Southern Africa 2 week itinerary

Southern Africa 2 week itinerary

Southern Africa 2 week itinerary

When asked what my favorite country has been to travel, South Africa comes to mind. This country and the surrounding countries are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever been to. If you’re interested in exploring this region of the world, I hope you find this southern Africa 2 week (5 country!) itinerary inspiring.

My immediate family came to visit me while I was living in the Kingdom of Eswatini. We had 2 weeks together in southern Africa, so we decided to rent a car and make a trip out of it. We spent the first week driving around South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Our goal was to see Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park. Because Eswatini is so close to my heart, we spent our second week there.

This was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” trips. I would recommend this trip to everyone! Because I was fully integrated into this region, navigating the border crossings, driving, culture, and food was much less intimidating. If this is your first time to this region, I would recommend traveling with a local person, finding a guide for some of these experiences, and flying from one place to another.

Day 0

Fly to Johannesburg, South Africa!

Day 1

Arrive in Johannesburg (“Joburg”), rent a car, and start the drive up north. One of our first destinations was Kasane, Botswana. This is home to Chobe National Park. Chobe has some of the largest populations of elephants in the world. It’s also very close to the border crossing to Victoria Falls. This is a prime place to see the largest falls in the world AND go on safaris.

We decided to make the drive up north. I hadn’t seen my family in over a year and time in the car exploring this part of the world was amazing. It was about a 15 hour drive from Joburg to Kasane. It might not be ideal for everyone.

We had a goal to make it to the border of South Africa and Botswana before the end of the day. Here we found an amazing bed and breakfast just in Botswana right on the Limpopo River (Unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the place we stayed. While I might not recommend this for everyone, we didn’t know where we were going to spend the night. We just “winged” it.). We drove through the border crossing right past Tomburke, SA, and found a bed and breakfast right past the border into Botswana.

Here we had an amazing “cabin”, wonderful dinner, and then a buffet breakfast. We were some of the only guests, and the staff were so friendly.

Day 2

Day 2 of our southern Africa 2 week itinerary included driving the rest of Botswana up to Kasane. This day was pure driving. It was such a fun experience. The further north you get into Botswana, you will see many elephants (and some giraffe) along the way, some even crossing the road in front of you. It was incredible!

Be aware of police stoppings. There wasn’t much traffic at all, so it was inevitable that we were speeding at some points… And then…. there was a traffic stop collecting dozens and dozens of drivers who were driving above the speed limit. But we just paid a little money and were on our way….

We stayed the night in Kasane at Keeme-Nao Hotel. We had a good experience here. It was affordable and easy to find parking. There were plenty of other resorts in the area that would also have been fun to stay at.

Day 3

We had a safari reserved in Chobe National Park first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, it was the rainy season and it rained this day. This meant visibility was poor and animals were hiding under things. But we still had a great time. Our safari lead was super energetic and we saw more and more elephants as the morning went on.

We decided to do a boat/water safari in the afternoon. This was also phenomenal. We got up close to hippos, elephants, and crocodiles.

That night we went to a great place for dinner, an Indian restaurant. We had some local beer with our food and relaxed for the evening.

Day 4

Day 4 of our southern Africa 2 week itinerary we spent at Victoria Falls! In the morning, we drove into Zambia to see the falls from the opposite side (better view). The Falls are spectacular!

There are also numerous activities to do while you’re here. This includes bungee jumping, eating lunch, and going to the “Devil’s Pool” (which I actually would never do — it seems dangerous to me!). We were fortunate to do a helicopter ride over the falls. It was about a 30 minute ride. I would HIGHLY recommend it. If you can afford it, this was one of the highlights of our time in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

That afternoon we went with a guide into Zimbabwe to see the Falls from that side. While the view wasn’t as good as from Zambia, we still enjoyed a different view. It’s difficult to get into Zimbabwe otherwise, but if you’re just going across the border to see Victoria Falls, it’s a little easier.

That evening, we went back to our favorite restaurant for Indian food and more local cold beer! Afterall, we were here in the hottest time of the year (January)….

Day 5

Southern Africa 2 week itinerary — bridge over Zambezi River

Day 5 was us driving all the way back south through Botswana. We loved the drive. It was long, but we had so much to talk about and catch up on!

We stayed in the same place on the way up north (I will try to find the Bed and Breakfast and link it here!).

Day 6

Day 6 we drove through South Africa and into the Kingdom of Eswatini. This was also a pretty packed day of driving. But I was so excited to finally show my family the country that I had called home for 1.5 years (at that point). For a more thorough information on Eswatini, visit my blog post here.

Because of our long day of driving we stayed on the western side of the country in Ewatini at Malalotja Nature Reserve. We stayed in their cabins. But you can also camp for a more affordable option. This Nature Reserve offers some of the most beautiful views of the country in my opinion.

We had such a great time here! We cooked dinner, watched a beautiful thunderstorm come in. Then we went to bed after a long day on the road.

Day 7

We woke up here on a hot day. My brother and I decided to go for a long hike. Although it was very hot, we had a lot of fun. This was one of my favorite places to hike. It’s so beautiful!

If you’re looking for even more of an adventure, you can zipline here!

We had a leisurely afternoon, cooked some dinner, and went to bed early.

Day 8

Southern Africa 2 week itinerary — rural Eswatini

Day 8 of our southern African 2 week itinerary, we drove to my home in rural, southern Eswatini. We spent one night here with my host family. We had a phenomenal time. My two families were so excited to meet. We had a great time driving out here to such a beautiful part of the country. We cooked a chicken for dinner with local “lipalishi” (a stiff maize porridge).

If you can find a way to stay a night or 2 in the rural area, I would highly recommend it. Rural Eswatini is very different than the cities. Yet, you will see consistent culture and friendly people no matter where you go.

Day 9

Day 9 we had a leisurely morning. In the early afternoon we drove back into Ezulwini Valley and stayed at Sondzela’s Backpackers. This is a quiet place situated in Mlilwane park (a national park). We stayed in traditional huts there. We could open the top of our door at night and see and hear the antelope in the morning. My family loved it!

That night we participated in the traditional dinner that they cook every night. My family got to try a traditional Swazi meal. We were so full and happy when we went to bed!

Day 10

That morning we went for a hike in Mlilwane Park in the afternoon. The hiking was beautiful and you will have opportunities to see animals along the way. We had a cold local beer for lunch at the park’s lodge.

We came back and had dinner here for the night.

Day 11

This morning we went and got breakfast right near by at Vickery Seedlings. This was one of my favorite places to hang out when I was living in Eswatini. It’s a huge greenhouse. People come here to buy plants, seeds, and fertilizer. The best part is there’s a cafe on the inside where you can get a cup of coffee, some delicious food, and relax in the atmosphere of healthy plants.

We had a relaxing afternoon. Our next stop was Swazi Candles in the Ezulwini valley. Here there are numerous shops of local artists. We walked around and bought some souvenirs from our trip. Then we enjoyed some lunch outside and some of the best milkshakes during the hottest time of year!

That night we went to Lidwala Lodge to check in for the next 2 nights. Lidwala was a favorite for my friends and I. I highly recommend it for it’s location, proximity to urban charm, friendly staff, cleanliness, and cool pool on a hot day.

My brother and I went out for a couple drinks with friends while my parents went to bed early.

Day 12

Southern Africa 2 week itinerary — Ezulwini, Eswatini

On day 12 of our southern Africa 2 week itinerary we drove to Hlane National Park. This park is a MUST when visiting the Kingdom of Eswatini. This is the only place in Eswatini that you can find the “Big Five” (Lions, leopards, rhinos, African buffalo, and elephants). You can camp at the National Park. But you can also just visit for the day. While there in the afternoon, we grabbed a glass of wine and sat around the watering hole. You can just relax and enjoy watching animals come drink water and lay around.

Fun fact, this is also right near the home of the King of Eswatini. The real name of Hlane is the Hlane Royal National Park.

We went back to the Lidwala for dinner and to rest that night.

Day 13

This was our last full day together in Eswatini. My family had to head back to Joburg for their flight on day 14. This morning we went to visit my extended host family and grandmother in Mbabane. Mbabane is the capital of Eswatini. If you’re visiting, Mbabane is such a fun city. It’s beautiful, tucked in the mountains. The people are friendly. There are numerous delicious restaurants and coffee shops to check out.

Southern Africa 2 week itinerary — Malandela’s, Eswatini

We checked in for our last night at the Malandela’s Guesthouse. Malandela’s complex was one of my favorite places to hang out when I wanted to get away for a while. It’s a short drive from either Mbabane or Manzini. There are numerous gift shops from local artists, a huge field to walk around, a guesthouse to stay the night, and a phenomenal restaurant. This was not always in my budget when living in Eswatini. But we decided to splurge for our last night with my family. I would highly recommend staying here for at least one night on your southern Africa 2 week trip.

We checked into our suite, relaxed for the afternoon and then went for a lengthy, peaceful dinner with delicious food, some of the most amazing homemade bread, and plenty of South African wine. Even if you don’t stay at Malandela’s Guesthouse, I highly recommend coming for dinner at least (Malandela’s Restaurant).

Fun Fact: the Malandela’s property is home to the annual Bushfire Festival. This is an annual music festival where singers, musicians, bands, and artists come from all over Africa and the world to perform. It’s an amazing experience and would recommend attending if you visit in May.

Day 14

Head back to Johannesburg for your flight back home…. this was a sad day

But this southern Africa 2 week itinerary was such a great trip. You could easily adjust this if you don’t want to drive everywhere (which I wouldn’t actually recommend doing for everyone). I hope you find some inspiration in this itinerary. South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini all impressed us and were a crucial part of our 2 week family vacation.

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