South Africa Explorer Tour
The South Africa Explorer tour does just that; you will be doing a lot of exploring. Firstly, the tour winds through the northern section for around six 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 morning 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 the indigenous forest to visit Lone Creek Falls. Afterwards, travel to our overnight hotel.
DAY_2. Panoramic Route – Private Reserve
We travel via Graskop and marvel at the scenic areas such as 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 starts with an open vehicle safari. Then 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 safari, or if available and conditions are favourable, a hike on foot to search for the animals. After breakfast, we leave for the Kruger National Park. We spend the afternoon 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 afterwards breakfast on a deck overlooking the Sabie River. Travel further in search of wildlife and Spend the rest of the morning in the reserve. Later depart through the south gates for tour to 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, Swaziland’s capital, before travelling to our overnight stop, Forester’s Arms.
DAY_5. Swaziland – Zululand – Private Reserve
After an early breakfast, visit Swazi Candles in the Malkerns Valley where we watch the locals hand-moulding wax into various interesting shapes. The locals sell their craft items like batik, hand-woven cloth, and colourful handbags at the market.
Continue along the Ezulwini Valley towards Manzini, the country’s industrial centre. Then swing south to Nhlangano via a scenic route where crossing every hill opens up a new vista. We exit Swaziland at the Onverwacht border post. Entering Zululand in South Africa, travel southwards to Hluhluwe and arrive at our private lodge for check-in. Overnight Zulu Nyala Game Lodge / Heritage Hotel or similar.
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 game viewing in the Big Five Reserve. The white rhino was saved from extinction in this reserve. At the village of St Lucia, we join a boat cruise on the famous Lake St Lucia (part of the iSimangaliso world heritage site proclaimed in 1999).
The lake is a wildlife paradise, and we find bird species such as fish eagle, Goliath heron amongst others here. Your skipper/guide will show you the world of the hippo and the crocodile and the other mystical inhabitants of the “deep”. Afterwards, travel to Durban, South Africa’s holiday Mecca for overnight. City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge or similar.
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. On arrival at our hotel, we have some time to walk to the beach or just relax and take in the scenic surroundings. Overnight at Estuary Hotel or similar. Dinner included today.
DAY_8. Wild Coast
We turn inland and enter the Eastern Cape Province, the former homeland of Transkei, and traverse over hilly grasslands dotted with Xhosa homesteads, through valleys and clear streams. Arrive at Umtata, the capital of the former homeland around mid-day. After a visit to the Nelson Mandela museum we travel further south and towards the beach again. We arrive at 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 – Gqeberha (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, a small cathedral city and considered the art capital of South Africa. At the Addo Elephant game reserve along the way, we have an excellent chance of encountering these giants of the bush amongst other animals. Our destination for the day is the holiday city of Gqeberha. Overnight Fifth Avenue Beach House or similar.
Day_10. Garden Route – Knysna
We depart from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) and travel to the Storms River for a view of 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 kilometres of wild and rocky coastline characterized by massive cliffs and narrow, isolated beaches. In the park, you can do a relaxing walk/hike with excellent views 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 Knysna Lagoon’s edge, 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 Lakeland and indigenous forests’ extraordinary natural beauty. Knysna offers shopping opportunities for unusual, locally made art and craft. Overnight at Parkes Manor Lodge or similar.
Day_11. Garden Route – Knysna – Oudtshoorn
We travel further along the lakelands and the Wilderness National Park, which leads us to the scenic Outeniqua Pass and Oudsthoorn. Oudtshoorn is known as the ‘Feather Capital’ of the world, as the largest concentration of ostrich farms in the world are found here. 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 or similar.
Day_12. Oudtshoorn – R62 – Cape Town
After an early start on the last morning of this South Africa Explorer tour, we visit an ostrich show farm for some unique experiences with these strange birds after an early start.
We travel further via Route 62 through the Little Karoo with its many unique mountain ranges and vegetation to the Wine regions. Montague, Robertson and the Breede Valley Wine areas are considered the heartland of South Africa’s Brandy producers. We visit one of the many Wine Estates in these areas for some wine tasting. Our route to Cape Town takes us over the Du Toitskloof Pass and Paarl, arriving late afternoon after that experience.
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