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Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South African
Guided Safaris Tours
Day 1: Mossel Bay
We collect you from your overnight accommodation in Cape Town or from the Cape Town International Airport and 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 Bartholomew Diaz’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.
Beaches and sunshine, the clean Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains green and purple in the distance, perfect weather – this is what Mossel Bay is about - a gentle seaside town on the Garden Route of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It’s a welcoming place, where you’ll quickly slip into our “No Hurries, No Worries” frame of mind.
We will overnight at the Point Hotel (or similar).The Point Hotel is built right on the rocks above a huge natural rock pool and overlooks the endless blue expanse of the Indian Ocean. From your balcony you can watch the Humpback and Southern Right Whales or the Dolphins passing.
Day 2: Knysna
After breakfast we make our way to the Featherbed Nature Reserve in Knysna. 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 afternoon is yours to enjoy.
We will overnight at the 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.
Day 3: Oudtshoorn
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.
Day 4: Oudshoorn
After breakfast we go on the 27 km Swartberg Pass, which is considered one of the most impressive mountain passes in the world: an untarred road that winds to the summit 1583 meters above sea level in steep zigzags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views at every turn. The road is supported in places by hand-packed stone walls, a trademark of Thomas Charles Bain, the brilliant road engineer of the 19th Century. Along the way there are relics of old prisons, tollhouses, and Way stations that bear historic testimony to past adventures. Often covered with snow in winter, the mountain's microclimate supports fynbos and a rich bird life, in contrast with the arid-zone flora and fauna outside its cool shady kloofs. The Swartberg Pass was declared a National Monument in its Centenary year, 1988. Those who have crossed the pass will never forget it. Once we have summitted the Pass, we do a lunch stop at the quaint little town of Prince Albert and then go onto Meiringspoort.
Meiringspoort is a deep cleft through the seemingly impenetrable Swartberg Mountain range. This natural passage forms a convenient link between the Great and Little Karoo. Soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations line the 25 km tarred road, which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times. Entry to the Poort is via Klaarstroom, 55 kms east of Prince Albert, en route to Oudtshoorn and the coast. Hardy plants, including indigenous pelargoniums, cling to the precarious rock faces while birds, baboons and smaller fauna abound in the protected kloofs & crevices. Among the most scenic spots is the waterfall tumbling into a dark pool that, according to legend, is bottomless. In Meiringspoort one feels insignificant against the overwhelming grandeur of the surroundings. Driving through this Poort with its winding road, the traveller is enchanted by the scenery with a kaleidoscope of every changing colour. The richness of the vegetation along the river will intrigue plant lovers and birdwatchers will be amazed at the bird life. Meiringspoort was originally opened to traffic on the 3rd March 1858. Please note that this trip is only possible if the pass has not been closed. This usually happens when there has been heavy snowfall or very heavy rain, making the road dangerous.
Day 5: Karoo National Park
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 6: Mountain Zebra National Park
This morning we make our way to the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock. The craggy heights of the Mountain Zebra National Park's Bankberg embrace rolling plains and deep valleys, and have become an entrancing preserve for the Cape mountain zebra. The proclamation of the park in 1937 saved these animals from extinction, and currently their population stands at 300. Other mammals found here include the cheetah, Cape buffalo, black rhino, eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok, while mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok frequent the higher areas. Caracal occupies the niche of primary predator. We will spend the remainder of the day game viewing in this popular game reserve – game drives will be conducted by your guide in his vehicle.
Day 7: Addo Elephant National Park
This morning we depart for the Addo Elephant National Park. 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.