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7 Ways That Exploring Southern Africa by Land and Water Is Better

From river cruises to exclusive jungle lodges, the pioneering river cruise line, CroisiEurope, brings its distinctive approach to an extraordinary part of the world.


There’s excitement everywhere in Southern Africa

Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Southern Africa floods the senses with stunning nature and fascinating culture, from the major cities of South Africa to the expansive natural preserves of Zimbabwe. Epic deserts, plateaus, coastal plains, and lakes—including Lake Kariba, the largest manmade lake on Earth—support a truly incredible array of endemic plant and animal life. This part of the continent is nothing less than unforgettable and there’s perhaps no better way to tour it than with CroisiEurope.

With over four decades spent enthusiastically welcoming intrepid travelers off the well-trodden path throughout the globe, CroisiEurope combines that passion and expertise in a region that demands deeper exploration. A fleet of modern, intimately sized ships—featuring spacious cabins with panoramic views—afford access to parts of Southern Africa where other tour groups can’t go.

Travel in comfort

In Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, you’ll enjoy stylish hotels, thoughtfully curated itineraries, and a menu of local gastronomy to help fully immerse you in this enchanting destination. Plus, the convenience of the all-inclusive program means you’re free to revel in experiences like getting to know the local culture of Impalila Island.

Exclusive access to Lake Kariba

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Making new friends on Lake Kariba

Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Straddling the northern border of Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River, Lake Kariba is a can’t-miss stop on any visit to the region, and CroisiEurope’s African Dream and sister vessel, the Zimbabwean Dream, are the lone tour ships to have access. More than merely the largest reservoir of its kind in the world, Lake Kariba is home to an astoundingly diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, hippos, Nile crocodiles, and more than 400 species of birds. It’s also a popular location for fishing with the coveted tigerfish, the massive vundu catfish, the peculiar, squeaking korokoro, and many more waiting in its waters.

Get up close to local wildlife in national parks

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A lion cub in Matusadona National Park

Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Surrounded by lush green hills and dramatic rock formations along the Zambezi—meaning “Great River” in the language of the Tonga people—Lake Kariba is a crucial part of the region, and CroisiEurope provides helpful context to understand its continued importance. With a visit to Matusadona National Park, you’ll learn more about the creation of and mythology behind Lake Kariba, while gaining some historical perspective on Operation Noah, an environmental initiative that saved the lives of upwards of 6,000 animals from rising floodwaters.

Chobé National Park, meanwhile, is renowned for its vast elephant herds and diverse ecosystems. Established in 1967, the park covers over 4,500 square miles of pristine wilderness divided into four distinct areas: the Chobe Riverfront, the Linyanti and Savute Marshes, and an arid hinterland. After a jungle safari through the park, you’ll have lunch in a floating restaurant, and even explore the marshlands of Sedudu Island.

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You can see penguins in South Africa among other wildlife.

Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Meet locals at Impalila Island

As the river courses its way to the eastern tip of Namibia, intersecting with Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana, you’ll reach Impalila Island at Caprivi Strip. More than a haven for wildlife, the island is home to over 3,000 people spread across 25 villages, one of which you’ll visit to learn about local customs.

Stay on an island in the Zambezi River

Drifting further down the Zambezi River, you’ll reach a private island on which you’ll be welcomed at an exclusive lodge lavished with local art and design. Make new friends and explore new flavors at the open-air dining room and lounge, relax or do some fishing from the panoramic terrace, refresh at the private pool, and unwind in your own expansive bungalow.

Discover Victoria Falls

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The famed Victoria Falls from a distance

Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Embarking on boats that bring you from your doorstep to the island’s fishing and farming villages, you can meet some of the locals and meander among the baobabs and jackalberry trees. Further along the river, you’ll reach the famed Victoria Falls, otherwise known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (or “smoke that thunders” in the Kalolo-Lozi language). With a width of more than 5,500 feet, it’s one of the largest waterfalls on earth and you’ll be able to gaze up its awesome might from an epic walking tour from below. You can even add an optional helicopter ride over its summit.

From luxurious trains to wildlife reserves, options in Southern Africa abound

Rovos Rail rolling along the African plain

Rovos Rail rolling along the African plain

Courtesy of CroisiEurope

Some tours include guided visits through the South African metropolises of Johannesburg and Cape Town. And optional extensions can bring your party to the ends of the earth with a visit to the rugged Cape of Good Hope, on a safari in style via Victorian-era train cars of Rovos Rail, or onward to Hwange National Park, the largest wildlife reserve in all of Zimbabwe.

Of the many ways to explore Southern Africa, none quite match the intimacy and variation of a trip with CroisiEurope. From cabin panoramas to the comfort of jungle lodges and the immersive thrills of land and water safaris, it’ll be a vacation for the books.

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