11-Day Highlights of South Africa
The 11-day highlights of South Africa truly incorporate all the most popular ones! We start with the scenic panoramic route, then into the Kruger National Park, travel through Eswatini (Swaziland), Zululand and its wildlife including Lake St Lucia in the iSimangaliso world heritage site. The second part of the tour we visit the southern Drakensberg Mountains, ascent via the Sani Pass into the kingdom of Lesotho for lunch in Africa’s highest pub! The third phase of the tour includes the scenic Garden Route along the south coast before the tour ends in Cape Town.
DAY 01. Gauteng – Panoramic Route (Highlights of South Africa)
Our first morning on tour of the South African highlights takes us from Johannesburg via Middelburg, Dullstroom, and Ohrigstad to the magnificent Three Rondavels view the 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, hence the town’s existence 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 the indigenous forest to see the Lone Creek Falls. Then we follow a scenic route to Hazyview and enter the Kruger National Park a highlight of South Africa! We spend the rest of the afternoon 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. Spend the rest of the morning in the game 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. After a drive through the capital, Mbabane, we 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 and other shops where you can buy items like batik, hand-woven cloth, colourful handbags, etc. The tour continues 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. Once in Zululand, we travel southwards to Hluhluwe and arrive at our private lodge for check-in. Then we embark on another exciting open vehicle safaris continuing into the evening. We return for a well-deserved dinner and overnight. Overnight Zulu Nyala Lodge
DAYS 05 & 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 wildlife viewing in the Big Five Reserve where the white rhino was saved from extinction. From here 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.
Durban is an intriguing cultural blend of East, West, and Africa. 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 the country, 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.
DAY 07. Durban – Drakensberg – Sani Pass
Drive inland to 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 his skin colour and see the waiting room where he formulated his philosophy of passive resistance in the silence of the night. Visit the Church of the Vow built due to the Battle of Blood River between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus in 1838. Continue to Howick to visit the 100m high Falls and stop at the monument erected on the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1961.
Continue through the Natal Midlands, through grassy plains scattered with villages and lush farmlands. Further to Underberg, a picturesque little village situated in the foothills of the majestic Drakensberg Mountains. Our hotel is in the lap of the mountains, another popular highlight of South Africa. The afternoon is at your leisure to participate in some of the organized hikes. 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. We have lunch at the top in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, 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
Early morning we travel to the King Shaka International Airport to fly south to Port Elizabeth to join the Garden Route tour.
Port Elizabeth is also called the ‘Friendly City’ from here we journey to the Storms River with the impressive Paul Sauer Bridge. Our next stop is at Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan for the place of much water) stretching over one hundred kilometres of wild and rocky coastline. We travel to The Bloukrans Bridge, 216 meters (709 feet) above the Bloukrans River. The Bloukrans Bungee is the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the world!
We visit Birds of Eden. It is currently home to over 3,500 birds from over 220 species, focusing on African birds. We travel past Plettenberg Bay to Knysna on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon. The entrance to the sea is guarded by two promontories known as the ‘Heads’. The area also falls within a National Park proclaimed to conserve the Lakeland and indigenous forests’ extraordinary beauty. Knysna also offers shopping opportunities for unusual, locally made art and craft. Overnight Augusta Bay Lodge or similar.
DAY 10. Garden Route – George – Oudtshoorn
We travel along with the lake areas and the Wilderness National Park, leading us to the scenic Outeniqua Pass and Oudsthoorn, therefore known as the ‘Feather Capital’ of the world. The largest concentration of ostrich farms in the world is here. The Cango caves are one of South Africa’s foremost natural wonders. The fascinating calcite caves comprise an underground wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites.
You can also visit the Cango Wildlife Ranch which encompasses over 90 different animal species. They provide guided tours and are fundamental in educating the public, giving each species a voice, and highlighting animal and environmental issues. Stay at La Plume Guest Lodge.
DAY 11. Oudtshoorn – R62 – Cape Town
We visit an ostrich show farm for some unique experiences with these strange birds after an early start.
We travel via Route 62 through the Little Karoo. Its many unique mountain ranges and vegetation to the Wine regions of Montague, Robertson, and the Breede Valley Wine – the country’s Brandy producers’ heartland. We enjoy a wine tasting at one of the many Wine Estates in these areas. 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.
Other tours that may interest you:
19-Day Grand South Africa Tour – sc-06