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Durban to Johannesburg
Big Five South African Guided Safaris Tours
Day 1 : Lake St. Lucia – Lidiko Lodge
A guide from Far and Wild Safaris will collect you after your breakfast from your hotel or from the airport in Durban and travel along the scenic Dolphin Coast and into rural Zululand, directly to the village of St. Lucia where we overnight at Lidiko Lodge (or similar). Set above the St. Lucia Lake on a coastal dune, the main lodge offers bed and breakfast accommodation in well appointed air-conditioned en-suite garden rooms. All rooms offer a private patio and lead onto the tropical pool area and park like gardens of the lodge.
We will check into our lodge and then visit the eastern shores of Lake St. Lucia, heading to Cape Vidal, game viewing all the while. After a visit to the beach we would continue on the circular route for a game drive before returning to our lodge. Animals that may be seen here include kudu, reedbuck, zebra, waterbuck and other antelope species, black and white rhino, elephant and on the odd occasion, leopard.
Day 2 : Lake St. Lucia – Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park
After breakfast we will 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 to the "big 5" Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park where we would spend two nights 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 sunset 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.
Day 3 : Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park – Hilltop Camp
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 4 : Mkuze – Ghost Mountain Inn
After breakfast we make our way to the Mkuze Game Reserve. A place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze is renowned as a mecca for bird lovers, with more than 420 bird species on record. The reserve has an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains along its eastern boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forest. Mkhuze Game Reserve constitutes the north-western spur of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a recently declared World Heritage Site. Animals to be found in the reserve include black and white rhinoceros, lion, elephant, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, impala, kudu and other smaller antelope. Rare species occurring are cheetah, hyena and suni. Visitors may enjoy excellent animal and bird sightings from the hides in the reserve, especially during the dry months.
After the game reserve it's onto the town of Mkuze to check into the Ghost Mountain Inn in Mkuze where we overnight, arriving in the late afternoon. At the foot of the legendary Ghost Mountain lies the privately owned Ghost Mountain Inn, a perfect setting for taking time out to relax and experience the charms of Africa in comfort and style.
Day 5 : Swaziland – Reilly's Rock
After breakfast we travel through rural Swaziland to the Kruger National Park, where we overnight at 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.
Day 6, 7, 8 and 9 : Kruger National Park
After breakfast we depart for the Kruger 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 sunset 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. 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 10 : Johannesburg
After our morning game viewing and breakfast we leave the Kruger Park and drive through to reach Johannesburg in the late afternoon where we drop you off at your overnight accommodation or at the O R Tambo International Airport in time for your flight.