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Johannesburg to the Cape
Adventure level:3. Moderate
Max group size:12
Avg user rating:
Africa, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland | 21 days
Transport - Minivan / safari truck, on foot.
Accommodation - Hotel (1nt), guesthouse (3nts), camping (11nts), mountain huts with shared facilities (3nts).
Meals - 17 breakfasts, 15 lunches & 14 dinners.
Discover Kruger National Park on game drives
Walk in scenic Drakensberg and Lesotho mountains
Taste the delightful wine from the Cape
Camping under the African starssee full itinerary >>
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Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Take a direct overnight flight to Johannesburg. After your flight, you transfer (approx. 30 minutes) to your first night’s accommodation. Johannesburg lies at the centre of the Witwatersrand, literally meaning ‘ridge of white waters’. It was on this ridge that the world’s richest gold reef was discovered little more than 100 years ago. Jo’burg or E’Goli ‘the City of Gold’ is the heart of the nation of South Africa. In the afternoon, you could take a guided tour of the famous township of Soweto (own expense). Hotel - 1 night
Please make sure that if you explore Johannesburg on your own that you take advice of where it is safe to walk, especially in the evening. There have been isolated attempts of robbery in recent times and although unpredictable the risk of these can be minimised by taking local advice.
Today you rise early and after a briefing with your Group Leader (approx. 6.30 am) in the hotel reception, you load the vehicle and make your way down from the temperate, rolling plateau of the high veld, over the escarpment to the sub-tropical Mpumalanga. You have a picnic lunch and the afternoon to enjoy the stunning scenery, many beautiful waterfalls and unique flora of this area. There will be time to stretch your legs with short walks to the natural rock pools of Bourkes Luck Potholes and to God’s Window, which offers magnificent views over the Blyde River Canyon. (Approx. 6 ½ hours driving in total today). Tonight you stay at the fascinating old goldrush town of Pilgrim’s Rest where it is easy to imagine the lives of the miners and their families who worked the small alluvial claims at the end of the last century. Camp - 1 night (LD)
Kruger National Park
This morning after breakfast in camp, your route continues through forestry plantations to Kruger National Park (approx. 3 hours drive), one of the great natural sanctuaries of the world. This is a beautiful area of savannah bushveld broken by rocky outcrops and riverine forest. Cameras and binoculars at the ready, you make your way to the camp where you‘ll spend the next two days.
During your stay you’ll hopefully see much of the ‘big game’ of the park: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard, and many more of the 147 species of mammal the park boasts. Bird lovers will delight in over 500 species including the beautiful lilac-breasted roller and African fish eagle, whose evocative cry is probably the best known of any African bird. After settling into your camp and enjoying lunch, there’s time to relax, take in your surroundings and enjoy the peace of the African bush.
Mid-afternoon you take a game drive, perhaps to a water hole, and observe the animals coming down to drink after the heat of the day. You return to camp before dusk and that night enjoy your first ‘braai’ (barbecue) in the bush. Sitting around the campfire you may hear the low roar of lion and the unearthly chatter of hyena. The following day you rise just before dawn to take an early morning game drive, when the animals are most active. You will stop at a picnic spot to cook an eagerly awaited breakfast. Back at the camp there’s time to laze in the midday heat and, as the day cools, you take another short game drive before dinner, when you’ll have a chance to relive the excitement of the wildlife spotted today. For those not wishing to miss out on the opportunity of catching glimpses of the numerous nocturnal species that exist in the park, there is the option of a night game drive before or after dinner. Camp - 2 nights (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
Malolotja - Swaziland
Saying goodbye to Kruger, you pass plantations of sugar cane, mango and paw-paw and cross the border into the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland (total driving time about 6 hours, including game drives, plus a border stop and lunch. Time is dependent on where we stay in Kruger). The Swazi nation is one of the most handsome and colourfully dressed of all African people and they are intensely proud of their country. After a pause for lunch, the drive to the western highlands soon leads you to the impressive Malolotja Nature Reserve. The superb mountain scenery, which you’ll explore on foot this afternoon (Approx. 2-3 hours walking), including the protected breeding grounds of the bald ibis and the blue swallow, qualifies Malalotja as one of the leading nature reserves in Southern Africa. Cabins with shared bathrooms - 1 night (BLD)
Mkuzi Game Reserve
This morning you can stop to explore Mbabane’s craft stalls where traditional Swazi grass mats, baskets, prints, cloths, wooden masks and ornaments tempt you to buy! Leaving the Kingdom behind, you cross back over the border to Zululand (total journey time about 8½ hours including game drives, a border stop, shopping stop and lunch). The last 20km or so of today’s drive is on dirt road but you soon reach Mkuzi Game Reserve, one of the last safe havens for the endangered black rhino, set between the Lebombo mountains and riverine forest. On your game drive you’ll visit a hide and view game at one of the waterholes. Camp - 2 nights (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
Today you drive (about seven hours driving with an extra hour for lunch) through villages and rolling hills towards the great mountain escarpment the Zulus referred to as the ‘Barrier of Spears’ – the Drakensberg Mountains. Carved by many fast-flowing rivers, this area of waterfalls and silent, fern-filled forests is a paradise for hikers. Camping - 2 nights (B,L,D)
Today you spend the whole day walking in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Drakensberg Park. Designated a World Heritage Site, you are allowed ample time for some excellent walks. The many foot and bridle paths lead to magnificent viewpoints; there are proteas and other wild flowers, crystal clear mountain streams in which to swim and a wealth of birds including the bearded vulture, cape vulture and black eagle.
There are also opportunities to see some of the 600 San Bushman rock art sites dotted throughout the park – a lasting legacy from the area’s original inhabitants. This will require a strenuous walk. All walking routes are optional, so you can also choose to just relax and enjoy the scenery. (BLD)
Today is a scenic journey as you drive through the towering sandstone cliffs of the Golden Gate on your way to Lesotho. This rugged mountainous country offers many breathtaking views, as you travel to your base for the next 2 nights. Malealea Lodge has a stunning location, nestled high up in the mountains.
The next day you set off early on a half day of hiking in these awe-inspiring mountains. You are accompanied by local guides and their trusted Basotho ponies, a very tough and sure-footed breed. Undoubtedly you will pass many Basotho riders along the way, huddled in the traditional blankets as they slowly make their way on ponyback - the best way to get around. Hut with shared bathrooms - 2 nights (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
You will experience a very drastic change in scenery travelling from Lesotho to the Karoo. The temperature rises noticably as you descend from the mountains and enter South Africa's vast semi-desert. Despite its dryness this is predominantly an agricultural region, where sheep and ostrich farming are the main source of income. (BL) Guesthouse - 1 night
Addo Elephant NP
A more leisurely start today, as you travel to Addo Elephant National Park (approx. 3-4 hours). At the beginning of the century the huge elephant herds that roamed the region were regarded as a menace and most were destroyed. The park was established in 1931 when all that remained of these great herds were eleven survivors. Now this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 200 elephants in an area supporting proportionally three times the number found anywhere else in Africa. You have time for an afternoon game drive and after supper, view game at a floodlit water hole. Camp - 1 night (BLD)
Following the scenic route along the coast you reach Storms River (Approx. 3 hours drive) and the ‘place of much water’, the Tsitsikamma Coastal National Park. This narrow plain, bordered by beaches and cliffs, is veined with streams running through deep ravines that are a wonderland of ferns, trees and flowers. You pitch your tent for the next two nights, at a campsite close to the shore and take in the beauty of the rugged coastline. There are several walks to enjoy, both along the coast and up the Storms River gorge. The following day you will walk along the rocky coastline to a waterfall and hopefully glimpse some of the birds that make the forest their home; among them the crimson-winged Knysna lourie, the shy narina trogon and the crowned eagle. You may also see the occasional dainty blue duiker deer darting into the safety of the ferns; bushbuck, caracal, chacma baboon and leopard also frequent the forest. Hopefully this evening you will witness a stunning sunset over the Indian Ocean and later, fall asleep with the sound of waves crashing on the rocks nearby. Camp - 2 nights (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
After a leisurely breakfast, an hour’s drive brings you to Knysna, set on a beautiful lagoon system and surrounded by forest. The lagoon is connected to the sea by a narrow rocky channel flanked on both sides by spits of land known as the Knysna Heads. The sides of the heads are dominated by high cliffs protecting the rich natural habitat which is home to some 280 species of birds.
Then continue south along the Garden Route driving along the coast (approx 6 hours) before turning inland through the beautiful scenery of the Overberg region and set up camp for overnight on the doorstep of the Cape winelands. Camp - 1 night (BLD)
Today you reach the fertile valleys of the famous Stellenbosch Winelands (Approx. 3hours drive), the oldest and most beautiful of the wine growing regions in South Africa. Here you’ll tour cellars at some well known estates, many of which were built in the beautiful old Cape Dutch style during the prosperous 18th and 19th centuries. Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and one of the best preserved. It is a lovely place with many interesting buildings shaded by enormous oak trees. Later in the afternoon you arrive at your hotel in Cape Town. During your two-night stay there is ample time to explore this unique and beautiful city where mountain, sea, history and climate have conspired to make an atmospheric and unforgettable setting. Hotel - 2 nights (B)
Today you head south of the city, taking a route past the vineyard of Groot Constantia - the oldest and grandest Cape-Dutch style homestead in the Cape - the beaches of False Bay and the peninsula of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. After stopping to see a colony of penguins, you enjoy a walk to the lighthouse at Cape Point, pausing to admire the flora along the way; in particular the many varieties of protea - South Africa’s national flower. The ‘fynbos’ vegetation of the Western Cape is one of the richest floral habitats in the world. The point itself is dramatic, with its sea cliffs pounded by the ocean. Returning along the coast, the 10km Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most stunning marine routes in the world, cut into the side of sheer mountain walls that drop to the ocean below. You pass through Hout Bay, an important fishing port, known for crayfish and smoked fish, then continue to a succession of beautiful white sand coves and beaches. From Hout Bay there may be the opportunity to take a boat trip to nearby seal colonies. You may have time to swim at one of the bays before returning to your hotel. The evening is left free. (B)
Today you take a last look at Cape Town, as you hike up Table Mountain! You can also catch a cable car to the top, although the ride is probably not recommended if you do not have a good head for heights (own expense) There should be time to do last minute shopping at the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront complex or take a boat trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent so many years (optional) before the trip ends for Land Only clients. Clients on group flights transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home. (B)
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We had two leaders - Chris and Jamie - who were the best we could have wished for. Chris kept us on schedule even during some quite lengthy road trips, produced some fantastic meals, and had the best stories for round the campfire about his childhood in...