Animal life is something that South Africa has in abundance. With a plethora of animal species large and small, wild and domestic, South Africa is a must-visit destination for anyone who has a passion for animals and their welfare. It is not only the animals of safari country that thrive here, but also domestic animals and horses, which South Africans are passionate about.
This is the third time that we’ve run this successful tour. It reveals the many faces of this beautiful and diverse land while giving you fascinating insight into South Africa’s approach to veterinary practice in both an urban and rural context, while meeting local vets.
There is an optional pre-tour extension to beautiful Victoria Falls.
Starting in Pretoria, travel into the safari country of Kruger National Park and the Mpumalanga region and end in the cosmopolitan harbour city of Cape Town. Led by Dr Campbell Costello BVsc, one of the most well-travelled and charismatic vets, your journey is punctuated with regular professional visits and talks and provides real insight into veterinary science and practice in South Africa and the challenges that vets face in treating both wild and domestic animals.
Campbell Costello, or “Cozzy” as he is more usually known, was born and raised on his family’s isolated beef cattle stations in the outback of North Queensland, Australia. Growing up on a few hundred thousand acres of bush with plenty of animals and not many people made choosing a career in veterinary science an easy one, especially if it involved cattle, horses and the frontier. Campbell graduated from James Cook University’s inaugural year of undergraduate Veterinary Science in 2010, and traded the tropical North of Australia for the cold Southern States of Australia for a few years of mixed-animal practice, with a predominant focus on large animals.
In 2012, Campbell decided to ride one thousand kilometers across Mongolia in the world’s longest horse race, the “Mongol Derby”. Cozzy was not only the year’s youngest rider but was just one of 16 out of 34 that finished the race. Cozzy returned to mixed practice in Australia but the banality of life post-derby was too much, so he packed his bags and trekked across the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan in 2013 before relocated to the Highveldt of South Africa as a Large African Game & Wildlife veterinarian. Cozzy returned to Australia to work as a veterinary contractor in the livestock sector that dealt with several overseas governments that were importing breeding animals to establish or improve their pre-existing livestock ventures. This took Cozy to coutnries such as Russia, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Kuwait, Oman, Israel, the UAE, and Sri Lanka to name a few. Cozy has also returned to Mongolia annually several times as one of the senior veterinarians and crew for the “Mongol Derby” race, and several weeks prior to select thousands of Mongolian horses for the event. During these deployments, Campbell ventured to Northern Mongolia twice to spend time with the Nomadic Tsaatan Reindeer herders in the Khövsgöl province on the Russian border. Campbell also started working annually as an Airborne Veterinarian for the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska. In 2016 Campbell was stationed in South-Eastern Kazakhstan as the head veterinarian and farm manager of a Angus Beef Cattle farm and help establish one of the country’s first ever cattle ventures since the demise of the Soviet Union. During that time, Campbell was also one of the only English speaking veterinarians to attend the “World Nomad Games” in Kyrgyzstan and offer veterinary assistance to the local animals and training to local veterinarians and para-veterinarians. During March of 2019 Campbell was very fortunate to be the mounted veterinarian for the “Gaucho Derby” recce mission, which involved riding across the Argentine area of Patagonia for several days, monitoring the local Criollo horses’ physiological parameters as a response to the terrain and conditions, and mapping a basic route for the inaugural “Gaucho Derby” race in 2020.
Campbell was based as a large animal veterinarian in the Kimberley region of Australia for eighteen months but left at the beginning of 2019 after contracting leptospirosis. Campbell has returned to his home state of Queensland and is currently locuming around Australia and the world.
Day 1: Johannesburg / Pretoria (Wed, 4 Oct) Arrive in Johannesburg* and transfer to Pretoria. Drive to the hotel through Pretoria, taking in South Africa's capital city. Stop at the Paul Kruger House Museum, the Voortrekker Monument and Union Buildings. Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 2: Pretoria (Thurs, 5 Oct) Visit the Pretoria Veterinary School and meet with staff. Meet with Dr David Pretorius and visit the Motsumi Darts factory for a tour to learn about their remote drug delivery systems for wildlife.
Day 3: Pretoria / Timbavati (Fri, 6 Oct) Depart Pretoria and head for safari country. Arrive at Timbavati Safari Lodge. Early evening sunset drive through the Lodge's private reserve. Dinner at the lodge.
Day 4: Timbavati (Sat, 7 Oct) Visit the Moholoholo Rehab Centre to meet with staff and learn about the work they do. Return to Timbavati in the afternoon and at leisure.
Day 5: Timbavati (Sun, 8 Oct) Set out before sunrise in an open top safari vehicle with qualified game rangers to view the 'big five' on a game drive (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros) along with zebras, giraffes and a host of other wildlife. Bush lunch. Continue with the game drive. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Boma dinner under the stars.
Day 6: Timbavati / Hazyview (Mon, 9 Oct) Depart Timbavati and spend the day exploring the Panorama Route including God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Blyde River Canyon, the Three Rondavels and the historic gold rush town of Pilgrims Rest. Drive to Hazyview and check in to Hippo Hollow Hotel. Talk by Peter Buss: 'The Work of a Vet in Kruger National Park'.
Day 7: Hazyview (Tue, 10 Oct) Early morning game drive. Remainder of afternoon at leisure to relax by the pool.
Day 8: Hazyview / Cape Town (Wed, 11 Oct) Transfer to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and fly to Cape Town. Transfer to the hotel and at leisure.
Day 9: Cape Town (Thurs, 12 Oct) A full day's tour of Cape Peninsula starting with a trip up Table Mountain for spectacular views. Drive past the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay en route to Hout Bay. Continue to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Return to Cape Town. Visit to SANCCOB, a penguin and sea life rehabilitation centre.
Day 10: Cape Town (Fri, 13 Oct) Visit the Vetscape Animal Hospital, which caters for both small animals and horses. Continue to the wine lands of Stellenbosch, stopping at a vineyard for lunch, and continue to another winery for wine and chocolate tasting. Return to Cape Town.
Day 11: Cape Town (Sat, 14 Oct) Morning whale watching in the Indian Ocean with a vet onboard. Afternoon at leisure. Farewell dinner at GOLD restaurant.
Day 12: Cape Town (Sun, 15 Oct) Depart Cape Town after breakfast.
* Please arrive in Johannesburg Airport by 10.00am on Wed 4th October so you can transfer directly to Pretoria. If you cannot arrive for that time, then we suggest you arrive the night before.
Optional Pre-Tour Extension to Victoria Falls
1 – 4 October 2023
Day 1: Victoria Falls (Sun, 1 Oct)
Pm: Arrive Victoria Falls. Transfer to the A'Zambezi River Lodge and at leisure.
Day 2: Victoria Falls (Mon, 2 Oct)
Am: Guided tour of Victoria Falls after breakfast.
Pm: At leisure before an evening cruise towards Palm during a beautiful Zambezi sunset.
Day 3: Victoria Falls / Johannesburg (Tues, 3 Oct)
Am: At leisure.
Pm: Fly back to Johannesburg and transfer to the City Lodge Hotel O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel. Main tour starts the following day with the transfer to Pretoria.
Day 4: Johannesburg / Pretoria (Wed, 4 Oct)
Am: Transfer to Pretoria and start tour.
The cost of the tour sharing a room is USD $4,428. The cost of the tour with a room to yourself is USD $4,874