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Africa by Private Jet

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286
19 Days
Availability : Dec 27, 2018 / Aug 26, 2019
Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal
National Geographic Expeditions

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Discover the ancient canyons of the Namib Desert, the lush floodplains of the Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and Madagascar’s pristine forests.
  • Encounter iconic wildlife, from mountain gorillas and lemurs to elephants, zebras, cheetahs, and lions.
  • In South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind, enjoy rare private access to the Rising Star fossil site where Homo naledi was unearthed by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger in one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in recent history.
  • Explore the Cape of Good Hope by helicopter and journey into the Cape Winelands to sample award-winning vintages.

 

EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A world-class team of experts will accompany this expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life. The experts featured below will be part of the expedition team on the date noted.

Steve Boyes
Conservationist, Biologist
Luke Dollar
Biologist, Conservationist

 

ITINERARY

Discover the wonders of Africa with top National Geographic experts, visiting six countries and taking in a wide spectrum of wildlife, landscapes, and cultures. Encounter an array of legendary creatures in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and get acquainted with Madagascar’s quirky lemurs. In South Africa, pay a poignant visit to Robben Island and venture to the Cradle of Humankind to examine renowned fossil sites. Search for Namibia’s desert-adapted species, glide in a canoe through Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and trek into Rwanda’s forests to search for endangered mountain gorillas.

 
DAY 1: LISBON, PORTUGAL

Meet experts, staff, and fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at our hotel.

Meals Included:Dinner
 
Accommodations:Pestana Pousadas Lisboa
 
DAYS 2-4: THE SERENGETI PLAIN OR NGORONGORO CRATER, TANZANIA

Fly by private jet to Kilimanjaro International Airport for dinner and an overnight in Arusha. The next morning, transfer to a smaller aircraft for the flight to Serengeti National Park. In the local Maasai language, Serengeti means “extended place,” an appropriate name for this vast wildlife sanctuary, which is one of the most complex and pristine ecosystems on Earth. Head deep into the savanna on game drives to witness Africa’s greatest concentration of wildebeests and zebras, as well as lions, cheetahs, and leopards.

Alternative: Instead of exploring the Serengeti, descend into the Ngorongoro Crater to observe the permanent population of about 25,000 animals in one of the largest unbroken calderas in the world. Along with herds of wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras, we may also see some or all of the “big five” (rhinoceroses, lions, leopards, elephants, and Cape buffalo). Spend your nights here at a well-appointed lodge perched on the crater’s rim, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection.
AccommodationsNgorongoro Crater Lodge

Please note: During our stay, travelers will have the opportunity to meet either Meave or Louise Leakey, both National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence whose family of renowned anthropologists has discovered many important fossils in the area.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Arusha Coffee Lodge and Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
 
DAYS 5-7: THE UNIQUE WILDLIFE OF MADAGASCAR

Thanks to its natural isolation from the African mainland, Madagascar has developed an astonishing wealth of biodiversity. More than 80 percent of the species here are endemic, including the island’s celebrated lemurs. After an evening in the colorful, multiethnic capital of Antananarivo, choose from the following excursions to Madagascar’s pristine nature reserves.
Accommodations: Relais des Plateaux, Antananarivo

Spend two days in the Andasibe−Mantadia National Park, a dense rain forest that is home to the largest species of lemur, the endangered indri, whose calls resonate in the canopy overhead. During morning and nighttime walks, discover even more life among the thick undergrowth, as the forest holds more than 50 species of reptiles, more than 100 types of birds, and a wide variety of wild orchids.
Accommodations: Vakona Forest Lodge or Andasibe Hotel 

Or take a local flight to the unspoiled Anjajavy Peninsula. More than 1,800 floral species are found in the nature reserve that surrounds our hotel. Observe the comical antics of the Coquerel’s sifaka lemur, which moves with a jaunty two-legged gait. Choose from a variety of water activities, from sailing to snorkeling the gorgeous reefs. In the evening, catch a crimson-soaked sunset from your beach villa.
Accommodations: Anjajavy L’Hotel 

Alternatively, visit Isalo National Park—a spectacular sandstone landscape of canyons, waterfalls, and natural pools. Boasting beautiful baobob trees and some 80 bird species, Isalo is one of the island’s treasures.
Accommodations: Isalo Rock Lodge

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
 
DAYS 8-10: CAPE TOWN, THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE AND THE CAPE WINELANDS, SOUTH AFRICA

Cape Town, South Africa’s most beautiful city, boasts a vibrant mix of African, French, Dutch, and East Asian cultures. Explore the city’s beloved landmark, Table Mountain, which soars more than two-thirds of a mile above sea level and can be seen by sailors more than 40 miles out to sea. Weather permitting, ride a cable car to the top, and hike along wooden walkways to encounter the mountain ablaze with endemic flowers and plants.

Set out on an excursion by helicopter to the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans churn together. Examine the rare flora and fauna of this vast nature reserve, including the exotic sugar bushes (proteas), a keystone species of the region.

The next day, ride a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Explore this UNESCO World Heritage site, now a museum whose guides are former political prisoners. After returning from the island, visit Cape Town’s District Six Museum, dedicated to a vibrant and diverse community that was forcibly removed during the era of apartheid. If you wish, browse the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a working port lined with boutiques and galleries that offer handmade crafts from a variety of African cultures. Or you may choose to journey into the famed Cape Winelands to explore Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in the country, or the charming village of Franschhoek. Visit a local wine estate, meeting with the winemakers, sampling award-winning vintages, and enjoying a fine lunch. You may also visit the area’s art galleries.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:One&Only, Cape Town
 
DAY 11: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA AND THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND

Continue by private jet to Johannesburg, where we’ll set out to explore the Rising Star site, excavated by renowned paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger. As a research professor in the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of Witwatersrand, Lee has made what has been hailed as the most important archaeological discoveries in recent history—two new species of human ancestors.

Travel by road to the Rising Star cave, where Lee’s team has recently unearthed more than 1,550 fossil elements representing the single largest hominin fossil find yet made on the continent of Africa. The historic discovery of Homo naledi, as this new species of human ancestor has been named, was reported in the October 2015 National Geographic magazine cover story.

Late this afternoon, board our private jet for the flight to Namibia.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 
DAY 12: SWAKOPMUND, WALVIS BAY, AND THE NAMIB DESERT, NAMIBIA

Wedged between the Kalahari Desert and the southern Atlantic Ocean, Namibia’s spectacular landscapes include swirling desert dunes, deep-red clay pans, and dramatic seascapes. Upon arrival in Walvis Bay, take a thrilling flight-seeing tour by local aircraft over Namibia’s legendary Skeleton Coast. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of one of the most unforgettable sights on Earth: the meeting of the dunes of the Namib Desert, among the highest in the world, with the roaring Atlantic surf. Shrouded in sea mist, countless shipwrecks and whale bones have washed up on this vast stretch of sand north of Walvis Bay, serving as haunting reminders of a long and perilous maritime history.

Choose from several options. Journey through the ancient canyons of the Moon Valley in the Namib Desert and see the famous Welwitschia mirabilis, a rare and curious plant that is several hundred years old. With luck, we may see animals that gather along the linear oases of desert riverbeds that crisscross the Namib. Or, travel in 4x4s through the stark landscape to search for the fascinating creatures that live here—fish moths, white lady spiders, web-footed geckos, sanddiving lizards, sidewinders, and more. Cruise the avian paradise of the Walvis Bay lagoon to see flamingos, penguins, and pelicans. Look to the water as well for bottlenose and Heaviside’s dolphins and Cape fur seals, which are known to cavort around boats.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Strand Hotel Swakopmund
 
DAYS 13-14: THE OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA

One of the world’s largest inland delta systems, the Okavango Delta is a breathtaking wetland oasis in the midst of a sunbaked, arid landscape. Because of its annual flooding schedule, the delta’s dynamic ecosystem transforms with the seasons—and its wildlife population shifts with the ever changing landscape. Venture into the delta’s floodplains and marshlands, which attract a staggering array of species including elephants, giraffes, leopards, and buffalo. Bird enthusiasts can delight in the more than 400 species found here, from African sacred ibis to common ostriches and African fish eagles.

Our adventure here begins with a brief charter flight to our camp, where we’ll take in panoramic vistas at a classic sundowner. During our stay here, choose to explore by open safari vehicle or by traditional mokoro canoe (water level dependent), coming face-to-face with the magnificent creatures that call this area home. Rise early and set out on a morning game drive or water safari to spot elephants, wildebeests, cheetahs, hyenas, and endangered wild dogs, as well as all manner of birdlife flying through the skies overhead. Keep an eye out for lions belonging to the area’s three prides, remarkable for their unique daytime hunting tendencies and their ability to swim in the delta waterways. After the sun goes down, head back into the wilderness on a nighttime safari to discover the nocturnal creatures of the floodplains, including elusive leopards.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Duba Plains Camp, Little Mombo Camp, Mombo Camp, Vumbura Plains Camp, or Zarafa Camp
 
DAYS 15-17: RWANDA: KIGALI AND VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Our private jet takes us to Rwanda, a land of rolling green hills; majestic volcanoes; and lush, grassy lowlands. The bamboo forests of the Virunga volcanic mountain range are home to roughly half of the approximately 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild. Upon arrival in the capital of Kigali, travel overland to Volcanoes National Park, where the late Dian Fossey famously studied these majestic animals with support from National Geographic.

Embark on an unforgettable trek in Volcanoes National Park with local guides in search of endangered mountain gorillas. These highly social creatures can be found in communities of more than 20 individuals, each led by an older, dominant male known as a silverback for the silver sheen of its fur. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe gorilla families up close in their natural habitat and witness their unique behaviors. Along the way, learn about the conservation efforts that have brought the species back from the brink of extinction after decades of decline due to war, poaching, and habitat loss, as well as renewed threats that mountain gorillas face today.

Then return to Kigali, where charming boulevards and lively markets set the backdrop for a cosmopolitan scene. Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a meaningful tribute to those who perished in the genocide of 1994. You will have an opportunity to hear survivors’ stories and learn how the country is reconciling its turbulent past with a bright future through unity and peace.

Please note: Because the hikes at Volcanoes National Park are arduous, your doctor’s approval is required. A personal porter will be available to each traveler for assistance.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Amakoro Songa Lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel; Kigali Marriott Hotel
 
DAYS 18-19: LISBON, PORTUGAL/U.S.

Our private jet returns to Lisbon, where we celebrate our journey with a farewell dinner. The next morning, transfer to the airport to connect with your commercial flight home.

Meals Included:Day 18 (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) / Day 19 (Breakfast)
Accommodations:Pestana Pousadas Lisboa
 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate; travelers should be in good health; comfortable climbing stairs and walking or standing for extended periods; and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to historic or cultural sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking. A signed medical form from your doctor will be required for participation in certain activities, such as gorilla tracking in Rwanda. Alternative destinations or activities can be arranged if necessary. Any physical condition requiring special attention, diet, or treatment should be reported when booking so accommodations can be made.

 

Accommodations
We stay in world-class or best available hotels throughout the expedition.

 

Expedition Team
An engaging team of experts will accompany each expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life. 

 

 

ABOUT THE JET

This marks our first expedition aboard our smaller capacity Boeing 757 jet, which features a newly refurbished, spacious interior with 49 fully-reclining flatbed seats. As we are whisked in exceptional comfort from one destination to the next, we’ll meet with National Geographic grantees in the field and stay in world-class accommodations that reflect the beauty and authentic character of each destination—from a stunning safari camp overlooking the Okavango floodplains to a Maasai-inspired lodged perched on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.

ACCOMMODATIONS

On this expedition, we will stay in some of the world’s finest accommodations. Each one has been chosen for its fine amenities and prime location. In remote areas where choices are limited, we have selected the very best available accommodation to ensure your comfort. Below are several of the accommodations featured on this expedition.

Four Seasons Serengeti – Serengeti

Deep within one of the finest game reserves in Africa, the lodge offers guests a luxurious respite after a day of African adventures. From here you can experience thrilling Serengeti game drives and rare opportunities to connect with local Maasai people and culture. Enjoy its secluded guest rooms in traditional African decor, an elegant spa, and infinity pool overlooking an elephant watering hole.

One&Only – Cape Town, South Africa

Located on the vibrant Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the resort offers unparalleled views of iconic Table Mountain from every room and suite. The luxuriously appointed guest rooms feature warm furnishings evoking the African savannah, while oversize bathrooms offer rain showers and dual vanities. Taste South Africa’s finest vintages in the Wine Loft and sample the city’s best cuisine at the hotel’s restaurants before relaxing in the expansive spa, an oasis of serenity on a private island.

Vumbura Plains – Botswana

Vumbura Plains is a luxury camp situated in a private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in the extreme north of the Okavango Delta. The camp overlooks a vast floodplain. Rooms are built on platforms under shady trees and linked by raised boardwalks. Each room has a large comfortable bedroom; a lounge; a sala, or private terrace; en suite facilities with indoor and outdoor showers; and a private plunge pool. The main dining, lounge, and pub areas are also raised off the ground and tucked beneath a canopy of indigenous trees, offering a vista across the floodplain.

Duba Plains – Camp

Duba Plains is a remote camp located in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It is located in the 30,000 hectare Kwedi Reserve, in the extreme northern region of the Delta. The camp is situated on an island, surrounded by expansive seasonally flooded plains and shaded by tall ebony, fig, and garcinia trees. The camp is small and intimate, with accommodation in six tented rooms. Each of the tents has an en-suite bathroom and a veranda overlooking the floodplain. The dining room and bar area is raised on decks, and there is a pool with a view. The camp offers a variety of activities, ranging from mokoro and boating excursions to game drives in open 4 x 4 vehicles and walking safaris.

Four Seasons Serengeti – Serengeti

Deep within one of the finest game reserves in Africa, the lodge offers guests a luxurious respite after a day of African adventures. From here you can experience thrilling Serengeti game drives and rare opportunities to connect with local Maasai people and culture. Enjoy its secluded guest rooms in traditional African decor, an elegant spa, and infinity pool overlooking an elephant watering hole.

One&Only – Cape Town, South Africa

Located on the vibrant Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the resort offers unparalleled views of iconic Table Mountain from every room and suite. The luxuriously appointed guest rooms feature warm furnishings evoking the African savannah, while oversize bathrooms offer rain showers and dual vanities. Taste South Africa’s finest vintages in the Wine Loft and sample the city’s best cuisine at the hotel’s restaurants before relaxing in the expansive spa, an oasis of serenity on a private island.

 

Vumbura Plains – Botswana

Vumbura Plains is a luxury camp situated in a private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in the extreme north of the Okavango Delta. The camp overlooks a vast floodplain. Rooms are built on platforms under shady trees and linked by raised boardwalks. Each room has a large comfortable bedroom; a lounge; a sala, or private terrace; en suite facilities with indoor and outdoor showers; and a private plunge pool. The main dining, lounge, and pub areas are also raised off the ground and tucked beneath a canopy of indigenous trees, offering a vista across the floodplain.

 

Duba Plains is a remote camp located in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It is located in the 30,000 hectare Kwedi Reserve, in the extreme northern region of the Delta. The camp is situated on an island, surrounded by expansive seasonally flooded plains and shaded by tall ebony, fig, and garcinia trees. The camp is small and intimate, with accommodation in six tented rooms. Each of the tents has an en-suite bathroom and a veranda overlooking the floodplain. The dining room and bar area is raised on decks, and there is a pool with a view. The camp offers a variety of activities, ranging from mokoro and boating excursions to game drives in open 4 x 4 vehicles and walking safaris.

Via Travel & Cruising
Via Travel & Cruising
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