Day 1 - Oudtshoorn
After breakfast we collect you from your overnight accommodation in Cape Town or from the Cape Town International Airport and make our way to Oudtshoorn along “Route 62”, the tourist route that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, offering the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway. This is an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and the abundance of trees and indigenous flora. The ever changing colours of the majestic mountains, scenic passes, rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as the attractions, will offer you an unforgettable adventure — whether this is in the physical sense or simply a kaleidoscope of scenic tranquillity. Innovation and pride, combined with a terrain and mild climate that are harmoniously balanced, results in the prominence of this region's wines. We reach Oudtshoorn in the late afternoon, a town that is known as the "feather capital of the world”.
We will overnight at the Oudtshoorn Hotel & Resort (or similar). This 4-storey hotel boasts a spa which offers a full range of therapies, massages and beauty treatments. Most of their well-appointed air-conditioned rooms provide a wonderful view overlooking the swimming pool. Outside activities include tennis, jungle gym and miniature golf.
Day 2 – 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.
After our tours here we depart via the stunning Outeniqua Pass to the town of Knysna where we overnight at the Knysna Hollow (or similar). The 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.
Day 3 - Knysna
This morning after breakfast we visit the “Featherbed Nature Reserve”. Featherbed gives visitors to the Garden Route an unforgettable experience on the Knysna Lagoon. The Lagoon, more accurately defined as an estuary, has five fresh water rivers flowing in from the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains meeting with the surge of sea water from the Indian Ocean through the mighty headlands – known as the 'Knysna Heads' - the grand sandstone cliffs towering above the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon. Featherbed is a privately-owned, registered Nature Reserve and a South African Heritage Site, No.59. It is a pristine piece of paradise situated on the Western Head of Knysna and is accessible by ferry only. After driving through the reserve to the top of the Western Head, you can take the optional, 2.2 kilometre guided walk, passing through Milkwood forests onto the steep sandstone cliffs, into ancient Khoi Khoi sea caves and along a scenic coastal path fringed with aromatic fynbos. Your guide will inform you on the ecology, fauna, flora, bird and marine life in the reserve. On the coastal walk back, you can often spot the resident Black African Oyster Catcher, one of the rarest coastal birds in South Africa. Featherbed Nature Reserve is home to a breeding program of the rare Blue Duiker - one of the smallest antelope species in the world - the beautiful Knysna Loerie and the endangered Knysna Sea Horse.
Lunch will be at The Forest Restaurant is situated on the edge of the Lagoon under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
Later this afternoon you are at leisure to stroll around the town or the cute Knysna Waterfront to catch up on some shopping or relaxation.
Day 4 – Addo Elephant National Park
This morning we travel to the Addo Elephant Park, stopping along the way to visit Plettenberg Bay and then on to the Bloukrantz Bridge where 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. We then 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 a stop at the Paul Sauer Bridge over the Storms River to take a stroll onto the bridge and enjoy lunch here.
After lunch we head for the Addo Elephant Park which lies deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape. Here the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolins call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace. The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.
Day 5 – Addo – East London
Today we enjoy another game drive and then travel to East London where we overnight at the Quarry Lake Inn in this coastal city. Located in a quiet suburb of East London, Quarry Lake Inn is a four-star graded guest-house overlooking a rehabilitated quarry. Indigenous trees and plants were introduced to maintain a natural environment that supports an abundance of bird and animal life. En route we will stop in Umtata and visit the museum dedicated to South Africa's favourite son, Nelson Mandela. Please note that this museum is not open on weekends.
Day 6 –
(Breakfast, Dinner– if Umngazi River Bungalows are available)
Today we travel the scenic route through the rural Transkei to our overnight destination on the stunning Wild Coast. Our preferred accommodation here is the Umngazi River Bungalows, but this is a very popular venue, and thus availability is very limited. Should we not be in a position to secure accommodation here, we will stay at a similar venue, to be advised. The Umngazi River Bungalows are perched on the panoramic hillside of the Umngazi River mouth, overlooking the scenic splendour of the Wild Coast and are nestled amongst the kaleidoscopic fauna and flora that only the heart of Pondoland can offer.
Day 7 - Wild Coast
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner– if Umngazi River Bungalows are available)
The days here are all yours to enjoy. While beach walks and activities may tempt the more active, simply relaxing in comfortable and private surroundings remains a substantial temptation. You could spend the whole time dozing at their riverside pool, or hanging out at Basil’s Bar, where darts, snooker and tall stories make you feel like a regular in no time. At their lofted hillside spa, they have dedicated, professional therapists, if you want your city stress to be massaged away – to the soundtrack of nothing but breakers and birdcalls. Or you might find relaxation in other ways; in the gym, on the courts or with a long amble down their pristine beaches; as rich in shore life as most coastlines used to be.
Day 8 – Himeville (Breakfast)
From here we travel inland through the rural Transkei, to the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains on the scenic route to Himeville, where we overnight at Moorcroft Manor (or similar). Moorcroft Manor offers classically decorated rooms all with bathrooms en suite. Lose yourself in the sheer comfort of their king-size beds, crisp vanilla scented linen and finest quality Makoti down duvets and pillows. Selected satellite television, ceiling fans, hairdryers and robes are available in all their rooms. All their bathrooms have under floor heating to keep away the midnight chill and in winter, a covered hot water bottle in your neatly turned down bed is a welcoming treat. Freshly brewed tea or coffee with homemade biscotti is delivered to your room each morning and can be enjoyed whilst marvelling at the uninterrupted views of the Giants Cup from the private patios which adjoin each room.
Day 9 - Sani Pass (Breakfast)
This morning we transfer to our 4X4 vehicles for the ascent up the Sani Pass and into Lesotho. Breathtaking scenery and alpine conditions dominate this truly magnificent corner of this province. The Sani Pass is a spectacular mountain road that is a well-known entry point into Lesotho from South Africa’s Natal Drakensberg Park. It is the gateway to the ‘Roof of Africa’ scenic route that links the spectacular scenery of the Drakensberg with the mountains of northern Lesotho. The Sani Pass is the only border post between Kwazulu-Natal and Lesotho. The Sani Pass was once a rough mule trail descending the Eastern Highlands of old Basutoland into Natal. Tough drovers brought wool and mohair down the Pass on donkeys and mules to be exchanged for blankets … clothing … maize meal … the essentials for life in a remote, impoverished country. And a young man had a dream … of operating a motor vehicle service up this fantastic Pass, using the 4-wheel drive vehicles he had seen on service in World War II. The Sani Pass was born. Once we have entered Lesotho we will stop off at a Basutho village where one can learn more about the life of these very friendly people, in this, one of the world’s poorest countries. Lunch will be at the “highest pub in Africa”, the Sani Top Chalet, for your own account. We will also have some time here to walk along the edge of the escarpment for stunning views into KwaZulu Natal, before descending the pass to Moorcroft Manor. *NB. Warm clothing is a must, no matter the season of the year! You will also need valid passports for the crossing into Lesotho. The ascent of the pass is subject to the prevailing weather conditions.
Day 10- Himeville – Durban (Breakfast)
This morning after a leisurely breakfast we head to Durban, arriving early afternoon where we do a short orientation tour of this city before dropping you off at your overnight accommodation or at the King Shaka International Airport in time for your flight.