Rich Heritage of Africa: A Unique Safari in Zimbabwe & Botswana Itinerary

A 14 day trip to Botswana & Zimbabwe 
4.25 out of 5 stars
4 reviews

Epic animal migrations, ancient city ruins, exquisite wetlands, stories told through rock art, complex savannahs untouched by time; Zimbabwe is where Africa’s natural and cultural heritage comes together. This 2-week safari celebrates the contrasting angles, immersing you in the narratives that make Africa so special. From experiences with San Bushmen to game drives with over 100 mammal species, it’s a dreamy journey into a continent that both inspires and educates.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Victoria Falls, Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park, Matobo National Park, Matobo Hills, World’s View, Great Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park, Kalahari Desert, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Chobe River

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Days 1 – 2: Victoria Falls – The Epic Display of Nature’s Power

Victoria Falls impresses all the senses. You can hear the falls from a luxury riverside lodge, a thunderous rumbling that floats upriver. Approaching the park’s walking path, there’s a refreshing scent of fresh water, one that flickers through a thick woodland awning. Next, you see them, a mile-wide sheet of falling water, disappearing over the lip and into a chasm. Rainbows spiral in the mist that rises from the canyon, moss clings to sections of the falls, and the sheer abundance of water can be baffling. Finally, you get to really feel Victoria Falls. The first sections of the walkway take you to lookout points beneath the trees. These continue to an unprotected stretch of cliffs. Sprays of mist rise from the canyon and soak you in seconds, a display of nature’s power that lives with you for eternity.

Victoria Falls is a fabulous example of power. It’s also an insight into how wild and unruly Africa’s nature has always been. Close to the falls, you’ll see baboons and hippos, along with a handful of ungulates. On a boat trip to the lip of the falls, you’ll appreciate just how fast the Zambezi flows. And on a helicopter ride above Victoria Falls, you’ll explore the mesmerizing scale of the spectacle. Serene and surreal, Victoria Falls is a relaxed place to start any African adventure. Transfers to the airport and the national park gate are included, along with the different activities. After the flight to Zimbabwe, there’s also lots of downtime to recuperate and reenergize, preparing yourself for the adventure to come.

Consider reading some of our traveler reviews for Zimbabwean safaris to gain further inspiration on crafting your dream Zimbabwe safari vacation.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour, transfer, breakfast

Days 3 – 4: Mana Pools National Park – The Evocative Brilliance of the Wetlands

Most preconceived images of Africa and African safari involve dry, dusty landscapes and the continual struggle to find water. The continent is infamous for drought in a land where water is greater than any treasure. This creates an evocative brilliance of the wetlands and an untouched oasis. The wetlands are the most important places in Africa, the pieces of natural heritage that enable wildlife to flourish, not merely survive. World Heritage Mana Pools is one of these, an oasis of lakes that stretches south of the Zambezi River. Animals migrate from hundreds of miles around for its bounty; from the luxury lodge, you’ll see buffalos swimming across the Zambezi to reach the lakes, as well as elephants using their trunks as snorkels.

Mana Pools National Park presents a story of abundance. It showcases the dazzling breadth and profusion of life that exists with permanent water. Zebra herds skip past, their hooves splashing up spray from the shallows. Sable antelopes point their horns while giraffes elegantly congregate amidst the trees. Over the two days, you could see over a dozen antelope species, those clustered in small herds and those like wildebeest who gather in astonishing numbers. This attracts the predators, notably an impressive population of lions. The waterside is a prime place to lay an ambush, and from a safari vehicle, you watch the cycle of life perpetually playing out.

After the flight from Victoria Falls, you spend two days exploring the subtleties and complexities of this wildlife-filled water world. Morning and late afternoon game drives focus on the predators, tracing their behaviors and aiming to spot them on the prowl. Walking safaris provide an intimate discovery of ungulate behavior, with thrilling two-hour journeys producing eye-to-eye moments with eclectic grazers. Boat safaris provide the tranquil interlude, gentle journeys that explore a labyrinth of channels, revealing the scenes that can’t be seen from land. The abundance of Mana Pools, along with this range of activities, makes it an excellent first immersion in the safari world of Africa.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, domestic flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Matobo National Park – World’s View and Sublime Examples of San Rock Art

Wake early and enjoy a final morning game drive in Mana Pools, passing the lions and elephants that dominate the lakes. After a short flight to Bulawayo, it takes an hour by road to reach Matobo National Park, where two very different expressions of cultural heritage are on display in the same place. An expert guide leads you to dozens of inspiring San rock paintings, ancient stories painted by nomadic tribes. This was their method of communication, one tribe leaving a message for the next that visited a certain cave. There are portraits of successful hunts, warnings of lions and leopards nearby, scary tales of war, the cycle of birth and death, and where to find particular plants or materials.

This art is an immersive insight into the world that existed tens of thousands of years ago when the San were scattered all across Southern Africa. The colonialist Cecil Rhodes called the Matobo Hills “World’s View, ” and he is buried nearby. “World” in this sense is very different, pertaining to ideas of conquering, rather than connecting with the landscape. It was the actions of Rhodes that caused the San and other tribes to decline rapidly; it’s a complex cultural history that changed Southern Africa forever. World’s View and the art around it is an ideal place to discuss the complexities of history here. Today is relaxed, nd after exploring the rock art and hills, you have a free afternoon at the lodge. Spotting buffalo and zebra from the lodge verandah is normal as you continue to be surrounded by wild animals.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, domestic flight, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Matobo National Park – An Intimate Understanding of Endangered Rhinos

While Matobo National Park continues to provide a haven for a range of mammals, the premier wildlife attraction here are the rhinos. In the last decade, the park has been one of the forerunners in rhino conservation and reintroducing healthy rhino numbers to Zimbabwe. Both black and white rhinos live in a well-guarded reserve within the park, roaming freely on bushland and open grassland. Spend the morning admiring them on a game drive; the exquisite horns, shy behavior, majestic frames, and cute interactions between families. After lunch, you’ll spend the afternoon with local conservationists, learning all about the challenges and successes of rhino conservation. What has worked and why? And what does the future hold? This afternoon is completed by a walking safari that can bring stunning close-up moments with both black and white rhinos.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Matobo National Park – Day Trip to Great Zimbabwe, Southern Africa’s Finest Ruins

When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, it was the city of Great Zimbabwe that gave the new country its name. Clusters of boulders stand proudly on a hill with sublime views over the plains, natural features that the city was built around. Walls have been constructed, a fusion of nature and man creating what was once the most important African city south of Zanzibar. It’s nothing on the scale of the pyramids or ancient Rome. However, it’s an iconic site that quashes derogatory, yet widely spread, ideas that Africa was a backwards third-world continent. Baboons now guard the city and unlike the pyramids, there won’t be more than a handful of people in sight. Visiting Great Zimbabwe is a day trip from Matobo, which can be combined with visiting local villages in the surrounding area.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 8 – 9: Hwange National Park – Africa’s Exceptional Natural Heritage With Over 100 Mammals to Discover

At Mana Pools, you enjoyed the beauty of abundance, with large herds and famous animals dominating the oasis. In Hwange National Park, you’ll discover the wonder of specialism. Mopane woodlands dominate the north of the park, blurring into open savannahs that becomes flat open grasslands. To the south is the Kalahari Desert, an endless landscape of arid colors. Although there’s hardly any water, there’s a rich mix of flora and a battle for survival that revolves around being unique. Brown hyenas can roam phenomenal distances each day in search of food. Elephants are the ultimate desert specialists and you watch them dig with their trunks, sucking up water from beneath the ground. Giraffes are equally special, eating from the branches that only the monkeys and birds can otherwise reach.

You’ll fly to Hwange and spend two days on adventurous game drives through what is Zimbabwe’s largest national park. The scale is spectacular and long game drives are always rewarded. Although the program is flexible, the guide is likely to advise one day in the north of the park and one towards the south. In the dense northern landscapes, there’s more wildlife, yet it’s harder to find. On the open southern plains, you can go 15 minutes without seeing anything. But then the guide locates a waterhole and there are over ten species arriving for a drink. In total, Hwange is home to over 100 different mammal species and over two days of exploration, you can hope to see around half of them.

Hold your breath as a pack of wild dogs roams past the vehicle. Watch in amusement as wildebeests gallop in the dawn light. Find cheetahs resting and mongoose hiding in the bushes. Admire large gemsbok herds on their nomadic daily journey in search of water. Rare sables and roan antelopes provide a wonderfully photogenic sight, their strange faces and inspiring horns cast against the blue desert sky. Springboks, kudus, elands, red lechwes; the list goes on as you discover the diversity of Africa’s natural heritage. There will be some opportunities to explore on foot and two leisurely evenings at the lodge, sitting back and listening to the sounds of the wild.

What’s Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 10 – 11: Kalahari Desert (Botswana) – Learning From the San People

Cross the border into Botswana for the final four days of your safari. It’s a thrilling game drive from Hwange to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, crossing evocative desert plains, stopping to admire lion prides, finding nomadic herds along the highway, and exploring one of Africa’s largest wilderness areas. In the Kalahari, you’ll continue to see animals, although they’re not as profuse as in Hwange. The focus switches to another special resident, the ancient San people. Somewhat remarkably, given the challenges to their lifestyle, San tribes continue to live and migrate around the Kalahari. These two days provide a spectacular introduction to their lifestyles.

It’s not a point-and-shoot photo experience. After being invited into a small settlement, you’ll have chance to spend time with different members of the community. The exact program will depend on what the community is doing, but will include things like: foraging for food with the women and discovering the use of indigenous plants; tracking antelope with hunters and discovering their ancestral hunting techniques, and cooking and preparing traditional food. On the first day, you’ll head out to find a digging stick, the most important of all the San’s possessions. Then you’ll settle into local life. Although the San speak no English, you’ll come to learn a method of communication that goes beyond cultural boundaries. You’ll also discover that these people have skills that the rest of the world can benefit from, making their battle for survival even more imperative. Note that for cultural reasons, you won’t sleep in the village but at a specially erected camp nearby.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 12 – 13: Chobe National Park – The Great Elephant Migration

Completing the exploration of natural heritage is a focus on the journey. A migration celebrates the fluidity of life in Africa, showcasing a harmony with nature and an ancient understanding of the land. To survive on this continent is to adapt. That’s what the elephants do, over 100,000 of them migrating to and from the Chobe woodland dependent on the rains. Permanent rivers provide guaranteed water here and herds travel from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, and Zambia. When their local waterholes shrivel, the matriarchs lead the journey towards Chobe’s lavish feast of food and water. Uprooted trees reveal the migratory pathways and within an hour of being in Chobe, you’ll have seen over 1,000 elephants.

It’s a short flight from the Central Kalahari, one that provides great vistas over the Okavango Delta. Then you settle into two days of immersive elephant wonderland, where it’s hard to go two minutes without seeing another herd. Baby elephants swing their trunks as they keep up with mothers; young adults flap ears and stamp feet in shows of aggression; epic old bulls tower two meters above the safari vehicle. You’ll explore on game drives and Chobe river cruises, encountering many thousands of pachyderms over the two days, along with thousands of giraffes and the odd glimpse of a spotted predator. Nighttime is magical, an enveloping silence interrupted by the echoed trumpet of herds quarreling in the distance.

What’s Included: accommodation, domestic flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 14: Chobe National Park to Victoria Falls – Departure

From Chobe National Park, it’s a two-hour journey by river and road back to Victoria Falls and the airport where you started your African adventure. For later departures, you’ll be able to spend the morning in Chobe National Park before crossing the border, where an airport lodge gives you space to freshen up before the flight.

What’s Included: 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.