Southern Africa Riverboat Safari - Chobe Itinerary
If you love elephants and are looking for a safari that takes you off the beaten path, this ship and land trip shows you areas most miss while delivering fantastic game viewing and high-level guiding.
Africa: Drink It In
The history of early expeditions in Africa is replete with tales of its storied waterways. Victorian explorers like Speke and Livingstone met unfathomable hardships as they sought the source of the Nile, yet less than a century later, the continent’s major rivers and lakes were mapped if not tamed. We hark back to that exploratory era with a private voyage on Lake Kariba at the heart of this exclusive safari. Aboard an elegant new vessel, we access a vast, wild expanse well off the conventional safari circuit, with a special focus on Zimbabwe. Visit four diverse national parks including Hwange, renowned for its big game, and Botswana's Chobe, a celebrated wildlife haven along an important river that sustains a profusion of species. Plus Victoria Falls!
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Chobe is home to Africa's largest elephant population, over 120,000 individuals!
• Discover Hwange National Park—Zimbabwe’s largest protected area and wildlife crown jewel—from a private concession, for a truly secluded experience.
• The 16-passenger ship option offers a very unique approach to the traditional safari offered by a fantastic operator with expert guiding.
From $14,995 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.
June 19-29, 2023
July 4-14, 2023
July 16-26, 2023
Aug 6-16, 2023
Aug 21-31, 2023
Sept 2-12, 2023
Sept 8-18, 2023
Ask us for later dates.
May - November 2023
Hover here for specific dates
Trip Sustainability Awards
Offsets all CO2 outputs from trips and office operations
Has contributed more than $4.5 million to the WWF
Has eliminated use of single-use plastic bottles and straws
Day 1: Kasane, Botswana / Impalila Island, Namibia
Upon arrival in Kasane, Botswana, transfer by road and boat just over the Namibian border to our brand-new lodge on Impalila Island. Tucked away from the larger accommodations that border Chobe National Park, our intimate lodge offers a more secluded location and excellent access to the park and Chobe River for both land- and water-based exploration. This evening, gather with our fellow travelers for a welcome dinner as our Expedition Leader shares an overview of the safari adventures to come.
Accommodation: Impalila Island Lodge TBA
Days 2 & 3: Exploring the Chobe River / Chobe National Park
With two full days in the renowned Chobe region, we’ll have ample time to explore it from a variety of perspectives. Meet local villagers who live on Impalia Island, and learn about their culture. Cruise the Chobe River’s channels and inlets by motorboat as we search for hippo, crocodile and myriad bird species that frequent this area. Search for big game on an overland safari in Chobe National Park. The river flowing through the park is a lifeline for bountiful wildlife, including Africa’s largest elephant population—an estimated 120,000 live within the park bounds. We also seek out buffalo, lion, leopard and more on exhilarating safari drives. Return in the evenings to our comfortable island retreat, mulling the day’s wonders around a campfire under a starry sky.
Accommodation: Impalila Island Lodge TBA
Day 4: Chobe / Kasane / Lake Kariba—Board Zimbabwean Dream
Return to Kasane this morning and fly on to Kariba where we board our boutique riverboat Zimbabwean Dream. This deluxe three-deck vessel, ideal for cruising the vast expanse of Lake Kariba, is our floating safari base for the next three days. The lake was created when the Zambezi River was dammed in the late 1950s, and it is the largest manmade body of water in the world, more than 140 miles long and 25 miles across at its widest point. Today, the dam provides electricity for 70% of Zimbabwe's residents, and the resulting lake is a haven for a wide array of waterbirds and wildlife along the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Lake Kariba's size makes it feel more like an inland sea, and given how few visitors this region sees, we’re assured a serene experience. On board we find a relaxing rhythm, typically making two excursions per day, leaving the ship each morning and afternoon for wildlife-focused activities via smaller boats and safari vehicles.
Accommodation: Zimbabwean Dream
Zimbabwean Dream: The elegant new Zimbabwean Dream, sister ship to the famous African Dream, will offer just 16 guests the optimal way to explore vast Lake Kariba and its wild surroundings. The 108-foot ship has two decks plus a topside sundeck, with panoramic windows throughout so travelers never miss a minute of the passing view. Modernist decor is streamlined and understated, in tranquil tones of gray and cream with warm orange accents. On the main deck, eight air-conditioned cabins have two twin beds that can be joined to form a single larger bed, en suite bathrooms with shower, TV, safe and 220V electrical plugs equipped with adapters for most countries. Two cabins have private balconies on either side of the bow. The upper deck, where the public spaces are located, is virtually surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
The casual yet stylish restaurant located aft features creative international cuisine served in a bright, airy setting, while the forward lounge bar, designed with contemporary flair, invites relaxing on sectional sofas positioned for maximum viewing. But the best views are undoubtedly from the outside decks. The sundeck on top offers a 360-degree panorama of the lake, and the birds and wildlife that inhabit its lush shorelines, while the upper deck features a shaded aft deck area and a Jacuzzi plunge pool with a forward-facing 270-degree view over the bow.
Days 5 & 6: Exploring Lake Kariba / Matusadona National Park
The unusual landscapes of Lake Kariba provide diverse contexts for exploration. In some places, drowned trees still jut from the water’s calm surface. Via covered pontoon boat, cruise close to the shoreline and reed-fringed backwaters that shelter a variety of animals and birds. Hippos congregate along the shoreline, subtly revealing their presence as their ears and eyes peek above the water's surface. And we often see crocodiles hauled out on the lake's edge.
Along the way, explore Matusadona National Park, where we disembark for a land safari. Bordered by the Sanyati and Ume rivers, the park's 540 square miles of untouched terrain is home to elephant, Cape buffalo, impala, waterbuck, side-striped jackals and more. We’ll also look for lions—though elusive, two prides inhabit the park—about 40 in all—and they are adept hunters, even killing crocodile on occasion. We're sure to see lots of birds, with frequent sightings of Egyptian goose, marabou stork, saddle-billed stork, Goliath heron, African skimmer and the coveted African fish eagle. Some of the park's wildlife may be descendants of the more than 6,000 animals rescued during Operation Noah, following completion of the dam in 1959. As the water level rose, many creatures struggled to survive on ground that was gradually becoming submerged. A team of intrepid rangers moved large mammals, big cats, impala and more to safety into Matusadona, transporting many on wooden rafts.
After each full day of discovery, return to the ship to watch the sun set blood-red over the water, dine on gourmet cuisine including freshly caught bream and tilapia from the lake, and head to the sundeck after dark to watch the sparkling stars.
Accommodation: Zimbabwean Dream
Days 7–9: Kariba / Hwange National Park
Disembark this morning and fly to Hwange National Park. From Davison's Camp, we have exclusive proximity to outstanding wildlife viewing. Bordering the Kalahari Desert on Zimbabwe’s western edge, Hwange is the country's largest and most renowned national park. Its 5,600 square miles are comprised mostly of desert sandveld with teak and mopane woodlands and dry acacia scrub interspersed with salt pans, grasslands and granite outcrops. The varied habitat is home to huge herds of elephant and buffalo, plus a vital predator population including lion, leopard and cheetah. Other game frequently on view includes zebra, giraffe, sable, roan, blue wildebeest and impala. We also keep an eye out for endangered gemsbok, brown hyena and African wild dog. The variety of birdlife is among the best in Africa, with more than 400 species. While our focus is game drives, a viewing platform at camp offers relaxed afternoon wildlife viewing at close range. Bush walks with renowned guides are a highlight, as safety permits.
Accommodation: Davison’s Camp
Davison’s Camp: One of few camps inside the boundaries of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s premier wildlife destination, Davison’s Camp offers a classic bush safari camp experience. The camp is located on the private Linkwasha Concession, one of the most prolific wildlife areas within the national park that surrounds it. With more than 100 mammal species, Hwange has some of the highest mammal diversity of any national park. Davison's is the perfect setting for safari-goers seeking vintage ambience coupled with all the necessary comforts for modern-day travelers. The camp has eight canvas double tents and one family tent, with interiors defined by natural materials that blend artfully with the bush environs—sisal, wicker and wood, and furnishings in a palette of neutral earth tones. The main lounge, bar, dining area and open campfire boma all overlook a busy waterhole where game frequently comes to drink, including large herds of elephant and buffalo, and rare sable antelope. Cushioned sofas and deep leather chairs provide comfortable seating in the lounge. Meals are served on the open-air deck or around the large outdoor campfire area. Reclining lounge chairs invite relaxing on the deck or around the pool, with a constant parade of wildlife on display for entertainment.
A stay at Davison's Camp also contributes to conservation projects and the well-being of local people, with a share of all guest proceeds supporting an elephant movement study, anti-poaching efforts and snare removal, a school nutrition project, teacher training and classroom supplies, and eco-education for local children, who stay at the camp when it is closed to guests in order to learn about and experience the wildlife and ecosystem they live in proximity to.
Day 10: Hwange / Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Leave the plains of Hwange behind as we fly by light aircraft to Victoria Falls and transfer to the Victoria Falls Hotel. This 5-star colonial landmark offers the same splendid panorama and genteel Edwardian ambience that made it a legend when it opened in 1904. This afternoon, join our Expedition Leader for a privately guided tour in Victoria Falls National Park. The world's largest curtain of falling water spans more than a mile and plummets 350 feet into the Zambezi Gorge below, which divides Zimbabwe from Zambia. View the falls from varying vantage points via the network of trails along the rim as we walk through the rain forest microclimate created by the profuse spray.
Accommodation: Victoria Falls Hotel
Victoria Falls Hotel: Perched above the Zambezi Gorge in full view of the falls, this 5-star colonial landmark hotel offers the same splendid panorama and genteel Edwardian ambience that made it a legend when it opened in 1904. Since then, it has played host to royalty, international and local statesmen and global celebrities, among its many guests. The hotel is situated on a sprawling expanse of manicured lawn surrounded by tropical gardens and lies within Victoria Falls National Park. Its incomparable setting and refined elegance have earned it worldwide acclaim for over a century, epitomizing the grace and romance of a classic era of African travel.
Day 11: Victoria Falls / Depart
Our safari comes to a close after breakfast. Here, we board our morning flight to Zimbabwe's capital of Harare where we connect with homeward departures.
Specialized 4x4 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers: We use open 4x4 Toyota Hilux vehicles with a suspension system custom-designed for safari terrain, and an open-top, open-sided, tiered seating arrangement designed to maximize game-viewing opportunities and passenger comfort. Typically, each vehicle has one seat in front next to the driver, followed by three rows of two seats each. Each row is raised slightly higher than the one in front of it, allowing for unobstructed views of scenery and wildlife. A cooler box is stocked with cold drinks and each custom-built vehicle sports front bull bars and runner boards, as well as a full recovery kit, including spare tires and a high-lift jack. Vehicles are updated or replaced as needed and meticulously maintained to provide our guests with an unmatched safari experience.
I love this ship & land safari option! This veteran operator knows this region better than most and offers outstanding guiding with comfortable accommodations.
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: