Unfortunately, Meryl Streep can’t be the tour narrator but this "Out of Africa" journey will be no less absorbing as we return to some of the farming, cultural and scenic highlights of this amazing continent.
We’ll travel through South Africa, Namibia, Bostwana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls and Livingstone... we presume. Throughout this unforgettable journey we will become acquainted with innovative farmers and their agricultural operations. We’ll also visit private game parks and iconic national reserves where we become very up close and personal with the local wildlife.
After a chance to catch our breath in Jo’burg we fly north and into Botswana and the magnificent Okavango Delta. Using our ‘5 billion star’ mobile safari camp as our base, we explore this region teeming with wildlife. We then visit the unique Pandamatenga agricultural project before crossing into Zimbabwe and the the famous Hwange Game Park. We continue overland to the north and the spactucular Cloud that Roared – Victoria Falls.
We then fly south to Cape Town and the grandeur of the Western Cape region of South Africa. Magnificent farms, vineyards, mountain ranges and coastal scenes are just some of the features of the region.
Then its on to Namibia – a showcase of African diversity – and visit wonders such as Erindi Game Park, the ‘sea of sand’ – Sossusvlei with the world’s highest sand dunes and the Skeleton Coast.
Various departures on South African or Qantas Airlines. All tour members, irrespective of airline flown or arrival time, will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. We are now providing an option to travel the previous day to rest up a little before the adventure starts. The Irene Country Lodge is a haven of peace and tranquility on a beautiful lake. Half way between Johannesburg and Pretoria, it is a great location to start the tour.
This morning we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Maun, Botswana. After clearing customs we transfer to our charter flight to the Khwai River – in the magnificent Okavango Delta and our gateway to the wildlife wonderland of the Delta.
For the next three days we will be in a traditional tented safari camp. It is a real ‘Out of Africa’ safari, but we are by no means roughing it, although there will be 'long drop' loos and hot bucket showers. The camp is lit by hurricane lamps and torches are a necessity. No wi-fi, phone signal or power.
We will be with professional and passionate local guides who will introduce us to the amazing natural and cultural world of the Okavango Delta.
We enjoy our first Delta game drive this evening before our silver service dinner under a billion or so African stars.
Today we learn more about the wildlife, geography and agriculture unique to the Okavango Delta. This huge inland delta is formed by the Okavango River as it reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the Kalahari. Each year around 11 cubic km of water spreads over the 6000 to 15,000 km sq area. All the water ultimately evaporates and transpires and does not flow into any sea or ocean.
Countless species of wildlife are found in the Delta. Five primary tribes make up the native people of the Okavango and they use the area for fishing, crops and hunting.
We enjoy an early morning and late afternoon game drive today.
After our early morning game drive and breakfast, we are transferred to the nearby Khwai airstrip for our charter flights east to Kasane. You will be met upon arrival and taken down to the Chobe River for lunch on floating restaurant. From there the group be taken on a game cruise on the Chobe River.
In the afternoon, we will drive to Pandamatenga – a major farming development in Botswana near the Zimbabwe border.
We will arrive at Wild Tracks Eco Lodge in the late afternoon. Wild Tracks is built not far from Pandamatenga Farm block on the border of Hwange National Park, Kazuma Pan National Park but still with in the Chobe Wildlfe area. The Wildlife roams freely within the area. The lodge consists of thatched chalets with ensuite facilities. The lodge over looks a wateringhole which is frequently visited by elephant.
Today we will visit the farms and farmers at Pandamatenga – a government-backed project which covers around 50,000 hectares (surrounded by an elephant-proof electric fence!!). It has been established to not only provide a reliable source of food crops for the Botswanan people, but also a means by which the local traditional farmers are able to learn modern agricultural techniques. This is achieved by encouraging some experienced farming families (many of them disaffected white farmers from Zimbabwe and South Africa) to be part of the project.
Today we will be collected by 4WD vehicles and cross the nearby border into Zimbabwe and the famous Hwange park. It takes an hour or so to drive to our camps over rough roads, but this saves several hours driving the "long way" with the added advantage of some game viewing along the way in a part of Hwange that very few visitors get to see. In Hwange, the group will split between two neighbouring camps to ensure a great, non-crowded, experience for everyone.
Hwange is the largest park in Zimbabwe and boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park’s elephant population is one of the largest in the world. Both camps offer high levels of comfort and a truly natural experience as you enjoy the sights and sounds of the African bush while exploring this remote and beautiful National Park.
After a morning game drive, we will leave Hwange and head north to Victoria Falls with a close up look at the state of Zimbabwean agriculture along the way. After settling in to our comfortable chalets, we head to the mighty Zambezi River for an evening dinner cruise.
Enjoy breakfast as you watch the animals come down to the waterhole. We then take a guided tour of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side). Rest of the day is at leisure with a chance for activities such as helicopter rides or just shopping in the local markets.
Evening dinner in the Boma Restaurant.
This morning we will cross the bridge to the Zambian side and another view of the falls. We will also visit a Zambian farm – growing wheat, ground nuts and tobacco.
After lunch on the farm we get up close and personal with the Falls with a visit to Livingstone Island.
Then return to the Zimbabwe side of the Falls in the afternoon.
Leisurely start this morning before a lunchtime flight to Cape Town. We will be met by our local guide and have farm and scenic visits along the way north to Stellenbosch and the stunning Paarl and Franschhoek valleys – the home of the South African wine industry.
Today we cross the spectacular Franschhoek Pass into the beautiful Overberg region of the Western Cape and the town of Caledon. This is the "Golden Triangle" agricultural region with both grain and livestock production.
Today we will experience the splendour of the Cape Peninsula where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. We will travel along the coast to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Nearly 8000 hectares of indigenous fynbos (fine bush) cover the reserve and about 1200 plant species have been recorded in the area.
We call into Simons Town and visit a unique and endangered land-based colony of African Penguins. Then head back to Cape Town in the afternoon to our waterfront hotel with a brief city tour on the way to help get your bearings. Dinner tonight on the waterfront.
Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest and arguably most attractive city. Known affectionately as the ‘Mother City’ it was here that Jan van Riebeeck, a Dutchman, developed a victualling station in 1652 which later became known as Cape Town.
Today we visit Table Mountain and Signal Hill (weather permitting), to enjoy the spectacular views over Table Bay. Table Mountain (1134 m) is arguably the best-known mountain in the southern hemisphere.
Free afternoon and evening in Cape Town.
This morning we fly to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Our local guide and driver will meet us at the airport. We will head north, visiting a farm on the way to Erindi Private Game Reserve.
Erindi covers over 70,000 hectares and is widely acclaimed as Namibia’s best private game reserve and is ‘well-stocked’ with the ‘Big 5’ – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – as well as many other species of game. In the 1970s and 1980s Erindi was an over-stocked cattle farm causing severe damage to the natural vegetation. Owners Gert Joubert and his nephew Paul, phased out cattle farming entirely and re-introduced numerous species that once occurred naturally in the area. In 2007, the reserve was transformed into a nature conservation venture.
Over the years Erindi has successfully transitioned into a unique, best-practice eco tourism and conservation venture – constantly implementing and monitoring programs across all aspects of the land rehabilitation process.
We enjoy a game drive this afternoon.
Today we will do two game drives and spend the rest of the day exploring this wonderful reserve. The Lodge is right next to a waterhole and the verandah provides some great wildlife viewing at any time.
After breakfast and morning game viewing, we will leave Erindi and travel west by charter coach to the Namibian coast at Swakopmund. The Namibian coast is mostly desert, with sand dunes and arid land running right to the sea. Most of the precipitation for the sparse vegetation comes from the coastal mist, which is present on most mornings and afternoons.
In the afternoon we have a guided "Little 5" desert tour through the dunes surrounding Swakopmund to learn about the resilient creatures calling one of the more arid environments on the planet, home. We may see geckos, rolling spiders, scorpions, lizards, snakes, chameleons and skinks before a scenic drive back through the dunes.
Today we will take a spectacular charter flight over the ‘sea of sand’ to Sossusvlei. Situated in the largest conservation area in Africa (the Namib-Naukluft Desert National Park), Sossusvlei is a large, white, salt and clay pan surrounded by huge red sand dunes. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 metres, and provide wonderful photographic images.
We also fly over the Sesriem Canyon, carved by the Tsauchab river. The name Sesriem is Afrikaans and means "six belts" and was so named by the early settlers who had to join six belts to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water. On the return flight, we travel up the spectacular and desolate coast of central Namibia. Free evening.
Some free time this morning – Swakopmund is a great place to meander around and has excellent shopping for local handicrafts and leather goods. Then transfer to the airport to board our flight to Johannesburg.
Dinner at the hotel with a presentation by a guest speaker from Agri South Africa.
We travel northeast of Pretoria for a farm visit on a property with sheep, cattle and cropping. We enjoy lunch on the farm.
After lunch we will visit the world-famous Cullinan diamond mine and the Brits embryo transfer centre.
Then it’s back to Pretoria for our farewell dinner.
This morning we will visit the Voortrekker Monument built in honour of the epic exodus between 1835 and 1854 by disillusioned Boers from the Cape into the interior. This laid the foundation for the borders of present day South Africa. The monument also offers a great insight into the evolution of modern agricultural techniques in southern Africa.
After lunch at the hotel, there will be time to freshen up before heading to the airport for our afternoon/evening flights back to Australia.