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5 must-visit destinations in Southern Africa

Southern Africa has so much variety that is hard to know where to start. Without trying to fit every destination into one holiday, it is better to take your time and explore a couple of places at a more leisurely pace. Below are five of the best destinations to visit with a few examples of where to stay and how to combine some these places in an itinerary. Victoria Falls Situated on the border of both Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is one of Southern Africa’s most popular destinations, and rightly so! The thundering falls are a sight to behold and it is classified as being the largest waterfall in the world. Activities here are for those adrenaline seeking junkies, from white water rafting to daring Devil’s Pool, those seeking a thrill are not going to be disappointed. There are also more scenic and relaxing options though, a sunset river cruise and a helicopter tour also give a wonderful perspective of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. When staying in the area, there are two main choices. You can either choose to stay closer to the Falls at a hotel like the Royal Livingstone, where it is generally busier or staying upriver where a more intimate and private experience can be had at a lodge like Tongabezi. Accessibility to Victoria Falls is also great, whether you decide to safari in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia or South Africa, adding on a couple of days to Victoria Falls is easy and certainly worth doing. Okavango Delta The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s most incredible wildlife destinations, no matter the time of year you visit. Peak season is from the end of June onwards where the flood water from the Angolan highlands turns the Delta into a vast watery maze which is a sight to behold. However, at any other time of year, the wildlife is still abundant and there are some great camp deals to be taken advantage of! Although July sees the floods arrive, there are still areas of the Delta that remain dry so knowing what you can expect in the different regions of the Delta is key. Combining multiple camps with different experiences and activities is the best way to make the most of this unique habitat. Jao Camp is located near the centre of the Delta and is perfect for those wishing to experience the water-based activities like boating safaris and mokoro. Chitabe on the other hands is located further South of the Delta and receives very little water so game drives and walks are the main activities here.  Both camps are beautifully luxurious and to combine the two would give the opportunity to experience some of the best game viewing in the world, both from the water and on land. Cape Town One of Africa’s most beautiful cities falls within one of Africa’s most diverse countries. Cape Town in South Africa is the perfect blend of natural beauty and urbanisation and it is easy to add onto the end of almost any Southern Africa itinerary. The V&A Waterfront is the main tourist hub here and it is littered with exceptional restaurants, beautiful bars and brilliant hotels that overlook the harbour. The Cape Grace is full of character and is situated perfectly for exploring the city, whilst Cape Cadogan, a smaller, boutique hotel located off of Kloof Street, is ideal for those not wanting to be directly in the hustle and bustle of the Waterfront. No matter how long you stay in Cape Town, you can be sure there will be something else to discover! From the Penguins of Boulder’s Beach to the splendid Table Mountain, Cape Town’s coastline and natural beauty is worth exploring. Skeleton Coast Namibia is certainly not your normal safari destination, but the beauty of the country is second-to-none. The Skeleton Coast is just one of Namibia’s unique destinations and the time it takes to get there should definitely not deter anyone from visiting. Perfectly combinable with trips to Damaraland, Sossusvlei and Etosha, the Skeleton Coast provides a brilliant scenic and intriguing wildlife experience. One of the best camps here is the Hoanib Skelton Coast Camp which provides a beautiful and lavish stay. It is a fly-in camp, so exclusivity and privacy are the key here. Exploring the Coast itself, there are multiple ways to do so; by air and vehicle. The area is home to an abundance of different desert adapted animals such as elephants, lions, and gemsbok. As well as a huge Cape Fur Seal colony that often attracts jackals and brown hyenas. Mana Pools Zimbabwe is probably not the first country many people think of when asked about a first-class safari experience, but Mana Pool should be at the forefront of many people’s minds. The National Park is an incredible area home to exceptional wildlife and is one of the last strongholds for the African Painted Wolf. The dry season is the best time to visit as the foliage becomes thinner and game viewing intensifies. Famed for its walking safaris, Mana Pools offers some of the best guiding as well as offering a brilliant authentic bush camp experience. Walking safaris are just the start though, as boating and vehicle safaris are also offered, giving a brilliant all-round experience. Here you can see the famous elephants who stand on their hind legs and encounter the painted wolves that featured in the BBC documentary Dynasties. Chikwenya and Ruckomechi are two of the best camps here and offer a mixture of excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and outstanding hospitality and service. Both are located in private concessions ensuring game drives and walks are private and intimate. Marc Harris is Managing Director of Africa Odyssey. Africa Oydssey is run by a team of award-winning experts offering tailor-made African safari holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Marc Harris

Marc Harris is the Founder and Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey and Africa Odyssey. Marc founded the companies in 1999 after a 2 year stint exploring and guiding all over Africa and still enjoys regular visits to this amazing continent. We are safari experts, long-established specialists in all aspects of African safari itinerary planning and ground management across sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, whether you are dreaming of the ultimate walking safari through the heart of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park or a champagne breakfast in the Masai Mara, whether you wish to encounter wild gorillas or enjoy the ultimate Indian Ocean island beach break, we will design the perfect itinerary for you.

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  1. Everybody I’ve talked to about Cape Town always talks very highly of the city, especially the food and wine. Of all of South Africa’s attractions it’s the one that I most want to do.

    1. Hi Jim,

      It is a beautiful city and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

      Combine it with a safari and/or Vic Falls and you will have the most amazing holiday!

  2. You’ve done well to get your list down to just 5 places! South Africa is probably my favourite country to visit. Can’t wait to go back once the Covid crisis disappears.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Only the first five! This is just the tip of the iceberg and as you rightly say, once the crisis clears, there will be plenty of exploring to do.

  3. If you are going to visit Southern Africa, I think that you ought to visit the Kalahari Desert. It is a huge area that stretches across countries. That wilderness with its desolation is all part of the Southern Africa experience. There isn’t a huge amount of wildlife but there are spectacular landscapes.

    1. Hi Tim,

      You are are correct there – this is just the tip of the iceberg!

      There are plenty of places not covered – maybe in the next post!

  4. We called into Cape Town to watch some cricket. Although it was great to watch the game we only had a taster of the city as we spent most of our time at the cricket ground. It left us both wanting to go back for more.

    1. Hi Claire,

      You can never have too much time in Cape Town so you should definitely return once the Pandemic has subsided!

      As well as the city itself, there are so many beautiful natural surroundings to be explored.

  5. There is no doubt South Africa offers the best wildlife experience. To cap the day of adventure and sight seeing, Cape Cadogan looks like a haven for someone who wants to relax. If all goes well by next year, I might be sent to the continent, particularly South Africa, for research work and I would like to have Cape Cadogan as an option for accommodation. I’m also up to my neck in reading about safaris, which this blog has a lot of, thank goodness. I don’t want to get my hopes up too prematurely, but I would like to stay positive that long, inter-continental flights would be back next year.

    1. Good morning Cinar,

      Yes South Africa is a great destination to combine safari and Cape Town as well as so much more.

      Great news last night at South Africa reopens its borders for International Tourism from 1st October which is brilliant.

      Hear’s hoping to a positive few months ahead.

  6. It still amazes me how much more South Africa has to offer in terms of outdoor adventure. It’s really sad that not a lot of people can experience its beauty, whether it’s because of the expense and the many things you have to accomplish to be able to visit (visa, certifications, insurance, tours, etc.). I’ve always heard about the Okavango Delta and the Serengeti from watching too much National Geographic before. Cape Town is a must, I suppose, as it is the capital of South Africa. And where one would probably enjoy the most modern of comforts. But the safaris and its uniqueness are what makes most people want to visit this continent. The wildlife and being at one with nature as you gaze through the wide safaris and see how stunning the view is from the horizon, visiting this place is one of a kind.

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