Day 1: Arrive Johannesburg, South Africa
On arrival at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) Airport, our representative will welcome and escort you from the airport to your hotel. Known to the locals as "E'Goli" or City of Gold, Johannesburg is the pulsating heart of South Africa's industrial and commercial life where gold mining still continues. The sprawling city has some fascinating sights to explore, time permitting, such as cultural visits to Soweto, the Apartheid Museum and even a working diamond mine. Sterkfontein in the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage Site is well worth a visit. Arts and craft galleries abound and this is a very good place to buy diamonds. Your small boutique hotel sits in the historic suburb of Houghton, which exudes an air of quiet, charming sophistication. The sumptuous lounge, a cozy log fire and the long, spacious veranda bids you welcome. Enjoy a stroll through the lush, terraced gardens, a game of tennis or swim in the large pool. The luxurious air-conditioned suites all have king-size, extra-length beds and spacious furnished balconies. Each suite also has an outdoor shower, outdoor bath or Jacuzzi. Other facilities include the spa, sauna and steam rooms. Meals are enjoyed in the breakfast room, lunch on the Koi Bridge overlooking the herb garden & dinner in the small in-house dining room with its a la carte menu. The Residence - Luxury Room
Day 2: Johannesburg / Victoria Falls, Zambia
This morning, you transfer back to the OR Tambo (Johannesburg) Airport to board your scheduled flight to Livingston, Zambia. On arrival, you are welcomed by our representative and privately transferred to your hotel, an elegant five-star hotel with an unrivalled setting overlooking the Victoria Falls. It is actually situated within the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park so that guests staying here have unlimited access to the famous falls less than five minutes’ walk away. The hotel has a stunning riverine setting right on the Zambezi River. A splendid wooden deck affords sweeping views of the falls at sunset. The colonial ambience pervades both public and private spaces, including the 173 luxurious rooms, with their hand-carved mahogany furniture, earth tones and crisp white linen. Each has satellite television, air-conditioning, minibar, safe, telephone and tea/coffee facilities. The en suite bathrooms have both freestanding ball and claw bath and shower. All rooms are stretched along the river bank and each has a balcony or patio with views of the mature acacia trees, lawns and Zambezi River.
Victoria Falls announces itself with clouds of spray that can be seen for some distance away as the thunderous rush of water tumbles into the gorge. A lush rain forest full of stunning wild flowers benefits from these showers of spray. Usually, the most spectacular views of the falls are from the Zambian side of the gorge. The best time to visit the falls are probably between April/May and August when the spray is less so that the falls are easier to view and yet the flow of water is still impressive. As the dry season progresses, the volume of water declines quite dramatically.
This afternoon, you are met and transferred to the jetty for cruise that meanders slowly upstream along the length of the Mosi - oa - Tunya National Park looking for game on the way. A number of animals and a host of bird species can be viewed from comfortable chairs on cool wooden decks. Excellent hot and cold food is served on board and the bar is well stocked with spirits, good wines, beers and soft drinks. The African Queen is a 5-star boat, a triple deck 70ft catamaran furnished in Rhodesian teak, beech wood and brass. The above description is based on the Sunset Cruise for the African Queen, but the cruise on the Princess River & Lady Livingstone is similar. The Royal Livingstone - Luxury Room (B)
Day 3: Victoria Falls
This morning you enjoy an inspiring walk in the natural rainforest to the Victoria Falls. You knowledgeable and informative local guide accompanies you to discover one of the most spectacular natural sights in the world. The remainder of the day is at leisure for optional activities in and around Victoria Falls. A rich menu of optional adventure activities range from savoring languorous sunset river cruises on the tranquil Upper Zambezi above the falls to thrilling helicopter flights above the falls. For the more adventurous, micro light flights offer more intimate experience. And for the truly daring, bungee jumping, white water rafting and kayaking are available. Game drives and horse riding are also offered in the Zambezi National Park to view elephant, buffalo and even the newly relocated rhino. Elephant-back safaris can be arranged. The Royal Livingstone - Luxury Room (B)
Day 4: Victoria Falls / South Luangwa National Park
Today you are privately transferred to Livingstone Airport to board your charter flight to Lusaka and then on to Mfuwe Airport. Luggage allowance is strictly 44lbs in soft-sided bags without wheels.
On arrival at Mfuwe Airport, you are met and driven to your game lodge. Nkwali Camp is built on the banks of the meandering Luangwa River overlooking the South Luangwa National Park on the opposite bank, where leopards can often be spotted from camp. This is superb game-viewing country with a beautiful area of ebony woodland and open grass plains. Nkwali offers understated elegance, superb service and makes a great first stop in the South Luangwa before you continue on to the wilder parts of the park. This small and intimate camp has an unusual bar encircling an enormous ebony tree and a sitting area under thatch cantilevered over the river. Here you can drink in the serene views and watch the sun set over the river. Set back from the river on a lagoon is the dining room where you can often see elephants and other game coming down to drink during the day unperturbed by our presence.
The six thatched and woven bamboo chalets are simply furnished, cool and spacious. Each has an en suite, semi-open bathroom with a large open air shower to enjoy the enormous African skies, and an enclosed toilet. There's a honeymoon suite which has a separate sitting room (which can double up as a family suite). A short distance away is a secluded swimming pool. In the central area of the South Luangwa National Park, Nkwali is open all year round. It has exclusive access into the park either by boat in summer, or by their quirky pontoon right next to the camp. As the dry season progresses, the 4x4 game vehicles are able to ford the Luangwa River using a series of sandbags.
At the southern tip of the Great Rift Valley lies the South Luangwa National Park, one of Africa's premier wildlife sanctuaries. It's a place of primeval forest and lush savanna, stretching for hundreds of miles and encompassing the Luangwa River basin, its adjacent highlands and a mosaic of different habitats extending outwards from the central river. The brooding Luangwa River meanders through the luxuriant valley, supporting thousands of hippo and crocodile and sustaining the park. The Luangwa experience differs with the seasons: in the dry winter months from June to September, you can stay at small seasonal safari camps in glorious seclusion; the more sophisticated lodges, close to the main gate at Mfuwe Bridge, remain open longer. Delightful camps occupy prime sites on ancient oxbow lakes, amidst shady ebony groves, and offer day and night game drives in open vehicles. Nkwali Camp - Cottage (B,L,D)
Day 5: South Luangwa National Park
You enjoy the activities on offer by your camp. South Luangwa has one of the greatest game concentrations in Africa. Elephant, a wide variety of antelope, buffalo, kudu, zebra, Thornycroft's giraffe and wildebeest occur in great numbers, as well as over 400 bird species. Lion, wild dog and hyena are also common, and the park is famed for its excellent leopard sightings. The standard of guiding is exceptionally good - walking safaris were pioneered in Luangwa and it still sets the pace. Expert guides lead you through the bush, giving you the opportunity to observe the game at close quarters and gain fascinating insights into the ways of the wild - a magical experience. Nkwali Camp (B,L,D)
Day 6: South Luangwa National Park
Today you transfer to Nsefu Camp, which sits on a sweeping bend of the Luangwa River in the northern Nsefu concession of the South Luangwa National Park. It is a stylish and utterly charming camp and is well-known as a phenomenal area for game. The view of the Luangwa River from the camp is superb and includes a terraced area where game grazes during the day. As one of the first camps in the South Luangwa Park, it has a long history and its six spacious thatch rondavels have kept to the historic ambience in the feel and fittings of the rooms offering understated elegance in a remote unspoilt setting. Large windows open onto a wooden veranda. From your bed or the veranda chairs, you gaze out over what may be the best view in the South Luangwa, the broad meandering river where elephants can often be seen crossing.
The cozy bar and sitting area, tucked in beside a huge dormant termite mound, overlook a lagoon that is very productive for game-viewing as the wildlife comes down to the lagoon to drink, especially leopard and lion at night. Lunch can be enjoyed in the dining room while watching large herds of elephants making their daily river crossing just upstream from camp. Nsefu Camp – Tent (B,L,D)
Day 7: South Luangwa National Park
Explore the area with the camp’s guides during game viewing opportunities that take place on foot or by safari vehicle during day and night game drives. The camp’s guide-to-guest ratio of 1:4 allow you flexibility and choice between game drives and walking safaris. The camp is one of only two camps in the Nsefu sector, and it allows for a water-based safari experience in the wet season with game-viewing by boat and on foot. This is paradise for keen birders who particularly enjoy the yellow-billed stork colony. The drier months bring game concentrations that are second to none. Nsefu Camp – Tent (B,L,D)
Day 8: South Luangwa National Park / Lilongwe, Malawi / Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Today you return to Mfuwe Airport where you check in for your air transfer from Mfuwe to Lilongwe, Malawi. On arrival, you are met and transferred into the terminal building in order to clear customs. Then you take another charter flight (seat in plane, est. 30 mins) to Tongole lodge. Luggage allowance is strictly 44lbs in soft-sided bags without wheels.
A sliver of a country, Malawi is dominated by the most appealing of Africa's great lakes - Lake Malawi. Although not as rich in game and predators as other African countries, Malawi’s magic lies in its friendly and laid-back people, stunning scenery and superb flora and birdlife. You are met on arrival at Tongole airstrip and assisted onto the transfer vehicle to your wilderness lodge where accommodation is in a double cottage. Your lodge is an exciting new eco-tourism venture deep within the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve some 30 km/18.6 mi west of Lake Malawi and close to Lilongwe. The reserve is Malawi’s oldest and least-developed protected area. It is also the largest at 1,800 square km/700 square miles, stretching from the Great Rift Valley in the west to just short of the beautiful Lake Malawi in the east. The beautiful reserve is one of Africa’s last truly undiscovered wildlife areas. Nkhotakota supports a rich diversity of flora and fauna and is home to over 280 species of birds. Tongole Wilderness Lodge – Riverside Suite (B,L,D)
Day 9: Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Today, you enjoy the activities offered by your lodge including game walks, boating, canoeing and fly fishing. Elephant, antelope, monkeys and other wildlife are often seen and although lion, leopard and buffalo are rarely seen, even though they are known to inhabit the area. Set out on foot and explore the unspoiled habitat inaccessible to vehicles or drift along the beautiful Bua River, which penetrates deep into the undiscovered wilderness of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Tongole Wilderness Lodge – Riverside Suite (B,L,D)
Day 10: Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve / Lilongwe / Lake Malawi
Today you transfer by road back to Tongole Airstrip for your charter flight to Kaya Mawa airstrip. On arrival, you are met and transferred to your secluded luxury lodge on a crescent shaped beach, surrounded by baobab trees and mangos on the tip of the remote Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. The lodge is both full of character and architecturally innovative. It was built entirely by hand in conjunction with the local community, who benefit from the lodge. It consists of eleven stone, teak and thatched cottages, each with a private terrace offering views of the lake, a path or steps leading down to the water, a giant four-poster bed, and an en suite bathroom. Madimba and Mainja House are two private houses each with their own private plunge pools, sitting area and mini-bar. There are three family villas, each with two bedrooms. The daily activity schedule is very flexible and you can be as active or as relaxed as you choose. There is a masseuse/therapist who offers a range of treatments either in your room or in an open air gazebo.
Activities mostly revolve around the lake but visiting places on Likoma Island is also very popular. A host of water sports include water-skiing, wake-boarding, fishing, kite-surfing, snorkeling and laser dinghy sailing. You can also explore the lake and its shores by canoe, looking out for otters, or take a boat excursion to remote island spots for a private picnic. Food is an important part of your stay at Kaya Mawa and dinner is either served on your own private terrace or with other guests in the dining area, or more usually under the stars on the beach. Kaya Mawa - Standard Chalet (B,L,D)
Days 11 & 12: Lake Malawi
Enjoy the daily activities that encompass a host of water sports include water skiing, wake boarding, fishing, kite surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and laser dinghy sailing. The lodge has its own NAUI accredited dive instructor and excellent dive equipment. You can also explore the lake and its shores by canoe, looking out for otters, or take a boat excursion to remote island spots for a private picnic. Lake Malawi is a vast expanse of bright blue water, 600 km/373 mi long and, at its widest, 80 km/50 mi wide, and constitutes about 20% of the surface area of Malawi. Fish such as chambo and kapenta are estimated to provide 70% of the protein diet for the population of Malawi. The lakeshore encompasses long palm-fringed sandy beaches, rounded granite boulders and romantic wooded islands. A few small beach lodges dot the shoreline interspersed with picturesque fishing villages blending into the natural vegetation. More than 2,000 species of fish can be found in the lake including the colorful endemic cichlids that are easily spotted when snorkeling. You can also visit local villages. On the opposite end of the island is the town, which offers insight into traditional island life as you stroll to the amazing Chipyela Cathedral, which seems like a little piece of Britain in the middle of Malawi. You can make the 45-minute walk to town, or cycle there using the mountain bikes. You also choose optional guided quad bike or sailing there as part of a private boat cruise (additional cost). Kaya Mawa - Standard Chalet (B,L,D)
Day 13: Lake Malawi / Lilongwe / Depart
Today you are transferred to Kaya Mawa airstrip for your air transfer back to Lilongwe. Connect with your scheduled flight to Johannesburg and onward flight home. (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$800 per person per day. Internal air: Johannesburg/Livingston & Lilongwe/Johannesburg: $750 per person.