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Ultimate Southern Africa Journey
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30 days

from $0 AUD

trip_detail module icon Journeys trip_detail hint icon

Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

Casual trip_detail hint icon

Casual trips offer immersive travel experiences at an unbeatable value with free time and plenty of choices built into the itineraries. Accommodations are comfortable, well-located, and modest. Trips are led by dynamic local guides, some meals and activities are included, and transportation is provided for included excursions.

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Expedition Overview

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Trip Details
EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Search for the legendary "big five" while on safari in four of southern Africa's most spectacular national parks.
  • Learn about cheetah conservation at a research facility founded by a National Geographic Grantee.
  • Explore the panhandle of the Okavango Delta on foot and by dugout canoe, and learn about the work of National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project.
Itinerary

Set off on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that combines southern Africa’s most incredible attractions—from vibrant cities and iconic landscapes to multitudes of magnificent creatures. Experience the colourful culture of Cape Town, then continue to Kruger National Park to seek out lions, giraffes, and stealthy leopards. Explore the dramatic desertscapes of Namibia and witness the thunderous roar of Victoria Falls before delving into the rich wildlife reserves of Zimbabwe and Botswana, capping off your adventure with a night of traditional storytelling around a campfire.

Day 1: Cape Town

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.

Day 2: Cape Town

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

Day 3: Cape Town

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

Day 4: Cape Town/Johannesburg

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

Day 5: Johannesburg/Greater Kruger Area

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

Day 6: Kruger National Park

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

Day 7: Greater Kruger Area/Karongwe Private Game Reserve

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

Day 8: Karongwe Private Game Reserve

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

Day 9: Karongwe Private Game Reserve/Johannesburg

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

Day 10: Johannesburg/Windhoek

Fly to Windhoek and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy free time to explore the Namibian capital this afternoon.

Day 11: Windhoek/Sesriem

Set off from the Namibian capital towards Sesriem, the gateway to jaw-dropping Namib-Naukluft National Park. Drive past red-hued desertscapes, stark camel thorn trees, and dramatic curved dunes while keeping an eye out for the astonishing creatures that call these arid lands home—the oryx, springbok, jackal, hyena, and more. Settle in to our lodge and relax poolside, watching a fiery crimson sunset over the desert.

Day 12: Sesriem

Embark on a thrilling excursion into one of Africa’s largest national parks. Explore the Namib desert, the oldest desert in the world; and venture to the massive dunes at Sossusvlei and the white clay pan of Deadvlei. Capture dramatic images of dead camel thorn trees against a backdrop of orange dunes and a crisp blue sky. Then visit the Sesriem Canyon, a natural gorge carved out by the Tsauchab River over millions of years.

Day 13: Sesriem/Swakopmund

Continue by road through changing desert landscapes towards the coastal city of Swakopmund. Look out for roaming zebra, kudu, springbok, and oryx on the way, and take a break in the quirky town of Solitaire before heading into the countryside. Here, we meet a local for a 4x4 drive through the desert, learning about the survival strategies of bushmen who lived in this inhospitable area thousands of years ago. We also search for the smaller wildlife that has managed to survive here, such as snakes, geckos, spiders, and an array of insects.

Day 14: Swakopmund

Enjoy a free morning in Swakopmund, getting a taste of the town’s unique Afro-German culture; or opt for a scenic flight over the Namib desert. This afternoon, take a tour of Mondesa township with a local guide, learning about its people and history. Visit the local market for an introduction to traditional foods such as wild spinach, mopane worms, and dried sardines or kapenta. Stop by an arts and crafts shop; chat with the locals; and round off the day with dinner and a performance at a cozy family-run establishment.

Day 15: Swakopmund/Palmwag

Make your way to Twyfelfontein—Namibia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site—to see some of Africa’s largest concentrations of petroglyphs. Marvel at these remarkable engravings, carved by prehistoric hunter-gatherers and depicting rhinos, elephants, and ostriches, as well as human and animal footprints. Then continue to our lodge on the Palmwag nature reserve in northwest Damaraland.

Day 16: Palmwag/Etosha National Park Area

Enjoy a relaxed morning at our lodge or opt for a guided walk in the Palmwag reserve, home to many rare, desert-adapted species. In the afternoon, travel towards Etosha National Park, arguably Namibia’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuary. Settle into our lodge, located outside of the park.

Day 17: Etosha National Park Area

Spend a full day on safari in Etosha National Park, where open grasslands converge on a massive salt pan. Etosha harbours some of the largest populations of lions, elephants, and other endangered species, so keep your camera on the ready as you explore in your open vehicle. Enjoy lunch at one of the park’s rest areas, where you can also take a swim; and sit back and watch all manner of creatures—including hundreds of species of birds—flock to the nearby watering hole.

Day 18: Etosha National Park Area/Windhoek

After breakfast, visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a global research and education center founded by National Geographic Grantee Dr Laurie Marker. Tour the facility to learn about the important conservation and community outreach work they do to protect the world’s fastest land animal, and enjoy a talk by one of the researchers. Then head out on a drive through the grounds to meet some of the center’s rescued and rehabilitated cheetahs. Continue to Windhoek for our final evening.

Day 19: Windhoek/Victoria Falls

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

Day 20: Victoria Falls

Set out for a tour of magnificent Victoria Falls. Scottish explorer David Livingstone named them after Britain’s Queen Victoria, while their older, indigenous name is Mosi-oa-Tunya—“the smoke that thunders.” Opt to embark on a thrilling white-water excursion on the Zambezi River; soar above the roaring falls in a helicopter; or take a day trip to wildlife-rich Chobe National Park.

Day 21: Victoria Falls

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

Day 22: Victoria Falls/Hwange National Park

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

Day 23: Hwange National Park

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

Day 24: Hwange/Chobe NP

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

Day 25: Chobe NP

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

Day 26: Kasane/Okavango Delta

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

Day 27: Okavango Delta

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

Day 28: Okavango Delta

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

Day 29: Okavango Delta/Maun

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

Day 30: Maun

Depart at any time.

ABOUT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEYS

Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.

Age Requirement:12+

All travelers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.