The Grand Safari: An Expedition by Private Plane
Take a luxury African safari by private plane to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
If you want a worry-free, top-of-the-line tour, this Smithsonian tour would be the one!”
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Visit the incomparable game lands of southern Africa in the grand tradition of a luxury African safari. This outstanding adventure trip features four uniquely different countries: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. Our private plane safari is stunning in its breadth and diversity of landscapes and experiences. You’ll explore five different ecosystems and touch down in some of the continent’s most remote and extraordinary places, including Botswana’s Okavango Delta, spectacular Victoria Falls, and Namibia’s starkly beautiful game reserves, deserts, and coastline. Along the way, you’ll have ample opportunities to view the “Big Five,” plus Africa’s superb birdlife, in the company of top wildlife guides and a Smithsonian Expert. This grand African safari is made practical and comfortable through the use of private travel by plane, which whisks you directly to game reserves or small, private airstrips, offering unmatched flexibility and ease of travel. Your once-in-a-lifetime journey also features luxury accommodations, from grand historic lodges to luxury tented camps.
Depart on international overnight flights to Cape Town, South Africa. Meet fellow travelers at a casual welcome reception. Mt. Nelson Hotel (R, D)
June 15 — Cape Town
With its sweeping bay, mountains cascading to the sea, and dramatic location below the iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town offers an unforgettable travel experience.
Gather for breakfast and an introductory lecture before setting out to explore Cape Town. Take in the spectacular view from Table Mountain, then call at Bo Kaap, a historical center of Cape Malay culture. Spend time at District Six Museum and visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, established as a center for the study and preservation of the indigenous flora of Southern Africa. Get to know fellow travelers at this evening's welcome dinner. Mt. Nelson Hotel (B, L)
June 16 & 17 — Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia
Board your privately chartered aircraft and journey to the Namib-Naukluft Park, one of the world’s largest and most dramatic national parks.
Our destination is Sossusvlei, an enormous clay pan flanked by red sand dunes that stand out starkly against the blue sky. The dunes have developed over millions of years, and the wind continuously transforms their contours. Venture into this spectacular terrain on guided nature drives, desert walks, and for the adventurous, an optional balloon safari. The region’s wildlife has made fascinating adaptations to the harsh conditions. It is especially thrilling to glimpse a springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, bat-eared fox, or even the rarely seen aardwolf. Little Kulala Camp (B, L, D)
June 18 & 19 — Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park, Namibia
Savor a unique and unforgettable flight over Namibia’s celebrated Skeleton Coast. A country that straddles two great deserts, Namibia boasts wild seascapes, rugged mountains, vast deserts, and profuse wildlife. Its crown jewel is Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s largest game parks.
The strikingly beautiful park of Etosha takes its name — meaning “Great White Place” — from the vast, flat depression that was a deep inland lake 12 million years ago. Today, while a few rivers and occasional heavy summer rains can fill the pan, it is usually parched and dry. Animals congregate in large numbers here around the numerous waterholes wary of lions on the prowl. The endless plains offer breathtaking vistas and an opportunity to spot cheetah and large herds of zebra, wildebeest, and springbok. Birdwatchers delight in the hundreds of species found here. Onguma Plains Camp (B, L, D)
June 20 & 21 — Moremi Game Reserve, Savute Reserve, Botswana
Botswana's treasures are nothing short of miraculous. Some of the last great wilderness areas in the world are here, all astonishing in their magnificence.
After clearing formalities in Maun, divide into two groups and continue by air, one group to the Moremi Game Reserve and the other group to the Savute Reserve. A profusion of wildlife is found in the ancient mopane forests, seasonal flood plains, and open grasslands well known for large elephant herds as well as concentrations of lion, cheetah, and hippo. This area is also ideal for birdwatchers and black-backed jackals, bat-eared foxes, kudus, impalas, and ostriches abound in the sweeping expanse of savannah. Both Khwai River Lodge, overlooking the vast floodplains of the Moremi Game Reserve, and Savute Elephant Camp, close to the source of the Savute Channel in Chobe National Park, offer a variety of activities and opportunities for viewing wildlife. Khwai River Lodge or Savute Elephant Camp (B, L, D)
June 22 & 23 — Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Awestruck when he stumbled upon the largest, most spectacular curtain of falling water in the world, the renowned British explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, promptly named the falls Victoria, for his queen. The Zambezi River plunges over a 300-foot-high vertical drop at the astounding rate of 2.5 million gallons of water a minute at its highest water volume.
Here, where the crashing thunder of Victoria Falls echoes, enjoy a respite at the splendid Victoria Falls Hotel. Enjoy views of the Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides and visit the fascinating Livingstone Museum. Victoria Falls Hotel (B, L on Day 10; B on Day 11)
June 24 & 25 — Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Sabi Sand epitomizes the magic of Africa. With no fences between the reserve and the vast Kruger National Park, big game abounds, moving freely throughout this unspoiled landscape.
Take a short flight directly to the airstrip in private Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which has one of the highest game populations in all of Africa. Blessed with both a biologically diverse habitat and wildlife, the reserve provides excellent opportunities for close encounters with the 'Big Five' - elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard - as well as wild dog and cheetah. With over 500 bird species, the reserve is also a birdwatcher's paradise. Expert and congenial safari rangers lead explorations into the bush, and for those who wish, a mid-morning bush walk offers an intimate look at the smaller mammals and prolific birdlife. Your base is the spectacular Londolozi, one of the world's leaders in conservation and luxury. On the last evening, celebrate your journey with a gala farewell reception and dinner. Londolozi (B, L, D)
June 26 & 27 — Return to Home
Transfer to the Johannesburg airport for return flights, arriving in the USA the following day. (B)