More info:US $300 local payment.
Single supplement: GBP 60
includes 15 nights camping, entrance fees, use of camping equipment transport on safari, meals per itinerary, professional guides, Okavango Delta experience. Min age 12 years.
“Take two weeks to explore southern Africa overland as you hike, safari and drive across Botswana and Zimbabwe via South Africa's Johannesburg and Kruger National Park.”
Kruger National Park | Great Zimbabwe Monument | Matobos National Park | World’s End | Bushmen’s rock paintings | Hwange National Park | Victoria Falls | Zambezi River | Chobe National Park | Kasane Forest Reserve | Mokoro ride on Okavango Delta | Kalahari Desert | Khama Rhino Sanctuary | Optional safari drives in Chobe NP, white-water-rafting, bungee jumping and scenic flights over Victoria Falls |
Description of Camping safari in Southern Africa
Making the most of southern Africa’s finest national parks on a two week camping safari lets travellers unlock the hidden delights of Zimbabwe and Botswana as well as offering an authentic introduction to the excitement and adventure of African safari tours.
Campsites are used for 13 overnight stays with showers, laundry and telephone facilities allowing travellers to sleep soundly in and around the national parks and townships of Zimbabwe and Botswana. For two nights on the Okavango Delta travellers will be wild camping with basic bucket showers and seated pit toilets both being erected by the safari team.
Meals consist of 15 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 11 evening dinners which are all prepared and cooked at the safari vehicle before being eaten around the campfire or fenced boma dining area.
Specially designed safari vehicles are used throughout this tour with 12 forward facing seats ensuring game viewing and comfort levels are at a premium. Also, for 10% of the departures an air-conditioned Mercedes minibus will be used with trailer for equipment and luggage. Wildlife safari drives in the national parks of Matobos, Hwange and Chobe will all be made in open-topped four-wheel-drive vehicles accompanied by knowledgeable local guides.
Part and parcel of getting the most from our Botswana and Zimbabwe safaris is joining in and if you’re happy to lend a hand to put up tents, pack up the trucks and even do a spot of washing up then you’ll find you get much more out of the experience as a whole.
Note: the crossing from South Africa into Zimbabwe has been known to make for a long day so please remember to practise your patience as you prepare to experience Beitbridge border control.
Day 1 & 2:
An early start on your first day signals the start of this southern Africa safari as we drive north from Johannesburg and into the realm of Kruger National Park. Morning and afternoon wildlife drives into Kruger’s lesser-visited regions between Letaba and Pufuri enable travellers to see some exceptional sights with lions, elephants, rhinos and numerous other wild animals all known to inhabit the area. (Overnight camping with all meals included.)
Today we encounter the infamous Beitbridge border crossing as we head to the UNESCO World Heritage ruins of Great Zimbabwe, close to the town of Masvingo. These are some of southern Africa’s oldest stone structures and their size and history will help you put Zimbabwe’s place on the global map into full perspective. Explore the ruins on foot before heading to tonight’s overnight camp. (All meals included.)
Your journey heads west today as you drive to Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, and set up camp on the periphery of Matobos National Park. Early the next morning you’ll be invited on a guided tour of Matobos with the forest covered hills and valleys making for an excellent backdrop to an open top wildlife drive with several isolated granite monoliths (koppies) to spotted along the way. The views from World’s End are magnificent with Bushmen’s paintings on rocks and the chance to see an endangered white rhino certainly adding to the exhilaration of exploring in the wilds of Africa. (Overnight camping with all meals included.)
For the next couple of days your safari takes you into Zimbabwe’s largest national park, Hwange, where elephants roam wild and a full day’s guided game drive provides an exceptional means of observing and learning about the natural habitat before retiring to camp within the park’s management area. (Overnight camping with all meals included.)
Head north this morning to the thundering Victoria Falls as you prepare to embark on an amazing tropical nature walk to the very edge of the falls from where the Zambezi River plummets from a height of 355 feet. Aside from admiring the world-famous waterfall from the mist and spray you’ll also be given the chance to bungee jump, white-water-raft or take a scenic flight over Victoria Falls before heading to the campsite within the nearby local town. (Breakfasts included.)
Today you’ll cross from Zimbabwe and into Botswana as you drive to the town of Kasane which is situated along the banks of the River Chobe. This afternoon’s sunset cruise through Chobe National Park is a real highlight with herds of elephants aligning the river banks for a final drink at the end of the day. (Overnight camping includes breakfast and lunch.)
There’s an optional safari drive in Chobe National Park this morning prior to driving south to the Nata region by way of Kasane Forest Reserve. (Overnight camping and all meals included.)
Day 12 -14:
Your Botswana safari continues for the next three days as you travel to the town of Maun before heading across the Okavango Delta via four-wheel-drive and traditional Mokoro canoes. Campsites are located on the isolated islands within the Delta with guided bush walks, bird watching and swimming within tranquil clear waters always the best way to pass the time before returning to camp to chat to the local guides or just enjoy an evening meal around the campfire. On Day 14 you’ll depart the Delta area and head back to Maun whereupon an optional scenic flight helps you put the extent of the Okavango Delta into greater perspective. (Overnight camping includes three breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners.)
Your penultimate Botswana safari day takes you south from Maun to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary via the vast plains of the Kalahari Desert. The sanctuary is made up of members of the local community and has been an established wildlife protection project since the early 1990’s. This example of conservation benefits the local community environmentally and financially by encouraging responsible tourism and using natural resources as sustainably as possible. An afternoon spent looking for rhino is just a wonderful way to end the tour with overnight camping offering star-lit skies and talking points aplenty around the campfire. (All meals included.)
Today it’s time to depart Botswana as you transfer back to South Africa and Johannesburg whereupon your southern Africa safari adventure finally comes to a close in the late afternoon.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.
Responsible tourism: Camping safari in Southern Africa
Message from co-Founder of this Tour Operator. My name is Bruce and I am a founder of this tour operation. I believe that the old conservation tactic of the setting aside areas of "exclusion" for conservation are outdated.
The reality is that in order for effective, sustainable conservation to take place, there needs to be an interest from the society of that country, conscious effort from government and local "buy in" from the local communities. Sadly the world is in a place where economic benefit is the overriding driving force of action and as such conservation is directly linked to economic benefit. Sustainable tourism is therefore absolutely essential for conservation to be effective. Not only for local communities to see value in conservation, but for countries as a whole to place value in protecting their natural heritage.
I believe there is a deep and instinctual link between our humanity and our natural environment. Inherently we all want to know that the wild places are still out there. And Eco-tourism gives us that opportunity, as we so often hear, to "rebalance" or "rejuvenate".
The various promises and commitments detailed below are only a representation of what it is that we do. I sincerely hope that our tours offer our clients an opportunity to experience the wonders of the African continent, and in some small way through focusing itineraries around wildlife and national parks, we contribute to environmental conservation both economically and spiritually.
If you join one of our trips, and have practical feasible suggestions about our responsible travel practices, please contact us. We strive to improve our operation and if we can do more for conservation in Africa, then we're all ears!
Low impact tourism & supporting local communities: • Small group travel: We specialise in small group travel with a maximum group size of 12 clients & minimum of 4. Small groups ensures a small impact on the destinations we visit when compared to larger groups. Smaller groups create an intimate safari experience, and mean that when we interact with local cultures and stay in environmentally sensitive areas, we do not leave a large footprint. • Fuel consumption: By travelling in a small group your carbon foot print is approximately ½ of self drive safari. The average pick-up car hire runs on approximately 12ltr/100km with generally 2 people per vehicle and this equates to approximately 6ltr/100km pp. Our average safari truck runs on 25ltr/100km with an average of 9.5 clients per tour and this equates to 2.6Ltr/100km pp. So, by joining a small group tour, your fuel consumption is less than half of doing a self-drive 4WD or pick up trip. • Cooking: We cook using gas as far as possible and, whenever feasible, avoiding cooking using fire or coal which depletes limited wood resources. • Wooden carving curios: We do take clients to local curio markets to support the local communities. If they want to buy a carving, we encourage clients purchase only small wooden carvings instead of large pieces. This is in an effort to again conserve the forests around the carving markets. • Waste: We ensure that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop, including oil traps, oil recycling, cleaning products etc). • Entrance fees: All entrance fees for the national parks in each country are used by the local authorities to maintain the condition and infrastructure of the national parks, and run regular anti-poaching patrols. These are often supplemented by government grants. The national parks support a large number of local community members often providing housing and schooling for the staff families. For us as a tour operator, supporting the various national park boards is an essential element to each tour. • Accommodation: On all tours wherever possible we use locally owned accommodation establishments which are involved in local responsible tourism initiatives. This provides direct benefits to local communities through employment. We avoid large hotel chains and more commercial properties but opt for simple self-catering lodge, B&B’s and tented camps for accommodation in rural areas. By doing this we create an intimate environment for group away from large scale tourism and the communities around the accommodation benefit directly through employment and this creates pride and further interest in sustainable tourism as the communities have tangible benefits from tourism. Our tours focus on out of the way destinations, and as such, our “spend” is distributed into rural areas. • Drinking Water: Each client, drinking 5 litres per day from 1 litre plastic bottles produces 100 waste plastic bottles on a 3 week safari. On this calculation, we would pollute the environment (and waste energy resources in plastic production) with over 250,000 plastic bottles per year! So as solution, each of our vehicles has a tank of clean drinking water that is filled up along the journey. This is safe tap water. We do not provide bottle water we encourage clients to drink the local clean drinkable tap water wherever possible in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottle waste produced by the purchase of bottled drinking water. • Water conservation: We are acutely aware that in many areas that we visit water is a scarce resource. Clients are encouraged to be conscious of water usage and not to take long showers or waste water. • Wildlife: On all game drives, our trained and qualified guides ensure that our groups interact with wildlife in the appropriate way. Slow movements, no loud noises and to respect the animals “personal” boundaries. Our philosophy is that we are visitors in the amazing places that we visit, and we do not want our presence to impact the wildlife and environment in any negative way. We also enforce a policy of not feeding any wildlife (animals habituated to human feeding will turn aggressive in the future which often results in authorities being forced to kill that animal) and to appreciate the natural state of the areas that we visit and to leave the area in exactly the same condition that it was when we arrived. • Local guides & communities: On each tour you will travel with two guides for the entire trip. In addition, we also employ local guides for certain activities on tour. These local initiatives help to maintain local cultures and also sustain the ideals of wildlife conservation. Tourism, goodwill and conservation all work together and we aim to maintain the delicate balance at all times! The employment of local guide adds value to our clients visit because they can gain specific local knowledge and expertise from the people who actually live permanently in the area they are visiting. These interactions also give our clients the chance to meet local people and see how tourism is benefiting Africa, piece by piece. We use local guides at: Botswana: Okavango Delta, Chobe NP, Ghanzi San Bushman excursion, national parks South Africa: Mkuzi village walk, Qunu Mandela historical site, Kozi Bay Swailand: Hlane walking Lesotho: Malealea Lodge pony trekking guide Malawi: Boat excursion on Lake Malawi Mozambique: Dhow excursions Namibia: Brandberg walk and drives (part of the Tsiseb Community Conservancy), Spizkoppe walk, Gariep River canoeing, Sossusvlei 4WD drivers, Zambia: Lower Zambezi Canoe excursion, South Luangwa game walks and drives, Vic Falls optional activities Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Matobos NP, Hwange NP, Victoria Falls For more information on each of the community projects please talk to your guide or contact us. • Local crafts and produce: At all local markets where fresh produce and crafts are sold and produced, we encourage the clients to barter (gently and in good humour) with the local people. This not only allows the clients to get involved with the local way of life, and interact directly with the local people, but also provides them a platform to experience local life first hand. Having said that, we explain to the clients by bartering too hard for a good deal might seem like a lot of money at the time, but if the amount being haggled over is converted to either US$, Euro or GBP, it amounts to very little. This is the local livelihood and we advise them to keep this in mind at all times. • Underprivileged Children Groups: We operate a number of tours into the national parks of South Africa for underprivileged children from schools based in Johannesburg, South Africa. PEN Organisation is an independent, non-governmental and social development organisation. Its activities focus on neglected and abandoned children and orphans, as well as disadvantaged families. We try to run these tours as often as possible during the course of a year. We believe that the youth are Africa’s future and that environmental education is important. This opportunity allows them to see for themselves wildlife (perhaps for the first time), nature conservation at work, and also show them employment opportunities that are available in the conservation or tourism industry, and possibly encourage them to follow a career in tourism (for this reason we aim these groups at 14-18 year olds). • Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre: We assist a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a Gymnogene, and spotted eagle owls. All birds are treated in a small makeshift clinic, and then kept in aviaries until they have recovered. Once able to fly, or care for themselves again, they are moved to a 'flight' aviary, for a period until they have regained strength. They are then released back into the wild. Those birds which are unable to be released are kept in large aviaries and fed through various donations. We assist the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint and other items on their wish list.
Okavango Delta: We use local community 'polers' to take us into the Okavango Delta. The polers have an intimate knowledge of the Okavango Delta, and their employment as guides ensure that the local community benefit from tourism and ensures that these areas are conserved for future generations. The Okavango Delta, 1000th World Heritage Site, is an important wildlife refuge for many animals, both resident and migratory. It attracts thousands of tourists to Botswana annually, and maintaining the pristine nature of the environment is very important to the country. Water from the Delta is integral to the continued sustainability of the Botswana tourism industry. Without water, the environment would no longer support such diversity. There have been many talks about damming upper sections of the Kavango River which feeds the Okavango Delta. Should this go ahead it will disrupt the natural system of the Delta and adversely affect the wildlife and the industry as a whole. Tour leaders will explain all of this to clients so that clients are made aware of what potentially could happen if this plan is implemented. The more people who are made aware of the threats to this ecosystem, the less likely it is to happen. By people visiting the Delta, creating jobs, and allowing the delta to make much needed funds, the less likely it is that the planned dam will go ahead.
Okavango SOS trees project: Okavango Botswana: For hundreds of years, the local communities in and around Botswana's Okavango Delta have used the wood of the sausage tree to craft their traditional mokoro (dugout canoes). The knowledge and skill have been passed down from generation to generation and, up until recently, has been a sustainable practice. With increasing numbers of people visiting the Delta each year, more mokoro are needed and as a direct result, more and more Sausage Trees (Kigela Africana) are being felled and the tree is sadly disappearing from the region. A traditional wooden mokoro will have to be replaced every five years, thereby placing increased pressure on the dwindling Sausage Tree supply. As a solution we have established a project to encourage polers in the local communities to buy replica fibreglass mekoros, which have a lifespan of approximately ten years, are more stable and are produced with much less negative affect to the environment. As such, sponsorship for each fibreglass mokoro is needed, and a portion of the tour cost will be donated to the project, but we also will offer our clients the opportunity to contribute to this worthwhile cause. Please feel free to contact the our office for more information on the SOS Trees project or if you would like to make any contributions towards this project. It is something that is close to all of our hearts and we have been successful in replacing 30+ (circ. 2015) mekoro thus far.
Wild Camping in Botswana: As a camping tour this means our environmental impact is minimal. We stay in designated campsites, and leave it in a pristine condition. Litter is strictly policed. The potential of creating wildfires is great, so the group is briefed on smoking restriction and how to dispose of cigarette butts. All camps are un-fenced, so the potential is there for the wildlife to come into camp and clients are briefed as to the restrictions of keeping to camp and not wandering away from the confines of the campsite.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary: The Khama Rhino Sanctuary (KRS) is a community based project that was established in 1992 to assist is saving the endangered rhino, restore the wildlife area (8585 hectares) and provide economic benefits to the local community through tourism. Rhinos were introduced in the sanctuary as it is being used as a breeding centre for the re-introduction of both black and white rhinos into the national parks of Botswana after the natural population had virtually been hunted to extinction by poaches. Proceeds from visitors to the park help with the rhino breeding programme and go to the local community. While there have been further reintroduction of rhino’s by operators in Botswana by bringing rhino in from South Africa, Khama Rhino Sanctuary is still an integral part of rhino conservation in Southern Africa.
Reviews of Camping safari in Southern Africa
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 04 Oct 2015 by Nancy Wiesenfeld
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Most memorable moments were the sunset cruise and land safari at Chobe National Park in Botswana. Also camping at Elephant Sands where you can see elephants at a waterhole for hours.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
By all means go to southern Africa but do NOT book with this holiday provider. Before I booked I asked about what vehicle would be used on this trip. I was told about their great safari truck but for Game Trails both camping and accommodation trips they only use a minivan. It was a terrible to use for safari when 2 or 3 people (if the trip is full) have to peer through a partially open window of only a few inches on each side. Not a good experience. So find a company that honors its words.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Only in the Okavango did I feel the trip benefitted local people as they did the poling. We had to buy bottled water instead of having a truck have a tank like many overland vehicles so there was a negative environmental impact even if we bought big bottles.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Africa is wonderful so I still had a wonderful time but it would have been better in a safari truck instead of a cramped minivan.
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you very much for your feedback on your tour with us. We are obviously disappointed that you had some problems with the tour and I would like to work through your comments on the elements you were unhappy with. The Chobe River cruise is an absolute highlight on all of our tours that go through the area and I am of course extremely happy that you loved the cruise; Elephant sands and that you had a wonderful holiday over all.
With regards to the vehicle you travelled in, I have gone through all of your correspondence with our team and see that we sent you images of the trucks but failed to mention in the emails that this tour does also run sometimes run in a Minibus or Mecedes Benz Sprinter. My sincerest apologies if the communication in the emails was not 100% clear.
We do mention in our detailed itinerary, that you would have received, that the tour operates with 4WD (for certain activities ie: Matopos, Hwange, Chobe and the Okavango Delta) and safari truck or minibus for the travel and remainder of the tour. Under the transport section of the itinerary this is mentioned again. I do apologise that this was not made clear in the email correspondence. I do not feel that we purposefully mislead you or that we did no honour our word but I believe that the omitted information in the email is misleading and I understand your unhappiness about this. Again please accept my apologies.
I would also like to comment on how your tour benefits local people as this is a very important aspect of the tour for us. On this trip we employ local operator companies in Matobos, Hwange, and Chobe where all the game drive activities are operated in local vehicles with local guides. We employ local guides in Great Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls for the walking activities and this is in addition to our Okavango local guides (for whom we also have the SOS tree project running).
We pay entrance fees to all national parks, we shop at local shops throughout the tour for food supplies and our guides are local beneficiaries supporting their families by working for us. Also by booking with us the entire tour fund is paid to Southern Africa, there is not an admin or profit portion held by a foreign tour operator.
So I truly believe that we are supporting local people and communities as far as possible on this tour and on our other tours. I do hope that this gives you more information and makes you know that you have contributed to local communities who have benefited from you travelling with us.
Thank you for travelling with us, I am pleased you had a lovely holiday overall and hope you would reconsider travelling with us in the future. If you have any questions at any time please do not hesitate to contact me.
More info:US $300 local payment.
Single supplement: GBP 60
includes 15 nights camping, entrance fees, use of camping equipment transport on safari, meals per itinerary, professional guides, Okavango Delta experience. Min age 12 years.