This fully organized and guided 16-day African wildlife conservation safari has been tailored specifically to give you a very rare once in a lifetime opportunity like no other! You will experience the spectacular scenery, culture, and cuisine that South Africa has to offer and a very unique hands on experience as you get up close and personal to many wildlife species that most people will only view from afar. So, if you have a sense of adventure and a passion for wildlife, come and join this very exciting safari experience!
You will be accommodated in privately owned game lodges, guesthouses, and hotels. Your accommodation includes City Lodge Hotel for 1 night, a lodge in Nelspruit for 1 night, Forest Lodge in Hoedspruit for 4 nights, a luxury game lodge in KNP for 3 nights, a luxury private villa in Nelspruit for 3 nights, a luxury accommodation in Cape Town for 2 nights, and White Shark lodge for 1 night.
Once you arrive at O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), you will meet with a safari group representative. You will then proceed to the City Lodge Hotel, your accommodation for the night and conveniently located at the airport. Once checked in, there is time to settle into the room before joining the group for a welcome / introductory dinner at the hotel with your safari leader, Doctor Sally Armstrong.
After a restful sleep, you will enjoy breakfast at the hotel before meeting with the group to discuss the schedule and itinerary for the upcoming and very exciting 16 days.
Today is the first day of this very exciting 16-day safari as it begins with a fully guided half-day tour to the Soweto. At the end of the tour, you will enjoy your lunch in Soweto and taste some traditional South African cuisine. After lunch, you will set off on a scenic 4-hour journey to the town of Nelspruit, the start of the world famous Panorama Route.
After arriving in your accommodation in Nelspruit, you will then get ready for an evening presentation by the senior veterinarian of Kruger National Park, Doctor Peter Buss. Dr. Buss will provide a very informative and interesting talk about his role as the senior wildlife vet in the Kruger National Park and discuss some of the challenges faced in the fight against wildlife poaching. After some drinks during this informal presentation, you will enjoy dinner at the hotel with Dr. Buss before bed.
Following breakfast at the lodge, you will depart Nelspruit for a scenic drive to Hoedspruit via the famous Panorama Route where you will enjoy some spectacular scenery and breathtaking views, then drive onto the little tourist town of Graskop for a tasty lunch at the world famous Harrie’s Pancakes.
After lunch and some curio shopping, you will continue along the Panorama Route, stopping at some famous landmarks via the impressive Blyde River Canyon, the world's second largest canyon. In the late afternoon, you will arrive at the Forest Lodge in Hoedspruit, where you will spend the next 4 nights. There will be time to settle into the chalets before an impressive buffet welcome dinner.
You will start the morning with a buffet breakfast at Forest Lodge and then depart for your first morning assisting the wildlife veterinarian with his veterinary conservation work in a variety of different procedures and wildlife immobilization. This is a very rare opportunity to get hands-on with some of Africa's most magnificent animals and learn about conservation from one of the world's most well renowned and well respected South African wildlife vets.
Please note that the wildlife vet work can be unpredictable, therefore the species you work with will depend on the veterinarian’s schedule and the procedures that need to be carried out at the time.
After participating and assisting the vet with some exciting wildlife, veterinary treatments, and procedures for the morning, it's finally time for a hearty lunch. After lunch, you will experience a very exciting visit to meet Jessica, the famous hippo. Jessica is a hand-raised hippo that was rescued after being separated from her mother during a massive flood.
Her situation is quite unique as she spends half of her life living with her adoptive human family and half of her time with the wild hippos living down river. Jessica is world famous and has featured on many TV programs including Animal Planet and the Sunday Night show. Unlike wild hippos, Jessica is quite sociable with humans, giving you the opportunity to get up close and personal with Jessica and feed her her favorite drink and snack.
You will start the morning off with another delicious buffet breakfast at Forest Lodge and then depart to spend another adventurous morning with the wildlife vet. After finishing the morning veterinary procedures, you will have some free time to relax at Forest Lodge. After lunch, you will depart for an evening of traditional African culture and dancing.
Your evening begins with a very own personal interactive village tour, followed by a very vibrant and lively performance by some traditional African dancers. It is quite a treat to watch, as the dancers trace the history and culture of the local Shangan tribe and share their music, customs, and some traditionally cooked tasty African cuisine.
After breakfast, you will depart to spend another memorable morning with the wildlife vet getting hands on with many different species of wildlife. After lunch at the Forest Lodge, you will head to the river for a very scenic Blyde River Canyon boat cruise (weather permitting). Being the world’s second largest canyon, Blyde River Canyon is quite spectacular and provides many nice photo opportunities. After the boat cruise, you will enjoy a tasty buffet dinner back at Forest Lodge around the fire.
The hot air balloon adventure starts just before the sunrise. After arriving at the launch site, you will be provided with a safety briefing while watching the eight-storey balloon being prepped for flight. The one-hour balloon flight takes place over the stunning Lowveld, where you will be treated to breathtaking views of the lush scenery below, as you fly over the hills and valleys along the legendary Blyde River Canyon.
The balloon can fly as high as 2,000 feet or low enough to skim the treetops, making for a thrilling journey and endless photo opportunities. After the balloon flight, the ground crew will deflate the balloon while you enjoy the Cape sparkling wine or orange juice before being taken to a country lodge for breakfast. An in-flight photograph of your balloon flight and First Flight certificate will also be included.
You will then head back to Forest Lodge for a very special behind the scenes tour at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with many of the resident wildlife species including Shanandi, Moholoholo's ambassador cheetah.
This center has a long history and is highly recognized for its dedication to wildlife education and conservation, and focuses on the preservation of endangered species and the rehabilitation of injured and poisoned wildlife. Please note that the balloon ride is subject to weather conditions at that time.
After the delicious breakfast on your last morning at the Forest Lodge, you will depart and head to the world famous Kruger National Park (KNP). KNP is one of South Africa’s largest game reserves and home to ‘the Big Five’ including lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, and black rhino, as well as a large number of unique bird species. Here, you will spend the next 2 nights at a luxury game lodge where you will have many excellent photograph opportunities and enjoy seeing a wide variety of wildlife during the morning and evening game drives.
After arriving at the luxury lodge, you will have time to settle into your very comfortable and scenic accommodation before getting ready for a very exciting night safari game drive. During your night safari drive, you will experience the real feel of Africa. There is a unique atmosphere in the bush after dark and using a powerful spotlight on the open safari vehicle, you will have the opportunity to experience many of the nocturnal animal species as they venture out into the night.
You will also enjoy the beauty of the African sunset as you alight from the open-top safari vehicle and enjoy some refreshing drinks and snacks. After the night safari drive, you will then head back to the lodge for drinks and a tasty dinner around the campfire before falling asleep to the sounds of the African bush.
This morning, you will up early for a tea / coffee and then depart the lodge for an early morning game drive before returning for a scrumptious buffet breakfast. After breakfast, there's a time to relax around the lodge before setting out on an afternoon game walk, where you will have the opportunity to take in the beautiful surroundings and experience the thrill of viewing wildlife on foot.
During your walk, you will be accompanied by an experienced ranger who will also provide a very interesting commentary on many of the plant and animal species that can be found in the KNP. You will also enjoy an evening game drive before feasting on a delicious dinner at this stunning lodge.
After an early morning game drive and breakfast, you will depart the lodge and travel to the little town of Hazyview. After arriving in Hazyview, you will visit an elephant sanctuary where you will spend the morning enjoying a very educational and informative tour designed to give you an insight into the lives and conservation of African elephants.
Having been rescued from a culling operation, these elephants have become ambassadors for their species and have an important conservation message to share. You will have a very rare opportunity to share in a very intimate and unique experience by feeding them from hand to trunk and getting your photo taken standing with these awe-inspiring creatures.
The elephant experience will be followed by lunch en route to your accommodation in a luxury private villa in Nelspruit, where you will spend the next 3 nights. Here, you will have your own personal chef and butler to cook you some very scrumptious meals which may be eaten overlooking the spectacular view of the mountains and valley below from the scenic hill top location.
After breakfast at the guest house, you will depart for a visit to 'Care for Wild'. Care for Wild is a wildlife rehabilitation center which rescues and rehabilitates abandoned and orphaned baby rhinos from the Kruger area, where rhino poaching is particularly rampant. Here, you will be given a brief overview about the history of the orphanage and introduced to the rhinos that live there.
You will also learn about some of the challenges of conservationists amidst the escalation of poaching, including the delicate business of hand-rearing the sometimes highly traumatized rhino calves. It’s then time for you to meet the resident rhino orphans where you will have the unique opportunity to get hands on and interact with these endearing rhino calves at feeding time.
After the rhino orphanage tour, you will depart for lunch in Nelspruit at the beautiful botanical garden. After lunch, you will head back to the guesthouse and relax before dinner and bed time.
After breakfast at the guest lodge, you will depart for a visit to Chimp Eden. Chimp Eden, established in 2006, is a sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees who have been misplaced from their natural habitats. It is the only one in South Africa and is run by the world famous Jane Goodall Institute which is widely recognized for establishing innovative community centered conservation and development programs in Africa.
At the chimpanzee sanctuary, you will be taken on a very educational and interesting tour where you will meet and learn about the history of some of the resident chimps each with their own unique stories and personalities.
After the chimp tour, you will head to a local children’s orphanage. The orphanage, established in 1998, is run by the sisters of Saint Francis and is a residential care facility committed to improving the quality of life of children who are HIV positive. Caring for 31 children aged between 1 -18 years who have no other care alternative, the orphanage provides a home where each child’s individual health and nutritional needs are met.
During your visit to the orphanage, you will meet the sisters who will introduce you to the children and show you around the orphanage. After lunch, you will then join the children for some arts and crafts, and hand out some books and gift packs. After your visit to the orphanage, you will head back to the guesthouse for dinner and drinks.
After a delicious breakfast at the guesthouse, you will depart for the 3.5-hour drive to O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB). After arriving at the airport, you will have lunch before boarding your flight to Cape Town.
Cape Town is one of the world’s most scenic cities that is famous for its harbor and landmarks, such as Table Mountain and Cape Point. You will arrive in Cape Town in the late afternoon and then will be transferred to a luxury accommodation. Here, you will relax and settle into your accommodation before enjoying a lovely dinner.
After the early morning pick up from the hotel, you will be transferred to the White Shark lodge in Kleinbaai. After a hearty breakfast at the lodge, you will experience the unique opportunity and thrill of diving with great white sharks led by the professional team from the Great White Shark Project.
Founded in 1989, the Great White Shark Project is a renowned global research organization, totally dedicated to the conservation of great white sharks. As the most successful operation globally, White Shark Project has logged the most contacts with the great white sharks in the world and each year, the team gathers data which are crucial to the understanding and conservation of these magnificent ocean predators.
In addition, they provide improved public education and positive close range engagement where diving is carried out in a completely safe and controlled environment. No diving experience is necessary. While you have the exciting opportunity to dive with the sharks in the half submerged cage, non-divers are also fully accommodated and can photograph and view the sharks from the boat if you wish.
If you are viewing the sharks from the boat, you will not be disappointed as you will also be provided with a very close up view of these impressive creatures. If you are lucky, you may experience the sharks ‘spy-hopping’, the breaching action used to launch themselves high into the air in pursuit of prey.
After breakfast, you will be picked up from the hotel and transported to the airport in time to catch your flight back to Johannesburg. After 16 days spent learning about wildlife conservation, experiencing some very unique wildlife encounters, and meeting some great people, you will be sure to take home many amazing and unforgettable memories.
This safari will take place in Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit, Kruger National Park, Cape Town, and Overstrand in South Africa.
You will be served daily meals and drinks during your safari. Non-alcoholic drinks are provided during all meals. A limit of 2 alcoholic beverages per person will be provided during dinners. Specific dietary requirements will also be catered for.
Please book your flight and arrive at O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) before 5 p.m. African Wildlife Conservation and Safaris will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.