South Africa has been an exclusive destination for years. Now, it is particularly gaining popularity among nature enthusiasts, wildlife-loving families, and thrill-seeking adventurers alike. Below, find an example itinerary from Travel Leaders 365 packed with impressive excursions and five-star accommodations. Of course, South African Luxury travel is nothing without its abundance of rare animals. Learn about which regions one may encounter mountain gorillas or where you may spot a rare dugong. (“What the heck is a dugong?” you may be asking. Read on to learn why these goofy beasts are not to be missed.)
While reading, keep in mind what makes traveling with us unique; our fine-tuned ability to cater every moment to your individual needs. Sounds gluttonous? It is, in the best way. Suppose you’re looking for a romantic trip to bask in new worlds together? We can make adjustments to ensure splendid privacy and dramatic flare. Or perhaps you’re seeking some quality time to learn alongside your family? We’ll put you with expert guides to answer all curious questions. We meticulously plan each detail according to your preferences, from dietary restrictions to a range of differing abilities, the sky’s the limit! (Sometimes, I wonder if our agents can read minds. But alas, they are genuinely just that good at anticipating a client’s needs!)
The itinerary below is an outline of just some opportunities and experiences we like to offer our guests. If you want to add a stop in a funky town, rent out a larger space to gather friends, charter private boat rides, or set up elaborate meals with personal chefs; our team is there to make dreams come true! After all, it’s not every day you are galloping through South African lands searching for hyenas, lions, and rhinos!
Our First Stop: Bwindi National Park – A Gorilla Forest Sanctuary Visit
About the Park
Our first stop on this South African itinerary takes us to Uganda’s infamous Bwindi National Park. Spanning over 331 kilometers, this inspiring park is a featured UNESCO Heritage site due to the impressive biodiversity within the borders. Home to 11 ape species, including the wild chimpanzees, the rare mountain gorillas, vervet, and more primate lovers, rejoice!
The Bwindi Park also offers refuge to: “120 mammal species including forest elephants, 360 species of birds; (23 of them are endemic to the Albertine Rift, 14 not recorded anywhere else in Uganda including the white tailed blue flycatcher, brown-necked parrot, and Fraser’s eagle owl, the African green broad bill), cream banded swallowtail, 1000 flowering plants, 163 tree species, and 104 fern species,” according to the Bwindi National Park website.
Clearly, there is so much to see in these rich forested mountains. The unique experiences we offer visitors will excite travelers of every age from every background.
Where To Stay and What to Do
Welcome to the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp! This exquisite tenting experience is uniquely situated right inside the National Park, which means you are just steps away from sweeping landscapes and rare wildlife. The sanctuary retreat has a petit spa center with a menu of treatments. These luxurious and bohemian-styled canvas accommodations provide comfortable lodging after a busy day of wildlife excursions. We recommend filling your days with birding walks, gorilla treks, forest drives, and guided tours. Then, spend an evening by the campfire with a drink to share stories about your exciting day.
Next Stop – Seeing the Glorious Victoria Falls
About the Destination
Known to some as the “Adventure Capital of South Africa,” those lucky enough to see these glittering falls are never surprised to learn that they are listed as one of The Seven Natural Wonders of the World. This enormous waterfall sits on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Walking down the footpaths of Victoria Falls National Park can be quite an experience. You’ll find yourself in the lush rainforest and then reach gorge-edge viewpoints. Here, you [meet] the majestic Main Falls, which thunders down into the rock chasm below, causing tremors beneath your feet.” Off from the main waterfall, there are several smaller yet dazzling falls to discover, making this a notable destination for those who appreciate scenic strolls and adrenaline-pumping adventures.
Where to Stay & What to Do
This location offers a plethora of activities, ranging from epic experiences like bungee jumping and river rafting, to culture and food tours. We love blowing our clients away by taking them on a scenic private flight overhead the breathtaking falls. Want to see more rare wildlife? There are great day trips to see lions, impala, and leopards at the nearby National Parks. For accommodations, the family-run Ilala Lodge is a wonderful base camp for travelers. Here, you are invited to rest, dine, and take in the scenery. It is the closest lodging option to Victoria Falls, so you won’t have to go far to explore the invigorating area.
Stop 3: South Luangwa National Park to Chase Exotic Animals
About the Destination
Luangwa National Park offers a vastly new landscape than the previous sites. With mesmerizing woodlands crowned by the flowing Luangwa river, this park is abundant with unspoiled flora and fauna. Situated in Zambia’s lush valleys and through the sunny plains, this destination is home to 60 mammal species, including the recently reintroduced rhinos. Also find a few endemic friends, like the Thornicroft giraffe, and Crawshay Zebra!
TripSavy remarks, “The park is also especially well-known as a birding destination. Over 400 avian species (more than half of those recorded in Zambia) have been spotted within its boundaries. As well as the usual birds of Southern and East Africa, the park provides a resting place for seasonal migrants from as far afield as Europe and Asia. Highlights include the near-threatened African skimmer, the incredibly elusive Pel’s fishing owl, and the great flocks of ruby-colored Southern carmine bee-eaters that nest in the park’s sandy river banks. South Luangwa is also home to no fewer than 39 raptor species, including four species of vulnerable or endangered vulture.”
Where to Stay & What to Do
Camp MCHENJA – This five-star safari tent resort is a dream launching pad for all travelers visiting the park. “Each [room] has a feather-top bed, large picture windows, and an open-air en-suite bathroom with a bath looking out onto the river. At breakfast, listen to a chorus of birdsong and laughing hippos. Between safari activities, relax in the refreshing pool overlooking the Luangwa river.” From here, we will arrange for various activities, including; walking safaris, night plain drives, birding treks, river boating, and more. Camp Mchenja offers excellent ways for younger kids to join in the fun. We can schedule culinary and cultural experiences to create some core memories the whole family will love!
Okavango Delta – Botswana’s Surreal Landscape
About the Destination
This fascinating hot spot brings us to a wild desert that attracts big game and a fantastic concentration of fierce wildlife. The flat desert provides an ideal condition for spotting big game. “There is less than 2 meters variation in height across the entire 250-kilometer length of the Delta: it is this almost complete absence of topographical relief that leads to the formation of the myriad waterways that make up the Delta.” The vast water flowing into the flat desert creates a maze of winding channels, oxbow lakes, islands, and floodplains. It really is a landscape unlike any other,” the National Park site explains.
Because this desert holds such a high density of wildlife that have few options for water sources, a whole array of fantastical beasts collect at the waterways to cool off, drink, or hunt. Okavango Delta is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammals, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dogs, and lions. A vast oasis, this park offers some of the best viewings of wildlife globally and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Where to Stay and What to See
Eco-luxury meets adventure at the Gomoti Plains whimsical lodge. With cooling plunge pools, a community bar, and reading nooks to explore, this camp feels like a dream summer camp spot with intimacy and privacy included. From here, guests can spend their days exploring the park on drives, guided tours, and desert safaris. Or, sleep in late and treat yourself to a spa treatment and birding tour, opting to take a thrilling night game drive. There is an endless array of activities to keep travelers enchanted by this off-the-beaten-path destination.
Last Stop: Benguerra Island
About the Destination
Welcome to a slice of Indian Ocean Paradise. This spot is truly a hidden gem, and there are not too many left. Photos of this destination are often compiled onto dream boards and #travelgoal posts, so this utopian paradise in Mozambique is a perfect way to end your tour.
Situated off the coast of Mozambique and within the protected marine reserve of the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, this island hideaway sits on a protected lagoon. Soft, white sand beaches stretch as far as the eye can see and beckon you to soak up the sun and unwind in the glowing atmosphere.
Let’s talk about animals. (The real stars of the show in the South African journey). Meet: The Dugong – a groovy marine mammal with the cutest face and some very ticklish whiskers; these fun critters look like plush toys. One of the world’s last viable populations of Dugong may also be visiting Benguerra Island. Almost hunted to extinction, passionate marine conservation teams now protect these blubbery friends. Although sightings of these animals are a rare treat, The Benguerra Island is your best chance to encounter the mystifying species. The coral reefs are brimming with colorful rainbow fish and iridescent creatures.
Where to Stay and Things to Do
Of course, scuba diving and snorkeling are on the to-do list at this luxurious beach resort that opens right to the sea. Other activities include horse rides on the beach, island hopping along the archipelago, helicopter rides over the glittering ocean, beach picnics and private dining experiences, year-round dolphin sightings, and deep sea fishing, just to name a few.
Azura, our recommended accommodation, is the first eco-friendly resort in Mozambique. Hand-built by the local community and operating in partnership with the people, this resort offers a wide range of villa-style lodging. The rooms include private plunge pools and bohemian-styled spaces. Treat yourself at the spa, play at the bar, or settle on the beach just steps away. A perfect landscape to reflect on your magnificent journey.
This sample itinerary visits 5 different regions of South Africa, all teeming with exotic life. You’ll have the chance to stay at 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites and visit a Natural Wonder of the World; all in style and comfort. You’ll have the chance to see majestic creatures in their natural habitats, including; mountain gorillas, cheetahs, lions, hyenas, endemic giraffes and zebras, wild dogs, and birds of prey, chimpanzees, elephants, dugong, and vervet; to name a few. (Not to mention the long list of rare bird species enthusiasts will love)
Ride in helicopters, safari jeeps, on horses in the sea, and in various boats to explore the region’s epic landscapes and biodiverse scenes. While enjoying the trip of a lifetime, you will also be supporting wildlife conservation projects and local communities, ethically traversing a spectacular region of the world.