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Highlights of Southern Africa

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Highlights of Southern Africa

Was From $ 16,660 AUD
Now From $ 14,994 AUD
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Description

Never before have the highlights been quite so bright. Experience the best of Southern Africa from the windswept dunes of Namibia to Zimbabwe’s thundering Victoria Falls, with visits to some of the region’s most famous game parks, cities and towns on the way through.Take in the immensity of Fish River Canyon, spot the Big Five at Greater Kruger National Park and sample South Africa’s finest grapes in Stellenbosch, all in the name of adventure.

Trip Name
Highlights of Southern Africa
Last Updated
2019-09-29
Days
33
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Witness the wildlife in Etosha National Park on a full days Game Drive.
  • Rise early and witness the colourful sunrise and a picnic breakfast from the edge of Fish River Canyon, the second largest chasm of its type in the world, before returning to Canyon Lodge, a feature stay on this trip.
  • Step inside Faldela's Purple House in the Bo-Kaap region of Cape Town for an authentic home-cooked dinner. Taste some of the traditional dishes such as 'Bredie', 'Chilli Bites' and 'Koesisters'.
  • Taste South Africa’s acclaimed wine heritage with a special Wine tasting in the Cape Winelands, where ducks form part of the workforce and hand-crafted wines are waiting to be sampled.
  • Experience some of the world’s best whale watching without leaving dry land. Hermanus’ coastal walkways have the perfect spots to sit and watch the whales as they frolic in in the bay.
  • Cruise out on to the emerald waters of the Knysna Lagoon and taste some of the freshest, most delicious local produce on an Oyster Tour
  • Take the ultimate South African wildlife adventure. Explore the South Africa’s biggest reserve, Kruger National Park, in 4x4s with an expert local guide.
  • A afternoon river cruise along the Chobe river get you up close and personal with hippos, crocodiles, elephant and buffalo.
  • The thundering Victoria Falls is one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, a phenomenon of sight and sound. Then witness them from a different angle on a safari cruise on the Zamzbezi River above the falls.

Itinerary

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. ROAD CONDITIONS AND INFRASTRUCTURE IN AFRICA: Roads in Africa are often in very poor condition, which makes it hard on our vehicles. Our vehicles are serviced regularly and are generally in good condition, but breakdowns can and do happen. Sometimes the going on this trip is quite tough, the distances covered fairly large and some of the roads and tracks are not exactly smooth or free from dust, but the rewards are exceptional. The travelling times indicated in our Essential Trip Information is just a rough guide and is dependent on various factors that may be outside our control, such as road conditions, weather and time spent at borders. DRIVE TIMES: The travel times listed in the day to day itinerary are a guide only. Please be aware that delays may occur and please be patient - it's all part of the experience afterall! Additionally, the travel times do not include time spent on game drives as these can vary with each departure. NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA IN PEAK SEASON Namibia and Botswana are becoming increasingly popular tourist destinations. Despite the influx of travellers, bed numbers are not being increased to match the demand. This intentional move is aimed at minimising the environmental impact of tourism and keeping the destinations exclusive. It is therefore becoming more and more difficult for us to confirm our allocation with our usual suppliers, particularly in peak season. We may use alternative accommodation which could affect driving times and distances listed in the Essential Trip Information. However we will always use properties of the same standard and ensure that no included activities will be affected. ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

Day 1 - Windhoek
Your journey begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Those arriving early can take a stroll around the town and visit some of its museums or perhaps take a township tour. Take in the German architecture evident in a number of buildings. The finest are the Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), the Christuskirche (church), the gymnasium and the Genossenschaftshaus.
Day 2 - Etosha National Park
Travel to our lodge located just outside Etosha National Park (400 km; approximately 7–8 hours including stops). On arrival the afternoon will be free to relax at the Lodge. Maybe cool off in the pool, read a book, or enjoy a sundowner by the bar. Be sure to charge your camera's tonight. Tomorrow we will have a full day in the Park. This is one of the world's premier game-viewing destinations; spotting animals in the park is relatively easy due to the man-made waterholes and the large, sparsely vegetated pans. The bushland surrounding the pans is difficult to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to allow for sightings. Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, so there are large herds of elephants, antelope and other herbivores.
Day 3 - Etosha National Park
Rise early and enjoy a full day of game viewing in the truck. Keep a close eye on the landscape for black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. The park is also home to some 340 bird species. Return to the lodge and reflect on the day's adventures with your fellow travellers over dinner.
Day 4 - Damaraland
Enjoy a morning Game Drive in the Park then venture off the beaten track as you head into the heart of Damaraland (220 km; approximately 5 hours). Home to Namibia's highest peak, ancient rock paintings and petrified forests, the harshly beautiful and sparsely populated Damaraland region is a land of spectacular contrasts. Depending on the time of year, you might be lucky enough to see the desert elephants that roam the area.
Day 5 - Damaraland
Spend the morning visiting the surrounding sights such as Twyfelfontein Heritage Site and the Petrified Forest. Twyfelfontein has one of the largest concentrations of ancient rock engraving in southern Africa and is a fascinating insight into the past. The Petrified Forest looks back into nature’s history, where 280 million-year-old fossilised tree trunks lie. Continue on to the Living Museum of the Damara, which aims to reconstruct and preserve the 'lost culture’ of the Damara. Learn about this fascinating traditional culture that is, along with the Bushmen, the oldest nation in Namibia. Their original culture was a mixture of an archaic hunter-gatherer culture and herders of cattle, goats and sheep. Due to their loose social structures, the Damara struggle to defend themselves against colonisation – one of the reasons that the culture faced extinction. Return to the lodge around 2 pm, with the rest of the day free to relax by the pool, with a book or a nap.
Day 6 - Swakopmund
Travel on through the Namib Desert today (330 km; approximately 6 hours with stops) to reach the Atlantic Ocean coastline. Take in the beautiful, diverse and colourful landscapes that stream past along the way; mountains, sand dunes, ocean waves and, shipwrecks. Your destination is the beachside town of Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast. Upon arrival at Swakopmund, you will check into your hotel and have free time to enjoy this interesting township of German-Namibian atmosphere. The accommodation is within walking distance of the town, and you can enjoy a walk on the beach, or visit the open-air markets or local museum.
Day 7 - Swakopmund
With free time today, you may wish to take an optional trip north to Cape Cross, a breeding site for Cape fur seals. There can be in excess of 100,000 seals there at any given time, making for quite the spectacle. Quite a smell too, if the wind happens to change direction. Wander the coastline and attempt to document these beautiful creatures in a photo or two, and visit the large cross that sits nearby, left there by Diego Cao (the first European to arrive on Namibian soil in 1485). There are also a number of optional activities available here (at extra cost) for those who are interested.
Day 8 - Sesriem
Depart your coastal retreat in Swakopmund and head south today towards Sesriem (300 km; approximately 6 hours). Walvis Bay is the hibernation area for thousands of migratory birds, most notably flamingos. If in season you may take quick detour to see these elegant birds. Continue on past moon valley; an eerie rocky granite valley, and the Tropic of Capricorn. Stop by the small settlement of Solitaire before arriving at your lodge. Scattered with abandoned trucks, cars, petrol pumps and cacti, it's the only place between Walvis Bay and Sossusvlei to feature a petrol station, post office, general dealer, and bakery! The local Apple Pie has earned itself quite a reputation too.
Day 9 - Sossusvlei / Sesriem
Make an early-morning visit to Sossusvlei, which lies at the end of an ancient riverbed. This is a great opportunity for unsurpassed views of the surrounding area. Climbing to the top of Dune 45 will reward you with spectacular vistas of the surreal desert landscape. After breakfast, travel to Dead Vlei, a clay pan best known for the iconic postcard like images that many snap here. The pan is surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world, 'Big Daddy' or 'Crazy Dune' average about 350 metres in height. In the afternoon you will visit Sesriem Gorge, a tranquil natural corridor that you can walk through and explore. Return to the lodge for the evening.
Day 10 - Fish River Canyon
Depart Sossusvlei early this morning and travel to Fish River Canyon (600 km; approximately 8-9 hours). Your accommodation for the next two nights is a gem hidden in this rugged environment. It's easy to see why the Canyon Lodge is a feature stay on this trip. A fusion of farmhouse flavour and natural splendour, walkways lead to 25 natural stone chalets nestled amongst granite boulders and perfectly landscaped gardens, making it really feel like an oasis in the middle of nowhere. After checking into the lodge you may like to cool off in the stunning pool, wrap up the day with a short excursion to our very own ‘local’ mountain, or simply have a drink and watch the sun go down.
Day 11 - Fish River Canyon
Rise early and witness the colourful sunrise from the edge of Fish River Canyon. At 500 metres deep and over 160 km long, this gaping chasm is one of the largest canyons in the world, ranking close in size to Peru's Colca Canyon and the Grand Canyon in the USA. You will stop at various lookouts, which offer spectacular views and photographic opportunities. Keep an eye out for some of the birds that inhabit this area, including plovers, wagtails, hammerkops and herons. If you're lucky you might even catch a glimpse of a baboon or antelope. After capturing all the photos you like, make your way to the main viewpoint and sit down to enjoy picnic breakfast with an unforgettable view over the canyon. Return to the lodge and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. There are a number of optional activities that you might like to join: take a guided drive to the Fish River Canyon and be inspired by new perspective; meander along the 4x4 Wildebeest Drive watching plains animals; or celebrate sunset from a hillock, overlooking the spectacular scenery.
Day 12 - Orange River
Farewell Fish River Canyon and head on to Orange River, just a short 2.5-3 hour drive away (approximately 200 km). You should reach your destination on the banks of the river by lunchtime. The Orange River is the longest stream in South Africa, running from high up in the Drakensberg mountain range and down into the Atlantic Ocean. This stream is significant for its role in transporting diamonds, which in turn leaves the deposits that are found along the Namibian coastline. Set off this afternoon on a 10-kilometre canoe journey down the Orange River. The canoe trip will be done in two-person canoes with a local guide. It is a slow paced, easy trip, and you should be travelling simply down stream for most or all of the trip.
Day 13 - Trawal
Leaving Namibia behind, you will cross the border and travel into South Africa (approximately 7 hours). The approximately 450-kilometre drive will be south of the Orange River to a wine farm in Trawal. You will arrive in the late afternoon or early evening (depending on border crossing formalities). Highlanders is a working wine farm nestled among the farmland of the Olifants River area, sitting at the foot of the Cedarberg mountain range. The farm uses water from the oldest irrigation scheme in South Africa and delivers its grapes to Klawer Cellars, a local cooperative wine cellar. Dutch settlers planted the first vineyards in the area in the late 1600s. However, the vineyards only flourished after the canal was built from Clanwilliam Dam during World War II, and have since won prizes both locally and internationally. This evening you’ll enjoy a unique wine tasting, taking in seven of the regions finest wines with your experienced and knowledgeable host ‘Sparky’.
Day 14 - Cape Town
Continue on to the South African capital, Cape Town (300 km; approximately 5 hours). With its stunning coastline, dramatic surrounding mountains and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities and a great place to end the trip. The rest of the day until the evening is at your leisure. The infamous Robben Island (Nelson Mandela’s prison for 18 years), vineyards, the V&A Waterfront, adventure activities and plenty of good restaurants and cafes are all at your doorstep. If time permits, you can take the cable car up to Table Mountain. This evening you’ll enjoy a memorable dinner with the group in the Bo-Kapp region of Cape Town. Known for its brightly coloured houses and situated at the foot of Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap is the spiritual home of the Cape’s Muslim community. Bo-Kaap has a fascinating history. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. The slaves were (often mistakenly) known as “Cape Malays”, and the term has stuck, with Bo-Kaap known today as the Cape Malay Quarter. Get an insight into this history when you step inside the ‘purple house’ of Faldela and her family. Learn how to make samosas, before sitting down to an authentic home-cooked dinner. Taste some of the traditional dishes such as ‘Bredie’, ‘Chilli Bites’ and ‘Koesisters’. Learn about why the houses are painted in bright colours and how the community supports each other from your story-telling host.
Day 15 - Cape Town
Today is a free day to enjoy all that Cape Town has to offer. Perhaps catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, or take a tour across to the fascinating Robben Island. Or if you'd prefer a relaxing day simply wander down to the V&A Waterfront and treat yourself to some of South Africa's finest food and wines.
Day 16 - Cape Town
Today is another free day until the important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If the weather's nice perhaps take the City Sightseeing bus to the Cape Peninsula via Hout Bay.
Day 17 - Stellenbosch
Depart from Cape Town after breakfast and head towards lovely Stellenbosch. Visit Vergenoegd winery, a unique estate where you’ll get to meet the waddling workforce of runner ducks used to assist in the control of the snail and pest population in the vineyards. This is a practice the estate have been refining since 1984, and a big part of why Vergenoegd proudly carries WWF biodiversity certification. You arrive in time for the 9:45 am duck parade, and enjoy a cellar tour and wine tasting. Also stop in at the Lanzarac Winery, the home of the first bottled Pinotage, and enjoy a wine and chocolate pairing. There will be time for lunch in either Vergenoegd or Lanzarac, and the evening is at your leisure once you arrive in Stellenbosch.
Day 18 - Hermanus
Drive to Hermanus, a coastal town famous for southern right whale watching during the winter and spring. You travel there via Bettys Bay, stopping to visit the Penguin Colony at Stoney Point and the Harold Porter Botanical gardens where there is time to have lunch. Upon arrival in the coastal town of Hermanus, around mid afternoon, there will be a chance to visit the Heart of Abalone, a working abalone farm. This is a chance to not only taste this sought-after delicacy but also get a glimpse behind the scenes of the industry. The rest of the evening free for you to relax and unwind.
Day 19 - Hermanus
Enjoy a free day in Hermanus. This town is considered to have the best land-based whale watching in the world. Perhaps enjoy one of the excellent walking trails along the coast. The 12-kilometre Cliff Path is perhaps the most popular of these. The views of Walker Bay and the Mountain Range are breathtaking, and during whale season the cliffs have the perfect spots to sit and watch the whales as they frolic in in the bay (season depending). The famous Whale Crier of Hermanus offers guided cliff path walks during the season. You could also climb aboard a boat to get a closer look at the magnificent sea creatures. Alternatively, tackle hiking trails in Femkloof Nature Reserve, or explore local markets.
Day 20 - Oudtshoorn
Drive to Oudtshoorn, via Mossel Bay. While stopped in Mossel Bay, perhaps visit the lighthouse or dip your feet in the Indian Ocean before a seafood lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy a wine and port tasting at Boplass in Calitzdorp. Arrive in Outdshoon, which is known as the ostrich capital of the world. At the turn of the 20th century it was full of 'feather barons' that grew rich from the popularity of ostrich feathers.
Day 21 - Oudtshoorn
Spend some time with some meerkats today. On a fun 2–3 hour excursion, head to the burrows of these cheeky meerkats, pull up a chair and sip coffee while the sun comes up and the meerkats climb out into the sunshine. Watch these habituated wild animals, which are never fed or handled by humans, go about their daily routine of foraging and frolicking. It's rare to get this close to them in the wild. Return to the Lodge and enjoy breakfast before driving to the Swartberg Mountains, climbing through the switchbacks of the pass of the same name, looking out across the unique folds of the surrounding rocks. Descend into the town of Prince Albert, a contender for South Africa’s most charming town, full of the architecture of the 18th to 20th centuries. Return to the lodge via the Cango Caves, where you learn about their formation and history from a local guide. Browse the weird and wonderful rock formations including ‘Cleopatra's Needle’.
Day 22 - Knysna / Tsitsikamma National Park
On your way to Tsitsikamma, stop in Knysna for an afternoon boat cruise to Knysna Heads, sampling local oysters and wine along the way. Arrive in Tsitsikamma and take in its magnificent raw beauty. Protecting both land and sea, steep ancient forests meet the breakers of the Indian Ocean at this park. It's a spectacular place of deep gorges, tidal pools and empty beaches, perfect for walking and viewing wildlife.
Day 23 - Tsitsikamma National Park
Enjoy a hike in Tsitsikamma National Park today. Your leader guides you on a beautiful walk along the boardwalk through a canopy of forest leading to the famous suspension bridge across the ocean. The narrow channel of sheer cliffs get its name, Storms River Mouth, from when the wind gets up and the water hurtles against the rocks, sending spray flying high into the air. After this you double back towards a waterfall. The return trek is approximately 9 kilometres and should take around half a day. However, there will be scenic options along the boardwalk for a shorter trek without the group if you are concerned about your fitness. Keep an eye out for fauna such as cape clawless otters, dolphins, tortoises, southern right whales (in season), baboons, monkeys and various birds. If the afternoon choose the option of regaining those calories burned with a tasting of the regions finest cheeses.
Day 24 - Kariega Game Reserve
Travel to Kariega Game Reserve, a Big 5 private safari reserve, with elephants, lions and leopards (approximately 6 hours). Upon arrival freshen up in the beautiful lodge before lunch. The experienced game rangers will then drive you out on safari this afternoon/ evening in an open game-drive vehicle, traversing the valleys, grassy plains and African bushveld to bring you close to the Big 5 and other game roaming freely in their natural habitat. The private reserve incorporates 10,000 hectares of pristine African wilderness, as well as two abundant rivers - the Kariega and the Bushmans rivers.
Day 25 - Johannesburg
Enjoy a morning game drive before transferring to Port Elizabeth Airport. Fly unescorted to Johannesburg. Often referred to as ‘The City of Gold’, Johannesburg thrived for many years after gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886. Since then, it has gained more notoriety for its tumultuous past. Though the divide in wealth continues to be apparent and it is important to keep your wits about you in this city, Joburg or Jozi (as the locals call it) is undeniably the beating heart of South Africa. Vibrant and diverse, a sprawl of trendy neighbourhoods boast outstanding museums and restaurants. Perhaps visit the culturally rich areas of Newtown, Braamfontein or Maboneng. The eye-opening Apartheid Museum is also well worth your time. Head back to the the hotel at 6 pm to meet your new leader and travel companions at another welcome meeting.
Day 26 - Greater Kruger National Park
Set off early for a drive to Greater Kruger National Park, arriving just in time for lunch. The afternoon and evening will be spent in a neighbouring game reserve searching for game by spotlight. Keep your eyes peeled from your 4WD vehicle for a glimpse of some of the elusive animals operating after dark, like the African civet. After the game drive, return to your intimate lodge tucked away in the park. It faces a waterhole and has a view of the bush and the Drakensberg Mountains, as well as a swimming pool and an inviting bar.
Day 27 - Greater Kruger National Park
An early start today sees the group heading into the Kruger National Park itself. Your lodge is within the Greater Kruger region, so the drive will take approximately 45 minutes and upon entry, you'll find yourself in the perfect position to catch a glimpse of one, or hopefully all, of the Big Five: lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. Take breakfast at a picnic spot then proceed with a full day of wildlife safari, stopping off at waterholes and various other points to observe these animals in their natural habitat. The group will return to the lodge in the late afternoon and have a free evening to swim, relax and relive their favourite moments from the day.
Day 28 - Greater Kruger National Park
Return to Kruger National Park for another game drive. This is an opportunity to catch a glimpse of any animals the group didn't see the day before. Today's game drive will finish in time for sunset on the deck at your lodge – sparkling wine in hand to complement a locally sourced platter, including biltong.
Day 29 - Johannesburg
Rise early once more for a guided walk through the local bush, during which you'll learn about identifying trees, tracking animals and the local birds. The group will then begin the drive back to Johannesburg. There's a total driving time of 8 hours today, but there's also plenty of time to stop and explore along the way. Peer into the spectacular God's Window Viewpoint and take in the unique geological formations around Bourke's Luck Potholes before arriving in Johannesburg.
Day 30 - Chobe National Park
Fly from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls then follow the Zambezi across the Botswana border. The trip to Chobe National Park should take approximately 2–3 hours (100 km) not including border formalities, arriving at the lodge in time for a late lunch. Afterwards, take a cruise along the Chobe River looking for saddle-billed storks, malachite kingfishers, fish eagles and bee-eaters, as well as hippos, crocodiles and elephants. You'll be joined on this cruise by other travellers and there's a small bar onboard, so you can enjoy a drink as the sun sets over the river.
Day 31 - Chobe National Park
Take a game drive through Chobe National Park, the first designated national park in Botswana. Chobe is known for its huge population of elephants and buffalo and you may well see them drinking at the local watering hole during the drive. Head back to the lodge then enjoy a free afternoon during which you may like to take another optional river cruise, walk through Kasane town dodging local warthogs, or take it easy at the pool near the river's edge for a seriously special sunset.
Day 32 - Victoria Falls
Head out on an optional game drive in Chobe National Park or alternatively take a leisurely breakfast at the lodge. In the afternoon, visit the unforgettable Victoria Falls – one of the world's true natural wonders, forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world when in full flow. Your expert guide will take you on a tour through the area and explain the history of the falls and their surroundings. Then head above the falls onto the Zambezi River for a 2-hour river cruise. The specially designed jet-propelled boats allow you to reach the shallow water among the islands directly above the Victoria Falls. Enjoy included drinks and snacks while meandering between the islands and getting a glimpse of the 'Smoke that Thunders' after it has rumbled over the edge of the falls. Also look out for crocodiles bathing in sunshine on the banks or elephants submerging themselves in the river.
Day 33 - Victoria Falls
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. There are no activities planned for the day and no accommodation is included for tonight. If you would like to spend more time in Victoria Falls, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
20-05-202021-06-2020AUD $ 14,994-
24-06-202026-07-2020AUD $ 14,994-
15-07-202016-08-2020AUD $ 14,994-
05-08-202006-09-2020AUD $ 14,994-
26-08-202027-09-2020AUD $ 14,994-

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights),Lodge (13 nights),Cabin (1 night),Feature Stay Lodge (5 nights),Feature Stay Hote (2 nights),Village Inn (2 nights)

Transport

Custom-built overland vehicle,4WD safari vehicle,Private vehicle,Boat,Plane

Map