This extraordinary adventure features the heritage of South Africa, a rail journey aboard the legendary Rovos Rail, safaris in three important parks, and a stay at dramatic Victoria Falls.

Starting at: $8,990 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Rovos Rail amid the African savanna  The thrill of being on safari  Elephant with calf on the savanna  Giraffes on the savanna  Lion in Ngorongoro Crater  Zebras at a watering hole  A panorama of Cape Town  The powerful and dramatic Victoria Falls  Observing wildlife from the rear of Rovos Rail  Spending time in the observation car  The observation car of Rovos Rail  Dining car, Rovos Rail

Treasures of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana

Featuring Rovos Rail

16 days from $8,990

This extraordinary adventure features the heritage of South Africa, a rail journey aboard the legendary Rovos Rail, safaris in three important parks, and a stay at dramatic Victoria Falls.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details


brochure iconbrochure


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.


See All Journeys Dispatches ››


Save $250 per person on our September 2020 departures when you book by January 10, 2020!

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. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 


Discover the rich natural and cultural heritage of southern Africa as you explore three of the continent’s most fascinating countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Our extraordinary adventure features the cultural and political heritage of South Africa, a rail journey aboard the legendary Rovos Rail, safaris in three important parks, and a stay at dramatic Victoria Falls. 

Highlights Include:

  • South Africa: Enjoy a comprehensive overview of Cape Town includes views from Table Mountain and Cape Point, a visit to Boulder Beach to see African penguins, and a tour of Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela and other political dissidents made strides in attaining equal rights. In Johannesburg's Soweto township, visit many of the sites associated with important leaders in the anti-apartheid movement. 
  • Safari Adventures: Experience the thrill of up-close encounters with animals in the wild—lion, elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo, rhino, zebra, giraffe, hippo, and more—during safaris at three important parks. Spot the “Big Five” on game drives during a three-night stay at South Africa’s Thornybush Nature Reserve. Stop at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to watch animals gather at The Hide’s water hole. Plus, see the renowned elephant herds at Botswana’s Chobe National Park.
  • Rovos Rail: Savor the romance of the Golden Age of train travel during a three-night rail journey from Pretoria to Victoria Falls. Ride in vintage carriages, restored to mint condition and impeccably appointed, and take in sweeping landscapes from the observation car.
  • Victoria Falls: Feel the awesome power of Victoria Falls, a World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World during a two-night stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel. 

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.


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 in Transit

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 and dinner. (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 in Cape Town on an excursion that showcases the city’s historical highlights. 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 inmate will offer fascinating narrative and first-hand knowledge about life on the island. See the island’s lime quarry and the local village.

Later, continue to the top of Table Mountain (weather permitting) for awesome views of Cape Town, Table Bay and the Cape of Good Hope. The balance of the day is free of planned activities so you can follow your own path. This evening, join fellow travelers for dinner at a restaurant on the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. (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 and board 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” travels north toward Zimbabwe through the towns of Warmbaths and Nylstroom on the way to Messina and Beitbridge for border-crossing formalities. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Rovos Rail Train

Travel through remarkable landscapes toward Bulawayo via Rutenga and Somabhula and continue the journey for an overnight stop at Mpopoma. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Rovos Rail Train

The journey continues, this morning, between Gwaai and Dete on one of the world’s longest runs of straight railroad track to Kennedy Siding. From here, you’ll leave the train for a game drive at The Hide in Hwange National Park. The train will overnight at Thompson’s Junction. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park

This morning, disembark the train at Victoria Falls a remarkable place where the Zambezi River plunges 328 ft. into the basalt gorges below, creating a mist that can be seen for 50 miles around.

Get together this afternoon with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an engaging talk. (B)

Day 14 — Victoria Falls / Chobe National Park

After an early breakfast, set out on a full-day safari to explore Chobe National Park, one of the most famous game parks in southern Africa. Be on the lookout for lions, leopards, giraffe, impala, and baboons. During the game drive, it’s likely to see several herds of elephants wandering the savanna or stopping at the river for a drink or a bath. The immense bird population of more than 460 species, makes Chobe a favored destination for birdwatchers from the world over.

After lunch, take a leisurely cruise on the Chobe River for a chance to spot hippos, crocodiles and other animals along this life-giving waterway. Later this evening, join fellow Smithsonian Journeys Travelers for a festive farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 15 — Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls

After an early breakfast, depart the hotel 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 flights to Johannesburg from the tour operator. 

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