Exploring Southern Africa
Experience breathtaking landscapes and exciting wildlife safaris as you journey across Southern Africa with stops in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Journey into the heart of southern Africa to capture the magnificence of four distinct nations: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Our new African journey features exciting safaris in top game parks as well as important cultural visits! From Johannesburg, take a full-day tour of historic Soweto and the South African capital of Pretoria. Then fly to Zimbabwe for four days at spectacular Victoria Falls, where you’ll embark on a rhino safari. In Botswana, a full-day safari in Chobe National Park brings you up close to one of Africa’s largest elephant populations, as well as its exceptional bird life. You’ll then fly to Namibia and the vast Namib Desert. At Sossusvlei, rise with the sun to see the highest crested dunes in the world, their red-orange hues constantly changing in the morning light, and drive along the storied Skeleton Coast to Cape Cross, housing the largest Cape Fur Seal reserve. Conclude your journey with four nights in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa, where highlights include the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, the renowned wine-growing region of The Winelands, and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. An optional extension to Kruger National Park is also available. Limited to 24 participants.
Day 1 – 2 — Depart U.S., Arrive Johannesburg
Depart U.S. for Johannesburg, South Africa. Arrive in Johannesburg today and transfer to your hotel in the suburb of Rosebank. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, no group activities or meals are planned. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Day 3 — Johannesburg, Soweto
A full day of touring begins in Soweto, the largest black city in Africa and where the seeds of South African freedom took root. Here visit Nelson Mandela’s home, now a museum, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum where we learn about apartheid and the Soweto uprising of 1976. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Fly this morning to Victoria Falls, first “discovered” by explorer David Livingstone and claimed for Great Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1855. With its 300-foot-deep gorge and thundering spray, “Vic” Falls is a wonder of the natural world. This afternoon experience it on a guided walk. (B,D)
Day 5 — Victoria Falls
This morning visit a local school where you have the opportunity to interact with the children and teachers, then take a guided tour of the Victoria Falls bridge and learn about its construction from atop the catwalks. Late this afternoon embark on a Sundowner dinner cruise on the Zambezi River. (B,D)
Day 6 — Victoria Falls
Enjoy a special safari through the bush in the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, perhaps spotting some of the elephants, lions, and leopards that live here. More big game is on tap during another game drive late this afternoon. Later attend a talk on David Livingstone’s travels, trials, and travails. (B,D)
Day 7 — Chobe National Park, Botswana
Known for a diverse terrain that attracts an exceptional array of wildlife, Chobe National Park in nearby Botswana boasts one of the largest concentrations of game in all Africa, including the world’s largest elephant population (some 120,000), as well as zebra, lion, hippo, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, buffalo, and more. You’re sure to see some of them on today’s full-day excursion to Chobe, where you take a morning game drive and an afternoon game cruise. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Victoria Falls, Windhoek, Namibia
Today fly via Johannesburg to the Namibian capital of Windhoek, arriving late this evening. (B)
Day 9 — Windhoek, Namib Desert, Sossusvlei
After a brief tour of Namibia’s largest city, set out through the central Namib Desert of vast gravel plains and rocky mountains. Isolated and immense, tranquil and romantic, this endless expanse offers a glimpse of a land before time. Late this afternoon reach your lodge in the heart of the dune desert. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Namib Desert, Sossusvlei
Rise with the sun to see the world’s highest crested dunes at Sossusvlei, their red-orange hues constantly changing in the early morning light. Here you have the opportunity to climb the velvet-like sand of Big Mama, as the locals call the largest dune. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Sossusvlei, Swakopmund
Travel today through the Namib desert en route to Swakopmund, Namibia’s largest port. (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast
This morning take a cruise along the storied Skeleton Coast, so named for the whale and seal bones that once littered its shores – debris from the whaling industry. Along the way see Cape Fur Seals, petrols and other sea birds, and some of the many shipwrecks that lie off shore. After the cruise, tour the township in Mondesa, enjoy a savory lunch and watch the local children perform a traditional dance. Return to Swakopmund with time for leisure before dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Day 13 — Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Cape Town, S.A.
En route to the airport for the flight to Cape Town, stop in Walvis Bay to see the lagoon with its massive seabird colonies, including flamingos. (B,D)
Day 14 — Cape Town, The Winelands
Today tour The Winelands, South Africa’s renowned winegrowing region just 45 miles east of Cape Town. Amidst the beautiful scenery, visit two wineries for tours, tastings, and lunch. Return to Cape Town mid-afternoon; dinner tonight is on your own in this cosmopolitan city. (B,L)
Day 15 — Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope
This morning take a panoramic tour of this beautiful city at the southern tip of Africa and also stop at stunning Hout Bay. Then travel to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, home to more than 250 species of birds, and where you ride a funicular to the summit for stupendous views of “the meeting of the oceans” (the Atlantic and Indian). After a seafood lunch in historic Simons Town, visit Boulders Beach to see a colony of enchanting African Penguins up close. Your last stop is acclaimed Kirstenboch National Botanical Garden, nestled against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. The world’s first such garden founded (in 1913) to preserve native flora, today the Kirstenboch cultivates only indigenous plants. (B,L)
Day 16 — Cape Town, Robben Island
Today come face-to-face with an indelible aspect of South African history: the notorious prison on Robben Island that once held Nelson Mandela and other opponents of apartheid. Tour the island and prison, guided by a former inmate. Returning to Cape Town, ride by cable car 3,500 feet to the top of Table Mountain for glorious views. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner together. (B,D)
Day 17 – 18 — Depart Cape Town, Return to the U.S.
Transfer to the airport this morning for your return flights to the U.S. Arrive in the U.S. the next day and connect with your flights home. (B)