Below are some of the major travel highlights for Southern Africa Overland. For more in-depth attractions of each country on this route, click on the country names below or select a route to see the highlights on this section of the journey. Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
|In-depth highlights: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
Highlights of Vic Falls - Cape Town (via Joburg)
|Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls|
Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders") are one of the natural wonders of the world. Spanning the entire breadth of the Zambezi River, they are 1700 metres wide and drop over 100 metres to the gorge below, creating a thunderous noise and a mist that can be seen, and felt, at great distances. The Falls transform a wide, calm river into a ferocious torrent that flows through a series of narrow gauges below. On the Zambian side in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park you can stand right next to the eastern cataract of the Falls and feel the full force of the water. In Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side, you're further from the Falls but have a greater perspective. The best perspective is perhaps obtained from above though, on flights on either fixed wing aircraft, helicopters or microlights. The flow over the Falls is very dependent on the time of year - there can be a 20 fold difference between the rainy season (March to May) and the dry season (September to December), though the sheer scale of the Falls can be easier to appreciate with less volume.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
The town of Livingstone is the Zambian base for exploring Victoria Falls and is located 11km from the Falls. It has experienced a renaissance in popularity with the recent political troubles in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Aside from exploring the Falls themselves from the ground and the air, there are a range of adventure activities available including world class white water rafting on the Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge over the Zambezi connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swings over Batoka Gorge, and river boarding. After all that activity you can wind down on a sunset booze cruise.
|Victoria Falls Town|
The town of Victoria Falls is the Zimbabwean base for exploring Falls of the same name and is located just over a kilometre from the Falls. It was built as a tourist town and caters to every need of the traveller with some excellent souvenir shopping available at the craft markets. Aside from exploring the Falls themselves from the ground and the air, there are a range of adventure activities available including world class white water rafting on the Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge over the Zambezi connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swings over Batoka Gorge, and river boarding. After all that activity you can wind down on a sunset booze cruise. You can also have up close and personal wildlife experiences with elephant riding and walks with lion cubs.
|Hwange National Park|
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe's premier wildlife park covering almost 15,000 km². Hwange's landscape ranges from open grassland to sandy areas and hilly woodlands. It is home to over 400 bird species and 100 animal species, including large herds of elephants and buffalo, giraffes and numerous antelope species whilst being an excellent location for viewing predators, including lion, leopard, cheetah, packs of wild dogs, African wildcat, serval and hyena.
Matobo Hills is characterised by huge granite boulders that have been shaped over time into all manner of bizarre shapes. These have provided shelter to people for millennia and contain very impressive collections of rock paintings. Many of these depict black and white rhinos which still live in the national park in great numbers. Expert guides can take you on walking safaris that allow you to get within metres of groups of black rhino, an exhilarating experience. The park also contains populations of leopards and cheetahs and more than 300 bird species including the black eagle, hawks and owls.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Matobo Hills
Antelope Park is located just outside the city of Gweru in central Zimbabwe. It is home to a lion breeding project and offers some truly unique wildlife experiences. Here you can walk with lion cubs (usually aged 6-12 months) and go on a night drive with older cubs in an attempt to see a kill. There are also options to view the game in the park (including various antelope species, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest) on foot, horseback, elephant back or in a vehicle as well as the opportunity to swim with elephants. You can camp or lodge in a beautiful setting with elephants regularly walking through the campsite on their way to the water.
The Great Zimbabwe National Monument, located near the city of Masvingo, is the remains of the medieval city of the Shona Bantu civilisation that gave the country its name (it means "great stone houses" in Shona). The city was occupied between the 11th and 15th centuries and was once the greatest medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa, evidence of a highly skilled civilisation.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Great Zimbabwe National Monument
|Chobe National Park|
Chobe National Park is Botswana's third largest park at 11,700 km², named for the Chobe River, a tributary of the Zambezi, which forms the park's northern edge. The river forms a permanent water supply, giving Chobe the largest population of elephants in Africa, with some 100,000 individuals. River cruises here allow you to spot large elephant herds drinking from the river in addition to hippos and a myriad of birdlife. The park's other animal species include buffalo, kudu, zebra, puku, Chobe bushbuck and the big cats. The south-western corner of Chobe is known as the Savuti Marsh, a grassland that has been dried up for years. Three pumped water points provide excellent opportunities to view herds of elephant, buffalo and antelopes as well as the predators that pursue them.
|Moremi Game Reserve|
Moremi Game Reserve is located in the north-eastern sector of the Okavango Delta and occupies almost one-third of the Delta's area. It was the first wildlife reserve to be founded by an African tribe, established by the Batswana tribe in 1963. It comprises swamps, wetlands, forests and dryland and contains an enormous diversity of animal and bird life, including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, a variety of antelope and predators such as leopard, lion and hyena in addition to over 500 bird species. Safaris can be taken on foot or by mokoro, offering a unique and authentic wildlife experience in unspoilt wilderness.
The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta as the Okavango River, a tributary of the Zambezi, spills into the Kalahari Desert, creating a vast oasis over 15,000 km². The Delta comprises numerous water channels, lagoons and small islands. The region is rich in animal life, including elephant, giraffe, buffalo, lion, hyena, hippos and many antelope species, as well as a myriad of migratory birds. The Delta is best explored in traditional mokoro, the traditional dugout canoe, poled by skilled local guides. They navigate through a maze of narrow creeks and channels, cutting through beds of reeds, in one of the most relaxing and unique experiences Africa has to offer. This is African wilderness at its best - wildlife and a stunning natural setting in pristine, untouched land. The Okavango has numerous lodges or small islands to bush-camp (depending on your budget) which allows you to take a walking or horse-riding safari to spot the rich animal and bird life, swim in the waters (though beware crocodiles) and take mokoro trips to view the beautiful sunsets over the Delta.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Okavango Delta
The Makgadikgadi salt pans form the bed of an ancient dried up lake. Covering 16,000 km² it remains dry for most of the year but the rains in November attract vast flocks of flamingos and other migratory birds. Known for its spectacular sunsets, the Makgadikgadi is also the only place in southern Africa where you can witness the migration of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra.
|Khama Rhino Sanctuary|
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community-based wildlife project set up in 1992 with the aim of restoring the population of white rhinos and other species in the area of Kalahari sandveld around the Serowe Pan. Guided walking safaris afford the opportunity to view rhino, giraffe and a variety of other species that have settled or been relocated here.
|Blyde River Canyon|
The area around Blyde River Canyon offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery in South Africa. The canyon itself is the third largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere with a number of lookout points including at the Three Rondavels. God's Window provides a dramatic vista over the vast lowveld below. And Bourke's Luck Potholes, where the Blyde and Treur Rivers meet, has unusual and fascinating cylindrical holes carved into the rock by the force of the water.
|Kruger National Park|
Kruger National Park is one of the most famous and oldest wildlife parks in Africa. It stretches for 350 kilometres along South Africa's eastern border with Mozambique and comprises mainly savannah bushveld. The park has excellent infrastructure with campsites and lodges that allow you to sleep listening to the sounds of the animals outside. Kruger is one of the best parks for Big 5 spotting and in total boasts 147 mammal species as well as over 500 bird species and over 100 reptile species. Night game drives in Kruger gives a different perspective to the safari experience and the chance to spot nocturnal animals rarely seen in daylight.
|iSimangaliso Wetland Park|
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, formerly known as St. Lucia Wetlands Park, is the largest estuarine lake system in Africa, comprising coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands. It is a site of spectacular scenery and great species diversity and is a crucial habitat for species from Africa's marine, wetland and savannah environments.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The battlefields of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana were the scene of hugely important events in Zulu history, the battles between the Zulus and the British in 1879, which have been immortalised in film. A visit to the site, almost unchanged since the battles, with an expert guide can bring the historical events to life.
|uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park|
uKhahlamba or Drakensberg Park is a dramatic and spectacular mountain landscape. With deep river valleys. Rocky gorges, waterfalls, grasslands and forests, it's an area of exceptional natural beauty and a great destination for hiking and trekking. The park is also home to the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa south of the Sahara, made by the now extinct San people over 4,000 years.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park
|Tsitsikamma National Park|
Tsitsikamma National Park covers 80 kilometres of coastline at the eastern end of the Garden Route. The park is characterised by a beaches and rugged coastline, inland ravines and gorges and dense forest. This is an excellent area for hiking, along the coast or up the Storms River gorge as well as a tree canopy tour through the forests. For the more adventurous there's the possibility of abseiling, flying fox swings or the world's highest bungee jump (over 200 metres!!).
|Oudtshoorn and Cango Caves|
The Cango Caves are a series of vast underground chambers, millions of years old. They are home to some amazing natural structures due to the action of rainwater on limestone, filled with stalagmites and stalactites. The caves are ripe for exploration, in the main section and to a smaller series of caves via the tunnels and stairs of Jacob's Ladder. The nearby town of Oudtshoorn is the centre of South Africa's ostrich industry and home to 97% of the world's ostriches. Visits to an ostrich farm will allow you to interact with these unique creatures.
Cape Aghulas is the southernmost tip of Africa and the site where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.
The vineyards of Western Cape Province are some of the most famous in the world. The area is characterised by beautiful landscapes and charming, historic towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Wine tasting tours of the vineyards will allow you to sample some of the excellent local produce, in particular the Pinotage grape which is unique to South Africa.
Robben Island was used as a prison between the 17th and 20th centuries, most infamously when incarcerating Nelson Mandela and fellow anti-apartheid campaigners. These days, the island acts as a museum offering tours of the island and prison buildings. Visits guided by former prisoners offer a fascinating insight to the brutal regime.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Robben Island
The Cape Peninsula south of Cape Town is a fascinating area to explore with a wide array of attractions. You can walk right up to the small Cape penguins in Boulder's Beach, visit the fishing port of Hout Bay or the numerous attractive beaches on the peninsula. At the southern end is the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where you can visit the Cape Point lighthouse and walk to the Cape of Good Hope itself at the south-western tip of Africa.
Cape Town is one of the most attractive cities in Africa and one of the most beautifully located in the world. Set in the foothills of the distinctive Table Mountain and next to the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is South Africa's "Mother City". The mild climate and cultural diversity make it a wonderful destination, in itself and as a base for exploring the surrounding Cape Province. Ascending Table Mountain is a must, either on foot or via the cablecar, for stunning views over the city and the peninsula. In town, the cultural and entertainment centre is around Long Street, with extensive shopping opportunities along the Waterfront.