Journey to Southern Africa

Journey to Southern Africa

Discover the remarkable beauty and vibrant culture of South Africa and Zimbabwe as you explore modern cities, track wildlife on safari and explore the natural wonder of Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. Talks by local experts, excursions with expert guides and safari game drives combine to make this the travel experience of a lifetime.

Trip Itinerary:

September 22 Depart Gateway City

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Cape Town, South Africa. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: CPT.

Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

September 23 In transit/London, England

If you are on an AHI FlexAir flight transiting through Heathrow Airport, you will arrive at Heathrow today. Day rooms will be provided for AHI FlexAir passengers with layovers longer than four hours. You will not have access to your checked baggage. Please pack any necessary items in your carry-on bag.

Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

September 24 Cape Town, South Africa

Arrive at Cape Town Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the designated meeting spot, where an AHI Travel representative will meet them. The meeting location will be provided with your final documents. Transfer and check in to the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Please note, if you arrive at the hotel before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is a Cape Town landmark located across the street from the Company’s Garden. Built in 1652 by The Dutch East India Company, the garden provided fruit and vegetables for the Dutch ships that stopped here on their way to Asia. Today, it is a beautiful park lined with museums and historic buildings.

This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception.

Accommodations – Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

September 25 Cape Town

Discovery: Cape Peninsula.
Explore the Cape Peninsula and Cape Point Nature Reserve today. Delight in the pretty panoramas along Marine Drive, and pass the unique mountain landscape featuring Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles. Admire the coastal scenery before stopping in the quaint fishing village of Hout Bay. Then continue to Cape Point, where you can take a funicular to the top for a spectacular view. On you return to Cape Town, visit Boulders Beach to see the African penguin colony. Stroll on the boardwalks that run through the penguins’ protected area, and observe daily life among the 3,000 birds that live here.

Stop at a restaurant on the Cape Peninsula for lunch.

Enrichment: South African History.
Discover the events that have shaped modern South Africa: Dutch and British colonization, the introduction of Indonesian slaves, the plight of indigenous peoples and the discovery of rich lodes of minerals, gemstones and precious metals. Learn more about brutal apartheid rule, which oppressed the country’s nonwhite citizens for most of the 20th century, and how democracy finally prevailed.

Accommodations – Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

September 26 Cape Town

Discovery: Cape Town.
Discover the wonders and highlights of South Africa’s Mother City. Begin your excursion with a drive through the Company’s Garden district. Admire the brightly painted homes that line the cobblestone streets of the Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter. See the Castle of Good Hope, the 17th-century star fort built to defend the Dutch trading settlement from English attack. Stroll along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a bustling working harbor and the gateway to Robben Island, home to the jail that held South Africa’s most famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela. Board a ferry here for a short ride to the island, where you will tour the jail with a former prisoner. After the tour, you will have an opportunity to ask your guide questions about his experiences. This is a very special experience to hear firsthand the poignant story of a former Robben Island prisoner. If weather permits, take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain for spectacular views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean.

Free Time: Perhaps spend your afternoon at leisure exploring the V&A Waterfront, and enjoy lunch on your own at one of the many restaurants. Browse through the shops, listen to the street musicians and admire the view of the harbor.

Accommodations – Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
Meals – Breakfast

September 27 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

This morning, fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

This afternoon, check in to The Victoria Falls Hotel.

Free Time: Enjoy some time at leisure to get settled into your guest room and to have lunch on your own.

Discovery: Victoria Falls.
Until the 19th century, the Zambezi River’s great cascade was called Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the smoke that thunders,” by the region’s Kololo tribe. “Discovered” on November 16, 1855, by Dr. David Livingstone and renamed for England’s queen, Victoria Falls is the planet’s largest curtain of water — spanning more than a mile — as it crashes some 328 feet into the raging Batoka Gorge below. Twice the height of Niagara Falls, mighty Victoria Falls casts a veil of spray that can be seen up to 50 miles away!

Tonight, gather for a group dinner.

Accommodations – The Victoria Falls Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and dinner

September 28 Chobe National Park, Botswana

Get an early start today and enjoy breakfast before heading out to explore Chobe National Park in nearby Botswana with your safari guide. Chobe’s all-female tracking team knows the best spots for observing the magnificent beasts that call the park home.

Discovery: Chobe National Park.
As the sun rises, watch the park spring to life. You never know what the day will bring. You may see a herd of buffalo lumbering to the water for a drink or beautiful sable antelope grazing on the floodplains. You may come across lions sprawled out and content after the hunt or see a leopard draped over a branch high in a tree. You will be amazed by the number of elephants who make their home here. You are likely to see several herds of elephants wandering the plains or stopping by the river for a drink or a bath. With a large bird population of more than 450 species, Chobe also is a spectacular destination for birdwatchers. If conditions permit, take a safari cruise on the Chobe River for game viewing from a perspective you just can’t get on land. The Chobe River gives life to the many animals, birds and reptiles that call the park home. Watch elephants frolicking in the water, hippos swimming and birds swooping down to catch a fish. Enjoy lunch at Chobe Game Lodge during your excursion.

Tonight, dinner is at leisure.

Accommodations – The Victoria Falls Hotel
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

September 29 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Free Time: The morning and early afternoon are at leisure. Enjoy a relaxing day and the amenities of the hotel. Enjoy a dip in the pool or pamper yourself at the hotel’s spa.

This afternoon, embark Rovos Rail at Victoria Falls Station and begin your luxury train journey to Pretoria, SouthAfrica.

Settle into your suite, and enjoy the ambience of a train journey recapturing the Golden Age of Travel.

Change for dinner, which is announced by a gong. Meals aboard Rovos Rail always are a treat. Enjoy fine cuisine accompanied by a selection of excellent South African wines.

The train overnights at Kennedy Siding.

Accommodations –Rovos Rail
Meals – Breakfast and dinner

September 30 Zimbabwe

Rise early this morning for a sunrise safari at Hwange National Park. Enjoy a light breakfast before the excursion.

Discovery: Hwange National Park.
Disembark the train this afternoon at Kennedy Siding, and go for a game drive at The Hide, a private concession in Hwange National Park. This park, Zimbabwe’s largest park and home to more than 100 mammal and 400 bird species, is known for its natural beauty. Visit one of the most popular watering holes to see some of the local residents!

Gather for brunch as the train travels along 71 miles (114 kilometers) of straight railway track, one of the longest stretches of straight track in the world, and the eastern edge of Hwange National Park. Take in the scenes of daily life as you continue through Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city.

Afternoon tea is served in the lounge or Obervation Car.

Tonight, enjoy dinner in the Dining Car as the train travels to the town of Beitbridge at the South African border.

Accommodations – Rovos Rail
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

October 1 South Africa

Start another beautiful morning with a hearty breakfast.

Catch final glimpses of the region’s famous baobab trees as you continue your journey south.

Gather for a delicious lunch as the train passes through Bela-Bela, the hot springs resort once known as Warmbaths, and Modimolle, a town once known as Nylstroom. Modimolle sits in the verdant bushveld, which owes its greenery to the Nyl (Nile) River.

Catch up on your reading in the Lounge Car. There are books and magazines, as well as board games, in the Lounge and Observation cars.

Gather for a sumptuous dinner.

The train overnights at Pyramid.

Accommodations – Rovos Rail
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

October 2 Pretoria/Johannesburg

Gather for a final breakfast aboard Rovos Rail.

Arrive this morning at the Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria, and transfer to Johannesburg.

Enjoy a delicious lunch of local traditional dishes at a restaurant in Soweto.

Discovery: Soweto.
Visit the townships of Soweto. The townships were built in the early 20th century to keep the black community, including the miners who toiled in the dark and dangerous conditions of the gold mines, out of the city center. When it was founded, Soweto was on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It was incorporated into the city of Johannesburg in 2002. Though life has improved for many people, you will still see corrugated tin shacks and homes without indoor plumbing. Several entrepreneurs have built successful businesses, and though many are millionaires, they have chosen to remain part of the Soweto community. Many people in Soweto run microbusinesses in their homes. They sell everything from fruit to auto parts, and they run hair salons and restaurants. During your tour, see the homes of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Winnie Mandela. In historic Kliptown, one of the oldest townships, learn about a youth program that offers tutoring and opportunities to play sports and participate in the arts. See a dance performance during your visit.

Check in to 54 on Bath in Johannesburg’s Rosebank neighborhood.

Accommodations – 54 on Bath
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

October 3 Hoedspruit/Thornybush Nature Reserve

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Hoedspruit. Upon arrival, transfer to Thornybush Nature Reserve and check in to Thornybush Waterside Lodge.

Enjoy lunch on arrival.

Discovery: Introduction to Thornybush.
This afternoon, get the lay of the land, the African bushveld, during your first game drive in Thornybush Nature Reserve. Thornybush covers more than 53 square miles and is home to 147 species of mammals, including the Big Five: lion, elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros. Get to know your ranger and tracker, a hard-working team that will accompany you on each game drive. During each afternoon game drive, stop for refreshments and stretch your legs before resuming the hunt!

Return to the lodge for dinner.

Accommodations – Thornybush Waterside Lodge
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

October 4 Thornybush Nature Reserve

Each morning on safari starts with a wakeup call from your ranger at dawn. Meet on the deck for coffee and rusks before climbing into your safari vehicle.

Discovery: Sunrise Safari.
It may seem quiet as the sun starts its journey across the sky, but there is plenty of animal activity. Many of them are just waking up and preparing to search for breakfast! Others are winding down after a night on the prowl and looking for a place to sleep during the day. See how many of the Big Five you can spot this morning. During each morning game drive, stop to stretch your legs and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.

Tuck into a delicious breakfast back at the lodge.

Free Time: The morning and afternoon are at leisure. Gather for conversation at the bar, lounge by the pool or enjoy a spa treatment.

Enjoy lunch on the deck and later, afternoon tea.

Enrichment: The Animals of Thornybush.
The reserve’s naturalist leads a discussion about the animals, birds and reptiles that live in the park.

Discovery: Sunset Safari.
This afternoon, get a different perspective as you see diurnal animals settling down for the evening and nocturnal animals beginning theirs. As the sun sets, stop for a round of sundowners, drinks enjoyed at sunset.

A delicious dinner awaits you at the lodge.

Accommodations – Thornybush Waterside Lodge
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

October 5 Thornybush Nature Reserve

Embark on another exciting day on safari!

Discovery: Thornybush at Dawn.
Each game drive is a unique experience forged by the time of day, the weather and the locale. Your tracker and ranger are experts in finding animals on the reserve. They know the thickets where giraffes nibble at the treetops, the open veld where zebra like to graze and much more.

Return to the lodge for breakfast.

Free Time: Enjoy a leisurely morning. Visit the spa for a massage, take a swim in the pool or relax with a book on the deck.

Lunch is served.

Enjoy afternoon tea before your final game drive.

Discovery: Safari Afternoon.
Your ranger and tracker are very knowledgeable about both the wildlife and plants in the park. Feel free to ask questions about your surroundings. This afternoon, you may scout out popular watering holes, where four-legged and feathered residents gather for a drink.

Gather for a festive Farewell Dinner, a sumptuous meal seasoned with tales of your wild animal sightings and other adventures.

Accommodations – Thornybush Waterside Lodge
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

October 6 Hoedspruit/Depart for gateway city

All passengers depart for Hoedspruit Airport, where the Land Program ends. Your Travel Director will provide the transfer details.

AHI FlexAir passengers continue to Johannesburg for their international flights.

Important Information for Land Program Passengers: If you are booking your own international flights on this program, please note that your return itinerary should begin in Hoedspruit. However, if you choose to book your return flight from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), you may purchase a ticket for the flight from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg from AHI Travel. Please contact your Passenger Service Representative for details.

Meals – Breakfast and appropriate in-flight meal service

October 7 In transit

Arrive in your gateway city.

Meals - Appropriate in-flight meal service

NOTE: Itinerary schedule may change due to local conditions. Walking is required on many excursions, and surfaces may be uneven or unpaved. Guests should be able to climb in and out of safari vehicles and walk through train corridors whether the train is in motion or stopped.

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The whole tour was fantastic. The stays at Thornybush and Chobe Game Lodge were my favorite parts. The experience seeing the amazing wildlife was the best!! The best trip we have ever taken!

- Susan Schmitz, 2017

This is the best trip I have ever taken or even expected to take. The guides, the game excursions, and AHI itself were simply wonderful.

- Gary Poleskey, 2017

This was a trip of a lifetime with a variety of experiences: the game drives to three different parks; the excursions around Cape Town; the realities of Soweto; and the majesty of the train and Victoria Falls.

- Barbara Poleskey, 2017

The entire trip exceeded expectations! The sequence of places we visited and the Rovos Rail were exactly what I would have wanted, starting at Cape Town, and finished at the Chobe Game Lodge.

- Michael Schmitz, 2017

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