Below are some of the major travel highlights for The Great African Journey. 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, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
Highlights of Zanzibar - Joburg
The exotic spice island of Zanzibar is one of the most evocative names in travel. Apart from Stone Town, the island comprises numerous spice plantations which can be visited with the chance to taste and buy numerous exotic spices. The island also has some of the most stunning beaches and waters you're ever likely to encounter with the chance to relax and view the marine wildlife by snorkelling or diving.
Stone Town on Zanzibar is a centuries old East African trading port. The town is a maze of narrow streets and passageways with the remains of beautiful homes built by Arab traders made rich by trading gold, ivory and slaves. Zanzibar was once the largest slave market on the east coast of Africa and the remains of the slave market can be visited, where a 19th century Anglican church now exists. Stone Town also has many quaint shops and bazaars, excellent for souvenir shopping and watching the dhow silhouettes in the sea at sunset is magical.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Stone Town of Zanzibar
Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and runs along the eastern border of Malawi for most of its length. It's a breathtaking expanse of clear blue waters and is home to more fish species than any lake in the world. There are a number of stops along the length of Lake Malawi including Senga Bay, Chitimba and Chintheche where you can partake in various water sports, visit local villages and buy the famous Malawian wood carvings or relax on the beach (though be sure to rise early to catch a glorious sunrise over the lake).
|South Luangwa National Park|
South Luangwa National Park is Zambia's premier wildlife park and safari experience. It's regarded as one of Africa's finest wildlife reserves, comprising more than 9000 km² of unspoilt wilderness in Zambia's eastern province, yet is well off the beaten tourist track. The varied terrain includes dry shrublands and grasslands, mopane woodlands and oxbow lakes as well as the Luangwa River which teems with crocodiles and hippos. South Luangwa is home to over 400 bird species and 100 animal species, including elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, kudu, lion and the world's highest naturally occurring population of leopard. South Luangwa is famous for its walking safaris with expert guides, allowing you to get up close and personal to Africa's wildlife and immerse yourself in sights, sounds and scents of the African bush.
Lake Kariba affords the opportunity for sunset cruises and game cruises to see animals at the water's edge and the wide variety of birdlife. There is also the option of spending one or more nights on a house boat, relaxing and enjoying the scenery and spectacular sunsets. Maaze Island on Lake Kariba offers a game walk and visit to a crocodile farm.
Following in the footsteps of the explorer David Livingstone who described "scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight", the Lower Zambezi River offers the chance of a safari with a difference - canoeing trips down the river as you glide past herds of elephant and buffalo drinking in the river, crocodiles on the riverbank and pods of hippos lying in the water. Travelling between Kariba and Luangwa, the river flows past two national parks - the Lower Zambezi National Park to the north and the Mana Pools National Park to the south, offering the chance to see creatures such as zebra, lion or even leopard by the riverside.
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.
|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
|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
|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.
|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.
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