Grand South African Tour

This tour of South Africa and Swaziland is a luxury tour and will be completely tailormade to suit your needs. This tour will be for your group exclusively. There will be no need to deal with other people’s preferences. The program will also therefore be highly flexible.

Your guide will be an expert, not only on South Africa, its environment, history and culture, but will ensure that he or she understands the economy and culture of your own country. His or her aim will be to make a meaningful contribution to your knowledge and interests on this tour. It will be his or her passion to make your Grand South African Tour a most enjoyable and exciting adventure.

Only the most luxurious transport will be used. Our state of the art vehicles are equipped with all safety features and insurances. We strongly recommend overland tours as apposed to flying from one destination to the next. This is the only way to experience South Africa and its people. In order to enjoy this experience you need the highest levels of comfort and security in the vehicle. We use very comfortable automatic 4×4 Volkswagen minibuses with leather seating etc.

It is our preference to include everything in the price of the tour. Lunch is normally a light meal but evening meals are always of the highest quality. Accommodation is of a very high standard in any particular area. We aim to use 4 star hotels but this is subject to availability.

At some des tinations your drinks are included but generally speaking drinks will be for your own account on this tour. Your guide will provide the first bottle of wine with your dinner at his discretion.

In Cape Town we do not include dinner in the price. Your hotel is conveniently situated within walking distance of the best restaurants in Cape Town. You will be able to select the best South African cuisine without the unnecessary interferance of your guide.

Day 1: Johannesburg – Soweto – Pretoria Hatfield Protea Hotel. We recommend that you overnight at the Birchwood Hotel or any other hotel near the OR Tambo Airport.

Your guide will meet you at your hotel and you will depart on a city tour of Johannesburg. This city tour will include most highlights such as the Apartheid Museum, the Nelson Mandela residence in Soweto and the Hector Pieterson Memorial. Lunch will be in a traditional shebeen in Soweto where you will experience how the people of Soweto live.

After lunch we will depart for Pretoria which is the administrative capital of South Africa. In Pretoria we will do a short city tour which includes entrance to the Voortrekker Monument. Other buildings and landmarks will be seen from the outside. This includes the Union Building, which is the office of the President, Church Square etc.

Day 2: Pretoria – Dullstroom – Lydenberg – Graskop Hotel. Our Grand South African tour will take us to the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. We will enjoy lunch in Dullstroom, a really beautiful town, before we continue to Lydenberg, Sabie and on then on to Graskop. This will be a very scenic drive which you will certainly enjoy.

The Graskop Hotel will be your accommodation for the next two nights. This is a rather pleasant three star hotel reknown for good meals and frequent art excibitions.

Day 3: Graskop – Panoramic Route. The scenery around Graskop is some of the very best that South Africa has to offer. No wonder this route is known as the Panoramic Route.

We will visit the 65 m high Mac-Mac Waterfall before continuing to the old mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest. This little village with its colourful history is perhaps the most charming place near Graskop. Pilgrim’s Rest is a living museum around the area where Alec Patterson discovered alluvial gold in 1872.

We will return to Graskop for lunch and a short siesta before we continue on our tour to the Lisbon and Berlin Falls. These waterfalls are indeed both very beautiful sites.

We will travel through some of South Africa’s largest forests to Blyde River Canyon. Blyde River Canyon is, after The Grand Canyon and Fish River Canyon, the world’s third deepest and widest canyon. The 25 km long and 700 m deep canyon is perhaps the most beautiful of them all. It was formed by rivers cutting deep into the escarpment.

We will stop at the Potholes on our return. This natural water feature marks the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. Through the ages the swirling whirlpools which occur as the Treur River plunges into the Blyde River has caused waterborne rock to grind huge cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river.

The next stop will be God’s Window and Wonder View from where you can see the Lowveld and Kruger National Park – even Mozambique in the distance more than 900 m below. The Pinnacle Rock is a tower-like freestanding quartzite buttress which rises 30 m above the dense indigenous forest.

Day 4 and 5: Graskop – Hazyview – Kruger National Park. The route today will take us down the escarpment into the Lowveld. Again the route offers beautiful panoramic views. After a light lunch in Hazyview our tour will continue to the Kruger National Park.

During our second night in the Park your guide will prepare a high class typically South African meal. You will have all your other meals in the restaurant of the rest camp or lodge.

The accommodation in Kruger National Park is much more basic than what you will experience elsewhere.

Evening game drives will be on an open safari vehicle. Other guests from the camp will join you on this safari. The local guides are very knowledgeable and they will indeed make this an enjoyable experience. On the first morning we will do a hiking tour with a game ranger. Your Temba guide will do the game drive on the last morning in Kruger National Park.

Day 6: Kruger – Barberton – Piggs Peak – Mbabane – Royal Swazi Spa. We will visit Barberton, a mining town in Mpumalanga, before we continue through one of South Africa’s steepest mountain passes into the Kingdom of Swaziland.

From the moment that we cross the border you will experience a completely different culture. The Swazi people are very colourful and friendly. We will certainly visit a Swazi kraal (Swazi’s homestead) where you will experience how the people of Swaziland live.

The Royal Swazi Spa has a graciousness that is immediately apparent from the winding tree-lined approach to the elegant sweeping staircase in the entrance hall.

Guests have the facilities of the entire Royal Swazi Spa Valley Resort entirely at their disposal. The limitless leisure and sporting facilities will keep even the most active busy.

The Royal Swazi Sun adds a whole new dimension to the peaceful surroundings of the Valley. Hotel guests of the Royal Swazi Sun Valley are exclusively invited to take advantage of the ultimate experience in stress-relief therapy, as well as health and beauty treatments.

The combination of luxury accommodation, golf course, country club, casino and an elegant new health spa, makes this the ideal destination for the Grand South African Tour.

Day 7 and 8: Swaziland – St.Lucia – Lidiko Lodge. We will continue our tour through the Valley of the Kings in Swaziland and back into South Africa.

Our destination will be the St Lucia or iSmangaliso Wetlands Park where we will explore and experience the beauty of this unspoilt natural heritage site. The Park stretches 220 km along the northern coastline of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Here you can see the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino) as well as the other 5 (Hippo, Crocodile, Fish Eagle, Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles and Humpback Whales) if you are lucky, while you relax in the warm humid summer tropical climate.

We will see the sun rise over the ocean and later setting over the lake. Game drives will be in our touring vehicle but a sundowner cruise is included in the tour on the second day.

Before the sun sets you are guaranteed of seeing a wide variety of birds, hippos and crocodiles. Lidiko Lodge is set above the Greater St.Lucia Wetlands Park, on a coastal dune with views of the estuary.

At Lidiko Lodge we will be accommodated in style and comfort. All the rooms are garden rooms, en-suite, air- conditioned and spacious, each with a private patio and entrance. The rooms are fitted with either single or king size base set beds. Each room has a colour television, easy chairs, bar fridge, hair dryer, wall safe and complimentary tea & coffee making facility.

Day 9: St.Lucia – Zululand – Shakaland. Today will be used to get a better understanding of the cultures and traditions of the Zulu nation. They are South Africa’s largest tribe. We will see their houses and visit some of the war memorials.

Tonight we will overnight at Shakaland. You will stay in first-class accommodation in traditional beehive huts, with all mod-cons such as en-suite bathrooms.

Shakaland Hotel 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.

Shakaland represents the kraal of Senzangakhona. He was the father of legendary Zulu King Shaka, who conquered the various clans and tribes in Zululand and founded the Zulu nation by uniting them.

Shakaland is beautifully situated in the Entembeni Hills with a wide view of the bushland and the quiet Pobane Lake.

We will take part in a guided tour of the Zulu village, where Chief Malinga and his family live. The traditional “Umuzi” consists of several Zulu round-huts circling the cattle kraal.

During the tour the social system and the way of life of the Zulu nation will be explained, their rites and customs and the meaning of their clothes and ornaments. Their fighting technique and various crafts will be demonstrated.

A traditional Zulu ‘Umuzi’ or homestead is divided into the home of the Zulu’s and Shakaland Hotel rooms. This is a luxurious property with good food, excellent service and friendly people. 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 Zulu’s, in this authentic re-creation of the Great Kraal overlooking the Umhlatuze Lake.

Experience the sight of assegaai-wielding warriors, share the fascinating secrets of the Sangomas and witness traditional customs such as tribal dancing, spear making and the beer-drinking ceremonies.

Dag 9 and 10: Shakaland – Durban – Amazian Mountain River Lodge. There is so much to see and experience in this beautiful part of South Africa. The day will depend very much on your personal interests.

We will most likely do a short city tour of Durban, South Africa’s second largest city, before we continue to the provincial capital of Pietermaritzburg.

Lunch will be in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands and most likely be at Howick with its very English atmosphere. The Howick Waterfall is a famous attraction in this area.

From Howick it will take us about an hour to get to our luxurious lodge on the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. Here Brett and Trudie Snyman and their staff look forward to indulging you with their excellent food and service.

All rooms at Amazian Mountain River Lodge are luxury honeymoon suites overlooking the river, complete with spa baths and heating facilities. The food is on a par with other first class lodges.

The Drakensberg Mountains near Underberg, better known as the Natal Drakensberg Park, is a world heritage site. Some of the most breathtakingly views are in this area.

We will drive up Sani Pass, a spectacular mountain road, to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. It is the gateway to the ‘Roof of Africa’ scenic route that links the spectacular scenery of the Drakensberg and the mountains of northern Lesotho.

The Sani Pass is Southern Africa’s steepest mountain pass. The dirt road is really bad and only accessible with a good 4X4 vehicle. This trip is safe but certainly not for the faint hearted.

The weather does not always play along. You can have four seasons in one day, so be prepared.

Once we are in Lesotho we will make a brief stop at a village to see how these mountain people live. We will enjoy lunch at the top of the Sani Pass at the highest pub in Southern Africa.

Tonight we will have time to relax at our beautiful lodge. Brett and Trudie are wine connoisseurs and we are assured of having an excellent South African wine to complement our 5 star meal.

Day 11 and 12: Drakensberg – Coffee Bay – Ocean View Hotel. There are few places in the world to rival the beauty of South Africa’s Wildcoast. Prior to 1994 the area was part of the then independent Republic of the Transkei, but it was amalgamated with South Africa in order to take part in the first democratic elections. The area is now part of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

The Wildcoast is home to the Xhosa, South Africa’s second largest tribe. Nelson Mandela is a traditional Xhosa Prince, and our second President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, is also from this area.

The scenery is beautiful but we will not only enjoy the scenery. We will visit a Xhosa family in order to get the feeling of how these people live. It will not be in a tourist village, but a real family unit in the rural part of the Eastern Cape.

In Mthatha we will visit the Nelson Mandela Museum. Here you will certainly get a better understanding of the modern history of South Africa in what is perhaps South Africa’s best museum.

The Ocean View Hotel is along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. We will visit places such as Mthatha Mouth and Tshane Beach.

National Geographic once named this the best beach in the world. The beauty of this area is difficult to describe. It is however so isolated that most of the time we will be the only visitors.

Our excursion will end at Hole-in-the-hall. An island a mere 100 m from the shore with 80 m high cliffs and lush green vegetation on the top. The water has eroded a tunnel through the island in order to add to the breathtaking beauty.

Day 13: Coffee Bay – Addo Elephant Park. We travel south-west from Coffee Bay and see where Mr Nelson Mandela was born and where he spends most of his time nowadays.

We drive through Kingwilliamstown and Grahamstown and overnight at the famous Addo Elephant Park. This is big five country. Addo Elephant Park offers the most spectacular elephant viewing in South Africa while antelope species such as red hartebeest, eland, kudu and bushbuck are common sightings at Addo. Lion, leopard, zebra, spotted hyenas, mountain reedbuck, baboons, blue duiker, aardwolf and red rock rabbit are some of the other game species found in the Park. We will do the game drives with our vehicle.

Day 14: Addo – Garden Route – Oudtshoorn Kango Protea Hotel: The Garden Route and its mountain passes and tropical forests are certainly a favourite destination for tourists. We will drive past Port Elizbeth and then on to Storms River Bridge where we will stop for a light lunch.

We will also briefly stop at the 360 m high Bloukrans Bridge. If your are adventurous we can arrange for you to jump from the bridge at the world’s highest bridge jump. This is optional and will be for your own account.

From Bloukrans we will drive to Plettenberg Bay – a favoured coastal resort and summer holiday destination for South African’s. Our next stop will be at the picturesque town of Knysna. Perhaps this is the Eden of South Africa.

From Knysna we will continue with our South African Tour via Wilderness\George and over the Outeniqua Mountain Pass to Oudtshoorn where we will stay at the Kango Protea Hotel.

Day 15: Oudtshoorn Kango Protea Hotel. Oudtshoorn is in the semi-desert region of the Klein (Little) Karoo. This area is famous for ostrich farming. These largest of all birds thrive in this climate.

At the beginning of the previous century ostrich feathers were highly fashionable and even more expensive than gold. The ostrich farmers around Oudtshoorn became instant millionaires. Some of them built large castle-type dwellings, the so called “feather castles” . The market suddenly plummeted and many of these farmers were forced into bankruptcy.

Today ostrich farming is on a much more solid foundation. The leather is expensive but contributes to only half of farmers income. The ostrich meat is very tender red meat completely free of any cholesterol. The market for ostrich meat is ever growing. We will most likely enjoy ostrich steak for lunch.

Before lunch we will learn a lot about these magnificent birds. You will have the opportunity to ride on them (providing you weigh less than 70 kg) and you will see an ostrich race. This afternoon we will visit the Cango Caves.

The Cango Caves are by far South Africa’s, maybe even the world’s, largest and most beautiful caves. People from around the world come to marvel at the wonders of this magnificent form of nature. Although the extensive system of tunnels and chambers go on for over four kilometers, only about a quarter of this is open to visitors.

We will visit these Caves under the guidance of a very knowledgeable guide. Tours are conducted at regular intervals on most days – there is a “Standard Tour” which takes an hour and an “Adventure Tour” which takes an hour and a half. The choice is yours. The “Adventure Tour” consists of crawling through narrow passages and climbing up steep rock formations guided by small lights.

The caves contain spectacular halls and grand limestone formations (on both tours) as well as some rather small passages on the Adventure Tour. The smallest passage that tourists will have to pass through on the Adventure Tour is just under 30 cm high at the exit.

Day 17: Oudtshoorn – Cape Town – Breakwater Lodge. We will drive on the famous R62 to Cape Town. On our way we will stop at various scenic points, farm stalls and perhaps a wine farm. In Calitzdorp we will visit a famous Port farm and in Ladismith a farmstall where you can enjoy some of the local cheese.

We will briefly stop at Ronnie’s Sex Shop (don’t worry – the name is misleading) before we continue through some of really beautiful mountain passes. We will enjoy lunch at Robertson before we continue to Cape Town.

Hotels in Cape Town are ridiculously expensive. We will stay at the Breakwater Lodge. It is a three star hotel conveniently situated at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. There are many excellent restaurants at the Waterfront and you will have dinner on your own tonight.

Day 18: Cape Town – Breakwater Lodge. The itinerary will depend on the weather. Certain excursions such as Robben Island and Table Mountain are totally dependent on the weather. We might need to reschedule our itinerary.

We will take a boat trip to Robben Island, a World Heritage Site, for a guided tour of the island and the prison museum. This is the prison where former Pres. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life, and our current Pres. Jacob Zuma spent 10 years of his.

Later we will visit some famous landmarks in Cape Town such as the Companje Gardens, Parliament and the colourful Bokaap area.

Next on the agenda will be a tour of Table Mountain. Table Mountain is in the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are an estimated 2,200 species of plants on the mountain alone. Amongst these species are many kinds of proteas.

From Table Mountain, which is a World Heritage Site, the views over Cape Town and Robben Island are nothing short of spectacular. The revolving cable car exposes you to views in all directions while traveling up and down the mountain.

This evening will also be at your leisure. Dinner is not included but recommended in the V&A; area where your hotel is situated. This will leave you free to make your own choices.

Day 19: Breakwater Lodge. Today we do a full day tour of the Cape Peninsula. This will include famous landmarks such as Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak, Boulders penguin colony and Simonstown.

We hope to see the Southern Wright whales in Hout Bay but we might need to travel as far as Hermanus to see these large mammals. Large numbers of these massive mammals give birth and feed their calves in the waters around the Cape. The best time to see them is normally from July with peak time being in October.

From Hout Bay we will do a boat trip to Seal Island. There is a massive colony of Cape Fur seals and you will be able to get very close to them. The boat has a glass bottom so you will also be able to watch their underwater actions.

You will have a very good view from Cape Point over False Bay before we continue on to Simonstown where we will visit the largest concentration of African Penguins at Boulders.

A light lunch will be included but you will be on your own for dinner.

Day 20: Breakwater Lodge. Today will be a relaxed day of wine tasting, shopping and a visit to famous sites in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. There is a wide selection of wine farms and we will visit at least 2 of your choice. Wine tasting and a light lunch will be included.

Among the famous places you will visit are Uncle Samie’s Winkel (shop) in Stellenbosch and the Huguenot Museum in Franschhoek. Tonight will be at your leisure at your hotel.

Day 21: Homeward Bound. I will be in time to take you to the airport for your return flight.