The Grand Southern Africa safari

“Making the most of nature, culture and adventure, this whirlwind tour encompasses deserts and dunes, boats and the Big Five, ancient cultures and modern cities.”

Highlights

Cape Town | San encounters | Wine tasting | Orange River | Fish River Canyon rim hike | Ai-Ais hot springs | Namib-Naukluft National Park | Sossusvlei | Swakopmund | Brandberg Mountain | Himba tribe | Etosha National Park | Scenic flight | Nature walks and boat cruises | Game drives | Kasane | Chobe National Park | Zambezi River | Victoria Falls | Optional: canoeing, quad biking, sand boarding, sky diving

Description of The Grand Southern Africa safari

The 20-day Cape Town to Victoria Falls route provides an unforgettable exploration of myriad southern Africa wonders, taking in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe – a grand safari done in no-camping style and comfort!

From Cape Town, dip into the Cederberg Mountain Region en route to Namibia. Your experiences in one of Africa's most strikingly diverse countries include hiking in the amazing Fish River Canyon, the epic red dunes of the Sossusvlei desert, the atmospheric Skeleton Coast town of Swakopmund plus a visit with the Himba bush tribe. You'll also enjoy abundant wildlife viewing in the Etosha National Park before discovering the colonial history of the capital Windhoek.

Crossing into Botswana, you'll gain insight into the culture of the local San community before spending three days exploring the Okavango Delta. The world's largest inland delta is a wonderland of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels which you'll explore on traditional Mokoro sailboats.

Moving onto the Chobe National Park you'll experience contrasting wildlife and landscapes before heading into Zimbabwe to witness the majesty of the Victoria Falls – the crossroads of Africa.

**Important Note:** the itinerary below is written with an optional Activity Package included. This optional payment covers what we consider highly recommended activities on the tour. Separating these activities out is designed to help people with differing budgets. If required, the Activity Package should be pre-purchased prior to your arrival to guarantee availability and to help your guides plan ahead to help the smooth running of the tour. Please contact us for details

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Our top tip:
Some departures have reduced group sizes (max. 12) for a surcharge - so ask the holiday company for more info if you'd rather have a smaller group.
Trip type:
Small group, max. 18 people. Guaranteed departure.
Activity level:
Moderate/Active.
Accomm:
Guest houses, lodges, permanent camps, hotels.
Solos:
Solo traveller welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accomm., transport and transfers, vehicle with charging facilities, local tour leader, listed activities.
Meals:
20 breakfasts, 18 lunches, 15 dinners
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
How our company is making a difference:
We know that making the positive difference we aim to achieve will not be an easy task. However, our enthusiasm and commitment towards our travel responsibility mission is far stronger than any obstacles. We believe that in order to achieve any objective, the company has to have accurate policies and procedures for the employees and the guests to follow in order to reach our goal.

We have decided that the environment is a major component of any local community and any negative effect on the environment would directly have an impact on the lives of the inhabitants of the local community. Therefore, we have drawn up a strict environmental protection policy that all our employees and travelers have to abide by. For example, we recycle empty ink cartridges. A company collects them and disposes of them the correct manner.

Namibia is an arid area, which means the sources of fresh water are scarce. Travelers are encouraged not to take long showers and they are also briefed at all times of the negative causes that throwing trash in water sources may cause. Also, we brief them with simple ways of saving water, such as not keeping the tap running when they brush their teeth.

In Botswana, the major environmental problem is drought. Travelers are briefed at how vital it is so save water as much as possible when touring through this country.

Through this trip, the travelers will encounter wild life. They are strongly encouraged not to litter by any means. If one of these animals consume the litter, death is the most likely cause. Also, we never encourage travelers to feed the smaller animals such as monkeys and birds. This tames them to a certain degree, which could result in them getting hurt or even hurting the travelers. Lastly, we encourage them to go back home and spread the world of wild life conservation in terms of protecting the natural habitat, not littering, and possibilities of wild life sponsorship.

During the free time on the tour, we do not encourage any of your travelers to create beach fires or barbeques on the beaches or forest areas. This is seen as one of the ways in which natural habitat can be destroyed. In a forest, a fire that has not been set out, can burn down an entire forest in a matter of hours. On a beach, local animals may harm themselves by approaching the fire.

For us, Responsible Travel is the only way to travel.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

Throughout our long tourism business journey, exceeding 15 years of travel operation, we have succeeded in establishing strong links with the communities we are dealing with in the host destinations.

We believe that the Responsible Travel concept has to be a two-way strategy with both the travelers and the local community gaining benefits. We benefit the local communities we visit using a wide scope of activities that have a positive impact on the local economy, directly by donating money to charity organizations, financially supporting some local communities and by recruiting employees who belonging to the local community. We encourage our guests to buy local products and make use of services that people local community offer. We help indirectly through capacity building projects we implement with our employees and through the experiences and culture exchanges that take place between the locals and the travelers during our tours.

We promise to support the local community of every destination we take our travelers to. We will do this by employing local guides, using local handicraft shops and recommend shops to our travelers so that their holiday spending contributes to the people of that country. Furthermore, we provide each traveler with a tipping guide. By doing this we set a concept of tipping and gratuity for every person who will offer a form of service to the traveler.

We have also considered the social aspect of the local community and how to respect the customs and traditions of the inhabitants helping us operate our tours. We always provide our guests with all the information needed to understand the community they are visiting and we create valuable opportunities for the travelers and the locals to mingle and exchange ideas and thoughts.

The first objective is to operate our tours in the most perfect way possible. Our second objective, but not second in importance, is to benefit the local community, protect the environment, and have a positive social impact on the inhabitants living in our host destinations. One of the ways of doing this is to inform and educate our travelers on the cultures of the destinations. By doing this we aim to create a form of respect between the travelers and the local citizens who they will face along their tour.

We educate all our staff on the real life situations of each destination. Sales consultants will use this information to inform potential travelers of the correct information and threats that they may face. By creating long lasting relationships with our local ground handlers, we are able to establish what needs the community has and through their information we can inform our travelers what they can contribute to the local community from their home countries.

The concept of community support tourism is very big in Namibia. Tourists who visit this country are encouraged to support the handful of associations by means of funds and physical donations. Buying handicrafts that are specifically displayed by these associations, are also for the benefit of the community.

In Botswana, the upbringing of children has taken high priority. Travelers are encouraged to bring with them children’s books. One of the most valuable, and free, gifts one can give is to spend some five minutes with these friendly little people. It would mean the world to them.

Although South Africa is much more developed than the other surrounding African countries, the children of this country are still at the mercy of donations and support from tourists and investors. Encounters Travel aims to be the middle man between our travelers and these organizations to hand over funds and donations that will be used for the orphans and poor children of Africa’s rainbow nation.

Climate

4 Reviews of The Grand Southern Africa safari

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 17 Mar 2020 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Fantastic trip, some of the highlights for us include:
* Seeing table top mountain.
* Sossusvlei sand dunes and petrified forest.
* Bushman lodge and owner.
* Scenic flight over Okavango Delta (optional extra but so glad we did it!)
* Victoria falls.
* Various animals along the way.
* Travel crew, guides, drivers.


2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


* Some long days sat on a truck and a lot of gravel roads.
* Remember to bring a (>=500ml/1L) water bottle and a hat + sunscreen, the sun was v hot at times (we travelled in February)
* a permanent marker pen would have been useful to mark our names on the 5L water bottles we stocked up on at various points.
* Scenic flight over Okavango Delta was certainly worth the extra money.
* You will get soaking wet (head to toe) at Victoria falls around the rainy season - waterproof jackets can be rented there but you might want to wear
waterproof shoes if you have them.
* Food was usually cooked by our guides and eaten by the side of the truck (that's not to say it wasn't great - just very informal)
*During the first week of the tour the weather was extremely dry so we were able to handwash clothes in our accommodation and dry things overnight. We
also had 2-3 opportunities to pay to have laundry done later in the tour, so we could have managed with fewer clothes than we packed!
*Maybe we missed something in the documentation we were sent before the trip, but when we turned up on the first morning, the name of the travel
company was different to what we expected - no big deal, just 10 minutes of slight confusion!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our crew and all of the guides were local, which was great.
The way the meals were planned and prepared was very well-managed, so there was very little wasted.
We visited some local villages and markets along the way which we were told helps to support the people there.


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic trip! Pleased we went with the accommodated option. We followed almost the same route as a parallel tour of campers along the trip but we were
glad to have a bit more comfort.
Stayed in some beautiful accommodation, our lead guide was super friendly and knowledgeable about our destinations.

Reviewed on 28 Jun 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The varied scenery from desert to ocean, to savannas to the delta.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be in good physical shape. Be prepared for long hours of travel. Jump in and help with cooking and camping duties.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Having a locker to store our big bottles of water significantly decreased our footprint.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Twanda and Mark as our leaders made this trip fantastic.

Reviewed on 31 Dec 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Flying over the Okavango Delta and fishing for Tigerfish on the Zambezi River. Both of these were options. The one scheduled excursion that stands out to me was visiting the Namibian ranch of Mr. Bushman. He was so knowledgeable about science and natural history.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You will have to carry your bags for short distances so travel light. Be prepared for many long distance drives to get from place to place. I think the trip is best suited for retirees and older folks given the top accommodations (often with a pool), a cook, and some unavoidable regimentation. The truck is hard to get in and out of with 17 people so you have to have a lot of patience. I encountered only one testy individual on the whole trip, the proprietor at the Swakopmund bed and breakfast. Most Africans were very friendly and helpful. But yes, you will be pestered by people selling their wares on the street.
The temperatures in December in the Namibia desert are extreme (right after the sun comes up), so do not plan on long hikes. Stay indoors. Drink water constantly on the trip or you will get dehydrated. I took too many clothes. Rain jacket, rain pants and warm pullover were not needed. I also took heavy hiking boots which were not needed. A sleeping bag is unnecessary.


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. We provided employment for many people. We visited rural villages and purchased some of their handicrafts. We also brought one village some staples for cooking: corn meal, cooking oil, sugar. Passengers were instructed about park rules and conservation issues. We were counseled about the conservation plight of some species. We were rigid about not littering and cleaning up our breakfast, lunch and dinner sites. Unfortunately, not everybody has that mindset. We tipped a lot of people who went out of their way for us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The Nomad trip was very good. A little too regimented for me given 17 older passengers who did not wish to "rough it" and were often very happy to lie around the pool. Although there were ample opportunities for photographs, for those who are really into taking pictures, a trip geared specifically for photographers might be a better choice. The staff were outstanding: friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and fun. All of the scheduled excursions were worthwhile, with the optional Orange River canoe trip the one exception. You will spend a lot time in grocery stores buying food and water but that is the unavoidable nature of trips where meals are provided.

Reviewed on 11 Jun 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Namib desert including Dune 45 hike and Deadvlei, Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls and Chobe River cruise

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for the rough road travel in Namibia

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was an excellent travel that I will remember for life, with great value.

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