Day 1 Cape Town
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. For those with time here before the trip starts, highly recommended excursions include catching the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, taking the ferry across to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years), or the day trip down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Peninsula.
Day 2 Lambert's Bay
Depart Cape Town and travel along the west coast to the small seaside town of Lamberts Bay (265km approximately 4-5 hours). Its white beaches, lobsters and incredible wildlife earned this place the nickname ‘diamond of west coast’. It's also simply a quaint fishing town tucked into the western Cape Province, best explored by foot. You'll visit Cape Gannet Island today. At the right time of the year, you might be lucky enough to view the spectacular flocks of gannet, which make use of the spot for breeding in August and September. For birdwatchers, the colony at Lambert's Bay is the most accessible of the six gannet colonies in South Africa and Namibia. They are a spectacular sight in their tightly packed community, and it’s an awesome experience to see them wheel, land and settle into their designated positions. Sit down to a delicious feast at a local open-air restaurant, where the amazing ocean views are sure to dazzle.
Day 3 Orange River
Farewell your coastal retreat as you cross the border into Namibia (500km approximately 7hrs). You should reach your destination on the banks of the Orange River by mid-afternoon. The border crossing and a few photo stops could delay this arrival a little. This is the longest river in South Africa, running from high up in the Drakensberg mountain range and on to the Atlantic Ocean. The river is significant for its role in transporting diamonds which in turn leaves deposits that are found along the Namibian coastline.
Day 4 Fish River Canyon
Kick things off with a half-day canoe adventure along the Orange River today. You will wind through the ancient Richtersveld Mountains.
The canoe trip will be done in 2 man canoes with a local guide. It is a slow paced trip covering approximately 10km and we should be travelling down stream for most or all of the trip.
After you have returned to land you'll venture to the Fish River Canyon (200km approximately 5hrs), one of the biggest canyons in the world. Along the way you will stop at various lookouts, all great opportunities to catch this beautiful and gigantic gorge on camera. Look out for some exotic birdlife while you’re here: plovers, wagtails, hammerkops and herons. You might even catch a glimpse of a baboon or an antelope at dusk if you're lucky.
Day 5 Solitaire
Today is a long travel day. We head to the eastern edge of the Namib Desert today (610km approximately 9hrs). This region of the world's oldest desert is known for its array of geological features. Take in the diversity and sprawling beauty of the scenery as you drive to your lodgings for the night.
Day 6 Solitaire – Sossusvlei
Today you will make an early morning visit to Sossusvlei, which lies at the end of an ancient riverbed. If you find yourself in the mood, a climb to the top of Dune 45 will reward you with unparalleled views of the region.
After breakfast head to Dead Vlei. A clay pan well known for the iconic postcard like images taken here by many. The pan is surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world, "Big Daddy" or "Crazy Dune" average about 350m.
If you'd like to avoid a long walk in the sun you can opt to pay for a 4x4 transfer from the 2x2 car park out to the Dead Vlei entrance point. This will cost approximately 180ZAR per person.
In the afternoon you will visit Sesriem Gorge, tranquil natural corridor you can walk through and explore. The canyon was caused by water erosion over thousands of years. The people who lived in the area used to pull buckets of water up from the depths with six knotted belts. Therefore, the canyon was named after the Afrikaans word “Sesriem” meaning “six belts”.
Day 7 Swakopmund
Depart your desert lodge and travel across the Namib Desert today (280 km, approximately 6 hours), a trip culminating in the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean coastline. The drive goes through a diverse and colourful landscape. You'll see the awesome Kuiseb Canyon along the way, before arriving at the beachside town of Swakopmund, located on the Skeleton Coast.
Day 8 Swakopmund
Enjoy some free time in this pretty coastal spot. Your accommodation is within walking distance of town. Perhaps go for a stroll along the beach, explore the open-air markets or visit the local museum. The Namibian National Marine Aquarium is also a good choice. There are plenty of options on offer at the local activity centre, which your leader will take you to.
Day 9 Damaraland
Get off the beaten track and head into the heart of Damaraland (330km approximately 6hrs). You should arrive at your lodge this afternoon.
The ancient landscapes of the Kunene Region are ruggedly spectacular, awesome sunsets and night skies filled with a multitude of dazzling stars await you. This part of Namibia is also known as Damaraland, as it is the ancestral home land of the enigmatic Damara people whose exact origins remain unclear. Also home to the small population of hardy desert adapted elephant as well as a host of other unique flora and fauna.
Day 10 Damaraland
Spend the morning visiting the surrounding sights such as Twyfelfontein Heritage Site and the Petrified Forest. Twyfelfontein has one of the largest concentrations of ancient rock engraving in southern Africa and is a fascinating insight into the past. The Petrified Forest looks back into nature’s history, where 280 million-year-old fossilised tree trunks lie.
We will be accompanied by local guides at both the Petrified forest and the Twyfelfontein sites. The guided walks take between 30-60mins and although not difficult there are some steep rocks and hills at the Twyfelfontein site. It can get hot at this time of day so be sure to have a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water with you.
Daytime temperatures often peak around 30°C here, so sightseeing is best completed as early as possible, before the thermometer climbs too high. Spend the remainder of the day back at the lodge, perhaps by the pool or relaxing in the shade.
Day 11 Etosha National Park
Depart our lodge this morning and head towards Etosha National Park (220km approximately 5hrs). Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, so there are large herds of elephants, antelope and other herbivores here.
We head out on a short afternoon Game Drive in our truck on arrival.
Day 12 Etosha National Park
Enjoy a full day of game viewing in the truck.
Keep your eyes peeled for black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. Game viewing in the park is relatively easy due to the man-made waterholes and the large, sparsely vegetated pans. The bushland surrounding the pans is hard to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to allow for some sightings. Head back to the lodge this evening.
Day 13 Windhoek
From Etosha National Park you will head to Windhoek, an old German colonial town, now a cosmopolitan centre. The Germanic colonial architecture of this city contributes to its charming feel. You'll arrive in the late afternoon or early evening. The old German colonial town of Windhoek has been blended into a modern city. The German architecture of the older buildings lends the town a historic atmosphere. Good examples of this German architecture can be seen in a number of buildings, but the best are the Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), the Christuskirche (church), the gymnasium and the Genossenschaftshaus. This evening you may wish to join new members of the group for an optional welcome dinner.
Day 14 Ghanzi/Central Kalahari
Cross the border into Botswana and travel to Ghanzi, known as the "Capital of the Kalahari" (560km approximately 8hrs). Accommodation tonight is at a lodge just outside the small cattle ranching town of Ghanzi and a bit more basic than what you will encounter throughout your journey, however the concept and experience will be well worth it. The lodge is situated in the Kalahari region of Botswana that is inhabited by a large portion of Botswanas’ San community. Unemployment is one of the main social issues that affect the San community, who have become an increasingly marginalized minority is Southern Africa . The lodge helps empower the community through employment. A traditional San/Southern African meal will be served in the communal lounge and dining area. There is also an bar with wine, beer and soft drinks available to buy. Later this evening we will be treated to a real cultural experience and interaction with the locals. Around the campfire, you will experience the ancient dance rituals of the San, with a chance to chat afterwards. On special occasions this could be a healing or trance dance, which can continue all night, and is an intense spiritual experience for both participants and visitors alike.
Day 15 Okavango Delta
Before breakfast this morning there will be a chance to go out on an optional walk with a member of the San community. The San are renowned as the most skillful trackers on Earth and have an extraordinary knowledge of the Kalahari for both plants and animal tracking. Here you will be shown the wide variety of both edible and medicinal plants, while also tracking a variety of animals and learning about their habits. Of course, you will also spend quality time with your guide to understand their very different world view. Head to the Okavango Delta (400km approximately 7hrs), where we board speedboats that will take us to your home for the next two nights, a houseboat in the Okavango Delta Panhandle. Please note you will need to pack a small bag or backpack for this trip as we won't be taking all of our luggage with us. Your floating home for the next 2 nights is the most incredibly peaceful way to experience the delta. The houseboat has twin-share cabins with bedding, towels and mosquito nets provided (no single supplement is available on these nights). Cabins are very small and basic with shared facilities however we don't expect you'll be spending much time in there. There is also a dining area on the deck, tea/coffee making facilities and a small collection of books and board games.
This evening head to the deck where your captain will serve dinner, enjoy a sundowner, and listen to the sound of the Hippos along the waters edge.
Day 16 Okavango Delta
After breakfast we take a speedboat and 4WD to a nearby poling station. From here you have the opportunity to experience the myriad waterways in traditional dugout canoes (mokoros) with a local guide. Your guide will take you on a short nature walk around one of the many Islands in the Delta Panhandle. After a picnic lunch, return to the houseboat where you're free to relax, read a book or do some fishing. This evening grab a sundowner, pull up a chair and witness the often breathtaking sunset.
Day 17 Maun
After breakfast, we leave our houseboat behind, and again board the speedboats to take us back to our truck, and then on towards Maun - the gateway of the Okavango Delta (350km approximately 6 hrs). For those wanting more adventure, there's an opportunity to fly over the delta in a small plane for a bird's-eye view - a great way to appreciate the immensity of this watery world. Your leader can give you more information on this activity and how to book. Otherwise the afternoon is free to sit by the pool, catch up on emails and laundry.
Day 18 Makgadikgadi Pans
We depart from our lodge after breakfast and head towards north-east Botswana (210km approximately 4hrs). Our next stop is the Makgadikgadi Pans; a large salt pan situation in the middle of the dry savanna is located. This pan is now all that remains of the former Lake Makgadikgadi. Our accommodation tonight is located on the edge of the pans. Sit by the pool or relax in the lounge area and take in your surroundings after a long day. Head out to the Makgadikgadi Pans for an afternoon excursion in open 4WDs to one of the largest salt flats in the world. Here you’ll sit out in the wild enjoy sundowners and snacks while observing the amazing scenery. With the aid of trackers you may have the opportunity to spend some time in the company of the local meerkat colony, and look out for elephants that meander their way down to the watering hole to quench their thirst. Soak in this incredible place while the sun sets behind the old beautiful baobab.
Day 19 Chobe National Park
This morning we make tracks after breakfast and travel towards Kasane on the edge of Chobe National Park (410km approximately 7hrs). The stretch of road between Nata and Kasane is known as the 'Elephant Highway'. With no fences elephants are free to move between Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and Botswana. So keep your eyes peeled for roadside elephants. Botswana's first national park, Chobe, is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants. You will spend the next two nights in a lodge on the banks of the Chobe River.
Day 20 Chobe National Park
This morning we wake early and take a dawn game drive in Chobe National Park, where you may see elephants drinking at the waters' edge, large herds of cape buffaloes and many impala within the park. In the afternoon you’ll take a breathtaking cruise on the Chobe River, ideal for spotting bird life such as saddle-billed storks, malachite kingfishers, fish eagles and beautiful bee-eaters as well as hippos, crocodiles and large families of elephants. The boat trip will be a shared activity with other travellers. There will be an opportunity to have a sundowner drink and watch the sunset over the river.
Day 21 Victoria Falls
Travel on to Victoria Falls, crossing the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi (100km approximately 2hrs depending on border formalities). These falls are one of the natural wonders of the world and, when in full flow, form the largest sheet of falling water. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles. An included local brewery tour and a tasting paddle is a great way wash down the thrill of witnessing the magnificent falls.
Day 22 Victoria Falls
Today is a free day to enjoy the many activities on offer. There will be another Welcome Meeting at 6pm to meet the new group members joining today. Please let you leader know if you will not take part in this meeting.
Day 23 Hwange National Park
Depart Victoria Falls and hit the road to Hwange National Park (approximately 5 hours drive) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, one of The Intrepid Foundation projects. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and their role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care.
In the afternoon enjoy a game drive within the Hwange National Park. Your vehicle of choice here is an open 4x4 vehicle that'll have you feeling like you're part of the action. Hwange, the largest park in Zimbabwe, was designated as a national park in 1929 after acting as the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century. The park is particularly famous for its elephants and is home to one of the largest populations in the world, as well as a huge variety of wildlife including over 100 mammals and nearly 400 bird species.
Day 24 Matobo National Park
Leave Hwange in your dust as you make tracks for Matobo National Park. Shortly after leaving Hwange stop at the Painted Dog Conservation Centre. The loss of quality habitat and poaching are driving the painted dogs towards extinction. Learn about how they they protect and increase the range and numbers of painted dogs in Zimbabwe and the Hwange ecosystem as a whole. Then it's onto Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. Take a stroll through the streets lined with old colonial buildings and stop in at a local resturant for lunch. Continue on to Matobo where you'll spend the next two nights. This area has great significance, both culturally and spiritually, to the local people and the rocks balanced in Matobo Hills are thought to be the seats of god and ancestral spirits. The park is home to the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company, and is especially known for its rhino population.
Day 25 Matobo National Park
Today you'll enjoy an unforgettable day tracking rhinos on foot with your local guides. You'll learn about the local plants and trees and their traditional uses, and there'll also be plenty of chances to spot wildlife other than rhinos. The park is home to leopards, hippos, antelope and more, and you'll also learn about the San people who have called this area home for thousands of years. Visit their rock paintings in the hills and spend some time in the nearby villages to meet some of the local community before returning to your lodge for the evening.
Day 26 Johannesburg
This morning the group will transfer to Bulwayo Airport and fly to Johannesburg. The afternoon Johannesburg walking tour is a great way to get under the skin of this changing city. With the help of a local guide this tour side skips the usual spots and embraces art, architecture, culture and history of Maboneng Cultural Precinct & Main Street. Afterwards your leader will be happy to show the best place to purchase a local dinner and craft beer.
Day 27 Kruger National Park
Wake early and drive to your lodge located in the Greater Kruger National Park. Arrive in time for lunch, setttle in, then head off for a late afternoon game drive through a private reserve. You'll be in open 4WD vehicles once again and searching for the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo. Enjoy a couple of sunset drinks by one of the waterholes then the game drive will continue into the night. Dinner will be a traditional meal around a fire at the lodge, and the evening is free for you to enjoy a book, chat with your fellow travellers or take a dip in the lodge's swimming pool.
Day 28 Kruger National Park
Start the day early and head into Kruger National Park itself, one of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa. Here are some stats: over 500 bird species, 100 species of reptile and 150 mammal species including, of course, the Big Five. Your wildlife experience begins as soon as you enter the park as you're taken into prime viewing areas. Enjoy a picnic breakfast before spending the rest of the day in this incredible park, with time spent watching game, birds and stopping at various waterholes as you go. The group will leave the park in the late afternoon and return to the lodge for another relaxed evening.
Day 29 Johannesburg
Another early start will see the group heading out on a bush walk within the property. You'll learn about this region's finer details, including bird, tree and spoor identification from a qualified nature guide. Afterwards, transfer back to Johannesburg. It's a long drive (approx. 9-10 hours) but will be broken up with a visit to the spectacular God's Window viewpoint & Bourke's Luck Potholes. On arrival in Johannesburg your adventure will finish.
Touring with Intrepid Travel
Intrepid was started by two friends from Melbourne, Australia, in 1988 after embarking on a trip through the wilds of Africa in a modified ex-council truck, crammed with friends, supplies, a handful of aviator sunglasses and a case or two of beer. Could this type of travel be something others would be interested in? The answer was a resounding yes and today Intrepid send 100,000 travellers across the globe each year with the help of a staff of 1,000.
After three decades, founders Darrell and Manch, feel they know what travellers want. They get that it’s a big decision to fly across the world to wander the souks of Marrakech or enjoy a dreamy Angkor sunrise. They understand that you’re looking for a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of classic highlights and local secrets you won’t find on Google. And of course, an authentic real life experience. Their leaders are born and raised in-country and they know their destination better than anyone. So you’ll do more than just see a place, you’ll live it. Small groups, big adventures and responsible travel – that’s Intrepid’s thing. With 1,000 trips in a variety of styles across 100 countries, you’re sure to find something you like.
Intrepid believe the real magic happens well away from the beaten path. It’s the little noodle bars, hidden galleries and backstreet bodegas and real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. Real life experiences are those moments you know you’re really alive and experiencing something special. While it could be the instant you see one of the world’s great icons for the first time, it is more likely to be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a village square soccer game, being treated to a home-cooked meal by your new local friends or sharing a laugh with your fellow travellers as you try a new mode of transport … camel anyone? These unexpected moments are what travelling with Intrepid is all about, giving you a trip like no other.
Intrepid realises the world is a really big place. And there’s a plethora of different languages to learn, borders to cross and cultures to negotiate. Small group adventure travel makes these things easy and allows you to maximise your precious time off. Instead of worrying about logistics, you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime. Their tour groups are small enough to feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe. Group size will vary depending on where and how you’re travelling, but the average group size is about 10.
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