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 Isimangaliso, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, the Battlefields of Zululand and the Drakensberg Mountains.
This exciting, diverse and affordable Walking Safari ends back in Johannesburg, South Africa.
During this trip you are likely to come across activities that encourage tourists to participate in lion, elephant or other wildlife interaction. This includes walking with lions, riding elephants and any other tourist operation putting travellers in close contact with animals that would normally live wild and separate from human contact.
We absolutely do not encourage or endorse this type of wildlife interaction operation. For more information on why this is not good for Africa's wild animals, please see our detailed blog post on the subject.
This South Africa Walking Safari begins with a tour briefing at 06:30am 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 for the night, 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 sub tropical vegetation.
Then after lunch we take an afternoon game drive in a private game reserve of Greater Kruger Park, going in search of the Big Five and other wildlife. Our game drive lasts into the night when we use spotlights to find nocturnal animals and birds.
Day three 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 lodge which is located in the Big Five Balule Private Game Reserve, forming part of Greater Kruger.
Today we make our way into Kruger National Park, 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 many 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 stay in en suite tents in Kruger Park at a national park's camp with a swimming pool, restaurant and telephone.
Night game drives in Kruger Park, with spotlights, are available at own expense.
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.
Our morning is spent in the presitgious Hluhluwe Game Reserve, renowned for its successful white rhino conservation program. This is the oldest game reserve in Africa, hosting an impressive variety of wildlife and birds, including cheetahs and the Big Five.
Later in the afternoon we will take a leisurely, 2 to 3 hour walk through the forest and around the estuary of False Bay, in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. Isimangaliso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site given its rich diversity and natural beauty. It encompasses an extraordinary combination of estuarine lakes, subtropical coastline, forests and wildlife that make it unique. You may choose to take a boat cruise, as an optional activity, at your own expense.
At St Lucia, as Isimangaliso was formerly known, accommodation is in twin-share bedrooms with en suite facilities at a comfortable lodge with a pool, restaurant, bar, telephone and WiFi access.
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.