11 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
Far and Wild Safaris will collect you from your overnight accommodation in Durban or from the King Shaka International Airport and travelling 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 a number of 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 (or similar). Moorcroft Manor offers classically decorated rooms all with bathrooms en suite. Freshly brewed tea or coffee with homemade biscotti is delivered to your room each morning and can be enjoyed whilst marvelling at the uninterrupted views of the Giants Cup from the private patios which adjoin each room. 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. Breathtaking 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.
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
Today we depart for the northern Drakensberg Mountains to the Golden Gate National Park. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lays the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp. This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals - black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening in the area with a full and uninterrupted view of the Drakensberg's most famous part, the Amphitheatre escarpment. This afternoon we will do a short nature trail - and these are between 1 and 5 hours, or we will do game viewing on our own.
Day 4 : Gariep Dam
From the Golden Gate we travel along the scenic Eastern Free State Province to the Gariep Dam. The Eastern Free State is the land of a thousand pictures; with each season offering its own attractions - roaring, open fires in winter, cherry blossoms and then succulent fruit in spring, hot summer days and golden autumn sunsets. The Eastern Free State is a feast for the eye, soul and gastronome. Cherry orchards cling to the sides of flat topped sandstone mountains which reflect the different colours of the sunrise and sunset, as you gently meander along the border between South Africa and the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Apart from cherries, 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 especially for its picturesque beauty. But no matter whether you are driving through, en route to somewhere, or just retreating from the rat race for a couple of days, you will be tempted to linger a while longer.
We will overnight at the de Stijl Gariep Hotel (or similar) which is now the Upper Karoo's most stylish hotel, offering chic, contemporary, extremely comfortable rooms. The hotel overlooks the Gariep Dam, giving breathtaking big sky views.
The atmosphere creates spiritual harmony for visitors and their Mondrian Restaurant opens onto indigenous Karoo gardens and horizon views. Surrounded by the stark beauty of the Karoo, the Gariep Dam stretches for as far as the eye can see; jewelled sunsets blaze across the African sky and the sound of silence lulls guests to sleep under the Southern Cross.
Day 5 and 6 : Karoo National Park
After breakfast we depart for the Today we leave Oudtshoorn en route through the Karoo to the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West. The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape of which the Karoo National Park is but a small portion. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. Karoo National Park is dominated by the lofty Nuweveld Mountains and rolling plains, where many species that originally occurred here now once again occupy their former ranges.
The Karoo National Park has a wide variety of endemic wildlife. Many species have been relocated to their former ranges - such as brown hyena, lion and Cape mountain zebra.
Day 7 : Oudsthoorn
This morning after another game drive and breakfast we depart the reserve and head to the town of Oudtshoorn. We will overnight at the Turnberry Boutique Hotel (or similar). The Turnberry Boutique Hotel is in the centre of the picturesque Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. A warm welcome, awaits visitors to this tiny piece of Scotland set in the heart of the Klein Karoo. Relax in the comfort of one of the well appointed air-conditioned bedrooms (each with satellite television, a coffee station and a mini bar), all with en-suite bathrooms, and cosy double beds fitted with crisp white linen. Each room also has wireless Internet connection.
Day 8 : Oudsthoorn – Knysna
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 will be enjoyed at this farm.
From here we will make our way to Knysna, where we overnight at the Knysna Hollow (or similar). Knysna Hollow Country Estate is beautifully set on a secluded old country estate near Knysna's famous lagoon. Set amongst timeless oaks and pecan trees, the gracious old manor house forms the focal point of the lodge. Built in a bygone era, it is finished with pressed ceilings, yellowwood floors and indigenous furniture.
The Knysna Hollow Country Estate Restaurant is situated in the Manor House and serves fine food in relaxed and warm surroundings. The scintillating, yet refined menu reflects flavours and influences from around the globe, with a selection of dishes sure to stimulate the senses. Choose between ocean-fresh seafood such as Cape crayfish and linefish, South African specialties such as Karoo lamb and venison dishes or decadent desserts.
Day 9 : Knysna
After breakfast we make our way to the Featherbed Reserve. This spectacular four-hour eco-experience includes a return ferry, walk and lunch and a 25-minute ferry trip on the Knysna Lagoon to the Western head (The Reserve is only accessible by ferry.) Upon arrival, guests board a Unimog drawn trailer and drive up to the top of the Reserve. While stopping at a scenic lookout point, our specialist guides will share with you some fascinating tales about Knysna and the surrounding area while you enjoy the panoramic views. An optional 2,2 km guided nature walk takes you through the forest, onto the cliffs, into the caves and along the scenic coast. Once back in the Food Forest, a unique outdoor restaurant situated under the Milkwood Trees, guests can enjoy a spectacular 12 dish buffet lunch.
The remainder of the afternoon you are at leisure.
Day 10 : Knysna
Today you have the option of a boat trip to search for marine mammals off the coast of Plettenberg Bay or a visit to the Tsitsikamma Forest to explore this interesting area. You may also opt to visit the very interesting Diaz Museum in Mossel Bay and then spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure in Knysna. Whichever option you choose is for your own account, but your guide will be available to advise and transport you to whichever activity you choose.
Please note that the travel requests and distances should be within reason.
Day 11 : Cape Town
From Knysna we make our way to Mossel Bay where we visit the interesting Diaz Museum in the town. This building was originally erected in 1901 to serve as a grain and sawmill. It was adapted to serve as a unique Maritime Museum and houses, among others, the impressive life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias's caravel, the ship in which he sailed into Mossel Bay in the year 1488. It also displays ship models of a bygone era, route maps to the East and exploration of the Dark Continent in general, as well as the Post Office Tree, the Granary, the Shell Museum and more.
Hereafter we make our way to Cape Town. If this is during the whale season (July to November) we may travel via Hermanus, which is built along the shores of Walker Bay near the Southern most tip of Africa. Magnificent mountains watch over the town which is home of the Southern Right Whale. Nature lovers from all over the world visit Hermanus to view these magnificent creatures from the best land based whale-watching destination in the world.
We drop you off at your overnight destination in Cape Town or at the Cape Town International Airport in time for your flight.