A comprehensive camping safari into South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, starting in Johannesburg and ending in Cape Town, South Africa.
First, we travel to the vast Greater Kruger National Park for game viewing in South Africa's premier wildlife reserve and explore the scenic Panorama Route. From there it's off to Swaziland to hike and enjoy nature in Mlilwane Nature Reserve, before crossing back into South Africa to visit the diverse iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the prestigious Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park. Heading south we travel into the Drakensberg Mountains where we enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Royal Natal National Park, before visiting mountainous Lesotho.
Then we drive into the semi-arid Small Karoo of South Africa and on to Addo Elephant National Park for more game viewing. Next, we travel along the well-known Garden Route of South Africa taking in beach, forest and adventure highlights, and stopping in Oudtshoorn to see Cango Caves. Lastly, we drive along the Cape Whale Route, stopping over in the whale watching capital of Hermanus and visiting Stony Point penguin colony, before getting a taste of the Cape Winelands Region.
Welcome to South Africa! Leaving the bustling city of Johannesburg we travel east into the Mpumalanga Province, making our way to Kruger National Park. We head into the Lowveld region, which hosts numerous top game parks and is known as the safari capital of South Africa.
In the late afternoon, you have the chance to embark on an optional sunset game drive which needs to be booked in advance (your guide can assist you on departure this morning).
Our first campsite is at a safari lodge located in a private wildlife concession inside Kruger National Park. This evening your guide tells you more about the safari adventure ahead as we relax around the campfire.
This safari comes with an optional Activity Package at an additional cost. The itinerary includes these highly-recommended activities. Contact African Budget Safaris for a detailed breakdown of what is included in the Activity Package and see the Full Pricing Information above for the cost of the Activity Package.
On day two we get up early and make our way into the world-famous Kruger Park for an unforgettable day of game viewing. Entering the vast Kruger Park the game viewing adventure begins right away. Kruger National Park is home to Africa's Big Five, as well as a multitude of other African animals, both small and large. This is South Africa's premier national park, famous for its superb game viewing and progressive conservation practices.
Our truck offers an elevated vantage for seeing over other vehicles and the bush, providing excellent opportunities for spotting and photographing as many of the wild animals in Kruger Park as possible. If you have opted for the Activity Package then you take a 4x4 game drive in an open safari vehicle instead, immersing yourself in the wilderness that is Kruger National Park.
In the late afternoon, you can set off on a sunset game drive as an optional extra.
On day three you have the option of venturing into the bush on foot for a guided game walk (optional extra) or you can sleep in a little.
Then, we visit the Panorama Route, driving into one of the most scenic parts of South Africa. Travelling along the Panorama Route we stop to admire the spectacular views from God's Window, looking out over the Lowveld to the distant mountains along the Mozambique border. We also stop to view Bourke’s Luck Potholes - peculiar rock features created by water erosion over decades. Our drive takes us along Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest vegetated canyons in the world.
From the scenic splendours of the Panorama Route, we return to our safari camp in Kruger Park.
This morning we head back into the legendary Kruger National Park looking out for wildlife as we head south through the bush. Leaving Kruger we cross into the small, landlocked country of Swaziland, encompassing a diversity of terrains, from lowlands to towering mountains.
We head to the Nyonyane Mountains in the northwest region of Swaziland, where Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is located. This beautiful reserve lies in the "Valley of Heaven" or Ezulwini Valley and is known for its idyllic setting. Covering 4 560 hectares of open grassland plains and towering mountains, this is the oldest protected area in Swaziland.
In Mlilwane we take our time to tune into nature, soaking up the fresh mountain air and scenery.
Day five starts off with a nature walk in the scenic Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Your safari guide takes you for a walk on the Nature Trail and tells you more about the local environment and history as you go.
Later on, we head to the Esijeni community for a guided tour of the village (included in Activity Package). A local guide conducts the two-hour guided walk through the village introducing you to Swazi culture. This interactive tour offers a chance to participate in some of the day-to-day activities of life in the village, from grinding maize to carrying water. This afternoon is free for optional activities, relaxing in nature and exploring Mlilwane further. Go hiking or mountain biking or join a game drive, the choice is yours. We camp (shared ablutions) at Mlilwane.
This morning we are off to the East Coast of Africa, bidding farewell to Swaziland. We drive back into South Africa heading to St Lucia at iSimangaliso Wetland Park, near the Mozambique border. Isimangaliso was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa when it was still known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. The area is a heritage site given the high biodiversity it protects, including threatened and endemic species, across its range of habitats.
This evening we are treated to a cultural experience, gaining insight into the local Zulu people, their traditions and language.
We spend two nights at a lodge in St Lucia, staying in en-suite rooms.
Today we head to nearby Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve for a morning game drive in this wildlife-rich wilderness area. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is famous for its rhino conservation successes, hosting one of the world's largest white rhino populations. Hluhluwe and Imfolozi together make up one of KwaZulu-Natal's best game parks - the oldest game reserve in Africa.
We take a game drive in open 4x4 vehicles exploring the only state-run park in the province of KwaZulu-Natal where all of the Big Five occur. After our morning of bird watching and game viewing in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, we drive back to St Lucia.
Later this afternoon we embark on a relaxing sunset boat cruise on the lagoon for some bird and hippo viewing in the scenic iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
On day eight we travel further south along the beautiful east coast of South Africa to the city of Durban. We pause for a short walk along the promenade in Durban, a popular seaside holiday destination. Then we leave behind the golden beaches of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, travelling inland to the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, formerly Royal Natal National Park, located in the unbelievably scenic Drakensberg Escarpment.
En route we stop to visit the historic attraction of the Mandela Capture Site where a statue of world-famous Nelson Mandela, or Madiba, marks the place of his arrest in 1962. After visiting the site where Mandela's 27-year long imprisonment first began, we drive to Howick Falls to marvel at the beauty of nature.
We camp at a resort in the Drakensberg Mountains for the next two nights.
We spend day nine exploring mountain paths and enjoying the beauty of the towering Drakensberg Mountains. The Drakensberg Mountains are South Africa’s highest peaks, also widely considered the most beautiful. In the morning your guide takes you on a hike in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park where we have the chance to meet with local guides and view San rock paintings.
There are plenty of walks to choose from, with options suited to different levels of fitness and activity, so you can set your own pace. Alternatively, you can enjoy other optional outdoor activities, such as horse riding, or simply unwind in the scenic Drakensberg Mountains.
Next, we take an inspiring drive into Lesotho, travelling via spectacular mountain passes, a vulture centre and the impressive landscapes of the Golden Gate National Park in South Africa. This afternoon we bypass the capital, Maseru, and head to our campsite up in the mountains of Lesotho, famous for its mountain scenery and pony trekking.
Known as the 'Kingdom in the Sky', Lesotho is one of the highest countries in the world, with the entire country lying over 1000m above sea level.
Day 11 begins with a hike in the mountains of Lesotho, soaking up the beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air. We hike to a village where we get to meet the local Basotho people and find out more about their way of life. The Basotho are known for their traditional straw hats, colourful textiles and hardy ponies. In the afternoon you have the chance to go pony trekking in the hills (optional). On the pony trek, Lesotho villagers will guide you along secluded mountain trails with breathtaking views.
We camp with shared ablutions at a mountain lodge with a bar.
This hot inland region, called the Karoo, is an open and flat terrain with sheep farms and a scattering of remote towns. Driving through the vast, dry plains of the Karoo we cross the Gariep (formerly Orange) River on our way to Graaff-Reinet.
During summer, we visit the nearby Valley of Desolation to enjoy sundowners whilst admiring the breathtaking views of the dramatic landscapes and the historic town. In winter months this excursion takes place the following morning and this afternoon you can take a walk around the old town, which hosts one of the highest concentrations of monuments in the country. Overnight at a resort camp (shared ablutions) in Graaff Reinet.
In wintertime, we rise early and head to the Valley of Desolation for a scenic sunrise over Camdeboo plains. We linger to take in the beautiful scenery and see the local fauna and flora before moving on. For those travelling during summer, this morning you have the chance to explore Graaff-Reinet on foot or join a local guide for an optional historical tour of Graaff-Reinet, the fourth oldest town in South Africa (time allowing).
Next, we head to Addo Elephant National Park in the rugged Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This unique, malaria-free game park is home to one of the world's densest concentrations of African elephants. Addo Elephant Park also boasts the ‘Big Seven’ (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark), as the game park includes both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. This afternoon we embark on a game drive in our safari truck, searching out the plentiful wildlife of Addo Park.
We camp at a game lodge in the Sundays River Valley, near Addo. Facilities include a bar, laundry services, hot showers (shared ablutions) and internet.
This morning you have the option of visiting the seaside city of Port Elizabeth for some sightseeing or relaxing at the game lodge which is set on a small private game reserve, hosting various antelopes and small animals.
After lunch at the lodge, we set off into the game-rich Addo Elephant National Park to experience the African bush and search for wildlife in South Africa's third largest game park. The afternoon game drive in Addo Elephant National Park is conducted in our safari truck, which provides an elevated vantage for spotting wildlife and birds. We are sure to see elephants and all kinds of other creatures, from the flightless dung beetle to the regal lion.
Early this morning we set off west towards the beautiful Garden Route. Along the way, we stop at the world-famous surfing destination of Jeffrey's Bay, known as J'Bay. Then it is on to the Tsitsikamma area where we spend the next two nights.
Part of the larger Garden Route National Park, Tsitsikamma National Park is a diverse and scenic protected area, nestled between the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Indian Ocean. The park stretches about 80km's along the coastline and includes a 5km belt of sea, making it one of the largest marine protected areas worldwide. In addition to the rich marine ecosystems protected by the national park, Tsitsikamma also features South Africa's endemic Fynbos biome, as well as indigenous forests. Between the marine habitats, Fynbos covered hills and forested ravines this park provides habitats for a diverse range of birds and animals.
On day 16 we walk the first section of the Otter Trail, one of South Africa's top hiking trails. The trail begins at Storms River in the Tsitsikamma Park, following the rocky coastline. This challenging, but incredibly scenic hike takes us to a waterfall and back. We also visit the Big Tree of Tsitsikamma to see this incredible eight hundred-year-old yellowwood. Alternatively, you can take it easy on the morning of day 16; going for a swim in the sea, walking along the beach and in the indigenous forests, and crossing the Storm's River suspension bridge.
In the afternoon we embark on a tour called the Woodcutters Journey (included in the Activity Package). This interesting journey reveals more about the indigenous flora and fauna of this rich ecosystem, as well as the local history of the Tsitsikamma area. You also have the option of doing a treetop canopy tour (optional extra) to view the indigenous forests of Tsitsikamma from a zip-line up in the branches.
We camp at a resort in Storms River, near Tsitsikamma Park.
A short drive further westwards along the Garden Route brings us to Nature’s Valley, where you can unwind on the beach or go hiking along the coast.
Then we move on to the next Garden Route gem - the popular beach resort town of Plettenberg Bay, known for its stunning Blue Flag beaches. There are plenty of optional activities to enjoy in and around Plett, as locals call it. Your guide helps with planning and booking activities to ensure that you get the most out of today. The safari truck will travel between selected points of interest on a set schedule providing you with the freedom to join or leave activities as you choose.
At the end of the day, we meet up at a beach on Keurbooms Lagoon, just outside of Plettenberg Bay. Continuing along the Garden Route, we head to the charming coastal village of Wilderness where we overnight at a resort. Accommodation is in twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms and facilities include a pool, bar, restaurant and internet.
On the morning of day 18, our Budget Southern Africa Tour takes us inland over the breathtaking mountain passes of the Outeniqua Mountains; which separate the coast from the semi-arid Klein (Small) Karoo. Leaving the green belt along the ocean we drive to Oudtshoorn, renowned for the nearby Cango Caves and its ostriches.
Arriving in the Oudtshoorn area we make our way to the Cango Caves. This underground cave network is made up of a grand complex of interconnected caverns and passageways. We take a tour of the caves to see the magnificent stalagmites and stalactites in the large limestone caves.
In Oudtshoorn, we camp at a resort with a pool, internet and shared ablutions.
Today we drive along the well-known Route 62, passing through the barren Klein Karoo on our way to the Cape Whale Route. We stop to sample the homemade confectionaries and baked goods, and browse local arts and crafts, at one of the many quaint and unique farmstalls along the Route 62. One of our colourful stops is at a quirky bar, with an eye-catching name - Ronnie's Sex Shop - which is actually just a country pub.
Our next destination is the coastal town of Hermanus, the top whale watching hotspot in the country. Tonight we stay in en-suite rooms at a comfortable hotel overlooking the ocean. In the evening you are free to relax at the hotel or eat out with your fellow travel companions.
Start the day with a scenic stroll along the seaside boardwalk for some fresh air and whale watching in season. During whale watching season (July to November) southern right whales are commonly sighted off the coast here.
Leaving Hermanus we drive west along the Cape Whale Coast Route to Betty's Bay and the nearby Stony Point Nature Reserve. Visiting the Stony Point reserve we encounter one of the world's largest breeding colonies of African Penguins and endangered cormorant species. Next, we stop in at a wine farm in the Stellenbosch region of the famous Cape Winelands. Here you are treated to a Chocolate & Wine Tasting to sample the decadent delights of the Western Cape.
Then we make our way towards the iconic Table Mountain and Cape Town. Completing the last leg of our Overland Camping Tour through Southern Africa, our memorable journey ends in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
This southbound South African Camping Safari is also available in the reverse order as a South African Safari - Northbound, starting in Cape Town and ending in Johannesburg.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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