10 Day Tour From Durban to Cape Town
via the Free State and Karoo
Private Guided Safaris Tours. Book your Tailor-made Overland South African Tour
Day 1 : Durban – Himeville
Departing from Durban – either from your overnight accommodation or from the King Shaka International Airport, we travel along the edge of the "Valley of 1000 Hills" past Kwa-Zulu Natal’s capital city of Pietermaritzburg and onto the “Midlands Meander”.
The Midlands Meander is a popular art and crafts route with numerous shopping options at weavers, woodcrafters, potters, leather workers, metalworkers, artists, box makers, herb growers, beer brewers, cheese makers and piano builders. From a small beginning, the Midlands Meander has grown to over a hundred stops on four different routes. Originating in the early 1800’s, with the arrival of the first settlers - the area boasts many wonderful homes and barns – an architectural delight. The area is also home to a number of the country’s most famous schools.
Travelling inland from here we pass through the small frontier towns of Bulwer, Underberg and Himeville – where we overnight at Moorcroft Manor (or similar). The hotel rooms are classically decorated with en-suite bathrooms and private patios. Morning tea and coffee is delivered to your room each morning, which can be enjoyed with homemade biscotti, while looking out over the majestic ‘Giants Cup’.
Day 2 : Himeville – Sani Pass
Today we ascend the Sani Pass, in 4X4 vehicles, to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. The scenery is breathtaking.
Once, only a rough mule trail between the Eastern Highlands of Basutoland and Natal – tough drovers would bring wool and mohair down the pass on mules and donkeys to trade for blankets, clothing and maize meal – vital requirements for survival in the harsh mountain conditions of Lesotho. A young man had a dream – to operate a motor vehicle service up and down this route, using 4-wheel drive vehicles which he had seen in service during World War II - and so the Sani Pass was born.
Sani Pass is the only border post between Kwa- Zulu Natal and Lesotho. It is a spectacular mountain road and the gateway to the ‘Roof of Africa’ – a scenic route that links the beauty of the Drakensberg mountain range in South Africa with that of the mountains of northern Lesotho.
We visit a small Basutho village to learn something about the life of these friendly people, surviving in this, one of the world’s poorest countries.
Lunch (for your own account) will be enjoyed at Sani Top Chalet - the “highest pub in Africa”, where we will also have some time to walk along the escarpment edge and absorb the stunning views down into the valley, before descending the pass and returning to Moorcroft Manor.
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 3 : Golden Gate National Park
Leaving the northern Drakensberg Mountain ranges we head to Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This National Park nestled in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains is located in part of the Free State province of South Africa. The main rest camp is surrounded by the distinguishing Brandwag Rock and various sandstone cliffs, which change to brilliant shades of gold as the sun moves through the sky giving rise to the Park’s name. Golden Gate spans 11 600 hectares of unique environment which is home to a variety of animals, including eland, black wildebeest, oribi, blesbok, springbok and Burchell's zebra. Bird species often seen in the park, include the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. At Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, visitors are treated to a full and uninterrupted view of the Drakensberg's most famous part, the Amphitheatre escarpment. We can either spend the afternoon doing a short nature trail – between 1 and 5 hours or a game drive in our own vehicle.
Day 4 : Gariep Dam
From the Golden Gate Highlands we travel through the scenic Eastern Free State Province to Gariep. The scenery in the Eastern Free State changes with each season – from cherry blossoms followed by succulent fruit in spring, to hot summer days, golden autumn sunsets and roaring, open fires in winter. We meander along the border between South Africa and the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Cherry orchards as well as other deciduous fruit and asparagus thrive in the champagne climate, making spring and early summer a feast of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many people visit the Eastern Free State primarily for its picturesque beauty.
We will overnight at the de Stijl Gariep Hotel (or similar) which is recognised as the Upper Karoo’s most stylish hotel, offering chic, contemporary and very comfortable rooms. Overlooking the Gariep Dam, the hotel offers breathtaking views, while the Mondrian Restaurant opens onto indigenous Karoo gardens with open views over the horizon. Surrounded by the stark beauty of the Karoo, guests are guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep.
Day 5 and 6 : Karoo National Park
After breakfast we depart for the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West. The Karoo National Park is only a small portion of the Great Karoo - a vast and unforgiving landscape, but also the largest ecosystem in South Africa and therefore home to a fascinating diversity of life. The Karoo National Park has a large variety of endemic wildlife, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. Many species have been relocated - such as lion, the brown hyena and Cape mountain zebra.
Day 7 : Oudsthoorn
After a morning game drive and breakfast we depart the reserve and head for the town of Oudtshoorn, where we will overnight at the Turnberry Boutique Hotel (or similar). Centrally situated in this picturesque Klein Karoo town – the Turnberry Hotel is a tiny piece of Scotland, offering well appointed, air-conditioned bedrooms with satellite televisions, tea & coffee making facilities and mini bars. Each room has en-suite bathrooms, double beds and wireless Internet connection.
Day 8 : Knysna
Today we visit the world renowned Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn – these caves boast some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world. Composed mainly of calcium carbonate, some of the sandstone formations are colourfully illuminated and offer fantastic photographic opportunities. The various formations develop as limewater drips from the stones before evaporating. Stalactities are the structures growing down from the cave ceiling, while those that grow from the ground up, are called stalagmites.
In the afternoon, we visit a commercial ostrich farm to learn more about these ancient birds. Commercial ostrich farming in South Africa, began during the late 1880's, which was also the beginning of the ostrich industry, worldwide. The fashion demand for ostrich feathers in Europe inspired the growth of the industry, with the region around Oudtshoorn quickly establishing itself as the “ostrich capital of the world” with ostrich feathers ranking 4th on the list of South African exports, after gold, diamonds and wool. Included in our visit to the farm is a visit to the Ostrich Palace “Welgeluk” which was built at the height of the feather boom in 1910 and is not only a National Monument but also a good example of the type of architecture that was used at the time. Lunch is enjoyed at the farm.
From here we travel to Knysna, where we will overnight at the Knysna Hollow (or similar). Beautifully appointed on a secluded old country estate near Knysna's famous lagoon - Knysna Hollow Country Estate is set amongst oak and pecan trees. The old manor house forms the focal point of the lodge and is finished with yellowwood floors, pressed ceilings and indigenous furniture.
Situated in the Manor House, the restaurant serves fine food in relaxed and warm surroundings. The menu reflects flavours and influences from around the world and includes choices ranging from ocean-fresh seafood - Cape crayfish and linefish to South African specialties such as Karoo lamb and venison dishes as well as decadent desserts.
Day 9 : Knysna
After breakfast we visit Featherbed Nature Reserve. This spectacular eco-experience takes about four-hours and includes a return ferry crossing, walk, lunch and a 25-minute ferry trip on the Knysna Lagoon to the Western head. The Featherbed Reserve is only accessible by ferry. Upon arrival at the Reserve, guests board a Unimog vehicle for the drive up to the top of the Reserve. We enjoy spectacular scenery and panoramic views, while listening to fascinating tales and stories about the small town of Knysna and its surrounding area. An optional 2,2 km guided nature walk takes visitors through the forest, onto the cliffs, into the caves and along the scenic coast. A buffet lunch is enjoyed at the Reserve’s unique outdoor restaurant, situated under a canopy of Milkwood Trees.
The remainder of the afternoon can be enjoyed at leisure, relaxing or exploring the town of Kynsna.
Day 10 : Cape Town
From Knysna we travel to Mossel Bay, known for its interesting Diaz Museum. The building was originally erected in 1901 and served as a grain and sawmill. It was later adapted to serve as a Maritime Museum and houses, among others, the impressive life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias's caravel, in which he sailed into Mossel Bay in 1488. Other displays include old ship models, exploratory route maps, the Granary, Shell Museum and the Post Office Tree.
From Mossel Bay we make our way to Cape Town. Depending on the time of year and whether or not this co-incides with the whale season (July to November) we may travel via Hermanus, which is home to the Southern Right Whale, for some months of the year. Hermanus offers some of the best land based whale-watching in the world and is visited by nature lovers from all over the world, who come to view these magnificent creatures in their own environment.
We drop you off at your overnight destination in Cape Town or at the Cape Town International Airport in time for your flight.