21528
Africa

Southern Africa Birding Safari: South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe & Botswana

Add the birds of Southern Africa to your birding life list as you explore the diverse habitats of four countries with experts, spotting unique wildlife and learning about local culture.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21528RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
6,549
Flights start at
1,425
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15 days
14 nights
36 meals
12 B 2BR 10 L 12 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Johannesburg, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Johannesburg
D
Courtyard Hotel Eastgate

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Check in at the hotel and relax before the welcome dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet welcome dinner including a starter and entrée with side dish. A welcome drink, bottled water, coffee and tea are provided; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We are fortunate to have as our Group Leader a knowledgeable expert who will also serve as our primary lecturer. In addition, we will have the benefit of local experts who will join us at different sites. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Birding in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
B,L,D
Courtyard Hotel Eastgate

Activity note: The birding today is done on foot; total distance covered may be up to 2 miles on paved walkways. Total driving approx. 90 miles; about 2 hours.

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 can be cooked on demand. Fruit juices, coffee, tea, milk and water provided.

Morning: Transfer by motorcoach east of Johannesburg to the Marievale Bird Sanctuary, a provincial nature reserve that has been designated an Important Bird Area in South Africa. Marievale has been shaped by the gold mining activities in the area; much of the water that fills the floodplain has been pumped up from underground, creating a body of water that attracts an extraordinary number of birds. Habitats within the sanctuary include shallow open water, reedbeds and grassland, so the variety of birds is impressive with some 280 species having been recorded in the area. Here one can often see specials like little bittern, slaty egrets, black and squacco herons, and handsome red-knobbed coots along with the usual aquatic species such as African rails, crakes, moorhens, cormorants and snipes. Additionally, it may well be the only place in the Gauteng region where it is relatively easy to see fulvous duck and South African shelduck. The wetland sanctuary does have a history of attracting extremely rare vagrants, with past sightings including buff-spotted flufftails, buff-breasted sandpiper, and a black-tailed godwit. In the company of our Group Leader, we will bird the varied environments in Marievale.

Lunch: In Marievale, we’ll find a nice spot to enjoy our boxed lunches with bottled water.

Afternoon: We’ll continue birding in Marievale. In the mid-afternoon, we will return to the hotel with some time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Fly to Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls - Zimbabwean Side
Victoria Falls
B,L,D
A'Zambezi River Lodge

Activity note: Flight time is 1 hour 40 minutes. Drive time from the airport to the lodge approx. 30 minutes. In order to see all viewpoints at the Falls, approximate length of walk is 2 miles on paved paths. It is possible to walk less and see some, but not all, viewpoints. Paths may be slick from mist, but are mostly flat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, we will board our minibus and transfer to the Johannesburg airport to board our commercial flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Lunch: Lunch provided in flight.

Afternoon: Arrive Victoria Falls where we will clear customs and immigration; please be advised that long lines at Victoria Falls airport can sometimes cause delays while obtaining a visa. After clearing Zimbabwean immigration, we will be transferred to the lodge for check-in. Later this afternoon, we will visit Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side. Because the waterfall spans the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, it is visible from both countries. However, viewing from the Zimbabwean side is preferred as more of the waterfall falls on this side. Here, our Group Leader will lead us on a walk to the various viewpoints and show us how, through the millennia, the forces of nature have created this marvelous spectacle, Africa’s greatest waterfall. After viewing the Falls, we will return to the lodge in our minibus.

Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal featuring a starter, choice of main dishes, a variety of side dishes, and desserts. Coffee, tea, bottled water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Birding Drive, Local Village Visit, Free Time
Victoria Falls
B,L,D
A'Zambezi River Lodge

Activity note: Birding drive lasts approx. 3 hours. Total transfer time approx. 1.5 hour round-trip; approx. 20 miles. Minimal walking at village, dirt paths. Periods of standing at the village and Trust.

Breakfast: Packed breakfast with homemade muffin, fruit, yogurt, oat cookies, water and tea/coffee will be provided during the morning drive.

Morning: We will start at sunrise for a birding-focused drive to several local hot spots in the Victoria Falls area. In open-air, 4x4 safari vehicles, we will start in town, driving along the Zambezi River and stopping at the golf course, as well as the water treatment plant; at both locations, we will have a chance to get out of the vehicle and walk a short distance searching for birds. Our drive will continue into Zambezi National Park, moving slowly through prime areas for birding from the vehicle. Species sighted today may include the black eagle, African skimmer, Taita falcon and half-collared kingfisher. Big game animals such as elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck and sable antelope may also be spotted inside the park. We will return to the lodge before departing for the rest of our morning activities. Following the birding drive, 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. Visits to some of the homes and the local pre-school will round out the visit. From the village, we will re-board our motorcoach for a short drive to the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, where we will learn about how the Trust’s local conservation efforts are making a major impact in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA). The Trust has four main areas of operation: Rescue and Rehabilitation; Wildlife Research; Wildlife Disease and Forensics Laboratory; and Community Outreach. In the company of a local expert, our visit will incorporate an overview of the Trust and its facilities, including the wildlife rehabilitation area. From the Wildlife Trust, we will be driven to a local restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: Taken at a local restaurant with scenic views, our lunch will be a 2-course, plated, set menu offering; bottled water included with additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in the town of Victoria Falls. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. In the early evening, we will regroup at the lodge for an overview on Zimbabwe, given by our Group Leader. Then, we will be driven a short distance to our dinner location.

Dinner: Our dinner will be taken at a neighboring lodge and consist of a 3-course, set menu meal including bottled water, coffee, tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
David Livingstone, To Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park
B,L,D
Khulu Bush Camp

Activity note: Transfer time to Hwange National Park is approx. 110 miles; 2.5 hours. Safari drive lasts 3-4 hours in open-air 4x4 vehicle; night game drive is about 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: Following breakfast, a noted local historian will join us at the lodge to 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. Mid-morning, we will head south to Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s premier safari destination. Hwange is legendary for its wonderful array of wildlife, particularly the massive herds of elephant and buffalo. In the summer months, large antelope herds migrate onto the plains, closely followed by large predators. Shallow pans are spread throughout the park, around which wildlife congregate, 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.

Lunch: At the camp, we’ll have a buffet lunch with a starter, main dish, side dish, and dessert. All local brand beverages, water and coffee/tea provided; premium brand alcohol available for purchase.

Afternoon: The early afternoon will be at leisure to rest during the heat of the day. Following afternoon tea, we will depart on our first game drive of the program. 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 three hours, with a rest break half-way through. Game drives consist of moving slowly through the park searching for birds, predators and other animals. During the game drive, we will search for a variety of bird species including the Kalahari robin, lilac-breasted roller, ground hornbill, eastern red-footed kestrel, Lanner falcon, hobby falcon, and the Steppe eagle, which migrates to southern Africa all the way from the Central Asian steppes.

Dinner: Dinners at the camp will be plated meals consisting of a salad or starter, main course with side, and dessert. All local brand beverages, water and coffee/tea provided; premium brand alcohol available for purchase.

Evening: Following dinner, we’ll set out on a short night game drive with a local safari expert in search of the nocturnal species active in the area. Some species we could spot may include civet, genet, bushbaby, pearl spotted owl, African scops owl, and Verreaux’s eagle-owl.

DAY
7
Game Drives, Importance of Termites
Hwange National Park
B,BR,D
Khulu Bush Camp

Activity note: Walking approx. 1 mile on the morning bush walk; about 1 hour; uneven, sandy terrain. Early morning and afternoon game drives are approx. 3 to 4 hours each in open-air, 4x4 vehicles; evening game drive is about 1 hour.

Breakfast: Early at the camp before our game drive, we’ll have a light buffet with cold cereal, fresh fruit and rusks, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: On an early morning game drive with a local safari expert, we will search for the varied wildlife in the area before returning to camp.

Brunch: At the camp, brunch will be a small buffet consisting of hot and cold breakfast and lunch dishes. All local brand beverages, water and coffee/tea provided; premium brand alcohol available for purchase.

Afternoon: In the company of a safari specialist, we’ll set out from the camp for a bush walk where we may encounter wildlife and birdlife, as well as explore the little surprises in the bush. You may wish to take some time on your own to rest during the heat of the day and enjoy the camp's amenities. During afternoon tea, our Group Leader will give a lecture on termites, followed by a late afternoon game drive. Keep an eye out for the Whalberg's eagle, swallow-tailed bee-eater, crested guinea fowl and Bradfield's hornbill.

Dinner: At the camp.

Evening: A short night game drive will be offered in search of the nocturnal species active in the area.

DAY
8
Game Drives, Lion Social Structure and Behavior
Hwange National Park
B,BR,D
Khulu Bush Camp

Activity note: Walking approx. 1 mile on the morning bush walk; about 1 hour; uneven, sandy terrain. Early morning and afternoon game drives are approx. 3 to 4 hours each in open-air 4x4 vehicles; evening game drive is about 1 hour.

Breakfast: Light breakfast at the camp.

Morning: On our morning game drive, we will search for birds and wildlife that may have eluded us thus far. Then, we will return to camp.

Brunch: Camp buffet.

Afternoon: After a bush walk led by a safari specialist, we’ll have some relaxation time to escape the heat of the day. Mid-afternoon, we will regroup for a tea-time lecture given by our Group Leader, which will focus on the social structure and behavior of lions. Afterwards, we will depart on our final afternoon game drive to search for species such as the Steppe buzzard, harrier hawk, Cape vulture and secretary bird.

Dinner: Camp meal.

Evening: Following dinner, we’ll set out for a short night game drive to look for nocturnal species.

DAY
9
Game Drive, To Imbabala Private Reserve, Game Drive
Upper Zambezi River
B,L,D
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Activity note: Total drive time to Imbabala Lodge is 3.5 hours; approx. 150 miles. Safari drive lasts 3-4 hours in open-air, 4x4 vehicles.

Breakfast: Early morning snacks at the camp, followed by a heartier breakfast upon completion of the morning game drive.

Morning: We will embark on one last morning game drive in Hwange. Mid-morning, we will be transferred to Imbabala Lodge to settle in and enjoy the riverfront scenery.

Lunch: At the lodge, we’ll have a small buffet with starter salad, main entree with a side dish, and dessert. Local brand alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: The early afternoon will be at leisure to rest, relax and enjoy the lodge's amenities. Following afternoon tea, we will embark on a late afternoon game drive in the private reserve surrounding the lodge, seeking out lion, impala, giraffe, elephants and the myriad of bird life resident in the area. The 5,000 acre national park concession has nearly nine miles of private Zambezi River frontage. The reserve also borders the Chobe Forest Reserve, which is renowned for its massive elephant population. At dusk, we will return to the lodge in time for dinner.

Dinner: Dinners at the lodge will be a small buffet with starter salad, main entree, side dish, and dessert. All local brand beverages and water included; premium-brand alcohol available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Safari Activities, Elephant Behavior
Upper Zambezi River
B,L,D
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Activity note: Safari drive last 3-4 hours in open-air, 4x4 vehicles; boat safari lasts approx. 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the lodge prior to the morning game drive, early morning tea/coffee and light breakfast items will be served, such as fresh fruit, rusks, muffins, and cereals. Upon return from the morning game drive, hot breakfast items such as eggs cooked to order, sausage, bacon and toast will be provided at the lodge.

Morning: We will begin our morning with a game drive in the lodge’s private reserve. In addition to the multitude of mammals resident in the area, there is an immense amount of birdlife present, with over 400 species being recorded in Imbabala's private reserve. Bird species spotted may include: long-toed plover, western banded snake eagle and swamp boubou, as well as red-winged pratincole, purple heron, green-backed heron, and spotted thick-knee.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Mid-afternoon, our Group Leader will give a lecture on elephant social structure, behavior and culling issues. After the lecture, we will embark on a safari by boat 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. Species seen here can include the African spoonbill, African skimmer, squacco heron, water thick-knee, southern red bishop and all species of southern African bee-eaters. We will return to the lodge at dusk, with time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Upper Zambezi River
B,L,D
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge

Activity note: The drive to Chobe National Park is approx. 7 miles one way; less than 1 hour, including the border crossing. Game drive is approx. 3 hours. Getting on/off motorboat; ride is approx. 2 hours. Minimal walking throughout the day.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: A short drive this morning will take us over the border into Botswana and Chobe National Park for a full-day field trip. After crossing the Botswana border, we will embark in open-air safari vehicles on a game drive within the park accompanied by a local safari expert. 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: We will enjoy lunch 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. Coffee, tea and water provided; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After a short walk to the dock, we’ll set out on our game-viewing boat safari, during which 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 African jacana, sacred ibis, blue heron, goliath heron, saddle-billed storks, marabou storks and little egrets. After the boat safari, we will be driven back across the border to the lodge.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Game Drive, Victoria Falls - Zambian Side
Livingstone
B,L,D
The River Club

Activity note: Total drive time today approx. 3 hours; about 75 miles. In order to access all of the viewpoints at Victoria Falls, one must go up and down around 150 stairs one way; the path may be slick due to the waterfall's mist. It is possible to still see the waterfall without climbing all of the stairs, but only from one viewpoint. Walking up to 2 miles on paved paths.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We will embark on our last game drive of the program, seeking out animals we may not have seen thus far. At the end of the drive, we will return to the lodge with time to pack. Mid-morning, we will transfer across the border to Livingstone, Zambia, arriving at our lodge in time for lunch.

Lunch: Lunches at the lodge will be a plated meal chosen from a menu, including items such as salads, pastas, fish and pizza. Bottled water will be provided with other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch at the lodge, we will visit the famed Victoria Falls, where the Zambezi River opens out into an extravaganza of roaring, spray-tumbled water, known to the locals as “Mosi oa Tunya” (the smoke that thunders). Few sights are as awe-inspiring as this, when the ground rumbles with the forces of the water. We will view the Falls this afternoon from the Zambian side, followed by a visit to the local crafts market. Before dinner, our Group Leader will give us an overview of Zambia.

Dinner: Dinners at the lodge will be a plated, 3-course meal chosen from a set menu. Bottled water, coffee, tea and one glass of table wine will be provided, with additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Birding along the Zambezi River, Livingstone Museum
Livingstone
B,L,D
The River Club

Activity note: Early morning start for pre-breakfast birding boat ride; getting on/off the boat from a dock; ride is approx. 1.5 hours. Driving approx. 20 miles; about 1 hour total. Walking at the museum up to 1/2 mile; periods of standing.

Breakfast: After our birding boat ride, breakfast at the lodge will be an expansive buffet with a selection of cereals, pastries, fruit and yogurt; hot breakfast items cooked to order with a daily special that changes seasonally. Coffee, tea, fruit juices, milk and water will be provided.

Morning: In the early morning before breakfast, we will embark on a boat cruise on the Zambezi River for birding along the river banks. Interesting species sighted may include the half-collared kingfisher, Schalow’s turaco, red-chested flufftail and African skimmer. Light breakfast snacks will be served on board the boat, and a full breakfast will be available at the lodge upon our return. In the late morning after breakfast at the lodge, we will transfer to Livingstone and its colorful produce market for a field trip led by our Group Leader. Livingstone is a classic old colonial town of former Northern Rhodesia, and evidence of this fact can still be seen in some of its architecture. While here, we will also visit the Livingstone Museum, known for its archaeological and ethnographic displays. Most notable is the museum’s collection of artifacts that belonged to Dr. David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer and missionary who is credited with discovering Victoria Falls and helping to map much of the interior of Africa in the mid-1800s. We will return to the lodge in time for lunch.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in the town of Livingstone. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the lodge with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Birding Walk, Program Concludes
In Flight
B,L

Activity note: Walk for less than 1 mile; uneven ground. Transfer from the lodge to the airport approx. 30 minutes. Flight time 1 hour 45 minutes.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: Early morning before breakfast, our Group Leader will lead a birding walk on the lodge's property; keep an eye out for the pied kingfisher, scimitar-billed hoopoe, white fronted lapwing and pearl spotted owl. We will have time to pack following breakfast. Mid-morning, we will transfer to the Livingstone airport to board a commercial flight to Johannesburg.

Lunch: Provided in flight.

Afternoon: We’ll arrive in Johannesburg in the mid-afternoon. Our program concludes upon arrival. 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. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
15
In Transit From Program
In Flight

Morning: Early morning arrivals in North America.






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