Upon arrival at the Johannesburg International Airport this afternoon, you’ll be met and escorted to your hotel. Often called Jo’burg, Johannesburg is the country’s largest city and financial center with ultramodern skyscrapers and a bustling way of life. Truly, the city of gold, as its claim to fame is the gold that was discovered nearby.
The D’Oreale Grande is situated near Johannesburg International Airport, boasting luxurious accommodation, with palatial buildings set in a display of gardens, fountains and statues. Richly cloaked surroundings such as marble floors, plush carpets, magnificent stained glass domes, highly decorated murals and frescos, sculptures, intricate mosaics and Roman columns and arches contribute to an atmosphere of intimacy, classical elegance and lavish opulence. Overnight at D’OREALE GRANDE. www.doreale.com
Your flight this morning takes you to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and the mighty Victoria Falls. At more than twice the size of Niagara Falls it’s no surprise that Victoria Falls are among the Seven Wonders of the World. Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders,) derived from the towering column of spray when the Zambezi River runs high, is the name that Zimbabwe’s local people have given to this awesome natural phenomenon. The name is probably more appropriate and descriptive than “Victoria”, which has a far too calm and composed ring to it to do justice to the masses of thundering, swirling water of these spectacular falls. But all Dr. David Livingstone probably thought of when he named the falls after his Queen in 1855 was his royal duty. Five separate falls make up this incredible spectacle that plunges more than 300 feet into a sheer-sided chasm which separates Zimbabwe from Zambia. The awe-inspiring abyss is spanned by a 1905 Edwardian bridge which links the two countries and many adventurers now use to bungee jump. The masses of water plunging down the falls and into the gorge below originate from the mighty Zambezi River that meanders through more than 1,677 miles of African countryside.
Your visit will include a tour of the falls on the Zimbabwe side. An afternoon sundowner cruise will be a highlight as you glide along the Zambezi River watching hippos snort, elephants drink on the riverbank, monkeys jump from branch to branch, birds fly overhead or pose for a photograph on the branches, and much more. Enjoy your gin and tonic, cool beer, or drink of choice, and see a panoramic sunset as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the whole area in unbelievable colors of brilliant reds, yellows, purples and mauves.
Ilala Lodge is an intimate boutique hotel ideally situated on the Zimbabwean side of the mighty Zambezi River, where it is geographically the closest hotel to the magnificent Falls. All of its 56 rooms have views of the Victoria Falls spray. The décor of the rooms is classic and the furniture is made from teak railway sleepers. Each room has en suite bathroom, aircondition, satellite TV, overhead fan, hair dryer, a digital safe, as well as tea/coffee-making facilities. The food at Ilala Lodge is excellent, the Palm Restaurant offers superb cuisine, and the chance to relax, and soak in the atmosphere and elegant surroundings. Overnights at the ILALA LODGE. (B Daily) http://www.ilalalodge.com/
Alternative Accommodations The Kingdom Hotel is an Omani style resort well known for being situated within the Victoria Falls National Park at the center of all the activities that can be found in and around the Falls. Bungee jumping, White-river rafting or a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi is just some of the activities available. The hotel has 294 rooms with en-suite bathroom, air conditioning, overhead fan tea/coffee making facilities, satellite TV, radio and telephone. The resort has a food court offering a wide choice of relaxing or quick meals, suiting all ages, three swimming pools, a casino, a spa and beauty parlor. Overnights at the KINGDOM HOTEL. http://www.thekingdomhotel.co.za/
Head to Chobe National Park where you will spend the next three nights on wildlife viewing and boat activities. World renowned for its wildlife, Chobe is a symbol for so many of the things that are unusual, exciting and interesting in Botswana. It is the second largest park in Botswana, and the first declared national park. Your destination will be the Chobe River front, and your accommodation will be close to the town of Kasane, the heart of a road network which gives access to Zambia, Zimbabwe and to the Caprivi Strip of Namibia. The park covers a wide variety of country; riverine forest, floodplain, periodic marsh, mopane and miombo woodland and a few rocky outcrops. Such a diversity of habitats implies a wide variety of wildlife, which ranges from water animals such as hippo, crocodile, otter and fish, to forest and dry land species such as elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and eland. In all areas predators abound – lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena are plentiful. In the open grasslands of the pans, one can find the rare oribi and occasional reedbuck. Puku, an antelope associated with this park, can often be seen in herds around the edge of the river. The Chobe River is also well known for its magnificent bird viewing, with over 400 different species, ranging from eagles to kingfishers and from Marabou Storks to bee-eaters. Occasionally, Carmine Bee-eaters build colonies in the sand banks of the floodplains where they nest in their thousands. There are over 90 species of fish in the local waters, and if you’re so inclined, an activity you might wish to partake is fishing.
A major feature of Chobe National Park is its overabundance of elephant often seen at the river front bathing in the water. Vast numbers of elephant come down to drink in the late afternoons and it is possible to see as many as 1,000 of these magnificent animals in a two-hour wildlife drive. The Chobe elephant comprise part of what is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population, covering most of northern Botswana and northwestern Zimbabwe. Botswana’s elephant population is currently estimated at around 120,000, which has built up steadily from a few thousand in the early 1900s and has escaped the massive illegal off take that has decimated other populations in the 1970s and 1980s. These elephants are migratory, making seasonal movements of up to 124 miles from the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the southeast of the park, to which they disperse in the rains. The elephants in this area have the distinction of being the largest in body size of all living elephants though the ivory is brittle and you will not see many huge tuskers among these gentle giants. Your home for the next three nights will be the Chobe Bush Lodge, spread along the lush banks of the Chobe River. Your rooms facing the river feature air conditioning with the convenience of telephone, television and large en-suite bathrooms. The crowning touch, however, is either the verandah or balcony each room offers, allowing for exquisite views over Chobe National Park. Meals are always a delight as lunch and dinner is served in a braai buffet style around the pool area, overlooking the river, with a selection of local treats as well as exotic game dishes. Overnights at the CHOBE BUSH LODGE.http://underonebotswanasky.com/camps/chobe-bush-lodge.php
Chobe Marina lodge is located in Kasane in the north-eastern region of Botswana where the African nations of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana meet. Early morning and late afternoon game drives guarantee sightings of excellent game and abundant bird life. River cruises ensure close encounters with elephants as they swim and wade across the Chobe river. Every room is equipped with a private bathroom fitted with a hot tub and bathtub. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and free toiletries. Fine dining can be enjoyed in the luxurious Commissioners Restaurant, while the Mokoros Restaurant specializes in breakfast and lunch offering local cuisine in a relaxed environment above a cascading water feature which flows into the Chobe River. Overnights at the CHOBE MARINA LODGE. https://aha.co.za/chobemarina/
Enjoy the last chance to take in the beauty of the park as you board your charter flight to one of the world’s most distinctive regions, the Okavango Delta, earth’s largest inland water systems. Its headwaters start in Angola’s western highlands, with numerous tributaries joining to form the Cubango River, which then flows through Namibia (called the Kavango) and finally enters Botswana, where it is then called the Okavango. Millions of years ago the Okavango River used to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans). Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to backup and form what is now the Okavango Delta. This has created a unique system of water ways that now supports a vast array of animal and plant life that would have otherwise been a dry Kalahari savannah.
Your activities center on mokoro (dugout canoe) rides, boat excursions and walking safaris. See the delta from water level and relax as you glide through quiet reed-lined channels. Birding is excellent, with Pels Fishing Owl and Wattled Crane being observed with regularity. In all, more than 600 species reside within the 7,000 square miles of islands, marshes, flood plains, and channels of which the Okavango is comprised. Feel the beat of Africa beneath your feet on a walking safari, and take a boat through the reeds to spot some of the larger species such as elephant, red lechwe, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, baboon, monkey, warthog, and buffalo, along with major predators such as lion, leopard, and hyena. If you are lucky, spot the elusive sitatunga antelope which have been known to sleep in the water, with only their nostrils resting above the water’s surface.
Explore the wilderness on foot by participating on bush walks on Chief’s island (Moremi Game Reserve), part of the world-renowned Moremi Game Reserve. This area is known as the ‘predator capital of Africa’ and is also home to large herds of elephant and buffalo, making this the ideal place to experience African wildlife at close hand. Chief’s Island is one of the many islands created by the seasonal floodwaters of the Okavango. The island was named after Chief Moremi, the hereditary king of the area who used the lands as his royal hunting grounds. The vast numbers of animals who congregate here make it easy to understand why the area was put aside for the chief. It was Moremi’s people, the Tawana, who turned it into a reserve where animals are protected.
Moremi Crossing is a 16-tent camp built on a palm fringed island surrounded by the Moremi’s game-rich seasonal floodplains and overlooking Chief’s Island. Moremi Crossing is a new style safari camp combining luxury with simplicity. This is a 100% eco-friendly development featuring the latest in solar and waste disposal technology. All tents are spacious tents on raised decks, each with their own veranda overlooking Chief’s Island. Tents have their own eco-friendly outdoor shower heated by solar power. Overnights at the MOREMI CROSSING CAMP. http://underonebotswanasky.com/camps/moremi-crossing.php
A last activity this morning before you will transfer to the airstrip for your light aircraft transfer to Maun where you will board your scheduled flight to Johannesburg. Here, connect with your overnight flight back home.
This morning you land in the USA bringing with you the memories of all the wonderful sights of Southern Africa.
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