Arrive in Livingstone and make your way to the accommodation. Enjoy your first day in Livingstone free at leisure as your welcome meeting is only in the evening of day 1. Livingstone is great base to kick-off this southern African adventure, to see both some natural wonders and take part in some exciting activities. Get up close (at 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. Please note that the entrance fee to the Victoria Falls is not included in the tour. 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. Option to visit Victoria Falls town or the falls from the Zimbabwe side, we continue further to Bulawayo, which is our base for Matobo National Park. 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 4 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 5 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 full-day game drive in 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 6 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 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 6 we will visit and interact with the local community of the Planeterra volunteer program in the Shalati village. We will have an early breakfast in order to spend enough time at the project before driving back to Johannesburg. 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: 400km Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs We travel today to Johannesburg, the economic heart of South Africa and the largest city. Our finishing point 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.
Tour ends in the morning after breakfast.