Africa on a Shoestring tour

Etosha National Park, Namibia
Dune surfing, Namibia
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Himba girl, Namibia
Smile, Overland truck, Africa
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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Encounters Travel

This comprehensive 20-day tour explores the famous route from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, traversing South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and ending in Zimbabwe. It's a truly grand African experience. Start your tour at Table Mountain in Cape Town then travel across the barren flats of the Etosha Pans in Namibia. On the way we will watch the sunrise from the summit of Dune 45 in Sossusvlei, raft down the Orange River in Namibia and visit the busy town of Swakopmund. From Etosha we head east to Botswana where you can take and optional Mokoro ride through the Okavango Delta and then take in sunset on a boat cruise on the Chobe River before ending your tour at Victoria Falls, the ideal way to finish a perfect tour of Africa!

Cape Town, Orange River, Cederberg Region, Fish River Canyon, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Brandberg rock paintings, Etosha National Park, Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls
  • Table Mountain
  • Africa
  • South Africa
  • Cape Town
Tour Types
  • Active
  • Camping
  • Overland
  • Safaris
  • Cultural
  • Wildlife
  • Singles
  • Adventure
  • Small Group

Day 1 : Cape Town to the Cederberg

Your 3-week adventure in Africa starts in Cape Town, South Africa’s “Mother City”. We depart early in the morning, so it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before the start of the tour. We are available to assist with booking any additional nights or airport transfers that you may require.

We depart Cape Town in our tour truck, a gorgeous view of Table Mountain seeing us off from across the bay. Our first destination is the Cederberg region, where the picturesque mountains are complemented by vast orange farms. This area is known for the famous Rooibos plant, used to brew a refreshing and nutritious tea, and now also found in many cosmetic products, due to its health benefits. We visit a Rooibos farm, where we can see how the iconic herb is grown and harvested, before ending off our first day on a pleasant note: enjoying a tasty traditional dinner with our fellow guests.
Route: Cape Town to Citrusdal ±270km
Activity package: Rooibos tea farm visit
OVERNIGHT: Marcuskraal Campsite
MEALS: Dinner
EXTRAS: Single room supplement (SAOVSH), Extra day in Cape Town - pre-tour, Africa Shoestring Activity Package 2019

Day 2 : Namaqualand to Gariep (Orange) River

Today we travel through the region of South Africa known as Namaqualand. This scenic desert wilderness provides a soothing setting for the day’s journey. If you happen to be travelling during July to September, you may get to witness the springtime wildflower blooms for which this area is known. After a short stop for supplies in a town called Springbok, we continue onwards through the desert to our campsite.
Included Highlight: Spring wild flowers (seasonal July-September)
OVERNIGHT: Fiddlers Creek Campsite
MEALS: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 : Gariep (Orange) River to Fish River Canyon

A thrilling morning out on the Orange River awaits us today. The Orange, known as “Gariep” in the KhoeKhoe language, is the longest river in South Africa. It begins in the highlands of Lesotho, and flows through 2200km of stunning desert landscapes, before emptying into the Atlantic on the west coast of the country. A half-day canoe trip on the river is scheduled for this morning, an exciting way to appreciate the stunning surrounds. Later, it is time to leave South Africa, and we make our way across the border into Namibia, where we head to the mineral hot springs for a relaxing dip. We then arrive at our camp for the night.
Route: Orange/Gariep River to Fish River Canyon ±250km
Optional Activity: Half day canoe trip
OVERNIGHT: Hobas Campsite
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 : Fish River Canyon, Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground

Today we visit a truly memorable natural destination in Namibia. The Fish River Canyon is Africa’s largest canyon- the second-largest in the world. It is 160km long and 27km wide at its maximum point- the views alone will take your breath away. We awaken early so that we are able to witness morning breaking over the canyon- the early sunlight filtering through the ravine is a magical sight.

We stroll leisurely along the rim of the canyon in order to fully appreciate its grandeur, before setting off for the next two amazing destinations for the day. The “upside-down” trees of the Quiver Tree Forest are weird and wonderful- they are so named because their branches were used by the San people to fashion quivers. They are also called “upside-down” because of the root-like appearance of these branches. From this strange yet fascinating place, we will go to the Giants’ Playground- an aptly-named collection of enormous dolerite boulders that sit inexplicably on top of each other- another intriguing sight.
Route: Fish River Canyon to Keetmanshoop
Included highlight: Walk the rim of the Fish River Canyon, visit to Quiver Tree Forest and Giants Playground
OVERNIGHT: Seeheim Hotel (camping)
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 : Namib-Naukluft National Park

A slowly-changing landscape will mesmerise us today, as we move further into the depths of the Namib towards the famous dunes of the Sossusvlei. Grasslands slowly morph into red sandbanks as we drive on dusty roads through the farmlands of Namibia’s rural countryside. We arrive at Sesriem Canyon, which marks the entrance to the Sossusvlei. Our campsite is a welcome sight after a day spent on the road, and we drift off to sleep, surrounded by the tranquility that only the desert can bring.
Route: Keetmanshoop to Namib Naukluft NP
Included highlight: Sesriem Canyon
OVERNIGHT: Sesriem campsite
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 : Sossusvlei Dunes – Namib-Naukluft National Park

Today we experience one of the undoubted highlights of the entire tour. The immense, iconic red dunes of the Sossusvlei are one of the defining features of Namibia’s famous desert landscapes. Dune 45 is probably the famous, and it is at the summit of this legendary dune that we witness one of the tour’s most unforgettable moments- the sun coming up over the dune fields. We enjoy breakfast at the bottom of Dune 45 with a kaleidoscope of colours firmly etched into our memories. From there, we make our way to the equally enthralling Deadvlei and Sossusvlei pans. The twisting shapes of the dead trees rising into the sky stand out sharply against the stark white flatness of the salt and clay pans. These places are a photographer’s dream.
Route: Namib-Naukluft NP – Naukluft Area
Included highlight: Sunrise hike up Dune 45, 4x4 shuttle to Sossusvlei / Deadvlei
OVERNIGHT: Boesman’s Camp or similar
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 : Swakopmund

Today is our final day in the desert. An informative guided walk gives us an insight into the fascinating environment, before we set off for our next destination: Swakopmund. This coastal city is known as the “adventure capital” of Namibia. Before arriving, we make two notable stops. First, we stop to acknowledge our crossing of the Tropic of Capricorn. We also get off at Walvis Bay lagoon, where we will hopefully see the famous flamingos- hundreds of them found in the bay’s shallows.
Route: Naukluft Area to Swakopmund
Activity Package: Guided desert walk with local expert
OVERNIGHT: Amanpuri Travellers Lodge or Strauss Holiday Accommodation
MEALS: Breakfast
EXTRAS: Africa Shoestring Activity Package 2019

Day 8 : Swakopmund

We spend today in Swakopmund, a town with endless opportunities for fun and adventure. With ocean and desert both within easy reach, visitors to Swakopmund have a host of adventure activities to choose from. Skydiving, sandboarding, dolphin cruises, quad biking… adrenaline junkies are spoilt for choice. Those who prefer a more relaxed approach to things can browse through the many charming shops and bakeries on offer, where the German influence of the past can be seen.
Optional activities: Dolphin cruise, Skydiving, sandboarding, Quad biking, Dinner
OVERNIGHT: Amanpuri Travellers Lodge or Strauss Holiday Accommodation
MEALS: Breakfast

Day 9 : Spitzkoppe to Brandberg

Today we are once again on the road through the desert. We stop to see the dramatic formations of Spitzkoppe- these are massive granite rocks that stand visibly tall against the level desert background. The area also houses a collection of San rock art paintings, which we are able to visit and understand with the help of a local guide.
Route: Swakopmund to Brandberg (via Spitzkoppe)
Included Highlight: Visit and explore Spitzkoppe with a local guide
OVERNIGHT: Brandberg White Lady
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 : Brandberg White Lady

Today we pay a visit to the famous White Lady rock art painting. This painting, 45cm high, is reached after an hour-long hike through the dry Tsisab River gorge (please be aware that some of the terrain on the hike is quite rough). In this area, we will also see the Brandberg (Burning Mountain), Namibia’s highest mountain. At dusk, the colours of the sunset make the mountain look as though it is on fire, giving it its lyrical name. Aside from the White Lady, the Brandberg region is also home to more than 45 000 other San rock art paintings
Route: Uis to Kamanjab
Included highlight: Brandberg White Lady hike
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 : Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is our destination for today. One of the many beautiful wilderness sanctuaries in Africa, it is also home to one incredibly unique feature. An enormous salt pan, 120km wide, sits in the middle of the park, attracting a host of wildlife to its banks. We explore the park on a guided afternoon game drive, encountering shy plains game, spotting an array of bird species, and hoping to come across the four members of the famous African Big 5 that are found in the park.
Route: Kamanjab to Etosha National Park
Included highlight: Afternoon game drive in Nomad truck
OVERNIGHT: Namibia Wildlife Resorts: Halali
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 : Etosha National Park

A second day on safari awaits us in Etosha National Park. There is no such thing as boredom in the African bush, and behind every tree and shrub is the possibility of seeing something amazing. The peripheries of Etosha Pan are a magnet for wildlife, and we spend time exploring the region in search of the park’s many magnificent species.
Route: Etosha National Park
Included highlight: Full day game drive in Nomad truck
OVERNIGHT: Namibia Wildlife Resorts: Okaukuejo
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 : Windhoek

We have an early start today and set off for the capital city of Namibia: Windhoek. A charismatic city, Windhoek is unique- it has all the charm of a small town, while also featuring many attributes of a big city. A guided tour will take us through its streets and to its many landmarks. We will be able to see the influence of the city’s colonial history in the German-inspired buildings, food, and language.
Route: Etosha National Park to Windhoek
Included highlight: Walk through Windhoek with your guide
OVERNIGHT: Heja Game Lodge
MEALS: Breakfast

Day 14 : Botswana – Ghanzi

We leave Namibia today with treasured memories of our time in the desert. There is even more to look forward to in our next destination, Botswana. Our journey takes us to another famous African desert, the Kalahari. Unlike the Namib, the Kalahari features low-lying dunes peppered with shrubs of grass. It is enormous- it stretches over 900000 square kilometres over Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Our stop in this wilderness is the small town of Ghanzi. We are led on an educational walk with the San community, the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, a people synonymous with the Kalahari. The San are known for their excellent hunting skills and deep connection with nature. Their rich history paints them as fearsome warriors with fascinating traditions. In the evening, we are able to see how song, dance, and storytelling are important aspects of their culture, as we witness a San tribal dance.
Route: Windhoek to Ghanzi
Optional activity: San Tribal dance in evening / San Guided Walk
OVERNIGHT: Ghanzi Trail Blazers
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15 : Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of Africa’s most stunning and diverse wilderness regions. It comprises a breathtaking network of rivers and wetlands, swamps and grasslands, all supporting an astounding diversity of life. A scenic flight over the Delta is on today’s agenda (optional). This is a wonderful opportunity to see the unique geography from a different vantage point: the Okavango River flowing into the Kalahari Desert, creating this natural wonderland.
Route: Ghanzi to Maun
Optional Activity: Okavango Delta scenic flight
Upgrade: Okavango Delta Excursion
OVERNIGHT: Sedia Riverside Lodge
MEALS: Breakfast, Dinner
EXTRAS: Okavango Delta Upgrade (camping)

Day 16 : Okavango Delta Excursion

Today’s activity is a mokoro excursion in the Delta. This is a unique and thrilling experience that not many people can say they have done. A mokoro is a traditional canoe vessel that is designed to move through the channels and shallow waters of the Delta’s streams and rivers. A poler stands in the back of the boat and steers it along, while you sit back and drink in the beauty and serenity of the surrounds. Floating past tall reeds, you come across lagoons and islands, eyes peeled for birds
and wildlife. Your poler will also lead you on a nature walk on one of the islands. This is a truly remarkable experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Route: Maun – poling station – Okavango Delta - Maun
Included Highlight: Okavango Delta Day Excursion
Upgrade: Okavango Delta Upgrade
OVERNIGHT: Sedia Riverside Lodge
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
EXTRAS: Okavango Delta Upgrade (camping)

Day 17 : Nata

Today’s destination is the Makgadigadi Pans. These are huge white pans located in the northeast of Botswana. They are considered to be some of the largest salt pans in the world and are a place of eerie beauty and unique wildlife. In the dry season, the landscape becomes arid and barren. When it rains, the pans fill up, attracting life in numbers. Herds of wildebeest and zebra can be seen moving towards the region, as well as a truly remarkable phenomenon of nature: tens of thousands of flamingos congregating at the pans. We visit the Nata Sanctuary at the pans, where a guided game drive gives us the chance to encounter the wildlife of the region.
Route: Maun to Nata
Activity Patckage: Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Nata Sanctuary)
MEALS: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
EXTRAS: Africa Shoestring Activity Package 2019

Day 18 : Chobe National Park

Today we are on safari in Chobe National Park, one of the best places in the world for viewing elephants. Over 80000 of these gentle giants can be found in Chobe, along with many of Africa’s other majestic creatures. On our guided game drive, we will hope to see lions, leopards, African wild dogs, zebras, hippos… and much more. In the afternoon, we enjoy a peaceful boat cruise on the Chobe River. A boating safari is a wonderfully unique way to see the African bush, and you might also get the chance to get up close to elephants as they play in the water!
Route: Nata to Kasane
Activity package: Chobe National Park Game Drive, Chobe National Park boat cruise
OVERNIGHT: Thebe River Safaris
MEALS: Breakfast, Dinner
EXTRAS: Africa Shoestring Activity Package 2019

Day 19 : Zimbabwe -Victoria Falls

Today we reach Zimbabwe, the last country stop on our tour. We make our way to a place that needs no introduction. Victoria Falls is one of the Wonders of the World, a majestic, breathtaking natural spectacle that will leave you in awe. The mighty Zambezi River thunders down over 100m-high basalt cliffs into the gaping cavern below, throwing up curtains of spray in a magnificent display of raw energy and power. Simply viewing the falls and appreciating their splendour is an experience in itself, but there is also the chance to visit Victoria Falls, a busy little adventure town, where markets and coffee shops add to the quaint atmosphere. A range of adventure activities are also available for you to choose from.
Route: Kasane to Victoria Falls
Optional activities: Vic Falls National Park Entry
OVERNIGHT: Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel
MEALS: Breakfast

Day 20 : Victoria Falls

Day 20 has arrived - the final day of one of your magnificent adventure in Africa. Make it the most memorable with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure experience at Victoria Falls. An array of exhilarating activities are available, from bungee jumping off the bridge that spans the gorge, to rafting on the Zambezi itself, to soaring above the Falls in a helicopter, to floating down the river on a sunset cruise. You will depart Zimbabwe with your heart permanently imprinted with special memories of your time in Africa.
Optional activities: Zambezi Sunset Cruise, Bungee Jump, Helicopter Flights, White Water Rafting
MEALS: Breakfast
EXTRAS: Extra day in Victoria Falls - post-tour, Departure airport transfer in Victoria Falls
  • 15 nights camping and 4 nights in hotels/lodges/guesthouses
  • Camping equipment (except sleeping bag & pillow)
  • All transport using our 25-seat expedition vehicle
  • All 'included highlights' as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to National Parks
  • 2 truck crew (driver/guide plus assistant/cook)
  • Local guides for sightseeing tours and activities as per the itinerary
  • Meals: 19 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 15 dinners
  • Touring with Encounters Travel

    Encounters Travel specialise in creating imaginative, adventurous small group tours all around the world for the open minded traveller. They are always looking for new ways to add value and excitement to your travel experiences so that you see more than just the usual tourist spots, as well as having great fun at the same time. Their tours are designed to give you the best possible experience in each country, whilst at the same time providing good value for money without making compromises.

    You will see and learn about local cultures and historic sites while enjoying some more adventurous activities along the way. They also try very hard to keep the overall style and inclusions/exclusions of their tours as consistent as possible from country to country, while taking into account the different highlights and activities available in each destination. Their escorted group tours are hosted by specially selected experts who bring their knowledge and skills to add an extra dimension to the tour.

    Encounters Travel are committed to travelling responsibly, and leaving a positive impression and impact on the countries through which they travel.




    tour details

    This tour is operated by Encounters Travel

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    Suitable for: Over 10s
    Meals:19 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 15 dinners
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