This is a perfect tour for those that want to explore the diverse culture and nature of South Africa’s wild north at a leisurely pace! Here people still live very traditional lives, with a close relationship to their ancestors and cultural believes. The diverse geography, with high plateaus and lowlands, mountains and rivers, gives the area a fantastic and diverse habitat: from vast plains to tropical plantations, indigenous forests and bushveld. You will meet people in their homes, far away from touristic “cultural villages. You will visit some of the country’s birding hot-spots, one of the world’s largest canyons and the mighty Kruger National Park: the most iconic of all game reserves in Africa.
This is a tour that lets you meet people to understand their way of life, and get close to nature and wildlife on foot and in open vehicles. You will get closer, experience more and leave with memories that will last a lifetime!
Arrive in Johannesburg in the morning, pick up your rental car and drive North. You will pass the outskirts of the large cities Johannesburg and Pretoria, and once they are behind the landscape changes into vast expanses of grassy plains, dotted with shrubs, acacias and euphorbias. There are plenty of petrol stations along the way, where you can stop to stretch your legs, buy a coffee or a snack and use the bathroom. Once you have passed Polokwane, the road narrows and soon you are driving through villages where you need to watch out for people, cows and goats. Now you really feel that you are in Africa!
Your home for the night is a stylish eco-lodge in a private nature reserve, where antelopes and giraffe roam free. Your Swedish host will cook a wonderful meal to welcome you to his little piece of Africa.
Alternatively you can stay in rustic forest huts, surrounded by the indigenous forest where plenty of birds as well as the rare Samango monkeys live.
Today, you will visit one of the nearby villages together with a local guide. This is not a pre-organised show but rather a glimpse of everyday life. Whatever is happening, you will join in. Perhaps there is a football game or a wedding, maybe you’ll help to fetch water and take the goats to their grazing land. You will also visit the sangoma (traditional healer) who will tell you more about her calling and how she heals both physical and mental ailments with the help of the ancestors and herbal remedies. You will also get a taste of the local food at one of the homes. Expect wild spinach, beans, pap (a porridge made from maize flour), mopane worms (caterpillars), chicken feet and tripe (don’t worry, your hosts are used to tourists having delicate stomachs, and won’t be offended if you don’t taste everything).
In the afternoon you can choose from several activities, such as hiking and bird watching, or maybe you just want to take it easy and digest the morning’s experiences.
Transport: a few km
Meals: breakfast and dinner (plus the tasting during the village tour)
Activities: village tour
Check out and set your sights on Kruger National Park. Along the way, you will pass the picturesque
mountain town Haenertsburg where there is plenty to do. For the adventurous, there’s an excellent
zipline that takes you down the gorge across many waterfalls. Or visit an organic cheese farm, where
cheese is made by hand according to age-old recipes. Then make your way to Timbavati Private Game
Reserve, a private game reserve that shares a fenceless border with Kruger National Park (which let’s
you experience this vast wilderness without the crowds, and where the vehicles can go off-road to get
really close to the animals).
This is one of the best areas in South Africa to see the elusive leopard, and also the only place in the
world where the white lions roam wild. In the late afternoon, you set off on your first game drive which
also includes a “sundowner” (a drink) in the bush to watch the sun set. The last part of the drive will be in
the dark, and your guide has a strong torch so that he can spot nocturnal animals. Once back in camp,
gather by the fire with your fellow guests and then enjoy a delicious dinner.
The lodge is my favourite camp in the whole country. It is rustic but comfortable, and gives you a real
bush experience. There is no electricity (but the office has a generator if you should ned to charge your
phone or camera) and at night the camp is lit by oil lanterns. The camp is unfenced, meaning that you
are staying in the middle of the wilderness (although elephants are discouraged by a high wire as they
tend to steal the water pipes).
Meals: breakfast and dinner (all drinks included)
Activities: afternoon game drive
You will be woken just before sunrise, and after a cup of tea it’s time to meet the new day in the bush.
After about 3 hours, you return to camp and eat a big breakfast. The rest of the day is free. You may
want to sit on the deck and watch the animals at the nearby waterhole, take a dip in the pool or perhaps
a nap. After lunch, you depart for your evening game drive just like yesterday.
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner (and all drinks)
Activities: morning and afternoon game drive
After your morning game drive and breakfast, it is time to head for new adventures. Drive along the
Panorama Route to the little town Graskop. Along the way, you have plenty of time to explore the iconic
destinations Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window. You
can also take a short drive to the historic town Pilgrim’s Rest, which was established during the gold rush
of the mid-19th century and has now been converted to a living museum.
Activities: morning game drive
Drive back to Johannesburg, and fly on to Cape Town or Port Elizabeth (look at packages starting in
Cape Town and Port Elizabeth) or explore Johannesburg.
Accommodation, Activities, Assistance with reservations for restaurant and optional activities, Directions and information about optional activities, Maps, Meals as per program
Drinks (except at the safari lodge), Flights (We recommend to book night flights), Optional activities, Personal expenses and tips, Rental car
The Garden Route & the Cape Winelands are iconic South African destinations. However some places are rather crowded and, to be honest, more tourist traps than fantastic experiences. In this itinerary, we’ve excluded these and focussed on the things that these icons do best: exceptional nature experiences, good food & wine and unusual wildlife. You will explore both well-known destinations and hidden gems. All accommodation is 3-4 star, and picked for its unique locations as well as comfort.
Hermanus, the world’s foremost land based whale watching destination, is a thriving holiday resort offering residents and holiday makers all modern amenities, yet retaining its fisherman’s village charm. The popular resort town of Hermanus, situated between mountain and sea, has gained world-wide recognition as the world’s foremost land based whale watching destination. This has resulted in the former fishing village showing a tremendous growth over the last few years.
An exciting adventure awaits at the Arabella Hotel & Spa. Situated in the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere, close to Hermanus’ world-famous whale watching destinations, the hotel invites you to explore a distinctive combination of luxury and convenience. Discover contemporary accommodation and a wide range of five-star amenities, golf in world class and exciting safari.
On the southern coast of the African continent 120km to the west of Cape Town lies a quaint seaside fishing village that is home to the whales who annually return to its waters when calving and the equally impressive Hermanus Golf Course. South Africa’s premiere course architect, Peter Matkovich recently had the chance to play an important role in upgrading the clubs existing 18 holes to an impressive 27 holes and he grabbed it with both hands.
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