Traveling through Africa can seem like an impossible dream for many. With the assistance of the right group travel tour operator, though, these trips can go from “wish-I-could” to “so-glad-I-did.”
Africa is one of those “bucket list” destinations that seems unreachable for many folks. Aside from the distance and the expense, there is a long list of perceived snags: language barriers, unfamiliar transportation systems, cultural differences, currency exchange, vaccinations. Yet, the same people who sit at home worrying about these things are the ones who have “Go on Safari,”’ “See Victoria Falls” and “Ride an Elephant” writ large on their list of lifetime adventures.
Both as travelers and as group travel organizers, it’s good to remember that we can partner with tour companies that handle all the destination-side logistics. These companies often offer a more affordable package of travel highlights than what solo travelers could wrangle on their own terms. Let’s look at a couple of bucket-list-worthy itineraries from the premier tour operator Collette as an example of what a few weeks can do to satisfy once-in-a-lifetime travel wishes.
Spectacular South Africa: Two Weeks of the Best of Southern Africa
Mention African travel and people automatically imagine exotic safaris, inspiring scenery and luxurious surroundings under wide-open skies. This 13-day itinerary combines both the iconic African experience with the sophistication of South Africa’s restaurants, vineyards, cultural diversity and historical highlights. Included are stops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Soweto, Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. The itinerary can be customized by adding days at the beginning or end of your stay.
Sample itinerary: After an overnight flight, groups arrive in the city of Sandton, near Johannesburg, and learn about the language and culture of the area. The following three days are spent in and around Kruger National Park, including a day-long, open-air safari. From Kruger, it’s on to an ostrich farm and tours of gardens and vineyards. Groups then travel back to Cape Town by way of Stellenbosch, one of the oldest European settlements in South Africa. The remainder of the trip is spent exploring Cape Town.
Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana
If you have an adventurous group, this active, safari-centered 14-day tour (including travel time) will fit the bill. It focuses on seven game drives that span three countries, a national park and a private game reserve. There’s also free time around the Cape Town region that guests can use to explore the area’s wine, food and culture. The tour lcan be extended by buying pre- or post-trip additions.
Sample Itinerary: After an overnight flight, guests spend three days in Cape Town and then travel to the seaside wine-growing area around the village of Hermanus. Then it’s off to the Entabeni Conservancy to share in evening and pre-breakfast game drives. After a few days, the group moves on to Victoria Falls by way of Johannesburg. At the Falls, they can participate in various tours and sample some local delicacies. An early-morning elephant ride and some free time cap off the Falls segment. Groups then travel to Botswana’s Chobe National Park for some unique natural views and more local cuisine. The tour ends as the group returns to Johannesburg.
Floral Wonders of South Africa
This 15-day, florally-inspired tour of Cape Town, Soweto, Kruger National Park, and various gardens in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana combines traditional African travel dreams like an open-air safaris with an interesting twist: botanical gardens. One desert garden alone, the Karoo, has over 2,000 blooms.
Sample Itinerary: After an overnight flight, the tour stars in Sandton and moves to Soweto, the home of the Walter Sisulu National Botanic Garden. From there, it’s on to panoramic sightseeing and a safari game drive in Kruger National Park, after which guests travel to Knysna by way of the Tsitsikamma Forest. The Garden Route continues to the seaside towns of Wilderness and Hermanus. Guests can also enjoy tours of two botanical gardens in South Africa’s winegrowing region before finishing their tour with several days’ activities in Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
Tours have long been a favorite way for busy travelers to see a lot in a short time – or for timid tourists to get out and see the places they’ve been dreaming of. With a combination of free time, planned activities and themed adventures, these tours can make African travel a reality.
If you have a story to share about African group tours like the ones mentioned above, we’d love to hear it! Share it using the comments section below. Thanks!