Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!
Join OAT for the Ultimate Africa travel adventure–we’ve combined our Ultimate Africa and Best of Kenya & Tanzania African safaris into one singular small-group travel adventure not to be missed. Travel Africa on a comprehensive, 34-day journey that spans 5 countries in Africa, and showcases the wildlife you’ve always dreamed of seeing.
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You’ll depart the U.S. for an overnight flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
This evening, arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa. You will be met and transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay. Here, you'll be joined by those who traveled on our optional South Africa: Kruger National Park extension.
This morning, we’ll fly to Victoria Falls, arriving early afternoon.
We meet our Trip Leader at the Victoria Falls airport, and we drive across the border to our lodge in Botswana. After a briefing on our upcoming explorations, we'll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the lodge this evening.
The next two days are devoted to seeking out game in Chobe National Park, the second-largest (and first-established) national park in the country. It’s home to one of the world’s largest elephant populations—the present herd is estimated at 50,000 animals. This enormous region offers variety in both wildlife and terrain. Riverine forest, flood plains, and mopane are home to large and small game. Elephant gather around baobab trees, drawn by the water stored in their bark.
Most of our safari days follow this general pattern: After our morning game-viewing, we will spend siesta time quietly during the heat of the day, followed by teatime in the late afternoon. Next we head out for our afternoon game-viewing drive. In the evenings, just before sunset, we gather to soak in the views of the golden sun sinking behind a nearby watering hole. We then sit down to enjoy dinner together by candlelight.
Today, we spend the day according to our usual pattern. We explore the Chobe National Park on morning and afternoon game-viewing drives, return to the lodge in time for a basket-weaving demonstration, afternoon tea, and then, after sundown, we have dinner at our lodge.
Our safari schedule in Chobe today features a full-day game-viewing drive in Chobe National Park—which has one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the African continent and is sure to be a highlight of our safari adventure. During a full day of game-viewing in the park, we may spot elephants, in addition to Cape buffalo, hippo, and crocodile. We will be out in our vehicles during lunchtime, so we will take along a picnic lunch.
Dinner tonight is a traditional South African braai, a meal similar to our barbecue but more closely connected to the outdoor life, culture, and laid-back lifestyle of southern Africans.
This morning, we'll enjoy a discussion with your Trip Leader on the region's history before boarding a minibus that takes us to Kasane, Botswana. From here, we catch a light aircraft flight to our camp in Botswana.
Our lodge is a private Wilderness Tented Camp adjacent to the border of the Moremi National Park in the northern region of the Delta. Upon arrival, we enjoy a game-viewing drive and a picnic lunch en route to our camp, where we'll have a briefing about the lodge and the surrounding area.
Afterwards, you are free to relax until dinner or enjoy an included optional game-viewing activity.
We devote the next two days to in-depth exploration of the Okavango Delta. Each morning, we split into groups and choose from a variety of options for exploring the area: including a mokoro canoe ride (seasonal), or a game-viewing drive.
In the Delta, we’ll see a variety of birdlife, including the vibrantly plumed lilac-breasted roller and the similarly striking pygmy goose (actually a species of duck). The elusive Pel’s fishing owl, though nocturnal, can sometimes be spotted here during the day. Hippos spend the days submerged in the Delta waters, and sitatunga and red lechwe frequent both the swamps and dry land.
While on land, we are likely to see herds of buffalo, sable antelope, kudu, and elephant.
We return to the lodge in time for lunch, and enjoy our afternoon tea before departing on our next game-viewing excursion, returning to the lodge after sundown. After dinner, we'll enjoy an informative talk about local wildlife.
Please note: Mokoro excursions are dependent on safety and water levels, which fluctuate constantly in the Delta, regardless of the season. When you arrive in the Delta, your Trip Leader will monitor conditions and advise you of whether it’s possible to explore by mokoro.
Today we continue to explore the Okavango Delta. We'll enjoy morning and afternoon wildlife-viewing opportunities as we split into groups and explore the area by mokoro on the Delta (seasonal), or enjoy a game-viewing drive in the neighboring savannah.
This morning, after an early breakfast, we fly by light aircraft from the Okavango Delta to Kasane Airport. We then travel by road and boat to Livingstone, where we'll take a light aircraft transfer to Lufupa Tented Camp in Kafue National Park this afternoon. One of Zambia’s most impressive parks, Kafue is one of the first to join an initiative to link the national parks of five African countries into what will eventually be a massive park 108,000 square miles in size, to be known as the Kvango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (also the Okavango-Upper Zambezi TFCA).
After we settle in and enjoy afternoon tea in the cool of the shade of jackalberry trees, we enjoy our first game-viewing excursion by boat or 4x4 vehicle late this afternoon.
Kafue boasts a distinction that we’ll appreciate on our game-viewing drives: It is home to the greatest mammal species diversity in Zambia, with 55 large mammal species, including six varieties of large cat and 20 hooved species. Leopard and lion prowl the area around the Lufupa Channel in search of warthog, hartebeest, and the elegant puku, an antelope found only in Zambia and the Congo. Elephants gather here by day, while hippo venture out at twilight for a dip in the channel’s waters. Our guide will help us to spot these animals as we explore the park.
We return to camp in time for dinner. Our campsite is situated in the northern section of the park, along the banks of the Kafue River, one of the three rivers nourishing the park. From the decks of our safari-style tented rooms, we can view the slow-moving river and the wildlife that it attracts. After dinner, we gather around the campfire to compare notes on the animals we saw today.
Today, we’ll enjoy two game-viewing excursions by boat or safari vehicle during the most temperate hours—early morning and late afternoon—when the wildlife is at its most active. In addition to the mammal species, Kafue boasts nearly 500 species of bird, including the Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Trumpeter Hornbill, and Grey Crowned Crane. Along the rivers that feed the park, we might also encounter the White-backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, or Saddle-billed Stork.
Between wildlife excursions, you may choose to linger at camp, enjoying Kafue River views at leisure, or elect to join our Trip Leader on a nature walk around the camp.
We gather for dinner this evening around the campfire.
Two more game-viewing excursions await you this morning, as you explore the outer reaches of the park by boat or safari vehicle. It’s impossible to exhaust the discoveries at Kafue, one of the continent’s largest national parks—at 8,600 square miles, it is roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey. Kafue’s habitats span riverine forests, floodplains, woodlands, and dambos (open grasslands). There will also be opportunities to fish along the banks, as well as a sundowner cruise in the afternoon.
We gather for dinner and a campfire tonight, swapping memories of all we’ve encountered.
This morning, after an early breakfast, we enjoy a final game-viewing drive in the region during our transfer overland to the airstrip for our chartered flight to Livingstone Airport. From here, we board a minibus that takes us to Victoria Falls, the departure point for our drive to Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's largest park.
This area of African bush country boasts plentiful wildlife—yet remains relatively "undiscovered." Our lodge here is located on a private reserve and offers unrestricted views of a watering hole, the broad, savannah grasslands, and acacia woodlands. Often, we need look no further than our windows to see a variety of species. In the early afternoon, we stop for lunch en route to our lodge.
Hwange is home to many diverse habitats, from teak forests to palm islands to vast, savannah plains. Likewise, you may behold a rich menagerie of game that can include elephant, Cape buffalo, eland, wildebeest, impala, lion, leopard, cheetah, and more than 400 known bird species. The park is also known for its herds of sable antelope, an elegant animal with large, graceful horns.
In the late afternoon, we head out for a game-viewing drive during the hours just before and after sunset, returning to camp afterwards for dinner. Some evenings, we may even be lucky enough to dine with a view of elephants close to our camp.
This morning, weather permitting, we have the opportunity to enjoy a game-viewing walk with one of our professional guides. During this walk, you will learn about the region's flora and the intricate cycle of life in the bush. We will look at spoors and learn to identify which animals have passed through the area. Our expert guides may also expound on everything from how elephant dung can be used as mosquito repellent to how the giraffe is able to eat leaves off of the thorny acacia trees.
We return to camp for brunch and a talk about Hwange's history before we journey into the bush once again for our afternoon game-viewing drive, taking advantage of dusk wildlife activity before returning to our camp after sundown.
This morning, we head for the nearby village of Ngamo for A Day in the Life of the Zimbabwean people. Our first stop is the village's elementary school (when in session), which is supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation. Some children walk as far as four miles to get here every day. We have the unique opportunity to meet the teachers and share smiles with the children.
Next, we meet a village leader, who explains how local people live, tend to their animals, and raise their crops. We'll then sit down with villagers over refreshments for a roundtable discussion and join in some of their typical activities, like helping to carry straw or build a hut. Before we leave the village, we'll also spend some time at the local crafts market. Also partially supported by the Foundation to benefit the local economy, this market is where artisans create and sell traditional items like soapstone statues, hand-woven baskets, and wooden walking sticks.
We return to our camp for lunch and a siesta until teatime later in the afternoon. While we rest, we have the opportunity to watch game at the waterhole. From here, we get an up-close view of the wildlife as numerous species come to drink. Enjoy tea there, or return to the lodge.
As on previous days, we enjoy a game-viewing drive in the afternoon and return to our camp after sunset. Tonight, we are first treated to the captivating rhythms of an African drum circle. Drum circles are communal events, regardless of experience, and you will be encouraged—and tempted—to join in with your travel companions. Following the drumming session, we'll have our dinner at the camp.
Join us this morning for an elective early morning game-viewing drive. After brunch, we drive to Victoria Falls. In the afternoon, we visit the largest curtain of water in the world—and one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders. These awe-inspiring cataracts, whose African name (Mosi-oa Tunya) means "the smoke that thunders," are nearly twice as high as Niagara, one and a half times as wide, and generate three times as much water. On a clear day, you can see the mist sprayed into the air from these crashing waters from more than 50 miles away. At peak flood times, 1.4 billion gallons of water per minute pass over its edge.
On our guided tour, we explore walking trails and lookout points—each with different views. There are five main cataracts, including the most dramatic, the Main Falls and Devil’s Cataract. The flora around the falls is naturally profuse: You’ll see ebony, fig trees, and many flowering species. The rain forest surrounding the falls is particularly lush, fed by Victoria’s perpetual spray.
This morning, enjoy an orientation walk of the town of Victoria Falls. Here, you can find local handcrafts, such as the famous Shona stone carvings and a variety of wooden carvings. You’ll also find a selection of brilliant African textiles, malachite, basketry, and more. This is one of the places where bartering is appropriate, often expected—and can be great fun. American goods like T-shirts, sweatshirts, and baseball caps with designer logos can be good “currency” here. Please ask your Trip Leader for advice about where else it may be appropriate to barter in this manner. Then, after lunch at our hotel, you can join a combination of optional tours including an Elephantback Safari, Helicopter ride over Victoria Falls, Zambezi Sunset Cruise, Black Rhino & Elephant Safari.
This evening, we’ll gather for a talk on the life of David Livingstone before dinner at our lodge.
After breakfast, the balance of the morning is at leisure. From Victoria Falls we connect to our flight to Johannesburg. We arrive at our hotel this afternoon, and you can relax before the next stage of our adventure.
We depart Johannesburg on a late-morning flight, arriving in Nairobi, Kenya this afternoon. We transfer to our hotel, and meet our new Trip Leader and enjoy getting to know him or her over a Welcome Drink this evening.
After breakfast at the hotel, we travel to the nearby Karen region, named for famed author Karen Blixen. Our first stop is the Giraffe Center, where you can get close to these towering animals and photograph them. In 1974, Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville relocated five orphaned and rare Rothschild giraffe to their home here, which was quickly dubbed "Giraffe Manor." Over the years, the giraffe have thrived, and now have their own young. The center plays an important part in the conservation of the Rothschild giraffe species.
Leaving the Giraffe Center, we visit a museum dedicated to Karen Blixen, who wrote Out of Africa under the pen name Isak Dinesen. The Kikuyu people she wrote about with great affection are still one of Kenya's major ethnic groups. The Danish writer, as you may know, "had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills," where she lived from 1914 to 1931. The Danish government gave her beautiful house to the country of Kenya upon its independence, and today it is a museum furnished with much of her original period furniture and is open to visitors. A visit to this museum offers a fascinating peek into the lives of early 20th-century Kenyan settlers.
After enjoying a lunch in the Karen area, we'll depart for the Lake Nakuru area, traveling through the Rift Valley, enjoying splendid views as we go. Our lodge is located just 12 miles from Lake Nakuru National Park, in a setting that boasts more than 430 different avian species.
We'll arrive in time to enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the lodge this evening.
Today, we'll have breakfast a little earlier than usual so we can travel overland to Lake Nakuru National Park in time for a morning game-viewing excursion. Lake Nakuru is famous for the seasonal migration of vast rings of flamingos that often transform its placid waters into a shimmering sea of pink. The park is also home to a relatively large population of black and white rhinos. These are normally elusive due to their dwindling populations, but recent conservation efforts have made Lake Nakuru one of the most likely spots in East Africa to lay eyes on one of these stunning beasts.
We stop for lunch in the heart of the park, before embarking on an afternoon nature walk. Be sure to keep those cameras ready—we'll have another great chance to explore the diverse landscape and colorful birdlife here. Dinner tonight is at our lodge.
Departing Nakuru today, we leave the Great Rift Valley and continue overland to Amboseli National Park, set on the border of Tanzania and in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. We pause for a picnic lunch en route.
On arriving at Amboseli, we check in at our permanent tented camp and then enjoy an afternoon game-viewing drive. The park shelters more than 400 bird species, including pelicans, flamingos, kingfishers, and ibis. But by far, elephants are the kings of the park. Amboseli’s elephants, which are said to be among the largest in the country, are fond of the swamps, where they share the cool waters with the hippos that hide beneath the papyrus. Amboseli is also home to a large population of wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra. We arrive at the camp close to dinnertime.
We rise early to enjoy a light breakfast in an open-air dining area, with views of the majestic snow-covered flattop of Mount Kilimanjaro, which forms a memorable backdrop to today’s explorations.
After breakfast, we travel to a nearby Maasai village, joining the Maasai as they start the day moving the large herds of cattle and goats out of the boma area and out to their grazing fields. Returning to the boma, we learn more about Maasai culture before escorting the children to Amboseli Primary School (when in session). At the school, we join in a class, taking time to observe the class activities and to talk with the students, teachers, and headmaster about the mission of the school, as well as its future development projects. We also join the children to collect water from the manually operated borehole, and learn more about the practicalities and challenges of education in a remote Kenyan village. After bidding our Maasai hosts farewell, we return to our tented camp in time for lunch.
After lunch and a short rest at our lodge, we embark on with another game-viewing drive. Look for the elusive gerenuk, a delicate antelope with a long, giraffe-like neck that enables it to browse the middle branches of acacia trees. You may see families of giraffe, herds of zebra and antelope—and if you are lucky, you may spot the rare serval cat. Because Amboseli’s abundant elephants are tracked almost constantly by researchers, they largely escaped the ravages of 1980s poaching, so you are apt to see some older “tuskers” here. You’ll be fascinated by the abundant birdlife—from the colorful little lilac-breasted roller and the comical guinea fowl to graceful hawks and eagles. We return to the camp in the early evening in time to relax before we gather for dinner.
After breakfast, we drive to the Kenya-Tanzania border at Namanga, enjoying a game-viewing drive en route. At the border, we clear customs formalities, then continue to the town of Arusha, Tanzania, where we lunch at the Shaanga River House.
We’ll then transfer to our camp near Lake Burunge, where you’ll enjoy time at leisure before dinner this evening. Our camp, where we’ll stay in comfortable tents in a secluded area on Lake Burunge, allows us easy access to Tarangire National Park. During your time at leisure here, you may also choose to explore the Lake Burunge area with a guide.
Today we experience Tarangire's diversity on a full-day game-viewing drive, during which we'll pause to enjoy a boxed lunch in the park. As Tanzania's third-largest national park, it features nine distinct vegetation zones ranging from grassland to woodland, from deep gully vegetation to scattered rocky hilltops, Tarangire offers a diverse geological landscape, as well as diverse wildlife—including the largest recorded concentration of breeding bird species in the world. Baobab trees dot the landscape, and the valley of the Tarangire River dominates the entire scene. Each of our driver-guides has extensive knowledge of the behavior of the native animals.
After our full day in the park, we’ll return to our camp for dinner this evening.
Today, we embark on an early morning game-viewing drive at Lake Manyara National Park, in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. Encompassing an area of just 125 square miles, the park is relatively small, but is still one of East Africa’s most popular and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries. Lake Manyara National Park is home to one of the largest herds of elephants in Africa. Chances are also good we’ll see wildebeest, giraffe, blue monkeys, vervets, impala, zebra, buffalo, bushbuck, and baboons.
We enjoy a picnic lunch in this scenic area before continuing on to Karatu. As we journey toward the Ngorongoro Highlands, the valley unfolds below us and we can see Lake Manyara stretching in the distance. We may see elephants or other wildlife along the roadside.
We arrive at our lodge in the early evening. We then have time to relax or take a stroll through the extensive grounds before dinner.
After breakfast, we travel to a local Iraqw village, where we'll spend the morning learning more about this tribe (whose people are only found near Karatu and Arusha) and its customs.
We then return to our lodge, where we'll enjoy lunch before continuing our explorations of a Karatu village. We'll visit a local produce market and may have the opportunity to see other enterprises—such as coffee-roasting and clay brick-making.
We enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is at our lodge tonight.
After breakfast, we enjoy the morning at leisure before departing our lodge in Karatu for an exploration of the surrounding area by foot.
We return to our lodge for lunch before setting out for a game-viewing en route to our camp in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. We enjoy dinner together at our camp this evening.
This morning after breakfast, we depart for the Ngorongoro Crater. We'll enjoy a thrilling drive up the side of the crater, and then we'll descend 2,000 feet to the crater floor to explore this natural zoological park, and observe an extraordinary variety of wildlife: elephant, rhinoceros, lion, hyena, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson's gazelle, reedbuck, and buffalo. The lovely crested crane (similar to a peacock) can be found in great profusion here, and we may even spot a bat-eared fox. The balance of predator and prey in this extraordinary ecosystem is so precise that animals seldom leave. Our exact route is decided on the spot by our expert safari guides, depending on where the animals are.
After a picnic lunch in view of a hippo pool, we'll begin our ascent from the crater floor, and travel through cloud forest on our way back to camp. We have some time at leisure, before enjoying dinner together this evening.
This morning after breakfast, we'll explore Oldupai Gorge, preserved as part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It was here in 1959 that Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the fossil fragments that led them to a new understanding of human evolution. They developed the theory that this gorge was the home to Homo habilis, a race of early humans that survived other species to become the ancestors of all present-day humanity. We'll visit the small museum here, which explains the Leakeys' methods and findings.
In the afternoon, we set out for Serengeti National Park, perhaps the most famous wildlife-viewing destination in Africa. We'll drive into the infinite expanse of the Serengeti Plain, where masses of wildlife roam the stunning landscape. We enjoy a game-viewing drive before arriving at our lodge in the late afternoon.
The Serengeti stretches over 5,700 square miles of plains, riverine bush, and acacia woodland, with savanna grassland as the dominant environment.
During the next few days, we venture out from our lodge in special safari vehicles to try and spot a wide range of wildlife species—lion, cheetah, hyena, and jackal stalk herds of gazelle, zebra, wildebeest, and impala. Comical warthog bend down on their front knees to graze and elegant cheetah rest in the shade of acacia trees after a hunt. Isolated rock groups, called kopjes, provide shelter to lion, leopard, and cheetah—and to the tiny rodent-like rock hyrax, closest relative of the elephant.
We dine at the lodge this evening.
This morning, you have the option of rising before dawn for a balloon flight. As you float high over the Serengeti, watch the morning sun wash across the plains. The one-hour ride provides stunning views. After touchdown, celebrate with a Champagne breakfast.
We explore the Serengeti wilderness area further today. The Serengeti’s varied landscape of savannas, grassy plains, and riparian woodlands make it one of the world’s most hospitable places for wildlife, which you will likely see in large numbers.
We follow our standard safari schedule. Our day begins with coffee and tea, followed by a morning game-viewing drive. We return to our exclusive camp for a late breakfast, time to rest, and afternoon tea. Then we head into the bush again when animals resume activity in the late afternoon.
We return to our lodge for dinner.
We set out in the morning for a game-viewing drive. The great diversity of Serengeti wildlife is evident here—look for buffalo, hippopotamus, elephant, lion, giraffe, antelope, and Thompson's and Grant's gazelle. In certain seasons, you may also see the spectacular migration of the wildebeest herds, which travel from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara each year.
We return to our lodge for lunch before having an option later this afternoon to join a nature walk to discover our surroundings. In the early evening, we share dinner together at our lodge.
After breakfast, we continue to explore the vast ecosystem of the Serengeti at a pace that allows us to truly focus on observing animal behavior and interaction.
After the morning game-viewing drive, we enjoy a picnic lunch in the heart of the park, before continuing our game-viewing drive this afternoon.
Our final night in the Serengeti is spent at our lodge, where we enjoy dinner under the vast expanse of the African skies.
Today, we head to a small airstrip in the Serengeti and enjoy a short but scenic flight to Arusha. From Arusha, we depart for our hotel in Nairobi, enjoying a packed lunch en route. We arrive in the evening, which you will have free to spend at leisure.
After breakfast, explore Africa’s greenest city—Nairobi—during a city walking tour. As we stroll down its cosmopolitan streets, you might be surprised by the modern skyline, which is often compared to cities in America and Asia. Equally surprising is how quickly Nairobi transforms itself, for it was only a century ago that the city was nothing more than an outpost of the British East Africa Company. In comparison, today’s Nairobi is an active business and political capital, with more than two million residents and strong international presence—which is why organizations, like the United Nations Environment Program and the World Health Organization have chosen Nairobi for their African headquarters. After our walk, we take lunch at a local restaurant, savoring the tastes of Kenya.
This afternoon, delve a little deeper into Kenya’s rich heritage during a visit to The Nairobi National Museum, where a host of exhibits showcase the best of east Africa’s past and present, from natural and cultural wonders to a fascinating history that archaeologists say extends back as far as the origin of our species.
You will have a day room available for the remainder of the afternoon, and dinner at a local restaurant is included. This evening, you fly from Nairobi to Amsterdam, where you connect for your flight back to the U.S. which arrives the next day.