Epic South Africa & Botswana
13 days, 12 nights
Price Range: $11,036 – $36,506
(all-inclusive price per person, depending on dates & camps selected)
Southern Africa offers a multitude of settings and experiences for the safari enthusiast, and this grand itinerary is a sampler of some of the best. Begin in South Africa's famed Sabi Sand Reserve, home to plentiful numbers of the Big Five and a host of other classic species. Stop at Victoria Falls to marvel at the world's most astounding wall of water, then continue to Botswana's two most noted wilderness areas to view even more abundant wildlife. Great herds of game are drawn to perennial water while large prides of lion and other predators steal behind, making for thrilling encounters.
Our Expert Says
This is one of my favorite combinations for a safari. The Sabi Sand features strong Big Five populations, particularly great rhino and leopard, and Botswana is just incredible for animal viewing in vast, pristine wilderness areas. The two regions are very different but complement each other beautifully, showcasing a broad range of wildlife.
– Court Whelan
Day 1: Johannesburg
Cosmopolitan Johannesburg is the jumping-off point for this epic adventure through Southern Africa's most wildlife-rich areas. The city of 3.6 million is a vibrant mélange of colors and cultures. Food and music are central to life in ‘Joburg,’ and its clubs and pubs are an integral part of the social fabric. Tour Soweto or visit the Apartheid Museum to gain a deeper understanding of Johannesburg’s history, travails and rich multicultural heritage.
Days 2-4: Sabi Sand Reserve
Today, fly from Johannesburg to Skukuza Airport, adjacent to the world-famous Sabi Sand Reserve. Sabi Sand is one of the world’s most extraordinary wildlife locales. This private 150,000-acre reserve shares a border with Kruger National Park and is named for the two rivers that flow through it. Renowned for its excellent “Big Five” viewing – the elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, lion and abundant leopard, which were once favorite hunting targets – Sabi Sand has led the way in bringing them back.
Days 5-6: Victoria Falls (Zambia side)
After a low flight over the Sabi Sand today, fly from Kruger Mpumalanga Airport to Livingstone, Zambia. You'll see the spray first, visible for miles, called Mosi-oa-Tunya – the “smoke that thunders” – by the local people. The roar of the cataract follows, as the Zambezi River plunges 350 feet over a basalt cliff into the gorge below. View Victoria Falls on rain forest trails, from the famous bridge, or via an exhilarating helicopter or ultralight flight – activities abound in Livingstone, including whitewater rafting, canoeing and sunset cruises.
Days 7-9: Linyanti / Savuti Reserves
Fly from Livingstone to the Linyanti Reserve of Botswana today, with one stop en route to clear customs and immigration. The Linyanti Reserve and Selinda Spillway in northern Botswana are noted for their shifting landscapes, from riverine to dry pans, woodlands to plains. Perennial water attracts great herds of animals that come to slake their thirst in the dry season. Large prides of lion and other predators steal behind, making for exciting wildlife viewing. Previously dry for 30 years, the Savuti Channel is once again a hippo-filled stream. Elephant, zebra and giraffe are also abundant.
Days 10-12: Okavango Delta
A scenic low-altitude flight carries you into the wetlands of the Okavango Delta today. Where the Okavango River meets the Kalahari Desert, a green oasis sprawls amid the sands and parched savanna. The maze of channels sustains a profusion of wildlife in permanently flooded lagoons and on land. Explore the marsh by poled mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, and wildlife drives on higher ground. Islands and wetlands are home to prolific birdlife, hippo and red lechwe, while elephant, lion, leopard, zebra and more thrive beyond the water’s reach.
Day 13: Maun/Home
Fly to Maun today, where you will connect to your departing flight.