21423
South Africa/Zimbabwe/Botswana
Southern Africa Safari and Train Adventure: From Cape Town to Victoria Falls
Journey through iconic countryside by train, and spot an abundance of wildlife while on safari. Plus, enjoy expert lectures on the region’s cultural traditions and natural wonders.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21423RJ
Length
16 days
Starts at
7,099
Flights start at
1,400
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16 days
15 nights
36 meals
13 B 11 L 12 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Cape Town and Check-in
Cape Town
Vineyard Hotel

Activity note: Check-in at the hotel starts from 2:00pm.

Dinner: Due to late evening arrivals in Cape Town, dinner is not included this evening. For anyone arriving earlier in the day, the hotel has a restaurant on site and there are also a variety of local restaurants within walking distance from the hotel.

Evening: Arrive Johannesburg from your international flight and clear customs/immigration before boarding a plane bound for Cape Town. In Cape Town, you are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for check-in. The Group Leader will be on hand to greet you and assist with the check-in process.

DAY
3
Orientation, City Exploration, Cape Winelands
Cape Town
B,L,D
Vineyard Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast will be an expansive buffet at the hotel, with a variety of cereals, breads, fruits and hot breakfast items. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We are fortunate to have as our Group Leader a knowledgeable expert who will also serve as our primary lecturer for most of the program.

Morning: Our time in Cape Town will begin with an exploration of the city. Sites visited include: the Bo Kaap, a colorful and predominantly Muslim neighborhood; the Company Gardens, a lovely garden in the heart of city center that is surrounded by the Houses of Parliament; the Anglican Cathedral of South Africa, where Desmond Tutu was bishop; Greenmarket Square, an historic, and vibrant, meeting place in the business district; the Castle of Good Hope, a former fort that is the oldest building in South Africa; and District Six, which serves as a poignant reminder of the impact of apartheid. The District 6 museum contains exhibits that invite a very visual and interactive understanding of what life was like in the area, and of apartheid’s impacts on the residents in the neighborhood.

Lunch: Located on the Moreson wine estate near Franschhoek, Bread & Wine exudes an old world charm. This character-filled, rustic restaurant has won numerous accolades for its honest food. The menu changes seasonally and is inspired by the variety of local ingredients available.

Afternoon: We will spend the afternoon exploring the Cape Winelands. The wine-producing region around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is not only the most important wine growing region in South Africa, but Stellenbosch is also one of the oldest, most beautiful and well-preserved towns in South Africa. The vineyards form a patchwork in the fertile valleys and seem to be overshadowed by dramatic mountains. There is an almost European atmosphere with beautiful Cape Dutch architecture seen everywhere. We will partake in a wine tasting and hear a lecture on the area’s architecture, history and viniculture from our Group Leader.

Dinner: Dinner will be a three course menu taken at a local restaurant, including starter, main dish with vegetable side, and dessert.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Table Mountain, Cape Peninsula, Boulders Beach
Cape Town
B,L,D
Vineyard Hotel

Activity note: At the Cape of Good Hope, you have the option of walking up steep steps to get to the lighthouse at the very top; however, great views can be enjoyed without climbing the steps. At Boulders Beach, the coach must park in a parking lot that requires about a 15-20 minute walk to get to the entrance to Boulders; the walk is on flat, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast, we will head to Table Mountain where a cable car ride up the steep granite slopes (weather permitting) will give us splendid views of the city and peninsula; it is perhaps one of the most magnificent views in the southern hemisphere. Afterwards, we will depart toward Cape Point via the coastal route passing through Camps Bay (South Africa’s world famous beach resort), past the Twelve Apostle Range, through Hout Bay and along Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most spectacular coastal roads to be found in Africa. Our destination will be the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Cape Point, where the cold Benguela current and the warm Agulhas current meet, is one of the world’s most beautiful places – a stretch of rocky mountain jutting southward into the sea. Here we will find a myriad of pristine beaches, sheltered bays and coves, as well as a rich array of indigenous flora. The fynbos reserve (a unique vegetation type of the Cape Floral Kingdom) is home to a variety of wildlife and bird species. Whales (dependent on season), penguins and seals may be spotted from this point. Lecture: Biodiversity of the Cape.

Lunch: Our picnic lunch will be at a local, scenic spot.

Afternoon: Next, we will stop off at Boulders Beach to view the resident African penguin colony. Nestled in a sheltered cove between Simon's Town and Cape Point, Boulders has become world famous for its thriving colony of African penguins and magnificent wind-sheltered beaches. Boulders is one of the few sites where this vulnerable bird (Spheniscus demersus) can be observed at close range, wandering freely in a protected environment.

Dinner: At a local restaurant featuring traditional African dishes and live entertainment. Water will be provided with additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Free Time
Cape Town
B,D
Vineyard Hotel

Activity note: Walk around the botanical garden can be up to 1.5 miles in length on paved paths, with small inclines/declines encountered.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will visit Kirstenbosch Gardens, one of the world's leading botanical gardens. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of its setting, against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa, and it was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. On display in the gardens is a wide variety of the unique Cape Floristic Region plant life, as well as plants from all the diverse regions of southern Africa; there are over 7,000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many that are rare and threatened. In 2004, the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will walk around the garden in the company of our Group Leader and a local specialist, who will talk about the different plants seen.

Lunch: On own account to explore local fare.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will have free to rest, relax or explore Cape Town on our own. There are a multitude of activities offered in the area, or you may wish to explore the hotel's walking trails through their expansive gardens. Transportation will be provided to the V&A Waterfront for self-exploration.

Dinner: Taken at the hotel, dinner tonight will be a three-course set menu with starter, main dish with vegetable side, and dessert. Beverages will be available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Pretoria
Pretoria
B,L,D
Courtyard Hotel Arcadia

Activity note: Flight time from Cape Town to Pretoria is 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, we will transfer to the Cape Town airport, where we will board our commercial flight to Pretoria.

Lunch: We will have a packed lunch today.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we will be shown around Capital Park Station, the private Rovos Rail train station, by a member of the Rovos Rail staff. Once the bustling hub of steam locomotion in the old Transvaal, the colonial-style railway station now serves as the headquarters for Rovos Rail. The eyes of rail enthusiasts will be drawn to the vast carriage and locomotive sheds, where teams of dedicated personnel keep the rolling stock in perfect order. This roofed workshop of 10,000 square meters (107,640 square feet) straddles 15 railway lines with concrete inspection pits below, and is the ultimate repair and maintenance facility for any train operation. Later this afternoon, we will have a chance to explore Pretoria in the company of a local expert. Although Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, lies only 36 miles north of Johannesburg, it provides a complete contrast to the City of Gold. Pretoria was founded in 1855 and named after the Voortrekker leader, Andries Pretorius. It is often referred to as the “Jacaranda City,” a nickname which derives from the thousands of trees lining the streets, their purple blossoms heralding the approach of summer each October. During the city tour, we will visit the Voortrekker Monument, a striking memorial built to honor the early pioneers, and continue to Church Square in the center of the city, where the statue of Paul Kruger looks down on the passersby. The imposing Union Building, which houses the office of the State President, provides an impressive view over the city. We will also be able to explore the beautiful gardens here before being transferred to the Courtyard Hotel Arcadia for an overnight stay.

Dinner: Dinner tonight will be a buffet dinner at the hotel consisting of a soup or salad, dinner rolls, main and side dishes. Vegetarian options will be available if known in advance.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Board the Rovos Rail, Colonial Influences in South Africa
Rovos Rail (Pretoria-Victoria Falls)
B,L,D
Rovos Rail

Breakfast: Taken at the hotel, breakfast will be an expansive buffet featuring a variety of cold cereals, fresh fruit, cold meats and cheeses, pastries and hot items such as bacon, sausage, tomatoes and mushrooms. Omelettes, eggs and waffles are cooked on demand. Fruit juices, coffee, tea and water provided

Morning: This morning, we will transfer to the Capital Park Station to receive a welcome and safety briefing from the Rovos Rail staff before boarding the train and settling into our suites for a 9:30am departure.

Lunch: The lunch sitting on board the train will be at 1:00pm each day, and can be taken in either of the two Victorian-era dining cars. Lunches will be a four course offering with starter, main entree with sides, cheese and fruit course, and dessert; the delicious food will be complemented by an array of fine South African wines.

Afternoon: As the train travels north through Warmbaths and Nylstroom, South Africa, our Group Leader will give a lecture on the significant colonial influences in the early development of South Africa. High tea will be served at 4:00pm each day on board the train, consisting of tea/coffee, scones, cakes and other delicious offerings.

Dinner: The dinner sitting on the train will be at 7:30pm each evening, and again can be taken in either one of the dining cars. Dinners will be a four-course, plated meal consisting of a starter, main entree with side dishes, cheese and fruit, and dessert; each course will be paired with a complementary South African wine.

Evening: After arriving in Messina, the train will travel slowly over the Beit Bridge into Zimbabwe, where border formalities take place.

DAY
8
Travel through Zimbabwe, Overview of Botswana and Zimbabwe
Rovos Rail (Pretoria-Victoria Falls)
B,L,D
Rovos Rail

Breakfast: Breakfast will be served between 7:00-10:00am each morning and consist of a cold cereal, yogurt and fruit buffet, with hot breakfast items ordered off of an a la carte menu.

Morning: We will enjoy the scenery as the train travels through the beautiful countryside of Zimbabwe towards Bulawayo, via Rutenga and Somabhula. All of the cars on the train have expansive windows, allowing for great viewing, and there is an observation car at the end of the train that is partially open-air. Our Group Leader will give an overview of Botswana.

Lunch: On the train.

Afternoon: As the train continues its journey, our Group Leader will give an overview of Zimbabwe. High tea will be served.

Dinner: On the train.

Evening: The train will arrive at Mpopoma for its overnight stop.

DAY
9
Hwange National Park
Rovos Rail (Pretoria-Victoria Falls)
B,L,D
Rovos Rail

Breakfast: On the train.

Morning: Enjoy the scenery as the train travels through the Zimbabwean countryside, heading north towards Hwange National Park on one of Africa's longest stretches of straight railway line, running for 114 km (71 miles). In preparation for our first safari activity, our Group Leader will give a lecture on elephant behavior and social structure.

Lunch: On the train.

Afternoon: The train will travel along the eastern side of Hwange National Park; wildlife may be spotted from the train. In the mid-afternoon, an off-train field trip will take us into Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's premier safari destination, for a game drive in the company of a local safari expert. Hwange is legendary for its wonderful array of wildlife, particularly the massive herds of elephant and buffalo. There are a number of shallow pans spread throughout the park, around which wildlife congregates, making for excellent and reliable game viewing. Elephant, Cape buffalo, sable, roan, southern giraffe, blue wildebeest, impala and sometimes even gemsbok (oryx) can be seen here. This park is one of the best for predators - lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah are regularly sighted, along with the smaller African wildcat, serval, honey badger, civet and spotted hyena. Bird life in the area is also prolific, with more than 400 species found; the birdlife is incredibly varied, with species that frequent teak woodlands as well as those more typical of the drier Kalahari being present. At the end of the game drive, we will re-board the train.

Dinner: On the train.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Arrive in Victoria Falls, Victoria Falls the Waterfall
Victoria Falls
B,L,D
A'Zambezi River Lodge

Activity note: In order to see all viewpoints at the Falls, approximate length of walk is 2 miles. It is possible to walk less and see some, but not all, viewpoints. Paths may be slick from mist, but are mostly flat.

Breakfast: On the train.

Morning: The train will arrive in the town of Victoria Falls at 10:00am. Upon disembarking, we will transfer to our lodge and have a chance to settle-in and enjoy the riverfront views.

Lunch: Taken at the lodge's restaurant, the lunch buffet will consist of numerous salad options, main dish, sides and dessert options; both hot and cold dishes will be offered. Meat and vegetarian options will always be available.

Afternoon: This afternoon, we will be transferred a short distance to the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Here, our Group Leader will lead us on a walk to the Falls, where we will see how through the millennia the forces of nature have created this marvelous spectacle, Africa’s greatest waterfall. We will view the Falls today from the Zimbabwean side. After our visit, we will return to the lodge with time to freshen-up before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge, dinner will consist of a buffet with starter, choice of main dishes, variety of side dishes, and desserts; meat and vegetarian options will always be available.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Elephant Encounter, Local Village Visit, Free Time
Victoria Falls
B,L,D
A'Zambezi River Lodge

Activity note: Transfer time to the elephant encounter site is about 1/2 hour. Walk at the elephant encounter site is along flat, uneven, dirt pathways. The transfer time to the village from the elephant encounter is minimal. Return transfer to Victoria Falls is about 1/2 hour.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the elephant encounter site will be a plated, full English breakfast consisting of eggs to order, grilled bacon, grilled tomato, baked beans, sausage and toast. Fruit juices, tea and coffee are included. Vegetarian choices available if known in advance.

Morning: We will have an early start for the morning’s field trip. By motorcoach, we will be driven to a nearby location for our elephant encounter. Here, we will have an opportunity to learn more about the past, present and future of elephant conservation from local experts. We will also gain insight into these gentle giants through up close, personal time with the elephants that reside here. In the company of our local experts, we will be escorted on a walk alongside the elephants through the pristine bush and valley of the Masui River. Upon conclusion of the encounter, we will enjoy breakfast on site before departing for our local village visit. After breakfast, we will transfer to Intabayengwe Village, a nearby traditional village. Here, we will have the chance to meet members of the community and see how they live. We will have an opportunity to help the local women prepare a traditional meal and see what role women play in the village. We will also visit a local, illegal “moonshiner’s” distillation facility and learn about this underground industry. Visits to some of the homes and the local pre-school will round out the visit. From the village, we will be driven to a local restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: Taken at a local restaurant with scenic views, lunch will be a 3-course, set menu offering; bottled water included with additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure, with a variety of local activities to choose from.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
David Livingstone's Explorations, Safari Activities
Upper Zambezi River
B,L,D
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Activity note: Transfer from Victoria Falls to Imbabala Safari Lodge is 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: After breakfast, we will be joined at the lodge by a noted local historian who will discuss the story of Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who first visited Victoria Falls over 150 years ago, and whose journeys laid the ground work for the Colonial era that followed. Following the presentation, we will be transferred to Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge, arriving in time for lunch at the lodge.

Lunch: Lunches at the lodge will be a small buffet with starter salad, main entree and side dish, and dessert. Vegetarian choices will be provided if known in advance.

Afternoon: We will have a chance to settle in and enjoy the riverfront scenery before our Group Leader gives a lecture on lion social structure and behavior. Afterward, we will embark on a late afternoon game drive in the private reserve surrounding the lodge. The 5,000 acre national park concession has nearly nine miles of private Zambezi River frontage, and it borders the Chobe Forest Reserve which is renowned for its massive elephant population. Game drives will be in open-air safari vehicles in the early mornings and late afternoons, when the animals are most active. Each game drive lasts for approximately 3 hours, with a rest break half-way through. Game drives consist of moving slowly through the reserve searching for predators and other animals.

Dinner: Dinners at the lodge will be a small buffet with starter salad, main entree and side dish, and dessert. Vegetarian choices will be provided if known in advance.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Safari Activities
Upper Zambezi River
B,L,D
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Breakfast: Light morning snacks such as cold cereals, rusks and coffee/tea will be provided before the morning game drive.

Morning: We will enjoy a morning game drive in the lodge's private reserve.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Following tea, we will embark on a game viewing boat cruise on the Zambezi River. Here, we may have the chance to spot wildlife coming to drink and bathe in the river, as well as observe the multitude of birds that gather on the river’s banks.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Upper Zambezi River
B,L,D
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: A short drive this morning will take us over the border into Botswana and Chobe National Park, where we will go on a game drive within the park. Chobe National Park remains one of Africa’s prime game-viewing areas. Here, one finds all of the “Big Five,” except for rhino. This is elephant country, home to the largest population of elephants in the world…many of these great grey giants can be seen at this time of year. (Note that seasonality makes a big difference in how much game one will see. If it’s dry, larger herds gather; if it has recently rained, the animals will be more dispersed.) The park forms part of Botswana’s northern-most border and is a contrast of desert aridity and flood plains. The Chobe region is best known for its vast magnificent river and floodplains filled with grazing herds of big game. Buffalo, sable, lion, leopard, hippo, hyena, and many species of antelope find safety in this huge national park. Chobe is one of Africa’s most pristine ecosystems and greatest wildlife refuges.

Lunch: Taken at a lodge near Chobe National Park, with a beautiful view over the Chobe River, lunch will be an expansive buffet with numerous salad, main dish and dessert options.

Afternoon: During our game-viewing boat safari, we will explore the Chobe River by motorboat, potentially coming face to face with the elephant, buffalo and other wildlife that gather on the banks of the river to drink and bathe. Immersed in this unique environment, we will view numerous birds including sacred ibis, blue heron, goliath heron, saddle-billed storks, marabou storks and little egrets. After the boat cruise, we will drive back across the border to Imbabala Lodge.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Transfer from Imbabala Safari Lodge to Victoria Falls is 1 hour. Flight time from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We will have time to pack before we are transferred to the Victoria Falls airport for our flight to Johannesburg.

Lunch: In flight.

Afternoon: Board the early afternoon commercial flight to Johannesburg. Arrive in Johannesburg and connect to your international return flight. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
16
In Transit From Program
In Flight

Morning: Early morning arrivals back in North America.






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