In July 2016, we sent Ashanti Travel staff member, Cal Heyburgh, on our 8 Day Johannesburg to Victoria Falls Overland Tour. This compact camping safari is a great way to experience overland travel, with the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife, as well as some of Southern Africa’s most beautiful national parks, in a short amount of time. The bulk of the tour is spent in Botswana and this trip is one of the best ways to enjoy Botswana on a budget. Below is Cal’s review of his tour.
Day 1 – Johannesburg to Tuli Block, Botswana
Departing from Johannesburg, we hopped on our overland truck and made our way North into Botswana. The drive took us through the changing landscapes of South Africa and Botswana and it was easy to notice the vast differences in culture and people the further North we travelled. We crossed the border at the Martins drift border crossing and headed up toward the Tuli Block, known for its geological features. We arrived at our camp in the evening and straight way jumped onto a couple of open air vehicles to do an evening game drive on a small private reserve. After our game drive it was time to set up camp. Our tents were high quality 4 man dome safari tents which were quite easy to set up. A delicious dinner was ready and waiting for us as soon as we had finished setting up. After dinner we sat around a camp fire and had the first proper chance to meet our fellow travellers.
Day 2 – Tuli Block to Maun
Today we had a very early rise, packed up camp and enjoyed a fulfilling breakfast. Then it was time to do the biggest trek of our tour, a 700km drive from the Tuli Block to Maun. The drive was long but the scenery was beautiful and we kept ourselves busy by playing games and chatting with fellow travellers. After arriving in Maun we were given the option of doing a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta before heading to our beautiful camp situated on the Thamalakane River.
Day 3 & 4 – The Okavango Delta
From Maun we did a nice short drive North to Etsha where we said good bye to our overland truck and got onto river boats to travel to our next accommodation in the middle of the Okavango Delta. The Delta is truly a unique and beautiful area and we saw plenty of hippos and crocodiles lazing about in the waterways. Over the next couple of days, we explored the delta on hand made dugout canoes called Mokoros, which were powered by our knowledgeable “polers”. There were large herds of buffalo, antelope and elephants to be seen all along the banks of the Delta. I can honestly say that gazing across the tranquil beauty and spectacular vistas of the Okavango Delta is a memory that will stay with me forever.
Day 5 – Caprivi Strip, Namibia
After lunch in the Delta, we boarded our truck and made our way for the Namibian border. We travelled along the Caprivi strip and were able to see elephants and some other game from the truck while we were driving. We spent the night close to the Namibian/Botswanan border in a very scenic camp across the river from the famous Chobe National park. At night the hippos were very active in the river, and smaller antelope were roaming freely through our campsite.
Day 6 – Chobe National Park, Botswana
Today saw us cross back over into Botswana and travel through the Chobe National Park to the town of Kasane, located right on the border of the park. In fact, we saw wild animals like warthog and antelope from the reserve, just chilling in the middle of the town as if they were domesticated. After setting up camp we jumped straight onto an open air game viewer and did a proper safari through Chobe National Park, and then hopped onto a boat for a Chobe River game cruise. Both trips gave us plenty of opportunities to see the local wildlife. Elephants, lions, hippos and zebra were the most abundant but we saw plenty of other mammals and birds too. That night we had a delicious braai (barbeque) and sat around the campfire telling stories to each other.
Day 7 – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Leaving Kasane, there was a beautiful and short drive to the border of Zimbabwe. The border crossing boasts beautiful views of the Chobe River and massive baobab trees all round. Another 40 minutes and we were entering the town of Victoria falls. We were taken on a quick ride around the small town to help us get our bearings before stopping off at one of the major adventure activity stores to see all the activities on offer at the falls. Afterwards we made our way to the falls itself. Make sure you have a rain jacket and waterproof bag for your valuables, because you will get wet! Not just wet, you will get soaked. The falls are truly breath taking and produce a cloud of mist that is sprayed over 100 feet in the air. I was warned by the guides, but decided to brave the falls without a rain coat, and I came back looking like I had just swum the 100 meters at the Olympics. In the evening we treated ourselves by going to a nice restaurant for dinner and saying our farewells.
Day 8 – Victoria Falls
After breakfast it was time to say good bye for real. Today is normally spent doing some or all of the many activities available, like white water rafting, bungy jumping or scenic flights over the falls. The groups mostly split up and did their own thing. I hopped on a plane and was back in Cape Town a mere 4 hours later.
Overall the trip was amazing. Lots of driving, but that is part of the experience, and the places we drove through were always beautiful and exciting. The food was top notch, breakfast, lunch and dinner were always filling and delicious. Our guide and driver were both very knowledgeable, friendly and funny. Even though it was winter, the temperature regularly hit 30 degrees (86°F), although it did get a bit chilly at night. Overall I would say this was a great way to experience some of the top sights of Southern Africa, especially if you don’t have much time but want to get in as much as possible.
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*All photos shown were taken by Cal on tour.