Travel the breadth of southern Africa, from Nelson Mandela’s long road to freedom in South Africa to a unique river safari aboard the exclusively chartered five-star Zambezi Queen

Starting at: $10,495 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 On safari. Credit: John Warburton-Lee/Danita Delimont  The powerful and dramatic Victoria Falls  Zambezi Queen in Botswana  Cape buffalo at MalaMala camp  Large elephant at MalaMala camp, South Africa  Giraffes running on the plains. Credit: Troy Feener  A Manor House estate in the winelands of South Africa

Southern African Adventure

Featuring Cape Town and a Chobe River Safari

16-17 days from $10,495

Travel the breadth of southern Africa, from Nelson Mandela’s long road to freedom in South Africa to a unique river safari aboard the exclusively chartered five-star Zambezi Queen

or Call 855-330-1542


Save $200 *per person when you book by January 27, 2017! Use promotion code LASTCALL online or when speaking to our travel specialists to secure these savings.

• March 15, 2017

*Offer valid on new bookings only.


Please call or ask us a question to register your interest for our 2018 departures. 

Travel the breadth of southern Africa on a unique and thrilling safari adventure in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Look for the “Big Five” in private game reserves and by private river safari aboard the exclusively chartered five-star Zambezi Queen.

Highlights Include

  • Zambezi Queen: Embark on a unique three-night river safari in northern Namibia, where you’ll enjoy excursions with local guides on small boats, ideal for game-viewing, bird-watching, and fishing.
  • Chobe National Parks: Go on thrilling game drives in parks renowned for their wildlife populations—South Africa’s MalaMala Private Game Reserve with its famous leopard viewing and Botswana’s Chobe National Game Park with its immense elephant herds.
  • South Africa: Explore the country’s cultural history in Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria, and Cape Town, and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and gardens of Cape Town.
  • Victoria Falls: Walk the trail along the edge of thundering Victoria Falls, a World Heritage site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Smithsonian surpasses any organized trip we have taken in the past several decades.

- Irving R.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.


Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Johannesburg, South Africa

Day 2 — Johannesburg

Known colloquially as “Joburg,” charismatic Johannesburg is home to one of the world’s largest urban forests, where amid some of the tallest buildings on the continent, more than six million trees flourish in the pleasant subtropical highland climate. The city has been a fast-paced center of commerce and opportunity ever since European prospectors settled here upon the discovery of its gold reef in 1886. Upon arrival, check into your hotel.

Day 3 — Johannesburg for Soweto

Few places reflect South Africa’s history like Johannesburg’s once-infamous South Western Townships, better known as Soweto. No longer a shantytown of segregated goldmine workers, this thriving community, pivotal in the anti‑apartheid movement, endures as a broad cross section of South African daily life—from shack settlements to a rising middle class to millionaires. Its Vilakazi Street even fostered two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Commence your journey in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela in Soweto. Visit Mandela’s house, tour the dramatic exhibits in Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum and visit historic Liliesleaf Farm, once the epicenter of the liberation movement and a place of refuge for its leaders, and today a museum and world‑famous cultural heritage site. The farm was pivotal to the anti‑apartheid movement in the early 1960s and was the key location in the Rivonia trial that resulted in convictions and life sentences for Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress. Lunch is included in a local restaurant.

Enjoy the welcome reception and dinner with special guest speaker Nicholas Wolpe, Founder and CEO of the Liliesleaf Farm Trust and son of Harold Wolpe, an anti‑apartheid activist. (B,L,R,D)

Day 4 — Pretoria, Skukuza, MalaMala Private Game Reserve

North of Johannesburg is the vibrant capital city of Pretoria, known for its diverse architecture, purple‑blossomed jacaranda trees and distinctly Afrikaans culture. In Pretoria, see the Union Buildings and the formal garden where Mandela gave his historic presidential inauguration speech (1994). Visit the Voortrekker Monument, built to honor the mid‑19th-century Dutch Voortrekkers (pioneers), who emigrated from the Cape Colony to the inland highveld. After lunch, fly to Skukuza and drive to MalaMala Private Game Reserve, an extension of Kruger National Park. Check into MalaMala Main Camp and embark on your first game drive into the African bush. Enjoy dinner in the lodge. (B,D)

Day 5 — MalaMala Private Game Reserve

Renowned particularly for the quality of its leopard viewing, MalaMala is South Africa’s largest private “Big Five” game reserve, ideally nestled between the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Kruger National Park, with which it shares an unfenced border for a combined six million acres. This land serves as a sanctuary for nearly 150 species of mammals, more than 500 bird species, more than 100 varieties of reptiles, dozens of fish and amphibian species, and 336 types of trees. Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives to observe the wildlife that roam freely between the reserves and are often found seeking refreshment along the Sand River that flows through MalaMala. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — MalaMala Private Game Reserve, Skukuza, Cape Town

After your morning game drive in MalaMala, fly from Skukuza to Cape Town. Check into the historic Belmound Mount Nelson Hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)

Day 7 — Cape Town and Robben Island

Founded by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station, South Africa’s beautiful “garden city” of Cape Town is a cosmopolitan capital of meticulously preserved Edwardian and Victorian buildings and outstanding examples of Cape Dutch architecture. Ascend Table Mountain by cable car (weather permitting) for sweeping city and coastal views. See the historic City Hall, where Mandela made his first public speech just hours after his release from prison. Visit Robben Island prison, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners made strides in attaining equal rights. A former inmate guides your walk through the prison, providing an invaluable perspective on South Africa’s social and political transformation. (B)

Day 8 — Cape Town and Cape of Good Hope

Visit Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town for a rare up-close look at a protected colony of endangered African penguins nesting in sand burrows. After lunch, drive into Table Mountain National Park for a panoramic tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Cape Floral Region, which sustains over 4,000 plant species, and ride a funicular to lofty Cape Point. Drive to the colorful Bo Kaap district for a specially arranged Cape Malay traditional cooking demonstration and hosted dinner in a family home. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Cape Town and Cape Winelands

Travel the world-renowned Stellenbosch Wine Route, South Africa’s first organized network of wine producers, into the heart of the Cape Winelands, where more than 200 wine producers cultivate the unique red soil. Many of the award-winning wineries date to the 17th century, and the lush vineyards are interspersed with beautiful Cape Dutch manor houses. Enjoy a private tasting of the region’s signature Pinotage red wine at a historic wine estate. (B,L)

Day 10 — Chobe River, Nambia

This morning, fly to Kasane, Botswana, for entry into neighboring Namibia. Board the privately chartered, five-star Zambezi Queen for a world-class, uniquely African, intimate and deluxe small river ship experience in one of the most remote locations on Earth, with extraordinary game-viewing opportunities distinctly different from a land safari. The Zambezi Queen is designed to navigate the Chobe River near exotic Chobe National Park, and to allow one’s eye to be drawn to the constant movement of wildlife on the riverbank—elephant, Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, giraffe, crocodile, and a vast array of bird species—while cruising or at anchor. From your stylish “floating lodge,” local guides will lead you on unique game-viewing river safaris aboard small, custom-built, private excursion boats. (B,D)

Days 11-12 — Chobe River Safari

Visit a Namibian village along the river to experience the local culture firsthand, including a dance performance and artisan crafts. Continue your unique river safari and join local guides on small excursion boats for fishing, game viewing, or bird watching. (2B,2L,2D)

Day 13 — Chobe National Park, Botswana

Disembark the ship this morning and transfer to northern Botswana’s vast, diverse Chobe National Park, comprised of lush floodplains, marshland, and dense mahogany and teak woodland, one of the last surviving wild areas on the continent. It is brimming with wildlife and especially so along the Chobe River, with water in plentiful supply year round. Enjoy a morning game drive where one of the densest Kalahari elephant populations (approximately 120,000) on the African continent resides, as well as lion, cheetah, leopard, zebra, impala, hyena, wildebeest, warthog, and more than 450 bird species, including helmeted guinea fowl and red-billed wood hoopoes. After lunch in a local restaurant, transfer to the legendary Victoria Falls Hotel for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 14 — Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Walk the trail along the edge of thundering Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and among the largest waterfalls on Earth. Here, the wide Zambezi River suddenly plummets into a 355‑foot gorge, creating frothy rapids and vaulting a fine, rainbow‑hued mist high into the air, lending this breathtaking cascade its local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—“the smoke that thunders.” See the impressive Victoria Falls Bridge, an engineering marvel that was surveyed, designed, and constructed in England, then transported to the Zambezi River gorge and finally reassembled in only five years, becoming the only rail link between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Enjoy the farewell dinner in the hotel. (B,D)

Days 15-16 — Depart for the U.S.

Check out of the hotel and fly to Johannesburg for your return flight to the U.S. Arrive in the U.S. the next day. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)