Wonders of Southern Africa: Kruger, Victoria Falls, Okavango Safari

A 12 day trip to Botswana, South Africa, Zambia & Zimbabwe 
5 out of 5 stars
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Southern Africa's wild wonders delight in their diversity, each a new expression of nature's untouchable power. The Kruger is raw and rugged, classic Big Five territory made exclusive by private reserves and opulent lodges. Victoria Falls is breathtakingly intense, yet complemented by the serene Zambezi River. The Okavango Delta is lush and enchanting, a landscape that can be explored many different ways. This safari in Southern Africa combines the very best of all three wonders.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Johannesburg, Greater Kruger, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Private Reserve, Panorama Route, God's Window, Three Rondavels, Livingstone, Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta, Chief's Island, Moremi Game Reserve

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Johannesburg to Greater Kruger – Luxurious Safari Introductions at Royal Malewane

Royal Malewane fulfills so many of your of envisioned luxury safari daydreams.  Your private plunge pools are visited by thirsty elephants as your indulgent spa overlooks the savannah as zebra herds gallop by your window. Your royal suite carries an air of decadence with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to watch animals from your bed. Sometimes you don't even need to move to see the Big Five. Upon landing in Johannesburg, a representative will assist in the transfer to your domestic flight to the Kruger. Touch down and the journey from the airstrip is a thrilling game drive as the open-sided vehicle takes you deep into the savannah. White rhinos rumble past as the odd lion pride basks in the sun, and giraffe is among some of the iconic sights. You will arrive at the lodge towards the end of the afternoon as you head straight for treatment at the Royal Malewane spa. The evening is relaxed with a private dining experience as you overlook a floodlit waterhole.

What's Included: accommodation at Royal Malewane, domestic flight, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Greater Kruger – Big Five Safari Through Untouched Kruger

This morning you will get closer as a game drive loops you across the untouched savannah of Kruger. Rhino is abundant as dozens of them grace your journey, their power matched by a sense of elegance. Elephants tower high above the vehicle before they flap their ears and march onwards. Buffalo come in herds, masses of black fur that bring the sound of rumbling hooves. On this game drive, you will see more lions, this time the females, on a prowl as the initial stages of a hunt play out. Hidden in the trees, the elusive leopards are easily found by the guides for your viewing.

You are exploring a private game reserve, so these indelible sights are not shared. Only two vehicles will approach a single spot to provide an intimacy and exclusivity to your safari. A private reserve also enables the driver to go off road to get you closer and closer to the Big Five as it’s not uncommon to see all of these famous mammals in a single drive. Return to the lodge by late morning for lunch as your suite provides a gracious vista over the savannah. An afternoon game drive completes the day's activities to bring more famous encounters with the giants of Kruger. For a first-time safari, it's hard to rival the compactness and ease of Royal Malewane – you don't need long, rugged journeys to encounter the most famous of the animals.

What's Included: accommodation at Royal Malewane, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Greater Kruger – Hot Air Balloon and the Panorama Route

Change your perspective this morning as you soar across Kruger in a hot air balloon. The scale of the landscape is sublime, an untrammeled savannah stretches and blurs into the horizon. As the balloon ascends, it's possible to spot the big herds of elephants and buffalos that grace the Greater Kruger area. But look the other way and a new panorama will take your breath away as a mighty river swerves into Blyde River Canyon as the water twinkles beneath the forested-sandstone slopes. It looks like the canyon walls are crumbling as their rugged redness slips away at random angles. The balloon floats this way to descent gently across the Kruger's fabled Panorama Route.

There are not many animals out here as the canyon walls are steep while the thick forests make it hard to spot the resident primates. But the views can be mind-boggling as you return along the Panorama Route by road as you stop to admire God's Window and the Three Rondavels, a dramatic sandstone cones that often create goosebumps for all who see it. You will arrive back at the lodge around lunchtime with plenty of time for a final Royal Malewane game drive and further encounters with the Big Five.

What's Included: accommodation at Royal Malewane, tour, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 4 – 5: Sabi Sands – More Intimate Safari Experiences in the Kruger

The Kruger savannah drapes itself across the northeast of South Africa, an eloquent landscape that is home to the world's wild rhinos. Big cats are abundant, and there are not many African mammals that don't inhabit the huge national park. Private reserves share unfenced borders with the park, and this is where the animals are most plentiful as in Sabi Sands, where big mammals are attracted by two permanent rivers. Continue getting a grasp of scale as you cross through the Kruger on a game drive to journey to the Sabi Sands reserve. The sights keep coming on the journey, and soon it's hard to remember all the iconic sights.

Your lodge in the Sabi Sands overlooks the water, and you don't need to move at all to spot a whole procession of wildlife, particularly the resident hippos. Rest, relax, and then enjoy an afternoon drive. The wildlife sights are similar to Royal Malewane, but they never grow old as elephants trumpet through the trees, rhinos march onwards, lions fill the grassland, and on every corner there is a different antelope to admire. Spending five days in the Kruger ensures that you will enjoy all of these sights at a relaxed pace. The game drives aren't rushed, and you will have time to enjoy the luxury of the lodges completely.

What's Included: accommodation at Singita Ebony Lodge, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Johannesburg to Livingstone – Relaxing Along the Zambezi River

Today is the only one on the itinerary with significant travel time. However, it's never dull to fly across Africa. First, the airport transfer is a thrilling game drive through the Sabi Sands that features elephants, rhinos, and probably the big cats. The airstrip is deep in the wilderness, and just getting there could bring the Big Five into view. A small plane takes you away from the Kruger ecosystem to connect you with Johannesburg and an onward flight to Livingstone. You will arrive as the heat of the day disappears, the late afternoon an indelible time to relax on your lodge balcony. You are perched above the iconic Zambezi River to overlook a landscape of sunbathing crocodiles and rumbustious hippos. Nature spills out in all directions, and you can hear the rumble. Downriver is Victoria Falls, and its thunderous roar provides a memorable constant to your three days in Zambia. Your lodge offers a complimentary sunset Zambezi River cruise to complete the day.

What's Included: accommodation at Royal Chunda River Lodge, flight, transfer, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Livingstone – A Helicopter Above Victoria Falls

From the air, you can follow the serpentine curves and admire the graceful twist of the Zambezi before it converges into a rush of power that measures over a mile across. Then the river disappears to drop tumultuously into a canyon that's over 100 meters deep. Victoria Falls is the world's most powerful cascade and from the air, you will watch the water disappear as the mist emerges as clouds of precipitation that elegantly float past your view. A helicopter flight provides an astonishing impression of scale to showcase the depth and width of the falls. From the air, the vistas are unending as one of the world's natural wonders reveal primitive beauty. The helicopter flight is followed by a free afternoon, which you can spend witnessing the falls on foot.

What's Included: accommodation at Royal Chunda River Lodge, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Livingstone – Free Day Besides the World's Most Powerful Waterfall

Today is deliberately free, and there are a half dozen experiences that could fill your itinerary. Approach Victoria Falls on foot with an unguided walking trail along the cataracts that rise in the river. Spray rains down and the thunder reaches incredible levels to showcase the power of Victoria Falls from very close quarters. It is also possible to cross the bridge to Zimbabwe and see the other half of the falls, which are less dramatic but more aesthetic. Head out onto the Zambezi to canoe past the hippos, or journey by boat towards the lip of Victoria Falls, where the rumbling sounds are forever memorable – this is only possible during low water months. Your three days in Livingstone are a break between an between action-packed safari, so today could also be a quiet one at the lodge to marvel at the untouched world of the Zambezi. Complete the day with a sunset cruise for more wildlife encounters.

What's Included: accommodation at Royal Chunda River Lodge, breakfast

Day 9: Okavango Delta (Moremi Game Reserve) – Micro Flight and Exploring the Evocative Wetlands

Fly south, and your small plane will cruise above Botswana's desert to provide more unusual perspectives on the scale. Colors merge and blur as the reds and oranges cascade beneath the wingtips. And then the colors shift to blue and green as the Okavango River spills out into an oasis of wonder. You are in the middle of the desert, but you are also now in the middle of a watery utopia. Okavango and Kruger provide an indelible safari contrast as the vast savannah is combined with the untrammeled wetlands. Both the landscape and safari experience are very different as you travel in a traditional canoe along the waterways. There is no engine noise as you glide along to admire all of the wildlife that comes to feast along the banks of the delta. Visibility is limited which brings a continual surprise. For every corner you turn, there is likely to be another animal skipping or sipping in the water. The canoe brings you to your luxury camp that overlooks the water, your exquisite base for these three days of safari.

What's Included: accommodation at Sanctuary Chief's Camp, domestic flight, transfer, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 10 – 11: Okavango Delta (Moremi Game Reserve) – Big Five Beauty and Safari Charm

The Okavango engrosses you in charm as your luxury tent overlooks the river to provide a vantage point over the frolicking hippos and a procession of thirsty animals. You will hear them through the night and admire them over a breakfast coffee. When night descends, they become evocative silhouettes and keep you company in the heart of the Delta. Whereas your Kruger accommodation had traditional definitions of luxury, your camp takes its opulence from an unrivaled immersion in its surroundings. It's quaint and very comfortable, with continual sights and sounds that provide a new safari experience.

Over these two days, the safari program is very flexible. Continue your exploration by mokoro, the traditional wooden canoes that are paddled softly along the waterways. Cruise around hippo pods, then past elephant that squirts water into the sky. Along the narrow channels, you will find an array of antelope, like springbok, oryx, and kudu as they take a bath or catch a drink. You will occasionally see the predators as the big cats are either thirsty or hungry. In a mokoro, you will travel silently, so every wildlife sighting is imbued with a certain intimacy. Nothing skips or runs away as you simply glide past and admire.

Game drives take you across Chief's Island, a large expanse of grassland and floodplain that the Delta separates from the desert. Some animals are marooned here, easy meals for the lion pride that resides all year round. Trees rise beside the water, and it's here that you find the spotted hunters as leopards and cheetah hide in a landscape that feels tailored for an ambush. Sunset cruising and nighttime drives are also options here to ensure that the safari program is always fresh. This is Big Five country, but the lush landscape is mostly remembered for its charm as it constantly submerges you in an oasis of natural grandeur.

What's Included: accommodation at Sanctuary Chief's Camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12: Okavango Delta to Maun – Departure

One final micro flight as your plane swoops across the Okavango as the lush colors spill into the redolent red of the Kalahari. Touch down in Maun for connection with your international departure.  Your travels will take you first to Johannesburg, and then away from the continent after 12 days of Southern Africa's wonders.

What's Included: micro flight, airport transfer, breakfast 


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.