Elephant South Africa Safari

The 27 day African Safari Itinerary – Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa

Posted on Posted in Africa, Botswana, Itineraries, Safari, South Africa, Travel, Victoria Falls

My African Safari was almost a month long encompassing South Africa (Johannesburg, Capetown and the Garden Route), Botswana (Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari Park) and Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls).  The incredible “bucket list” worthy trip using points inspired me to start this blog to share my experience.  While I originally posted the below a while back (with the photos) along with the Botswana and Victoria Falls posts, I decided to take a “safari” break and post about other trips which I had planned.  As life has dealt me a curveball this year, there is much more talk about bucket lists and making sure you live life to the fullest.  A safari itinerary is something I know everyone can afford (you’d be surprised how creative you can get using package deals or in my case build your own and mix in points) and I’m excited to see more people considering it now and not waiting.  It is a special trip that everyday I think about, marvel at the photos and wonder when I can travel back to Africa.

Leopard South Africa safari Sabi Sands Kruger
My first leopard sighting – up close and personal

The Safari Itinerary Planning With a Travel Agent

I printed my draft African safari itinerary on the color printer and carried it back and forth to work each day for over a month to research more about each place and see if the general feel was right for me. I was still a bit back and forth on the tent and the small bush plane flights.  My 27 days trip to Africa would essentially be 5-6 trips – it was a big commitment and despite pricing out much less than a regular tour group would charge for a solo traveler, I was a bit hesitant to book it.  I love the idea of travel,  finding the award space and yet making it real gives me a bit of pause -not sure why really (ok, I have a few theories but let’s not go there now).

Botswana Okavango Delta Oddballs' Camp mokoro boat excellent safari itinerary choice
At Oddballs’ in Okavango Delta, travel is by mokoro boat and was an excellent choice to add into my safari itinerary – worth the extra money

With my hotel savings using points, I inquired about upgrading my Kruger safari to the Sabi Sands private game reserve.  It was initially outside of my budget but I thought I could now include it (I don’t ask the price per night because I knew it would be insane as I was a solo travel subject to this, that and the other fees).  I had read in one travel guide that Sabi Sands was a SKIN trip (of course my mind wandered just like yours) but stood for Spend the Kids Inheritance Now for the one time incredible safari experience.  The travel agent was able to add a Sabi Sands property and I was thrilled.

African sunset over water
The amazing African sunset was easy to have a sundowner and watch every night

There was only one part of the safari itinerary left that gave me pause – it was at the end when I would join a third party tour operator for the Garden Tour from Capetown to Port Elizabeth – the hotels used were part of a local chain and neither were highly rated – one was rated last and I believe one comment said “I found a flea” so you could understand my concern despite the other good reviews.  The tour was set, did not deviate and there was no other way for me to see the Garden Route with my dates so I decided that I could always change hotels at my expense if needed or sleep in the tour van (ok, not really but in my mind I needed a few options).

Rhino - Big 5 in South Africa safari in Sabi Sands Game Reserve the safari itinerary
Rhino one of the Big 5 in South Africa – Sabi Sands Game Reserve

So with the safari itinerary set, my adventure was good to go, I emailed the OK to the travel agent and she sent me the invoice to pay.  Since it was less than two months out, the entire amount was due in South African Rand and US dollars so I found my credit card without foreign exchange fees and booked it online.  Funny what you can book online without getting called by your credit card – when I tried to buy something at Wal-Mart my credit card was flagged for fraud and shut down but spending x amount (over my tolerance) and out of the country online was OK- never can figure out the fraud alerts with credit cards.

Victoria Falls from above (low water season)
Victoria Falls from above (low water season) – a must for your safari itinerary – high or low water

The Ultimate Safari Itinerary

The final safari itinerary would be twenty seven days mixing luxury with points and cash.

Johannesburg (overnight at the airport) at the Intercontinental (using points & cash rate)

Botswana

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – 3 days/2 nights

White River (overnight as too late to get to camp) – 1 night

Sabi Sands, Kruger Park – South Africa – 4 days/3 nights (6 game drives) at Inyati 

Capetown, South Africa – 7 days/6 nights – Tours of City & Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Peninsula, Hermanus and Whale Route and the Winelands

Garden Route tour – 3 days/2 nights

Port Elizabeth – 2 days/1 night

Johannesburg (overnight at the airport) – city tour day of departure, flight at 8pm

Now that the planning is done, the itinerary set – the fun of preparing for the trip is next. Travel shots, medicines, drab color clothes, duffel bag?

Lion Big 5 animal on safari in South Africa Sabi Sands in Kruger
My first Lion sighting in Sabi Sands on Safari was quite memorable – the circle of life was not on the original safari itinerary

The Safari Experience & Planning

To read about the safari expeience in each country as well as the planning do a search by category or drop down the destinations tab for Africa.  There are still posts from Africa to share – the safari in Sabi Sands, Capetown and surrounding day tours, the Garden Route and one day in Johannesburg.  As always, if you have any bespoke queries, just contact me and I’d be happy to help with questions or to plan your adventure.  This trip inspired me in so many ways – to start the blog, to start my travel planning business and to live my life a bit differently.  What will an African Safari Itinerary do for you?

8 thoughts on “The 27 day African Safari Itinerary – Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa

  1. Sounds like the adventure of a lifetime! Found your post via a google search for 1 month in South Africa. We actually are thinking of pulling the trigger and cashing in our US Airways points before they join oneworld next month. Anyways, we’d really like to get an idea of how much this itinerary cost you. We don’t have kids, so it won’t be a SKIN trip…but still would like to know what the damage will be to the wallet if possible. 😉

    1. Marvin – a safari can be affordable for all budgets especially if you can work with a local South African agent. This was surprising to me at how many different offerings/options are available – tent/camping up to high luxury. There are private camps and national park options as well as many animal reserves that the locals visit. When planning, try not to duplicate experiences/animals. I will email you separately to share some of the costs – my figures were inflated due to single supplements so can only ballpark amounts. I do hope you do get to use your USAirways points and go on a wonderful journey

    2. What surprised me after my trip was how affordable a safari can be – from a tent/camping experience up to the high luxury. I would definitely suggest using a local African travel agent as there is less markup and they often have deals with vendors. Try not to duplicate animal sightings or similar experiences and focus on what is most important. There are private camps, national parks and animal parks that the locals visit each at different price points. I will email you directly regarding cost ballpark as i paid single supplements. Good luck with the planning – hope it all works out

  2. Thanks for sharing, sounds like a fantastic trip. I was fortunate enough to visit South Africa several years ago but only had time for Joeburgh before flying to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Still, it was a wonderful experience. If I ever go back it may just be me following in your foot steps! Have Fun, S

  3. Love this post! I’d love to see a more in-depth breakdown of costs and where you were able to use points, etc. And also how to go about finding local African agents to contact directly?

    1. Thanks! there are separate posts under “safari” on how I planned the trip, used points in JBurg for the hotel and Capetown Westin on points with points/miles used for air. I used Rhino Africa after meeting them at the NY Times Travel Show and hearing them speak on a panel “How to Plan Your Safari”. there were many African agents but I liked Rhino and the fact that they customized trips for all budgets. I can now book people on safari as well and there are so many options to choose from – let me know if I can help or direct you further

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