Kingdoms of Southern Africa - South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho

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Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa

Upon your arrival at the Johannesburg International Airport, you will be met and transferred to our hotel in Pretoria. We meet this evening for dinner and orientation. Overnight in Pretoria.

 

Day 2: Pretoria City Sites, De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre

We enjoy Pretoria's sights before heading to the De Wildt Cheetah Centre. De Wildt has an extensive community outreach and education programme and a strategic breeding plan. The Trust conducts research on wildlife disease and nutrition and in South Africa it has implemented a national plan for the conservation of free roaming cheetahs as well as Wild Dogs, the second most endangered carnivore in Africa. We spend our time at the De Wildt Cheetah Project learning about cheetahs, wild dogs and others animals at the centre with many opportunities to see these animals up close. Overnight in De Wildt Cheetah Project.

 

Day 3: Misty Mountain, South African Natural Heritage Site

Today we have an early start for a special treat to view cheetahs running full speed. Three cheetahs will each chase a small decoy designed by the sanctuary. The cheetahs accelerate and run in excess of 100 kilometers per hour. We then journey to some of the most stunning landscapes in South Africa. We will enjoy lunch enroute to Mapumalanga and our final stop at a 280 hectare South African Natural Heritage Site situated on the spectacular Long Tom Pass, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Perched at an altitude of 1700 metres above sea level, Misty Mountain is uniquely set in mountainous countryside with majestic views across the escarpment and into the Lowveld. Overnight in Mpumalanga.

 

Day 4: Timbavati Safari Lodge - Evening game drive/sundowner

We are up early for a brisk morning walk to see the sunrise and how the colors change in this beautiful region. After breakfast, we journey towards Timbavati, our base to the world famous Kruger National Park. On the Panorama Route, we travel to Bourke's Luck Potholes, the impressive Lisbon Falls and the majestic Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world. We continue our journey through the rural towns of the Lowveld to Timbavati Safari Lodge. Enjoy the excitement of a sun downer in the wild after our sunset game drive on a private reserve. Dinner will be a delicious braai in the reeded boma under a canopy of African starlight. Overnight at Timbavati Safari Lodge.

Please note: Timbavati is a private game reserve within 'Greater Kruger Park' area. 'Greater Kruger Park' consists of private game reserves on the western side and Kruger National Park on the eastern side. World-famous Kruger National Park is open to everyone with several large safari camps or villages designed for school groups, families and tourists. The abundance of wildlife is noticeably less around the large camps or villages in Kruger National Park. The private game reserves are typically less crowded and more exclusive. During your stay in 'Greater Kruger Park', you will be staying in Timbavati Safari Lodge for both nights but you will have safari experiences in both a private reserve and also a full day excursion in Kruger National Park, allowing you to explore more remote parts of Kruger National Park. Where one stays and how one plans their safari(s) in 'Greater Kruger Park' can vary greatly and will play a large part in the safari you experience.

 

Day 5: Kruger National Park - Full day safari

We get up before sunrise to search for the "Big Five" in the famous Kruger National Park. We set off after an early breakfast for a full day safari with a picnic lunch in the park. Make sure your camera is fully charged as we won't be returning until dusk. Keep your eyes open for elephant, lion, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, giraffe and the magnificent wildlife roaming South Africa's most famous game park. After an exciting day on safari, relax and have a sun downer at the lodge before our unique dinner on the patio, once again under the beautiful African Stars. Overnight at Timbavati Safari Lodge.

 

Day 6: To the Kingdom of Swaziland, Royal National Park

After breakfast we visit a nearby village to meet the locals as well as a visit to the local clinic, a trading store, school and a visit to the local herbal/spiritual doctor (nyanga/sangoma). Learn how she helps the villagers and their sickness by 'throwing the bones'.

Today we travel into the Kingdom of Swaziland. Our first destination is Hlane Royal National Park, famous for its abundant rhino population. This is easily one of the best opportunities to see rhinos at very close range. The juvenile rhinos can be very curious and can often approach our vehicles. We explore these former royal hunting grounds by vehicle after lunch. Later in the afternoon, we travel south to Mlilwane Reserve. Overnight in Mlilwane.

 

Day 7: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, Bush Walk, Swazi Chief visit

This morning we take a safari walk to explore this tiny Kingdom. In the afternoon, we visit the Umphakatsi Chief's homestead which is a hands-on experience run by the lady chief, Inkhosikati, in her homestead. Your guide, who will hand the ladies in your party traditional Swazi cloths to wrap around their waists, greets us at Mlilwane's main gate. The Inkhosikati has a vibrant, energetic and infectious manner and not only talks us through how the huts and traditional items are made but also teaches us the Siswati words for them.

This evening we gather around the campfire for an evening of traditional Swazi dancing. Overnight in Mlilwane.

 

Day 8: Return to South Africa- Zululand

This morning we travel back into South Africa and into the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the heartland of the Zulu people. We journey further south to the town of Mkuze where we stop for a light lunch followed by a visit into the Lebombo Mountains, where we visit a traditional Zulu homestead and experience rural in rural Zuzuland as it is today. Overnight in Hluhluwe.

 

Day 9: iSimangaliso Wetland Park (UNESCO)

Our journey today takes us to iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park). iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of the jewels of South Africa's coastline, with a unique mosaic of ecosystems - swamps, lakes, beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, woodlands, coastal forests and grasslands - supporting an astounding diversity of animal, bird and marine life. The park takes in a 60-kilometre river mouth that creates a huge estuary, Lake St Lucia, running parallel to the coast and separated from the sea by the world's highest forested sand dunes. The lake is part of the St Lucia estuarine system, the largest estuarine system in Africa.

iSimangaliso's wide variety of ecosystems and natural habitats provides for an astounding diversity of species in the area. With its lakes, lagoons, freshwater swamps and grasslands, iSimangaliso supports more species of animal than the better-known and much larger Kruger National Park and Okavango Delta - from the country's largest population of hippos and crocodiles to Giant Leatherback turtles, black rhino, leopards, and a vast array of bird and marine life. We return to Hluhluwe for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 10: Full Day Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park

We have another exciting full day safari in one of the oldest game reserves in South Africa – Hluhluwe Imfolozi. From your open game drive vehicle with experienced game ranger in search of the ‘Big 5′ as well as an abundance of other African wildlife. The park is one of the best places to view rhinos. Overnight in Hluhluwe.

 

Day 11: To Kloof, Durban

We travel down the coast to South Africa's 3rd largest city, Durban. Enjoy the warm subtropical climate during a short city tour followed by a visit to the Phansi Museum, home to a collection of South African artefacts and traditions. Marvel in the beadworks, headrest, Zulu clay pots and other artefacts as you learn more about the history of this culture. We have lunch at the seaside of the famous Durban beach and watch the surfers enjoy the sun and waves. After lunch we journey a little farther inland to Kloof where we will be staying in a Botanical Garden. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the garden. Overnight in Kloof.

 

Day 12: Harrismith, Drakensburg Escarpment

Today we journey to the Free State and the Drakensburg region. We stop in Ladysmith with its rich history of the region which is captured in the architectural styles of old buildings, as well as various museums and national monuments. We will stop at the Statue of Ghandi and visit the Siege Museum to learn more about these battles before we visit the actual battlefields from the Anglo-Boer War. Overnight in Harrismith.

 

Day 13: Drakensberg Mountains and Zulu Communities

We rise to take in the beautiful morning sun as it warms up the Drakensberg escarpment and greets us for our full day excursion into the valley of the mountains to meet rural Zulu communities. Enjoy a picnic lunch amongst the dramatic Drakensberg backdrop. Experience an indigenous South African tribal way of life and observe traditional home building, food preparation, and cultural dancing. Meet the tribes and learn more about their families and way of life. In the afternoon when the suns heat has cooled down we will have a nature walk and explore the flora and fauna as well as the bird life and possible game spotting in the unspoiled countryside. Overnight in Harrismith.

 

Day 14: To the Kingdom of Lesotho

We travel towards the Kingdom of Lesotho and stop at the Basotho Cultural Village situated at the entrance to the Golden Gate National Park. The museum introduces visitors to the South Sotho (Basotho) nation, from its inception through its history to the present. After the tour we make our way to our overnight accommodation. Overnight in Malealea.

 

Day 15: Malealea, Botso'ela Waterfall

Malealea lies at 1,800 meters above sea level, with magnificent views across the plateau towards an endless panorama of misty mountains as high as the Alps in Europe. We visit a Basotho village and school after breakfast. For hiking enthusiasts, you can go to the Botso'ela Waterfall or to see ancient bushman cave paintings. Overnight in Malealea.

 

Day 16: Return to South Africa via 'The Place of the Wind'

We have an early morning departure to return to South Africa. Before driving across the border, we stop in Quthing, "The Place of the Wind", to visit the Masitise Cave House and the Dinosaur footprints, which are believed to be approximately 200 million years old. We will reach Aliwal North in the early evening. Overnight in Aliwal North.

 

Day 17: Graaff-Reinet, Valley of Desolation in the Great Karoo

Today we drive to the town of Graaff- Reinet. On the way we stop at the Taal Monument and the Afrikaans Language Museum in Burgersdorp. We spend time exploring the town of Graaff-Reinet, arguably one of the most charming and historic towns in all of South Africa. We explore Graaff-Reinet on foot.

Late afternoon we visit the Valley of Desolation for sundown. A steep and narrow road leads into the mountains that surround the valley. A circular hiking trail leads to wonderful views of Graaff-Reinet and of the endless expanse of the surrounding Karoo. This trail is very rocky and clients should wear comfortable walking/hiking shoes. Overnight in Graaff-Reinet.

 

Day 18: Tsitsikamma N.P.; The Garden Route

We continue our journey through the Eastern Cape today, travelling to the coast. We take the scenic route, via Uniondale, over the spectacular Prince Alfred Pass to Wittedrift and then on to Tsitsikamma National Park. On arrival at the park, there is time to take a hike, walk on the beach.

We then travel along the stunning Garden Route, with indigenous forests, freshwater lakes, wetlands, hidden coves and long beaches. The narrow coastal plain is well forested and is mostly bordered by extensive lagoons that run behind a barrier of sand dunes and superb white beaches. The region has some of the largest patches of indigenous forest in the country, including giant yellow wood trees, wild flowers as well as commercial plantations of eucalyptus and pine. We continue to Knysna, one the of the most beautiful cities on the Garden Route. Overnight in Knysna.

 

Day 19: Knysna - Featherbed Nature Reserve

Today we enjoy a eco-experience in Featherbed Nature Reserve. Our journey includes a return ferry trip, 4x4 nature drive and a guided walk including spectacular viewpoints and ancient sea caves while learning about the history and flora and fauna of the reserve, ending with a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Food Forest Restaurant. Overnight in Knysna.

 

Day 20: To Oudtshoorn - Ostrich Farm, Cango Caves

We travel inland to Oudtshoorn, where we visit an ostrich farm. We also visit the Cango Caves situated at the head of the picturesque Cango Valley, in a limestone ridge parallel to the Swartberg Mountains, where you will find dripstone caverns, with their vast halls and towering formations. Overnight in Oudtshoorn.

 

Day 21: To Cape Town

Today we drive to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, enjoying the scenery enroute.
Overnight in Cape Town.

 

Day 22: Table Mountain, Robben Island

We begin our day by ascending the famous Table Mountain by cable car. From the top, we have spectacular views in every direction including: over the city, Robben Island, the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, Mountain Ranges, ravines and the Inland Plains.

After our descent we will take a tour of the Bo-Kaap area, with visits to the Malay quarter and the district six museum. This afternoon is spent on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. It is a world heritage site and symbol of Freedom and Perseverance of the human spirit. Overnight in Cape Town.

Please Note: Both the Table Mountain and Robben Island excursions are weather dependant. The cable car does not operate in windy conditions and the 7 km ferry ride to Robben Island does not go when the sea is too rough.

 

Day 23: Coastal Drive to Cape Point, Good Hope Nature Reserve

We travel along the Atlantic Seaboard via Sea Point, Clifton and Camps Bay, Llandudno, to Hout Bay, a quaint village and fishing harbour with magnificent views of the mountains and beach. On through Chapman's Peak, one of the world's most breathtaking coastal drives, to Cape Point and the Good Hope Nature Reserve, which has magnificent fynbos vegetation, birdlife, endemic antelope species and zebra, historic lighthouses and shipwrecks. Cape Point is perceived to be the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

After lunch, we continue our journey to historic Simon's Town, a village with charming Victorian architecture, a naval base and a large penguin colony at the beautiful Boulders Beach. Our day ends after a visit to the well-known Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Overnight in Cape Town.

 

Day 24: Stellenbosch, Wine Tour

This morning after breakfast we set off for Stellenbosch, the second oldest settlement in South Africa after Cape Town. Its oak lined streets and famed Cape Dutch architecture make it one of the most charming towns in the country. We continue from here to Paarl, where we stop at the impressive Afrikaans Language Monument, that offers awe inspiring views of the Winelands and the Hottentots Holland Mountains, before enjoying lunch and a wine tasting at one of the nearby wine estates. We continue to Franschhoek, where we enjoy another wine tasting, before returning to Cape Town. Tonight we will enjoy our group farewell dinner. Overnight in Cape Town.

 

Day 25: Depart Cape Town, South Africa

Today we say goodbye to Cape Town and Africa and transfer to the airport to connect with our international flights homeward.

 
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