We relax in Durban, South Africa’s holiday mecca with the luke warm Indian Ocean and sub-tropical, all year round summer. We visit Drakensberg Mountains for some mild to a little more strenuous walks to experience great scenic views. We visit some of the world's best preserved ancient rock art and drive up the incredible almost 3000 m high Sani Pass into Lesotho with four by four vehicles. The coastline southwards between Durban and Cape Town encompasses a huge diversity of habitats. From the hilly grasslands with Xhosa huts dotted around the ridges, green valleys, crystal clear streams and the wild unspoilt coastline of the Eastern Cape (the former homeland of Transkei), to the mountains, lakes, cliffs and dense indigenous forests of the Cape South Coast, aptly called the Garden Route.
The natural beauty and lush vegetation will captivate even the well traveled. The Art Capital of South Africa, Grahamstown, and the Addo National Elephant Park supporting some 400 elephants, lion, Cape buffalo and black rhino amongst other animals, are two highlights in the Eastern Region. We also visit the semi-arid valley, called the Little Karoo. This region in turn offers natural wonders such as the Cango Caves and its ideal habitat for ostrich farming makes it the ostrich mecca of the world. The tour ends in Cape Town and you have just experienced some of the most beautiful areas in South Africa and arguably the world!
Day 1: Johannesburg – Dullstroom – Sabie – Panoramic Route. Our first day on tour takes us from Johannesburg via Middelburg, Dullstroom and Lydenburg to Pilgrim´s Rest, the early gold mining town turned into a living museum. Rich deposits of alluvial gold were found here at the end of the 19th century, hence the existence of the town deep in the mountains. We overnight in Sabie in the Lone Creek River Lodge.
Day 2: Panoramic Route – Private Game Reserve. We visit Lone Creek Falls and travel via Graskop to marvel at scenic areas such God’s Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon, and some of the spectacular waterfalls in the area. Finally we descend to the Lowveld via Abel Erasmus pass and the Strijdom Tunnel to arrive at Mohlabetsi in the Balule private game reserve. This afternoon our encounter with Africa's wildlife begins as we travel on an open vehicle to search for the game. Enjoy a great dinner under the stars tonight (weather permitting). Overnight at Mohlabetsi.
Day 3: Private Game Reserve – Kruger National Park. After an early morning hike, searching for the wild on foot, and breakfast we enter the Kruger National Park and spend the rest of day in this magnificent reserve around 2 million ha in extent. We overnight in the reserve in one of the camps.
Day 4: Kruger National Park - Swaziland. We rise early for a game drive and return for breakfast in the camp. We spend the rest of the morning in the reserve and depart in the afternoon for the mountain Kingdom of Swaziland. We visit the Ngwenya Glass Factory and travel via Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, to Foresters Arms, our hotel in the mountains at Mhlambanyatsi.
Day 5: Swaziland – Zululand – Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. We visit the well-known Swazi Candles factory and the big arts and crafts market in the Ezulwini Valley, and drive past the National Stadium and the parliament buildings on our way to Manzini, the country's industrial centre. We travel further past Big Bend with the country's largest sugar plantations to the South African border. We continue to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park game reserve and arrive late afternoon at our overnight stop - Hilltop Camp. Here we join a late afternoon/early evening game drive on open safari vehicles equipped with high powered spotlights to search for the shy nocturnal animals. Dinner follows.
Day 6: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – Lake St Lucia - Durban. After an early breakfast we do our final game drive before travelling to the village of St Lucia. Here we join a boat cruise of the famous Lake St Lucia Estuary, a paradise with bird species such as fish eagle, Goliath heron and many more. Your guide will show you the world of the hippo and the crocodile and the other mystic inhabitants of the "deep". After this unforgettable experience we travel to Durban, South Africa’s holiday mecca.
Day 7: Durban – Natal Midlands – Drakensberg Mountains. Drive inland to Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, for a brief city tour. Stop at the railway station where Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off the train because of the colour of his skin, and see the waiting room where, in the silence of the night, he formulated his philosophy of passive resistance. Visit the Church of the Vow that was built as a result of the Battle of Blood River between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus in 1838. Continue to Howick where we visit the 100m high Falls, and stop at the monument erected on the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962.
Continue through an area of gentle pastoral beauty called the Natal Midlands. We pass through grassy plains scattered with villages and lush farmlands where plump cattle and thoroughbred horses graze. We enter the Weenen Game Reserve for an afternoon of game viewing. We have a good chance of seeing, amongst others, white rhino, giraffe and zebra. Afterwards we stop at the place where Winston Churchill was arrested by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War. Then we travel to our hotel from where you can enjoy magnificent views while enjoying sun-downers.
Day 8: Drakensberg Mountains. After breakfast we travel through QwaQwa, a former homeland, and watch the locals busy with their daily chores in this remote land. We arrive at the Sentinel, some 3200 meters above sea level, for a picnic lunch and some easy, or more strenuous, walks to viewpoints of the sheer drops into the Amphitheatre. For those VERY energetic souls, there is a stiff walk and climb up a chain ladder to the summit (weather permitting). Here you find the source of the mighty Tugela River and where it rushes over the edge of the cliffs to plummet down for hundreds of meters to the bottom; in total nearly a kilometre. After this unforgettable experience we return to our hotel late afternoon.
Day 9: Drakensberg Mountains – Giant’s Castle. We depart after breakfast and drive to the Giant's Castle area for an easy walk to some of the country's best preserved ancient rock paintings. We have a peek into the mystical existence of these strange little people who became extinct at the beginning of the previous century. This afternoon we have time to take some hikes into the mountains. The scenery and views are magnificent! Dinner and overnight at Giant's Castle complex.
Day 10: Giant's Castle – Southern Drakensberg Mountains. Today we travel along these magnificent mountains and enjoy the views. Visit some quaint art and craft shops in the upper Midlands Meander - many artistic people fled the hectic pace of the big cities and made their new homes in this very beautiful area. There is no limit to inspiration here if inspiration comes from natural beauty! Then we travel to Underberg, a picturesque little village situated in the foothills of the majestic Drakensberg Mountains. Our hotel is in the lap of the mountain with peaks towering over 3000m (10 000 ft) above sea level. Dinner and overnight are at our hotel.
Day 11: Sani Pass - Durban. After breakfast we set off to Sani Pass, named after the primitive people who lived in the area millennia ago, on a four-wheel drive with hair raising bends and breathtaking views to the top of the mountain. Lunch is served at the top in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho some 3000m above sea level. We return early afternoon, change vehicles and drive back to Durban.
Day 12: Durban. Durban is an intriguing cultural blend of East, West and Africa, which with its endless summer climate, effervescent and lukewarm ocean lined with golden beaches, offers a subtropical carnival atmosphere all year round. Our tour of this bustling metropolis boasting the busiest port in Africa and often called the cultural 'melting pot' of South Africa, includes a drive past the so-called Apartheid Beaches, the Golden Mile, the impressive developments at the new Point Waterfront area, and the city centre. We stop at the Indian Market where you can bargain for souvenirs and spices. Our last visit is to the Botanical Gardens. You have the option of being dropped off at the end of the tour at the Ushaka Marine world with its world-class aquarium, and many shops and restaurants. Return to your hotel with our bus or spend the rest of the afternoon here and take a taxi back to the hotel.
Day 13: Durban. A free day in Durban to enjoy last minute shopping or the warm sunny beaches.
Day 14: Durban – South Coast – Wild Coast. The drive from Durban along the South Coast takes you through lush subtropical vegetation and numerous holiday villages dotted along the seaboard. We visit the scenic Oribi Gorge and some beautiful little beaches. We enter the Eastern Cape at the former homeland of Transkei and work our way to the Wlid Coast – a rugged and deserted coast line with exceptional beauty – and arrive at Cremorne Lodge for overnight. This afternoon we explore the beach and some amazing scenic sites.
Day 15: Wild Coast – Umtata – East London. Before breakfast we enjoy another breathtaking walk. Then breakfast and travel via Port St Johns to Umtata, the capital of the former homeland. After a visit to the Nelson Mandela museum we travel further south to East London, the only river port in South Africa, and the place where a prehistoric coelacanth was caught in 1938. Overnight at Quarry Lake Inn.
Day 16: East London – Addo Elephant Park – Port Elizabeth. This morning's journey is along the coast and we enjoy the lush vegetation and rugged coastline. We visit Port Alfred, an outstanding holiday village situated on the Kowie river mouth and travel to Grahamstown. The small cathedral city is considered the art capital of South Africa and is steeped in history. At the Addo National Elephant Park game reserve we have an excellent chance of an encounter with these giants of the bush amongst other animals. This afternoon we reach Port Elizabeth, the fifth biggest city in the country, set on the shores of the Algoa Bay and also called the “Friendly City”. Overnight at Fifth Avenue Beach House.
Day 17: Port Elizabeth – Garden Route. We depart from Port Elizabeth, along the N2 national route to the Storms River with the impressive Paul Sauer Bridge across the valley towering some 139 m above the river. Our next stop is at Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan for “The place of much water”) stretching more than 100 km of wild and rocky coastline characterised by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forests along the river valleys. Now, truly in the famous Garden Route of the Cape, we traverse more magnificently scenic river valley passes to Knysna on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon with its entrance to the sea guarded by two promontories known as 'The Heads'. The area also falls within a National Park proclaimed to conserve the extraordinary natural beauty of the Lakeland and adjacent indigenous forests. Knysna offers shopping opportunities of unusual, locally made, art and craft, etc. Overnight at the Fish Eagle Lodge.
Day 18: Garden Route - Oudtshoorn. We explore the lake areas, the Wilderness National Park and travel via the scenic Montagu Pass to Oudsthoorn also known as the 'Feather Capital' of the world, as by far the largest concentration of ostrich farms in the world are found here. We visit the Cango Caves, regarded as one of South Africa's foremost natural wonders. The fascinating calcite caves comprise an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites. Overnight at La Plume Guest Lodge.
Day 19: Oudtshoorn – Mossel Bay – Cape Town. After an early start we visit to an ostrich show farm for some unique experiences, including ostrich racing. A ride on the back of an ostrich is not for the fainthearted. Our route to Mossel Bay takes us over the Outeniqua Mountains via Robinson's Pass. Here we visit arguably the oldest post office in Africa, the Post Office Tree, and the site of the first landfall, made by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz in 1488. After an early lunch we travel via Swellendam to Cape Town where we arrive late afternoon.
Note: We run a multiple of tours throughout the country covering all interests and areas. Please let us know if you want additional tours to this one or lengthen your stay in exotic places such as Cape Town, Durban or perhaps a private reserve or a luxury lodge on a deserted sub-tropical beach – luxury with an abundance of wildlife in rural Africa! You are also able to choose your type of accommodation in the cities to suit your budget or style. As this tour is made up from modules, you may even shorten it by omitting areas not of interest to you!
- Departures Sundays from Johannesburg/ Sandton/ Pretoria.
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