Pack your bags for a memorable journey to hit the highlights of northeastern South Africa. Stay in luxurious lodges and tent camps on the African savanna as you enjoy game drives to spot exotic wildlife in famous parks and reserves like Sabi Sands, Kruger, and Chobe. But that's not all; you'll also hop the northern border into Botswana for safaris at the biodiverse Okavango Delta and hit the streets of dynamic Johannesburg for a bit of culture and dinner in Nelson Mandela's former home.


  • Experience history, culture, and great food in South Africa's largest city
  • Go on game drives in famous national parks like Kruger and Sabi Sands
  • Travel the waterways of Botswana on safari in Okavango and Chobe 
  • See Big Five game animals like lions, buffalo, and (if you're lucky) leopards

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Johannesburg (South Africa), Visit Sanctuary Mandela Johannesburg
Day 2 Day Trip to Soweto, Yeoville Dinner Club Johannesburg
Day 3 Fly to Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive Sabi Sands
Day 4 Morning & Afternoon Game Drives Sabi Sands
Day 5 Morning Game Drive, Bush Walk & Free Time Sabi Sands
Day 6 Morning Game Drive, Fly to Okavango Delta (Botswana) Okavango Delta
Days 7-8 Okavango Delta Canoe Safari, Optional Activities Okavango Delta
Day 9 Transfer to Chobe National Park & Savute Chobe Savute
Day 10 Savute Safari Lodge Activities Chobe Savute
Day 11 Transfer to the Chobe River, Safari Activities Chobe National Park
Days 12-13 Chobe National Park Game Drives Chobe National Park
Day 14 Fly to Johannesburg, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg (South Africa), Visit Sanctuary Mandela

Relax at your hotel upon arrival in the chic suburb of Melrose (photo courtesy of Peech Boutique Hotel)

Welcome to South Africa! The continent's southernmost nation is a hotbed of history, culture, natural beauty, and, of course, legendary national parks offering ample safari fun. You'll arrive in the country's largest city, Johannesburg. It's the best place to meet locals, learn about the country's complex history, and enjoy a few great restaurant meals before hitting the bush.

Your accommodation is the epitome of Johannesburg cool, as it's located in the chic suburb of Melrose. The 4-star Peech Boutique Hotel features spacious, individually decorated rooms outfitted with king beds and private balconies looking out over lush gardens. Upon arrival, you can take the edge off the flight with a nice long soak in your French tub, relax by the shimmering courtyard pool, or grab a seat at the bar in Basalt, the hotel's intimate fine-dining restaurant.

Save room for dinner because, in the evening, you're off to Sanctuary Mandela, a boutique hotel on the site of President Nelson Mandela's former home. It also features a world-famous restaurant with a menu reflecting both Mandela's favorite dishes and the recipes used by his personal chef. At the end of the meal, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 2: Day Trip to Soweto, Yeoville Dinner Club

Enjoy one of the best dining experiences in South Africa at Yeoville Dinner Club

After breakfast, you'll travel to Soweto, located on the city's western outskirts. The history of this township is infamous in that it was founded in the 1930s by the white government of South Africa as a segregated residence for Johannesburg's Black population. You'll learn all about Soweto's contentious history plus experience its rich culture in a ride through the neighborhood in a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw). During the ride, you'll stop at some of its most interesting historical sites, including a workers' hostel, Nelson Mandela's former home, and a local shebeen (pub), where you can mingle with locals over a beer.

The tour ends with a home-cooked lunch in Soweto. Sit down with locals and watch as they cook the traditional way, in potjies (cast-iron pots) over fire. The meal might include either stew or curry served with pap, an African cornmeal porridge. After eating, you can choose to spend the remainder of the afternoon at the community park or enjoy activities with kids at the local youth club.

There's a very special culinary experience in store to mark your final night in Johannesburg. In the evening, you'll head over to Yeoville Dinner Club. Tucked away in a trendy area of the city known for its diverse Pan-African population, this private restaurant is owned by chef Sanza Sandile, who not only cooks but also hosts each night's dinner. Expect to share the table with folks from all over the world as you enjoy several courses of delicious continental specialties utilizing local ingredients sourced from the market right down the street. 

Day 3: Fly to Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Look for lion cubs relaxing on the savanna in Sabi Sands

Say goodbye to Johannesburg and hello to the vast savanna because this morning, you'll hop on a charter plane for the hour-flight to Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Covering 494 square miles (1,283 sq km) in northeastern South Africa adjacent to Kruger National Park, the region is famous for its exceptional wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Upon arrival, your friendly hosts will meet you on the airstrip and transfer you to the Lion Sands Narina luxury lodge for your all-inclusive stay. Set on riverfront property within the park, it features nine thatched-roof suites equipped with air-conditioning, en suite baths, minibars, and private terraces with your own personal plunge pool. Also on site are a main lounge, bar, wine cellar, and library—all decorated in a true African Safari style. Plus, there's a spa where you can enjoy various treatments after a long day in the bush.

Speaking of which, like any great safari lodge, Lion Sands Narina organizes activities and game drives. So, after dropping off your bags, you'll hop in a 4WD for your maiden safari in Africa. Along with a well-trained field guide, you'll zip around the savanna plains in search of the legendary Big Five game animals: lions, leopards, black rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. You'll be happy to know that the area you'll visit is particularly known for its leopard sightings, which are rarely seen during daylight hours.

Day 4: Morning & Afternoon Game Drives

Enjoy riverfront dining each night at your luxury lodge (photo courtesy of Lion Sands Narina)
Plan your trip to South Africa
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Wake up at dawn for a full day of safari adventures in South Africa. Each of these safaris lasts half a day and involves driving around the park in a 4WD vehicle with an expert guide searching for exotic wildlife. Besides the Big Five, there are plenty of other specimens to see, including cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, zebras, monkeys, and various birds, including waterbirds and raptors.

You can divide the day into two game drives: a morning safari, when the animals are at their most active, and an afternoon drive to seek out the animals until the sun sets over the savanna. After witnessing a golden sunset over the plains, you'll return to camp at the end of the day to enjoy another delicious dinner under the stars or in the restaurant.

Day 5: Morning Game Drive, Bush Walk & Free Time

Mix up your safaris with a guided bush walk on foot

Rise early and embark on another dawn game drive to see the Big Five denizens of Sabi Sands when they're fresh and energetic before the afternoon malaise sets in. There's at least one safari on the itinerary today, and you can opt for a second game drive later in the afternoon. Or head out on a bush walk for a hike across the bushveld (subtropical woodland) landscapes.

In between the safari activities, you'll have time to relax by the plunge pool and enjoy delicious meals prepared by the friendly staff. You'll also want to avail yourself of the spa facilities to enjoy a massage or wellness treatment to rejuvenate your body and mind. These treatments are often outdoors, allowing you to relax amid the natural splendor of Sabi Sands. 

Day 6: Morning Game Drive, Fly to Okavango Delta (Botswana)

Keep an eye out for elusive leopards on your last game drive in Sabi Sands

Rise and shine for one last dawn game drive in Sabi Sands. It's a great opportunity to spot any animals you might have missed over the last couple of days (like the elusive leopard). Then, transfer back to the airstrip and board a charter plane for the two-hour flight north to the Okavango Delta. Welcome to Botswana! The UNESCO-listed Okavango is an inland river delta that, rather than emptying into an ocean, dissipates at an inland basin in the northern part of the country. During the seasonal flooding, these grassy plains turn into wetlands that are a haven for exotic wildlife.

You'll witness Okavango's biodiversity firsthand after checking into your next luxury safari lodge. Camp Okavango is an exclusive African safari camp situated on the remote Nxaragha Island. This hidden treasure, located right in the delta, assures an unparalleled year-round water wilderness experience. During your stay, you'll sleep in comfy beds, marvel at prime wilderness views from your deck, dine al fresco under the stars, and enjoy plenty of safari activities.

The first begins just after arrival when you hop in a 4WD vehicle with your expert guide and head off into the delta wetlands. Go searching for Big Five safari animals as you scan the woodlands for antelope, giraffes, and zebras. Also, on the edges of the delta, you can marvel at herds of elephants bathing in the shallow channels. At the end of the excursion, return to your suite or continue on a nocturnal game drive to see more rare animals, like the armored pangolin.

Days 7-8: Okavango Delta Canoe Safari, Optional Activities

Return to the camp for group dinners after your safari adventures (photo courtesy of Camp Okavango)

Enjoy a different kind of safari this morning as you traverse Okavango's maze of channels and lagoons on a traditional mokoro boat. Once carved out of ancient delta trees, today these vessels are made from environmentally friendly fiberglass. You'll sit mere inches above the water as you silently glide past the unsuspecting wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot. Encounter grazing herds of elephants and red lechwe antelope while crocodiles and hippos wade under the watchful eye of the stately African fish eagle.

Later, you'll have the option to join an expert guide on a safari bush walk. As you follow the trails through the wetlands, your guide will reveal the fundamentals of animal tracking. In doing so, you'll learn to identify certain animals just by their footprint. You'll also get to observe the delta's magnificent birdlife. Spot the rare go-away bird, the iridescent lilac-breasted roller, the brown snake eagle, and the grey-headed kingfisher. After the walk, you'll return to your accommodation.

Day 9: Transfer to Chobe National Park, Optional Activities

Spot herds of Kalahari elephants at Chobe National Park

It's a quick one-hour flight north from Okavango to Chobe National Park. This 12,597-square-foot (11,700 sq m) reserve is the first national park in Botswana (it was created in 1967) and is famous for its 100,000 Kalahari elephants that congregate near the Chobe River. This waterway is also a haven for other exotic wildlife, including lions, leopards, hippos, giraffes, wildebeest, and plenty more.

You'll arrive at the airstrip in the Savute, a remote and wild area in the north section of the park. Representatives will be waiting to pick you up for the ride to Savute Safari Lodge. This luxury bush accommodation sits on the banks of the Savute Channel, the principal waterway in the western part of Chobe. Your comfy thatched-roof chalet features an en suite bath, king bed, and private terrace. Guests can also spend time in communal areas like the expansive terrace or relax by the pool. If you like, upon arrival you can sip a welcome cocktail in the stylish bar.

During your time in Savute, the lodge will arrange various activities, including game drives in 4WD vehicles. You can also visit the Savute wetlands to witness the diverse ecosystem created by the Savute Channel. Another highlight is a trip to see the ancient San rock paintings at Gubatsa Hills—a small hilly outcrop rising over the Chobe flatlands. Birding, stargazing, sunset drives, and private dinners are also on the itinerary.

Day 10: Savute Safari Lodge Activities

Enjoy wildlife sightings right from the deck of your lodge (photo courtesy of Savute Safari Lodge)
The day is yours to enjoy safari game drives, bush walks, and other safari activities around Savute. In between these adventures, you can kick back and enjoy the amenities at Savute Safari Lodge. Sink into one of the numerous comfortable leather and wicker sofas in the lounge, or relax on deck and do some elephant spotting as they congregate near the channel to drink and bathe. At the end of the afternoon, enjoy a sundowner cocktail before sitting down at the al fresco dining area for a dinner under the stars.

Day 11: Transfer to the Chobe River, Safari Activities

Travel through Chobe National Park on its waterways

It's another early start as you leave the Savute region on a transfer farther north into Chobe to see another side of Botswana's most famous park. You'll arrive at Chobe Game Lodge, which sits on the banks of the game-rich Chobe River. As the oldest 5-star lodge in the country, the property occupies an enviable position amid park highlights, making it a great place to explore the park in the dawn hours.

The lodge features spacious rooms and luxury suites, a pool, various dining areas, and riverfront boardwalks (great to spot the local wildlife). Moreover, Chobe Game Lodge promotes responsible tourism via its fleet of solar-powered boats and safari vehicles. Experience it right away when, after checking into the lodge, you'll embark on an afternoon game drive by vehicle or boat.

Days 12-13: Chobe National Park Game Drives

Take morning and afternoon game drives led by an enthusiastic staff (photo courtesy of Chobe Game Lodge)

Over the next couple of days, you'll embark on morning and afternoon game drives in Chobe. First, set off into the park as soon as it opens, as this is the best time to track famous apex predators at their most active. The afternoon drives depart later (the exact time is dependent on the season) and return after sunset, thus maximizing the time you spend in the park.

As for the route, the drives follow the Chobe River. During each adventure, your experienced guide will read the bush signs and tracks in search of resident wildlife. Elephant encounters are common and huge herds of buffalo abound, too. The ever-present impala and giraffe are also plentiful, while sightings of the puku antelope are not uncommon. Also, predators are abundant in the northern region of the Chobe, so you can hope for sightings of lions, wild dogs, and leopards.

Day 14: Fly to Johannesburg, Depart

Until next time, Chobe National Park!

Alas, today, you must say goodbye to Africa (for now). In the morning, you'll transfer to the airstrip and board a charter flight for the two-hour ride back to Johannesburg. There, you'll transfer to the international airport in time to catch your flight home. Baai!

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Map of Luxury Safari Adventure in South Africa & Botswana - 14 Days
Map of Luxury Safari Adventure in South Africa & Botswana - 14 Days