South African Explorer
The South African Explorer does just that, you will be doing a lot of exploring; firstly around five days of wildlife and scenery to Durban, the holiday mecca of South Africa. Then we travel further along the Wild Coast and Garden Route ending in Cape Town.
DAY 1. Johannesburg – Panoramic Route (Safari and scenery)
Our first day on the South African Explorer 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. Afterwards, we continue to Sabie. Here we have a pleasant walk through indigenous forest to visit Lone Creek Falls. Afterwards travel to Ligna Lodge.
DAY 2. Panoramic Route – Private Reserve
On the 2nd day we travel via Graskop and marvel at the scenic areas, for instance, 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 and the breathtaking sight at the Blyde River Canyon.
Afterwards, 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. We enjoy a great dinner under the stars. (weather permitting). Overnight Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge.
DAY 3. Private Reserve – Kruger National Park
After an early morning open vehicle game drive or, if available and conditions are favourable, we hike on foot searching for the animals. After breakfast, we leave for the Kruger National Park. We spend the day in this magnificent reserve of around 2 million ha. Overnight in a bungalow at Skukuza Camp or similar.
DAY 4. Kruger National Park – Swaziland
We rise early for a game drive and after breakfast on a deck overlooking the Sabie River we travel further in search for wildlife. Spend the rest of the morning in the reserve but, have to exit later 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 traveling to our overnight stop, the Forester’s Arms.
DAY 5. Swaziland – Zululand – Private Reserve
This morning we have an early breakfast and visit Swazi Candles in the Malkerns Valley where we watch the locals hand-molding wax into a variety of interesting shapes. The locals sell their craft, items like batik, hand-woven cloth, and colorful handbags at the market.
Continue afterwards along the Ezulwini Valley towards Manzini, the country’s industrial center. 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. Entering South Africa and and Zululand and travel southwards to Hluhluwe and arrive at our private lodge for check-in. Overnight Zulu Nyala Game Lodge.
DAY 6. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – St Lucia (iSimangaliso) – Durban
We have a sumptuous breakfast and afterwards 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 Lucia, where 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 and we find 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 mystical inhabitants of the “deep”. Afterwards 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 further along the N2 to Umtata, the capital of the former homeland. After a visit to the Nelson Mandela museum, we travel towards 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 shimmering Indian Ocean, we depart and this morning’s journey takes us to East London. East London is the only river port in South Africa and the place where a prehistoric coelacanth was caught in 1938. We travel further along the coast and enjoy the lush vegetation and rugged coastline. We visit Grahamstown.
Grahamstown is a small cathedral city and considered the art capital of South Africa full of 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. Overnight Fifth Avenue Beach House.
Day 10. Garden Route – Knysna
We depart from Port Elizabeth to the Storms River and view the impressive Paul Sauer Bridge, towering some one hundred and thirty- nine meters above the river. Our next stop is at Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan for the place of much water) stretching over one hundred kilometers of wild and rocky coastline characterized by massive cliffs and narrow isolated beaches. In the park, you can do a relaxing walk/hike to the suspension bridge stretching over the mouth of the Storms River.
We move further on to The Bloukrans Bridge, 216 meters (709 feet) above the Bloukrans River. The Bloukrans Bungee is the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge and the highest natural bungee jump in the world! We visit Birds of Eden, currently home to over 3,500 birds from over 220 species. From here we travel past Plettenberg Bay to Knysna, on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon, with its entrance to the sea guarded by two promontories known as the ‘Heads’. This area falls within a National Park and proclaims to conserve the extraordinary natural beauty of the Lakeland and indigenous forests. Knysna offers shopping opportunities for unusual locally made art and craft. Overnight at the Augusta Bay Lodge.
Day 11. Garden Route – Knysna – Oudtshoorn
We travel further along the lake areas and the Wilderness National Park which leads us to the scenic Outeniqua Pass and to Oudsthoorn. Oudtshoorn is known as the ‘Feather Capital’ of the world, as the largest concentration of ostrich farms in the world are found here. Travel further and 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 is possible. The Ranch encompasses over 90 different animal species. Guided tours are provided and are fundamental in educating the public, giving each species a voice, and highlighting animal and environmental issues. Overnight at La Plume Guest Lodge.
Day 12. Oudtshoorn – R62 – Cape Town
After an early start, we visit an ostrich show farm for some unique experiences with these strange birds.
We travel further 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, the heartland of South Africa’s Brandy producers. We visit one of the many Wine Estates in these areas for some wine tasting. After that experience, our route to Cape Town takes us over the Du Toitskloof Pass and Paarl arriving late afternoon.
Other tours that may interest you:
11-Day Taste of South Africa – SC-02/11
19-Day Grand South Africa Tour – SC-06
South African Explorer – SC-04