Here’s the kind of adventure about which many people dream but few experience. Venture Out is pleased once again to offer this very popular gay group tour for the sixth time. It blends a splendid sampling of African culture, incredible wildlife, other outdoor activities, great food and wine, and gorgeous scenery — beginning in Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. We will cover a vast, majestic land, and this is sure to be the trip of a lifetime! Cape Town is certainly one of the world’s most scenic cities. We will visit the environs of the city: the lovely Winelands area that produces most of South Africa’s excellent vintages and home to some acclaimed restaurants, as well as the fantastically scenic Cape Peninsula down to the Cape of Good Hope at the "bottom of Africa".
Our wildlife gay safari experience will take place in and near the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. A vast area of plains, interrupted by rocky outcrops, the 300-square-mile reserve hosts packs of the endangered wild dog. In addition there are healthy predator populations — lion, cheetah, and leopard. Black and white rhino and a wide range of antelope are numerous. Birdlife is outstanding as well, with numerous species of the nearby Kalahari Desert. Our intimate-in-size luxury safari lodge, with welcoming service and exceptional cuisine, is situated on private ground and hidden in lush riverside forest.
The country of Botswana, our next stop, is exceedingly rich in wildlife, and its vast expanses of nature are filled with a wide variety of fauna and flora to see and experience. In fact, some safari aficionados consider Botswana to be Africa’s best country for this type of experience owing to its policy of keeping the number of visitors on the low side. We experience one of the world’s great natural phenomena, the tranquil Okavango Delta, a 6,000-square-mile inland flood plain (larger than Connecticut) that fans out in the northwestern corner of the country, creating a paradise of palms, papyrus, crystal-clear channels, and backwaters. Set in a massive sea of Kalahari Desert sand, this fragile wonderland of waterways, islands, and forests is an oasis for wildlife, drawn to its life-giving waters from the surrounding thirsty lands. The evening air is filled with the sounds of birdcall, frogs, and antelope rustling in the reeds. Wildebeest, buffalo, and zebra roam the islands; elephants wade across channels under the watch of hippopotamus and crocodiles; and predators like lion and leopard rule the night. You will never forget our small-scale luxury safari “camp” here with its beautiful accommodation, very warm staff, and delicious cuisine.
Straddling the border between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is justifiably called one of the Wonders of the Natural World, and spans a little more than a mile, making it the widest show of its kind on earth. The sight of more than 2 million gallons of water per second from the Zambezi River crashing 350 feet down (twice the height of Niagara) is one not easily forgotten. On a clear day, the veil of the roaring spray can be seen from up to 20 miles away, and the rain forest that clings to the cliffs opposite the falls in the Victoria Falls National Park is nourished by this constant spray. It is this phenomenon that gave the falls its local name: Mosi-Oa-Tunya — literally, “the smoke that thunders. Our new luxury lodge on the Zambezi River is located just a short distance upstream from the falls.
The following represents our intended itinerary for this 12-day tour through
Southern Africa and is being published more than a year in advance. We reserve the right to
modify some of the details of this program should new opportunities arise.
Day 1 - Friday, August 30, 2019
Your air arrangements will take you into Cape Town where you’ll be met and transferred privately to our group hotel in the center of this beautiful and fascinating city. We’ll come together later on for a drink at happy hour (also known as “sundowners” in this part of the world)
and an orientation meeting to hear about what’s in store for this amazing journey through
Southern Africa. Our welcome dinner in Cape Town will follow.
The town where modern South Africa was born is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a
marvelous meeting of mountain and ocean (two of them, in fact) — and it’s also a gay-friendly
metropolis. Table Mountain, at 3400 feet, looms over the city and is one of the most spectacular
urban geographic features in the world, an incredible environment for hundreds of species of
endemic flora. According to some sources, Table Mountain is the oldest mountain in the world.
Please Note: You might want to consider arriving in Cape Town a day or two
early if you have the time. We will not be touring the city itself on our itinerary so you
may wish to do this on your own. Options include a ride to the top of Table Mountain
(depending on the weather); an excursion to Robben Island, the highlight of which is the
prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated; exploring the Victoria & Alfred
Waterfront with all its shops and restaurants; museums; or simply allowing some time to
shake off jet lag before the tour begins. We can arrange extra nights at our group hotel.
Meals: Welcome Drink, Welcome Dinner
Hotel: TBA, Cape Town
Day 2 - Saturday, August 31, 2019
Today we’ll explore the beautiful Cape Peninsula
with a guide who loves the region, knows the
history, and won’t get us lost! This day trip follows
the scenic drive around the peninsula, stopping at the
major attractions and for a spot of tasty lunch along
the way. The Cape of Good Hope is largely
considered the bottom of Africa even if technically
it’s not the southernmost point on the continent.
The Atlantic side of the Cape Peninsula has some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the
world, a great combination of beaches and mountains. The Chapman’s Peak Drive is a gorgeous scenic route (subject to occasional closures) that winds its way along the coast with
fynbos-covered mountains on one side and the azure Atlantic Ocean crashing into the other.
Down at the dramatic Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point Nature Reserve, where the Atlantic
and Indian oceans meet, there are numerous walks, and one can witness a great cross-section of
flora and fauna. Watch out, too, for the cheeky baboons. The homeward-bound side of the
peninsula goes via Boulders Beach and its fascinating penguin colony. We stop for lunch at a
local restaurant nearby.
Our route then winds through the gracious Constantia Valley and makes a final call at the world-renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We are lured by the incomparable site of
the Gardens, right at the foot of the final steep escarpment on Table Mountain’s eastern side. The
gardens themselves are considered among the most beautiful in the world, exhibiting about 9,000
of South Africa’s 22,000 plant species.
We finish back in Cape Town in time for you to enjoy a “sundowner” and toast a rather
marvelous day out. Dinner is on your own this evening, and Cape Town has no shortage of
interesting (and excellent!) restaurants. And perhaps you’d like to sample some of the gay
nightlife as well.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hotel: TBA, Cape Town
Day 3 - Sunday, September 1, 2019
Today will bring us out for a tour of South
Africa’s famed wine country. Less than an hour inland from Cape Town is one of the most
beautiful and prolific wine producing regions in
the world. The Cape has become synonymous
with the art of wine making. It was Jan van
Riebeeck, the founder of the Cape of Good Hope
in 1652, and the other early Dutch settlers who
transplanted the first grape vines in their adopted
country. The French Huguenots, who arrived from
1688 onwards and settled mainly in the Franschhoek Valley, contributed their sophisticated
skills by refining the production of wine, and before long high-quality wines were being
produced at the Cape. Even Napoleon Bonaparte, while languishing in a prison cell in St.
Helena, was reported “to be longing for the sweet wines of Constantia,” as these wines had been
extremely well received in the French Court.
The picturesque The area around the town of Stellenbosch is the oldest wine route, and lies in the heart of the
Winelands. More than 400 Stellenbosch wines can be tasted along the well-marked route of Cape
Dutch homesteads, although we won’t get to all four hundred. We’ll have a brief visit of this
historic and quaint university town. Stellenbosch is the second-oldest European-settled town in
South Africa, one of the best preserved, and hence very picturesque. The town is full of
architectural and historic gems, is shaded by enormous oak trees, and dwarfed by 5,000-foot
Near the town of Franschhoek (Afrikaans for
“French Corner”), we visit one of the area's nicer
wineries to see what they have on offer. Our
excellent lunch will be in the very charming small
town of Franschhoek, which enjoys a cultivated
Provençal character, culinary excellence, and
perhaps the most perfect setting in the Winelands.
After our return to Cape Town, you’re free to
follow your own interests for dinner and the
remainder of the evening.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hotel: TBA, Cape Town
Day 4 - Monday, September 2, 2019
This morning we'll board our 2-hour flight for Johannesburg, where we then transfer to a short
flight (40 minutes) on a small charter plane to reach the airstrip of Madikwe Game Reserve.
From here our guides will meet us and transfer us in the safari vehicles to our beautiful lodge
located adjacent to the reserve on its own private land.
We’ll settle into our lovely suites (see the Accommodations section for a description of this
wonderful spot) and relax before meeting in the late afternoon for our first game drive – very
exciting! After sunset we make our way back to the lodge where drinks and a delicious dinner
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel: Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve
Days 5 & 6 - Tuesday, September 3, 2019; Wednesday, September 4, 2019
One of South Africa’s premier game-viewing
destinations Madikwe is home to the “Big Five” (lion,
leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo) as well as the
rare African Wild Dog, plus cheetah, giraffe, hyena,
and a host of other game species. From rocky peaks to
open grasslands to verdant valleys, each area, with its
own distinctive inhabitants, provides visitors with an
unforgettable safari experience. If you like birds this is
a bird-lover’s paradise with over 360 bird species found in the Reserve.
Our days will consist of very early-morning and late-afternoon game drives as this is when
animals are most active. The middle of the day is set aside for relaxation time in your suite
where you can enjoy nice views of the surrounding bush from the sundeck, or perhaps take a dip
in the pool or have a spa treatment.
The 300-square-mile Madikwe Game Reserve is also a malaria free zone.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel: Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve
Days 7, 8 & 9 - Thursday, September 5, 2019 - Saturday, September 7, 2019
On Day 7 we fly back to Johannesburg to catch another
flight for Maun, Botswana — the gateway point for
safaris into the amazing Okavango Delta and the
Moremi Game Reserve. Upon our arrival in Maun
we’ll clear Botswana immigration and be escorted to our
light safari aircraft for the brief charter flight (20
minutes) into the Reserve where our guides will be
waiting to transfer us to our luxury “camp” in the bush
and our base for the next three nights.
The Delta, in the midst of the Kalahari sands, is Africa's
largest and most beautiful oasis. Here the thirstland of
the south meets a blue-green wilderness of fresh water, with emerald reedbeds and towering
trees. Located in northern Botswana, the Okavango River is a unique natural phenomenon -
flowing more than 600 miles from its source in Angola, this river disappears beneath the sands of
Botswana, creating a lush inland delta in the midst of this otherwise arid country. The Okavango
Delta is in a constant state of flux, expanding and contracting according to the season. While
some parts of the Delta remain permanently flooded, others are only deluged part of the year.
Our camp is situated on a 260,000-acre private
concession, thus affording us absolute exclusivity. The
area is home to a wide variety of big game including
elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, lion, leopard, cheetah,
and wild dog. Game viewing in the area is extremely
good with excellent numbers of predators and plains
game. The area houses one of the largest buffalo
populations in the Okavango Delta.
A completely unique feature at our camp is an
educational experience with a group of semi-habituated
African elephants. We can spend time walking with the elephants and observing them up right up
close in their natural environment. (There is an additional cost for this activity, and it needs to be
The Okavango is also a wonderful haven for birding enthusiasts. One of its most sought after
species is the huge but elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl, which roosts in the densest evergreen thickets.
A quintessential African sound, the haunting call of the fish eagle can be heard echoing over the
Due to the fact that the camp is in a private concession, we also have the exclusive option of
walking safaris with an armed professional guide.
Depending on the flood levels around the camp when we’re there we may also have a chance
to do some exploring in mokoros – which are the traditional canoes of the region that are dug
out from trees. (Most mokoros these days are fiberglass in order to save the trees.) This is a
serene, slow-moving experience – unique to the Delta. Sitting inches from the waterline,
thoughts of hippos overturning the craft may cross your mind but soon pass with assurances
from the guide who stands in the back and poles the mokoro through the reeds and the
tranquil, crystal-clear channels. It’s a wonderful way to appreciate the peacefulness of the
pristine environment. Again, please note that this activity will depend on water levels, which
have to be not too high and not too low.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner on Day 7
Breakfast, Luch, Dinner on Days 8 and 9
Hotel: Sanctuary Stanley's Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Days 10 & 11 - Sunday, September 8, 2019 & Monday, September 9, 2019
The final leg of our adventure will have us
boarding our last bush flight, taking us out of the
Delta and up to the town of Kasane, Botswana.
From here we’ll be met and transferred by road to
the Victoria Falls area. On the way we have a
(hopefully) brief stop at a border crossing where
we clear the immigration formalities to exit
Botswana and enter Zimbabwe. We should arrive at our final lodge of the trip – a stunning new
place on the banks of the Zambezi River -- in time for a delicious lunch. The massive spray from
Victoria Falls is visible downstream from us at the lodge.
This afternoon we can relax at this tranquil spot. You may wish to use your private plunge pool
or simply enjoy lounging on your deck gazing out at the river. Then later in the afternoon we’ll
head out for a sunset cruise down (and back up) the Zambezi – a delightful excursion during
which we can see animals that come to the riverbank to drink. We’re inside the Zambezi
National Park, and we could see elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of birdlife. Snacks
and sundowners aboard!
Dinner will be at the lodge.
On our last day we’ll head to the falls themselves – just a
few miles downstream from us. The mighty Zambezi
River – the continent’s fourth longest river and over a
mile wide at this point -- tumbles over the edge of cliffs,
dropping 300 feet and creating the stunning Victoria
Falls! The sight and sound are spectacular, a true wonder
of the natural world. It is called “Mosi-oa-Tunya,"
meaning “the smoke that thunders,” which describes the
spray and the roar as the river drops into the narrow gorge
below. The river and the falls form the border between
Zimbabwe and Zambia. The falls have fascinated
travelers since 1855 when David Livingstone was the first European explorer to see them.
Sighting them from his dugout canoe in November 1855, Livingstone could hardly believe his
eyes at such a spectacle. He named the falls for the British queen. Victoria Falls has been
declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
As this is the last day of the trip you might want to do
some shopping at the crafts market in town (now that we
no longer have the weight restriction of the bush flights!
Lunch is provided at a café near town. Another activity
that some find very enjoyable is a helicopter flight over
the falls – pricey but exhilarating. Or perhaps you’d like
to bungee jump into the gorge from the bridge that spans
the Zambezi connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia. At 300
feet it’s one of the world’s highest commercially
Our farewell dinner at the lodge this evening will no
doubt have us recounting the many adventures of this
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner each day
Hotel: Old Drift Lodge, Victoria Falls
Day 12 - Tuesday, September 10, 2019
This morning we transfer to the Victoria Falls airport for your homeward-bound journey during
which you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on your extraordinary experiences in Africa.
• Excellent wildlife viewing in some of Africa’s best safari destinations — South Africa and Botswana
• Stunning Victoria Falls — the largest show of its kind on earth
• The beautiful city of Cape Town and the gorgeous scenery around the Cape of Good Hope
• The delightful Winelands region outside of Cape Town, including a winery visit
• Superb — and superbly comfortable — accommodations
• Delicious meals and South African wines along the way
• All accommodations for 10 nights in carefully selected:
- 3 nights in Cape Town;
- 3 nights at Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve
- 3 nights at Sanctuary Stanley's Camp in Okavango Delta, Botswana
- 2 nights at Old Drift Lodge in Victoria Falls
• All meals except 2 lunches and 2 dinners
• Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (except for premium brands) at the safari camps and the
Victoria Falls accommodation
• Fully guided wildlife safari activities as described in the itinerary
• Laundry service at the safari accommodations
• Wildlife safari guides in South Africa and Botswana
• Entrance fee to Victoria Falls
• 2 full-day guided tours outside of Cape Town as described in the itinerary, including group
• Tour manager accompanying the group throughout
• Entry fees for parks, reserves, wine tastings, and other excursions and sights mentioned in the
• Private transfer from Cape Town airport to group hotel when you arrive
• Ground transportation in and around Cape Town on Days 2-4; from Kasane, Botswana to the
lodge in Zimbabwe on Day 9; around the Victoria Falls area on Day 10.
• Airport transfer to Victoria Falls airport on Day 11
• International airfare into Cape Town (CPT) and returning from Victoria Falls (VFA)
• Scheduled commercial flights on Days 4 and 7 from Cape Town to Johannesburg and from Johannesburg to Maun (see cost estimate below)
• Four bush flights (see cost estimate below)
• 2 lunches and 2 dinners
• Beverages with group meals in the Cape Town area
• Botswana Tourism Levy (obtainable upon landing in Maun – currently $30, subject to change)
• Visa for Zimbabwe (obtainable at the border crossing for U.S. citizens -- currently $30 in cash, subject to change)
• Tipping to tour guides, safari guides, and hotel/camp staff
• Additional hotel nights pre- or post-tour that may be necessary or desired
• Medical immunizations (if applicable) and malaria prophylaxis for Botswana and Zimbabwe
• Travel insurance (recommended for trip cancellation, emergency medical expenses, evacuation, repatriation, etc.)
• Passport costs
• Expenses of a personal nature
Scheduled commercial flights:
Please allow approximately $400-$500 for the two commercial flights within the program:
Cape Town to Johannesburg; and Johannesburg to Maun. Venture Out will book these flights for you and include the cost in your final invoice.
Small-aircraft charter flights (“bush flights”):
There will be four such flights, and you should allow approximately $1,200 for these.
Venture Out will book these flights for you and include the cost in your final invoice.
Please note: We reserve the right to make changes to
the accommodations indicated in this itinerary. Any substitution of accommodations would be
to the same standard.
Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, 3 nights
Luxurious accommodation, exceptional cuisine, welcoming service, and thrilling game viewing combine to create an unforgettable luxury safari experience. Situated on private ground within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North West Province, the lodge caters for a small number of guests, ensuring personal attention and exclusivity in its luxurious and air-conditioned suites. The reserve is home to the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) plus cheetah, giraffe, hyena, and a host of other game and bird species. Expert guides are at the ready to reveal all of this to you. Additionally, our lodge is is located on 4,000 acres of privately owned ground which is reserved exclusively for the guests.
Designed to have minimal environmental impact — constructed from local stone, wood, and thatch and blending effortlessly with the bush — the lodge allows guests to continuously experience the natural beauty of the surroundings. Hidden in riverside forest, the suites, each with glass-walled bedrooms, overlook the Limpopo River, offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding bush. The suites also have private sundecks and spacious bathrooms (with roll-top bathtubs as well as indoor and outdoor showers) that can be opened to the forest. On the property are an infinity-edge swimming pool, gym, health and beauty treatment center, and lookout point with magnificent views. Further, our lodge prides itself on the exceptional quality of its food and wines, adding another memorable dimension to your stay.
Sanctuary Stanley's Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana, 3 nights
Our camp in the renowned Okavango Delta is a classic African tented camp with just a handful of luxury canvas tents, all remodeled in 2018 as we publish this itinerary and crafted with five-star fixtures as well as sustainability in mind. The traditional camp is built on a 260,000-acre private concession and has a large lounge area and dining area with lovely views over the floodplains. The main area features a new outdoor bar with the best possible views of the floodplains, a small library area, and curio shop. From the swimming pool — a real treat after a hot day of game viewing — guests can watch giraffe and other plains game march across the savannah and sometimes catch a glimpse of rare wild dogs. Each tent has a deck with views over the floodplains, allowing prime game viewing from your tent with a freshly made cup of tea or coffee to hand.
The camp is also home to a unique elephant interaction project where you can walk with rescued orphaned elephants — an uplifting experience that will remain with you long after you’ve left.
The Okavango Delta is flooded for part of the year and when it is, guests can experience serene silence at the gentle pace of a poled mokoro excursion along the narrow channels. These are 2-person canoes with a poler on the back who steers you through the channels. This activity is water-level dependent.
Sightings of four of the “Big Five” (no rhino in this area) are common here on the Okavango Delta where the wildlife and game viewing is staggeringly special. Shared only with its (even smaller) sister camp this vast patch of the delta in northern Botswana is so private that only the camps’ vehicles tour these precious, pristine grassy plains. This ensures a more exclusive safari experience and allows a deeper connection with the wild.
Old Drift Lodge, Victoria Falls, 2 nights
Our last accommodation is a private luxury lodge within the Zambezi National Park right on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River that is scheduled to open in the first half of 2018. From the lodge the massive spray of Victoria Falls is visible in the distance about four miles downstream. Each spacious canvas suite has been tastefully decorated with stylish furnishings and fittings and comes with a king size bed, comfortable lounge, complimentary minibar, air conditioning, ceiling fan, mosquito nets, indoor/outdoor showers, twin basins, outdoor bath tub with a view, robes and slippers, private plunge pool, wifi, and a private viewing deck where you can sit and take in the river scenery and whatever might be happening at the moment.
The only thing that really resembles a tent is the canvas on the outside. The main lodge has an open-plan lounge and dining area and is positioned just back from the river in view of wildlife that often passes in front (possibly elephant and hippo, for example). There’s also a watering hole on the other side of the lodge where animals congregate when they’re thirsty. The cuisine here is top-notch with a choice wine list. Taking advantage of its position on the Zambezi River the lodge includes a cruise on their own small boats as part of the available activities.
Please ensure that your flight arrives in Cape
Town no later than 3:30pm on August 30, 2019. You
will need some time to get to the hotel and freshen up
before meeting for the Welcome Drink and orientation.
A private transfer from the Cape Town airport to the
group hotel is included in the tour cost.
If you would like to arrive a day or two early (recommended), please let us know as soon as
possible so that we can block the space at our group accommodations. You can, of course, stay
elsewhere if you prefer. If you have the time, it’s not a bad idea to plan to arrive early. As
mentioned earlier there are things to do in Cape Town, plus it’s good to have a cushion just in
case something goes awry on your way over, your luggage goes missing, etc.
Our tour officially ends when we are dropped off at the Victoria Falls airport. The air
arrangements for your return flights should originate out of Victoria Falls (airport code VFA).
Flights from here (on South African Airways or British Airways) go to Johannesburg, from
where you will continue your journey. These flights usually depart from Victoria Falls between
1:30pm and 2:00pm. Cost-wise, it might work out for you to include this flight in your overall
international reservation, or it might work out less costly to buy a separate ticket just for this
We have four light-aircraft charter flights ("bush
planes") on this itinerary with very strict weight
limitations on baggage. Each passenger’s total baggage
must not exceed 44 pounds (20 kg), including hand
luggage and accessories such as cameras and
binoculars. Forty-four pounds of luggage is more than
most people think. The safari camps (a total of 6 nights)
include laundry service so you can pack less clothing
than you might otherwise. (Bush flights in East Africa, by the way, have a limit of 33 pounds, so
44 is considered good.) We will need to know your personal weight for this trip as the charter
companies reserve the right to levy a surcharge for heavier-weight passengers.
Luggage must be soft-sided, like duffel bags. No hard suitcases will be loaded on the bush planes.
Our trip occurs during Cape Town’s late winter / early spring where the average high
temperature during the day is about 65 F; average overnight low temperature is about 50 F.
Average rainfall is about 2 inches a month at this time of year, so rain is possible.
Safari / Victoria Falls:
This is a good time for safari activities in terms of the weather and wildlife viewing, which is
why it's considered high season. The average daytime high temperature is about 80-90 F (it gets even hotter other times of the year). It cools off quite a bit at night making for comfortable
sleeping with average overnight lows around 50-60. Rain would be unlikely during this period as
it’s the dry season. A sprinkling is possible.