SOUTH AFRICAN EXPLORER – 12 DAYS (Starts from Johannesburg, ends in Cape Town)(CODE: SC-04)

DAY 1. Johannesburg – Panoramic Route (Safari and scenery)

Our first day on this safari and scenery tour takes us from Johannesburg via Middelburg, Dullstroom and Robber’s Pass to Pilgrim´s Rest, the early gold mining town turned into a living museum. Rich deposits of alluvial gold were found here at the end of the 19th century. After exploring this quaint old town, we continue to Sabie. Here we have a pleasant walk through indigenous forest to visit Lone Creek Falls. Overnight Ligna Lodge.

DAY 2.  Panoramic Route – Private Reserve

We travel via Graskop to marvel at scenic areas such the Pinnacle, God’s Window, Lisbon Falls, Bourke’s Luck Potholes (a walk down the hill to this unique trick of nature is worth the effort), and the magnificent Three Rondavels view site at the Blyde River Canyon. We walk along the cliffs to really appreciate the breathtaking views.  Finally we descend to the Lowveld via Abel Erasmus pass and the Strijdom Tunnel to arrive at Mohlabetsi in the Balule private game reserve,  a part of the Greater Kruger National Park. This afternoon our encounter with Africa’s wildlife begins as we travel on an open vehicle to search for the game. Enjoy a great dinner under the stars tonight (weather permitting). Overnight Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge.

DAY 3.  Private Reserve –  Kruger National Park

After an early morning open vehicle game drive. Conditions permitting, a hike on foot searching for the animals may be done. After breakfast leave for the Kruger National Park. Spend the day in this magnificent reserve around 2 million ha in extent. We overnight in chalets in one of the rest camps in the park.

DAY 4.  Kruger National Park – Swaziland

We rise early for a game drive and have breakfast on a deck overlooking the Sabie River. We spend the rest of the morning in the reserve and depart for the mountain Kingdom of Swaziland. Travel via Piggs Peak through magnificent mountain scenery and visit the Ngwenya glass factory. All the products here are hand made from recycled glass. We drive through Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, before travelling to our overnight stop, the Forester’s Arms.

DAY 5. 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.  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.

Continue along the Ezulwini Valley towards Manzini, the country’s industrial centre. 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 Game Lodge.

DAY 6.  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. Travel to the village of St

Durban.

Lucia. We 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 City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge.

DAY 7. Durban – South Coast – Wild Coast

The drive from Durban along the South Coast takes you through lush subtropical vegetation and numerous holiday villages dotted along the seaboard. We visit the scenic Oribi Gorge and some beautiful little beaches. We turn inland and enter the Eastern Cape Province, the former homeland of Transkei, and traverse over hilly grasslands dotted with Xhosa homesteads. Continue through valleys and clear streams. We travel via the Wild Coast and check into our hotel along the rugged Wild Coast. Overnight Mbotyi Lodge.

DAY 8.  Wild Coast

We travel to Umtata, the capital of the former homeland. After a visit to the Nelson Mandela museum we travel further south to and towards the beach again. We travel to our lodge nestled in the middle of the beautiful Chintsa Bay on the Wild Coast, surrounded by rolling hills, lush tropical beach forests and overlooks the warm Indian Ocean.

Overnight Crawfords Beach Lodge.

DAY 9.  Wild Coast – Addo Elephant National Park – Port Elizabeth

After breakfast overlooking the simmering Indian Ocean we depart and this morning’s journey takes us to East London, the only river port in South Africa, and the place where a prehistoric coelacanth was caught in 1938. Then travel along the coast and we enjoy the lush vegetation and rugged coastline. We visit Grahamstown.

The small cathedral city is considered the art capital of South Africa and is steeped in history. At the Addo National Elephant Park game reserve we have an excellent chance of an encounter with these giants of the bush amongst other animals. Travel further to Port Elizabeth set on the shores of the Algoa Bay and also called the “Friendly City”. Overnight Fifth Avenue Beach House.

Day 10. Garden Route – Knysna

We depart from Port Elizabeth, along the N2 national route to the Storms River with the impressive Paul Sauer Bridge across the valley towering some one hundred and thirty-nine metres above the river. Our next stop is at Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan for “The place of much water”). The park stretches more than one hundred kilometers of wild and rocky coastline characterised by massive cliffs, narrow isolated beaches and shady indigenous forests along the river valleys.

Now, truly in the famous Garden Route of the Cape, we traverse more magnificently scenic river valley passes to Knysna on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon with its entrance to the sea guarded by two promontories known as ‘The Heads’. The area also falls within a National Park proclaimed to conserve the extraordinary natural beauty of the Lakeland and adjacent indigenous forests. Knysna offers shopping opportunities of unusual, locally made, art and craft, etc. Overnight at the Augusta Bay Lodge.

Day 11. Garden Route – Knysna – Oudtshoorn

We explore the lake areas, the Wilderness National Park and travel via the scenic Montagu Pass 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. Overnight at La Plume Guest Lodge.

Day 12.  Oudtshoorn – Mossel Bay – Cape Town

After an early start we visit to an ostrich show farm for some unique experiences, including ostrich racing. A ride on the back of an ostrich is not for the fainthearted. Our route to Mossel Bay takes us over the Outeniqua Mountains via Robinson’s Pass. Here we visit arguably the oldest post office in Africa, the Post Office Tree.  This was the first landfall made by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz in 1488. After an early lunch we travel via Swellendam to Cape Town where we arrive late afternoon.

NOTE: Other tours you may be interested in: Safari and scenery tour – 11 days, Safari and scenery tour – 15 days, Safari and scenery tour – 19 days

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SOUTH AFRICAN EXPLORER – 12 DAYS (Starts from Johannesburg, ends in Cape Town)(CODE: SC-04)