Essential African Safari
9 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Restricted to Ages 18-29
Day 1 Victoria Falls
Mhoro! Welcome to Zimbabwe. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting. If you arrive early, check out some of the optional activities around Vic Falls. The Zimbabwe side of the falls offers the broadest view of this colossal natural wonder. Scenic helicopter flights are incredible – if you choose to go for one, choose Zambezi Helicopter Company (CAA Zimbabwe), the only operator Intrepid endorses.
Day 2 Victoria Falls
In the evening take an optional sunset cruise down the Zambezi to get to know your new fellow travellers. Before that, enjoy a day of free time to take up one of many optional activities. There are many ways to take in the thundering sight and sound of the falls. This staggering curtain of water is about a mile wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray rises high and the falls become a torrent; in the dry season, the lack of spray gives way to a nice view of the little islets in the river below.
Day 3 Hwange National Park
Leave Vic Falls behind and head to Hwange National Park (approximately 5 hours, depending on traffic) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, one of The Intrepid Foundation projects. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and their role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care.
Then explore the stunning wildlife arena of Hwange in an open 4X4 vehicle. This National Park became the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a national park in 1929. Today Hwange boasts a massive selection of wildlife, with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. But it's the elephants this place is famous for – here you'll find one of the largest elephant populations in Africa. At tonight's camp there is wi-fi as well as optional accommodation upgrades (subject to availability).
Day 4 Bulawayo / Matobos National Park
Make tracks for Matobos with a short detour through Bulawayo, checking out its cool colonial buildings, before heading to your camp for the next two nights. Home to a large population of black and white rhinoceros that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matobos area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. Your campground tonight has shared facilities, wi-fi access and optional upgrades.
Day 5 Matobos National Park
Today's optional activity will be something to write home about. Head to Matobo Hills and spend the morning tracking rhinos and other game animals with the help of your guide. Along the way learn about the flora in the area. After a cold lunch head to another region of the park to find old bushman paintings, see rock formations and learn some history of the area. Then it's off to nearby African villages to meet some of the local community.
Day 6 Mapungubwe National Park
Get up nice and early for a day of travel. You'll cross a very busy border post, the only direct border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The drive is about 400 km long (approximately 6–8 hours). Your destination today is the Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa. This park is set hard against the northern border of South Africa, joining Zimbabwe and Bostwana. See the open, expansive savannah landscape where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet. Maybe sip a sundowner by the river, or visit Mpungubwe Hill and Interpretation Centre to learn about an interesting 13th-century civilisation that flourished here.
Day 7 Kruger National Park
After breakfast, set off for Kruger National Park, a world-famous national park known for the Big Five game of Africa – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. On top of that, it's home to some 336 kinds of trees, 49 fish species and over 500 species of bird. See how many of these you can spot on a game drive (in the group's own vehicle). Continue from your safari to your overnight camp, where there's the option of a further game drive – this time after dark.
Day 8 Kruger National Park
Wake up early for a light breakfast of coffee and rusks before embarking on a full-day game drive in the truck. Today is another full day in Kruger Park – you'll spend the day in the group vehicle, heading down to the central part of the park, for a last overnight stop. Stop at some of the designated picnic spots for a bite to eat en route to camp. Depending on the season, you might catch a saddle-billed stork with its colourful red beak, or maybe a blue waxbill. In the afternoon when it's warm, take some time out to chill out. This evening again there will be an optional night drive with the park guide.
Day 9 Johannesburg
Venture out for one last safari adventure this morning. Continue back to Johannesburg (approximately 9–10 hours). En route you will stop at the stunning Bourke's Luck Potholes and God's Window. This trip finishes on arrival in Johannesburg at the finishing point hotel.
All This Included
Short and sweet, this trip combines three of southern Africa's most exciting places – Hwange and Kruger national parks and the jaw-dropping Victoria Falls. From South Africa's big modern capital to a traditional village in Botswana, you'll experience all kinds of communities, cultures and landscapes in just over a week. Oh, and did we mention animals? Rhino-tracking and 4x4 safaris in search of the Big Five will blow your mind.
Camping (with facilities) (7 nights)
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Terms and Conditions
For Intrepid Travel terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.