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A great 14 day Tour of South Africa with an emphasis on walking and hiking in scenic areas of South Africa, exploring the highlights of the Kruger and Zululand areas.
The South Africa Walking Safari combines challenging, moderate and leisurely hikes, starting off on the Panoramic Route followed by a private reserve in Greater Kruger and Kruger National Park where we go in search of Africa's Big Five and more.
It's then off to Swaziland and onwards to the Kwazulu-Natal region where we visit Hluhluwe Game Reserve, the Battlefields of Zululand and the Drakensberg Mountains.
This exciting, diverse and affordable Walking Safari ends back in Johannesburg, South Africa.
This South Africa Walking Safari begins with a tour briefing at 06:30 am in Johannesburg and then we head east into the Mpumalanga Province.
In the afternoon we visit the gold mining town of Pilgrims Rest and stop at the God's Window viewpoint overlooking the Lowveld. From here we will take a leisurely stroll to Mac Mac Pools, before making our way to our accommodation near the escarpment. We stay in en-suite chalets, at a lodge with a pool, bar, restaurant and telephone.
On day two, the morning is spent exploring the Blyde River Canyon, one of the most scenic areas of South Africa. We set off on a moderate hike that takes us down the rim of the canyon, offering scenic views of the Three Rondavels and the Blyde River. Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon. It is quite possibly the greenest canyon on earth, due to its dense subtropical vegetation. Mpumalanga is a spectacular destination and, after lunch, we spend the afternoon rambling through the forests, admiring the waterfalls in this beautiful setting.
There is an option of taking the Graskop Gorge Lift, which lowers you down for a walk through the lush Afromontane forest below (own expense).
After an early breakfast, we head for Kruger National Park today, where we spend the day game viewing. We drive south through the wilderness, going in search of an abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. Look out for giraffes, zebras, hippos, antelopes, wild dogs, hyenas and much more, along with a rich diversity of birds. Our professional safari guides will impart their extensive knowledge of the ecology, fauna and flora in the area, on our game drive in the bush. We break during the day for a picnic lunch and leave the park in the late afternoon and make our way to our accommodation in Greater Kruger Park.
Day four begins with an early morning game walk in the private reserve, with a local game ranger. Walking in the bush is a thrilling experience as we may encounter large mammals at any time. The game walk is also the best way to see the details of the bush up close, seeing animal tracks and signs of life, as well as smaller creatures and plants as we explore.
In the evenings we relax around the campfire before retiring to our twin-share Meru tents with en-suite bathrooms. We are immersed in nature at the tented camp which is located in the Big Five Balule Private Game Reserve, forming part of Greater Kruger.
On day 5 of the South Africa Walking Safari, we enter the Kingdom of Swaziland and travel through a fertile fruit farming area, on our way up into the scenic mountains of Swaziland.
We embark on a challenging 4 to 6-hour hike through this rarely-visited, remote mountainous reserve. On the following day we travel through Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland and take the opportunity to visit the craft and medicinal markets, which reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Swazi people.
We spend two nights on the edge of the Malalotja Nature Reserve in chalets with en-suite bathrooms.
Crossing back into South Africa, we head for Zululand in the KwaZulu-Natal Province and our accommodation in Ukuwela Conservancy. Once settled we go on a nature walk with our local guide who will point out some of the 540+ bird species found in this reserve. We track the bashful and illusive Nyala antelope found in the riverine vegetation of the Msinene River.
The following morning we visit Hluhluwe Game reserve which is important for its rhino conservation status. We then visit a traditional Zulu village, to learn more about the culture of this proud, warrior tribe. Back at the lodge a hearty dinner is served.
Leaving the coast behind, we head inland through the hills and valleys of Zululand to Dundee town. This area is known for its fascinating history of warfare and the many battles fought between the Zulus, British and Dutch Boers. We visit the Talana Museum, which is a mine of information about the area and then spend the rest of the day relaxing, in preparation for our challenging hike tomorrow.
On Day 10 we visit the Islandlwana battlefield before we undertake a challenging, but exciting, 4 to 5 hour hike, retracing the footsteps of two British fugitives through the undulating hills of Zululand to the Buffalo River. After our hike, we visit Rourke's Drift, made famous by the film 'Zulu'. Then it's back to our lodge with a pool, restaurant, telephone and free WiFi access, for a relaxing evening. We stay in twin-share chalets with en-suite bathrooms.
Today we head for the majestic Drakensberg or Ukhahlamba "Barrier of Spears" Mountains.
We stay in en-suite chalets with twin or double rooms, at the base of the mountain range, some 1600 metres above sea level. This afternoon there is free time to rest before our moderate, full day hike, on the mountain trails. We may cool off with invigorating dips in the clear mountain streams of the Royal Natal National Park.
The brisk mountain air is a refreshing companion to the beautiful views, as we relax at our lodge.
After an early breakfast, we make our way to Witsieshoek, at the base of the impressive Sentinel Peak. We start our challenging hike at the end of a rough gravel road. Our hike includes a short chain ladder section to the top of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre and the magnificent Tugela Falls, the highest waterfall in Africa.
At a height of 3000 metres, the views over KwaZulu-Natal are incredible. We then descend to our lodge at 2300 metres overlooking the Mont-Aux-Sources mountain range. We overnight in twin- share bungalows with en-suite bathrooms, at this lodge up in the mountains.
The days starts at a leisurely pace as we prepare to make our way back to Johannesburg. This fabulous walking tour ends back in Johannesburg at approximately 17:00 when we part ways.