Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana - 2022

Johannesburg • Kruger National Park • Victoria Falls National Park • Hwange National Park • Chobe National Park
  • Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana including Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls, Hwange, and Chobe National Park
  • Chobe Explorer, river safari, Botswana, Africa
  • Panorama, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Africa
  • Local schoolchildren, Chinotimba, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • $466
  • 15
  • 24
17 DAYS FROM $7,748
Extend Your adventure (2 available)
Dinokeng Game Reserve, Little Mongena Tented Camp

5 DAYS FROM $1,199

Cape Town, South Africa

6 DAYS FROM $1,599

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They say that once you’ve experienced Africa, a piece of your heart remains there forever. With Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana, you’re sure to fall in love with the continent on this exciting adventure into three southern African countries, all rich in wildlife and culture.

Experience the thrill of finding big game in Kruger, Hwange, and Chobe National Parks by land, water, and on foot. But this is also a safari for interacting with local people and discovering tribal culture. Whether lunching with locals in South Africa’s Soweto Township where Nelson Mandela lived or gathering by the campfire for legends and folklore enacted in story and dance, you’ll come closer to a greater understanding of the rich tapestry of African culture. You’ll even join a local Zimbabwean family for a home-cooked meal and rejoice in the song and dance of children during a school visit near UNESCO-listed Victoria Falls.

With the best accommodations, including three Vantage-exclusive safari camps, 24 included features and Cultural Discoveries, and a NEW pre-extension to Dinokeng Game Reserve with a luxury tented camp stay on the Mongena Dam, this truly is the African safari of a lifetime!

Johannesburg to Chobe National Park

Pre-Trip Extension

Dinokeng Game Reserve, Little Mongena Tented Camp

FROM: $1199 PER PERSON | 5 DAYS | $240 PER DAY
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DAY 1:

Depart home for Johannesburg, South Africa

Leave your cares behind and travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, on an overnight flight, arriving on Day 2.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Johannesburg, one of Africa’s most important cities

Touch down in Joburg or Jozi, as it’s affectionately known, South Africa’s city of gold. A Vantage Representative will be at the airport to meet, greet, and escort you to your hotel in one of Joburg’s leafy city suburbs. Rest and recover from your journey for the rest of the day.

DAY 3:

Tour Soweto and visit Nelson Mandela’s former home

After breakfast, we head off on a guided bus tour of South Africa’s largest township, Soweto. Known before as a shanty town, Soweto now has affluent neighborhoods. You’ll sense the significance of the anti-apartheid struggle history as you walk along the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates used to live: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Stop at the house in Vilakazi street where Nelson Mandela lived prior to his arrest. Walk around the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, a poignant reminder of how this 12-year old boy was killed in the struggle against apartheid. Taste township hospitality with lunch at a vibrant Soweto restaurant. You may just be treated to a delightful singing performance by the proprietor of the restaurant, too!

After lunch, it’s back to the hotel for an afternoon of relaxation, admiring the magnificent views over the city of Johannesburg from the poolside.

We’ll come together for a tour orientation before a Welcome Dinner.

Included Features:

  • Morning Tour of Soweto
  • Visit to Nelson Mandela’s House
  • Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum visit
Cultural Discovery:
  • Traditional local lunch in Soweto

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 4:

Fly to Kruger National Park, South Africa

After breakfast at the hotel, it’s time to head to our first safari camp beside Kruger National Park. We take a short transfer to the airport and a 50-minute flight, followed by a 1-hour road transfer to our idyllic tented safari camp on the banks of the Sabie River. This is our base for exploring Kruger National Park and it’s Big Five animals.

The afternoon is yours to spend at leisure: explore the grounds, admiring the prolific birdlife, or sip a glass of fine South African wine beside the Sabie River while nibbling on macadamia nuts grown on this subtropical plantation.

Dinner is at camp tonight.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 5:

Morning game drive with picnic lunch inside Kruger National Park

After breakfast at the lodge, be sure to pack your binoculars and camera for your first game drive in Kruger National Park. We’ll drive slowly along routes known for the best animal sightings in the hope of spotting lions and their prey — including antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, and giraffes — as well as elephants. And, if we’re very lucky, we may even see rhinos and leopards to round out our first potential Big Five spotting.

With nearly 500 species of birds in Kruger, you can start the process of selecting your favorite. Will it be a majestic bateleur eagle soaring above the floodplains, or smaller, colorful little bee-eaters or lilac-breasted rollers, often perching by the roadside?

You’ll also have the opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch at a scenic spot inside the park. Then it’s a game drive back to the gate, returning to the camp for a tranquil afternoon at leisure and dinner at the camp.

Included Feature:

  • Morning game drive in Kruger Park with a picnic lunch

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 6:

Round out your Kruger safari with an early morning game drive

As the lions in the park are naturally night owls, we’ll want to catch them in action before morning. So, we will be up before breakfast and inside Kruger Park while predators are still at large. It’s the best time of the day for seeing game activity! Our eagle-eyed rangers will seek out the animals while we are still waking up!

We’ll stop for a picnic breakfast before continuing our morning game drive, leaving the park in time to be at our safari camp for lunch.

After such an early morning, you can catch up on rest during an afternoon at leisure.

Tonight, we enjoy a last evening meal at our South African safari camp.

Included Feature:

  • Morning game drive in Kruger Park with a picnic breakfast

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 7:

Fly to Livingstone and transfer to Victoria Falls

This morning we’ll check out and drive to Kruger Airport for a short flight to Livingstone in Zambia. From here we’ll transfer by road across the famous Victoria Falls bridge and through the border into Zimbabwe.

Enjoy lunch at our new Vantage-exclusive safari lodge The Wallow, Victoria Falls, our home for the next three nights.

This afternoon, you can relax at the lodge, while observing the far-off mist rising up from the torrent of water falling over Victoria Falls. We’ll get right up close to Victoria Falls soon enough, so consider taking the optional afternoon Zambezi River Cruise.

We highly recommend this 2.5-hour cruise on the mighty Zambezi, hosted by a local Zimbabwean, who will offer a fascinating cultural and historic insight to the area. Float along the very same stretch of river as David Livingstone, hearing stories that you won’t find in books, passed down through generations.

Dinner tonight is at the lodge.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Optional Tour: Trails of David Livingstone - Zambezi River Cruise

Trails of David Livingstone - Zambezi River Cruise

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 2.5 hours
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Afternoon tour
Although Victoria Falls is famous for its spectacular cascades, the wide and smooth stretch of the Zambezi River above them should certainly not be overlooked. On this special cultural cruise, we’ll sip sundowners and watch the sun set over this timeless waterway, while listening to a talk about the ‘Trails of David Livingstone’. Our sightseeing boat will be floating along the very same stretch of river the legendary explorer once navigated, and our third-generation Zimbabwean storyteller will reveal Livingstone lore that few history books include. After hearing these riveting tales, we’re sure to look at Livingstone’s life a little differently. Your guide will also help point out wildlife along the river’s edge, including hippos, crocodiles, and even elephants. Snacks and drinks are included.

DAY 8:

Explore Victoria Falls, visit a craft market, take an optional flight over the falls, and have dinner with a local family

After breakfast, embark on a guided walk to the very edge of Victoria Falls, marveling at the immense power and majesty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. With the roar of the falls, Devil’s Cataract, and the aptly named Rainbow Falls all around you, you’ll understand and hear just why Victoria Falls is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the “Smoke that Thunders”). There are more exceptional viewing sites as we walk through the subtropical rainforest of this National Park (raincoats advised).

On our way back to the lodge, we’ll stop at Victoria Falls Craft Market, where you can barter for beautiful handmade arts and crafts and Nyami Nyami Zambezi River God totems. Lunch is back at the lodge. After such a thrilling morning, you have the afternoon at leisure to rest up, or join one of two optional tour options.

The first option is a “Flight of the Angels” helicopter ride over Victoria Fall. The second is the extended “Zambezi Spectacular” flight, which includes aerial game viewing along the river. The falls are impressive from any vantage point but soaring over them is an experience that promises to entrance you.

Tonight, you’re in for an authentic cultural treat — sharing a meal with a Zimbabwean family in their own home. Known for genuine smiles and sincere friendliness, this heartfelt encounter will truly enrich your trip. Any gifts you bring along are always most welcome, such as a can of peaches, infant formula, coloring books and crayons, or any other items.

Included Feature:

  • Guided walk to Victoria Falls viewpoints
Cultural Discovery:
  • Interact with traders at Victoria Falls Craft Market and barter for gifts
  • Enjoy dinner and conversation with a Zimbabwean family in their own home

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Optional Tour: “Flight of Angels” over Victoria Falls,

“Flight of Angels” over Victoria Falls

  • Approximate Cost: $179 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 12-15 minutes
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning Tour
When David Livingstone wrote about his first sight of the Victoria Falls, he said that “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. The ‘Flight of Angels’ actually gives you the chance to see the falls as an angel — or an eagle — would. The most popular of the helicopter flights, it lifts off less than two miles from Victoria Falls town center and takes you over the Zambezi River to fly a complete circuit above the Falls in both directions. The 12 to 15-minute flight gives you the best possible views of the falls, and will certainly leave you agreeing with Dr Livingstone.

Zambezi Spectacular Flight

Zambezi Spectacular Flight

  • Approximate Cost: $349 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 25 minutes
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning Tour
For a longer ride than the ‘Flight of Angels’, treat yourself to an unbelievable helicopter flight over Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River. This 25-minute scenic helicopter flight over Victoria Falls guarantees spectacular views, making a complete circuit over the Falls in both directions. You’ll also fly over the zig-zagging Batoka Gorge and see the eight past positions of the Victoria Falls, carved away by the water over the millennia. Finally, you’ll fly over Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, where you can spot wildlife from the air.

DAY 9:

Optional Elephant Encounter, primary school visit, and Vantage-exclusive 3-course bush dinner

Enjoy breakfast and a morning at leisure or consider an optional early morning Elephant Encounter. This powerful experience allows you to interact directly with these majestic creatures, and even feed them. Being so close to them and learning about the work being done to save them, is both enlightening and rewarding.

Later this morning, you’ll be warmly welcomed at Chinotimba Primary School. Through your patronage, Vantage Cares — our philanthropic arm — positively affects the lives of these children. These joyful youngsters often show their appreciation with vivacious songs and dance. Many guests cite this experience as a highlight of the trip! Lunch is back at the lodge.

For our final evening at The Wallow, we gather for a Vantage-exclusive safari cocktail party, then head out for a secret location in the bush, where a three-course bush dinner awaits under a glittering night sky. If you hear drumming emanating from the darkness, it just might be the music and dance troupe coming to entertain you.

Vantage Exclusive:

  • Safari cocktail party
Cultural Discoveries:
  • Chinotimba Primary School visit
  • Starlit private bush dinner and African singing and dancing

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Optional Tour: Elephant, Vic Falls Wildlife Trust laboratory, and Local Village Experience

Elephant, Vic Falls Wildlife Trust laboratory, and Local Village Experience

  • Approximate Cost: $295 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • When: Morning tour
Pay a visit to The Wallow, a large, thatched boma overlooking the Masuie River, which provides a magnificent setting for guests to enjoy an elephant interaction in the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary.

Arrive to fresh welcome towels and tea, coffee, croissants and muffins. After an introductory talk, you’ll notice the elephants emerging from the bush to take up their positions in front of the deck, according to hierarchy. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to get so close and to elephants, and you’ll be able to stroke them, and feed them treats. The staff are knowledgeable, and the love, trust and understanding between handlers and elephants is heart-warming to see.

You’ll then hear more about the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (a Vantage Cares program), and have an opportunity to exclusively visit the Wildlife trust’s laboratory for a lecture and firsthand experience on the great efforts that goes into wildlife conservation. The tour continues with a visit to Mpisi village, where the chief will do a presentation and take you to visit a few households. Here you’ll get to see the various huts families live in, and learn about the daily chores and work done in a traditional household. At the kraal, you’ll see their livestock and get to know about traditional animal husbandry practices.

DAY 10:

Transfer to the Vantage-exclusive Iganyana Tented Camp in Hwange National Park

After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll transfer by coach to our Vantage-exclusive safari camp on a private concession of Hwange National Park, which is renowned for excellent game viewing.

You’ll love the authentic feel of Iganyana Tented Camp, as it gives you the impression that you are the only people in the African wilderness. Throughout our 3-night stay here, we will be privileged to encounter plenty of animals, including the famous huge herds of elephants, many of which turn up nightly at camp to drink from the waterhole. Bring your camera to capture a cameo from these majestic animals.

Settle into your air-conditioned tented safari suite before having lunch at the camp. This afternoon, we head out on our first Hwange game drive. Have cameras and binoculars at the ready to get a taste of a really wild African safari. There’s a potential surprise behind every bush, like when past traveler Janis Schnabel and her group watched a tiny baby elephant emerge unsteadily from between the protective females!

After a delicious dinner, head for the campfire and contemplate the spectacular night sky of the Southern Hemisphere and its astounding Milky Way. Look for the Southern Cross constellation pointing the way south — just to make sure you never get lost!

You will surely be ready for a good night’s sleep, but if you’re woken by the sound of lions roaring or other African wildlife sounds, think of it as a “bucket list” experience, because it doesn’t happen every day (except here in the bush)!

Included Feature:

  • Afternoon game drive

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 11:

Spot game on morning and afternoon safari drives; then, hear traditional tribal stories around the campfire

Early morning is the best time to see wildlife. So, we’ll be up at dawn in search of lion, leopard, hyena, and — with luck — rare and elusive wild dogs. But we’ll be enraptured by all the many animals of the bush however large and small.

Then, it’s back to the camp for lunch and a short rest before tea. After, we head out on another exciting game drive, this time lasting beyond sunset so we can look for nocturnal animals by spotlight on our way back to the camp. During the afternoon drive, we’ll head to a water hole and stop for a while, quietly observing who comes to drink and who gets right of the way, taking advantage of the golden light of dusk to snap some great photographs.

With special sightings still fresh in your mind, we return to camp for dinner, often cooked over the coals by our cheerful chef. To finish off this special day, make yourself comfortable around the fireside under a dazzling Milky Way, where a local storyteller will entrance you with stories and legends from the area.

Included Features:

  • Morning game drive
  • Afternoon game drive
Cultural Discovery:
  • Local storytelling around the fireside

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 12:

Last day in Hwange: Painted Dog Conservation Center visit, nighttime game drive, and African dance troupe entertainment

After breakfast we set off on foot, camouflaged in neutral-colored safari clothes, for a game walk. You’ll be led by an experienced professional guide, qualified to walk with guests in the Big Five country. On foot, we’re much closer to the sights, sounds, and smells of the bush, and you’ll learn some survival tricks and tracking skills, like identifying spoor (footprints), so you know whether it was a lion or leopard that passed this way and how long ago! Smaller creatures are exciting too, and you may even learn how to coax a ferocious little ant-lion, a native insect, out of its lair. There are many secrets of the bush to be discovered and your guide will reveal them all to you.

Before lunch, we head over to the Painted Dog Conservation Center to hear how their community awareness, education, and anti-poaching measures are helping in the conservation of this Red List Endangered species, whose numbers are declining. There are about 700 painted (wild) dogs in Hwange. If we are ever going to see them, this is the best place to do it and what a rare privilege it would be!

After, enjoy lunch at the camp and relax a little before our next exciting adventure.

By late afternoon, you’ll be in the game-viewing vehicle for another game drive — this time, to see what’s out and about in the dead of night. As darkness descends, our guide’s well-trained eyes will find elusive nocturnal animals in the spotlight, including big-eyed bush babies, bat-eared foxes, spotted hyenas, chameleons, and even large spiders.

You’ll be ready for dinner after such a great day . . . but we’ve got one last surprise for your final evening in Hwange! We’ve arranged a special performance of traditional African dance that will get your feet tapping and hands clapping.

Included Features:

  • Morning guided bush walk
  • Visit to the Painted Dog Conservation Center
  • Afternoon/evening game drive
Cultural Discovery:
  • African music and dance performance

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 13:

Travel to Botswana’s Chobe National Park for an afternoon game drive

After breakfast we take an easy 2-hour drive through the Zimbabwean countryside to Victoria Falls, where we stop for lunch. Then we continue on to the Botswana border and pass through customs and immigration before arriving at our gorgeous lodge right on the banks of the Chobe River. Every air-conditioned room has river views and a private balcony.

You’ll have time to settle in before an afternoon game drive into Chobe National Park, where you will find out why it’s so famous . . . which has a lot to do with elephants! And also buffaloes, lions, antelopes, and the life-giving river that flows through this park.

Savor a delicious dinner while sitting beside this river of life and listen for the inimitable grunt of hippos as they proclaim the end of another spectacular African day.

Included Feature:

  • Afternoon game drive

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 14:

A sensational relaxing day cruising the Chobe River after a morning game drive

We re-visit Chobe National Park this morning on an early game drive, exploring its lush riverine bush and sandy thornveld, which contain one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. Whatever the season, large herds of elephant and buffalo are often seen near the river, while predators like lion and spotted hyena are always around. Look out for huge leguaan lizards and crocodiles sunning on the banks. Game such as kudu, warthog, baboons, and vervet monkeys find refuge in the grounds of the lodge and elephants sometimes crash their way in, too!

Back at the lodge, there’s time to freshen up before embarking on the triple-decker Vantage-exclusive Chobe Explorer cruising boat, where you can truly relax for the rest of the day. This is your time to slow down and soak up the beauty of this incredible wetland and its abundant wildlife. Sit under shaded loungers, binoculars at the ready, to tick off some of the 460 species of birds and still more animals.

When you detect the delicious aroma of sizzling food, you know the traditional braai (barbeque) has been fired up on the lower deck and lunch will be ready soon. The vegetarian options are very popular, too. If you feel an afternoon siesta coming on, there’s nothing to keep you awake, except a few trumpeting elephants or grunting hippos. To complete our special day, we cruise back to the lodge with sundowner drinks in hand and admire the sun’s golden orb sink into a watery horizon. There’s nothing quite like a sunset on the Chobe River.

Included Feature:

  • Early morning game drive
Vantage Exclusive:
  • River cruise and barbeque on the Chobe Explorer

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 15:

Embark a Chobe River photo safari and learn photography from professionals

After an unhurried breakfast, enjoy a morning at leisure, or opt for our Chobe in Style luxury river cruise with an included breakfast.

Later this morning, we all take to the Chobe River again for what many Vantage guests say is one of their most memorable experiences: the Chobe photography safari. We board special boats equipped with swivel chairs and state-of-the-art zoom lens DSLR cameras and a memory stick for you to take home, containing all the masterful wildlife photos you took during this Feature. We’ll be spread between three boats taking a maximum of 8 people each for individual attention and expert tuition. Take it from Vantage traveler Maureen Robb, who said, “I had never been much interested in birds, but this photographic safari changed my mind!”

The excitement isn’t over. After lunch at the lodge, you can use your newly-honed photography skills on an afternoon game drive in Chobe National Park.

Senses saturated from a day of new adventures, we return to the lodge for a very special Farewell Dinner on your last night on safari.

Included Features:

  • Chobe photo safari on boats specially adapted for photography
  • Afternoon game drive

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Optional Tour: Chobe in Style - Luxury Morning River Cruise with a 4-country lecture

Chobe in Style - Luxury Morning River Cruise with a 4-country lecture

  • Approximate Cost: $129 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Chobe, Botswana
  • When: Morning Tour

Before you say your final goodbye to the Chobe River, take one last luxury cruise on its iconic dark waters. This morning, you’ll be collected at the jetty to board your luxury private boat, The Chobe Style, with comfortable lounge seaters. Choose between a water-level view on the lower deck, or a bird’s eye view on the upper deck, and settle into the luxurious leather seating. As you cruise in style past hippos, elephants, and other wildlife, a local storyteller will tell you about the history of this fabled river where four countries meet. You’ll hear some fascinating stories about the area’s journey from a war-torn region to one of the most sought-after safari destinations, the meeting of two iconic African rivers whose floods feed the mighty Victoria Falls, and much more. But, that’s not all. The gentle cruise will take you to the famous Raft Restaurant in the middle of the Chobe River, where you’ll be greeted with a traditional song by the smiling and beautifully dressed staff. Here, you’ll be treated to a private exclusive Champagne breakfast in the middle of the Chobe river. With 360-degree views of the river and overlooking what is arguably the most game rich island in the whole of the Chobe region, you’ll enjoy your last wildlife viewing on the Chobe River in a setting and style like no other. This tour would be a wonderful treat for a loved one, or a great way for solo travelers to get to know each other. To keep this excursion as comfortable and exclusive as possible, we have limited guests to a maximum of 15 people, so make sure to book early!

DAY 16:

Transfer to Kasane Airport and fly home

After breakfast, you’ll transfer to Kasane Airport to catch a plane to Johannesburg and connect with your flight back home. For those on the recommended post-trip extension to Cape Town, you’ll transfer to Victoria Falls Airport for a direct 3-hour flight to Cape Town.

Included meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Cape Town, South Africa

FROM: $1599 PER PERSON | 6 DAYS | $266 PER DAY

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or local representatives at the destination.

Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.

Note: That hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.

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Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana - 2022

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