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Private Guided Safaris Tours. Book your Tailor-made Overland South African Tour
Day 1: Himeville
We will collect you from your overnight accommodation or from the King Shaka International Airport in Durban and travel on the edge of the "Valley of 1000 Hills" and then past the capital city of Pietermaritzburg onto the “Midlands Meander”. The Midlands Meander is what weavers, potters, woodcrafters, leather workers, artists, metalworkers, box makers, herb growers, cheese makers, beer brewers and pianos have in common. You will find them all, and a great deal more on the Midlands Meander map - South Africa's first, largest and most popular art and crafts route. From a very small beginning, the Midlands Meander has grown to well over a hundred stops on four routes. Originating with the arrival of the first settlers in the early 1800’s the area boasts many wonderful homes and barns, an attraction to lovers of architecture. As you tour the Midlands Meander you will also notice that this area is home to several the country’s most famous schools.
From here we travel inland, to the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains on the scenic route through the frontier towns of Bulwer, Underberg and Himeville, where we overnight at Moorcroft Manor. Moorcroft Manor offers classically decorated rooms all with bathrooms en suite. Selected satellite television, ceiling fans, hairdryers and robes are available in all their rooms. The remainder of the afternoon you are at leisure.
Day 2: Himeville - Sani Pass
This morning we transfer to our 4X4 vehicles for the ascent up the Sani Pass and into Lesotho. Breath-taking 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 3: Umngazi River Bungalows
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 able 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.
Please note that today is a fairly long day’s drive of about 400-odd kilometres.
Day 4: Umngazi River BungalowsThe 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 5: East London
Today we have a late morning start and travel the 300-odd kilometres to East London where we overnight at one of the hotels on East London’s beachfront. The remainder of the days is yours to enjoy. East London lies on one of the most sublime coastlines of the world - think warm Indian Ocean waters and sub-tropical weather that allow visitors to enjoy the climate all year round - it also basks gloriously between the Nahoon River in the north and the Buffalo River to the south of the city, and the phrase ‘unspoilt beaches’ was termed with East London’s beaches in mind.
Day 6 and 7: Addo Elephant National Park
Today we leave East London and en route to the Addo Elephant Park where we overnight. Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape is the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace. This park conserves no less than five of South Africa's seven biomes, is also home to one of the densest African elephant populations on earth and is home to the unique flightless dung beetle.
The remainder of the day will be spent on game drives into the various areas of this park which offers some of the most spectacular elephant viewing in the world.
Now the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to conserve a wide diversity of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora. Stretching from the semi-arid karoo area in the north around Darlington Dam, over the rugged Zuurberg Mountains, through the Sundays River valley and south to the coast between Sundays River mouth and Bushman’s river mouth, Addo covers about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and includes the Bird and St Croix Island groups.
The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only sixteen elephants remained in the area. Today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 550 elephants, lions, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species, as well as the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. And their story has only just begun, with plans to expand the Park into a 264 000 hectare (652 300 acre) mega-park. In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 hectare (296 500 acre) marine protected area that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and largest breeding population of endangered African penguins. In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.
Day 8: Knysna
This morning we depart Addo and travel westwards to the town of Knysna, where we overnight at The Rex Hotel. This hotel is a celebration of urban style, making it one of the most exhilarating getaway destinations in its class. Expect an eclectic mix of modern and classic comforts that capture the essence of 4-star luxury. The Rex Hotel offers travellers a gateway to Knysna’s outstanding restaurants, blossoming forests, nature reserves, arts and crafts, and the shores of the serene lagoon.
En route we may stop at the Paul Sauer Bridge over the Storms River and take a stroll onto the bridge and enjoy lunch here.
We may also 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 we head to the Bloukrantz Bridge. Here you can bungee jump at this, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at 216-metres! Please note that this activity is for your own account.
Day 9: - Knysna
Today we go on a tour to the Featherbed 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.
The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy what Knysna has to offer.
Day 10: Oudtshoorn
Today we travel to Oudtshoorn, stopping at Dolphin Point to view this stunning beach and hopefully see some dolphins before making our way up the scenic Outeniqua Pass to the town of Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo. Oudtshoorn is a reasonably short drive from Knysna and is known as the "feather capital of the world”. 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 may be enjoyed at this farm.
We will overnight at the Hlangana Lodge (or similar). Set in a low-rise building in landscaped grounds, this polished hotel is 2 km from Oudtshoorn town centre and has airy, streamlined rooms with satellite TV, DVD players and free WiFi, plus tea and coffeemaking facilities, and minibars. A champagne breakfast buffet served in an airy dining room or on terrace with garden views is a daily vent. There's also an outdoor pool and a gym. Double beds fitted with crisp white linen. Each room also has wireless Internet connection.
Day 11: Cape Town
After breakfast make our way to Cape Town along “Route 62”, the tourist route that meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, offering the shorter, scenic alternative to the N2 highway. It's 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 multitude of 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. Route 62 will take you along the longest wine route in the Western Cape and most likely the world. We reach Cape Town in the mid-afternoon where we drop you off at your overnight accommodation or at the Cape Town International Airport.