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.

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