South Africa & Swazi Quest
Spot the Big Five in game parks and reserves, visit local villages and cosmopolitan Cape Town, search for resident wildlife in Kruger National Park, take in southern Africa's dramatic scenery, experience local dancing.
Tour description provided by G Adventures
The unvarnished grandeur of South Africa is on display in this comprehensive exploration of one of the continent’s most diverse and fascinating destinations. Africa’s incredible culture and wildlife is at a premium on this tour—from the coastal shores of Tsitsikamma to extensive game drives in Addo Elephant National Park and the famed Kruger. You’ll also have the chance to visit a traditional Swazi village, explore modern Cape Town, and follow the glorious Garden Route. Add in knowledgeable CEOs and some of the best camp meals you’ve ever tasted and you’ve got a recipe for adventure par excellence.
- Day 1 Johannesburg
- Arrive in Johannesburg any time and make your way to the joining point hotel. A brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel reception area in evening on Day 1 of your tour. Upon arrival look for information from your CEO on the hotel bulletin board regarding the meeting time. Please make sure you have all of the necessary visas for this tour by the time of the welcome meeting. It is very important to read the Visa section in our trip details to make sure which visas you will need, if any. Please note that not all nationalities are able to obtain a visa on arrival at the border. Our starting hotel is located outside of the city of Johannesburg, but take some time on an excursion to Soweto or to the famous Apartheid Museum.
- Day 2-3 Greater Kruger Area/Kruger National Park (2B,2L,2D)
- Drive through scenic mountains, experience traditional Shangaan dinner and dance. The name Manyeleti, means 'Place of the Stars' in the local Shangaan language and guests have the opportunity to view the magnificent Southern Constellation. Manyeleti is situated away from the mainstream tourist areas and guests can experience the tranquility of the African Bush in absolute seclusion. In the late afternoon/early evening relax around the pool, sit around the campfire and enjoy your sundowner drink, followed by a traditional meal and traditional dancing by the villagers. Sleep tight and listen to the haunting sounds of the African night. The 23,000 hectare Manyeleti Game Reserve is situated between the Timbavati Private Reserve, the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. With no fences separating Manyeleti from Kruger and the neighbouring reserves, a huge variety of wildlife roams freely over more than 2 million hectares of African bush. Game drives in open vehicles (optional) could bring you into close contact with the Big 5 (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) for an unforgettable safari experience. The Manyeleti Game Reserve is managed by the Mnisi tribe who have been in the area for many generations. The Mnisi are committed to retaining the integrity of the game reserve and ensuring that the benefits of tourism in the reserve are delivered to the surrounding communities. In the late morning of the following day we will visit and interact with the local community of the Planeterra volunteer program, Hope Africa. We continue into the Kruger National Park searching for Africa’s "Big 5", we will spend the remainder of day game driving to spot wild animals in our own vehicle. Included visit to a Planeterra-supported Children’s Day School just outside Krugar National Park. Planeterra is currently supporting accessible early childhood education in South Africa through Hope Africa Children’s Day School. This school provides education for over 80 children under the age of 5 who attend the pre-school. The school also provides two meals a day for each student. Planeterra is currently fundraising for renovations that the school is in critical need of – a washrooms facility and kitchen that can accommodate the entire school. A past G Adventures’ traveller who had visited the school also helped raise much needed funds to have a water line, borehole and tank installed for the school and community to have access to water.
- Day 4-5 Kingdom of Swaziland (2B,2L,2D)
- Today we will cross the border from South Africa to Swaziland. The name of the border post is Jeppe’s Reef on the South African side and Matsamu on the Swazi side. Some nationalities do require a visa for Swaziland. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility, so please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Swaziland. The South African Rand (ZAR) and the Swazi Lilangeni (SZL) has the same value, so you can use ZAR in Swaziland. However, when you pay in ZAR your change will be in SZL. Explore Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Option to go for mountain hikes, mountain biking or a Swazi village tour. The mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland, lead by King Mswati III, is one of three monarchies in Africa. Here explore Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, which is situated in the Swaziland’s “Valley of Heaven”, the Ezulwini Vallley. In your free time take the opportunity to go horse riding, mountain biking, trailing, or game viewing. Mlilwane was the first wildlife sanctuary in Swaziland, created in the 1950’s by a well known Swazilander, Tedd Reilly, on his farm. He has been instrumental in the conservation of Swaziland’s natural heritage for many years. This reserve is a gentle relaxed place with zebra, many antelope species and crocodiles. Several hippos have become so used to being fed in the afternoon, that these enormous beasts plod out of the dam to chomp, dribble and munch in front of the Hippo Haunt Restaurant. So close are they, that your entire camera frame is filled with their wide toothy mouth and glistening nostrils. Around the restcamp a variety of animals mill around looking for food, but watching a warthog snuffling near the camp fire while his friend roasts on a spit above, is somewhat disquieting. This reserve offers hiking, cycling and horse riding.
- Day 6-7 Zululand (2B,1L)
- Approximate Distance: 277km Estimated Time: 6 hrs Today we will cross the border from Swaziland to South Africa. The name of the border posts are Lavumisa in Swaziland side and Golela on the South African side. Some nationalities do require a visa for South Africa. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for South Africa. The currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). Today we depart for the beautiful Zululand area, re-entering South Africa into one of its most diverse regions. We stay in the St. Lucia area near the coast. Here take the optional boat trip on the estuary or go for a horse ride on the beach. On day 10, visit the Umfolozi Game Reserve (optional) which is a safe haven for both the white and black rhino, and as well lions, buffalo, elephant, and leopard call the reserve home. Also, meet our local friends with a traditional Zulu meal. The St. Lucia Wetlands is a huge expanse of estuaries which is dominated by Lake St. Lucia, the largest estuarine body of water in South Africa. The St. Lucia Marine Reserve, which extends roughly from Sodwana in the north to Mapelane in the south, contains no less than five different ecosystems, and is home to complex body of vleis (wetlands), pans, swamp forests and grasslands. These include the lake itself, a wilderness area known as Mfabeni and Tewati, a marine conservation area, the reed and papyrus wetland of the Mkuze swamps and western shores, and a fossil shoreline more than 25,000 years old.This was the first game reserve in South Africa. Today the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park stands as a beacon to the efforts for conservation in South Africa.
- Day 8 Durba (1B,1L,1D)
- Approximate Distance: 275km Estimated Time: 6 hrs Spend most of the day travelling the coast to Durban. Here you may say goodbye to some travellers who are finishing their trip here, and you may also be met by new G Adventures travellers beginning their trip here in Durban. Enjoy a traditional Durban meal of "bunny chow" (hollowed out bread filled with curry) and witness a traditional miner's gumboot dance. Explore the beach and dive into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean just out the front door of our guest house. The city of Durban has grown into one of South Africa's best-known and most popular coastal resorts and commercial ports. With stretches of safe, sandy beaches and abundance of holiday accommodation destinations available and all-year sunshine attract visitors to this festive city every year. This city is enjoyed for its vibrant mix of cultures and experiences, with a large diverse population of people. The beach front area has a number of attractions, from fair grounds to restaurants, to water sports and the now world famous “uShaka Marine World”.
- Day 9 Port St. Johns (1B,1L,1D)
- Approximate Distance: 420 Estimated Travel Time: 6-7 hrs South from Durban, we travel to the Eastern Cape province, into the heartland of the Xhosa people, and to Port St. Johns. It is a paradise on a large stretch of Indian Ocean coast referred to as the Wild Coast. Upon arrival at our scenic campground, we will set up our camp and explore the city of Port St Johns and the nearby beaches.
- Day 10 Cinsta (1B,1L,1D)
- Approximate Distance: 270km Estimated Travel Time: 4-5 hrs Travel along the national highway and enjoying views of rolling hills, farmland and traditional Xhosa villages. On this route we will and travel past Mandela’s home. Cinsta is a little piece of paradise, with it's unspoiled sandy beaches and a variety of fauna and flora, this eastern coast forest reserve provides a refuge from the big cities. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There is lots to do around Cinsta. You can have the option to learn how to surf, take a horseback ride, hike, or enjoy the beautiful 15km beach. You also have the option to join a guided game drive, an elephant encounter or quad bike through the 4000 hectare game reserve. Embrace your adventurous side and cycle or jump on the bus up to Mama Tofu’s Xhosa village for an inspiring cultural experience or visit the local craft brewery Emerald Vale for a taster of real home-brewed ale. Our campsite is right at the beach, has a lively pub and a palm-fringed swimming pool.
- Day 11 Addo Elephant National Park (B,L,D)
- Approximate Distance: 280km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Today we cross many unique valleys as we continue on to the Addo Elephant National Park, a unique wildlife area. Although famous for the Addo elephants, this park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and we embark on an afternoon game drive (in own vehicle) in search of the resident elephants, black rhino, lion, buffalo and even leopard. Listen to the wild sounds of Africa while enjoying your sundowner and sitting around the campfire at night. Although the Addo Elephant belongs to the same species as the African Elephant, it is smaller, with more rounded ears and the females generally have no tusks. The park was named after the KhoiKhoi name Kadouw, which they gave to a forting place over the nearby Sundays River. The bush here is a combination of acacia, Spekboom, Gwarrie and Boerboon. The English name for the Spekboom is “Elephants food”. Addo Elephant National is home to a number of different animals, including the Big 5 (elephant, black rhino, lion, buffalo, and leopard), zebra, kudu, eland, warthog, and many types of buck.
- Day 12-14 Tsitsikamma/Knysna (3B,3L,3D)
- Approximate Distance: 235km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Indigenous Tsitsikamma forests surround the campsite in the village of Storms River. Optional Activities in the area include hiking a portion of the Otter Trail or along the coastline, abseiling, scuba diving, snorkeling, boat rides, canoeing, whale watching, or even the world’s highest bungee jump.
- Day 15-16 Oudtshoorn/Cape Town (2B,2L,1D)
- Approximate Distance: Day 15: 220 km ; Day 16: 450km Estimated Travel Time: Day 15: 6 hrs ; Day 16: 8 hrs After visiting "The Heads" in Knysna, a town nestled on a tranquil lagoon on the coast, we take a scenic drive to travel over the Outeniqua Mountains into the area known as Klein Karoo (“Little Karoo”), where we make the quite town of Oudtshoorn our base. In the late afternoon, go and explore the Cango caves or visit an ostrich farm (optional). The Cango Caves are sculptured by nature through the ages, and is filled with mysterious and breathtaking limestone formations in a wide variety of natural colours. They lie in the Swartberg Mountain Range in a limestone belt measuring 1.5km in width and almost 16km in length. This part of the continent was once below the ocean. As the continent rose, the Little Karoo found itself above the water level. The caves started to form some 20 million years ago, when the water level dropped to such an extent that the ground water could start to seep into the limestone. As the water seeped into the ground it absorbed carbon dioxide from the decaying plant and animal matter in the soil and this made it fairly acidic. As it seeped into the limestone, cavities were created that filled with water. Rivers also formed on the surface and cut deeply enough into the limestone to allow them to reach the level of the water pockets. This caused the water to flow out about 4 million years ago. The cave was then, for the first time, exposed to air and the speleothems (cave formations) began to form. The portion of the caves that are accessible to the public extends for 1.2km, with a further 4.1km being kept closed for conservation. Oudtshoorn is notably the ostrich capital of the world. Here ostriches are found in great numbers and the region produces the world’s best feathers, leather products and meat. Amidst the 400 ostrich farms surrounding the town, three have distinguished themselves worthy enough to be named show farms. In addition, the Klein Karoo is one of South Africa's eight wine regions, where the sweet and desert wines are well known.
- Day 17 Cape Town (B)
- Depart at any time. For those who extend a day or longer in Cape Town: Cape Town offers many different activities – something for everyone. Visit Robben Island, Table Mountain, explore Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), embark on a wine tour in and around Stellenbosch (45min drive). Visit the old French Hugonote town of Franschoek and surroundings (1h drive). For the not so faint hearted there is numerous adrenaline activities in the surrounding areas, from skydiving to abseiling to cage diving and having a close encounter with the great white sharks. Or wonder through the city centre with some of the oldest buildings and gardens in South Africa (Botanical Gardens and Parliament Gardens). Do not miss the wonderful Cultural Historical Museum, Planetarium and numerous other small museums and theatres. For shopping, dining and entertainment the V&A Waterfront is a hotspot for foreigners and locals alike. Still a working harbour, the Waterfront is an example of creative architecture and restoration and has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. The Waterfront offers over 250 shops from designer boutiques to craft stalls, a host of restaurants and coffee shops and plenty of other activities. For cultural exchange, you shouldn’t miss out a "Local Dinner” in a private home in an informal settlement. This authentic community experience provides guests the opportunity to get deep inside the heart of Cape Town. Choose from Cape Malay, Xhosa traditional or Cape Town fusion foods, and visit families in their private homes in townships and get insight into South African realities - be part of the family for an unforgettable night. Proceeds go into the community. Visit Red-Hill pre-school, one of our Planeterra project. Planeterra - the G Adventures Foundation is our non-profit organization that was developed to give back to the people and places we visit on our tours. Planeterra supports local community projects, non-profit organizations and international charities that focus on the areas of health, education, community development, environmental conservation and employment skills training.