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Ultimate Safari South Africa

This magnificent tour will take you to South Africa’s most well-known highlights and “off the beaten track” places. From hectic Johannesburg to the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, you will discover the treasures of these three cities. With five unique wildlife game reserves, high mountains, deep canyons, breathtaking scenery, and enchanting activities, this holiday offers you a concentration of wonderment. This is a journey to the delights that these magical Southern African destinations have to offer.

Overview

  • Minimum group size: 12 persons
  • Starting point and ending point: Soweto and Cape Town International Airport (CPT)
  • Main wildlife to be viewed: Dolphine and elephant
  • Children policy: Participating children need to be supervised is under age 12.
  • Languages: French

Meet the guides

Craig
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Highlights

  • 3 game drive safaris
  • Local guide in Soweto
  • South African full-time guide
  • 2 cruises to St Lucia and Hout Bay
  • Entrance fees to national cultural parks, museums, and tastings
  • 1 lunch, 8 dinners, and 2 barbecues
  • 23 nights’ accommodation
  • Daily breakfast

Styles


23 activity days in English
Spoken languages: French, English
The maximum participants in the group is 12
Airport transfer included: OR Tambo International Airport
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Accommodation

During the safari, you will stay at several accommodations.

  • Day 1: Lancaster House, a mid-range guest house located in or near Soweto
  • Day 2: Graskop, a mid-range hotel located just outside Blyde River Canyon
  • Day 3 and 4: Lower Sabie, a mid-range rondavel located inside Kruger National Park
  • Day 5: Mogi Boutique Hotel, a mid-range guest house located in or near Ezulwini Valley
  • Day 6, 7, and 8: St Lucia Wetlands Guest House, a mid-range guest house located in or near Lake St. Lucia
  • Day 9 and 10: Umzimkulu River Lodge, a mid-range guest house located in or near Ukhahlamba
  • Day 11 and 12: Ocean View, a mid-range hotel located in or near Coffee Bay
  • Day 13 and 14: Arminel, a mid-range hotel located in or near Hogsback
  • Day 15: Buitenverwagten, a mid-range guest house located in or near Graaff-Reinet
  • Day 16: Happy Lands, a mid-range guest house located just outside Addo Elephant National Park
  • Day 17: River Tide Lodge, a mid-range guest house located in or near Knysna
  • Day 18: De Denne, a mid-range guest house located in or near Oudtshoorn
  • Day 19: Arniston Seaside Cottages, a mid-range self-catering accommodation located in or near Cape Agulhas
  • Day 20 to 23: Bergzicht, a mid-range guest house located in or near Hermanus

Program

Arrival day

You'll be collected from O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) or your hotel. The accommodation before the tour departs can be arranged for an extra cost.

Day 1: Soweto and Johannesburg

This morning, you drive to Soweto where you have a local guide join you parting his intimate knowledge and experience of the largest 'township' in Africa. You visit Soweto Township, Freedom Square, and Hector Pieterson museum and memorial. A walking tour and drive will take you to various points of interest like the home of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Winnie Mandela, and the FNB stadium.

You have lunch in a well known African restaurant on Vilakazi Street, the most visited street in Soweto and home to the late former present, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu who still resides there with his wife Leah. You can, if time permits, visit Lilliesleaf where Nelson Mandela was captured which leads to the famous Rivonia trial. From here to Constitution Hill, you discover the secrets of the past and the tales of the true struggle for freedom.

Day 2: Blyde River Canyon and Pilgrim's Rest

Depart for the beautiful Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga. Follow the scenic Panorama Route and admire God’s Window, Three Rondavels, Blyde River Canyon, Long Tom Pass, the battlefields, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and the various canyon waterfalls. Pilgrim’s Rest is an authentic historical village dating from the first South African gold rush and now a national monument. Have lunch and then, if time permits, a swim in the beautiful MacMac pools to cool off. The accommodation is on the edge of the canyon.

  • Sandton to Blyde River Canyon distance: 496 kilometers
  • Travel time: 5 hours and 49 minutes via N12 (5 hours and 22 minutes without traffic)

Day 3: Kruger National Park

On arrival in the late morning in the famous Kruger Park, you will begin your visit with lunch on the banks of the mighty Sabie River, a glorious 4x4 sunset safari with professional ranger pursuing the big five and other rare and endangered species. Enjoy a great barbecue dinner. The accommodation is a chalet in the national park.

  • Blyde River Canyon to Kruger National Park distance: 71.3 kilometers
  • Travel time: 1 hour and 22 minutes via R40 (1 hour and 22 minutes without traffic)

Day 4: Kruger National Park

Around 04:30, you can leave the camp for a three-hour morning 4x4 safari with a professional ranger to witness the African savannah and wildlife in all its splendor. Return to the camp for a hearty breakfast followed by a full day safari with your guide. The is still in the chalet. If the accommodation is outside the Kruger National Park, a full day 4x4 safari with a professional ranger will replace the 2 x 3-hour game drives.

Day 5: Kingdom of Swaziland

Depart for the Kingdom of Swaziland (passport required). The landscapes are very similar to those of Switzerland. You can visit the Ngwenya Glass Factory and the oldest mine in the world. in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, you can see the Royal Palace, Parliament, the Kings Mausoleum, and a craft market in the Ezulwini Valley.

Day 6: Lake St Lucia, iSimangaliso Wetland Park

After breakfast, you visit the Swaziland candle factory and "House of fire" before departing for St Lucia situated along the tropical coast of Zulu land. En route, you visit a typical Swazi village and orphanage run by a lady who has no NGO or governmental aid but somehow has given hope to many orphaned children. This is an authentic experience that will leave you fond memories of her courage. Have lunch on the way.

Upon arrival, you take a cruise (included) on the St Lucia wetlands, home to a multitude of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and a World Heritage Site. It is in this complex ecosystem where bush meets the beach, mangrove, and sand forests which are home to a stupendous diversity of wildlife and flora. You have the opportunity to encounter hippos, crocodiles, eagles, and maybe even the elusive leopard.

Day 7: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve

Early morning, start from St Lucia to Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, the second oldest national park in the world, home to the big five, and also renowned for saving the white rhino from extinction. You will spend the day exploring this vast reserve accompanied by a professional ranger in a 4x4 vehicle. Late afternoon, you return to St Lucia village. Dinner is at a restaurant of your choice.

Day 8: iSimangaliso Wetland Park to Cape Vidal

This morning, you head into iSimangaliso Wetland Park (the world's most diverse park) where you visit the western and eastern shores exploring the incredible diversity with the opportunity to snorkel the world's southernmost coral reefs, home to hundreds of fish species. This is also the place where one can dive with the dolphins at Cape Vidal.

Alternatively, if the conditions are appropriate, you can head north to Sodwana Bay where you have the opportunity to swim with the dolphins, snorkel among the richest coral reefs on earth, or scuba dive if you have your PADI qualification. The coastline of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the only remaining nesting site in Africa where loggerhead and leatherback turtles still lay their eggs. In the summer season, you can partake in a night safari to visit these endangered marine animals.

Day 9: Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

This morning, you depart for the Drakensberg mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You stop for lunch in Howick, the peaceful capital of the Natal Midlands, where the Umgeni River plunges 95 meters forming a spectacular waterfall. Have lunch and then go to the Mandela Capture Site where the late Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962 before the famous Rivonia trial when he was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island. A monument commemorates this event that changed the course of history.

You then head to the Drakensberg, a World Heritage Site known to the Zulu people as uKhahlamba meaning “Barrier of Spears". The Drakensberg forms a majestic semi-circular border between KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and the inland mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Day 10: Drakensberg up the Sani Pass into Lesotho

Many offered and optional activities are available in this region, which may vary depending on where you are situated or would like to be situated in the Drakensberg. You can opt for an optional 4x4 excursion (highly recommended) and visit Lesotho for the day via the Sani Pass, the highest in Africa, or similar if situated in the Northern Drakensberg.

Alternatively, today, you can choose to go on a guided hike to the famous cave paintings left by the Bushmen of about 4,000 years or trek to the Tugela Falls (the worlds highest). If you prefer not to do the activities mentioned above, you can visit the Golden Gate National Park with its unique sandstone rock formations and wildlife, browse around the pretty town of Clarence with its many little restaurants, or visit the historic battlefields of the 18th century where the English, Afrikaans, and Zulu armies engaged in bloody battles.

Day 11: The Wild Coast Coffee Bay

After breakfast, you will set off for the Wild Coast, one of the most unspoiled parts of the country where the population still lives in an authentic and traditional way. You will have the opportunity to visit Umtata and Nelson Mandela Museum and a few miles away, Qunu, a small village where Nelson Mandela grew up, which now hosts his final resting place. You will learn about the legends that have affected the course of history.

After lunch, you finally reach Coffee Bay, a haven for swimming, fishing, and lazy occupations. This coastal is home to beautiful beaches, estuaries, lagoons, and indigenous hardwood forests.

Day 12: The Wild Coast

After breakfast, you can take a hike along one of the most stunning coastlines in the world dotted with Xhosa huts and 'kraals'. Fresh crayfish and oysters are on offer on the way. They will literally prepare it on the beach, where else can you expect such a delicacy at an incredibly reasonable price.

It happens when you are on your way to the “Hole in the Wall”, a natural wonder where the sea has tirelessly dug a hole in the cliff. The coast on either side of the Hole in the Wall is precipitous and notorious for the number of shipwrecks. On return, you may relax on the beach or take the opportunity to visit another prime 'spot' on this magic coastline.

Day 13: Hogsback in the Amatola Mountains

Dating back to the 1800’s, the charming and vibrant village of Hogsback is high up in the Amathole Mountains of the Eastern Cape, overlooking the rivers and slopes of the Tyume Valley. Hogsback offers you a welcoming peace and tranquillity and plenty to do and see. It is named for its three flat-topped Hogsback Mountains. It is said that the Amatola Forest was the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien's famous The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books and series, hence the many Tolkienesque names.

There are several activities from aromatherapy massages to adrenaline filled activities, abseiling, birdwatching with more than 150 species including Cape parrot, Knysna Loeries, etc. The Amatola Mountains present the visitor with artistically wind-carved rock formations and other shapes such as bell rocks. Mist forests have also formed as a result of moisture in the higher regions.

  • Coffee Bay to Hogsback distance: 378 kilometers
  • Travel time: 5 hours and 50 minutes via N2 and R63. (4 hours and 27 minutes without traffic)

Day 14: Hogsback in the Amatola Mountains

After breakfast, you can choose between the many nature-based activities such as horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, and river rafting. You can also visit special places like Diane Graham’s International Award-Winning Echo Shrine, the world famous gardens like Applegarth with its exotic plants from all over the earth, the magic of Camelot Fairy Meander, a Chartres design Labyrinth which is one of the largest in the world, St. Patrick’s on the Hill Chapel, Robinson dam, the bird sanctuary, the Arts & Crafts route, and more.

Also, you can take a drive via the Hogsback Pass for panoramic views of the Tyume valley and beyond where you will see the "three Hogs" and at a height of 1700 meters, the top of Gaika's Kop. Here, you have views of the Elandsberg mountains, Seymour valley, and to the coastline 120 kilometers away as the crow flies.

Day 15: Graaff-Reinet, the Great Karoo, and the Camdeboo National Park

Travel to Graaff-Reinet, a stylish town in the Eastern Cape and the only town in South Africa that is surrounded by a national park. Founded in 1786, in a bend in the Sundays River, this historic Karoo town is the fourth oldest settlement in South Africa. It is a vibrant tourist destination with over 200 historical buildings and more national monuments than any other towns in the country.

There are also some places of interests. Visit the Dutch Reformed Church, The Reinet Museum, the Agave Distillery, The Valley of Desolation, a national monument, and a geological wonder of weathered dolerite rock pillars. Here, you have endless, magnificent views over the Karoo plains. The Camdeboo National Park is on the outskirts of the town and has an abundance of unique flora and fauna. From here, you can see the town and the Valley of Desolation and a sense of the utter vastness. Visit the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda village.

  • Hogsback to Graaff-Reinet distance: 297 kilometers
  • Travel time: 3 hours and 25 minutes via R63

Day 16: Addo Elephant National Park

After breakfast, you take a relatively short drive to the wonderful Addo Elephant National Park, a diverse wildlife conservation park which is one of the country's 19 national parks. It is famous for the “Big Seven”, “Big Five” plus whales and sharks, especially the magnificent elephants you will encounter at the waterholes. After lunch, you enjoy a safari at the beautiful Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve with a professional ranger in a 4x4 vehicle (optional).

Enoy some refreshments, tea, coffee, and wood-fired baked rolls. The second part of the safari will last until dark. A delicious dinner will be served in the “Boma”. The magic of the boma lies in the design, a type of enclosure with central glowing fireplace lending a mystical and earthy quality. Late in the afternoon, you arrive in the area of the Addo National Park and will stay on a citrus farm on the banks of the Sunday’s River.

  • Graaff-Reinet to Addo Elephant National Park: 140 kilometers
  • Travel time: 1 hour and 35 minutes via R75

Day 17: Knysna and the Garden Route

Enjoy the park at your leisure. Before leaving town, admire the view from “The Heads”, two cliffs that form a narrow passage at the entrance to the lagoon. Discover lush green coastal forests where once many elephants lived. A short drive brings you to the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay, a small luxurious resort town. View the famous Bloukrans Bridge that offers the highest bungee jumping in the world.

At the Tsitsikamma National Park, you can walk in the indigenous forests and cross the mouth of the river on a suspension bridge with beautiful scenery of the dramatic coastline. Leaving the Tsitsikamma area, you can stop to admire the “Big Tree”, an ancient tree in the ironwood with impressive dimensions. The next stop will be in the town of Jeffrey’s Bay, a surfer’s paradise where you can enjoy shopping at Billabong and Quiksilver factory shops before having lunch.

  • Addo Elephant National Park to Knysna distance: 298 kilometers
  • Travel time: 3 hours via N2. (2 hours and 50 minutes without traffic, this route has tolls)

Day 18: Little Karoo

The town of Oudtshoorn is the capital of the Little Karoo, renowned for its spectacular arid landscapes, fossil finds, succulents, as well as desert plants and of course as the Ostrich Capital of the and home to one of the world’s most spectacular cave systems. You can visit the Cango Caves, said to be the most beautiful caves in the world where a succession of galleries, finest dripstone caverns, and extraordinary limestone formations can be admired. The Cango Caves are located in Precambrian limestone at the foothills of the Swartberg range near the town of Oudtshoorn.

Enjoy a visit to the world’s oldest working ostrich farm for a tour. Here, you have the opportunity to taste the world's finest ostrich steak.

  • Oudtshoorn to Agulhas distance: 330 kilometers
  • Travel time: 3 hours and 45 minutes via R62 and R319 (3 hours and 31 minutes without traffic)

Day 19: Arniston

After breakfast, depart for Agulhas at the southernmost point of the continent, renowned for its ancient Khoisan fish traps. Situated where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, Cape Agulhas describes in Portuguese the sharp rocks which threatened the route to India for navigators.

You then drive onto Arniston, a ''jewel'' on the east coast, with its emerald sea and white sand dunes. In the late afternoon, swim or if the tide is short, hike into the sea cave. Have dinner on the beach in a fisherman's cottage in the authentic fisherman's village or an African barbecue, depending on the weather. Your overnight stay will be in Cape Agulhas or Arniston.

  • Oudtshoorn to Agulhas distance: 330 kilometers
  • Travel time: 3 hours and 45 minutes via R62 and R319 (3 hours and 31 minutes without traffic)

Day 20: Hermanus to Cape Town

Hermanus is known as the world’s best land-based whale watching spot between the months of June to December. Enjoy this charming village at your leisure. Walker Bay, a protected bay, offers privileged vantage points to view the southern right whales that come very close to the shoreline to calve every year during the austral winter. An option which is highly recommended is a cruise in the bay in order to observe these magnificent giants more closely.

Continue to Stoney Point in Betty’s Bay, home to Africa’s larger and lesser known penguin colony. You then wind your way along the spectacular Clarence drive on your way to Cape Town.

  • Hermanus to Cape Town distance: 121 kilometers
  • Travel time: 1 hour and 38 minutes via N2 (1 hour and 29 minutes without traffic)

Day 21: Cape Peninsula and Good Hope

This region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exceptional floral diversity. Follow the west coast via Clifton with a stop at Maiden’s Cove to enjoy a magnificent view of the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay then to Hout Bay. Hout Bay is a charming little town where you can enjoy a boat cruise to Duiker Island, home to the world’s largest fur seal colony. The scenic Chapman’s Peak Pass offers breathtaking scenery.

The Cape of Good Hope is where the cold Atlantic waters meet the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. This famous landmark was named by the early Portuguese mariners. Journeying down to the False Bay coast, lunch is at the old harbor of the historical naval port of Simon’s Town. You can finish your day with a visit to Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest Cape Dutch manor house and wine farm built by the first governor of the Cape. Have dinner at a restaurant of your choice.

Day 22: Winelands

Drive to Stellenbosch, a fertile area where oak trees, wheat, and vines quickly replaced the giraffes, elephants, as well as Hottentot and Khoisan peoples. Today, Stellenbosch is known for its beautiful varied architecture, renowned wines, and university where the language of instruction is still mainly Afrikaans. You can visit a museum and historical shop and partake in a cellar tour before traveling over the beautiful Hels Hoogte Pass on your way to Franshhoek. Visit the Huguenot Museum.

At an exceptional boutique wine farm, you can taste local vintage including a Pinotage which is South Africa’s own unique cultivar. At Paarl, you stop in front of Mandela’s statue at the entrance to the prison from which he was liberated in 1990. Paarl means “pearl” in Dutch and refers to the imposing granite mountains surrounding the town. The Taal monument, dedicated to the Afrikaans language, is the world’s only monument to a language.

Day 23: Cape Town

Today, you can visit Cape Town, historical places, parks, Dutch East Indian Garden, castle, South African Museum, Malay quarter, District 6, and Greenmarket Square. Before noon, you can also visit the noon gun in action on the slopes of Signal Hill. It is the world’s oldest canon that is still in action. After lunch, you can visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the only botanical garden situated in a world heritage site which has more endemic plant species than any other in the world.

In the late afternoon, after lunch, you can head along the west coast towards Blouberg where you can enjoy a “postcard” view of Table Mountain, Robben Island, and Table Bay. In the night, enjoy an authentic 'farewell' African dinner of many culinary dishes from across the continent. Traditional African dance, music, and theater accompany your 'farewell' meal.

Day 24: Departure

You will be transferred to Cape Town International Airport (CPT) for your air transport home. Depending on your departure time, various activities can be arranged. The optional activities include the half-day trip and tour of Robben Island, Table Mountain, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, or even the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Guides

Craig
Craig is the director and tour guide of Southern Africa Tours. He is a passionate and experienced African enthusiast who will take you off the beaten track, reveal the true African adventure, and allow you to experience more than your heart desires. He has lived outside of Africa in France, Sweden, America, and Canada and subsequently speaks a few languages. With a great understanding of the overseas market and love of Africa, he is qualified as a national tour guide 15 years ago.

Location

On this safari, you will visit Johannesburg, The Blyde River Canyon, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, St. Lucia, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Drakensberg, Kokstad, The Wild Coast, Kenton-on Sea, Addo Elephant National Park, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Cape Agulhas, and Cape Town in South Africa.

Food

The following is the list of your included meals.

  • Day 1: all meals at own expense
  • Day 2: breakfast
  • Day 3: breakfast and dinner
  • Day 4, 5, and 6: breakfast
  • Day 7: breakfast and lunch
  • Day 8 to 23: breakfast

Note: Drinking water is included everyday.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 3 game drives with professional rangers
  • 2 cruises to St Lucia and Hout Bay
  • 1 local guide in Soweto
  • 1 South African full-time guide
  • Entrance fees to national cultural parks, museums, and tastings
  • Pickup from O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) or your hotel
  • Drop-off at Cape Town International Airport (CPT)
  • 23 nights’ accommodation
  • Daily breakfast
  • 1 lunch, 8 dinners, and 2 barbecues

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 2 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 60 days before arrival.

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