Explore Southern Africa: Rovos Rail; Victoria Falls & Botswana

Travel from South Africa to Botswana on this unforgettable South Africa adventure trip.

Explore Southern Africa: Rovos Rail; Victoria Falls & Botswana

Overview

This journey includes the gems of the southern Africa travel experience. You touch down in Cape Town, travel aboard a unique train across South Africa's high plains, see magnificent African animals in the wilderness preserves of Botswana's Okavango Delta, and end at Victoria Falls. It's a wonderful balance of culture, scenery, wildlife and luxury. Orvis Travel uses only the best lodges, guides, and transportation, and you are assured the trip of a lifetime on this South Africa adventure tour.

Our unique itinerary is divided into four sections, each designed to give you a different experience: the first is an introduction to Cape Town, one of the most scenic cities in the world; the second is the train trip aboard the luxurious Rovos Rail from Capetown to Pretoria, an unforgettable and unique journey; the third is a lodge safari in the vast Okavango Delta in Botswana, one of the best places in Africa to see animals and the fourth is at Victoria Falls, a must-see for every world traveler. They fit together perfectly to create a complete South Africa adventure tour.

Lodging in Cape Town and Livingstone, Zambia (your base for seeing Victoria Falls) is in luxurious hotels located close to the things you most want to see. The elegant train becomes your mobile lodge during that unique section of the safari and it features spacious rooms, fine dining and impeccable service. Two luxurious safari lodges are your bases in the Okavango Delta. Both are located in the heart of game-viewing areas and feature expert naturalists. These "camps" will delight you with their comfortable suites that incorporate the feel of African wilderness with the luxury of a fine lodge.

The sequence of the itinerary allows you adequate time to get oriented, see the highlights without rushing and takes you from a familiar urban landscape to a wildlife-filled wilderness unlike any other place in Africa. It's organized in an efficient way, but it can be done differently, and we will gladly customize your itinerary on request.

Rovos Rail's departure dates are fixed. Everything else can be done at any time throughout the year. Most Americans travel in southern Africa from March through October, which coincides with the dry season. The peak season is August through October, and you should book trips for those months very early.

This is an independent journey, although you have expert guides and hosts everywhere, and all transfers are escorted. You are met at every airport and escorted to your hotel or camp, where an attentive staff arranges everything for you and resident guides take you on excursions. There is no group, although it can happen that several guests book on the same dates. It's designed for travelers who prefer the freedom to experience Africa individually, but without the hassles of making their own arrangements. Read our South Africa adventure tour reviews to learn more about this trip.

Itinerary

Detailed Southern Africa Tour Itinerary

The tour itinerary can be customized to suit your interests. Orvis Travel will gladly add more days on safari, or any other part of the itinerary, or remove segments you don’t want.

Day 1 | Cape Town

On arrival at Cape Town International Airport you will be met by an English speaking driver-guide. Private transfer to the Cape Grace Hotel on Cape Town’s scenic harbor. The rest of the day is free to sightsee, relax, swim in the hotel’s pool, or take a walk on Table Mountain if you are feeling energetic.

Overnight: Cape Grace. Airport transfer is included.

Day 2 | Explore Cape Town and Table Mountain

This morning your driver-guide will meet you at the hotel for a private half day city tour. Get right to the heart of Cape Town with a drive through the attractive residential suburb of Tamboerskloof, on the way to Signal Hill, which affords a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding area. From there take the Cable Car up Table Mountain (weather permitting), before venturing back into town to the South African Museum where you can sample the history and heritage from the cave paintings of the bushmen to the present day. Then wander through the Company’s Garden and the historic Malay Quarter before ending the tour at the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Afternoon free to relax or explore.

Overnight: Cape Grace Hotel, breakfast included. Guided half-day tour is included.

Day 3 | Cape of Good Hope, False Bay, and the Coast

This morning your driver-guide will meet you at the hotel for a private full day Cape Point and Peninsula Tour. The tour begins with a drive along the Atlantic coastline, past the famous bikini beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, in the shadow of the impressive Twelve Apostles mountain peaks. You continue past Llandudno and the fishing village of Hout Bay before arriving at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point with its breath taking views. From there proceed along the False Bay coastline through the historic Simon’s Town and the sleepy villages of Fish Hoek and Muizenberg.

Lunch will be enjoyed at a nearby restaurant.Then continue on through the vineyards of historic Constantia Valley and allowing you to visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens before returning to your Hotel in the late afternoon.

Overnight: Cape Grace. Breakfast, lunch and guided excursion to Cape are included.

Day 4 | Cape Town to Johannesburg on Rovos Rail

Private transfer from the hotel to the Rovos Rail terminal where you board the train. Depart Capetown at 11:00am. Settle into your cabin and enjoy the ride toward Matjiesfontein.

Upon arrival at Matjiesfontein guests may visit this quaint, historical village.

Overnight on the train. Breakfast in Cape Town included. Lunch and dinner on board train. Transfer to train station is included.

Day 5 | Rovos Rail

Upon arrival in Kimberley take the electric tram from the City centre for a tour of the Big Hole and museum.

Overnight on the train. All meals and excursions on train are included.

Day 6 | Rovos Rail

On arrival you are met and transferred to Johannesburg, where you stay at The Westcliff. Private airport transfers are provided. Enjoy dinner on your own in Johannesburg.

Overnight at The Westcliff. Breakfast is included.

Day 7 | Botswana and the Okavango Delta

After breakfast at the hotel, you’re transferred to Johannesburg Airport for your flight to Maun. Upon arrival at Maun, you take a 15 minute bushplane flight from there to the Baines airstrip.

On arrival at Baines airstrip, you will be met by a naturalist guide and transferred to the lodge by vehicle and by mokoro. Baines is a small luxury camp with 5 classic styled safari tents. Each has a full bathroom and a private balcony.

Game drives at Baines are conducted in open vehicles, which offer unencumbered views of the plains and skies, and are especially good for seeing birds. The professional guides are amongst the best in Botswana. Return to camp in early evening in time for a delicious dinner.

Overnight: Baines Camp. Breakfast at the hotel, the transfer to Johannesburg Airport, and bush plane flight to the Camp are included. At the safari lodges all meals and two guided excursions daily are included.

Day 8 | Botswana

Early morning wake up call with fresh tea/coffee and biscuits served in your room followed by early morning game drive.

Baines is set in a private wilderness concession of 260 000 acres near the Boro River, bordering the Moremi Wildlife Reserve in the centre of one of the most unique regions in the world, the Okavango Delta. Renowned for its lush waterways and abundant wildlife, the Okavango is home to a number of aquatic and land species. The environment includes dry areas for walking with a guide, sections of river and wetlands for canoe (mokoro) and boat trips, and savanna ideal for game drives in a 4x4 with a naturalist. It is known for the abundance of animals, including lion, leopard, wild dog, and much, much more. The birding is outstanding. In the dry season – May-September – herds of up to 1000 buffalo may concentrate near water. Game viewing may be done in 4x4 vehicles, on foot with a ranger, or by boat; sometimes all in the same day.

Return to camp after the morning game activity for a hearty breakfast. If you wish, you can walk off your breakfast on a short walk neart the lodge, accompanied by your guide. Afternoon at your leisure enjoying the facilities on offer. Mid-afternoon high tea will be served prior to your next activity, which will be an afternoon boat ride. Return to camp for dinner and overnight.

Elephant Interaction Activity
At Sanctuary Baines’ Camp there is the opportunity to explore Africa from an elephant’s perspective, walking in the gigantic and silent footsteps of three semi-habituated elephants. The elephant interaction activity is very popular, and in order to avoid disappointment we recommend pre-booking. This activity has an additional cost.

Overnight Baines Camp. All meals, drinks and two game viewing activities are included.

Day 9 | Okavango Delta - Chief's Island

Rise early for a sunrise game viewing trip with a naturalist. After breakfast you board a small plane for a 10 minute flight over the Delta to Chief’s Camp. You’re welcomed by a naturalist guide and transferred to the lodge. Chief’s Camp features luxurious “tent” cabins with full bathrooms and private decks.

Enjoy lunch in the dining pavilion overlooking an area where animals are often grazing, then relax or have a swim in the pool. Later in the afternoon you will go out with a guide on a “mokoro” (dugout canoe) into the waterways of the Delta (water permitting) or alternatively a game drive in the custom-built open 4x4 vehicle. This is an ideal activity should you be a keen bird watcher, wildlife photographer or first time visitor to the Okavango Delta!

Returning to camp at dusk there’s time to relax before dinner.

Overnight at Chief’s Camp. All meals, drinks, two game viewing activities and the flight between camps are included.

Day 10 | Okavango Delta

Fresh coffee or tea are brought to your room early in the morning, then you have a choice of either a mokoro trip or a morning game drive in the Mombo area, an area famous for the amount and diversity of animals and birds.

On a mokoro ride, for example, you will enjoy an experience unparalleled anywhere in the world. Gliding through papyrus-fringed channels (formed by hippos) you experience the feeling that the Chief of the Batawana himself might have felt! Today you are armed with a camera and binoculars and may be rewarded with birds in a rainbow of colors and indigenous wildlife found exclusively in the Delta.

Returning to camp around mid-morning, you will be in time for a sumptuous brunch. A dining experience not to be missed, a fusion of African and Western cuisine, superbly blended into a Pan-African style of cooking! The day is then at your leisure prior to your late afternoon game activity and dinner.

Overnight: Chief’s Camp. All meals, drinks and two game viewing activities are included.

Day 11 | Botswana to Zambia

Rise early for a sunrise game viewing trip with a naturalist. Mid-day you board a small plane for a 40 minute flight to Kasane. Here you will be met by a transfer driver and driven to The Royal Livingstone Resort.

Overnight at Royal Livingstone Resort. Breakfast included.

Day 12 | Victoria Falls

You have a full day to see the falls and take in one of the many activities at this romantic crossroads of African adventure. We left the day unscheduled on purpose and you can choose to walk along the falls, take a scenic flight over them, ride an elephant or play a round of golf where you may well spot a giraffe on the course. The most adventurous can try whitewater rafting on the Zambezi, one of the most exciting class 4 & 5 runs in the world. All can be arranged at the hotel after arrival.

Overnight at the Royal Livingstone Resort. Breakfast included. Other meals on your own at one of the many restaurants in the vicinity.

Day 13 | Livingstone - Depart

You are transferred from the Royal Livingstone Resort to the Livingstone airport to meet your departing flight.

Activities

Activities: Southern Africa

There's something for everyone on our Southern Africa vacation package. Whether it's sightseeing in Cape Town, or relaxing and taking in the natural beauty while traveling on the Rovos Rail, you'll never be bored while exploring the majestic beauty of Southern Africa.

  • Sightseeing in Capetown.
  • Leisurely trip aboard a train where you will disembark to visit the Kimberly diamond mine.
  • 4 night stay in Botswana in the Okavango Delta where you will enjoy 2 gameviewing trips each day with professional guide either by 4wd vehicle or by boat.
  • Open agenda while at Victoria Falls allows you to choose your activities which include: elephant rides, bungee jumping, river rafting.

Lodging

Lodges and Hotels

Cape Town: The Cape Grace
This award-winning hotel is located on the beautiful Cape Town harbor with Table Mountain in the background and the marina at its doorstep. It’s a true 5-star hotel with service, rooms and dining that are among the best anywhere, not just Africa. There are only 122 rooms and each has French doors opening to scenic views. It’s centrally located for excursions and makes a great starting point for your African trip. You stay here three nights and have ample time to enjoy the hotel’s amenities while you explore Cape Town and the region.

Livingstone: The Royal Livingstone Resort
"The 173-room hotel hovers above the misty up-splash of Victoria Falls on the banks of the Zambezi River on the Zambia side - Zimbabwe is on the opposite side - in an absolutely spectacular setting. In the morning, the thundering falls, with more than 150 million gallons per minute rushing down when the water is high, create a giant rainbow through the mist. " -- JILL ABRAMSON, The New York Times

The Royal Livingstone Resort is located along the banks of the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls and is an excellent base for exploring the area, whether you want a helicopter view of the Falls, a sedate walk, or something more adventurous, it’s easy to arrange from the Royal Livingstone. You have two nights here and can arrange activities directly at the hotel after arrival, giving you maximum flexibility.

Botswana – Okavango Delta: Baines Camp
Set in a grove of trees, and surrounded by papyrus beds, this low environmental impact camp has been built using commercially grown wood and recycled tin cans. The local community in Maun were invited to collect as many cans as they could, and paid a fee for every can collected. These cans were then incorporated into the camp buildings, forming the backbone of the structures.

There is a communal swimming pool, and the wide wooden deck that surrounds the main dining and sitting room is the ideal place to relax while observing the varied wildlife present here. See prowling lions looking for prey at the edge of the lagoon that the camp overlooks, or watch one of the many elephants who live in the area.

The five suites at Sanctuary Baines' are opulent and luxurious, with ensuite facilities and four-poster beds swathed in mosquito netting. Traditional safari ceiling fans create a cooling breeze at even the hottest times of the year. Should you wish, your bed can be wheeled out onto the private wooden deck for a night under the stars, overlooking the shimmering waters of the Boro River where hippo can often be spotted.

Lion prides, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog are occasionally encountered, while families of hippo hide in the deeper channels and lagoons. The area supports the continent’s largest surviving concentration of elephant and buffalo, while roan and sable antelope are occasionally spotted in the open woodlands.

Botswana – Okavango Delta: Chief's Camp
Chief's Camp is a luxury bush lodge situated on Chief's Island in the exclusive Mombo Concession of the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. In this "predator capital of Africa", wild dog, lion, cheetah and leopard abound, and guests enjoy exceptional opportunities to interact with this amazing environment. Since the introduction of white rhino into the area, this is the only place in Botswana where these magnificent animals can be seen in their natural environment.

Chief's Camp has been so skillfully integrated into the landscape that guests can often view game without even leaving camp. Shaded from the heat of the day by a beautiful grove of jackalberry trees, Chief's Camp is so remote you'll feel like the only humans for miles and miles.

Twelve secluded, permanent luxury bush pavilions are designed for ultimate privacy and comfort, and to offer you a front row seat for this rich and rewarding African adventure. Each pavillion features a thatched roof, spacious seating area, en-suite facilities with indoor and outdoor shower as well as a private game viewing deck with hammock and deck chairs. Each room boasts a generous mosquito net on a four-poster bed, two wardrobes, a book shelf, writing desk and mini bar. The main lodge complex houses the dining area, curio shop, library and reception area. There is an exquisite swimming pool and a range of spa treatments are offered by our beauty therapist in a poolside treatment sala (high season only).

Game viewing opportunities include daily excursions in open four-wheel-drive vehicles and quiet mokoro excursions along narrow Delta channels during the flood season (subject to water levels). Expert guides are always on hand to offer a wealth of wildlife knowledge, to help you make the most of these rare and wonderful opportunities.

An important note on lodges in Botswana:

The Okavango Delta lodges are small and often sell out far in advance . In the event that the two lodges above are not available, Orvis Travel will offer you appropriate substitutions.We know the lodges and locations well, and any substitutions will be of similar quality and activities. Of course, we will advise you of availability and discuss options with you before confirming alternative lodges.

We can also customize your itinerary to include lodges in South Africa or Zambia instead of, or in addition to, Botswana.

The Train

Rovos Rail is a unique private railroad based in Pretoria, South Africa, and features large rooms in an antique style, but with all the modern facilities. Rooms have private baths, air conditioning, large windows. Modern diesel engines pull the train. The food and service are outstanding.

Pullman Suites
Private bath, beds fold up during the day, 76 square feet, bathroom shower.

Deluxe Suites
Private bath, twin or double beds, table and wing chairs included, 118 square feet.

Royal Suites
Full private bath w/tub and shower, twin or double beds, two wing chairs, 172 square feet.

Pricing & Dates

Pricing & Dates for Explore Southern Africa

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy.

Arrive (Cape Town) Depart (Livingstone) Rates
January 6 January 18 *10,514
January 27 February 8 -
February 10 February 22 -
February 24 March 7 -
March 7 March 19 -
March 16 March 28 -
April 6 April 18 *$10,770
April 20 May 2 -
May 4 May 16 -
May 18 May 30 -
June 8 June 20 *$13,078
June 22 July 4 -
July 6 July 18 -
July 20 August 1 -
August 3 August 15 -
August 17 August 29 -
September 7 September 19 -
September 21 October 3 -

Other departures are available; this is just a sampling of dates.
Contact us for more details.

*Double rates are based on Deluxe Suite on the train.

Upgrades and Adjustments:

Doubles: Add $900 per person to upgrade to a Royal Suite; subtract $900 per person for a Pullman.

Singles: We will quote singles on an individual basis.

Dates are the day of arrival in Cape Town and the day of departure from Livingstone, Zambia. The flights to and from South Africa are overnight; plan on leaving one day before the start date and arriving home one day after the end date.

Included:

Lodging; guided activities as described; all meals on the train and in Botswana safari lodges, breakfasts in Cape Town, Pretoria & Livingstone; rail fare; park fees; scheduled flight from Johannesburg to Maun; bush plane transfers between lodges in Botswana.

Not included:

Airfare to and from South Africa tips, meals not listed as included in the itinerary; excursions at Victoria Falls; alcoholic beverages and soft drinks; visa or entry exit fees.

Reviews

Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 2 reviews

5-star:
2
4-star:
0
3-star:
0
2-star:
0
1-star:
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2 of 2 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    Exploring Southern Africa - 8/5/2009
    By:

    The trip was a great combination of different experiences in Africa. We enjoyed the balance of visiting and touring Capetown and Victoria Falls, the nostalgia of the Victorian train ride to the adventure of the safari in the Okavango Delta. It offered a range of experiences that kept us interested the entire trip. Along the way we met some great guides and other couples who we enjoyed their company. Jodi was great. Most of our communication was by e-mail and she typically responded the same day.

  • 5/5

    Exploring Southern Africa - 8/15/2008
    By:

    The trip was great. We will continue to check your trip offerings. Africa and Alaska have been our two favorite vacations.

Contact the expert at Orvis Travel:
Abby Liell
Explore Southern Africa Lodge
800-547-4322
Mon-Fri, 9am - 5pm (ET)
Orvis International Travel

800-547-4322 | 802-362-8790
orvistravel@orvis.com

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