delta Day Excursion
Sedia Riverside Lodge or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Okavango Delta Upgrade
We leave Maun this morning after re-joining any people in the group who chose the Delta upgrade package. Today’s long drive carries us past the northern section of the Makgadigadi Pans en-route to Nata. Along the way we’ll look out for examples of the iconic Baobab tree and look out over the pans as they extend to the Suth. If we’re lucky, while we bisect the Nxai Pan and Makgadigadi National Park we may encounter some of the wildlife that make this huge protected area home.
If you add the Activity Package then a guided afternoon game drive is arranged to the Nata Sanctuary which is famous as the breeding ground for thousands of water birds, especially pelicans and flamingos.
Route: Maun to Nata (300km)
Activity Package: Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Nata Sanctuary)
Nata Lodge or Pelican Lodge or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Activity Package - The Grand Southern Safari 2019
It's another early start today for the drive north to the banks of the Chobe River. If you choose the Activity Package then we’ll then spend the afternoon exploring the park on a game safari in 4x4 vehicles which allow us to get up close to some of the many elephants that the park is famous for. The elephants like to spend time in the river in the afternoons and we’ll hope to see them enjoying themselves, splashing and washing. The day ends with a boat cruise looking out for hippos, buffalo and more elephants before dinner is served around the campfire.
Route: Nata to Kasane (300km)
Activity Package: Chobe National Park boat cruise, Chobe National Park Game Drive
Thebe River Lodge or similar
Activity Package - The Grand Southern Safari 2019
We leave Chobe and its elephants today and cross the border into Zimbabwe for the short drive to Victoria Falls. Plenty of time is allowed for visiting the spectacular falls and watching the mighty Zambezi River crash down into the Batoka Gorge, creating clouds of steam and spray that rise up into the air. However, the town of Victoria Falls is a hub for a wide range of adventurous activities and there is time available this afternoon to take advantage of some of these if you wish (eg. White water rafting, bungee jumps, river cruises or helicopter flights above the falls). If you’d like to take things a bit easier, the town has craft markets and plenty of shops and cafes to browse and relax in.
Route: Kasane to Victoria Falls (100km)
Optional activities: Visit to the falls, Bungee Jump, Gorge Swing, Sunset Cruise, Helicopter Flights, Boma Dinner Experience
Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel or similar
Options available while on tour
Although your tour officially ends after breakfast, many people will spend the day doing some safaris, white water rafting, taking a helicopter ride over the falls or relaxing after viewing the waterfall. Vic Falls offers many exciting activities so we recommend you add a post-tour night here.
Note: It is possible to book a 2 day Journey to Johannesburg, either Camping or Accommodated straight after this tour, as this is one of the cheapest ways to get from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg. Please contact us for more information. Our Big 5 Encounters tour from Johannesburg then also fits well after this trip, providing some great safaris in Kruger National Park.
Optional Activity: Visit to the falls, Bungee Jump, Gorge Swing, Sunset Cruise, Helicopter Flights, Boma Dinner Experience
Options available while on tour
Extra day in Victoria Falls - post-tour
Departure airport transfer in Victoria Falls
Book at least 6 months in advance to guarantee a place on your chosen date. Don't book international flights until your booking is confirmed. Plan to add at least 1 extra day before & after your tour. Private charters available.
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.
40 On Burg
40 On Burg is a completely newly renovated boutique hotel in the heart of Cape Town. The hotel is ideally located for exploring the city and is also the pick-up point for our overland tours making it perfect for pre-tour nights.
40 On Burg is a completely newly renovated boutique hotel housed in a charming 1930s Art Deco building in the heart of Cape Town. The hotel is therefore ideally located for exploring the city and as it is also the pick-up point for our overland tours, it is perfect for pre-tour nights.
Facilities in the comfortably sized en-suite rooms include King size bed or twin beds with 350 thread count cotton linens, natural hypoallergenic pillows and duvet inners. All rooms have a sitting area with a writing/laptop desk, a tea and coffee station and television with various channels. Complimentary toiletries, a safety deposit box, air conditioning and a hairdryer are provided as standard. Free WiFi is available in public areas but may not reach the rooms.
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.
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.
Note - Single rooms are not generally available for the Okavagano Delta excursion due to the size of the property visited. Instead, accommodation here is on a twin-share basis.
New immigration rules were introduced by the South African authorities in June 2015 relating to travelling with children. Despite calls for relaxation and ongoing discussions, these remain in force.
Parents travelling with children (under 18) will be asked to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. Any abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted. The South African Department of Home Affairs are not accepting uncertified copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents/guardians identification.
Transiting through South Africa
The South African Department of Home Affairs have confirmed that no supporting documents will be required by people in direct transit through a South African International Airport. Check with your airline to see whether you need to go through immigration on arrival in South Africa, collect luggage and check in again. If you do go through immigration you’ll need to provide the correct documentation.
There are additional requirements if the child is travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. See this information sheet, this statement by the South African Department of Home Affairs and this leaflet produced by the South African Department of Home Affairs.
Contact your nearest South African High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip.
If you’re travelling with copies of documents, make sure you get them certified. The South African Department of Home Affairs won’t accept photocopies of birth certificates or passports.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 can book these activities while you are on the tour, they are then subject to availability and if you know you would like to do them, we strongly recommend that you book and pay for the package in advance. You can do this any time before arrival.
Note: You may find that sometimes there is a difference between the price of our Activity Package and the price that you may pay 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.
For those who want to have a more in depth lodge experience of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, we also offer a Delta Upgrade. This leaves the main tour on the day you arrive in Maun, flies into the Delta, and then spends 2 nights in a deluxe lodge with a package of safari activities included. You then fly back to Maun to rejoin the main group. This upgrade requires booking in advance to secure availability on the flights and in the lodge.
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.
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.
Cederberg Mountains - Day 2
The Cederberg mountains and nature reserve are located near Clanwilliam and named after the endangered Clanwilliam Cedars (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) which are endemic to the area, growing at an altitude of 1 000 m to 1 500 m. Some species are believed to live up to 1000 years but human activity has led to the destruction of most of the original forests. The mountains extend about 50 km north-south by 20 km east-west, the highest peak in the range is Sneeuberg (2 028 m). The area is defined by dramatic sandstone rock formations, often reddish in colour. Cederberg Wilderness Area was recently proclaimed one of eight World Heritage Sites within the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. The area is also known for the San rock art and the discovery of important fossils, particularly in recent years. The fossils are of primitive fish and date back 450 million years to the Ordovician Period.
The Gariep (Orange) River - Day 3
The Orange River was originally called the Nu Gariep (“great river”) by the indigenous Nama people. It was named the Orange River by Colonel Robert Gordon, commander of the Dutch East India Company garrison at Cape Town, on a trip to the interior. Gordon named the river in honour of William of Orange, although a popular belief is that it was named for its colour. Nowadays known byits original name Gariep River, it is the longest river in South Africa, covering 1 800 km. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, where it is known as Senqu, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay. On its long journey, the Orange offers a variety of vistas: in places it is seamed by rugged mountain chains and in other parts, by endless dune fields. The river forms part of the international border between South Africa and Namibia and between South Africa and Lesotho as well as several provincial borders within South Africa. Although the river does not pass through any major cities, it plays an important role in the South African economy by providing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The Orange River is also responsible for the diamond deposits along the Namibian coast. Over millions of years it transported diamonds from the volcanic pipes in Kimberley in South Africa to the sea. From there, the currents took them northward and the surf deposited them into the dune fields of the Namib.
The Orange River is also famous for its white water rapids. Our tours don’t include full white water rafting adventures however you will have opportunity to enjoy a gentle paddle down the river in canoes that are provided by the camp site.
Fish River Canyon - Day 4
The Fish River Canyon in the South of Namibia is the second largest in the world and the largest in Africa, in places it is 27kms wide and up to 550m deep while in total it is over 160km long. It is a natural wonder that should not be missed when visiting Southern Africa. Another major attraction of the area found at the Southern end of the Fish River Canyon is Ai-Ais hot springs resort. Ai-Ais meaning 'burning water’ in the local Nama language, refers to the sulphurous thermal hot water springs found at the base of the mountains at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon. The Ai-Ais (pronounced “eye-ice”) springs originate deep under the riverbed and form an oasis in the extremely arid area. During the Nama uprising of 1903–07, when the local Herero and Nama people rebelled against German colonial rule, the hot springs were used by German military forces as a base camp. In 1915, the area was again used as a base by South African troops who were recovering from wounds during the South-West Africa Campaign. In the 1960s the spring was proclaimed a national monument and became a conservation area and on 16 March 1971, the camp was officially opened. The thermal water, rich in sulphur, chloride and fluoride, has an average temperature of about 60 degrees C and is said to be therapeutic.
Namib-Naukluft National Park - Day 5
The Namib-Naukluft National Park is bigger than Switzerland at 49,768 square km, making it the largest game park in Africa. Being in Namibia this national park is predominantly made up of fiery desert and burnt orange dunes and hills formed by the push and pull of the wind.Unlike most wild African parks that are filled with typical wild and untamed animals, the Namib-Naukluft National Park is filled with animals of a different kind. Snakes, never before seen “weird” insects as well as over 200 species of birds inhabit the area.
The area of Sossusvlei is more notorious and is the main tourist attraction to the area. Namib-Naukluft National Park tours will not only provide visitors with a wonderful and quintessential desert experience that the Namib is so famous for but will allow them to walk in the footsteps of hyenas, gemsbok and jackals.
The Namib is characterized by its Inselbergs and rocky outcrops called Kopjes. These enclaves and outcrops have been completely created by nature and are the tell-tale signs of heavy wind and its ability to form natural art. They’re also evidence of Gondwanaland and the time when the two most southern tips of the world separated to form Africa, South America and Australia.
Namib means “open space” and tours to Namib-Naukluft National Park will show you all that this diverse space has to offer.
Sossusvlei - Day 6
Sossusvlei is one of the world’s most remote and beautiful places, synonymous with sweeping sand dunes and astonishing sunsets. The salt and clay pan is enclosed by towering, vivid red dunes, which some say are the highest in the world, presenting a breath-taking picture, as their crimson colour clashes with the cobalt sky.
The area is located within the Namib-Nauklift National Park of Namibia, in the heart of the exquisitely isolated desert. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 55 million years, it is considered to be the second oldest desert in the world, after the Atacama Desert in Chile. It has less than 10 mm of rain annually and is almost completely barren, Despite the harsh conditions, a variety of plant and animal life can be found in the desert. There are some unusual species of plants and animals that are found only in this desert.
Sossus is Nama for ‘no return’, while vlei is the Afrikaans word for marsh, so effectively the area is known as ‘no return marsh,’ in reference to the fact that it is the Tsauchab River’s natural endorheic drainage basin. The region spans between the Koichab and Kuiseb rivers and is a dream destination for photographers. The dunes have a brilliant red palette and are best viewed at sunrise and sunset, when the sun’s crepuscular rays cast them in an incandescent flaming hue, while the wind demonstrates its artistry, painting complex ripples in the sand. The highest of all the dunes is ‘Big Daddy’ which dominates the landscape, measuring a remarkable 380 metres in height. Although the region is predominantly associated with drought, periodically the rains will fall and the vlei fills with water, attracting many animals and people to its banks. This sight is extremely rare and not one to be missed, as the area teems with life, adorning the undulating dunes. Visit the majestic Sesriem Canyon which starts as a deep cleft in the ground, eventually expanding into a flattened plain. Witness the Naravlei, from the top of ‘Big Mama’ – an obliging dune which is well worth the climb and explore the haunting desolation of Dead Vlei, which is named for its numerous dead camelthorn trees, some of which are over 800 years old.
Swakopmund - Days 7-8
Swakopmund is a coastal city on the North Western coast of Namibia, it is known as the adventure capital of Namibia and this is evident in the long list of optional activities that are available on our stop overs on our Swakopmund tours.
The town has a permanent inhabitation of 42 000 residents so is by no means massive. It does however have a rich and fascinating history and the influence from the days of German colonization. The architecture is stunning and there are many quaint shops and nooks, you can lose yourself for an entire day in the city centre should you choose not to take part in the optional extras and would rather spend a day exploring.
Our Swakopmund tours offer as optional extras, sky-diving, quad biking and sand boarding to name but a few. If however you feel in the mood for something more gentle we also have a nature walk with a highly qualified local guide who will guide you through the diverse and rich local flora and fauna.
Swakopmund has a rich and fascinating history which is evident in the infrastructure of the town and the culture of the people, Swakopmund travel allows you the opportunity to learn about a part of African colonization that is often left unlearned. The German occupation of Southern Africa has a massive impact on the language and culture to a degree that is still evident today. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for the imperial German Colony, it was chosen for its fresh water supply and deep natural harbour.
When the Union of South Africa took over control of German South West Africa after World War 2 it transferred shipping responsibility to Walvis Bay, as such many of the major shipping companies that opened up offices moved out. The phenomenal architecture they left behind though is still visible.
The Himba People - Day 10
The Himba are descendents of the Herero people and still speak a dialect of the old Herero language. There are about 20,000 – 50,000 Himba people living in the Kunene region, where they have recently built two villages at Kamanjab. The Himba are semi-nomadic pastoralists who breed cattle and goats in this dry, rugged, and mountainous area. They are some of the most photographed people in the world, due to their striking style of dress and their traditional lifestyle. Their appearance is characterised by scanty goat-skin clothing, and they are heavily adorned with jewellery of shells, copper and iron, according to the tribal hierarchy. The distinctive red colour of their skin and hair is a mixture of butter, ash and ochre (otjize) which protects them from the harsh desert climate.
Typically the women take care of the children, do the milking and other work, whilst men take care of the political tasks. The villages are made up of family homesteads – huts built around a central fire and livestock enclosure. Both the livestock and fire are pivotal to the Himba belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection of the living community.
Situated about 20 km outside of town, a guided tour around the village will not only give you an in-depth insight into the life and ways of the last traditional tribe in Namibia, the Ova-Himba, but an amazing photographic opportunity as well. You will find out about the milking ceremony, the smoke bath, be informed on the beliefs around the holy fire, ancestors and herbal medicine. You will also learn about the jewellery and hairstyles to imitate the status of each tribe member and their close relationship with nature, their cattle and children.
Note: The semi-nomadic Himba people are extremely susceptible to Western influence and have lost a large portion of their land to farmers, engineers, miners and many were displaced during the wars that raged in Angola. The dwindling number of pastoralists that still exist in their natural environment are protected as far as possible by creating a “buffer zone”, or an “educational tribe” where tourists who would like to get a better understanding of the way of the Himba, their lifestyle and their traditions, can do so without interfering with those still living in their natural environment. Visiting the Himba tribe can be a controversial topic that gets discussed at the camp fire, however not so much if the reason for visiting this particular tribe is understood beforehand.
The income that this specific tribe generates from the visits goes towards the education of orphaned Himba children and assists the tribe in giving them a chance to learn about their own culture and heritage.
There is a market at the end of your visit, this is a way for the women to establish a small income, used for their own private expenses, and it is up to you whether you’d like to purchase anything or not.
Etosha National Park - Days 11-12
Etosha Pan National Park is a large endorheic salt pan which forms part of the Kalahari basin. It is a 120 km long dry lake bed, which is protected by the Etosha National Park home to some of the most phenomenal game viewing in the world. One of the elements that make the Etosha National park tours so memorable is that the camps sites within the park are built on the edge of water holes, so you can spend peaceful evenings with good company as the sun goes down watching the animals come down to the waterhole to drink.
On our Etosha National Park tour we will take you on several game drives that utilise an elevated truck to provide the best possible game viewing. There are optional night drives for you to take part in, and although they are not included in the Etosha National Park tours they are highly recommended. The optional game drives are taken with expert guides who have an abundance of local knowledge and will try to help you see as many as possible of the 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish.
However, game viewing can never be offered with guarantees, as you are dealing with wild animals you can never be certain of exactly where they will be or how they will behave.
Windhoek - Day 13
The Nama people originally gave Windhoek the name Ai-Gams, meaning “hot water” due to the hot springs that were once part of the town. The Herero people who lived there called it Otjomuise, “place of steam”. Theories vary on how Ai-Gams/Otjomuise got its modern name of Windhoek, most believe the name Windhoek is derived from the Afrikaans word Wind-Hoek, meaning "corner of wind". It is also thought that the Afrikaners named Windhoek after the Winterhoek Mountains, at Tulbagh in South Africa, where the early Afrikaner settlers had lived. In those days Windhoek was the point of contact between the warring Namas, led by Jan Jonker Afrikaner, and the Herero people.
Present-day Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890, when German settler Von François fixed the foundation stone of the Alte Feste fort. During the next fourteen years Windhoek developed slowly, with only the most essential government and private buildings being erected. After 1907, the town grew quickly as people migrated from the countryside to the city and a large influx of European settlers began arriving from Germany and South Africa. Many beautiful buildings and monuments were erected, including Heinitzburg, one of three castles in Windhoek, the fairy-tale Christuskirche and The Rider statue.
Windhoek is now one of the country’s busiest cities – known for its alluring diversity and cosmopolitan feel, the metropolis attracts myriad visitors each year. During your time here you can wander through the town and gaze at an array of stately buildings, including the impressive parliament buildings and Hero’s Acre. If you’re historically inclined, then ensure that you pop into the plethora of museums on offer, including the National Library and National Art Gallery. If you’re in need of some rest and rejuvenation, then visit the serene National Botanical Gardens to immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the gorgeous grounds. Botanists will delight in the numerous plant species on offer which attract plenty of exquisite insects and prolific bird life. Also well worth a visit is the smallest functioning cathedral in Southern Africa – St Georges, and look out for Das Reiterdankmal – a towering bronze sculpture of a horse commemorating those lost in colonial wars. You could also stroll down Robert Mugabe Avenue to admire Alte Feste – one of the city’s oldest buildings that was built in 1890. Once military headquarters, today, it serves as an intriguing state museum, housing an array of memorabilia that commemorates Namibia’s journey to independence.
Botswana - Day 14
As we cross the Botswana border we’ll start to see villagers, cattle, donkeys and sheep along the side of the highway. Sometimes the donkeys and cows sit in the middle of the road and any amount of horn blowing won't get them out of the road. Independent since 1966, Botswana (formally a British protectorate) has three of the world’s richest diamond mines and this has made Botswana quite a wealthy nation. Now 40 years old, it is known as the African success story. Politically stable and with the foresight to invest in education, healthcare, high economic standards and without the racial issues that have plagued other countries, Botswana has the best economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The government has employed a strategy of high income - low impact tourism. This is where they reduce the number of tourists entering any area of the country by charging a lot more than neighbouring countries, thereby making it more restrictive for the budget traveller.
Bushman (San) people - Day 14
The Bushmen of Southern Africa are the oldest indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa and have lived off the land in symbiosis for hundreds of years. It is said that the word ‘San’ meant ‘wild people who can’t farm’, however historically they didn’t have a collective word for themselves. They now call themselves Ncoakhoe meaning ‘red people’ but the term ‘San’ is still predominant. They were nomadic people – primarily hunter gatherers, moving to where the food and water could be found. It is estimated that there are only 5, 000 San people left, with 60% of them living in Botswana and the rest in Namibia and northern South Africa. Many examples of their expressive and remarkable cave paintings can be found dotted around Southern Africa, tracking their historical movements. They have much to offer our modern way of living in terms of a sustainable existence with nature. Bushmen tours give you the opportunity to interact with this fascinating culture and get a true understanding of how they have survived in the harsh environment through an understanding of nature. Many of our Botswana overland tours offer the opportunity to interact with a traditional village of San people that still live very much the way that they did many generations ago. It is not included in the tours and needs to be decided on before-hand. Some people feel it is unethical to treat the villagers as a spectacle however it provides an education for the visitors and much needed funding for the conservation of the area and their way of life.
Okavango Delta - Days 15-17
Every year, more than 11 cubic kilometres of water flow from the Okavango River into the Delta, irrigating more than 15 000 square kilometres of the Kalahari Desert, making it the largest inland delta in the world, a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels. It originates in Angola - numerous tributaries join to form the Cubango River, which then flows through Namibia, becoming the Kavango River and finally enter Botswana, where it is becomes the Okavango. Millions of years ago the Okavango River used to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans). Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to back up and form what is now the Okavango Delta. This has created a unique system of waterways that supports a vast array of animal and plant life that would have otherwise been a dry Kalahari savannah.
There are an estimated 200,000 large mammals in and around the Okavango Delta. On the mainland and among the islands in the delta, lions, elephants, hyenas, wild dog, buffalo, hippo and crocodiles congregate with a teeming variety of antelope and other smaller animals - warthog, mongoose, spotted genets, monkeys, bush babies and tree squirrels. Notably the endangered African Wild Dog is present within the Okavango Delta, exhibiting one of the richest pack densities in Africa. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle.
Many of these animals live in the Delta but the majority pass through, migrating with the summer rains to find renewed fields for grazing. With the onset of winter the countryside dries up and they make their way back to the floodplains. This leads to some of the most incredible sightings as large numbers of prey and predators are pushed together. Certain areas of the Delta provide some of the best predator action seen anywhere in the world.
Boat trips, canoeing and fly-overs are among the most popular activities, however you can also go fishing and walking safaris depending on the time of year. As the Okavango is a seasonal delta, you’ll find yourself facing a different environment during the summer and winter months. The rain falls at the beginning of the year.
Makgadikgadi salt pans - Day 18
The pans are the remnants of a once great Lake Makgadikgadi, which covered some 80,000 square km. Up to 30 metres deep, thousands of years ago, this was the largest inland sea in Africa. The pans now support strange ‘upside down trees’ – the massive Baobab – some of which are 2,400 years or older.
Chobe National Park - Day 19
Chobe National Park, the second largest park in Botswana, covers 10,566 square km of northern Botswana and is undoubtedly the country’s most beautiful and popular nature and game reserve. The Park forms part of the mosaic of lakes, islands and floodplains formed from the Kwando, Linyanti and Chobe River systems. The area has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, being particularly renowned for its vast herds of elephant and buffalo, making it an ideal location for African safaris. The elephant population is currently about 120 000. The Chobe elephants are migratory, moving up to 200 km from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park in the rainy season. They are Kalahari elephants, characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks, perhaps because of calcium deficiency in the soil. Due to their high concentration, there is a lot of damage to the vegetation in some areas. Culls have been considered but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected. Wherever you go in the park, you’ll be able to observe a variety of wild animals and bird life, and can even explore an area in search of a specific animals or bird.
Victoria Falls - Day 20
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.