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Overview of our Trip to South Africa Namibia & Botswana

As a travel agent, people regularly ask me about my favorite trip.  Sometimes I say Galapagos, sometimes south of France or Vietnam / Cambodia. But after coming back from our most recent trip to Africa, that list will be amended.

In May 2023, I developed, organized and led a trip to South Africa and a 3 night cruise on the Chobe River.  The trip included trips to Cape Town, Kruger Park, Blyde River Canyon, Johannesburg and Namibia/ Botswana.  We say a ton of culture, learned some rather recent history, explored diverse geography and went on safaris on both land and water.

In this introductory blog, we’ll provide an overview with some logistics. But subsequent blogs will provide details of our itinerary and observations.

Cape Town:PXL_20230502_151053869

Our nonstop flight from Newark took about 16 hours.  Our business class seats made the trip almost tolerable and afforded us time to sleep and try to adjust to the 6 hour time differential. Still, we decided to arrive a day before any official touring started to allow us time to adjust – I’m glad we did. During our stay in Cape Town, we were able to check out the redeveloped waterfront, enjoy lots of local restaurants, tour Robben Island, scale Table Mountain, tour the peninsula visiting the Cape of Good Hope and see penguins and seals.  We also stayed a few nights about an hour and a half north of the city proper in Franschhoek in the winelands region.

Kruger National ParkPXL_20230509_062424288.MP (1)

We took a short flight from Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport and then an hour (or so) ride to Kruger National Park.  The trip took the better part of a day, by the time we unpacked in our hotel located just outside the park gates.  There’s really only one highlight during our time here, but it’s the reason most of us came: the animals.   The wildlife was prodigious, varied, active and really, really close!  We had two safaris every day (one early in the morning and one later in the afternoon).  


Johannesburgoriginal_af296040-cd76-474f-8ce6-3bea799a017f_PXL_20230511_072343922.MP (1)

 We took a bus from Kruger to our next destination, Johannesburg.  But we took the “scenic” route through Blyde river canyon.  This was one of the most surprising aspects of the trip – the incredible scenery we saw during the various short hikes and observation point views.

Once in Johannesburg we spent the morning touring SOWETO and experiencing several museums highlighted by the Apartheid Museum.      We were able to experience a couple dinners on our own and a traditional lunch serenaded by a host of local street performers at a café located down the street from the former homes of two Nobel prize winners: Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Zambezi Queen PXL_20230514_154149986.MP (1)

The trip from Johannesburg to the Zambezi Queen was quite interesting.  The short flight took us to Kasane where we passed through Botswana passport control. But before we get to the ship, we need to leave Botswana and enter Namibia, each of which have their own passport control stations along the river.    Once aboard we were treated to magnificent views and copious animal sightings.  It was stunning to see some of the same animals as at Kruger, but this time from the river.


Return home

From the Zambezi queen, we made our way back to Kanse airport, back to Johannesburg where we stayed the night at an airport hotel.  Our nonstop fight back to Newark left the next day and the added night ensured there were no issues making this once a day flight.  It also gave us a chance to reflect on our trip, recharge and relax before the long flight home.

One note: At the time of our visit, the US dollar was very strong relative to the South African Rand (rough 18 Rand to every USD). That made everything very inexpensive.  We found food, clothing, gifts and just thins to be about half of what we were used to paying for in the US.

In our next post, we’ll dive into our time in Cape Town

Africa Blog Post Links

Overview of our Trip to Africa

Cape Town

Kruger National Park


Chobe River Cruise


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