Drakensberg Mountains by Steve Slater

Kruger to Durban via Swaziland & Lesotho, Overland Camping…

Tour Length13 days
Priced from pps $1511 R21175 £1158 1332 A$2109 C$1991 NZ$2203 Full pricing info
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Summary of this Overland Camping Tour

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  • Max. Group Size 24 Travellers
  • Traveller Age Range 18 to 39 Years
  • Starts & ends in Pretoria, South Africa
  • Accommodation Standard Camping
  • Transport Large Overland Vehicle
  • Wildlife Big 5, Elephant, Exceptional Birding, Leopards, Lions, Rhino & More
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Quick Itinerary Overview

Explore scenic South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho on this diverse safari adventure. Travelling via the spectacular Panorama Route to world-famous Kruger National Park, we spend two days viewing the prolific wildlife here before heading to the Royal Kingdom of Swaziland. Here we visit the Royal Enclosure and a local village to hear about the culture and history of the Swazi.

Travelling south we head for the coast and a boat cruise on the St Lucia wetland area. Passing sugar cane plantations we arrive in Durban and the beaches of the balmy Indian Ocean. After a spell of relaxation here, we travel inland to the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains where we hike its trails in the rejuvenating mountain air. Climbing higher we take the Sani Pass into Lesotho to experience the lives of the locals. Leaving the mountains we visit the Kwa-Zulu Natal battlefields, the scene of many hard-fought wars and bloodshed over territory.

On our penultimate day, we take some relaxing walks in the Royal Natal National Park, winding down as this activity-filled adventure draws to a close.

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Itinerary for this Tour

Day 1: Pretoria to Greater Kruger Park - South Africa

This Kruger Park to Cape Town Safari sets off from the pleasant city of Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa.

Leaving Pretoria, known as the Jacaranda City, we travel east into the rural Mpumalanga Province. Our drive takes us into the beautiful mountains of the Drakensberg Escarpment via the Panorama Route. Along the way, we stop to look out over the plains of the Lowveld and the distant mountains, from a viewpoint called God’s Window.

From the breathtaking Panorama Route, we continue to the small town of Hazyview, located close to Kruger National Park. Our hotel is in the Greater Kruger region, consisting of the national park and surrounding private game reserves. After dinner, we relax at the peaceful lodge and enjoy our first night under starry skies.

  • Accommodation: Hotel or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Dinner
  • Travel: about 390 km / 7 hours drive

Day 2: Kruger National Park - South Africa

On day two we rise with the sun, heading to Kruger Park in time to enter the protected area, as soon as the gates open. We spend the whole of day two game viewing in the world-renowned Kruger National Park, one of Africa's best wildlife destinations.

Your professional guide is an expert at tracking and spotting wildlife and birds which makes all the difference in the bush. Kruger is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) and a plethora of other wild animals, including almost every major mammal species of Africa. Birdlife is also prolific with over 500 bird species in addition to the 148 mammal species and numerous reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants.

During the heat of the day, we take a break at one of the shaded rest camps, usually stopping at a camp featuring a pool, gift shop and swimming pool. Then we continue our search for wildlife, driving through the diverse habitats of this exceptional game park. After our game viewing adventure in Kruger, we return to the hotel and our camp for an early dinner and a laid-back evening around the flickering campfire. You also have the option of embarking on a night game drive (extra cost) - an exhilarating wildlife experience!

  • Accommodation: Hotel or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Optional Activities: Kruger night game drive
  • Drive: Full-day wildlife safari in Kruger

Day 3: Kruger National Park - South Africa

Today we are up at sunrise for a light breakfast, before returning to Kruger Park for our second adventure-packed day of game viewing. Exploring Kruger in an open 4x4 game viewing vehicle offers unhindered views for capturing photographs and a close-to-nature experience in the wilderness.

Your experienced guide shares his or her knowledge with you - pointing out wildlife, birds, other creatures and indigenous plants of the region. Kruger Park is world-famous for its progressive environmental policies and management practices, as well as its unrivalled array and sheer abundance of African animals and birds. Having spotted all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures out in the African wilderness we return to the camp in the late afternoon.

For travellers who did not take the Adventure Pass, there are optional activities in and around Kruger available for today.

  • Accommodation: Hotel or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Optional Activities: Kruger night game drive
  • Adventure Pass (Local Payment): Full day of 4x4 game drives in Kruger

Day 4: Kruger National Park to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - Swaziland

Onwards on day four, we drive south along the border of Kruger National Park, making our way towards Swaziland. Along the way we pass farming towns and Shangaan settlements, pausing in Nelspruit before heading through fertile farmlands. Then we ascend into the hills, traversing scenic mountain passes, as we wind our way up into the small, land-locked country of Swaziland.

As we drive through Swaziland, we come across local markets showcasing the signature crafts of the Swazi people. Passing Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, we proceed to the incredibly scenic Ezulwini Valley, which means 'Valley of Heavens’. Here we will spend time exploring the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - a non-profit owned and managed protected area.

For the next two nights, we camp near the secluded Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Swaziland’s oldest game park.

  • Accommodation: Safari camp or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Optional Activities: Sunset game drive
  • Travel: about 450km / 8 hours drive

Day 5: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - Swaziland

This morning we wake up in the stunning Ezulwini Valley, surrounded by unspoilt nature. Keep your eyes and ears open for birds and antelopes as we eat breakfast before we venture into Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. The protected area hosts more than 40 species of animals, including kudu, zebra, hippo, ostrich and baboon. More unusual finds range from aardwolf and dwarf mongoose to striped polecat and honey badger.

First, we visit the Royal Enclosure to explore the rich history and culture of the Kingdom of Swaziland. Then we walk through a traditional Swazi village with a local guide who tells us more about the customs and cultural practices here. There is time to browse the arts and crafts at the market stalls and walk around the village. Back in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, we have lunch and then you are free to enjoy optional activities or simply relax at the pool and soak up the scenery. Choose from horse riding trails, game viewing drives, guided nature walks and mountain biking in the area.

At the end of the day, we sit back with sundowners watching for animals and birds at the hippo pool, followed by a tasty dinner prepared by the crew.

  • Accommodation: Safari camp (twin share tents with shared facilities) / WiFi
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Optional Activities: Mountain biking tour, horse riding, sunset game drive, guided bird tour, Umphakatsi cultural tour, guided walk
  • Travel: about 60km

Day 6: Swaziland to St Lucia - South Africa

From Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary we travel south through rural Swaziland and back into South Africa. Entering the KwaZulu-Natal Province we make our way to the East Coast of South Africa and our next destination - St Lucia. This small town is located in a beautiful and wild natural area, boasting rugged beaches, wetlands and an unspoilt estuarine system.

This afternoon we set off on a boat cruise on the scenic estuary of the former St Lucia Wetland Area, now named iSimangaliso Wetland Park. On the boat cruise, hippos and crocodiles are a common sight, along with an abundance of birds and other animals.

After dinner, we relax in the leafy gardens and watch the starry African skies.

  • Accommodation: Lodge or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Optional Activities: Night drive in Isimangaliso, cultural tour, bicycle tour, birding & hiking tours
  • Travel: about 330km / 7 hours drive

Day 7: St Lucia to Durban - South Africa

On day seven you are free to stroll into the seaside town of St. Lucia and browse the markets and shops, or simply relax at the lovely camp.

In the mid-morning, we continue through pine and sugar plantations on our way south to the coastal city of Durban. One of the largest commercial ports in Africa, Durban is a popular holiday destination, known for its sandy beaches, balmy weather and warm Indian Ocean waters. This afternoon you can explore the city or spend time on the beach and in the evening you can enjoy the lively nightlife and excellent restaurants.

  • Accommodation: Lodge or similar (twin share accommodation with en-suite facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast
  • Optional Activities: Durban City Tour
  • Travel: about 260km / 4 hours drive

Day 8: Durban - South Africa

Spend the day enjoying the sandy beaches and city highlights of Durban. This is one of the best surfing destinations in South Africa, so hire a surfboard or go for a lesson to enjoy the superb surf.

Visit the stretch of beachfront known as Golden Mile to see where it's all happening. Browse the local markets and sit back at one of the many restaurants and cafes overlooking the beach. Indian-influenced Durban curry and bunny chow (curry in hollowed-out bread) are two of the local specialities not to be missed. The uShaka Marine World is well worth visiting, with highlights including the largest collections of sharks in the Southern Hemisphere. You can also get your adrenaline flowing on the water slides at Africa's biggest marine theme park. To seriously ramp up your adrenaline levels, do the Big Swing from Moses Mabhida stadium taking in the 360-degree-views of Durban.

  • Accommodation: Lodge or similar (twin share accommodation with en-suite facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast
  • Optional Activities: uShaka Marine World, Surfing & Moses Mabhida Stadium Big Swing

Day 9: Durban to Underberg Area - South Africa

Today we leave the balmy coast, travelling through Pietermaritzburg on our way into the southern Drakensberg Mountains. South Africa's tallest mountain range the Drakensberg is a lush and incredibly scenic region.

We head to our base at the foot of Sani Pass, the only road traversing the Drakensberg Escarpment and arguably the most impressive mountain pass in South Africa. For the next two nights, we camp at a peaceful lodge in this stunning mountainous setting.

The Sani Pass above the lodge was once a mule track that served as the trade route between the Underberg in South Africa and Mokhotlong in the Kingdom of Lesotho. In the afternoon you are free to relax and take in the beautiful views, breathe the fresh mountain air and go walking or hiking in the surrounding hills.

  • Accommodation: Lodge or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, dinner
  • Optional Activities: Hiking and walking trails
  • Travel: about 220km / 3 hours drive

Day 10: Underberg Area & Sani Pass - South Africa

On Day 10, meet up with local guides and venture into Lesotho, travelling in a 4x4 vehicle.

We drive up the rugged Sani Pass, at 2874 metres above sea level, enjoying the breathtaking views of the Drakensberg Mountains and looking out for wildlife and birds. The guides tell tales of the early days when pioneers first forged this route, sharing a bit about the history of this remote area. We travel deeper into Lesotho stopping in a small village to visit a local home and get a taste of local culture and rural life in Lesotho. We visit a shearing shed where we get to see an angora goat or sheep being sheared by hand (in shearing season).

Then we 4x4 up Black Mountain - Lesotho's second highest mountain road pass at 3240 meters above sea level. We stop for a picnic lunch up on the pass, taking in the sweeping mountain views. Then we meet up with the local shepherds who spend the summer tending their flocks in the area. Next, we walk the short distance to a viewpoint looking onto Thabana Ntlenyana - the highest point in Southern Africa, at 3482 meters above sea level. From the towering mountain tops, we return to our camp at the foot of Sani Pass, stopping for a drink at the highest bar in Africa along the way.

  • Accommodation: Lodge or similar (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, dinner
  • Optional Activities: Walking and hiking
  • Travel: about 30km / Full day tour

Day 11: Underberg Area to Battlefields & Drakensberg - South Africa

Today we delve into the history of the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields, where many a famous battle took place during colonial times. Thousands of British, Boer (Dutch settler) and Zulu soldiers died in fierce battles over territorial control and power in the 1800s.

First, we go to the site of the famous Battle of Blood River, where 10 to 20 thousand Zulu warriors armed with spears, were defeated by 470 Voortrekkers (Dutch pioneers) armed with guns. Then we visit the historic site of the Battle of Rorke's Drift, one of the most significant Anglo-Zulu battles. This intense 12-hour battle saw 150 British soldiers defend Rorke's Drift against over 3000 Zulu warriors. Next, we visit the site of the Battle of Talana Hill, also known as the Battle of Dundee, where the Boer War between British and Boer troops began in 1899.

From Talana Hill, we make our way through the Drakensberg foothills towards our lodge between the Royal Natal National Park and Cathedral Peak Reserve. Later in the afternoon we arrive at our remote lodge and take it easy. Take a dip in one of the rock pools or play a game of foosball, table tennis or pool at the lodge.

  • Accommodation: Lodge (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Travel: about 240km / 5 hours drive

Day 12: Drakensberg & Royal Natal National Park - South Africa

We spend today exploring the Royal Natal National Park, forming part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Taking day packs with us we head into this scenic national park, featuring clear mountain streams and waterfalls.

This mountainous region of KwaZulu-Natal is ideal for walking, with numerous hiking trails to choose from. You can enjoy a short walk, or either a half or full day hike in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. Horseback rides are another option (extra cost) and there is a comprehensive guidebook of the walking and horse trails. One of the highlights in the Drakensberg foothills is walking to the Amphitheatre geological feature to admire the dramatic cliff face. The caves in the area are also worth visiting to see ancient San rock art.

After a day of soaking up the stunning mountain views and fresh air, we return to camp for a wholesome dinner.

Note: An alternative hiking trail may be used in the case of poor visibility and weather conditions.

  • Accommodation: Lodge (twin share tents with shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Optional Activities: Guided Tugela Falls hike, horseback trails

Day 13: Drakensberg & Royal Natal National Park to Pretoria- South Africa

Today we gather for breakfast before boarding our shared shuttle for the journey back to Pretoria, arriving back in late in the afternoon.

Please note that on occasion, the shared shuttle may be replaced by a public bus service.

  • Meals included: Breakfast
  • Travel: about 380km / 6 hours drive

Please Note:

This 13-day Kruger to Cape Town Overland Camping Safari is also available as an Accommodated Overland Safari following the same itinerary but offering lodge and backpacker accommodation instead of camping in tents. See the Full Pricing for the price of the accommodated tour version.

Tour Accommodation:

Sleep in two-person dome tents with fly sheets, sewn-in groundsheets, zip-up insect screens and foam mattresses. The campsites usually have reasonable washing and showering facilities, electricity points and sometimes even a small shop, bar or swimming pool. We camp at hotels, backpackers, lodges and similar establishments, some with WiFi. On a few nights, we stay in twin rooms with en-suite bathrooms and dorm rooms with shared facilities.

Tour Transport:

Travel in a 24-seater, self-contained, custom-built safari truck with onboard tables, plug sockets, freezer, water tank, mini-library, iPod jack, safety features and 70-litre individual lockers. A safari vehicle is used for game drives.

Child Policy

This tour does not take children.

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  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • 2 person dome tents
  • Fully equipped safari vehicle
  • Mattresses
  • Service of two crew members
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  • Adventure Pass activities
  • Travel Insurance
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