South Africa

NATURAL WONDER & SENSATIONAL SAFARIS One Week/Victoria

Start your trip at one of the great natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls (p618), whose mighty spray can be seen from 50km away. For the best perspective visit from both Livingstone (Zambia; p621) and the town of Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe; p626). There's a plethora of activities including serene canoe trips on top of the falls, or rafting down the churning Zambezi, below the falls, if you're after an adrenalin rush. Also be sure to check out Mosi-oa-Tunya Game Park (p626) and the rainforests of Victoria Falls National Park.

From the Zimbabwean side catch a shuttlebus or drive to Kasane (plOl) in Botswana, the gateway town to the stunning, wildlife-rich Chobe National Park (plOl). Here you can organise wildlife drives and river cruises to the Chobe Riverfront wonderland, where nearly every Southern African mammal species is represented.

From Chobe it's an easy hop, skip and a jump southwest to Maun (pl06) and Botswana's tourist magnet, the vast Okavango Delta (pl06), where one of the world's most impressive ecosystems breathes life into the Kalahari sands and attracts astonishing amounts of wildlife and incalculable birds.

Once in Maun, you can do a mokoro (dugout canoe) trip in the Eastern Delta (pi 12), take a safari in Moremi Wildlife Reserve (pi 14), or splash out on a fly-in trip into the Inner Delta (pi 12). From Maun, take a minibus clockwise around the delta towards Namibia, perhaps stopping in Sepupa to take a boat to Seronga (pi 16) and do a mokoro trip in the Okavango Panhandle (pi 16). A rewarding side trip will take you to the Tsodilo Hills (pi 17), which the San people maintain is the site of creation.

A delightful itinerary, this will take you 700km through some of the biggest draws in Southern Africa. When viewing wildlife, remember to take a break here and there -don't try to squeeze too much in. You could whiz along in about seven days, or relax along the way and stretch things out to 10 days or even two weeks.

Falls to the Okavango Delta

A SOUTHERN AFRICAN SLICE One Month/Cape Town to Windhoek

A car is definitely your best bet for this mega road trip. After a few days in Cape Town (p415), including a stay at a township B&B, tear yourself away from this wonderful city and head to the fertile valleys of the Winelands, with a night or two in Stellenbosch (p438) or Franschhoek (p442).

From here, continue east to the artists' enclave of Montagu (p447), and then via the scenic Route 62 through the Little Karoo to Oudtshoorn (p448), South Africa's ostrich capital. Possible detours along the way include to Hermanus (p444) for whale watching if the season is right, and CapeAgulhas (p446) for the thrill of standing at Africa's southernmost point.

From Oudtshoorn take the N12 north and then loop back towards Cape Town via the Nl, link up with the N7 and head for Namaqualand (p464) to see the fabulous wildflower displays, especially good in August and September.

Keep tracking up the N7, cross into Namibia at Vioolsdrif (p465) and head to Hobas (p385) to see the Fish River Canyon National Park (p385), ajaw-dropping natural sight that's also Namibia's premier walking destination.

Further north along the Bl, Keetmanshoop (p378) has some colonial architecture; if this grabs you, head west along the B4 to surreal Liideritz (p379), a coastal colonial relic. Heading back to the Bl, turn north at the CI3 and make abeeline for baroque Duwisib Castle (p377), well worth exploring, 70km south of Malta hohe (p377), where you can stay on a working ranch. From there head to Mariental (p377), back on the Bl, and it's another couple of hours to Windhoek (p314), the small, colourful and cosmopolitan capital city with its bracing highland climate.

Definitely for lovers of a road trip. Even if you can't squeeze everything in on this 3000km-plus journey, you'll undoubtedly come away with an immense appreciation of this varied and remarkable region. If you're looking to make cuts, shave some kilometres off the Western Cape loop. To avoid white-line fever allow at least a month.

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