South Africa, Zambia
Cape Town, Sabi Sands, Greater Kruger National Park, Livingstone
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Your 13-day Southern Africa highlights tour is perfect for a first-time Africa vacation. You can indulge in luxurious game lodges inside fabled national parks and witness the mysterious mist rising from Victoria Falls. As you travel through Southern Africa, your customizable tour will take you from Table Mountain to Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands to Livingstone for an exceptional introduction to local culture, wilderness, and wildlife with unforgettable safari programs.
Cape Town – Relaxing Beneath Table Mountain
You will land in Cape Town, and the mountain will not disappoint. It stands high above the city as a vertiginous slab that will act as your compass point for the next four days. On an airport transfer, you will cruise parallel to it, staring one way at its frame and the other way towards the Atlantic. Your hotel will be in the V & A Waterfront, just footsteps away from the harbor. This very upmarket and safe part of the city is ideal for most visitors. A large pedestrianized area is packed with restaurants and cafes with some great choices for your evening meal that will be overlooking the yachts. It will all be all distinctively African, yet it will also be a place where you instantly feel at home.
Cape Town – From the Mountain to Mandela's Legacy
You will have a private guide for these three days in Cape Town. The itinerary should be flexibly considered as some of the activities are weather-dependent. The top of the list is almost exclusively Table Mountain. If there is a cloud anywhere in Cape Town, there will be a cloud on Table Mountain. So, it is recommended to scale the summit at the first clear opportunity. Rough and adventurous hiking trails are one way to go, and a revolving cable car is the other. You will step out onto the summit, and a series of far more accessible trails weave across the peak, showing what lies above the famous front facade.
During the afternoon, you will cruise the Atlantic Ocean with Mandela’s former prison guard meeting you upon your arrival at the UNESCO world heritage site of Robben Island. Mandela spent 18 years here. During his time of imprisonment here, he preached a message that would transform South Africa. To see the horrid conditions will only increase your admiration for Mandela’s achievements, and to hear stories from the guide will shed unique insight into the history. Cape Town has plenty of treats for the evening, and your city guide can provide options and transport. These include watching the sunset from Signal Hill, visiting breweries and restaurants in Woodstock, and exploring Cape Town’s lively streets of change.
Cape Town – Penguins and the Cape Peninsula
Penguins will waddle across the white sand of Boulders Beach. Slowly, they will cross the beach, heading out to swim or back to their nesting site. Occasionally, some penguins dive off the rocks or clamber onto the wooden walkway. This native penguin collective is a precursor to the safari that is experienced on a day when nature really dominates. Table Mountain will be the dramatic end piece in a 60-mile stretch of rugged mountain peninsula. Today, you will follow the road to the continent’s southwestern tip, weaving to lookout points and crashing waves. Along the way, you stop to see penguins, harbors, seals, fishing villages, and lighthouses that are all located on the edge of the world.
Cape Town – Vineyards, Gardens, and Local Markets
Table Mountain has its secrets. If you drive around to its eastern flank, vineyards carpet the slopes. This is Constantia, and they have been cultivating wine from the time the first European explorers landed. You will visit two vineyards and sample the dessert wine that was adored by Napoleon before walking off the indulgence in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. It is very relaxed on this side of the mountain, yet you will return to Cape Town through Observatory and Woodstock. An integrated history will give these neighborhoods real color and vitality, most notably at local markets.
Sabi Sands – Start of the Big-Game Safari
Today, you will fly from Cape Town to the Sabi Sands. Within moments of touching down, the safari will begin. Buffalo will cover the trail, elephants will march nearby, and monkeys will call from the trees, warning zebra of predators hiding around the grass. The guide will know how to interpret such sounds, and the airport transfer will be stopped briefly. Scanning the grass, you may find a lion pride hidden. A lioness may appear to be sleeping, but she will look at you, giving you a personal welcome to the Sabi Sands experience.
You will arrive at your camp, and the animals will continue to dominate. From your suite, you can gaze upon elephants. Antelope will be drinking at the river, and you will soon learn that they are kudu, which are different from the springbok you encountered earlier. Later in the afternoon, you will take a game drive, bumping off the trails to discover life along the riverbanks. The Sabi Sands is part of the unfenced Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which is approximately 100,000 square kilometers of preserved wilderness. Animals cluster around the Sabi Sands for its permanent food and water, meaning you will see a lot in a relatively small area, which is a perfect scenario when it is your turn to safari.
Day 6 - 7
Sabi Sands – Immersed in an Evocative Wildlife World
Noisy baboons will alert you to a leopard. Leopards tend to prowls amid the mist of dawn, effortlessly moving through the grass. Up ahead, the will impala graze. This is wild Africa, and there is no writing of scripts. Most hunts are unsuccessful, and there is always certain serendipity to encounters. That is also why it is so important to have more than a single day of safaris. In one day, you can see the different animals. Over five days, you will appreciate how these animals interact and behave with each other, from dramatic predator-prey scenes to baby elephants meeting moody buffalo.
Early morning and late afternoons will be best for game drives as this is when wildlife is most active. Herds and cats will be on the move with the lighting being ideal for photography. In the Sabi Sands, you can also do nighttime game drives, which is your chance to track predators through a spooky and surreal world. You will move slowly and carefully, often stopping to listen and smell the landscape. When a spotlight illuminates animals, they are usually far closer than you will have imagined. Evenings will be peaceful as well when animals come to the river and drink, and you can watch the procession of life from the comfort of your suite.
Of the more than 100 large mammals living here, the famous five are usually the highest on visitor wish lists. Rhinos are abundant, and the Sabi Sands is the best place in Africa to see leopards. Lion, buffalo, and elephants are part of the daily scenery. After three days, you will find real pleasure in the smaller sights, particularly the unusual and rare. You will grow accustomed to finding impala and wildebeest grazing besides your suite or giraffes marking the horizon. Reedbuck, nyala, hartebeest, eland, roan antelope, and sable antelope provide unique encounters with wild dogs being a rare treat for the fortunate.
Day 8 - 9
Greater Kruger National Park – Unique Adventures in Remote Kruger
The Sabi Sands is a small piece in an enormous patchwork of protected areas. Like all African wildernesses, wildlife is not evenly distributed here. It congregates around water during the dry season, and different animals prefer different habitats. After the Sabi Sands provides an intimate safari experience, traveling to eastern Kruger will offer a superb impression of scale. It will take a full day’s game drive to get there. Nestled beneath the Lebombo Mountains, your lodge will have a picturesque view of the plains, so once more you can rest up as wildlife wanders past.
Animals will not be as abundant here, but there will be new adventures. Here, you can walk and cycle in elephant country, often roaming through and alongside antelope herds. Game drives will twist into the mountains, tracing the behavior of stealthy hyena or rare forest-dwelling antelope. On game drives, you will cover large distances and hardly see any other vehicles. The private concession experience will make it seem like Africa is putting on a show just for you. People often question how long they need for a safari. The honest answer is that no amount of time is too long, especially given how far away South Africa is from home. This is a wildlife theater, and with every day you will experience something new.
Livingstone – Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River
After two flights you will have swapped the Kruger savannah for the Zambezi River. Elephants and hippos will continue to dominate along with baboons and vervet monkeys. Victoria Falls is deep in the bush, and the area remains a wildlife haven, especially near the riverbanks. You will rest today and head out on a sunset cruise along the Zambezi. Drinks will be served as hippos emerge from their wading spaces, and elephants use their trunks as snorkels to cross the river. The sun will sink evocatively into the river as a chorus of birds sings stories about their day. It will be serene and peaceful as Victoria Falls preserves the relaxed mood of a vacation in Africa.
Livingstone – Personal Encounters with Victoria Falls and More
You will hear it first, and you have probably been listening to it all night. It will growl a low-pitched rumble that never ceases. This is the thunder, and it is supplemented by smoke. Dropping some 100 meters into a narrow chasm, much of the water returns as a mist, creating a cloud that is visible from ten miles away. To experience the falls, you must walk through this spray, getting soaked to the bone most of the time. You can wear a raincoat, but to truly experience Mosi-oa-Tunya, it will be best to let the smoke cascade down and feel how powerful this natural wonder is. You will spend half of today on the Zambian side of the falls before a free afternoon along the river with various potential activities to add.
Livingstone – Flexible Day of Adventure, Including Zimbabwe Option
Among the potential activities, today will be crossing the bridge into Zimbabwe where the main falls are located. It is best to visit the two sides on different days, as you do get completely different viewpoints. Canoeing with hippos is also possible in Livingstone along with Africa’s wildest white-water rafting. All of these activities can be added upon your arrival. After a safari adventure, Victoria Falls means that you can continue to escape the world while spending lazy hours along the riverfront. It will mean that you are refreshed and rested for going back home. Plus, these hours will never be lonely when elephants and hippos are so energetic in your surroundings.
Livingstone – Departure
You will depart from Livingstone’s international airport and fly back to Johannesburg for your outbound flight. Hopefully, an elephant will be along the road during the airport transfer as the pachyderms regularly wander along the highway.
- Discover why the world’s largest curtain of falling water is originally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders”
- Experience the thrill of your first day on a safari with more than the Big Five in the Sabi Sands
- Watch how nature dominates the city during four days in Cape Town, including standing atop Table Mountain
- Wander through elephant country and savor very personal experiences during two days in eastern Kruger
- Cruise down the Zambezi River at sunset as hippos emerge onto the banks
- Track leopards and lions on nighttime game drives through the Sabi Sands
- Explore vineyards and botanical gardens on Table Mountain’s back slopes as well as exploring Mandela’s legacy in Cape Town
- Relax in luxurious bush camps where animals roam past as you enjoy sundowners
- Begin the wildlife experience with penguins on Boulders Beach, which is part of touring the Cape Peninsula
- Create your own safari program for five days in the Greater Kruger, mixing activities and habitats to really understand the wilderness
$11,695 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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