The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare on South Africa Airways, transfers, six nights' accommodations, 17 meals, three game drives, three riverboat cruises, a sightseeing tour of Victoria Falls and a Namibian village, entrance fees, and the services of an English-speaking guide, from $2,099 per person—plus $295 in taxes.
When: Departs daily Sept. 12–Dec. 9, 2009; add $150 for Jan. 7–April 30, 2010. While Botswana's wildlife is active year-round, October is a great time to go—it's between the tourist high season and the rainy season, which begins in November. If you're most interested in bird-watching, don't shy away from the rainy season, as the birds come out in full force then.
Gateways: New York City; add $250 for Chicago, Detroit, Memphis; $275 for Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake City; and $325 for Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle.
The fine print: Does not include taxes of $295 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $420. Maximum group size is eight people. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: July 5, 2009.
Contact: 2Afrika, 866/462-2374, 2afrika.com.
Why it's a deal: In a recent Kayak search, we found a flight between New York City and Johannesburg for travel in September for $1,047. For $1,347 more, including taxes, 2Afrika's package also coordinates accommodations and experiences that might be hard to book on your own—safari drives and activities (with an English-speaking guide, a valuable asset), most meals, and transfers—all in one booking. 2Afrika provides a 100 percent money-back guarantee if you need to cancel your trip up to 60 days in advance—and gives you the reassurance of working with a tour operator that specializes in travel to Africa. This package is one of five new air-inclusive vacations that 2Afrika has introduced because of lower airfares now available on South African Airways.
Itinerary highlights: After an overnight flight, you'll land in Johannesburg, South Africa, and board a two-hour flight to Victoria Falls. Then transfer to your base for six nights, the Chobe Safari Lodge. The next few days are devoted to game-viewing drives and boat cruises in Chobe National Park; there's also an included full-day tour of Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side. Boat cruises are along the Chobe River, where you will see indigenous fish and birds. The national park is known for its elephant population; giraffes, zebras, and buffalo have also been spotted there. Another highlight is a morning walk to a Namibian village, where you'll meet locals and learn about their culture. Click here for full itinerary.
More: Add a stopover in Johannesburg for $95 per person. 2Afrika can help you book nights there or tack on another one of their safaris.
Before you go: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport; a visa is not required for travel in South Africa or Botswana. For the scheduled short visits to Zimbabwe and Namibia, you will need visas, which you can obtain at the point of entry. For Zimbabwe, expect to pay about $30 per person; Namibia's fee fluctuates but will probably be about the same. Remember that you'll have a tour guide to help you with the details. Read more about entry requirements on the State Department's travel fact sheets for Zimbabwe and Namibia. Read more about Botswana on the U.S. State Department's travel fact sheet or the country's official tourism site.