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

Starting at: $9,790 * Price includes special offer 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  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 $9,790

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

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details


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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.


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Activity Level 3: Moderate / Active

Expectations: Two-week program in southern Africa featuring multiple nights on the luxurious Rovos Rail train, in a top-rated safari lodge, and up-scale hotels in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Victoria Falls. Safaris feature morning and late afternoon game drives (with early morning departures), over sometimes rough terrain or unpaved trails in comfortable safari vehicles. Cultural and natural history visits in Cape Town and Johannesburg entail walking tours and outdoor visits. Two economy class internal flights on scheduled  airlines, overnight train, and motorcoach travel.   

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

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

Important Note: This itinerary is based on air schedules provided by British Airways for 2021. Air schedules are subject to change for 2022. 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, the deluxe and distinguished Belmond Mt. Nelson Hotel. The balance of the day will be at leisure to relax and settle in. This evening, gather with fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for a welcome reception at the hotel. (R)

Day 4 — Cape Town

A full English breakfast will be served each morning during your stay. This morning drive to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Travel along the spectacular Marine Drive and pass the unique mountain landscape featuring Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, a line of small peaks that run along the coast. Ascend Cape Point by funicular and marvel at remarkable ocean views. Stop at Boulders Beach and see the African Penguin Colony. A luncheon stop will be made on the Cape Peninsula during the excursion. Return to the hotel where the remainder of the afternoon is free of planned activitiesIn early evening, you’re invited to attend a presentation that will highlight the key events in the history of this amazing country. You’ll learn about the Dutch and British colonization, the introduction of slavery, the struggle of native tribes, discovery of gold and diamonds, and more(B,L) 

Day 5 — Cape Town

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.

After returning to Cape Town, there’s leisure time for lunch on an independent basis. Later, begin exploring Cape Town on an excursion that showcases the city’s historical highlights including Company Gardens, Bo Kaap and the Castle of Good Hope. 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 / Thornybush Nature Reserve

Begin the day with a flight from Cape Town to Hoedspruit, gateway to Thornybush Game Reserve. Lunch is served upon arrival at your five-star safari lodge. In late afternoon, board an open-air safari vehicle for an introduction to the African Bushveld and get acquainted with your ranger and tracker who will accompany you on each game drive. Before dinner, meet in the Smithsonian Traveler’s Corner for lively conversation and to exchange today’s experiences. Afterwards, dinner will be served al fresco on the deck (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Thornybush Nature Reserve

Each day on safari starts at dawn with a wakeup call from the lodge ranger. Meet on the deck for coffee and toast before climbing into your safari vehicle. As you drive along, it may seem quiet, but there is plenty of activity. Many animals are just waking up and in search of breakfast. Others spent the night on the prowl and are searching for a spot where they can sleep during the day. See how many of the Big Five you can spot this morning. During each morning game drive, stop for coffee or tea. Return to the lodge for a hearty English breakfast. The balance of the morning is free to relax and enjoy a leisure activity. 

This afternoon, enjoy a presentation by a Thornybush naturalist. Set-out for a late afternoon game drive to gain a different perspective of the animal life in the reserve. As the sun sets, stop for a round of drinks, aptly called sundowners. Return to the lodge for a sumptuous dinner.  (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 at every turn. After the afternoon drive, return to the lodge in time for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Hoedspruit / Johannesburg

Drive from Thornybush to the airport at Hoedspruit for the hour-long flight to Johannesburg, the third largest city in Africa. Upon arrival, drive to Soweto where lunch will be served. Afterwards, 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 the Smithsonian Traveler’s Corner. (B,L)

Day 10 — Pretoria / Rovos Rail Train

After breakfast, depart the hotel and drive to the Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria and board one of the most luxurious trains in the world bound for Victoria Falls. It’s reminiscent of an era of elegant simplicity and gracious service. Enjoy the distinctive character and charm of Rovos Rail’s classic, refurbished wood-paneled coaches. Following luncheon, the train crosses the Tropic of Capricorn and the Limpopo River. Meals aboard Rovos Rail are always a treat. This evening, enjoy fine cuisine accompanied by a selection of excellent South African wines. All meals, spirits, beer and wine are included onboard throughout the day and with meals. Gather with fellow travelers in the observation lounge car and revel in the breathtaking landscapes of southern Africa. Your “rail safari” travels north toward Zimbabwe through West Nicholson on the way to Messina and Beitbridge for the border-crossing into Zimbabwe. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Rovos Rail Train

Travel through remarkable landscapes toward Bulawayo via  Colleen Bawn and Gwanda 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 / Chobe National Park

This morning, disembark the train and transfer to the historic Victoria Falls Hotel. This afternoon, tour Victoria Falls, a remarkable place where the Zambezi River plunges 328 ft. into the basalt Batoka Gorge below, creating a mist that can be seen for 50 miles around. 

Discovered in November of 1855 by Dr. David Livingstone and named for England’s queen, Victoria Falls is the earth’s largest curtain of water spanning more than a mile. (B)

Day 14 — Victoria Falls / Chobe National Park

After an early English 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 —Victoria Falls / Johannesburg

Later this morning, 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 only tour cost. The land tour ends at Victoria Falls Airport. Land Only travelers can purchase flights to Johannesburg from the tour operator.

In some cases air schedules are such that travelers return to their U.S. gateway cities on Day 16. 

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