Southern Africa is a rich tapestry of landscapes and wilderness that is stitched together by the migration of mammals along infamous rivers. Dramatic spectacles burst from their seams as habitats are dyed their distinctive colors, and nature's fabric weaves from dense, mystical forests to the open savanna. This exclusive safari itinerary journeys to the heart of Africa and connects three of its most diverse experiences: Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park, and Hwange National Park.
Victoria Falls – The Dramatic Spectacle of the Falls
You can hear Victoria Falls from your lodge, and it’s a low growl, an endless thunder that arrives on the breeze. You are just a few miles upriver, and you can gaze over the rapids and watch the monkey troops that impishly swing past. After your flight and transfer, there will be some time to relax and refresh before you are escorted to the park gate. You will pass the raucous baboons that guard the entrance to walking trail, and you will feel as though your adventure has truly begun. Victoria Falls divides Zimbabwe and Zambia, but two-thirds of the spectacle is on the Zimbabwean side. The first ten minutes of the trail bring iconic views as the tumbling water is usually enhanced by a 360-degree rainbow. Travel further across the canyon, and there will be no tree canopy for cover as you stand face to face with the falls to feel the spray that rises from the canyon as you marvel at the spectacle's power. Other waterfalls may be higher and wider, but none dispense as much water as this one does. After taking it all in, you will be returned to your lodge, and a sunset Zambezi cruise will bring your first day in Africa to a close.
Victoria Falls – Micro Flight Above the Falls and Afternoon in Livingstone
This morning you will cruise above Victoria Falls on a small plane that will provide impressive views of the river and the canyon. Colors swirl on nature's canvas below, and you will admire cataracts that stand tall in the Lower Zambezi. Touch down, and your guide will take you over the bridge and into Zambia, where you will walk alongside another part of the falls, taking bridges to the cataracts that are often enshrouded in mist. Dependent on the Zambezi River water levels, you can also take a boat towards the edge of the precipice. Spend a couple of hours in the town of Livingstone to visit a traditional market and a number of colonial buildings from the time of the explorer that gave the town its name, David Livingstone. Returning to Zimbabwe, a sunset cruise is included in your lodge stay and makes for another peaceful and serene evening.
Victoria Falls – Kayaking and Exploring the Zambezi
The Zambezi is one of Africa's great waterways and a river that brings life to a dry and dusty land. Hippos rest in the slow-moving pools as sometimes dozens of them will congregate with their enormous jaws and bellowing grunts. Nile crocodiles bask in the sun, lining the banks with an eery menace. Baboons and various monkey species scurry across the ground, while a handful of different antelope come down for a drink. You will spend the day exploring the river, with your morning spent on a kayak tour and your afternoon on a luxurious boat as canapes and cocktails are served as the wildlife roams past. With six days of safari beginning tomorrow, your time spent on the water will be a perfect introduction to the landscape and a chance to relax before your safari adventure continues.
Chobe National Park – Drifting Down the Chobe River
On an African safari, it is easy to anticipate the dramatic scenes and animals. You will be expecting to see elephants and lions with dreams of seeing images from wildlife documentaries in real life. What is unexpected is the serenity of it all. This morning, you will drift down the Chobe River and relax on your viewing deck as hundreds of elephants play along the banks. Lounging back, you can watch giraffe and zebra come for a drink with a massive pod of hippos barging about just after them. Slowly, you will journey deeper into the wilderness with the open grasslands of Namibia to one side and the thick woodland of Botswana on the other. Zebra emerge and splash in the shallows, buffalo keep their heads and horns clear of the water, and you will disembark into the forest.
It is dense and mystical in Chobe, and the canopy will immerse you as you can only see a few meters along the trail. The animals cannot see you, and you can turn a corner to find a herd of elephants soon surrounding your vehicle. Turn another, and you may be just three meters from a tower of giraffe. Buffalos may soon cover the trail, and you will have to stop to allow them to pass. Drive deeper and deeper to follow the prints that are indented in the sand and mud. Your luxury camp is deep in the wilderness and surrounded by the woodland's natural orchestra. Elephant pass, barely ten meters away as their loud grunts alert you to a male lion a few miles away as sporadic hoots come from some of the park's primates. With a safari in Chobe, you will be engaged at all times of the day and night.
Chobe National Park – Be Surrounded by Elephants
Through the trees, you will spot something moving. Your driver will stop and cut the engine, and after a long moment, there will be movement as a tail flicks high in the canopy. You will know that it’s a leopard, but where is it? It will take a while for your eyes to adjust to the camouflage and then suddenly, the hunter will appear with beautiful spots glistening around clear blue eyes. The leopard will descend, bounding down from the tree and heading out on a hunt. Follow the subtle movements and notice the solemn precision of the predator in its private lair, and then turn around to discover a herd of elephants that are barely ten meters away. There may be 40 of them, and many will be much bigger than the safari vehicle as they watch you as intently as the leopard was.
In Chobe National Park, you will never escape the elephants. Youngsters use their trunks as snorkels, big males face off in the forest, and all of their eyes reveal emotion. You will see the melancholy of old bulls that wander lonely, and then admire the enthusiasm of youth as the glint of discovery coats the expression of younger elephants. Take in the thoughtfulness of the matriarchs, as their eyes and subtle smiles impress from all angles. Today's game drives will take you indelibly close to it all, both the pachyderms and the predators in the trees. You will cross a large section of Chobe and discover what hides beneath the canopy. Choose from morning and afternoon drives, or a full day that heads out to the remote Savute area of the park.
Chobe National Park – Walking and Driving
It can be scary to swap wheels for walking boots when there are so many elephants around, but the locals have lived alongside four-legged giants for generations, and they know how to plot a safe route through the herds. In a private concession on the edge of Chobe, you will enjoy a morning walking safari as your journey begins in dense woodland and then opens out onto open grasslands. Here you will find the grazers in huge numbers with the zebra and red lechwe among those that are scattered for as far as the eye can see. Moving patiently and quietly, you will be able to get exceptionally close with your focus switching from a giant herd to a small individual.
After lunch, your privately guided safari will continue with a game drive back towards Zimbabwe as you follow muddy trails through Chobe's remote southern woodland. Baby giraffe will enchant as buffalos intensely return your stare, and elephant herds will continue to rumble past. This region of the national park sees few vehicles, and part of your experience will be to stop in the middle of the woodland and wait for the animals. From your silent vantage point, it will be easy to spend hours taking in all the intimate details ranging from lone springbok with faces of anxiety, graceful giraffe towers that hold their heads up high and majestic lions on route to water. Spend your final night in the park at a camp in the southwest of Chobe.
Hwange National Park – On the Trail of Zimbabwe's Big Cats
Where Chobe is dense and intimate, Hwange is open and expressive. The visibility within the region is seemingly endless as every 360-degree panorama is dappled with animals. There are few places for animals to hide, so the ungulates live by safety in numbers. Predators use their cunning as they bask on the savannah throughout the day and then hunt in the cool hours of morning and evening. Although the animals are more widely spread, the openness makes them easy to find and on your first game drive, you are likely to spot 20 to 30 different mammal species. There are over 100 types of mammals to find, from the world-famous giants to the unusual characters that you will rarely see outside Hwange National Park.
From western Chobe, you will drive northeast to Hwange with a short journey back to Zimbabwe and the open plains of the country's flagship park. Your lodge will be in the center of the park and provide easy access to the diverse ecosystems. As with most privately guided safaris, you can choose from a collection of activities and schedule. In Hwange, you can also choose the type of habitat and animals that you would most like to see. Explore miombo woodland and seek out the park's legendary leopards, or cross the open grass plains to find lion pride in abundance. Follow the curves of the river to find its residents, or journey onto the Kalahari-style desert to discover the migratory giants. Your private guide and driver will outline your options, and your three days will be handcrafted to your interests and mood.
Day 8 - 9
Hwange National Park – The Iconic Big-Game Safari Experience
With sunrise colors painting the sky you will approach a lion pride. The male's mane will flutter gently with its brown tinge distinctive to the Kalahari region of Southern Africa. Four lionesses will approach the safari vehicle, circling it slowly and carefully before wandering off as your heart beat finally slows. Drive further across southern Hwange to find more lion pride, some just a few bachelor males showing the scars of battle, others numbering more than ten individuals. On a rocky outcrop, you may find the surprise of a cheetah and its cub hiding high on the landscape, gazing down on the potential dinner menu. Occasionally, you will pass a baobab and find kudu or lechwe resting in its shade.
The next day, you will explore more grasslands where animals are more scattered as they do not need to congregate around the water. Impala skip past, eland bashfully gather together, a sable antelope's horns may bring an iconic photo, and soon you will be able to identify a dozen different antelopes. As everywhere in Hwange, these antelopes are not seen in isolation as interaction is everywhere. You can listen to baboons give a warning call to the grazers below, and then watch sentinels raise the alarm as a hundred heads jump up from the grass. You can smell the fear and know that a leopard is lurking nearby, which is what makes an African safari so different from simply being at the zoo. There are no fences and no script, just the magic of the wild.
Hwange has been a protected park for over a century and was formerly a royal hunting ground. The region has been a national park since 1929 and covers an area bigger than the Serengeti. With so few visitors, it will feel like a private concession. Encounter lions on a hunt and nothing else will interrupt your photos, and then spend an hour watching playful hippos without another vehicle in sight. As you explore, you will realize that safari is not just about the most famous animals as it is also about all of the endemic species and intricate details such as the glint in an eye, the expression on a face and the beautiful sounds that keep you company through the night.
Hwange National Park – Departure
Your final morning on safari will give you a chance to take in the giants one last time before leaving the wilderness. On an extended game drive, you will loop across Hwange on route to the airstrip, where a domestic flight will bring you back to Victoria Falls Airport and your international departure.
- Discover the magic of wild Africa with six days of big game safari
- Marvel at the spectacle of Victoria Falls as you walk alongside the world's most powerful waterfall before flying above the Zambezi River
- Drift down two of Africa's greatest waterways and discover the giant mammals found along the banks of the Zambezi and Chobe
- Surround yourself with the world's biggest elephant population and watch hundreds of herds as they meet in the woodland
- Mix game drives with walking safaris and unravel the intimacy of Zimbabwe and Botswana's wildernesses
- Spend days exploring the remote corners of Hwange National Park, a classic savanna where big cats are always on the prowl
- Combine the atmosphere of a private concession with the enormity of one of Africa’s largest parks as you visit Hwange
- Complement the expressive openness of Hwange with the unusual mystique of Chobe, a combination of destinations that journeys to the heart of Southern Africa's safari experience
$6,995 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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