9 of the best attractions on the Tale of Three Countries tour
Discover wildlife, National Parks and magnificent World Heritage sites on this trip of a lifetime to Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
By: Chris Parker | 14 June 2019
Guest blogger Chris Parker recently visited Southern Africa on the Tale of Three Countries worldwide tour, a 33-day escorted motorhome tour offered by the Club. Here, Chris details his must-see attractions on the tour.
One of the first stops on the tour is Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Our camp was located just minutes from the park entrance, and was perfectly placed to avoid both the crowds and the hot temperatures. The park normally opens at 6.30am, and if you want to climb the dunes an early start is especially important, as is bringing plenty of water!
When travelling the 250 miles along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to Swakopmund, you can break the journey up with a stop in Solitaire, a remote settlement at the edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. It's been a welcome stopover for more than 60 years and provides a chance to stock up on some food and drink - definitely try the apple crumble they sell, it’s delicious! From Walvis Bay there’s a boat cruise along the coast to look for seals and dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a glass of bubbly and fresh oysters on board, as your guide informs you about the animals and helps you spot them in the water. From Swakopmund you can also take a 4x4 trip past the salt pans into the desert (one of the only deserts in the world that meets the ocean). An expert driver will take you on an amazing drive through the dunes where climbs and drops can be up to 100 metres at 33 degrees!
A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein, where you can view the ancient rock engravings left by ancient tribes, is a must. It’s best to visit as early as possible to avoid the heat as it’s roughly an hour walk in each direction along a dry riverbed and it can be very hot. You'll need good walking shoes as the terrain is rough and a reasonable level of fitness to get there and back! Once there you will be able to see rock art from over 2000 years ago painted by the San Bushmen, so it’s definitely worth the walk!
Himba Village, Namibia
Not many people get to experience an authentic Himba village so I was excited to have the opportunity to visit The Living Museum of the Ju/'Hoansi-San, which gives visitors an insight into the life of the San community. The Living Museum is an authentic open-air museum where guests can learn a lot about the traditional culture and the original way of living of the San. The Ju/'Hoansi Bushmen demonstrate and describe everything with great dedication and a guide will translate into English. If the tribesmen are in camp then it can be a very interactive experience, because you'll get to try your hand at shooting an arrow and rope skipping.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Etosha would have to be high on everyone’s must-do list in Namibia; it’s a Big 4 park with lions, leopards, rhinos and elephants, as well as a host of other wildlife. The one animal it doesn’t have is buffalo but you will get the chance to see them later in the tour. You can explore independently very easily although many of the roads are gravel, but the animal sightings make the bumpy roads worthwhile. We were lucky enough to camp for three nights right in the middle of the park, which is completely fenced so the animals can’t get in! It has a fantastic viewing platform of the waterhole that borders the camp, and here you can safely watch the animals congregate to drink.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe National Park is best known for its large herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, which converge along the Chobe Riverfront in the dry months. Lions, antelopes and hippos inhabit the woods and lagoons around Linyanti Marsh. The floodable grasslands of the Savuti Marsh attract numerous bird species, plus migrating zebras. It’s another Big 4 park with only rhino missing but the sheer number of elephants more than make up for it. Whether you’re on a game drive or game cruise you are sure to see a host of animals and birds including the Lilac Breasted Roller, the national bird of Botswana, and numerous fish eagles.
Victoria Falls, Zambia
We stayed at the David Livingstone Hotel in Zambia, which is around 20 minutes' drive from the Falls themselves, located right on the Zambezi River. There are plenty of opportunities to see the falls - you can see them from the Zambian side or get a day visa and cross to the Zimbabwe side. In the dry season, you can get a boat to Livingstone Island and walk along the top of the falls, plus there's a natural pool you can swim in if you're feeling daring!
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana
Going to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans for me was a dream come true, it’s an area and name that has interested me for years and it didn’t disappoint! In the dry season, the salt glistens in the light and in the rainy season, the area becomes home to flamingos and other water birds. If you get the chance to be there for sunset then take it as it offers one of the most amazing sunsets that I have seen anywhere across the world.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a World Heritage Site and the largest inland delta in the world, created by the Okavango River spilling out over the dry sands of the Kalahari Desert. It's a lush animal habitat when the grassy plains flood, and the Moremi Game Reserve occupies the east and central areas of the region where you can find even more wildlife. You can take a guided trip in a dugout canoe navigating past hippos, elephants and crocodiles, or on dry land you take a game drive and look out for lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos. Crocodile Camp in Maun is one of the nicest camp sites on the tour and is located on the riverbank and has some great facilities including a beautiful pool and a restaurant.
All in all, you definitely need a sense of adventure to be able to enjoy this tour: it will be hot, the roads may not always be the best and some of the campsites may not be what you’ve been used to, but for all of that you will come back with some amazing photos and even better memories.