Departing Mabele, we stopped on a bluff overlooking the Chobe River to watch a large herd of impalas having lunch along the side of the road. The wildlife we saw in the 11,000-square-kilometer Chobe National Park surprised even our guides, who'd shepherded three groups previously along this route. Elephants, giraffes, impalas, and even a lonely jackal came within reach of our caravan as we traveled a 10-mile stretch before sundown.
It was almost time to depart for the airport in Livingstone for the hour-long flight back to Johannesburg, but our hosts had a surprise for us--a 30-minute helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. From 2000 feet above the falls and flying through the gorge, we felt the same sense of wonder that English explorer David Livingstone must have felt when he stumbled across what we now call one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Doing It Yourself
by Richard Truesdell
To find out more about an African safari, go2africa.com is a good place to start. Click on the African Safari Planner link from the homepage, and you'll be presented with a wealth of choices.
For the lowest airfares to Johannesburg, the main international gateway into the region, look at the three big U.S.-based travel sites, Travelocity, Expedia, and our personal favorite, Orbitz. Be sure to investigate air and land packages on all three sites; sometimes they're almost as inexpensive as the airfare alone.
If you want to rent a Jeep or other four-wheel-drive vehicle while in Southern Africa, your best bet will be to call Hertz, Avis, or Budget directly, all of which have affiliates in Johannesburg. Expect to pay at least $500 per week for a basic 4WD-equipped vehicle with air-conditioning. Be sure to check with the rental agency for any off-road use restrictions that might be in place.