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Explore Southern Africa tour
Chobe National Park Hwange National Park Explore Southern Africa Trip
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Explore Southern Africa

Intrepid Travel Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
95%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic (2*)
18 days
From: $ 3,165 $ 176 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Track rhinos on foot with an expert local guide in Matobo National Park and support local conservation efforts with a visit to Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
  • Immerse yourself in the ancient culture of the Venda people at a two-night village homestay in South Africa's Limpopo province.
  • Camping on a remote island in the heart of the Okavango wilderness is an experience you’ll never forget. As the sun sets and night falls, the sounds of Africa come alive.
  • Explore the magnificent Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, some of the largest salt flats in the world. These mind-bending plains make for some magical photography.
  • Marvel at the unforgettable views of Blyde River Canyon. This spectacular gorge is up there with the world's largest and is probably the greenest of the lot.

Short Description

Discover southern Africa's waterways and national parks – plus the wildlife that call them home – on this 18-day Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. Canoe down the lush waterways of the Okavango Delta, watch hippos wallowing along the shores of the Chobe River, safari in the vast parks of Hwange, Kruger and Matobo and sleep under the stars in campsites and village homestays. Join Intrepid and Lonely Planet on an adventure through southern Africa’s most beautiful landscapes in search of elephants, lions, rhinos, warthogs and leopards.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Lodging Level Basic (2*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Johannesburg
End City Johannesburg

Itinerary

Day 1 Johannesburg

Sawubona – welcome to South Africa! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, get out and explore Johannesburg; the country’s largest city. Perhaps visit the cultural hotspots of Newtown, Braamfontein or Maboneng. Otherwise, the sobering Apartheid Museum is well worth your time. After your important meeting this evening, why not head out for an optional group dinner and get to know your newfound travel crew – your local leader will point you in the right direction with bar and restaurant recommendations.

Day 2 Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Leaving South Africa behind, cross the border into Botswana and travel towards the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (approximately 8–10 hours). Situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary has drastically changed from a former hunting area to a conservation project. Built to protect Botswana's only remaining populations of both black and white rhinos, the sanctuary is also home to other wildlife including zebras, giraffes, leopards, ostriches and wildebeest, all of which can be seen grazing the many waterholes. Visiting this project benefits local communities and directly contributes to protecting the endangered white rhinoceros. Later on, head out on a dusk game drive to see the rhinos when they are most active.

Day 3 Maun

Jump aboard your vehicle and head to Maun (approximately 8–9 hours). Here there will be an opportunity to stock up on any supplies you might need for your adventure ahead. Maun is the gateway to one of the world's most complex ecosystems, the Okavango Delta. This place is unlike anything in the world – a 16,000 square kilometre maze of lush wetlands and waterways teeming with wildlife. You might see hippos, crocodiles, elephants and big cats, but it's the animals aren’t the only drawcard here – the waterscapes and shimmering horizons will have you gazing for days.

Day 4 Okavango Delta

Get right in the action today, jumping aboard a traditional mokoro – a dugout canoe steered by friendly local 'polers' – for an Okavango waterways experience. With some luck, you could spot some of the delta's unusual wildlife and exotic birdlife. Spend some time today exploring the maze of lagoons, lakes and streams on foot too, led by experienced local guides. Tonight, you’ll camp on a remote island right in the heart of the wilderness, falling asleep to the humming and buzzing of the African heartlands.

Day 5 Okavango Delta

Wake up early and head out on a sunrise walk. Along the way, keep watch for elephants, and if the timing is right, you might also come across some Cape buffalo! These noble-looking beasts are more dangerous than they look, and their horns double as a kind of bone shield that's fittingly known as a 'boss'. Returning to camp for breakfast, you’ve got the rest of the day to relax. A refreshing swim, or perhaps a nap, could be on the cards – both good ideas in the warmer part of the day. Alternatively, take another mokoro trip to soak up that serene river atmosphere.

Day 6 Maun

After taking down your camp, return to the ‘poler’ station by mokoro, before continuing your Lonely Planet Experience to Maun by vehicle (approximately 2–3 hours). Today you'll visit a rural village and interact with some of the locals, providing insight into daily life along the Okavango Delta. The waterways are the lifeblood of so many in this area, so learn more from locals about how important these fertile lands are. Tonight, settle in at camp on the outskirts of town.

Day 7 Nata

Get up early and hit the road for Nata (approximately 6–7 hours). This small town is situated near the stunning Makgadikgadi Salt Pans which are some of the largest on earth, covering around 12,000 square kilometres. This afternoon, take the opportunity to explore the salt pans in an open vehicle. They are naturally dry and salty for a large part of the year, and during this time, the arid landscape has an eerie feel to it as the shimmering mirages disorientate the senses. At other times they take on a layer of grass and, as soon as the rains hit, become a refuge for migratory birds and animals.

Day 8 Chobe National Park

Hit the road to Chobe National Park (approximately 6–7 hours). Botswana's first national park is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants, which can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts wallowing hippos, a variety of birdlife, crocodiles sunning themselves by the water's edge, and cheetahs and lions coming down to drink. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Chobe – an ideal way to spend the afternoon and toast to another day in Africa.

Day 9 Victoria Falls

Why not wake up early and see Chobe National Park from a different perspective, booking yourself in on an optional morning game drive. Afterwards, travel on to Victoria Falls (approximately 2–3 hours), crossing the border into Zimbabwe just in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi River. Then it's free time to experience the sights and sounds of the mighty falls. This thundering curtain of water is about 1.7 kilometres wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise an incredible 400 metres as the falls become a raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see the little islets in the river below.

Day 10 Victoria Falls

Enjoy a free day to explore or relax at your leisure. There will be a group meeting at 6 pm where you can meet any newbies joining your group.

Day 11 Hwange National Park

Leave Victoria Falls behind and head to Hwange National Park (approximately 5 hours, depending on traffic) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust – one of the projects The Intrepid Foundation supports. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and the Trust’s role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care. At Hwange National Park, you will explore this stunning wildlife arena in an open 4WD vehicle. It became the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a national park in 1929. Today, Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife, with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. The elephants of Hwange are world famous – here you'll find one of the largest elephant populations in Africa.

Day 12 Matobo National Park

Leave Hwange in your dust as you make tracks for Matobo National Park (approximately 5 hours). Shortly after leaving Hwange, stop at the Painted Dog Conservation Centre. The loss of quality habitat and poaching are driving the painted dog (also known as African wild dog) towards extinction. Learn about how they protect and increase the range and numbers of painted dogs in Zimbabwe and the Hwange ecosystem as a whole. Then it's on to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. Take a stroll through the streets lined with old colonial buildings and stop in at a local cafe or restaurant for lunch before heading to your camp for the next two nights. Home to a large population of black and white rhinoceroses that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place.

Day 13 Matobo National Park

This morning, have a unique experience tracking rhinos on foot with the help of your guides. Here there will be the chance to spot other game – the park is home to klipspringers, leopards, warthogs and springhares, among others. You can also learn about the various local plants and trees, including wild pear and paperbark, while discovering San paintings and the intriguing rock formations of the park. After a cold lunch, venture to a nearby village and meet some of the local people.

Day 14 Makushu Village

Get up nice and early for a day of travel. You'll cross a very busy border post, the only direct border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The drive is about 400 kilometres (approximately 6–8 hours). Your destination today is Makushu – a small village in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Upon arrival in Makushu, you will be met by a local village guide, who will ensure you are well taken care of. You will be staying with homestay host mothers in their family homes. With your own room within the family home, you will get a true feeling of what it’s like in the village – certainly a unique and memorable experience for travellers.

Day 15 Makushu Village

Rise and shine to the sounds of local village life – enjoy a day with your hosts in Makushu. As with any small town, no two days are the same, but you will be involved in traditional village activities, depending on what tasks are required on that day. Start the day with a gentle 2.5 hour hike through the village and it's surrounds. Afterwards some things you may get up to today include traditional floor making, beading, dancing, beer tasting and cooking. Today is a true opportunity to interact with the local villagers and learn of traditional Venda ways.

Day 16 Kruger National Park

Journey to Kruger National Park (approximately 8–9 hours). There will be an opportunity to stop at a shop or market for any camping supplies you or the group might need. One of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa, Kruger National Park is home to over 500 bird species, 100 species of reptile and 150 mammal species, including the Big Five and the endangered African wild dog. Your wildlife experience begins as soon as you enter the park. You will head straight into prime game viewing areas, spotting anything from antelopes and elands to cheetahs and rhinos.

Day 17 Kruger National Park

Rise early and have a light breakfast of coffee and rusks before embarking on a full-day game drive in the truck. Most of the day will be spent game viewing, bird watching and stopping at various waterholes and viewpoints. Depending on the season, you might catch sight of a saddle-billed stork with its distinct red beak, or the blue waxbill which is commonly found foraging for seeds in the scrub. In the afternoon when it's warm, take some time out to relax. Later on, there is an optional night drive with the park guide to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two.

Day 18 Johannesburg

It's time to head to Johannesburg (approximately 9–10 hours). There’s plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. You will take in amazing vistas at the viewpoint over Blyde River Canyon and Bourke's Luck Potholes. This trip finishes on arrival in Johannesburg at the finishing point hotel.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 3,165
Price Per Day: $ 176 per day
Checking price
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Jan-07-2022Jan-24-2022$ 3,16518 spots left Reserve
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Oct-21-2022Nov-07-2022$ 3,48522 spots left Reserve
Oct-28-2022Nov-14-2022$ 3,48521 spots left Reserve
Nov-04-2022Nov-21-2022$ 3,48522 spots left Reserve
Nov-11-2022Nov-28-2022$ 3,48522 spots left Reserve
Nov-18-2022Dec-05-2022$ 3,48522 spots left Reserve
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Dec-02-2022Dec-19-2022$ 3,48522 spots left Reserve
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3,854 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

95%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 2,889
Great 651
Average 127
Disappointing 62
Terrible 125
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Explore Southern Africa

Fantastic Trip in Southern Africa

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
We did this trip, Explore Southern Africa, from Aug 9 - 26 this year and we thought it was probably our most memorable trip ever. The variety of wildlife (we saw the big 5 plus giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hippos, hyenas, wildebeests, impalas, baboons, ...) and our proximity to them that we experienced was unparalleled. The scenery was like nothing we had ever experienced before (our first time anywhere in Africa). Although it was winter time there when we went and many areas were looking very dry it was an experience not to be missed. Additionally we were made to feel welcome everywhere that we went. The highlights of the trip for us would be the two days to the Okavango Delta, the optional game drive through Chobe National Park and day 13 with our guide tracking rhinos in Matabos and going to the African village. Our tour leader, cook and drivers were excellent as were our co-travellers. The meals that were prepared for us tasted great, were well balanced and no one ever left hungry. The 2 person tent accommodations weren't the most luxurious but they allowed one to stay right in the "middle of the action" with the animals in close proximity to our overnight homes. This being the case, we never felt unsafe in our tents at any point. The overlander vehicle didn't have air conditioning, as is standard, however if you made sure to open windows for air circulation during the drive the heat wasn't so bad. If one is prepared to put up with these few inconveniences and willing to help out with camp set up, vehicle clean up, and meal clean up afterwards (this is a participatory type of trip where certain tasks are required of the travellers) it is an experience not to be missed. It all makes one more appreciative of the luxuries that we have at home that many do not have in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
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Tent design is a problem

3.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation2.0
Meals5.0
The overall trip was satisfactory, at times excellent. We had no significant rain. On three nights there was however, some iight drizzle for a short time. The tent walls have inward sloping screens on their four sides. ANY precipitation is first detected when it drips down on occupants and gear. Then one rushes out, in the precip, to roll down exterior covers over the screens. In a sudden tropical downpour gear and occupants would be seriously wet before that could be accomplished. Nor could tents be successsfuly erected nor struck in a rain situation, Plus they are heavy canvas, maybe 30 pounds and awkward to erect. They have no fly to reflect the sun or re-direct rain. If you think this wouldn't be a problem, make your reservation. We couldn't recommend this o anyone except in the middle of the dry season.
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Company Reviews

I took my first intrepid trip to Greek isles

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I took my first intrepid trip to Greek isles. Our tour guide Sylvia was awesome.
I loved the itinerary.
Overall a great trip.
I would definitely use Intrepid again.
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Great travel experience

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Great travel experience. Great way to travel. Saw so many amazing sights and already so many fond memories. Will definitely be using Intrepid many more times.
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Spectacular Explore Jordan Trip with Intrepid and Faisal (Our Tour Guide)

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I went on the Explore Jordan trip and had a fantastic time. Everything went exactly as planned and our trip leader, Faisal, went out of his way. He was organized and went above and beyond to ensure the trip went well. I would go on this trip again and am actively looking for more Intrepid trips for the future because of how much I enjoyed this one. Our group got along so well that even when we had free time we would coordinate group dinners and doing activities together. This was truly an amazing experience.
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Our tour guide Ivan took care of…

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Our tour guide Ivan took care of everything, he was informative and clear on when & where to meet each day. He scouted great & inexpensive restaurant for our group dinners together every evenings. The experiences were excellent - walk around the wall of Old City in Dubrovnik, wine tasting and the amazing farm to table dinner at a winery outside of Hvar in a very excellent coach bus transportation. Also, really liked the islands of Korcula and Hvar via ferry. The accommodations at Split in the Diocletian Palace "Hotel Slavija" were lovely and centrally located , excellent staff, customer service, restaurant for breakfast or dinner.
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Overland vehicle,Open safari vehicle,Mokoro

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 22

Accomodations

Camping (with facilities) (12 nights),Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nights),Homestay (2 nights),Hotel (1 night)

Guides

You will be accompanied by 3 crew members - Group Leader, Cook and Driver. Your Group Leader’s role involves organizing the overall operation and smooth-running of the trip, managing trip logistics, coordinating the tipping kitty (where applicable) and will form work groups to take turns cooking, cleaning and shopping (from time to time your leader may drive as well). Your Group Leader will work towards making the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible for all travellers. Intrepid trips are built around the co–operation and participation of all the group members under the supervision of the group leader. The group leader will show the group how to set up and use the equipment. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting, especially when tracking and identifying game - we think it's the best of both worlds. Regardless of the country of origin, our Group Leaders are chosen for their leadership skills and are wonderful ambassadors for our company and our beautiful continent and its people. Your Cook is responsible for the cooking and will help to coordinate the work groups for preparing the meals and washing up! Cooks are also responsible for organising food shopping (they are always happy to have you on board) and most importantly, they make sure high hygiene standards are kept at all times while camping. Your Driver’s main responsibility is to get you to your destination safely; they are also responsible for the maintenance of the vehicles along the way. Everyone is expected participate and carry their share of the workload/duties, making camp chores easier. The duties rota system is adopted where all members share in general camp duties – cooking, shopping, washing up etc. If the whole group participates it will be quicker, easier, and more fun. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 15

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • Holiday Inn Rosebank
  • The Zone Phase 2, 187 Oxford Rd
  • Johannesburg
  • Johannesburg
  • 2196
  • SOUTH AFRICA

Trip ID#:

intrepid-UBOQC

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