From luxurious lodges in South Africa to the remote deserts of Namibia, the countries of Southern Africa offer a staggering range of journeys. Behold the mighty Victoria Falls, spend a day with a family of elephants in the Okavango Delta, balloon over the largest sand dunes in the world, or chill out with a penguin colony. Southern Africa will give you a new perspective of the natural world and your place in it. 


Botswana

Images courtesy A&K

What We Love

  Anne with Jabu, one of  Doug Groves' rescued elephants

Anne with Jabu, one of Doug Groves' rescued elephants

  • Roughly the size of France, Botswana is known for two things: the Kalahari Desert and the completely magical Okavango Delta, a sort of inland sea fed by seasonal flooding. As the water dries up, the animals concentrate. 
  • Botswana is known as a forerunner in wildlife conservation. It has one of the most thoughtful and strictly enforced land plans ever devised. The country has chosen a sustainable strategy to generate jobs and income from conserved land. It offers low-volume, high-quality tourism, which takes place on large private tracts of land with strict limits on development and guests. 
  • Most of the camps here are small with abundant game. One of our favorite camps has over 35,000 elephants visiting the nearby parks each year. 

Things To See & Do

  • Choose from canoe, motorized boat, or automobile day trips with a professional guide.
  • Spend a day "Walking with the Elephants" with Doug and Sandi Groves' semi-habituated herd as they move about their daily lives. The peace and security that one feels as they adjust to the elephants’ world, walking with them through the bush, and being welcomed into their group is well worth the time.
  • Birders will keep busy identifying the hundreds of unique and beautiful species.  

Where to Stay:

Most of the camps in Botswana are very small in size, accommodating 4–20 people, and they are often only accessible by air charter. This low-volume, high-quality approach to tourism makes these camps some of our favorites in Africa. 

More Wildlife Destinations


South Africa

What We Love

  • South Africa is the most developed and cosmopolitan country in Africa. For those hesitant to leave too many Western comforts behind, this might be the best area to visit.
  • Direct flights from the United States allow an efficient journey. 
  • Many of the best camps are on private ranches that were previously fenced in as hunting reserves. Many of these fences have been removed, or they are in the process of being taken down, to allow the animals to once again roam freely among neighboring reserves and national parks, which is great news for the animals.    

Things To See & Do

 Cape Point - The southern tip of Africa 

Cape Point - The southern tip of Africa 

  • Spend a morning hiking up the spectacular Table Mountain in Cape Town before heading out to one of the surrounding vineyards for prodigious tasting. 
  • Visit the Kalahari Desert and the famous Kruger Park.
  • Take the well-known–and totally renovated–Blue Train or Rovos Train and experience Africa as travelers did in the past.  
  • Take a day trip to Cape Point, the southern-most tip of the African continent, and visit a jackass penguin colony. 
  • Wander through the kaleidoscope of flowers at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. 
  • Spend a day driving the garden route.  

Where To Stay

There are many hotels and lodges to choose from. We know the best ones and can find you the best fit.

Combine With

  • South Africa is the natural entry point for the rest of Southern Africa.
  • The beaches of Mozambique make for a lovely ending to your South African adventures. 

More Luxury Destinations


Zambia 

What We Love

  Carmine Bee Eaters

Carmine Bee Eaters

  • Zambia is a peaceful country with fantastic parks and reserves. It's an affordable safari option that is heavy on wildlife and light on crowds. 
  • We love the classic, old-style camps that are not extremely luxurious but are very comfortable. 
  • The South Luangwa Valley floods for part of each year, and as the waters recede and the pools dry up, the game in the area begins to concentrate around the Luangwa River and the many oxbow lakes.
  • The sun has a way of consistently turning into a glowing orb of orange light as it sets on the horizon.
  • In the dry season, thousands of carmine bee-eaters nest along the banks of the river. It’s a sight to behold. 

Things To See & Do 

  • Try a walking safari. This is a great country to stretch your legs in the bush.
  • Take an evening cruise on the mighty Zambezi.
  • Known for its daytime leopard sightings, keep your eyes peeled. 
  • Enjoy a thrilling night game drive where one may see lions, leopards and hyenas on the hunt. Watch enormous pink hippos grazing on land and see rare small mammals.  

Namibia

What We Love

  • Namibia has 800,000 square kilometers of burnt red desert and soft rolling sand dunes, which are the tallest in the world. 
  • The Skeleton Coast is both haunting and beautiful, littered with shipwrecks, mountains of jade, and natural castles of clay.
  • The red sands make magnificent backdrops for the hearty desert-adapted wildlife. Indeed, one marvels at each and every element in this fragile and harsh ecosystem.  
  • Flying across the country lets you really see the staggering vastness of the landscape.

Things To See & Do

  • With luck, one may spot rare desert elephants crossing the sands from one ephemeral water source to another or elusive brown hyenas, lions, and black-backed jackals roaming the beach scavenging for cape fur seals and other marine life that have washed up on shore.
  • Visit the Himba people, who are semi-nomadic pastoralists. They have survived in this region since at least the 1500s. It is a special treat to spend time with these ochre-covered people and learn about a very different way of life that is intact but is rapidly disappearing.
  • Ride in a hot air balloon over the tallest dunes in the world at Sossusvlei.

Where to Stay

The lodges are designed to fit in with the surrounding environment. Some of these properties operate on extremely large private properties, meaning one has almost exclusive use of enormous expanses to explore by Land Rover.


Zimbabwe

What We Love

  • Zambia’s larger neighbor, Zimbabwe (which is roughly the size of California) is home to some of the largest wildlife populations in Africa. The country has carefully conserved and managed its wildlife populations and kept tourist developments at a modest level, which means a safari in Zimbabwe will be a peaceful experience.
  • “The Smoke that Thunders” (a.k.a. Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria, which was what Dr. Livingston presumed to name it) creates the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
  • There are a variety of lodging options, from beautifully situated small camps to lodges and private mobile camps. 

Things To See & Do

  • Take a walking safari with a professional armed guard. Some of the best African guides have been trained in Zimbabwe, and they will lead you on a thrilling (yet safe) journey into the bush.
  • Take a helicopter over Victoria Falls.   
  • Visit one of several spectacular parks, such as Matusadona, Hwange, and the famous Mana Pools National Park, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988.

Combine With

We recommend combining Zimbabwe with Zambia, Botswana, or South Africa. 

 

 

 

 


Madagascar

This is a land where nature chose a different path from the rest of the world when it split off from Africa 65 million years ago. Here, one can find the world's most ancient primates, the lemurs, of which at least 40 species fill interesting niches from the forest floor to the canopy. Many other endemic species can also be found here, including almost 9,000 plants, 119 birds, 155 frogs, and over half of the world’s chameleon species.

If you’re interested in the remote islands of the world, Abercombie and Kent includes Madagascar on their “Around the World” private jet tour, which starts in Miami, ends in Monaco, and touches down along the way in places like the Amazon, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and Easter Island.