This 13-day Budget Lodge Tour of South Africa & Swaziland boasts of some of the best South African treasures and introduces guests to a taste of local culture and the country's complex history.
Our wildlife and cultural tour begins in the administrative capital of Pretoria which begins with a tour of the city that takes in the Union Buildings and the Voortrekker Monument. Travelling through the Free State we pause in Clarens, a popular artist retreat before moving on to the majestic Drakensberg in Kwazulu Natal. After some outdoor pursuits in the mountains, we travel to the coast and some wildlife viewing in iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.
Heading back inland we enjoy exclusive use of a bush camp in Pongola Game Reserve and take an exciting bush walk with our ranger. From here we cross the border into Swaziland to learn how the Swazis keep their culture and traditions alive in this modern world. Our penultimate destination is the province of Mpumalanga, back in South Africa and home to vast wildlife reserves and majestic scenery. After wildlife viewing in world-famous Kruger National Park and admiring the grandeur of the Panorama Route it's time to head back to Johannesburg and the end of our tour.
Travelling in a small group of no more than eight, in a luxury, air-conditioned tour bus, this tour takes us on a captivating journey in the north and eastern regions of South Africa and the small Kingdom of Swaziland. The ever-changing scenery, the fascinating people and the diverse cultures of these countries will create life-long memories.
Our guests are met at OR Tambo Airport and transferred to Avalon Guesthouse (or similar) in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. There's time for guests to relax and freshen up before taking a guided tour of the city, which includes visits to the Union Buildings, designed and built by Sir Herbert Baker in 1910 and the Voortrekker Monument, built to honour God for the Voortrekkers successful trek from the Cape to the then Transvaal. Both of these buildings will give an insight into this country's complicated history.
In the evening there is the option of meeting fellow travellers for dinner at a superb restaurant.
Today is spent travelling through the farmlands of the Free State to the popular village of Clarens, known for its arts and crafts. You have an option of enjoying lunch here but may be distracted from this by the enticing shopping opportunities. From here we move on to the Golden Gate National Park and your first glimpse of the magnificent mountainous scenery for which this area is well known.
After a day spent travelling, we arrive at our accommodation in the Drakensberg Mountains. The peace and tranquil setting will be a respite after our journey, so it's time to relax before a crackling fire, enjoy a pre-dinner drink and a welcome meal. The night is spent in a cosy log cabin.
Today is set aside for activities in the great outdoors. This beautiful panorama may be viewed from the hiking trails, or take a horse ride on one of the horse trails - there's something for beginners and the more experienced. Enjoy exceptional birdlife and amazing views. There are cool streams to take a dip if you are inclined. At the end of the day, tired but inspired enjoy a relaxed dinner at our lodge and conversation around the cosy fire.
Today we hit the road en-route for the coast in northern KwaZulu Natal. However, we take time out to visit the site of a historic, bloody battle between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus. We visit the Blood River Monument and the Ncome Museum the two sites separated by what was known as the Ncome River but was re-named Blood River after the fierce battle fought between 464 pioneer and their 200 servants and between 10 000 to 20 000 Zulus. After lunch, we continue our journey to the coastal town of Saint Lucia travelling through the scenic rolling hills of KZN.
There is an option of having dinner at a restaurant in the town tonight.
Today is dedicated to game viewing in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was named Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park until 2007. Common sights in the park are rhinos, waterbucks, nyalas, buffaloes and large kudu herds and if you are in luck you might be able to see a leopard on the hunt. From various viewpoints, you will get a glimpse of the Indian Ocean and, when travelling in whale season, even a small chance to watch Southern Right Whales. After an exciting wildlife experience, you will reach Cape Vidal. End your game drive in a rather unusual way by taking a refreshing dip in the Indian Ocean!
In the afternoon we take to a boat for a wildlife viewing trip on the St. Lucia Estuary. Hippos, crocodiles and various species of waterfowl can be observed from your boat, which is an excellent opportunity for great photographs.
Once again there is the option of dinner at a restaurant in St Lucia.
Today is all about wildlife viewing, wildlife being one of South Africa's greatest treasures. We leave early for Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, as early morning is the best time for wildlife viewing. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is considered one of the most beautiful game parks in Southern Africa and with its 96000 hectares of wilderness and rolling hills, it is easy to see why. Once the private hunting grounds of King Shaka, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park was proclaimed a wildlife reserve in 1895 and is said to be the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa. Renown for its black and white rhino breeding project this and the reserve's conservation efforts have led to it being home to the largest population of white rhino in the world.
From here we head north to the Pongola Game Reserve and our accommodation at White Elephant Bush Camp. Today we have exclusive use of the camp where the views over the bushveld and of Lake Jozani and the distant Lebombo mountains are magnificent. We celebrate the magnificent, African sunset with a refreshing drink and after dinner we relax around our campfire.
This morning we take a bush walk with an experience, armed ranger - an opportunity not to be missed. Encounter the African bush from a different angle and without any disturbing noises, feel connected with nature and soak up the sights, sounds and smells. Your ranger is able to decipher the signs of animal activity and explain this as well as share his knowledge of the flora. We return to camp for a hearty breakfast before setting off on our cross border journey. We enter the small Kingdom of Swaziland and travel to the Mantenga Cultural Village, a living museum where we get an insight into the traditions, culture and customs of the Swazi people. A captivating experience.
Today is spent exploring Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland and surrounding areas. During the evening of Day 7, our guide outlines the various options available and our itinerary is determined by group input. The options include exploring our surroundings, including the Milwane Game Reserve, on foot, mountain bike or horseback (optional). Meeting the locals at the colourful markets which display many arts and crafts. We could visit a candle-making factory where the famous, decorative Swazi candles are produced or a glass factory and admire the art of glass blowing.
This small kingdom has many delightful, informative experiences to interest us.
Leaving Swaziland behind we cross the border back into South Africa and continue our journey to the world famous Kruger National Park. This vast park declared a National Reserve in 1926, teems with wildlife that inhabits the various landscapes. Home to all wildlife species of Southern Africa including large herds of elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, lions and leopards, but also around 150 species of mammals, more than 500 bird species and almost 100 different reptiles, this is a smorgasbord of wildlife. We take a wildlife viewing drive during the afternoon heading back to our accommodation in the park as the sun sets.
Today is spent game viewing in Kruger National Park. We leave early for a full day spent exploring the park. In this natural world, there is no telling what amazing encounters you may come across. In the early evening, you have the option of taking a night game drive with one of the park rangers, who, armed with a blazing spotlight, will search for the nocturnal animals.
Early this morning you have the option of taking a bush walk with a professional guide. Walking in the bushveld is a very special experience which shouldn't be missed. Your knowledgeable guide is able to interpret the wildlife signs as well as share his knowledge of the flora. Back at camp we tuck into breakfast and then set out on our final wildlife viewing drive. A final opportunity to complete your 'spotted' list.
Leaving the park around midday we head to Hazyview and our accommodation at Hamilton Parks Country Lodge (or similar) where we spend the afternoon relaxing in the lovely gardens, taking a cooling dip in the pool or enjoying a nap.
Our journey takes us to the renown Panorama Route, which winds alongside the Blyde River Canyon and provides excellent photo opportunities of the many spectacular viewpoints. The Blyde River Canyon is reputed to be the third largest canyon in the world but is most probably the lushest canyon with its sub-tropical foliage. Look out for the smaller animals that inhabit this area, such as vervet monkeys, baboons and antelope. The view out to the Klein Drakensberg escarpment is dramatic, but there are many breathtaking viewpoints that have been named according to their outlook. The 'Three Rondavels' are three round mountain tops that resemble the traditional rondavel. The names 'God's Window' and 'Wonder View' are a clue to what one may expect.
At the meeting point of the Blyde River (river of joy) and the Treur River (river of sorrow), water erosion has created one of the most phenomenal geological phenomena in South Africa. The ‘Bourke’s Luck Potholes’ have taken thousands of years to form strange cylindrical sculptures carved by swirling water. The smooth red and yellow rocks contrast with the dark pools.
A day of spectacular views of this fascinating country.
Today heralds a new chapter in this Wildlife & Cultural Tour of South Africa & Swaziland as we head back to Johannesburg for our flight to the Western Cape. Our flight takes us to the inland town of George but it's a short hop to the coast and the scenic town of Wilderness. Characterised by its long stretch of white beach, this is an ideal spot to take a long beach walk to blow away the cobwebs after a day of travel. Alternatively, you may choose to rest and relax at our guesthouse. This evening there is the option of joining the group for dinner in one of the village's restaurants.
This small group safari is conducted in a Mercedes Sprinter luxury bus. These air-conditioned vehicles have been adapted in a way that they withstand the rough conditions of Africa and at the same time offer our mutual guests the best and most comfortable sightseeing experience. A maximum of eight guests travels in the luxury vehicle, guaranteeing each a window seat. Travelling through South Africa in the comfort of a well-equipped luxury vehicle makes all the difference!
Should the accommodation listed in the itinerary not be available a similar accommodation facility of the same standard will be used.
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