Group Size: 4 - 12 passengers
Departures: Scheduled small group departures throughout the year
Encounter the highlights of Botswana and Zimbabwe on this small group safari with a maximum of 12 passengers. With some of the world’s greatest wildlife, Botswana and Zimbabwe are perfect partners for a safari. Enjoy your guides expertise and knowledge of both countries, and get to explore two of Southern Africa’s most enigmatic countries. Witness the iconic Victoria Falls, the famous Chobe National Park, experience rhino tracking in Matobo and relax on a houseboat on Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake.
Please note: This safari uses a Touring Fuso, Sprinter, Land Cruiser or other appropriate vehicles (depending on availability).
Day 1 - Victoria Falls
On arrival at Victoria Falls Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the afternoon may be spent at leisure enjoying one of the many activities available in Victoria Falls. This evening you will meet your guide and the rest of your group at the lodge at 18h00 for your pre-departure meeting.
Optional activities in Victoria Falls (at own expense)
Below is a list of some of the most popular optional activities on offer in Victoria Falls. Pre-booking is recommended to avoid disappointment. All activities are subject to availability and may require a minimum amount of passengers to operate. Certain activities only operate at specific times of the year. Please contact the reservations office for further information.
15 Minute Helicopter Flight Flying Fox (Cable Slide)
22 Minute Helicopter Flight Gorge Swing
Boma Dinner incl. transfers Zip Line
Guided Tour of the Victoria Falls Horse Back Safaris (novice)
Dinner Cruise Canoeing (full day)
Bungee Jump Rafting (full day, low water)
Bridge Swing Rafting (full day, high water)
Bridge Slide Batoka Gorge Hike and Ndebele Village Tour
Historical Bridge Tour Traditional Village Tour
A’Zambezi River Lodge is located in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 25km from the airport, nestling on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river within the periphery of the Zambezi National Park. The imaginative architecture with its sweeping curve of grass thatch blends well with the lash green lawns. A’Zambezi is the perfect retreat to relax and unwind in the quiet ambience of the African wild life and nature, whilst enjoying renowned services. 83 well appointed and air-conditioned rooms including 2 suites, 46 twin rooms, 11 family, 17 triple and 7 double rooms. The majority of the rooms have balconies facing the river and swimming pool whilst the remaining rooms face the National Park and the gardens.
Day 2 - Chobe National Park
Distance: 100 km
After breakfast your guide will take you on a tour of the mighty Victoria Falls, known by the local Kololo tribe as Mosi oa Tunya – “the smoke that thunders”. You will travel to Kasane in Botswana, the gateway to the Chobe National Park. Chobe, which is the second largest national park in Botswana and covers 10,566 square km, has one of the greatest concentrations of elephant found on the African continent. The afternoon is at leisure to partake in optional activities or to relax by the pool. (B)
Chobe Safari Lodge is situated in Kasane on the banks of the Chobe River and shares a border with Chobe National Park. Right on your doorstep is the meeting point of four African countries: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Chobe Safari Lodge therefore offers an excellent getaway location to Chobe, Victoria Falls or Caprivi.
Day 3 - Chobe National Park
Start your morning with a hopefully spectacular game drive in Chobe National Park. You will return to the lodge for a late breakfast and relaxation until your boat cruise on the Chobe River starts around 15h00. From the cruise you may see elephants, hippos, crocodiles and a variety of birds, making for excellent up close photo opportunities. (B)
Day 4 to Day 5 - Hwange National Park
Distance: 280 km
This morning you will travel across the border into Zimbabwe to your lodge situated in a private concession near Hwange National Park. Over the following two days, you will have plenty of time to explore this vast wilderness on game drives. Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s finest havens for wildlife and is home to great herds of elephant, buffalo, and zebra and has a very large concentration of giraffe. It is also home to many predators and endangered species plus varied birdlife. (BLD)
On arrival you will visit the Painted Dog Conservation Centre to witness the work that is done to protect this endangered species. If time allows, you can partake in an optional game drive on the concession in the afternoon. The whole of the next day is spent exploring this magnificent area on a full day game drive in Hwange National Park.
On the edge of the famous Hwange National Park, on a private concession that boasts stunning views of the dried riverbed named the ‘Dete Vlei’, stands a rustic eco lodge within the pristine Teak and Mopani forest called Sable Sands.
Sable Sands has 16 traditionally thatched ‘rondavels’ with en-suite bathroom, making your lodge the perfect blend of ancient culture, nature and modern convenience.
Day 6 to Day 7 - Lake Kariba
Distance: 185 km
Today you will head off to Binga located on the south eastern shore of Lake Kariba, where you will board a luxury houseboat for a relaxing two night trip. Nested in mountains, Lake Kariba is a man-made inland sea guarded by enormous reserves of game and made beautiful and savage by sun and storm, earth and water. (BLD)
Your voyage will take you to the Sengwe River for afternoon wildlife activities and sunset, followed by drinks and dinner on board.
In the morning set out early for some leisurely fishing, guided walks or game viewing depending on your preference. When you return, brunch will be served whilst cruising to Elephant Bay where you will moor at one of the islands with a sandy beach. Watch the sunset over lake, relaxing around a camp fire and enjoying a beach barbecue under the starry sky.
Join a luxury houseboat cruise on one of the world’s largest manmade dam’s Lake Kariba. Situated almost exactly halfway down the iconic Zambezi River & approximately 90kms after it has spilled over the magnificent Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba is in reality an inland fresh water sea bounded on the one side by Zambia and the other Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean shore is dedicated to wildlife habitat in one form or another, either by forestry or national parks and these stretch almost from the Victoria Falls along the entire lake edge and into the Zambezi Valley, Mana pools and down to the Mozambican border.
Cruise vessels are intimate, they are not “Luxury Cruise Ships” in the first world sense but are unique products and without doubt the best Kariba has to offer (3-4 star) and once on board you will be hosted as friends as you explore the magnificence of this iconic 270km lake.
Day 8 to Day 9 - Matobo Hills
Distance: 485 km
Today you will end your houseboat experience with some morning game viewing activities on Lake Kariba and cruise back to Binga where your voyage started. After disembarking you will travel southwards to the majestic Matobo Hills, an area of exquisite beauty, steeped in tribal history, ancient mystery and dramatic rock landscapes. The national park has been given UNESCO World Heritage status and is home to both white and black rhinoceros, sable antelope and the world’s densest population of leopard. Birdlife is prolific and includes the highest concentration of black eagles in the world. Once the home of the San (Bushman), this area contains the richest source of the rock art found anywhere. Not only is it here that the Ndebele people buried their great king, Mzilikazi, but Cecil John Rhodes was also laid to rest on the “Hill of the Benevolent Spirit” or “World’s View” as named by him. (BLD)
Spend the next day in the national park, starting your morning with tracking rhino spoor by vehicle and foot. In the afternoon further explore the scenery and wildlife of the park on game drives, ending with a visit to Rhodes’ grave.
Amalinda Lodge, ‘A Wilderness of Granite’, is situated just outside the Matobos National Park, 45kms outside of Bulawayo. The Matobos region has been classified as a UNESO World Heritage site and is home to a profusion of wildlife. Some of the prolific species found here are the black eagle, a high population of leopard and black and white rhino. Amalinda Lodge has nine exquisite luxury rooms set within the granite boulders. Each of these rooms have a distinctive look and feel due to slightly different furnishings, thus giving Amalinda’s guests a unique and bespoke accommodation experience. The lodges all have electric blankets for the winter season, showers and toilets (which are built into the granite) and the camp is open to children of all ages.
Day 10 - Nata
Distance: 375 km
Today you will leave Matobo Hills and drive through the savannahs of southern Matebeleland enroute to Botswana. (BLD)
In the afternoon visit the Nata Bird Sanctuary, where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent view over the Sowa pan which is part of the Greater Makgadikgadi Pans (please note a visit to the pans is subject to the road conditions and water levels as well as time constraints). You will arrive at your lodge in the late afternoon.
Nata Lodge is a paradise for avid bird watchers. Set in an oasis among the Mokolwane palms on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana the lodge is a hive of activity. View a variety of bird species from the comfort of the lodge’s stunning pool deck, restaurant or open bar, including Paradise whydah, meyers parrot, yellow hornbill and many more.
Day 11 - Makgadikgadi Pans
Distance: 200 km
A very early morning departure leads you to Planet Baobab near Gweta, from where you will embark on an expedition to Ntwetwe Pan to encounter some of Botswana’s distinctive landscapes and extraordinary creatures. (BLD)
Ntwetwe Pan Excursion
The Ntwetwe Pan is one of the two major pans that make up the Makgadikgadi Pans, and is amongst the largest saltpans in the world. The pan was fed by the Boteti River until it was left permanently dry following the construction of the Mopipi Dam, which provides water for the diamond mines in Orapa. The waters may have returned to the river but Ntwetwe is now famous for its extraordinary lunar landscape, particularly the rocky outcrops, dunes, islets, and channels found along the western shore. Explore the area, in search of uniquely adapted desert species such as bat eared foxes, springbuck, kori bustards, and some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. By spending quality time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals, you will be able to see how they interact with each other and their environment. Due to an ongoing habituation programme it’s possible to get up-close-and-personal with these captivating creatures.
After lunch you will have the opportunity to explore a nearby village to experience modern African village culture. Learn about the history and traditions of the Batswana people from a local guide whose knowledge has been inherited from their forefathers. Visit the local primary school, ‘Sekolo’ with its outdoor classes and meet the children, visit the Kgotla – a traditional court that governs the village and get a glimpse of rural Botswana life.
In the late afternoon take a stroll with your guide through an impressive baobab grove, as he explains the local ecology, geology and the unique biology of the baobabs, which are in fact not trees but the largest succulents in the world.
Situated far from the hustle and bustle of city life in the midst of the arid Botswana landscape you will come across one of the most vibrant and unique camps you have ever seen! Named after the 4,000 year old giant baobab trees which surround the camp, Planet Baobab is a traditionally styled mud Bakalanga hut village which combines Afro-chic style with comfort. Remaining true to its traditional African inspiration, Baobab’s Makgadikgadi experience provides an opportunity for guests to learn more about Botswana’s culture and traditions, and the fascinating geological origins of the Makgadikgadi Pans. This is the perfect accommodation for adventurous travellers and families who desire a truly unique African experience.
Day 12 - Maun
Distance: 225 km
Today you will travel to Maun, a bustling safari town which serves as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. The name Maun is derived from the San word “maung”, which means “the place of short reeds”. The afternoon is yours to spend at leisure, either relaxing next to the pool at the lodge or if you are keen for some excitement, why not book an optional scenic flight (at own expense) over the delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and truly glorious oasis. (B)
Optional activities in Maun (at own expense)
Below is a list of some of the most popular optional activities on offer in Maun. Pre-booking is recommended to avoid disappointment. All activities are subject to availability and may require a minimum amount of passengers to operate. Please contact the reservations office for further information.
Scenic Flight over the Delta (3, 5 or 6 passengers)
Scenic Helicopter Flight from Boro (22 min, 3 seater)**
Scenic Helicopter Flight (45 min, 3 seater)
Scenic Helicopter Flight (60 min, 3 seats)
Scenic Helicopter Flight (45 min, 4 seater)
Scenic Helicopter Flight (60 min, 4 seater)
**The 22 min flight is available from the mokoro station at Boro only. It is advisable to book this for the same day as the mokoro excursion.
Set on the lush banks of the Thamalakane River in Botswana the Thamalakane River Lodge offers its guests magnificent views of the riverbanks which are frequented by a wide array of birds and water fowl. The lodge is based just on the outskirts of Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve. It’s location right on the river banks is what makes this accommodation special. Breathe in the deliciously refreshing river air while you enjoy the lodge’s comfortable facilities including the full service restaurant and large swimming pool.
Day 13 - Khwai
Distance: 150 km
After breakfast you will take a short drive to the mokoro station. From here, you will float in dug-out canoes through the thick vegetation of the Okavango Delta discovering a variety of birds and wildlife. Unlike other deltas, it flows into the Kalahari Desert without ever reaching the coast. (BLD)
After this spectacular excursion and lunch, you will travel to your camp, which is situated in a private concession in the Greater Moremi area. After settling into your camp, enjoy dinner and embark on a night game drive in the concession – a fantastic opportunity to spot some nocturnal animals that are more difficult to encounter during the day.
Experience one of Botswana’s finest game viewing areas in an unfenced, mobile bush camp located on a private concession in close proximity to the Moremi Game Reserve, a 2 hour drive from Maun. Bedouin Bush Camp has 12 comfortable tents positioned privately under big Acacia trees, offering travellers an authentic and secluded African bush experience. The camp is also equipped with a homely and communal dining and bar area.
The tents are covered with Bedouin-style fly-sheets, offering guests protection from Botswana’s weather conditions and fashioning the camp with a distinctive nomadic appearance and atmosphere. Listen to the remarkable night sounds of the bush from the comfort of a safari tent equipped with twin beds, soft pillows and duvets. Doors and windows are fitted with mosquito screening and insect repellent is provided.
To limit the camp’s impact on the environment yet still afford the necessary comfort in the bush, the en-suite bathrooms are equipped with flush toilets and hot bucket showers. Please note that the camp is solar powered, and cameras and mobile phones can be charged in the communal areas should the power levels allow it. At night the paths to your tents will be illuminated by lanterns and your guide will escort you back to the privacy of your tent.
Day 14 - Khwai
Distance: 150 km
Today you will head into the famous Moremi Game Reserve known as one of the most beautiful and varied reserves in Africa with an unprecedented concentration of wildlife. The full day is spent in the unspoiled nature of the Moremi Game Reserve. (BLD)
Day 15 - End of Intimate Botswana & Zimbabwe Tour
Your safari ends after breakfast. You will be transferred to Maun Airport for your onward flight. (B)
Bench Africa uses a number of local ground operators in Africa, one of which is Jenman African Safaris. Jenman is one of the leading safari travel operators in Africa with over 20 years experience. Jenman has a small group policy on guided safaris and utilise the services of a qualified local driver/guide. They use customised 4X4 safari vehicles that ensure safe and comfortable travel in every season (note, minibuses are generally used if travelling in Madagascar). Typically, the average age of passengers travelling on a Jenman safari is 55 years of age.
From time to time it may be necessary to change a property or camp due to various problems out of the control of Bench Africa. In this situation we will make every effort to give you as much warning as possible.
Your itinerary may include long road journeys. Road surfaces vary from tarmac, gravel, sand and occasionally vehicles may travel “off road”. This tour is recommended for healthy, active participants looking for an adventurous holiday.
Dates and Pricing
Price excludes “Park fees and Activities Pre-Payment” of AU$359 per person.
Changes to the itinerary or sequence of excursions may be required at certain times of the year. This tour is recommended for healthy, active participants looking for an adventurous holiday.
Prices shown are per person based on twin share. Seasonal supplements and minimum night requirement may apply. Solo traveller and extra night prices available on request. Luggage restrictions may apply. International flights not included.