Southern Africa: Where To Go
Botswana is Africa’s rising safari star, a peaceful, stable, democratic country with a keen devotion for wildlife and land conservation. The unique private concessions here, which are vast – some larger than many US national parks – allow for a wider range of activities in far more secluded corners, away from crowds that are frequently encountered in East African parks. Activities like walking, night game drives, off-road wildlife photography, island camping, bush dinners, and more can make for a deeper, richer safari experience than what's available elsewhere.
Wildlife viewing here is superb, with some of Africa’s largest elephant herds and lion prides in residence. Other game like leopard, cheetah, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, sable, lechwe, sitatunga, kudu, puku, and so much more await the visitor. Birdlife is incredibly prolific as well, with nearly 600 species on record.
Camps here range from the classic camping style to uber-luxury, legendary camps like Mombo and Jao. We can tailor your safari to exactly your preferred travel style and budget. We also offer scheduled safaris which are particularly excellent for travelers seeking the very best guided experience possible and for solo travelers looking to join a group.
Maun is the main regional entry way however many traveler arrive from Victoria Falls/Livingstone by way of Kasane, the overland & aerial entry route from the north. Maun is a simple city, essentially a large village wrapped around an international airport, so most travelers choose to simply use it as a transit hub rather than a destination.
Major parks include Chobe in the north, Moremi (with Chief’s Island and the Okavango Delta here), and the Kalahari. Outside of Chobe lie two very important concession areas that we prefer to use whenever possible to get you away from the crowds of Chobe proper; these two areas are Linyanti and Savuti. Near Moremi are a wide variety of private concessions and we can help you with staying at the right one, depending on your needs – many offer contrasting focuses, ranging from water-only activities to land-only to hybrid concessions that offer both land and water activities.
The famed Okavango Delta, also referred to as “"the river which never finds the sea,” is one of the most incredible wilderness regions in the world. This is a huge (15,000 square kilometers!) evolving mass of crystal clear flowing water coursing through countless channels, lagoons and around pristine islands big and small. Every year, rains from the central African highlands flow from over 600 miles away into the Okavango to create this phenomenal oasis within the vast Kalahari Desert. This precious water wilderness is home to world-renowned numbers of wildlife, ranging from precious endangered animals like sitatunga and wild dog to classic African megafauna like lions, elephants, hippos, giraffe, kudu, leopard, and more. Efforts to re-establish rhinos, rescued from heavily poached areas of South Africa, have been underway for years now and there’s hope this species will thrive again. Birdlife is stunning, with rarities such as Pel’s fishing owl and the wattled crane among the highlights. Travelers here can find special areas for walking safaris, explore by local canoes (called mokoros), boat drives, and traditional game drives by open Land Rovers.
One of South Africa ’s most beautiful cities is definitely Cape Town, known warmly as "the Mother City." The City is a rare cultural gem, resulting from the amalgamation of Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, the local Bushman and Hottentot tribes and the Bantu tribes from the north. The impressive presence of Table Mountain, flanked by the legendary Devil's Peak and historical Signal Hill, stands proudly above the city. Beautiful white sandy beaches along a peaceful coastline frame the Cape Peninsula , which is famed for its unique floral kingdom, bountiful rivers, vleis and dams and magnificent countryside. The surrounding area extends far into the winelands, green in summer and red-gold in autumn.
A popular activity is making a visit to Table Mountain. Travelers can enjoy the trip up the mountain in the cable car and then hike down the mountain. There are various routes that you can go. At the end of the main trail, there's typically taxis waiting for tourists to arrive and then take them back to a hotel. We recommend you discuss the best trail & transportation options with the front desk of whatever hotel you are at - this is a very popular 1/2 day excursion. We can also arrange a guide and vehicle but most travelers do this independently.
Another activity is "Diving with the Sharks." Clients can descend in a cage and enjoy viewing the great whites up close and personal. Let us know if you're interested and we can help.
We generallyrecommend 4-5 days total in Cape Town.
Located northeast of Johannesburg and easily reachable through daily flights from Johannesburg, Kruger National Park offers the best, most accessible safari and game viewing experience in South Africa. Kruger consists of nearly two million hectares of diverse plant and animal life and historical archaeological sites ranging from the early Stone Age (roughly 1 million years ago) to various Iron Age settlements.
For visitors with limited time and money, Kruger can be a viable alternative to a larger Botswana or Zimbabwe safari experience. However, this accessibility also ensures that the national park proper is often congested with short-stay tourists. Hence we expressly use private concessions located on it’s outskirts that allow much more exclusive access and more intimate viewing opportunities. In fact, a concession like Mala Mala, our favorite, could be said to be among the top 5 wildlife viewing areas in all of Africa! Its unique location allows for impressive concentrations of game; its mineral rich soils allow for enormous tusks on the area’s elephants and rich grasses which attract grazing animals; its privacy allows for off-road adventures to get the best photos of game and enjoy unique activities like night game drives.
The Victoria Falls and it’s spectacular flow of water can be enjoyed throughout the year. There are two main towns (with international airports) to choose from on any visit; either Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe or Livingstone, Zambia. All things considered, we generally suggest visiting from the Livingstone side given the overall economic & political situation in Zimbabwe and the relative stability in Zambia.
The volume of water cascading over The Falls is dependant on the rainfall in the catchment area of both the Chobe and the Zambezi Rivers, which meet near the Chobe National Park in Botswana. The high-test volume of water is usually recorded in the months February to May. When this occurs, Livingstone Island is closed and so too, are some of the activities carried out in the Batoka Gorge. The flow increases from January to April and is at it’s lowest from September to January. This is obviously dependant on Mother Nature, but we would suggest that during the months, September to January, a day trip to the Zimbabwean side of the Falls is undertaken, to enjoy the full magnitude of the Victoria Falls. There is an additional cost for the visa fee into Zimbabwe which can be paid at the border in most instances.
Livingstone is named after the missionary and explorer David Livingstone, and is a historic colonial city and present capital of the Southern Province of Zambia. There is much to see and do from this outdoors hub however we generally recommend no more than 2-nights/3-day here. One night can be sufficient for some people - contact us for quotes on shorter/longer stays.
Activities on offer aound the Victoria Falls area include:
- Tours of Victoria Falls (open 6am-6pm)
- Sunset cruises on the Zambezi River
- White water rafting
- Bungee jumping
- Fishing excursions for tigerfish or tilapia
- Livingstone Island trips
- Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park game drives
- Chobe National Park game drives
- Elephant back safaris
- Microlite flights over the Falls
- Helicopter flights over the Falls
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, and is one of the world's largest metropolitan areas. The city is famous for it's ties to the global diamond and gold trade. Major attractions include the contemplative Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City, the Cradle of Humankind (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the Sterkfontein Fossil Site along with Soweto & Johannesburg's celebrated shopping centers.