This 20 Day Tour of The Best of South Africa is designed to showcase the diversity of this vast country, ensuring guests don't miss a thing whilst relaxing in the comfort of a luxury tour bus. This tour, for a small select group of eight or less, begins with an exploration of Pretoria, one of three capitals of South Africa before travelling through the Free State to the grandeur of the Drakensberg Mountains. After wildlife viewing in Kwazulu Natal, we cross the border into the Kingdom of Swaziland and an insight into the lives, the rich culture and traditions of the Swazis. Back in South Africa, we visit Kruger National Park, a national treasure, teeming with wildlife.
Boarding a 'plane in Johannesburg we travel south to the scenic coast of this immense country and view it from a different perspective. Stroll along the magnificent beaches, take a dip in the Indian Ocean, visit the charming town of Knysna in the heart of the Garden Route. Cross into the Little Karoo and Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of South Africa and its famous Cango Caves. Travel the mountain passes of the acclaimed Route 62 down to Hermanus, well-known for whale watching in season. From here we travel to Stellenbosch the heart of South Africa's wine country where we sample the fruits of the grape. Our 20-day journey ends in Cape Town famous throughout the world for its beauty, diversity and welcoming inhabitants. We complete our tour with a trip down the Cape Peninsula to Cape Point and the most westerly tip of Africa.
South Africa is a land of diverse cultures and this not to be missed 20 Day Tour of The Best of South Africa introduces guests to the warm hospitality of the people, the various cuisine introduced by each culture and the interesting history of this country. Take an unforgettable journey seeing the best of this country, on unusual, memorable routes, whilst travelling in style and comfort.
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.
Day three of our Best of South Africa Lodge Tour 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 Tour of The Best of South Africa 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.
Day 14 is an opportunity to spend your day doing what you enjoy most. Take your pick of a hiking trail through a dense forest with a waterfall at the end of the trail, perfect for a cool dip before heading back. Our guide will be happy to lead the way. Enjoy a slow meander along the lengthy beach or just sit back and relax on the guesthouse verandah - the panoramic view is stunning.
Tonight there is the option of dinner in the village with your fellow travellers.
Leaving Wilderness behind we travel east to the charming, coastal town of Knysna in the heart of the Garden Route. The town is nestled around a lagoon whose entrance is guarded by two soaring cliffs, known as the Knysna Heads. Inside the heads, the lagoon is a tranquil oasis whilst beyond the heads the ocean lashes the cliff face. After exploring the town we continue to Tsitsikamma National Park via Nature's Valley an area much prized by South Africans. You may like to hike a short portion of the Otter Trail, famed throughout South Africa and regularly booked out. Or cross the suspension bridge over the Storms River Mouth, not for the fainthearted but worth the dramatic views. This area is characterised by cliff faces and raging seas - never dull.
Today we drive inland to the ostrich capital of South Africa, Oudtshoorn, located in the semi-desert area of the Little Karoo. This town is not only famous for its ostrich breeding and farming but also for the awe-inspiring Cango Caves and this afternoon we get to visit the caves. Inhabited by the San over 10 000 years ago you will be amazed by the dripstone formations.
This morning we pay a visit to an ostrich farm where we learn an incredible amount about these versatile creatures. It's said that every bit of the ostrich has a value from its feathers, its eggs and healthy meat to the ornaments made from its feet. The town went through a boom period prior to the 1st World War when ostrich feathers were the height of fashion and today some magnificent homes may be seen in the town which are known as 'Feather Palaces'. Sadly the 1st World War came along and the industry crashed.
From here we take a scenic drive back to the coast and the town of Hermanus. Famed for whale watching in season and some very good wine production, the former fishing village is well worth a visit at any time of year.
Take a walk along the cliff path this morning. If it's whale season you are in for a treat as so many of these mighty creatures gather in Walker Bay. If the weather is suitable and it's the right season you may choose to take an optional whale watching boat trip for an even closer view of these animals, but the cliffs do provide a perfect viewing spot for watching them breach and slap the water with their tails and fins. If you are really lucky you may hear them calling to each other - an eerie sound.
We take the scenic coastal route to Stellenbosch pausing to view a colony of African Penguins busy with their daily routine. Back on the road, we head to Stellenbosch known for being the second oldest town in South Africa and sometimes called Eikestad for the number of oak trees that were planted here. In the heart of wine country, Stellenbosch is also a university town so it regularly thrums with students on bicycles.
After exploring the town we have to visit a wine farm and taste some of the delightful wines that are produced in this region. This evening there is the option of having dinner in a fine restaurant.
Today we visit a typical Cape farm, located at the foot of the Helderberg Mountains. Take this opportunity for a wander around the farm and visit the viewpoint for views across False Bay to Table Mountain. On a clear day, you may even spot Cape Point.
Be prepared for a surprise at lunchtime!
After lunch, we continue along the coast all the way to the southern end of the Cape Peninsula to the lovely village of Noordhoek. Prized by the horse riding community this village is home to a lengthy white beach popular with horse riders and walkers alike. In the distance you . may spot the remains of a shipwreck that ran aground at the turn of the 20th century and is now buried under the sand. Take a stroll along the beach which curves around to Kommetjie beach a popular surfing spot.
After breakfast this morning we set off for the Cape of Good Hope in Cape Point. This is the most westerly point of Africa and is a popular spot for a photograph depicting this information. Take a hike up to the lighthouse, a sight welcomed by seafarers who had travelled from the East as this was their first sign of land. Rounding Cape Point was often a treacherous journey and many a ship has foundered along the coastline. You may be fortunate to spot some wildlife in Cape Point but the animals are often quite elusive.
In the afternoon our guide takes us to the city of Cape Town which brings this Best of South Africa Lodge Tour to an end. It's been a journey of constantly changing landscapes and experiences and will no doubt prove an unforgettable experience.
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.
Why not extend your stay and explore more of Cape Town. We offer the following short tours of the city and surrounds:
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