Johannesburg Arrive at any time and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy a traditional South African braai (barbecue) for dinner tonight.
Johannesburg/Greater Kruger Area Set out towards Kruger National Park via the magnificent Panorama Route, one of the world’s most picturesque drives. Make stops at the dramatic Blyde River Canyon and Bourke's Luck Potholes, and take in panoramic views of the forest-covered valley from the God's Window viewpoint. Continue to our tented camp near Kruger National Park and savour a delicious South African dinner in a boma.
Kruger National Park Rise early and climb aboard an open jeep for a full-day safari in Kruger National Park—home to an extraordinary array of large mammals. Spot elephants, lions, giraffes, and perhaps elusive leopards as we explore this breathtaking wilderness of savanna and scrubland. Return to our lodge in the evening, where you can take some time to relax on the deck and enjoy the nocturnal sounds of the bush.
Greater Kruger Area/Karongwe Private Game Reserve Travel to the Karongwe Private Game Reserve, a pristine wildlife sanctuary located in the Greater Kruger area. Meet with a researcher from the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project—a program funded in part by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative—and learn about efforts to protect the region’s cheetahs and other carnivores. The researcher then joins us for a wildlife-viewing excursion through the reserve.
Karongwe Private Game Reserve Spend the day exploring Karongwe on morning and afternoon safaris with our local guides. Search for buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhinos—Africa's famed "big five"—as we drive through the shrublands of the bushveld. Back at camp, relax on deck or take a walk around the grounds.
Karongwe Private Game Reserve/Johannesburg Embark on one last safari this morning, keeping a lookout for Karongwe’s iconic inhabitants. Then head back to the city, where you’ll enjoy dinner in our local guest house.
Johannesburg/Windhoek Fly to Windhoek and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy free time to explore the Namibian capital this afternoon.
Windhoek/Sesriem Set off from the Namibian capital towards Sesriem, the gateway to jaw-dropping Namib-Naukluft National Park. Drive past red-hued desertscapes, stark camel thorn trees, and dramatic curved dunes while keeping an eye out for the astonishing creatures that call these arid lands home—the oryx, springbok, jackal, hyena, and more. Settle in to our lodge and relax poolside, watching a fiery crimson sunset over the desert.
Sesriem Embark on a thrilling excursion into one of Africa’s largest national parks aboard a 4x4. Explore the Namib desert, the oldest desert in the world; and venture to the massive dunes at Sossusvlei and the white clay pan of Deadvlei. Capture dramatic images of dead camel thorn trees against a backdrop of orange dunes and a crisp blue sky. Then visit the Sesriem Canyon, a natural gorge carved out by the Tsauchab River over millions of years.
Sesriem/Swakopmund Continue by road through changing desert landscapes towards the coastal city of Swakopmund. Look out for roaming zebra, kudu, springbok, and oryx on the way, and take a break in the quirky town of Solitaire before heading into the countryside. Here, we meet a local for a 4x4 drive through the desert, learning about the survival strategies of bushmen who lived in this inhospitable area thousands of years ago. We also search for the smaller wildlife that has managed to survive here, such as snakes, geckos, spiders, and an array of insects.
Swakopmund Enjoy a free morning in Swakopmund, getting a taste of the town’s unique Afro-German culture; or opt to go sandboarding in the Namib desert. This afternoon, take a tour of Mondesa township with a local guide, learning about its people and history. Visit the local market for an introduction to traditional foods such as wild spinach, mopane worms, and dried sardines or kapenta. Stop by an arts and crafts shop; chat with the locals; and round off the day with dinner and a performance at a cozy family-run establishment.
Swakopmund/Palmwag Make your way to Twyfelfontein—Namibia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site—to see some of Africa’s largest concentrations of petroglyphs. Marvel at these remarkable engravings, carved by prehistoric hunter-gatherers and depicting rhinos, elephants, and ostriches, as well as human and animal footprints. Then continue to our lodge on the Palmwag nature reserve in northwest Damaraland.
Palmwag/Etosha National Park Area Enjoy a relaxed morning at our lodge or opt for a guided walk in the Palmwag reserve, home to many rare, desert-adapted species. In the afternoon, travel towards Etosha National Park, arguably Namibia’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuary. Settle into our lodge, located outside of the park.
Etosha National Park Area Spend a full day on safari in Etosha National Park, where open grasslands converge on a massive salt pan. Etosha harbours some of the largest populations of lions, elephants, and endangered black rhinos in the world, so keep your camera on the ready as you explore in your open vehicle. Enjoy lunch at one of the park’s rest areas, where you can also take a swim; and sit back and watch all manner of creatures—including hundreds of species of birds—flock to the nearby watering hole.
Etosha National Park Area/Windhoek After breakfast, visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a global research and education center founded by National Geographic Grantee Dr. Laurie Marker. Tour the facility to learn about the important conservation and community outreach work they do to protect the world’s fastest land animal, and enjoy a talk by one of the researchers. Then head out on a drive through the grounds to meet some of the center’s rescued and rehabilitated cheetahs. Continue to Windhoek for our final evening.
Windhoek/Victoria Falls Catch a flight to the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, named after one of the most powerful waterfalls on Earth. Visit a nearby village and go grocery shopping in the bustling market. Then sit down with a local family for dinner, helping your hosts prepare a traditional Zimbabwean meal using the ingredients you picked out, and hear stories about local life and culture.
Victoria Falls Set out for a tour of magnificent Victoria Falls. Scottish explorer David Livingstone named them after Britain’s Queen Victoria, while their older, indigenous name is Mosi-oa-Tunya—“the smoke that thunders.” Opt to embark on a thrilling white-water excursion on the Zambezi River; soar above the roaring falls in a helicopter; or take a day trip to wildlife-rich Chobe National Park.
Victoria Falls Continue your exploration of majestic Victoria Falls on a variety of optional excursions. Go whizzing over the Zambezi River on a zip line, glide down the river on a sunset cruise, or feel the spray of the falls on your face as you explore the surrounding paths.
Victoria Falls/Hwange National Park Explore Victoria Falls at leisure this morning, and opt to take a guided tour of this thundering natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site. Later, transfer to the headquarters of Painted Dog Conservation. Learn about this non-profit organization’s work to protect and rehabilitate injured painted dogs (also known as African wild dogs), and hear from a conservationist about the threats to these endangered animals. Afterward, venture out on safari in Hwange National Park, one of Zimbabwe’s largest wildlife reserves and an important elephant sanctuary.
Hwange National Park Set out on a full-day safari through the sweeping grasslands of Hwange National Park. Track the park’s resident elephant and buffalo herds, as well as giraffes, lions, zebras, and the rare African wild dog. This evening, relax on the deck of your lodge, keeping an eye out for the wild creatures that visit the lodge’s watering hole.
Hwange/Chobe NP Depart Hwange and head north, crossing the border into Botswana and arriving in Kasane—the gateway to the stunning Chobe National Park. Settle into your lodge and embark on a boat safari on the Chobe River, the lifeline of the park. Look out for submerged hippos, basking crocodiles, bathing elephants, and an abundance of birdlife from the boat’s deck, and witness a spectacular fiery sunset over the river.
Chobe NP This morning, continue your exploration of Chobe National Park, home to one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. On a safari along the banks of the Chobe River, keep an eye out for elephants, buffalo, lions, zebra, and rare semi-aquatic antelope, as well as an incredible variety of birds. In the afternoon, opt to take a photography river safari on a specialized photography boat.
Kasane/Okavango Delta Catch a flight to the Okavango Panhandle in Botswana, the narrow arm of the Okavango River that feeds into the famed Okavango Delta. Check in to our remote lodge, and enjoy a boat cruise on the winding waterways. This evening, hear about National Geographic’s Okavango Wilderness Project, a multi-year collaboration between international and local experts to survey the Okavango watershed’s biodiversity and ensure its future protection. Watch the National Geographic documentary “Into the Okavango,” and learn about delta conservation projects in the area.
Okavango Delta Explore the breathtaking Okavango Panhandle with expert local guides. Navigate the wildlife-rich channels of the Okavango River aboard a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, and spot all manner of bird life on bush walks. Settle into your tent in our remote bush camp this evening. Enjoy a three-course meal around a roaring campfire while listening to the night calls of the delta.
Okavango Delta Continue exploring the Okavango Delta’s untamed habitat on foot and by mokoro, spotting herons, storks, egrets, and other wading birds. Return to our camp later this afternoon and opt to relax by an open fire, or take a swim.
Okavango Delta/Maun Fly to the frontier town of Maun for an evening of storytelling and traditional foods with celebrated local author Bonty Botumile. Born in Maun, Bonty’s work is dedicated to preserving Botswana’s literary heritage and providing youth with employment opportunities in the arts. Listen as she shares her in-depth knowledge of the region’s cultural history, and cap off the night with a delicious meal and colourful stories around a warm fire.
Maun Depart at any time.