DAY 1. Gauteng – Panoramic Route (Wildlife, scenery and flowers)
Our first day on this wildlife, scenery and flowers excursion 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 where we have a pleasant walk through indigenous forest to visit Lone Creek Falls. Overnight Ligna Lodge.
DAY 2. Panoramic Route – Private Game 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.
Then 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 Game Reserve – Kruger National Park
After an early morning open vehicle game drive, and conditions permitting, a hike on foot searching for the animals, we enjoy breakfast an then leave for the Kruger National Park. We spend the rest of 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
Today we rise early for a 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 for a visit to the Ngwenya glass factory where all the items are hand made from recycled glass. We drive through the capital, Mababane, and continue to Mhlambanyatsi where we overnight in the mountains at 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. On this site 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. 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. Now in Zululand, we travel southwards to Hluhluwe and arrive at our private lodge for check-in.
Then we embark on an exiting open vehicle safari for a close encounter with Africa’s wildlife. 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. From here we travel to the village of St Lucia. 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, where our tour ends. Overnight City Lodge Umhlanga.
DAY 7. Durban – Pietermaritzburg – 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. Enter the waiting room where 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, and 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. Then we pass through grassy plains scattered with villages and lush farmlands where plump cattle and thoroughbred horses graze.
Enter the Spionkop Game Reserve for an afternoon of game viewing. There is a good chance to see, amongst others, white rhino, giraffe and zebra. Afterwards we stop at the place where Winston Churchill was arrested by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War. Then we travel to our hotel from where you can enjoy magnificent views while enjoying sundowners. Overnight Mont Aux Sources Hotel.
DAY 8. Drakensberg Mountains – Bloemfontein
After breakfast, we visit the Royal Natal National Park. We have magnificent views of the Amphitheatre as we take a short walk to the Cascades Falls and we may be joined by a baboon. We might even be joined by the odd baboon with the same idea. Mid-morning we commence our drive via the Oliviershoek Pass. Beautiful views meet us onto the Sterkfontein Dam, to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Through the ages water has modelled the sandstone into spectacular formations, and has interacted with iron oxides to produce a brilliant range of yellows, oranges and reds.
On our way we may encounter red hartebeest, black wildebeest, zebra and springbuck. Our next stop is the quaint town of Clarence that lies beneath high sandstone hills. The town is known for its art shops and restaurants. The route to Bloemfontein leads through vast maize fields. Bloemfontein originated at a spring which, at various times, was a source of water for the ancient San people, Sotho farmers and Settlers exploring the inland from the then Cape Colony.
Bloemfontein is the capital of Free State Province and the judicial capital of South Africa. Overnight at the City Lodge in Bloemfontein.
DAY 9. Bloemfontein – Kimberley
This morning we drive through the city with its many historic buildings, and visit the National Women’s Memorial and War Museum, commemorating the Anglo-Boer War. Then we leave for Kimberley, the world’s diamond capital, a modern city with broad, tree lined streets and attractive parks and gardens.
During the diamond rush, hordes converged on the region and dug the world’s biggest manmade hole in search of diamonds. On our city tour we visit the impressive and very interesting Big Hole Museum, where history comes to life. Overnight in Kimberley.
DAY 10. Kimberley – Kahalari Desert – Upington – Augrabies Falls
We travel further westwards towards the Kalahari Desert. We drive past sites where prospecting for diamonds, with primitive tools is still a way of life for some of the local people. Further north, we see the rich iron deposits in the Sishen mining area, before we turn west again towards Upington, a town established around a Dutch Reformed Church mission station. All South Africa’s dried sultanas are processed here for export to the rest of the world. The town lies next to the majestic Orange River. Lush green vineyards and palm trees stand out as an oasis in the lunar like landscape.
The route along the river through Keimoes and Kakamas with their water canals and ancient water wheels that are still in use, provide good opportunities to sample some of the locally produced dates and dried fruit. We reach Augrabies Falls, the fifth largest in the world, before sunset to provide great photo opportunies. Walks to the edge of the falls and along the edge of the ravine, are rewarding. Augrabies in San means “the place of great noise). We overnight in the reserve where hyrax will probably give you a curious look while you enjoy your sundowners. Overnight Augrabies Falls.
DAY 11. Augrabies Falls – Springbok
After breakfast we do a game drive in the Augrabies Falls National Park and visit one of the greatest of all gorges cut through granite by the mighty Orange River. Springbok, klipspringer, suricate (meerkat), etc. roam the semi-desert landscape. Then we commence on the pencil straight road to the West Coast.
The vast expanses of space and silence, drought, and blazing sunshine on the arid landscape, have kept this mineral rich region sparsely populated. This was the home of the San (Bushmen) and now only a few remaining families live in remote areas.
We turn off the highway to Pella on the Namibian border. This delightful mission station boasts a magnificent cathedral built by two priests from plans in an encyclopaedia. It is also one of two places in the country where dates are produced commercially on a large scale. We overnight in the town of Springbok. Springbok is the capital of Namaqualand and was established as a result of the copper mines in the area.
DAY 12. Springbok – Goegap Nature Reserve – Namaqua National Park – Lamberts Bay
Breakfast provides a good start to the day. Afterwards we visit the Goegap Nature Reserve right on the doorstep of the town. Springbok and Gemsbuck (Oryx) are frequently seen here. The reserve is also known for its indigenous flora, especially succulents. Depending on the rainfall, from August to October this area turns into an exquisite display of colourful flowers. Now we drive south through Namaqualand.
Flowers are prolific here during the flower season (August to September) transforming the area into brilliant colours from one horizon to the other. In season, we visit the Namaqua National Park to view this spectacle.
We continue past Garies, Van Rhynsdorp and Vredendal with its many vineyards. Along the coast a little further west – we have made it across the subcontinent! What a welcome sight the Atlantic Ocean is! We skirt along the coastline with brilliant white sandy beaches and the flat, cold seas. The Sishen iron ore railway line runs parallel to the road and we may see the world’s longest train passing us. Lamberts Bay, also known as the Rock Lobster Capital of South Africa, is our overnight stop. You have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to do penguin and bird watching. Joined to the mainland by a pier, Bird Island is one of only six breeding colonies of the Cape gannet in the world. Large numbers of Cape cormorants and a small population of African penguins also breed on the island.
Day 13. Lamberts Bay – St Helena – Saldanha – West Coast National Park – Cape Town.
After a hearty breakfast, we travel southwards past Elands Bay and Baboon Point, where a short walk into the mountain takes us to well hidden, but also well-preserved Bushman paintings on the rock-face of an overhanging cliff. We continue to Velddrif, situated at the mouth of the Berg River. Pelicans and flamingos are often seen here. White rocks and a cobalt sea greet us driving along the coastline to St Helena Bay. We stop at the site where one of the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama’s men was involved in a brawl with a group of Khoikhoi (Hottentots) in 1497. This was the first clash on the shores of Southern Africa between Europeans and Africans. St Helena Bay is the only place on the West Coast where the sun rises in the east. Here fisheries, fishing vessels, dolphins and luxurious homes exist side by side. .
Then further to Saldanha, the largest natural bay in South Africa and the country’s iron ore export harbour. We visit Langebaan Lagoon and surrounding area, which comprise the West Coast National Park. This park is internationally recognised as one of the world’s great wetlands. In summer, some sixty thousand birds populate this park. In spring, this is also a flower paradise. We continue southwards to Cape Town and are greeted with some magic views of Table Mountain in the distance. The experience of South Africa’s wildlife, scenery and flowers ends in Cape Town.