The Grand South African Tour
This Grand South African tour epitomises almost all the popular spots and even some hidden gems of South Africa. We travel through the country on this tour engaging in all its diversity; from the abundance of wildlife to rugged beauty – the diversity in the scenery is mind-blowing. This gives a whole lot of truth to the saying; South Africa is a world in one country!
DAY 1 Johannesburg – Dullstroom – Sabie – Panoramic Route (The Grand South African Tour Package)
Our first day on the Grand South African tour package takes us from Johannesburg via Middelburg, Dullstroom, and Lydenburg 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, hence the existence of the town deep in the mountains. Overnight Ligna Lodge.
DAY 2 Panoramic Route – Private Game Reserve
We visit Lone Creek Falls and travel via Graskop to marvel at scenic areas such as God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon, and some of the spectacular waterfalls in the area. Finally, we descend to the Lowveld via Abel Erasmus Pass and the Strijdom Tunnel. Arrive a little later at Mohlabetsi in the Balule private game reserve. 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 Game Reserve – Kruger National Park
After an early morning safari and if conditions permit, searching for the wild on foot, and breakfast we enter the Kruger National Park and spend the rest of day in this magnificent reserve around 2 million ha in extent.
DAY 4 Kruger National Park – Swaziland
After an early rise for a game drive, have a sumptuous 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. We visit the Ngwenya Glass Factory and travel via Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, to our hotel in the mountains at Mhlambanyatsi. Overnight Forester’s Arms.
DAY 5 Swaziland – Zululand – Private Reserve
After breakfast, visit Swazi Candles in the Malkerns Valley where we watch the locals hand-molding wax into a variety of interesting shapes. Here you also find a market where the locals sell their craft such as batik, hand-woven cloth, colorful handbags, etc. Continue along the Ezulwini Valley towards Manzini, the country’s industrial center, 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 exciting open vehicle safari. We return for a well-deserved dinner and overnight. Overnight Zulu Nyala 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. 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 City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge.
DAY 7 Durban – Natal Midlands – Drakensberg Mountains.
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. Afterwards we stop at the monument erected on the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962.
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. We stop at the place where the Boers arrested Winston Churchill during the Anglo-Boer War. Afterward, we enter the Spionkop Game Reserve for where we have a good chance of seeing, amongst others, white rhino, giraffe, and zebra. Then we travel to our hotel where you can enjoy magnificent views while enjoying sundowners. Overnight Mont Aux Sources Hotel
DAY 8 Drakensberg Mountains
After breakfast, we travel through QwaQwa, a former homeland, and watch the locals busy with their daily chores in this remote land. Visit Golden Gate National Park with amazing views of the black Basalt and golden sandstone cliffs which gave its name to the park. Visit a cultural village with demonstrations of their culture and return late afternoon to your hotel.
DAY 9 Drakensberg Mountains – Giant’s Castle
We depart after breakfast and drive to the Giant’s Castle area for an easy walk to some of the country’s best-preserved ancient rock paintings. We have a peek into the mystical existence of these strange little people who became extinct at the beginning of the previous century. This afternoon we have time to take some hikes into the mountains. The scenery and views are magnificent! Overnight Giant’s Castle Complex.
DAY 10 Giant’s Castle – Southern Drakensberg Mountains
Today we travel along these magnificent mountains and enjoy the views. Visit some quaint art and craft shops in the upper Midlands Meander – many artistic people fled the hectic pace of the big cities and made their new homes in this very beautiful area. There is no limit to inspiration here if inspiration comes from natural beauty! Then we travel to 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 over 3000m (10 000 ft) above sea level. Overnight Sani Pass Hotel.
DAY 11 Sani Pass – 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 breathtaking 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 City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge.
DAY 12 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 center. We stop at the Indian Market where you can bargain for souvenirs and spices. Our last visit is to the Botanical Gardens. Our last stop is at the Ushaka Marine World with its world-class aquarium, and many shops and restaurants. Return to your hotel on our bus or spend the rest of the afternoon here and take a taxi back to the hotel. Overnight City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge.
DAY 13 Durban
A free day in Durban to enjoy last minute shopping or the warm sunny beaches. Overnight City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge.
DAY 14 Durban – South Coast – Wild Coast
The drive from Durban along the South Coast takes you through lush subtropical vegetation and holiday villages along the seaboard. We visit the scenic Oribi Gorge and some beautiful little beaches. Then journey to the Eastern Cape at the former homeland of Transkei. We work our way to the Wild Coast – a rugged and deserted coastline with exceptional beauty – and arrive at our hotel for overnight. We explore the beach and some amazing scenic sites. Overnight Mbotyi Lodge.
DAY 15 Wild Coast – Mthatha – East London
Before breakfast, we enjoy another breathtaking walk. Then breakfast and travel via Port St Johns to Mthatha, the capital of the former homeland. After a visit to the Nelson Mandela museum, we travel further south and then to the beach. Overnight Crawford’s Beach Lodge.
DAY 16 East London – Addo Elephant Park – Port Elizabeth
This morning’s journey is to East London, the only river port in South Africa, and the place where a prehistoric coelacanth was caught in 1938 and then along the coast and we enjoy the lush vegetation and rugged coastline. We arrive at 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. This afternoon we reach Port Elizabeth, the fifth biggest city in the country, set on the shores of Algoa Bay. Overnight Fifth Avenue Beach Lodge.
DAY 17 Port Elizabeth – Garden Route
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 139 m above the river. Our next stop is at Tsitsikamma National Park (Khoisan for “The place of much water”). The park stretches more than 100 km of wild and rocky coastline characterized 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 natural beauty of the Lakeland and indigenous forests. Knysna offers shopping opportunities of unusual, locally made, art and craft, etc. Overnight Augusta Bay Lodge.
DAY 18 Garden Route – Oudtshoorn
We travel along with 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 theCango 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 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 La Plume Lodge.
DAY 19 Oudtshoorn – Route 62 – 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 – the 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.
Other tours that may interest you:
15 Day Taste of South Africa – SC-02P
11 Day Classic Highlights of South Africa Explorer – SC-03
12 Day South Africa Explorer – SC-04