CLASSICAL SOUTH AFRICAN HIGHLIGHTS – 11 DAYS (Starts from Johannesburg, ends in Cape Town)(CODE: SC-03)

DAY 01.   Gauteng – Panoramic Route

Our first day on tour of the South African Highlights takes us from Johannesburg via Middelburg, Dullstroom and Ohrigstad to the magnificent Three Rondavels view site at the Blyde River Canyon. We travel further to marvel at scenic areas such as Bourke’s Luck Potholes (a walk down the hill to see this unique trick of nature is worth the experience), Lisbon Falls, God’s Window and the Pinnacle before a short visit to Pilgrim’s Rest, an early gold mining town declared a National Monument. Rich deposits of alluvial gold were found here at the end of the last century and hence the existence of the town deep in the mountains. Overnight at Ligna Lodge.

DAY 02.  Panoramic Route – Kruger National Park

After an early breakfast, we do a pleasant walk through indigenous forest to see the Lone Creek Falls. Then we follow a scenic route to Hazyview and enter the Kruger National Park. We spend the rest of day in this magnificent reserve around 2 million ha in extent. We overnight in the reserve in chalets in one of the rest camps.

DAY 03.   Kruger National Park – Swaziland

We rise early for a game drive and return for breakfast in the camp. We spend the rest of the morning in the reserve and depart in the afternoon for the mountain Kingdom of Swaziland for a visit to the Ngwenya glass factory where all the items are hand made from recycled glass. We drive through the capital, Mababane, and continue to Mhlambanyatsi where we overnight in the mountains at Forester’s Arms.

DAY 04. Swaziland – Zululand – Private Reserve

This morning we have an early breakfast and then visit Swazi Candles in the Malkerns Valley where we watch the locals hand-moulding wax into a variety of interesting shapes.  On this site there is also a market where the locals sell their craft, as well as other shops where you can buy items like batik, hand-woven cloth, colourful handbags, etc. We then continue along the Ezulwini Valley towards Manzini, the country’s industrial centre, and then swing south towards Nhlangano on a scenic route where crossing every hill opens up a new vista. We exit Swaziland at the Onverwacht border post. We enter Zululand and travel southwards to Hluhluwe and arrive at our private lodge for check-in. Then we embark on another exiting open vehicle safaris continuing into the evening. We return for a well-deserved dinner and overnight.   Overnight Zulu Nyala Lodge

DAY 05. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – St Lucia (iSimangaliso) – Durban

After an early breakfast, we travel to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Reserve and enter the reserve for another two hours of great viewing in the Big Five Reserve where the white rhino was saved from extinction. From her we travel to the village of St Lucia and join a boat cruise on the estuary of the famous Lake St Lucia (proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1999). The lake is a wildlife paradise with bird species such as fish eagle, Goliath heron and many more. Your skipper/guide will show you the world of the hippo and the crocodile and the other mystic inhabitants of the “deep”. After this unforgettable experience we travel to Durban, South Africa’s holiday Mecca. Overnight at the City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge or a hotel of your choice.

DAY 06. Durban

Durban is an intriguing cultural blend of East, West and Africa, which with its endless summer climate, effervescent and lukewarm ocean lined with golden beaches, offers a subtropical carnival atmosphere all year round. Our tour of this bustling metropolis boasting the busiest port in Africa and often called the cultural ‘melting pot’ of South Africa, includes a drive past the so-called Apartheid Beaches, the Golden Mile, the impressive developments at the new Point Waterfront area, and the city centre. We stop at the Indian Market where you can bargain for souvenirs and spices. Our last visit is to the Botanical Gardens. You have the option of being dropped off at the end of the tour at the Ushaka Marine world with its world-class aquarium, and many shops and restaurants. Return to your hotel with our bus or spend the rest of the afternoon here and take a taxi back to the hotel.

DAY 07.  Durban – Drakensberg – Sani Pass

Drive inland to Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, for a brief city tour. Stop at the railway station where Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off the train because of the colour of his skin, and see the waiting room where, in the silence of the night, he formulated his philosophy of passive resistance. Visit the Church of the Vow that was built as a result of the Battle of Blood River between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus in 1838. Continue to Howick where we visit the 100m high Falls, and stop at the monument erected on the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1961 . Continue through an area of gentle pastoral beauty called the Natal Midlands. We pass through grassy plains scattered with villages and lush farmlands where plump cattle and thoroughbred horses graze. Then further through Underberg, a picturesque little village situated in the foothills of the majestic Drakensberg Mountains. Our hotel is in the lap of the mountain with peaks towering up to 3400m above sea level. The afternoon is at your leisure to participate in some of the organised hikes into the mountain or explore the area on your own. Dinner and overnight are at the Sani Premier hotel.

DAY 08. Drakensberg/ Sani Pass – Lesotho – Durban

After breakfast we set off to Sani Pass, named after the primitive people who lived in the area millennia ago, on a four-wheel drive with hair raising bends and breath-taking views to the top of the mountain. Lunch is served at the top in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho some 3000m above sea level. We return early afternoon, change vehicles and drive back to Durban. Overnight at the City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge or a hotel of your choice.

DAY 09. Durban – Port Elizabeth – Tsitsikamma National Park – Knysna

An early flight to Port Elizabeth and join the Garden Route tour.  Enter the Garden Route at the Paul Sauer bridge over the Storms River.  Visit the Big Tree (600 year old Outeniqua yellow wood tree) in an indigenous forest and a scenic walk to the hanging bridge over the Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park.  Travel through winding mountain passes and indigenous forests via Nature’s Valley to Knysna on South Africa’s only beach lake.  Visit the famous Heads, two promontories linking the lake to the ocean. Overnight at Augusta Bay Lodge.

DAY 10. Garden Route – George – Oudtshoorn

We travel along the lake areas and the Wilderness National Park which leads us to the scenic Outeniqua Pass and to Oudsthoorn, also known as the ‘Feather Capital’ of the world, as by far the largest concentration of ostrich farms in the world are found here. We visit the Cango caves, regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost natural wonders. The fascinating calcite caves comprise an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites.

An optional visit to the Cango Wildlife Ranch can be done. The Ranch encompasses of over 90 different animal species. They provide guided tours which are fundamental in educating the public, giving each species a voice, and highlighting animal and environmental issues.Overnight at La Plume Guest Lodge.

DAY 11.  Oudtshoorn – R62 – Cape Town

After an early start we visit an ostrich show farm for some unique experiences with these strange birds.

We travel via Route 62 through the Little Karoo with its many unique mountain ranges and vegetation to the Wine regions of Montague, Robertson and the Breede Valley Wine – heartland of South Africa’s Brandy producers. We visit one of the many Wine Estates in these areas for a wine tasting. Our route to Cape Town takes us over the Du Toitskloof Pass and Paarl where we arrive late afternoon. The tour ends in Cape Town late afternoon.

NOTE: Other tours that may interest you; Taste of South Africa, South African Highlights, Grand South Africa.

CLASSICAL SOUTH AFRICAN HIGHLIGHTS – 11 DAYS (Starts from Johannesburg, ends in Cape Town)(CODE: SC-03)