Join us for an extraordinary adventure featuring South Africa, a rail journey aboard the legendary Rovos Rail, a safari in Chobe National Park, and an excursion to Victoria Falls. 

Starting at: $7,990 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The <i>Rovos Rail</i> traveling through the savanna. Credit: Courtesy of <i>Rovos Rail</i>  A panorama of Cape Town  Elephants at a watering hole  Spot a lion at the Thornybush Game Reserve  Victoria Falls  Rhinos  Dining car aboard Rovos Rail

Treasures of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana

Featuring Rovos Rail

16 days from $7,990

Join us for an extraordinary adventure featuring South Africa, a rail journey aboard the legendary Rovos Rail, a safari in Chobe National Park, and an excursion to Victoria Falls. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. View Special Air Rates/Services to learn more.

South Africa is a mesmerizing and complex country, from its fascinating history and spectacular wildlife to its hauntingly beautiful landscapes. Join us for an extraordinary adventure through this great tapestry, featuring a two-night rail journey aboard the legendary Rovos Rail and a special excursion to breathtaking Victoria Falls.

Highlights Include:

  • South Africa: Experience the breathtaking landscapes and natural world of Cape Town and explore South Africa’s complex political history in Johannesburg and Soweto during visits to sites associated with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
  • Rovos Rail: Relive the Golden Age of rail travel and take in sweeping landscapes during a three-night journey through South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
  • Safari Adventures: Spot the “Big Five” on game drives during a three-night stay at South Africa’s Thornybush Nature Reserve. Enjoy a safari at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Plus, see the renowned elephant herds at Botswana’s Chobe National Park and take a boat safari on the Chobe River during your two-night stay.
  • Victoria Falls: Experience the awesome power of Victoria Falls, a World Heritage site. 

I would highly recommend Smithsonian. They are a high quality tour organization. They organize the tour in a highly efficient manner. I would travel again with them.

- Victoria B.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

2016 Itinerary

Days 1-3 — Depart the U.S. for Cape Town, South Africa

Arrive at the Cape Town International Airport, and transfer to the splendid Mount Nelson Hotel, a historic Cape Town landmark. The balance of the day will be at leisure to relax and explore the hotel. This evening, gather with other Smithsonian Journeys Travelers for a festive Welcome Reception. (R)

*FlexAir Optional Program: Smithsonian Journeys Travelers who choose the FlexAir option depart the U.S. for Frankfurt, Germany via overnight air service.

  • After a morning arrival at Frankfurt Rhein-Main International Airport, check in at the Frankfurt Sheraton Hotel and Towers*, where dayrooms have been reserved for your comfort and relaxation between flights. This evening, depart refreshed and rested for Cape Town, South Africa, aboard scheduled, overnight air service. 
  • Some FlexAir participants may be routed through Munich. In that case, dayrooms will be provided at the Munich Airport Hilton Hotel.

Day 4 — Cape Town

Motor this morning to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Journey along the magnificent Marine Drive, beyond Lion’s Head Mountain, and past the Twelve Apostles, limestone stacks that rise from the sea. Continue to picturesque Hout Bay, a coastal suburb of Cape Town. Ascend Cape Point by funicular and marvel at panoramic ocean views. Visit Boulders Beach and see the African Penguin Colony. Enjoy a presentation from your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (B,L)

Day 5 — Cape Town

Continue your exploration of Cape Town with a tour of the city’s highlights and an ascent of Table Mountain for breathtaking panoramic views of the city, Table Bay, and the Cape of Good Hope. Continue on to Robben Island. For nearly 400 years, isolated Robben Island was a place of exile and is now a World Heritage Site. Cruise to the island by boat and tour the former prison where the late Nelson Mandela was incarcerated from 1964-1982. The tour is narrated by a former prisoner with firsthand knowledge of life on the island. Then, see the island’s lime quarry and local village. Sit down with other Smithsonian Journeys Travelers to dinner this evening at a lovely harbor-front restaurant. (B,D)

Day 6 — Cape Town and Rovos Rail

The 900-mile rail adventure aboard Rovos Rail begins this morning with transfer to the rail station where you board a luxury train born in the Golden Age of travel. Experience the elegance and excitement of traveling by rail, while marveling at the spectacular South African veldt. Journey to the charming, well-preserved Victorian village of Matjiesfontein, an oasis situated in the semidesert region of the Little Karoo. Declared a National Historic Monument in 1970, Matjiesfontein is home to the charming Matjiesfontein Railway Station. In addition to being a stop on the Rovos Rail line, this historic building is home to the Transnet Museum. Its treasured exhibits include a stationmaster’s office from the late 1800s, the original signal room, and signal box. Another highlight of the Railway Station is the Marie Rawdon Museum, which showcases an eclectic collection of Victoriana and Boer War memorabilia. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Rovos Rail

Breakfast is served on the train. Gather with fellow travelers in the observation lounge and revel in the breathtaking landscape of South Africa. Enjoy the distinctive character and charm of Rovos Rail’s classic, refurbished wood-paneled coaches. After an overview of the world-renowned diamond city of Kimberley, visit the Diamond Mine Museum and the Big Hole, one of the largest man-made excavations in the world. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Johannesburg

Enjoy breakfast aboard, and then relax with leisure time before arriving in Pretoria. Disembark the train and motor to the Apartheid Museum, which focuses on the system of racial discrimination that became synonymous with South Africa. Next, transfer to the elegant 54 on Bath Hotel. Gather at a Smithsonian Journeys Travelers' Corner to exchange ideas and experiences. The evening is free of planned activities. (B)

Day 9 — Thornybush Game Reserve

Drive by deluxe motor coach to Kruger National Park and the deluxe Thornybush Game Reserve. Lunch will be served en route. After getting settled at the lodge, attend a lecture given by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Thornybush Game Reserve

Get an early start this morning with a game drive to find and track the "Big Five." After this exciting outing, your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer an informative talk. A luncheon will be served at the lodge. In late afternoon, another game drive is planned. Enjoy “Sundowners” each afternoon while on game drives. A lecture by one of the lodge’s naturalists will take place in late afternoon. This evening join fellow Smithsonian Journeys Travelers for a traditional Boma Dinner served around lodge’s campfire. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Thornybush Game Reserve

Start the day just after sunrise, for another chance to track the "Big Five" during a morning game drive. After a hearty lunch, there is time to relax. Your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer an engaging talk. After an afternoon game drive, join fellow travelers at a Smithsonian Travelers' Corner to exchange ideas, experiences, and friendly chat. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Johannesburg

Drive from Thornybush Game Reserve to Hoedspruit for the flight to Johannesburg. After a late morning arrival, enjoy lunch followed by an afternoon tour of Soweto Township. The tour will drive past the homes of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, and Desmond Tutu. Afterward, drive to Kliptown, for a tour of a local youth project and plant a tree to commemorate your Smithsonian Journeys visit. Spend the night at the deluxe 54 on Bath Hotel. (B,L)

Day 13 — Johannesburg and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Transfer to the Johannesburg International Airport for the 1½-hour flight to Victoria Falls and the deluxe Victoria Falls Hotel. Victoria Falls is located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, where the Zambezi River plunges 300 feet into the basalt gorges and mist below. An afternoon excursion will take you to explore the falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a World Heritage site. (B)

Day 14 — Victoria Falls

The day is free of planned activities, so you can follow your own path and explore independently or take an Optional Excursion to Chobe National Park. This excursion sets off on an unforgettable safari through the second-largest national park in Botswana and encompasses four distinct ecosystems. See its renowned African Elephants that can number from 500 to 5,000 depending on the season. Chobe is also home to one of the most diverse concentrations of game and birds found on the African continent. This evening, gather with friends for a Smithsonian Journeys Farewell Dinner. (B,D)

Days 15 & 16 — Victoria Falls

An early breakfast is served at the hotel. Later, transfer by motor coach to the Victoria Falls Airport for your flights to the U.S. FlexAir participants will fly to Johannesburg and connect in Frankfurt, Germany. Upon arrival in Frankfurt, connect to transatlantic flights to the U.S. (B)

2017 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Smithsonian travelers depart the U.S. for London via overnight air service.

Important Note: This itinerary is based on an air schedule provided by British Airways. If you plan to purchase the land program only and/or use an alternative airline to Cape Town, please notify the tour operator as it may effect your departure date from the U.S.

Day 2 — London

After a morning arrival at London’s Heathrow International Airport, check in at the Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel, where dayrooms have been reserved for your comfort and convenience between flights. This only applies to travelers purchasing Air through the tour operator. This evening, depart refreshed and rested for the overnight flight to Cape Town, South Africa.

Day 3 — Cape Town

Arrive at the Cape Town International Airport, and transfer to your hotel in Cape Town. The balance of the day will be at leisure to relax and settle in. This evening gather with fellow Smithsonian travelers for a festive welcome reception. (R)

Day 4 — Cape Town

This morning drive to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Travel along the spectacular Marine Drive, beyond Lion’s Head Mountain and past the Twelve Apostles, a line of small peaks that that run along the coast. Continue to charming Hout Bay, a coastal suburb of Cape Town.  Ascend Cape Point by funicular and marvel at remarkable ocean views. Stop at Boulders Beach and see the African Penguin Colony. A talk on the history and culture of south africa will highlight some of the historical events that shaped this amazing country, including colonization by the Dutch and British, the introduction of slavery, the struggle of native tribes, and the discovery of gold and diamonds. (B,L)

Day 5 — Cape Town

Begin exploring Cape Town on an excursion that showcases the city’s historical highlights. Continue to the top of Table Mountain for awesome panoramic views of Cape Town, Table Bay and the Cape of Good Hope. For nearly 400 years, isolated Robben Island was a place of exile and now it is designated a World Heritage Site. Travel by boat to the island and visit the former prison where the late Nelson Mandela was held from 1964 to1982. A former prisoner will offer fascinating narrative and first hand knowledge about life on the island. See the island’s lime quarry and the local village. The balance of the day is at leisure. This evening, enjoy some time at Cape Town’s beautiful waterfront, then have dinner with fellow Smithsonian travelers at a popular harbor-front restaurant. (B,D)

Day 6 — Cape Town and Thornybush Nature Reserve

Begin the day with a flight from Cape Town to Hoedspruit, gateway to Thornybush Game Reserve. In late afternoon join your ranger guide and board an open-air safari vehicle to track the wildlife that makes the reserve home. Before dinner, meet in the Smithsonian traveler’s corner for lively conversation and to exchange experiences. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Thornybush Nature Reserve

Get an early start on the day with your ranger on a game drive to find and track South African big game. In late morning join your Smithsonian Expert for an educational presentation. After lunch, attend a talk by an expert naturalist. In late afternoon, another game drive is planned and a stop will be made for a round of drinks called “sundowners.” (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Thornybush Nature Reserve

There’s another day of game viewing with early morning and late afternoon drives. Tracking game is exhilarating, and rich with new sights and experiences. In late afternoon, join your Smithsonian expert for an informative talk. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Johannesburg

Drive from Thornybush to the airport at Hoedspruit for the hour-long flight to Johannesburg, the third largest city in Africa. This afternoon tour Soweto Township, past the homes of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Drive to Kliptown for a visit to a local youth project. Continue to your hotel where overnight accommodations have been reserved. Join fellow travelers in Smithsonian traveler’s corner. (B,L)

Day 10 — Pretoria and Rovos Rail Train

Depart the hotel and drive to Pretoria’s Edwardian-style rail station. Board The Pride of Africa one of the most luxurious trains in the world. It’s reminiscent of an era of elegant simplicity and gracious service. Gather with fellow travelers in the observation lounge and revel in the breathtaking landscapes of southern Africa. Enjoy the distinctive character and charm of Rovos Rail’s classic, refurbished wood-paneled coaches. The “rail safari” takes you through the goldfields of Witwatersrand, across the Magaliesberg Mountains to Rustenburg the tobacco farming area of South Africa. This evening, the train will cross the border into Botswana and will stop for an overnight at Mafikeng. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Rovos Rail Train

Botswana is one of the richest countries in Africa and is best known for the drylands of the Kalahari and the lush Okavango Delta. The train travels through remarkable landscapes to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, crosses the Tropic of Capricorn, and the frontier at Zimbabwe and will stop for an overnight at Mpopoma. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Rovos Rail Train

The journey continues to the cities of Bulawayo and Matabeleland and on toward the Zambezi River. At the Kennedy Siding, leave the train to see Big Game in the Hwange National Park. The train will overnight at Thompson’s Junction. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park

Victoria Falls, located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is the place where the Zambezi River plunges 300 feet into the basalt gorges below creating a mist that can be seen for 50 miles around. An expert guide will take you to explore the falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a World Heritage Site. After visiting the falls, travel by road to Chobe National Park and the Chobe Game Lodge where accommodations await. There’s time to relax and enjoy the beautifully landscaped grounds. Get together this afternoon with your Smithsonian expert for an engaging presentation. Later get together in the Smithsonian traveler’s corner to talk about the day and exchange experiences. (B,L,D) 

Day 14 — Chobe National Park

Today set out on a morning game drive to track Chobe’s remarkable wildlife. This excursion sets off on an unforgettable safari through the second-largest national park in Botswana and encompasses four distinct ecosystems. See its renowned African elephants that can number from 500 to 5,000 depending on the season. Chobe is also home to one of the most diverse concentrations of game and birds found on the African continent. Later in the day, depart by boat to explore the flood plain and see the reptiles, animals and birds that live along the banks of the Chobe River. This evening, join fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 15 — Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls

An early breakfast, leave the lodge for a game drive to track buffalo, giraffes and hippos. Later, transfer by motor coach to the Victoria Falls Airport. There, board the flight to Johannesburg and connecting flights to the U.S. (B)

Important Note: The flight to Johannesburg is not included in the land tour cost. The land tour ends at Victoria Falls Airport. Land Only travelers can purchase flight to Johannesburg from the tour operator.