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Johannesburg to Durban
Big Five South African Guided Safaris Tours
Day 1: Drakensberg Escarpment – Panorama Route
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 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 Rissington Inn (or similar). Rissington Inn offers an award-winning friendly welcome and unpretentious accommodation in a bush setting just outside Hazyview, in the heart of the Lowveld. Stylish but relaxed and informal, the inn is an ideal base from which to explore the Panorama Route and all that Mpumalanga has to offer and a perfect stopover on the way to the game reserves.
Day 2 and 3: Kruger National Park
After breakfast 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 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.
Day 4: Komati Tented Camp
After breakfast we make our way to the Nkomazi Private Game Reserve, arriving in time for lunch and your afternoon/evening game drive. The Komati Tented Lodge defines an ’Out of African’ styled tented accommodation with all five-star amenities on offer. Guests will experience not only the quietness and solitude, but a sumptuous comfort that basks in the sense of the age-old life of Africa. Each tent has a large king size bed, comfort cooling/heating and en-suite shower with an outdoor bath, and private expansive teak sun decks with a plunge pool. Meandering pathways lead to the main tent where traditional fare can be enjoyed at your own leisure, while a treatment at the River Retreat will rejuvenate and relax - doing its small part to restore the delicate balance of all living things. Relax in comfort and African style among wildlife of diverse habitats along the clear streams of the Komati River.
Day 5: Komati Tented Camp
Nature lovers will be able to share in the many wonders of Nkomazi - its diversity of wildlife and habitat, its natural beauty and major geological features. Nkomazi is an ecological Aladdin’s Cave and is blessed to have features such as the oldest and largest meteorite impact deposit on earth. We want you to experience, learn and enjoy the very best that our African wildlife experience can offer. To achieve this goal, we have brought together great game viewing in modern, open game vehicles that have been especially converted to maximize comfort, safety and viewing potential. Your ranger will provide insightful and valuable information about the fauna and flora. Watch the sun rise over the North Eastern boundaries of the reserve during a game drive or take in the spectacular views from lookout points among the rocky granite sentinels of the highlands of the reserve. Waterfalls and rock pools are impressive, while rolling grasslands support large herds of free-roaming wildlife, making Nkomazi a game-viewing haven. The Reserve represents a kaleidoscope of Africa’s habitats in its ability to support game on the high-lying grasslands and the low-lying bushveld areas, supporting the ecological balance, including the big game. One of the true joys of Nkomazi Game Reserve is the freedom to do nothing at all! In between game drives, your time can be filled with reading, relaxation treatments, sun-seeking and swimming or indulging in wholesome African Lodge cuisine.
Game viewing is carried out during the morning and evening and has been refined to an art by experienced rangers. Traversing through the reserve, the wildlife is staggering in its diversity. The game drives take between 3 - 4 hours, with a coffee stop in the morning and a sundowner stop at a vantage point overlooking one of the many breath-taking vistas at sunset. The night drives are normally conducted en route back to the lodge after an afternoon game drive, where the focus shifts towards nocturnal species that are sought out from the game drive vehicle with the use of a spotlight. Tailor made night drives can take place after dinner to provide a better opportunity to find elusive nocturnal species. It is always advisable to take a hat and warm clothing, even in summer. In winter, a warm jacket, beanie, scarf and gloves are advisable.
Day 6: Swaziland
This morning after our game drive and breakfast we and travel to Swaziland 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 7: Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park
We leave Reilly’s Rock travelling through rural Zululand and proceed to the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park where we spend the next two nights at Hilltop Camp. The accommodation here is in a chalet, each with its own private bathroom/washbasin and toilet. These chalets are also equipped with a fridge.
Upon entering the gates into the park, our game viewing commences immediately.
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.
Dinner is served after your return from the sunset drive.