Savoring South Africa

Travel Idea:

Savoring South Africa

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Length of trip:

20 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 4555 to $ 4795

Best travel dates to go:

Oct 18, 2009 to Nov 05, 2009;


Detailed Description of this trip:

South Africa is an amazing amalgam of beautiful little places, as well as famous sites like Kruger National Park, Cape Town, and the Wine and Garden Routes. We will visit these well-known locations, but the real essence of our trip will be all the little towns, small reserves, scenic back roads, and native villages we have included. Unlike most South Africa tours, we will stay in smaller, distinctive hotels offering coziness, hospitality, and proximity to interesting parks and cultural features. Getting to know the people of South Africa is an important dimension of the experience. While we have a clear itinerary for the 18 days of travel, you will have flexibility in choosing your own meals, restaurants, and optional activities. Breakfast is the only meal included on most days, as there is an abundance of local dining opportunities. Will Weber will offer leadership for specific activities, and our South African guide will provide overall interpretation and insight throughout the trip. The trip starts in Johannesburg, heads to Swaziland, and then follows a sweeping arc southward to Cape Town, where you may choose to join Will for an extension to Robben Island, or explore on your own for a few more days. Consider arriving a day early for a tour of Soweto.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Johannesburg

    Johannesburg (Optional Soweto Tour).
    Hotel

    Upon arrival in Johannesburg, we will be met at the airport and transferred to the Protea Waterfront Hotel, Centurion, or similar, for your overnight.

    Optional Soweto Tour
    Sightseeing

    Alternatively, if you arrive one day earlier, you can join a pre-trip extension to the urban township of Soweto for an experience filled with history, music, food, and a lively contemporary culture.

  • Day 2 - Mpumalanga

    Mpumalanga / Blyde River.
    Bus

    We begin our South African adventure today by heading east into the scenic Mpumalanga Province, which means “Place of the Rising Sun”, with the rugged Drakensberg Range as a backdrop.

    Historical and Educational Tours

    The afternoon will be spent in the historic mining town of Pilgrims Rest. Gold was discovered here in 1873 and for 10 years the area buzzed with diggers working small claims before the large companies came in and took over the town. In 1972 the old company town was sold to the government and in 1986, the entire town was declared a national monument.

    Hotel

    Overnight at the Graskop Hotel, or similar.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 3 - 4 - South Africa

    Kruger National Park.
    National Parks

    This morning is spent viewing the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, one of South Africa’s scenic highlights, while en-route to the famous Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park stretches north to south over approximately 500 km and is the largest game reserve in South Africa. It claims to have the greatest variety of animals of any park in Africa including all of the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, and black rhino) as well as numerous other species of fauna and flora. Some people rank it as one of the finest national parks in the world, and it is extremely well-managed and protected. In combination with surrounding private reserves, it represents a vast ecosystem hosting all of the major game species of southern Africa.

    Safari

    We will embark on early morning and late afternoon game drives in search of the abundant birds and animals inhabiting the park, but you will also find that the landscape alone is beautiful and fascinating. An optional night drive or game walk may be booked locally.

    Camping

    Overnights at Kruger Rest Camp, or similar.
    Meals: 2 Breakfasts.

  • Day 5 - Swaziland

    Sightseeing

    Swaziland is an independent monarchy on the Mozambique border. This is a friendly country where you will feel welcome and safe. The beautiful Mlilwane Game Reserve was the first in Swaziland and is a testament to the kingdom’s commitment to wildlife preservation. The area offers an opportunity to sample nature at a smaller and more informal scale than in Kruger.

    Mountain Biking

    We will have a guided walk, and you may choose to participate in other optional activities (booked locally) such as mountain biking and horseback rides in the reserve.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Overnight in unique, traditional Swazi Beehive huts, or similar.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • 6 - 7 - KwaZulu-Natal

    Zululand.
    Safari

    Zululand, a province within South Africa covers a large part of the KwaZulu-Natal. From our base in Zululand, rich in both cultural history and wildlife, we will enjoy game drives in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserves, famous for their role in saving the endangered white and black rhinos. The two reserves were first proclaimed in 1895 and are among the best in South Africa. We are likely see many rhinos, as well as lions, elephants, giraffe and a large variety of birds. A cultural visit to a local village is also included.

    Vacation Rental

    Overnights at the Banghoek Lodge, or similar.
    Meals: 2 Breakfasts.

  • Day 8 - South Africa

    Oribi Gorge.
    Bus

    We will depart after breakfast and follow the scenic Indian Ocean coastline through the hilly region of KwaZulu-Natal. We will arrive at Oribi Gorge in the early afternoon. This spectacular gorge on the Umzimkulwana River is one of the highlights along the coast.

    Adventure

    We will have time to view the gorge or participate in the various activites available, including a gorge swing, abseiling and hiking trails that can be booked on site.

    Hotel

    Overnight Oribi Gorge Hotel, or similar.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 9 - 10 - South Africa

    Coffee Bay, Transkei.
    Sightseeing

    Transkei, birthplace of Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected South African president, is well known for its stunning coastline, lush subtropical vegetation, unspoiled beaches, and relaxed atmosphere.

    Sightseeing

    You will have a full day in the hamlet of Coffee Bay where you will have a full day available for scenic walks on the Wild Coast Trail or enjoy of the surf beaches and marine life along the shore.

    Hiking

    You may wish to hike to the Hole-in-the-Wall geological site.

    Hotel

    We will stay in the small town of Coffee Bay, located in the heart of the Transkei coast. Overnights at the Ocean View Hotel, or similar.
    Meals: 2 Breakfasts.

  • Day 11 - 12 - South Africa

    Addo Elephant National Park.
    Bus

    Today's drive will take us south, just inland from the Ship Wreck Coast, where we will enjoy another very special wildlife experience today!

    National Parks

    Encompassing much of the Sundays River Valley near the Zuurberg Range, the enormous, and soon to be enlarged, Addo Elephant National Park is home to large herds of elephants, lions, and antelopes.

    Safari

    We will take a game drive and observe the animals interacting at the floodlit waterhole.

    Camping

    Overnight at the Addo Rest Camp, or similar.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 13 - 14 - South Africa

    Garden Route.
    Sightseeing

    Continuing west, we will explore the famous Garden Route, which encompasses a verdant and highly attractive stretch of coastline between the forests of Tsitsikamma and the winelands of the Western Cape.

    Adventure

    We will have a full day to explore the charming towns of the area or partake in a variety of optional activities (booked locally) including hiking, whale watching, or a sunset boat cruise.

    Shopping

    As this is a famous and popular tourist area, there is an abundance of restaurants and shops.

    Hotel

    Overnight Knysna Hollow or similar.
    Meals: 2 Breakfasts.

  • Day 15 - Oudtshoorn

    Bus

    We head inland this morning to Oudtshoorn. This was the center of the great ostrich plume boom of the 19th century when fortunes were made in the feathers and much of the money went into building this town, which is still crazy for the birds.

    Sightseeing

    Heading inland via the Outeniqua Pass, we will enjoy a fascinating guided tour of an Ostrich Farm and the famous Cango Caves, named after the Khosian word for “a wet place”. This extensive system of Pre-Cambrian limestone caverns is one of the largest and most impressive in southern Africa.

    Hotel

    Overnight at the Kleinplaas Resort chalets, or similar.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 16 - Cape Town

    Sightseeing

    Our journey will take us through a picturesque fruit and wine growing valley known as the longest wine route in the world — “Route 62.” Route 62 is a tourist route in the Western Cape that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn and the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth, offering a scenic alternative to the N2 highway. It's an area of magnificent landscapes, towering cliffs, crystal clear streams, and an abundance of trees and indigenous flora. The unique aspects of this environment make Paarl and Wellington, the Breede River Valley, the Klein Karoo, and the Langkloof some of South Africa's most diverse regions. This scenic route passes through farming towns and the fruit growing and wine producing towns of Barrydale, Montagu, Ashton, Bonnievale, Robertson, McGregor, Worcester, Wellington, and Paarl. Maintaining its reputation, Route 62 boasts countless wine cellars and estates.

    Hotel

    We will arrive in Cape Town and check into our hotel Breakwater Lodge, or similar.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 17 - 18 - Cape Town

    Sightseeing

    This morning, we will depart at 8:00 a.m. for a full day peninsular tour. Driving along the Atlantic seaboard via Hout Bay and Chapmans Peak, we will visit the Cape Point Nature Reserve and then return to the hotel via the Indian Ocean coastline.

    Sightseeing

    A morning or afternoon cable car ascent up Table Mountain is included (weather dependent).

    Food and Dining

    Dinners can be enjoyed at the bustling waterfront (own expense).

    Hotel

    Overnight at the Breakwater Lodge, or similar.
    Meals: 2 Breakfasts.

  • Day 19 - Cape Town

    Cape Town / Onward or Robben Island Ext.

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

    Sightseeing

    Or, alternatively, add one day for a visit to famous Robben Island. For nearly 400 years, this island, 12 km/7.5 mi from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts, and the unwanted of society. During the apartheid years, Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran the Island and its prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and crush their morale. Some freedom fighters spent more than a quarter of a century in prison for their beliefs, most famously, Nelson Mandela. Those imprisoned on the Island succeeded on a psychological and political level in turning a prison 'hell-hole' into a symbol of freedom and personal liberation. Robben Island came to symbolize the triumph of the human spirit over enormous hardship and adversity, not only for South Africa and the African continent, but also for the entire world.

    Sightseeing

    This three and a half hour tour includes a return trip across Table Bay, a visit to the Maximum Security Prison, interaction with an ex-political prisoner, and a 45-minute bus tour with a guide providing commentary.

    Hotel

    Return to the Breakwater Hotel for your overnight.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 20 - Cape Town

    Cape Town / Onward.

    Transfer to the airport for your onward flight home.
    Meals: Breakfast.

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