Arrive in Cape Town and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your tour leader scheduled for the evening. Cape Town offers many different activities – something for everyone. Visit Robben Island, Table Mountain, explore Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), embark on a wine tour in and around Stellenbosch (45min drive). Visit the old French Hugonote town of Franschoek and surroundings (1h drive). For the not so faint hearted there is numerous adrenaline activities in the surrounding areas, from skydiving to abseiling to cage diving and having a close encounter with the great white sharks. Or wonder through the city centre with some of the oldest buildings and gardens in South Africa (Botanical Gardens and Parliament Gardens). Do not miss the wonderful Cultural Historical Museum, Planetarium and numerous other small museums and theatres. Cape Town's name originated from the term 'Cape of Good Hope' when Bartholomew Diaz and other seafarers looked forward to the sight of Table Mountain, like an inn that promised hospitality and prosperity. The city is steeped in a rich history and is a cultural melting pot with its diverse and vibrant character being derived from Khoxisan and other African tribes from the North, and Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers. Cape Town is the third most populous city in South Africa, with over 3 million inhabitants, and is the provincial capital of the Western Cape. It is also the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. For shopping, dining and entertainment the V&A Waterfront is a hotspot for foreigners and locals alike. Still a working harbour, the Waterfront is an example of creative architecture and restoration and has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. The Waterfront offers over 250 shops from designer boutiques to craft stalls, a host of restaurants and coffee shops and plenty of other activities. For cultural exchange, you shouldn’t miss out a "Local Dinner” in a private home in an informal settlement. This authentic community experience provides guests the opportunity to get deep inside the heart of Cape Town. Choose from Cape Malay, Xhosa traditional or Cape Town fusion foods, and visit families in their private homes in townships and get insight into South African realities - be part of the family for an unforgettable night. Proceeds go into the community. Visit Red-Hill pre-school, one of our Planeterra project. Planeterra - the G Adventures Foundation is our non-profit organization that was developed to give back to the people and places we visit on our tours. Planeterra supports local community projects, non-profit organizations and international charities that focus on the areas of health, education, community development, environmental conservation and employment skills training.
Day 2 Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Head out of the city to begin your overland journey, with a stop in the Cederberg area. Check out a local vineyard, sip on some wine, kick a footy around with the local kids, or explore the area near the camp in this beautiful part of South Africa. Day 3 Approximate Distance: 350 km Estimated Travel Time: 6.5 hrs Today we head north to the South Africa/Namibia border stopping on the South Africa side of the Gariep River. After setting up camp, enjoy a late afternoon swimming, relaxing, or possibly even canoeing on the river. The Orange River, in the past also sometimes known as the Gariep or as the Grootrivier, is the major river of South Africa. The river was first discovered by indigenous people but only explored by Europeans in 1760 and named after the House of Orange, which was the Stadhouder of Holland between 1777 and 1779. Another account of its naming suggests that it may have been called after the supposedly orangey colour of its water, as opposed to the colour of the water of the Vaal River (‘vaal’ being Afrikaans for pale or grey). Orange River, in sections, is a good diamond mining area. For thousands of years silt has washed down the river and produced diamonds on its banks. These diamonds also reach the sea and with long-shore currents (going northwards) and wind and wave action, they have been known to wash up on the shorelines.
Approximate Distance: 180 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (with border crossing) Today we will cross the border from South Africa to Namibia. The name of the border post is Vioolsdrift on the South African side and Noordoewer on the Namibian. We have been experiencing a lot of problems with people that need visas for Namibia. Namibian visas is not available at the border, so please make very sure if you do need a visa before arrival. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility, so please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Namibia. The South African Rand (ZAR) and the Namibian Dollar (N$) has the same value, so you can use ZAR in Namibia. You will only be able to change any other foreign currency into N$ in Swakopmund. However, when you pay in ZAR your change will be in N$. We will make our way to Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa and arguably the second largest in the world. We spend some time at the canyon, and in the early evening, watch as a spectacular sunset slips over the canyon's rim. Camp the night in the surrounding area. At 650 kilometres in length, the Fish River is Namibia’s longest river. Its source lies in the eastern Naukluft Mountains and flows south-west of Ai-Ais into the Oranje. The canyon itself is situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, and is one of the most impressive natural formations of southern African. It is approx 161 km long, 27km wide at its widest point and 550m deep. It is the oldest canyon in the world, formed approximately 500 million years ago, with some rocks at the bottom dating up to 2600 million years old. The canyon was formed in part by glacial movements (upper section), movement of tectonic plates, and erosion. Four wet periods, or pluvial periods, have occurred in the south-western part of Africa during the last million years, resulting in a large run-off of water, which sped erosion. The plateaus are 220m from the base of the canyon. Catfish can be found in the Fish River below, and they are known to survive the dry season by burrowing into the mud until the water returns. It’s a very slow moving and shallow river – more like a stream. Water levels are normally highest during February until April. The highest recorded temperature at the bottom of the canyon was 58 C.
Approximate Distance: 560km Estimated Travel Time: 10 hrs Continuing north along long, poor quality roads, we will pass the small and desolate towns of Bethanien and Helmeringhausen en route to the Namib Desert. Arrive in the area in the late afternoon, where the towering red sand dunes of Sossusvlei form the gateway into the Namib Desert. Here you will really feel as though you’re in the middle of nowhere. The following day is spent exploring this the natural wonders of this bizarre environment. You will visit Sossusvlei - a clay pan, enclosed by the world’s largest sand dunes, up to 300m high. Here you can take a guided walk at the sands dunes, and enjoy some free time to enjoy them on your own. Also, make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, a small canyon typical of the area, and invisible from even a short distance away. The name Namib is of Nama origin, with the modern spelling referring to a desert, but a particular part of the desert, specifically a large plain. The desert is classified as either extremely arid or hyper-arid, with a mean rainfall or less than 100mm of rain per year. The dune sands are primarily derived from sediments washed down the Orange River and then moved northwards by the long shore drift plus the dominant southerly quadrant winds. The winds move the sand northwards and inland, trapping it by wave action in coastal embayment. The types of dunes found is Star dunes, formed as a result of wind coming equally strong from all directions; Barchan dunes, crescent shaped and formed where wind is mainly from one direction and with a shortage of sand and the Linear dunes, which are long dunes with sharp crests that tend to lie in parallel rows. They are a result of two dominant winds in the central Namib- Southerly and easterly winds. Linear dunes form in a south to north direction. The 14km long Sesriem Canyon was formed by the Tsauchab River rising in the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains to the east, and flowing through to Sossusvlei. Walking through the canyon takes you on a journey back 10-20 million years ago when sedimentary layers of gravel and sand were deposited and cemented together by lime. The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings. But look a little higher and you might see a lanner falcon or the soaring spread of a lappet faced vulture with a wingspan of 2.6m. An amazing variety of wildlife has adapted to live in this inhospitable place such as lizards that only put 2 feet down at a time and the black toc tokkie beetle who leans forward to allow droplets of morning mist run down its body into its mouth. Close inspection of the canyon brings you to the brink of a sharp drop but there is an easily accessible path which takes you down into its depths. You can even have a dip it its murky pools amongst little fish, if the water is high enough. The Tsauchab River was an important source of water for early inhabitants and even during dry times there is water in the upper reaches, where deep clefts in the rock reduce evaporation. Explorers, transport riders, and early travellers used to lower a bucket down to collect the water and it normally took 6 lengths of thong tied together, hence the Afrikaans name “Ses” meaning six, and “Riem” meaning thong.
Approximate Distance: 300km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs Today you will really get a feeling for the Namib Desert, as you spend hours crossing this void region, and crossing a few dry mountain passes. Before arriving to Swakopmund, you will drive past Walvis Bay, the only town on the Namibian coastline that hosts a deep-sea harbour. We will spend 2 nights in the area, here you can explore this historical town or try some of the numerous activities available, such as dune boarding and a dolphin cruise. Also, meet our local friends and explore the back streets and local culture on guided interpretive walk. Swakopmund has mind-boggling lunar landscapes, unforgettable sunsets, and bizarre prehistoric Welwitchia plants. The Topnaar people who live in the valley of the Swakop River derived the name from the mud, flotsam, and general detritus washed down during its infrequent floods, which reminded them of very loose evacuation of the bowels. Almost a full four centuries later, the area, then known as South West Africa, was under Germany control. In choosing a location for a port, German captain Curt von Francois chose this site, north of Walvis Bay (an already existing English-controlled port), at the mouth of the Swakop River, for creating an artificial harbour. A military fort was built here in 1892, which was the beginning of Swakopmund. The building of the railway began in 1895. After the First World War, Germany lost occupation and the port/harbour was automatically displaced by Walvis Bay. Namibia is well known for its desolate northern coastline called the Skeleton Coast. Along the West coast of Namibia flows the Cold Benguela Current. Also along the coastline is a very hot desert. What happens is that the cold, moist air from the sea mixes with the warm air from the desert and forms a very heavy mist. This mist over hundreds of years has caused many shipwrecks along the coast and if the sailors survived they soon perished in the unforgiving desert. It is from this, and from all the wrecks and shells of stranded ships along the coast, that the region received its name. As you approach the coastline you will see the band of mist. In 1486 Portuguese Diego Cáo landed just north of what is now Swakopmund and erected a stone cross in honour of John II of Portugal. Known nowadays, as Cape Cross, the area is commonly visited by tourists looking for the large population of Cape Fur Seals that inhabit the coast. NOTE ON ACCOMMODATION: In Swakopmund, we stay in backpacker's (hostels) or small guest houses, which will give us a break from camping and to be better located than the campgrounds in the area. Here, the accommodation is based on several people sharing dormitory-style rooms, with possibly 6 to 8 people sharing a room. Although we will try, we cannot guarantee to be able to divide the group into different dormitories based on gender lines. As such, males and females may have to share the same sleeping quarters for these nights. The bathrooms and showers are private, but may also be shared between both males and females
Approximate Distance: 200 km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs Look out over the beautiful desert landscapes as far as the eye can see. Begin moving north into the stony desert landscapes and set up camp near Twyfelfontein. In the afternoon explore the area, which is adorned with rock engravings and petrified fossil forests. About 100,000 Damara people live in Namibia, they share a common language with the Nama but have no kinship. The Damara have mystified anthropologists as they are a group of Bantu origin who speak a Khoisan dialect. Due to their resemblance to some Bantu groups of West Africa it is speculated that the Damara were the first people to migrate to Namibia from the north. There is evidence that the Damara have kept small herds of stock for centuries, they also grow tobacco and pumpkins, and in more recent time they have begun cultivating vegetables and corn. Prior to 1870 the Damara occupied most of central Namibia, but large numbers were displaced or killed when the Nama and Herero began to occupy this area in search of better grazing. When the first Europeans visited Namibia the Damara were a group of semi-nomadic gardeners, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers. They also had skills in mining and metal work. However in 1960 the South African government settled the Damara people in the area of Twyfelfontein and Khorixas, now known as Damaraland. The area has poor soil and irregular rain fall, and as such this has changed the way of life of the Damara and many now work in urban areas, with only about one quarter of their numbers actually residing in Damaraland. This area is a famous for the bushmen paintings found in the region. The valley is known in the Damara language as Uis (fountain). This natural spring (when is flowed) attracted game animals and man. But the consistency of water flow has always been erratic, thus the Europeans named it Twyfelfontein (Doubtful fountain).There are numerous well-preserved rock engravings here. Their origin is uncertain, but they are probably the work of Bushmen or Nama artists and are estimated to have lived in the area 5,000 years ago.
Approximate Distance: 300km Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs Etosha in waMbo means "the great white place of dry water" or “white place of mirages” . As one of Africa’s highlights, the Etosha National Park offers a variety of wildlife and phenomenal natural beauty. Upon arrival in the area in the afternoon, we continue on a game drive around the huge dry pan to find the elephants, herds of antelope and lions around the waterholes. After sunset you can watch some animals at the watering holes near the camping area, which is safe, being well lit with flood lights. Game drives are done in our overland vehicle. Night game drives are done by Namibia Wildlife Resorts in open vehicles (optional, at extra cost). The following day, enjoy another game drive en route as we travel towards the eastern side of Etosha. A brief animal count of Etosha National Park: 30 000 Blue Wildebeest; 25000 Springbok; 23000 Zebra; 5000 Kudu; 3000 Hartebeest; 3000 Gemsbok; 2600 Eland; 450 Giraffe; 2000 Elephant; 260 Lions; 20 Black Rhino; 325 Bird species. Etosha National Park in Namibia was first established in 1907, when Namibia was a German colony known as South West Africa. At the time, the park’s original 100,000 sq km made it the largest game reserve in the world. Due to political changes since its original establishment, the park is somewhat less than a quarter of its original size, at 22,912 sq km, but still remains a very large and significant area in which wildlife is protected. The Etosha Pan dominates the park. The salt pan desert is roughly 130 km long and in places as wide as 50 km. The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer months, when it attracts pelicans and flamingos in particular. Periannual springs attract a variety of game and birds throughout the year, including the endangered Black Rhinoceros and the endemic Black Face Impala. The name Okaukuejo (our first night’s camp) is derived from oKakwiyo, meaning “place of the fertile women”. It began as a veterinary post created by the Germans during a rinderpest epidemic in 1897. In 1901 a small fort was built here as a military stronghold. Namutoni, our camp for the second night in the park, was named after a spring found in the area. The waMbo called the spring oMutjamatund (high landmark). The name got distorted through the years. In 1903 a small fort was built at Namutoni, and it was maintained as a police outpost and customs post by the Germans.
Approximate Distance: 160 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs Enjoy one last morning game drive in search of the Etosha's incredible wildlife, and begin moving south to Waterberg Plateau Game Park. Take a scenic forest walk and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. For those who are up for it, can get their hiking shoes on to do the hike up to the Waterberg plato with its magnificent view over the plains of Namibia.
Approximate Distance: 300km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Please note that as this is a combo tour some of your fellow travellers might be ending their journey in Windhoek. You might also have some new people joining the tour. Leave Waterberg Plateau Game Park and head south through the Namibian countryside to Windhoek. With a population of 230,000, and an altitude of 1654m, Windhoek is the capital of Namibia. Windhoek was originally the centre of a Nama chief who defeated the Herero inhabitants of the region in the mid 19th century. Germany then occupied the region in 1885, where they renamed the original site Windhoek. They built a fort here that eventually spanned a town that grew under its protection. Windhoek became the seat of colonial rule in 1892, as the capital of the colony of South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). During World War I, Windhoek was captured by South African troops and became a British dominion. Until the independence of Namibia was inaugurated in 1990, Windhoek was recognized as the capital of South West Africa as administered by the South African government. The city of Windhoek is traditionally known by two names: Ai-Gams, from the Nama people, which literally refers to the hot springs that were once part of Windhoek, while the second name, Otjomuise, meaning a place of steam, was given by the Herero people. Both traditional names reference the hot springs.
Approximate Distance: 500 km Estimated Travel Time: 9 hrs Today we will cross the border from Namibia to Botswana. The name of the border posts are Transkalahari border post on the Namibian side and Mamono post on the Botswana side. Botswana visas is not available at the border, so please make very sure if you do need a visa before arrival. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Botswana. The currency in Botswana is Botswana Pula (BWP.)You will be able to change your let over ZAR and N$ or other foreign currency tomorrow in Maun. Your campsite tonight will take USD or ZAR. Today we continue through the eastern part of Namibia, and cross into Botswana and travel into the heart of the Kalahari. Take the opportunity to walk with a local San Bushmen to learn fascinating bush skills (local guide may not be San due to nomadic lifestyle of San Bushmen). Ghanzi, located western part of Botswana on the northern rim of the Kalahari Desert, is the administrative center of Ghanzi District, and is also known as the "Capital of the Kalahari". Ghanzi is an intriguing town, and is primarily a farming community that supplies the Botswana Meat Commission with most of the required beef produce. In fact, it is the starting point of a 800 km long cattle trek—one of the longest in the world. Cattle are driven on horseback or by truck across the Kalahari southeastward to slaughterhouses at Lobatse. Ghanzi mostly consists of a variety of ethnic cultures for instance the Bushman, Bakgalagadi, Baherero, Batawana as well as Afrikaners. Other spellings include "Gantsi," which is more consistent with the national language of Botswana, Setswana, "Ghansi," and "Gantsi.
Approximate Distance: 350 km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs As you travel from the Kalahari towards Maun, you will notice the landscape change slightly, as you approach more fertile lands. After arrival, you can pick up any supplies and prepare for you 2 night/3 day excursion into the Okavango Delta. Note: If you pre-booked the Okavango Delta Flight, you will be flying today. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and has for a long time enjoying the reputation of being Botswana’s own frontier town. Today it is one of the fastest growing towns in Africa. It was originally established in 1915 by the Batawana, a splinter group of the Bangwato. The name Maun means “place of reeds”. Maun, although officially still a village, is the fifth largest town in Botswana. It is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native huts. Maun is the "tourism capital" of Botswana and the administrative centre of Ngamiland district. Maun has developed rapidly from a rural frontier town and has spread along the Thamalakane River. It now boasts good shopping centres, hotels and lodges as well as car and 4-wheel drive vehicle hire. It still retains a rural atmosphere and local tribesmen continue to bring their cattle to Maun to sell. This community is now distributed along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe can still be seen grazing next to local donkeys, goats and cattle.
Accommodation: Basic bush camping After leaving some of our luggage in Maun, we begin our exciting excursion into the delta as we drive about 1-2 hours (depending on which dock we go to) to the "dock" where we hop into a mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe, that'll take us deep into the delta. After a couple hours in mokoro, we arrive to our basic “bush camp”. Please note that there will be no shower tonight, as our camp is very basic in the wild - you will be compensated by the incredible landscape and wildlife! For the full day today and the morning of day 4, we will enjoy mokoro rides, birdlife and game viewing in the pristine wilderness area of the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta. Don't forget to bring a book with you as there is plenty of time in between the early morning and afternoon game drive where you relax at your camp, read a book or have a nap. In the evenings count the shooting stars, sing with the locals or just unwind and enjoy your sundowner and sit around the campfire. "Where all this water goes is a mystery", Aurel Schultz, 1897 The area of the delta was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 km_ of the desert. Each year some 11 cubic kilometers of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami. The water entering the delta is unusually pure, due to the lack of agriculture and industry along the Okavango River. It passes through the sand aquifers of the numerous delta islands and evaporates/transpirates by leaving enormous quantities of salt behind. This precipitation processes are so strong that the vegetation disappears in the center of the islands and thick salt crusts are formed. The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding, which begins about mid-summer in the north and six months later in the south (May/June). The water from the delta is evaporated relatively rapidly by the high temperatures, resulting in a cycle of cresting and dropping water in the south. Islands can disappear completely during the peak flood, then reappear at the end of the season.
Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Enjoy one last sunrise in the delta before travelling back Maun in first Mokkoro, then by vehicle. Pick up your luggage, and proceed on to Gweta to our unique experience camping under ancient Baobab trees. The town is situated between the larger towns of Nata and Maun and is on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans, an immense area devoid of anything but salt and shimmering horizon. As the largest expanse of 'nothingness' on earth, the pans have area the size of Switzerland, and are clearly visible from outer-space. What is known today as the Makgadikgadi Pans is only a relic of what used to be one of the biggest inland lakes Africa has ever seen-Lake Makgadikgadi. The Makgadikgadi pan consists of two main pans, Namely Ntwetwe and Sowa pan, both of which are surrounded by myriad smaller pans. Although it is totally devoid of any water, people used to live there before it was declared state land. Villagers where allowed to graze their livestock inside the boundaries during dry season.
Approximate Distance: 300 km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs Proceed towards Chobe National Park in the morning and camp over just outside of the park near the town of Kasane. This afternoon, take an optional game drive in the park, or an afternoon sunset boat cruise along the Chobe River - your best opportunity to view hippo, crocodiles and watch many elephants wallow in the water. Kasane is situated on the banks of the Chobe River, near its mouth. This is where the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet, creating a border area of four countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, and is situated along the Chobe River. It has one of the largest concentration of wildlife in all the Africa continent and one of the world's last remaining sizeable wilderness area. By size, this is the third largest park (11,000 sq km) of the country, though it is definitely the most diverse and spectacular. The park is probably best known for its spectacular elephant population: with over 120,000 it has the highest elephant concentration of Africa. Moreover, most of them are probably part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population on Earth. The elephant population seems to have solidly built up since 1990, from the few initial thousands. By chance, they have not been affected by the massive illicit exploitation of the 1970's and 1980's. Elephants living here are Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of all known elephant species. Yet they are characterized by rather brittle ivory and short tusks. Damage caused by the high numbers of elephants is rife in some areas. In fact, concentration is so high throughout Chobe that culls have been considered, but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected. During the dry season, these elephants sojourn in Chobe River and the Linyanti River areas. During the rain season, they make a 200 km migration to the south-east region of the park. Their distribution zone however outreaches the park and spreads to north-western Zimbabwe. Chobe National Park is also known for its lion population, who on occasion do hunt the elephants. The original inhabitants of this area were the San bushmen (also known as the Basarwa people). They were nomadic hunter-gatherers who were constantly moving from place to place to find food sources, namely fruits, water and wild animals. Nowadays one can find San paintings inside rocky hills of the park.
Approximate Distance: 120 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs Today we will cross the border from Botswana to Zambia. The name of the border posts are Kazungula border post on both sides. Some nationalities do require a visa for Zambia. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Zambia. The currency in Zambia is Zambian Kwacha(ZWK.)You will be able to change your left over BWP in Livingstone town. Most establishments, activities etc. do accept USD for payment. Please note that as this is a combo tour some of your fellow travellers might be ending their journey in Livingstone. You might also get new travellers joining the tour. Take an optional early morning game drive in Chobe before leaving for Zambia. Cross the Zambezi River to enter into Zambia and continue to Livingstone. We will spend the next two days of our tour here, a great base to see both some natural wonders and take part in some exciting activities. Get up close (and wet from the spray) while awing at the immense Victoria Falls, raft the whitewater of the mighty Zambezi, for the more adventurous, bungee jump with the Victoria Falls in view. David Livingstone was born on March 19, 1813 in the village of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. He first studied Greek, medicine, and theology at the University of Glasgow and while working in London, joined the London Missionary Society became a minister. He originally planned to gain access to China through his medical knowledge. The Opium Wars, which were raging at this stage with no signs of peace on the horizon, forced Livingstone to consider other options. From 1840 he worked in Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana), and in the period 1852–56, he explored the African interior, and was the first European to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfall (which he renamed Victoria Falls after his monarch, Queen Victoria). Livingstone was one of the first Westerners to make a transcontinental journey across Africa. The purpose of his journey was to open the routes, while accumulating useful information about the African continent. In particular, Livingstone was a proponent of trade and Christian missions to be established in central Africa. His motto, inscribed in the base of the statue to him at Victoria Falls, was “Christianity, Commerce and Civilization.” The town of Livingstone is a regional transport center, being located near the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe, and serves as a base for the many visitors to see this part of Africa, and the impressive Victoria Falls, a mere 12km from Livingstone. The Victoria Falls waterfalls occur in a country that is perfectly flat. From its source on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Zambezi River meanders for 1300 km across the wooded plateau of Zambia, eroding for itself a shallow valley on its mild descent to the site of the falls. The river eventually found a weak spot on the lower lip of the surface over which it passed, and forced a passage which was steadily deepened into an exit gorge. During the last half million years the river has scoured out eight of these cracks across its bed. The Victoria falls occurs where the river is 1688 m wide, presents the spectacle of an average maximum of 550 million liters of water a minute tumbling over the lip of the trench in five main falls, the Devil’s Cataract, Main falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow falls and the Eastern Cataract. The highest of these is Rainbow falls, on an average 108 m high. A peak flood sees 750 million liters of water in one minute hurtling over the falls. The name Zambezi comes from the Tonka tribe, also meaning Great River, but the Sotho-speaking Kololo people of the upper reaches of the river gave it the well-known name of Mosi o a Thunya (smoke that rises). The Lozi people call it by the same name but translated it into smoke that sounds. The Ndebele call it aManza Thunqayo (the water that rises like smoke). The Namibian people call it Chinotimba (a noise-making place like the distant sound of digging).
Approximate Distance: 600 km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs (including border crossing into Zimbabwe) Today we will cross the border from Zambia to Zimbabwe. The name of the border posts are Victoria Falls border post on both sides. Some nationalities do require a visa for Zimbabwe. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Zimbawe. Despite attempts to control inflation by legislation, and three redenominations (in 2006, 2008 and 2009), use of the Zimbabwean dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009. This was a result of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe legalizing use of foreign currencies for transactions in January 2009. Currencies such as the South African rand, Botswana pula, pound sterling, euro, and the United States dollar are now used for all transactions in Zimbabwe. Depart Livingstone at approx 8am and proceed into Zimbabwe. We stay at the Big Cave campsite, which is located 3 km from the Matobo National Park boundary in the Big Cave private wilderness area and is located 46 km from Bulawayo. Big Cave campsite has wonderful views down the valley into the National Park. The next day we will explore Motobo National Park by foot and by open safari vehicles. The Matobo wilderness area is a specially protected area for both white and black rhino. Matobo Hills has the last significant population of rhino in Zimbabwe, and the best way to view and photograph these rare creatures is on foot, with a professional guide. We will view not only rhino, but also leopard, and a selection of plains game. We will enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity to creep up on these wonderful animals on foot once the correct area has been located by the professional guide. The Matobo area contains some of the most majestic granite scenery in the world, and has great cultural and religious significance. The beauty of the Matopos is that it offers a wide variety of activities to the visitor. The Matopos Hills comprise an extraordinary collection of huge bare granite hills with gravity-defying boulders scattered all over the countryside to create a quite unique and rather mysterious landscape. The most spectacular areas are within the Matopos National Park. The local Matabele people call it Malindidzimu (the place of ancestor spirits). The national park is famous for its outstanding views, San (bushman) painted caves, wildlife (especially the Black Eagle) and as the chosen burial place of Cecil Rhodes who named his favourite spot. Matobo Hills gained its World Heritage Status principally on the rich cultural diversity of this area. The Matobo Hills boasts one of the highest concentrations of rock art anywhere in the world. This ancient khoisan art can be viewed in the both the National Park and even within the immediate vicinity of Big Cave Camp. These famous rock art galleries can be visited on foot or by 4x4. Optional tours to the nearby Ndebele village and Whitewaters Secondary school provides an insight into the lives of the local people. The school in particular has been supported by guests of Big Cave Camp for many years. To date a library has been constructed, and school fees, science equipment, desks, chairs, sporting goods and building materials have been donated. In times of real hardship a guaranteed meal has also been provided for all the school children. In addition a number of children have had their education sponsored by guests of Big Cave Camp.
Day 24 Musina (B,L,D): Approximate Distance: 600km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs (including border crossing into South Africa) Today we will cross the border from Zimbabwe to South Africa. The name of the border posts are Beitbridge border post on both sides. Some nationalities do require a visa for South Africa. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for South Africa. The currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). It might not always be possible to change foreign currency at the border. But ATM machines are widely available in South Africa. In the land of the baobab lies a town in the northernmost section of the country, called Musina. Just 15 kilometres north of the little town that used to be known as Messina is the Beitbridge Border Post that serves the boundary with Zimbabwe. This link with northern Africa is one of the busiest roads in the world and certainly the busiest in Africa. The Musina tribe discovered copper and settled here. In the 20th century European prospectors rediscovered the large copper desposits and established the town of Messina. The spelling of the name was changed to Musina in 2003 to correct the colonial-era misspelling of the name of the Musina people. It is hot and dry in this part of the world where low shrubs and thorn trees dominate the landscape, and the Limpopo River flows with water along its river banks on average only once in seven years, even though the countryside is littered with citrus, mango, tomato and date plantations. These rich veins of copper were later rediscovered by 20th century prospectors, and the town of ‘Messina’, renamed Musina in 2003, emerged. Today Musina forms the centre of a large mining area that excavates iron ore, coal, magnetite, graphite, asbestos, diamonds and semi-precious stones, over and above copper. Day 25 Kruger National Park (B, L, D): Welcome to big game country! The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Search for lion, elephant, rhino and many other animals in one of Africa’s greatest wildlife areas on your game drive in an our own vehicle. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld (low-lying bush land), this national park of nearly 2 million hectares. Kruger National Park is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. Notably as well is its mixed biological, historical and archaeological significance. The Kruger National Park is truly the flagship of the South African National Parks, and it is home to a huge array of plants and animals. With over 145 species of mammals, it is possible to see all the classical African big game, including elephant, black and white rhino, hippopotamus, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, warthog and many antelope species. Large carnivores include lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and spotted hyena. There are also many smaller mammals of equally enticing species. Some of the bird life here cannot be found elsewhere is South Africa, as 507 species reside in the park. Hornbills, Starlings, Vultures, Rollers, Bee-eaters and Shrikes typify the ubiquitous avi-fauna, and birders can look forward to pursuing the big 6 (Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard, Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Ground Hornbill). Eagles are common: Bateleur, Martial, Black-breasted Snake, Brown Snake, African Hawk, African Fish and Tawny are all regularly seen, and in summer: Wahlberg’s, Steppe, Lesser Spotted. The Park’s numerous water points make for excellent birding, while the rest camps and picnic sites are exceptionally rewarding for birders. Day 26 Greater Kruger Area (B,L,D): Approximate Distance: 80km Estimated Travel Time: 5.5 hrs (including game drive in own vehicle) Enjoy more spectacular wildlife today on our game drive in our own vehicle. The name Manyeleti, means 'Place of the Stars' in the local Shangaan language and you have the opportunity to view the magnificent Southern Constellation. Manyeleti is situated away from the mainstream tourist areas and you will experience the tranquility of the African Bush in absolute seclusion. In the late afternoon/early evening relax around the pool, sit around the campfire and enjoy your sundowner drink. You will get a view on the history of the Shangaan people and their tradition followed by traditional dancing by the villagers followed by a scrumptious traditional South African dinner. Sleep tight and listen to the haunting sounds of the African night. The 23,000 hectare Manyeleti Game Reserve is situated between the Timbavati Private Reserve, the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. With no fences separating Manyeleti from Kruger and the neighbouring reserves, a huge variety of wildlife (containing the Big 5: (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) freely over more than 2 million hectares of African bush. The Manyeleti Game Reserve is managed by the Mnisi tribe who have been in the area for many generations. The Mnisi are committed to retaining the integrity of the game reserve and ensuring that the benefits of tourism in the reserve are delivered to the surrounding communities. In the the morning of day 13 we will visit and interact with the local community of the Planeterra volunteer program in the Shalati village. Project Shalati Pre-school Over 50 children, under the age of 8, attend the pre-school of Shalati. The school has one teacher, and two teacher’s helpers that organize activities for the children, as well as provide them with two meals each day. Shalati provides support to the children and prepares them for the transition into primary school. Why is this project needed? In the South African community of Shalati there are many single parent families and a vast number of orphaned children, often cared for by their grandparents. This is due in part to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Many children do not begin school until the age of eight, and receive no formal education and limited support during their early formative years. The Shalati Pre-School aims to provide children with the opportunity to begin their education, and become involved in organized activities. More information about the community project Shalati Lodge we are staying at: Shalati Bush Camp is unique, offering an intimate and truly memorable bush and wildlife experience combined with the culture of local Shangaan population, of Africa and its people today. At Shalati we understand the impact that tourism have on the environment and strive to create an interactive experience that is affordable and unforgettable. Shalati is at the forefront of responsible tourism offering the guests a rare insight into the fragile ecosystems of the Big 5 areas as well as the communities on the borders of these great National Parks. We are committed to the sustainable upliftment of the communities around Shalati and the long term benefits that this will bring, to these people. Only people from the community are being employed at Shalati. All these people have never previously worked in the hospitality industry nor have they studied for a Hotel & Catering Diploma. Shalati has an extensive training program incorporating day-to-day and hands-on training. The cooks at Shalati were not able to cook or bake for themselves, not to mention guests. They are now able to bake and cook for many guests at the same time. A huge achievement! All the areas of hotel management are being addressed and individual training for housekeeping, cleaning, laundry, stock management etc is undertaken on a daily basis. Through the salaries that these few people earn, the lives of many in the communities are touched in a positive way. Once you enter the gates of Shalati you will become part of a community – a community that cares, that gives and join hands in strengthening our Rainbow Nation.
Approximate Distance: 450km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs We travel today to Johannesburg, the economic heart of South Africa and the largest city. Our hotel is located outside of the city of Johannesburg near the airport, but take some time on an excursion to Soweto or to the famous Apartheid Museum. George Harrison discovered gold near present-day Johannesburg in March 1886 on the Witwatersrand. Surveyors were instructed by the government to lay this farm out as a future town. They completed their work on 03 Dec 1886. The name Johannesburg was written for the first time on their plans of streets and stands. Only five days after the completion of the survey the first 986 stands were auctioned, and the first building to be erected was a corrugated iron hut. Within 12 months, Johannesburg was the second largest town in Transvaal, and by the middle 1890s there were 20 separate mining companies working from headquarters in Johannesburg. The Transvaal government granted Johannesburg municipal status in 1897. Later, the city became almost deserted with the advent of the Anglo-Boer war on 11 Oct 1899, as trainloads of refugees fled. Johannesburg was placed under martial law, to protect the existing claims. After the war, the labour shortage led to a proposed suggestion to import Chinese labour. The first load of 1055 Chinese labourers arrived in 1904. By 1905 they numbered 46,895. In December of 1905 the British liberal party ( who just won the national elections) suspended the Chinese recruitment. Between 1903 and 1997, 55,877 miners had been killed in mine accidents. In the same period 47,229 tons of gold had been produced. Johannesburg officially became a city in 1928, and by 1960 it had more than 1 million inhabitants. Today, Johannesburg is fondly known as eGoli, or place of gold.
Depart Johannesburg at any time.