17 Day Johannesburg to Cape Town Tour
Johannesburg to Cape Town
Day 1 – Drakensberg Escarpment
We will collect you from the O R Tambo International Airport or from your overnight accommodation in Johannesburg and travel through the Highveld industrial, mining and agricultural areas. Our guide will make this section interesting, adding value with his interpretation of the local history and sights. The scenery is pretty flat but changes as we approach the Drakensberg Escarpment, where we drop down to the Lowveld through scenic passes. This Drakensberg Escarpment area has scenic vistas over the Lowveld of the Kruger National Park. The fresh mountain scenery and panoramic views over the Klein Drakensberg escarpment are quite spectacular and give the area its name of 'Panorama Route'. The geology and climate of this high rainfall plateau results in masses of waterfalls. Some are hidden deep within some of the largest man-made forestry plantations in the world, with row upon row of pine and eucalyptus trees. We will visit the Panorama Escarpment and some of the view-sites such as God’s Window, Blyde River Canyon, Berlin and Lisbon waterfalls, etc. and overnight at Hannah Lodge (or similar). Hannah is a reflection of Africa in its entire natural splendour, a captivating tapestry of African sounds, smells and colours. The rising sun showers the valley with shades of pink, red and orange.
Days 2, 3, 4 – Moholoholo - Kruger Park
This morning after breakfast we travel to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which is a non-profit organisation that relies entirely on the tour entrance fee and private/corporate donations and sponsorship. It is this funding that keeps the breeding projects running, as well as purchasing of medicines needed in the hospital, veterinary fees, food for the numerous animals and birds which are kept at the center and general maintenance of the enclosures. A visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is an unforgettable experience. The centre provides a home for many of South Africa’s abandoned injured and poisoned wildlife and is a highly regarded contributor to wildlife in our country. Witness the caring and nursing of poisoned, injured and abandoned wild birds and animals. A multitude of interesting wildlife encounters await you and animals that may be seen include Lion, Leopard, Serval, Lynx, Honey Badger, Eagles, Vultures and any baby animals that they may have at the time of our visit. A visit to the centre will stimulate awareness and understanding of the plight which our wildlife faces today.
From here we make our way to the nearby Kruger National Park. The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks among the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Kruger Park is an excellent venue with good sightings of lion, elephant, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, baboon, monkey, hippo and impala regularly seen. The more elusive animals like leopard and wild dog are an exciting find.
We will go on a night drive in an open safari vehicle on one of the evenings, this to enhance the possibility of seeing the nocturnal species such as leopard, lion, hyena, genet, bush babies and then the other nocturnal animals such as the smaller cats, owls and nightjars. You also get to see most of the diurnal animals, with their eyes lighting up like a little town in the reflection of the spotlights when you chance on a herd of Impala. These drives are conducted by SANParks, the organisation tasked with running this Park.
We will spend our nights in Kruger in bungalow accommodation inside the Kruger Park. Although not graded, these bungalows are of a two or three star standard. Here the rooms have twin beds, each with a private shower, toilet and hand basin en-suite. The brick under thatch rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, some also with ceiling fans and a fridge. There is insect proof screening on the doors and windows. You will be provided with bath and hand towels as well as soap. In the game reserve we will have breakfast and dinners in the restaurants.
We enjoy a full game-viewing programme for the balance of the days. Your guide in his vehicle conducts the remainder of the game drives. We encourage an early start to make the most of the best time of day to view the animals. We will try and be the first one out at dawn - this to see if we are able to sight some of the nocturnal predators returning to their daytime resting place and then to have breakfast, possibly at a different locality.
Day 5 - Swaziland
After our morning game viewing we leave Kruger Park and travel to Swaziland. We visit the Ngwenya Glass Factory before making our way to Reilly’s Rock (or similar). Situated in the Mliliwane Game Sanctuary, Reilly’s Rock’s unique lodge has been tastefully decorated in keeping with its colonial roots by Swaziland's leading conservation team. Notwithstanding the necessary subtle additions and renovations, the house still stands as it was built almost a century ago. Mliliwane Game Reserve is Swaziland's pioneer conservation area and is situated in a beautiful, secluded sanctuary in Swaziland's Valley of Heaven, the Ezulwini Valley, an area between Mbabane and Manzini.
The Sanctuary covers 4,560 hectares and comprises of a southern and northern section. The southern section is predominately open grassland plains with middleveld vegetation, stretching up onto the striking Nyonyane Mountain with its exposed granite peak known as the "Rock of Execution". Nyonyane is where ancient San once lived and where Swazi Royal graves are situated giving historical significance.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is a country located in Southern Africa and is relatively small in area, similar in size to Kuwait. Swaziland is a landlocked country, bordered by South Africa on three sides except to the east, where it borders Mozambique. The country, inhabited primarily by the Swazi people, is named after the 19th century King Mswati II, from whom the people also take their name.
Days 6 - Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park
We leave Reilly’s Rock travelling through rural Zululand and proceed to the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park where we would spend the night at Hilltop Camp. The accommodation here is in a brick under thatch chalet, each bedroom with its own private bathroom/wash-basin and toilet. Each chalet is also equipped with a fridge.
Our game viewing commences immediately upon entering the gates into the park.
This first evening we go on a night drive in an open game-viewing vehicle with staff from KZN Wildlife, the organisation that is tasked with running this reserve. This is to improve on your chances of seeing some of the nocturnal species such as leopard, lion, hyena, genet, bush babies and then the other nocturnal animals such as the owls and nightjars. You also get to see some of the diurnal animals, with their eyes lighting up like a little town in the reflection of the spotlights when you chance on a herd of Impala.
Day 7 – Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park
Today will be spent on extended game drives to various areas of the Park, with an early start to make the most of the day and to possibly chance upon one of the predators returning to their day-time lair. Set in the heart of Zululand, this is the oldest game reserve in Africa, where Zulu kings such as Dingiswayo and Shaka hunted and put in place the first conservation laws, where today the "big five" of African legend stalk the verdant savannah. Established in 1895, game viewing is the prime attraction.
As the home of Operation Rhino in the 1950s and 60s, the Park became world renowned for its white rhino conservation. The Park covers some 96 000 ha and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Hluhluwe is characterised by hilly topography, and this northern section of the park is noted for its wide variety of both bird and animal life. Sightings of rhino, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, and antelope such as impala, nyala and kudu are seen frequently and with the possibility of seeing lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, black rhino, hippo, crocodile, monitor lizard, hyena and antelope such as red duiker, steenbuck, waterbuck, bushbuck and then the rare Samango monkey and wild dog, much less frequently. These drives are conducted with your guide in his/her vehicle.
Day 8 – St. Lucia - Shakaland
After breakfast we will head for St. Lucia where we board a boat for a two hour cruise on the lake in this proclaimed World Heritage Site. Here you are guaranteed to see hippos, and a very good chance of seeing crocodiles and a vast array of bird-life.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park has both one of the largest estuary systems in Africa and the continent's southernmost coral reefs. In granting it World Heritage status in 1999, the World Heritage Committee noted the park's "exceptional biodiversity, including some 521 bird species". Situated on the central Zululand coast of KwaZulu-Natal, the park is made up of 13 adjoining protected areas with a total size of 234 566 hectares. Its remarkable biodiversity is a result of the park's location between subtropical and tropical Africa, as well as its coastal setting. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park has its origins in the St Lucia Game Reserve, declared in 1895 and made up of the large lake and its islands. St Lucia Park was proclaimed in 1939, containing land around the estuary and a strip of about one kilometre around most of the lake shore.
After our two-hour cruise and lunch we make our way Shakaland where we overnight. Shakaland is a traditional Zulu "Umuzi" or homestead, divided into the home of the Zulu's and hotel rooms, and is a unique resort which was built on the set that was used for the filming of the movies, Shaka Zulu and John Ross. Here you will feel the pulsating rhythm of mysterious and magical Africa as you re-live the excitement and romance of the days of Shaka, King of the Zulus, in this authentic re-creation of the Great Kraal overlooking the Phobane Lake. Experience the sight of assegai-wielding warriors, share the fascinating secrets of the Sangomas and witness traditional customs such as tribal dancing, spear-making and the beer-drinking ceremonies. Stay in quality accommodation in traditional beehive huts, with all mod cons such as en-suite bathrooms. Protea Hotel Shakaland is more than just a tourist attraction - it is an enriching experience affording a better understanding of the Zulu nation, its people and their intriguing customs.
Day 9 - Durban
From Shakaland and the morning’s cultural activity, we make our way to Eshowe where we visit the Aerial Boardwalk in the Dlinza Forest, here to see some of the fascinating bird-life in this town, before we head to Durban and overnight at City Lodge, Umhlanga Ridge (or similar). Ideally situated next to the upmarket Gateway shopping and entertainment complex, City Lodge Umhlanga Ridge blends into the surroundings of its modern environment.
The five-storey hotel is in the heart of the new business district that has emerged in the Umhlanga area and is a short drive from Umhlanga’s popular promenade and beach front.
Day 10 - Knysna
This morning we fly to Port Elizabeth where we start the Garden Route and Cape Town leg of our tour. From Port Elizabeth we make our way to Knysna, where we overnight at Knysna Hollow (or similar). The Garden Chalets and Rooms are set in lush gardens and have been tastefully decorated with a Knysna forest feel. Room amenities include televisions, tea and coffee making facilities and private patios.
En route we stop at the Paul Sauer Bridge over the Storms River and take a stroll onto the bridge and enjoy lunch here.
We also visit the Tsitsikamma National Park and walk to the suspension bridge over the Storms River, the round trip taking about an hour and a half and then we head to the Bloukrantz Bridge. Here you have the opportunity to bungee jump at this, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at 216-metres! Please note that this is for your own account.
Day 11 - Knysna
This morning we head back on the N2 to Plettenberg Bay where we board a boat for an exciting launch through the waves to see if we can spot whales, dolphins and other ocean mammals in this pristine coast. There is quite a good chance that we may see the resident Bryde's Whales, as well as the migratory Southern Right whales (depending on time of year) and thousands of seals at Robberg Marin Reserve.
The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy. Any further activities are for your own account, but your guide will be on hand to supply transport and advise on activities. Please note that travel requests and distances should be within reason.
Day 12 – Knysna - Mossel Bay
This morning after breakfast we depart for the Knysna Lagoon where we visit the Featherbed Reserve. Featherbed is a privately owned, registered Nature Reserve and a South African Heritage site. It is a pristine piece of paradise situated on the Western Head of Knysna and is accessible by ferry only. This spectacular four-hour eco-experience includes a return ferry trip, nature drive and guided walk, ending with a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Food Forest Restaurant. A 4 x 4 Unimog vehicle takes visitors to spectacular viewpoints. Featherbed Nature Reserve is a prime example of eco-tourism, and in order to protect the splendour of the natural beauty, access to the Reserve is controlled. Numbers are limited and visits are only permitted in the company of the Reserve's specialist guides. The Featherbed eco-experience starts with a 25-minute ferry cruise. Your local guide on board will share fascinating tales about the Lagoon, the early shipping industry and oyster cultivation. On arrival at the Reserve, visitors can enjoy a drive to the top of the Western Head in a 4 x 4 Unimog
vehicle with trailers, stopping at a magnificent viewpoint en route. Here unsurpassed views of the Lagoon, mountains and Knysna can be enjoyed, whilst our knowledgeable guides explain the history and ecology of the Reserve. After the drive, your specialist guide will take you on an optional 2.2 kilometre downhill walk.
After lunch we make our way to the nearby town of Mossel Bay where we visit the Diaz Museum. Of the five National Monuments on the museum grounds, 4 are buildings dating between 1830 and 1902. The museum grounds themselves, situated on the shores of the Indian Ocean, are a magnificent historical setting. They are situated at the very site where European explorers came ashore and made contact with the indigenous people. Information about the Khoi-Khoi and explorers can be seen in the Maritime Museum.
We will overnight at the Point Hotel (or similar). The Point Hotel is built right on the rocks above a huge natural rock pool and overlooks the endless blue expanse of the Indian Ocean. From your balcony you can watch the Humpback and Southern Right whales or the dolphins passing.
Day 13 - Oudtshoorn
Today we visit the Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn, which are among the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. Some of the sandstone formations are colourfully illuminated and the bizarre shapes in the caves are mainly composed of calcium carbonate. They develop as limewater drips from the stones and evaporate. The structures growing down from the cave ceiling are called stalactites, while those that grow from the ground to the top are called stalagmites.
We will also visit a working ostrich farm where one can learn more about these fascinating birds. Commercial ostrich farming started during the late 1880's in South Africa; this was also the start of the ostrich industry worldwide. The fashion demand in Europe for ostrich feathers inspired the growth of the industry, with the Oudtshoorn district quickly being established as the “ostrich capital of the world”. During the first decade of the previous century, ostrich feathers gained record prices on foreign markets, ranking 4th on the list of South African exports, after gold, diamonds and wool. The consequence of this newly found opulence meant that ostrich farmers were able to build beautiful sandstone mansions. A unique feature of the farm experience is a visit to the Ostrich Palace "Welgeluk" which was built at the height of the feather boom in 1910. The homestead is a National Monument and is a superb example of the type of architecture that was used at the time. Safari Ostrich Show Farm was established more than 40 years ago. Lunch will be enjoyed at this farm.
For your own account you may have time to visit the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Valley of Ancients, an endangered species breeding facility extraordinaire. The oldest and biggest cheetah contact centre worldwide offers visitors the rare opportunity of interacting with hand reared cheetahs and getting actively involved in saving this species and others from extinction.
For the adventurous there is an opportunity to come face to face with wildlife in the Natural Encounters programme where you can touch a cheetah, enjoy the closeness of a tiger cub, wrap yourself in a python and even dive with Nile crocodiles.
We will overnight at the Turnberry Boutique Hotel (or similar). The four star Turnberry Boutique Hotel in the centre of the picturesque Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. A warm welcome, awaits visitors to this tiny piece of Scotland set in the heart of the Klein Karoo. Relax in the comfort of one of the well appointed air-conditioned bedrooms (each with satellite television, a coffee station and a mini bar), all with en-suite bathrooms, and cosy double beds fitted with crisp white linen. Each room also has wireless Internet connection.
Day 14 - Cape Town
After breakfast we make our way along Route 62 towards Cape Town. Route 62 is the tourist route that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, offering the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway. It's an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and the abundance of trees and indigenous flora - all contribute to making the Breede River Valley and the Klein Karoo two of the Western Cape's most diverse regions. The ever changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the multitude of attractions, will offer you an unforgettable adventure - whether this is in the physical sense or simply a kaleidoscope of scenic tranquility.
This afternoon late we arrive in Cape Town where we overnight at the Holiday Inn Express (or similar). Take in Table Mountain views from the high-rise hotel, located in the heart of the city. They are set on a tree-lined street packed with bars, restaurants and cafes, and are conveniently close to the popular Loop Street.
From here you can take the scenic route to the V&A Waterfront. A regular ferry service takes guests to the world-famous marina with its up market shopping and entertainment choices in just 20 minutes.
We will do a short orientation tour of this city. This is a city with a diverse range of attractions, sights and activities on offer - Cape Town has something for everyone. From the landmark beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay to the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and Cape Town city centre, the scenery of the Cape Peninsula and more - time spent in Cape Town will not be forgotten.
Day 15 – Cape Point - Cape Town
The Fairest Cape…and it surely is! You’ll soon see for yourself where and why it earned its name. Sit back and relax, we’re going to cruise along the exquisite stretch of coastline known as Millionaire’s Paradise – from Camps Bay and Clifton to the exclusive beach hamlet of Llandudno – towards the charming working harbour of Hout Bay, where, if you so choose, you can embark on an up-close-and-personal Seal Island cruise (for your own account). Once back on terra firma, we wind along the legendary Chapman’s Peak Drive, hugging the cliffs and relishing the breathtaking ocean views, before arriving at the wild and beautiful Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, an integral part of the world-renowned Cape Floral Kingdom. We meander back along the coast towards the City, visiting the historic naval port of Simon’s Town and the endearing penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach.
We will arrive back in the city in the late afternoon.
Day 15 – Winelands - Cape Town
A superb day dedicated to celebrating the glorious grape, the exceptional winelands region, and the heavenly scenery. The area’s rich with history, and we can’t help but feel it as we move through the region to experience a wine cellar tour, where you’ll learn all about the process of winemaking, from grape to goblet. We visit the exquisite little town of Franschhoek, pass by the impressive Huguenot Monument, and in a town with a reputation for gourmet fare, where else could we choose to enjoy lunch (for own account).
After lunch we wind our way to meet the charming university town of Stellenbosch. Ample time has been set aside to stroll through this little town, absorbing the quaintness, and sneaking into the odd shop or two! A trip to the winelands isn’t complete without a wine tasting, so we will do so at one or two different wine estates. And of course, you’ll be able to purchase your favourite wine to take back home!
Day 16 - Cape Town
Today is yours to enjoy. Your guide will be available to advise you and is available for transport. You may wish to take a drive to Hermanus to do some whale-watching in season, or take a tour to Robben Island or maybe a meander along the West Coast. All activities, except for the transport, are for your own account and it should be stressed that the travel requests and distances should be reasonable – your guide can advise you.
Day 17 – Cape Town
This morning we will do a City tour of Cape Town, and weather permitting, we will also visit Table Mountain – this is a half-day tour, and the remainder of the day can be spent at the V&A Waterfront before your departure to the Cape Town International Airport for your flight home or at your preferred hotel if you are staying in Cape Town.