Vic Falls to Johannesburg tour, Southern Africa
Description of Vic Falls to Johannesburg tour, Southern Africa
Some of the continent’s most iconic animals call Southern Africa home and this small-group trip brings you closer to them. Chobe National Park in Botswana is known for its big population of elephants, often seen taking a bath in the river, but scan the shores for lions, cheetahs, wallowing hippos and sunbathing crocodiles, too. You’ll also explore the waterways of the Okavango Delta, gliding along in a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe navigated by friendly local ‘polers’, before visiting the Khama Rhino Sanctuary on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. This trip finishes in bustling Soweto. About half of Johannesburg’s three million residents live here and its surrounding areas and you’ll explore the area by bike, learning about the Soweto uprising and resistance against apartheid. It’s a great urban full-stop to an exciting adventure – the perfect introduction to Southern Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and people.
You’ll travel mostly by purpose-built overland vehicles, equipped with large sliding windows so you can easily see and snap game. Campsites in and around the key destinations feature a range of facilities, some more sophisticated than others, but you’ll be camping wild in the Okavango, with only dug-out toilets and no showers. You won’t be left to fend for yourself, though! As well as your fellow travellers, you’ll be accompanied by a group leader, driver and camp assistant, who puts up the tents each night, giving you more time to relax at the end of a busy day.
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1 Reviews of Vic Falls to Johannesburg tour, Southern Africa
Reviewed on 05 Jan 2017 by Barbara Bilgre
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
The elephant by the side of the road in the wildlife corridor when we stopped to use the 'bush toilet'. The driver had not noticed it behind the solitary tree
before we got out of the vehicle. I would also say the group of people I was with: the other tourists, and our driver and cook. Camping in the Khama Rhino
Sanctuary and the Okavango Delta were amazing because these were the only times we truly were around nature and wildlife when not on a scheduled tour.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
There were several things not explicitly stated in the detailed documents provided by the tour operator:
1. Very little of your 9 days is actually spent amongst wildlife or doing touring. Most is at your lodge campsite or in the transit vehicle.
2. The tour operator DOES NOT provide drinking water for you. Although they ask you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill to avoid the use of one time
plastic bottles, you will be expected to buy 5 liter water bottles and provide your own water during the trip.
3. This trip was not really sustainable as advertized. The amount of plastic trash we generated was pretty astounding.
4. You absolutely must bring your own towel even though it was not on the Essential Packing List. You also should bring a smaller bag for the 2 nights into the Okavango because you will not be able to bring your entire pack with you; this was also not explicitly stated in the literature.
5. The tour operator outsources ALL the tours to different outfits and takes no responsibility for what happens when we are in the hands of the actual guides.
This was an issue on the Chobe River cruise. Although we signed up for a small group tour (12 people max), we were put on a giant pontoon boat with at least
50 other people. In addition, the boat operators made a habit of getting too close to the animals and harassing the animals.
6. There was almost no opportunity to purchase souvenirs until the end of the tour, so don't expect to spend much on trinkets to bring home for family and
7. When in Maun, there is nothing to do but sit by the pool. You will spend almost a full day there (and 2 nights). You can organize a fly-over the Okavango
Delta, but if you have less than 5 people that want to do it, it will cost you a fortune. Therefore, there are no real safari or exploration activities to do whilst in
8. They don't tell you this, but you will have to tip the polers in the Okavango Delta, so have 150 pula available per tourist when you go into the Delta.
9. You need to keep ALL your shoes with you on the bus as you travel through Botswana as there are many places you have to disinfect to prevent the spread
of many diseases to the wildlife and livestock. Our guide would sometimes forget to tell us early enough to keep them out, and so many people did not get
their shoes disinfects or we took excess time unpacking and re-packing the truck.
You hopefully will end up with a better tour leader than we did who will actually help you organize the optional activities and who will share information about
the history, culture and wildlife. This did not happen on our trip until the final 3rd of the trip after I registered a complaint with the tour operator.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I don't think it truly met the specifications of an eco-tour. Yes, local people were supported, but on our program, animals were harassed, and we generated a
lot of unnecessary waste. This was not an environmental or conservation benefiting program (other than helping to support the Khama Rhino Sanctuary).
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
The places we visited were amazing. The wildlife viewing was incredible. I also was lucky to be in with a great group of tourists. This is why it got 3 stars. If this
were just based up on the tour operator I would have given only 1 or 2 stars.
Victoria Falls is an amazing place, but the campsite we were at was not safe. There was a theft from one of the tents at night while the guests were asleep. We were also set up right next to a bar where the music blared until after 11:00 PM and night and began again at 1:00 AM IN THE MORNING. This was definitely a cut-rate facility.
The Tour Operator customer service was very poor. It's been 6 days since I emailed them about trouble on the trip and they have yet not responded to me.
This company has high ratings and I have friends who've done different trips with them who have raved about them, but I was shocked at the inexperience of
our Tour Leader on this trip, the incomplete literature from the company, the rudeness of the people from the South African office. I had been in the eco-tour
business for over 9 years, and I know that our leaders were not meeting expectations.
The tour operator lists this tour as basic, BUT it is considered their medium level (not the cheap-end) tour. This was run as though it was a cheap end tour.
Also, finally, as they promote this as a safari tour, it made no sense to spend 11 hours traveling in a bus using one of our full days to drive to Soweto to have a
historical bicycle tour the next day. They should have offered that as an optional extension as it was completely irrelevant and unrelated to the rest of the trip.
Read the operator's response here:
We do all we can to encourage our travellers to reduce their waste while on tour, and we are sorry to hear this wasn’t adequately communicated to your tour group. We really aim to reduce our waste as much as possible and will work with our ground operator to make this happen.
We believe that by encouraging our travellers to see wildlife first hand we increase the intrinsic value of nature and wildlife for both travellers and locals. As with any trip of this style, we do use vehicles to travel from place to place and we try to mitigate the impacts of this in any way we can. We support local people and economies not only by using locally-run accommodation and transport wherever possible but also investing in various programmes in the area via our foundation. We work with TRAFFIC, by raising money to aid the leading wildlife trade monitoring network. We also work closely with ActionAiD to support female farmers across rural Africa in gaining much needed land rights. We also have close links with World Animal Protection in reducing animal captivity for tourism purposes, this is something central to all our wildlife tours. To find out more about what we are doing across Africa and worldwide, please feel free to ask.
PlanetThe very ethos of our style of travel is responsible; small groups on fully escorted tours, experiencing the very best of a region, a culture and a landscape, with a friendly local hand guiding the way. Our itineraries are designed to give our travellers real life experiences without compromising the part of the world we are exploring; to travel responsibly is at the heart of our commitment as a global tour operator.
On this African adventure you’ll journey from thundering Victoria Falls, through the plains and delta of Botswana before reaching our final destination of Johannesburg. Despite taking in a variety of locales, every aspect of this trip has been designed to minimise any negative aspects of our journey and maximise the positives. Utilising the concept of low impact and positive impact tourism, you can be certain that your visit will benefit local economies by providing employment opportunities and supporting local industry and initiative, and do its utmost to protect the environment, contributing to conservation efforts as we go.
This trip takes in a number of National Parks where the fees from our admittance contributes directly to the conservation of these fragile habitats. We also visit the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, where local people have worked hard to covert a former hunting area into a conservation project; it’s a fascinating visit which benefits both the local communities who operate it and contributes to the protection of highly endangered white rhinos
There are some projects which claim to act towards conservation efforts that we do not support that you may encounter. During our trip to the Victoria Falls area you will notice businesses offering an optional 'Walk with the Lions' experience. We recommend our travellers’ bypass this activity as it is contrary to our responsible travel guidelines that state we 'actively discourage the participation by our groups in activities which exploit animals - wild or domestic.' Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including Born Free and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that habituating lions to humans can shorten their life and may result in lion-human conflict issues. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards lion research, we feel that the negative impacts on the lions' rehabilitation far outweigh this.
Assisting the conservation of these fragile environments isn’t just achieved through financial contributions. We believe it is the responsibility of every traveller to the region, and as such we encourage all our groups to journey considerately and with care. Your group leader will also be on hand to assist with the appropriate disposal of rubbish en route and at our campsites, recycling wherever possible, and we encourage all our travellers to use refillable water bottles whilst on tour.
The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. By bringing your own bottle, you’ll be able to using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
PeopleThis is a camping trip, and the sites we use will be operated either by the National Parks or by local individuals, putting the financial benefits of our journey immediately back into the local economy and the parks we are visiting. All food purchased en route will be fresh and sourced locally using small suppliers and vendors in the towns we are passing through. On the occasions that there is a chance to dine in a restaurant, we tend to prefer smaller, traditional restaurants again which are owned by local operators.
You will be accompanied throughout by two crew members, a group leader and driver, both of whom will be recruited from the regions through which we are travelling and professionally trained to our own high standards. Their inside knowledge of Botswana will prove invaluable, from your drivers’ knowledge of the roads to your leader’s local insights from wildlife facts, to the best places to purchase authentic local handicrafts to the best places to find favourite regional specialities!
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