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South Africa Highlights
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14 Days / 13 Nights Trip to South Africa

South Africa Highlights

Explore and experience the wild beauty of South Africa, it’s rugged landscapes and iconic wildlife.
Come discover the incredible diversity and beauty of South Africa on a journey that takes you to the country’s famed regions, and face-to-face with iconic wildlife.  Visit great game reserves and head out on thrilling safari drives to encounter lions, Cape buffalo, elephants, rhinos, leopards, small antelopes and more. Explore regions of quiet beauty, dotted with large green canyons, birdsong, immense waterfalls, and ever-changing skies.
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  • Duration
    14 Days
  • Starting From
    $2,799
    /person
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
    Explore
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Nelson Mandela and Soweto’s vibrant history
Highlight #1
Nelson Mandela and Soweto’s vibrant history
Soweto, where Nelson Mandela lived, played a prominent part in the fight against the former apartheid regime. Meet the town’s locals to learn about their history and present.
Mpumalanga: ‘Paradise Country'
Highlight #2
Mpumalanga: ‘Paradise Country'
This is one of South Africa’s most beautiful regions, dotted with rivers, canyons, and waterfalls.
Go on a safari drive in Kruger National Park
Highlight #3
Go on a safari drive in Kruger National Park
Come face to face with the world’s most iconic wildlife as you head out on a safari in the park, encountering lions, buffalos, elephants and rhinos.
Encounter the Big 5
Highlight #4
Encounter the Big 5
Accompanied by game rangers, set out on early morning and evening game drives and discover the wonders of the South African bush.
Take in the view from the top of Table Mountain
Highlight #5
Take in the view from the top of Table Mountain
From its summit, you’ll have a panoramic view of encircling clouds, Cape Town, and the coast.
Video

South Africa in 4K

Wild.Raw. Alive. Sergi Martínez Miró captures the essence of South Africa in this evocative video. Take a look to see what awaits you.

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Itinerary

Join trip in Johannesburg, Soweto township tour

We join our trip in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. After meeting our local guide and fellow group members we spend the afternoon in Soweto, the huge township on the outskirts of Johannesburg where 40% of the city's inhabitants live. Soweto, originally an acronym for South Western Townships, played a prominent part in the fight against the former apartheid regime, notable the Soweto Uprising of 1976; when mass protests erupted and the government shot at the crowd, killing many innocent protestors. We will take a tour of the township and meet local people to understand how life has changed since the end of apartheid. We will visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial, a museum that honours the vital role that the youth of South Africa played in the struggle. Hector Pieterson was one of the first students to be killed during the uprising when he was just 13. We will also visit the Mandela House Museum, situated in Nelson Mandela's former home which tells the story of Mandela and his family.

Please note : For those arriving on the earlier flights around 7-8 am into Johannesburg, rooms will be provided to freshen up after a long flight. For those arriving on the later flight nearer to 10am, the trip will kick off immediately with an afternoon trip to Soweto.

Drive to Graskop, stopping at God's Window and Blyde River Canyon

We leave Johannesburg this morning and start to see some of the beautiful mountainous landscape as we make our way to Kruger National Park in the east of the country. We will drive through the airy uplands of Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal) which have been inhabited since stone age times and with the region's plentiful water from mountain rivers, multiple waterfalls, beautiful craggy escarpments covered in vegetation, and colourful birdlife, it is easy to understand why. We'll stop at several excellent viewpoints, including the aptly named 'God's Window' and admire the awe-inspiring Blyde River Canyon. Our stop for this evening is a small town called Hazyview, the self-titled 'gateway to Kruger' and we spend the night in a small locally run guesthouse.

Full day of safari inside Kruger National Park

This morning we are up early to head out on safari inside Kruger National Park, one of the premier wildlife viewing spots in southern Africa. The Kruger National Park was established in 1898 to protect big game that had been hunted to near extinction, it is now one of the most prolific animal habitats in South Africa, committed to animal conservation. During today's safari we will stop at various watering holes where we may see buffalo or antelope refreshing themselves and hopefully a pride of lions nearby. As well as lions you can see the rest of the 'Big 5' here, along with cheetah, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and many more. We will have lunch in the park and continue our game drive in the afternoon.

Game drives in Kruger National Park

We spend another full day in the park on safari and today we will focus on trying to find some of the park's more unusual and rare animals including honey badger, black rhino and eland. There also is the opportunity to see wild dog in Kruger which are very hard to find as they have been hunted to near extinction in many places. This evening we will stay within the parks borders and there is the option of taking a night game drive. The lodge where we will stay also has facilities for a Braai, a South African style barbeque which is seen as central to the culture of the country, no matter your tradition or ethnicity. South Africans are lovers of meat and see the braai as being the best way to cook, it obviously helps when you have beautifully warm nights to sit out under the stars and enjoy good food and wine. This evening it is recommended that you check-in online for tomorrows flight to Port Elizabeth (your e-ticket will be provided in your final documentation); it is possible to check in 24 hours before departure.

Head back to Johannesburg, fly down to Port Elizabeth

Leaving Kruger behind us we make our way back to Johannesburg where we will take a late afternoon flight down to Port Elizabeth, a large port city on the Indian Ocean. The city was first populated as a stop over point with clean water on the way to Goa in India, it was later populated by the British during colonial times. For us this is the start of our exploration of the famous Garden Route.

Explore Tsitsikamma National park, marine and forest wonderland

No trip along the Garden Route would be complete without a visit to the magnificent Tsitsikamma National Park. This marine and forest park stretches for 80 kilometres, from a lagoon at Nature's Valley to the mouth of the Groot River; lush forest and sheer cliffs also provide an ideal setting for hiking and we will take a short walk to the suspension bridge that spans the mouth of Storm's River. Here, the rugged coastline with its crashing waves and the forest-covered cliffs are simply spellbinding. We continue our journey to Plettenberg Bay, our home for the next two nights; whilst in this area, we also recommend sampling the excellent local seafood.

Full day to enjoy Plettenberg Bay and many optional activities

Plettenberg Bay and its surroundings boast some of the most exquisite beaches and stunning scenery of the Garden Route and an unparalleled range of activities. Our day is left free to choose from boat based dolphin and whale watching, to snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, mountain biking or canoeing. In season (June to November, sometime into December too) the whale watching is especially recommended, as this shoreline offers the chance to watch a truly great mammal, the southern right whale. The dunes and escarpments offer panoramic views of the coast and you have a good chance of seeing seals, dolphins and whales, plus a wealth of bird and botanical life. There is also the option of visiting the Birds of Eden, which features the world's largest aviary over indigenous forest, the aviary has won many prestigious responsible tourism awards and is a leading light in ethical animal rehabilitation sanctuaries.

Trail walk in Robberg Nature Reserve, continue on to Knysna

This morning we drive along the Garden route to Knysna, a town favoured by artists and twice voted South Africa's favourite town. Enroute we will stop at Robberg Nature Reserve where we will spend most of the morning walking along its trails with amazing coastline views where we will try to spot local seals and dolphins. We will continue onto Knysna where we will have a free afternoon. This sleepy town is an area of beauty as it's centred around a large lagoon and a great place to get out on the water. There will be an option to go on an eco-experience trip by boat to Featherbed Nature Reserve, where a specialist guide will educate you about the local flora and fauna as you walk through this coastal forest. Or alternatively, enjoy a slower pace and join a late afternoon cruise on the lagoon to take in the renowned sunsets. There is a selection of bars and restaurants in the harbour area of the town and we recommend eating like the locals and trying white mussel cracker, a local fish specialty.

Drive to Hermanus

We leave Knysna behind and get back on the Garden Route to continue along the spectacular coastal road westwards for around 400 km towards Hermanus, the whale watching capital of South Africa. Home to the whale crier, Hermanus is a highlight of the Garden Route but retains its small fishing town charm and from June - November it is common to see southern right whales migrating past the town from the shore!

Seasonal whale watching in Hermanus

We have a full day in Hermanus where we will whale watch during the season with free time later to enjoy the town at your leisure. For departures operating out of whale watching season, we will visit the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, a protected area situated above Hermanus with stunning views out over the town and the bay. The reserve has over 1400 species of flora and over 90 species of birds recorded in the area and is filled with coastal and hiking trails. We will spend the day walking around this wildlife haven; during whale watching season it is also possible to visit Fernkloof.

Winelands of Stellenbosch, tasting and tour of the town

This morning we have a short drive as we enter the Winelands of the Cape and drive to Stellenbosch, a beautiful town surrounded by vineyards and mountains. We will take a walk around the town, past the famous university and visit the museum, which explains the history of the town, from its creation in 1679 to present day. Though the most enjoyable part of the day is undoubtedly when we visit two local wineries for tours and tastings; where we will have a chance to learn how the wine is made and then taste some of the best red and white wines that they produce. Stellenbosch has a reputation for excellent Chenin Blanc, perfectly matched with seafood, caught fresh from the Indian Ocean that morning. If you are more of a red fan, then expect big earthy reds, a great companion for a sumptuous steak or meat on a braai. There is also the local phenomenon of Pinotage, created in South Africa as a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, the wine has now achieved global recognition and the best place to try it is here in South Africa.

Head to Cape Town, explore the town

We drive through more rolling green slopes, filled with vineyards as we make our way to Cape Town, our final destination and one of most iconic cities on earth. We can see the towering Table Mountain from miles away, though if the day isn't clear we will see the cloud rolling over the top of precipice, either vision is equally outstanding. There will be time this afternoon to take the option of a cable car up to the top of the mountain for views out over the bay and the cape, including the peaks of Lion's Head and Signal Hill. Please note the cableway closes for 2 weeks for maintenance each year roughly from the end of July. In the distance you can see Robben Island, the former home of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's favourite son and most famous hero. Apart from its obvious geographical attractions, Cape Town is also famous for its food and drink culture, with an abundance of restaurants, from trendy downtown to the slightly more touristy but beautiful V&A waterfront; and with exchange rates currently working in our favour it is possible to eat like a king for very little money.

Optional trips to Robben Island, Cape Point or climb Table Mountain

Today is left free for you to choose one of the many optional activities available in the area. If you want to visit Robben Island, we recommend booking this before your trip departs home to ensure a place (please see under optionals for more details). There is also the option of hiking up Table Mountain today, it is about 3 hours walking to the top, at times tough but very rewarding - start early to avoid the heat. For those wanting to get out of town and see the surrounding areas, another option is to visit Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, this trip will also visit Boulders bay and its resident penguin colony. Another option is just to get out walking around the city, try one of the many museums in the centre, wander past the colourful houses in the Bo-Kaap (Malay quarter), explore District Six and learn about the its troubled past or just stroll down Long Street and enjoy the coffee culture of Cape Town.

Trip ends in Cape Town

Our adventure comes to an end as the trip finishes after breakfast in Cape Town.

Inclusions

 Included meals - Breakfast: 13

 Trip staff - Explore Tour Leader, Driver(s)

 Transport - Minibus

 Accommodation - 1 night standard guesthouse, 9 nights standard hotel, 3 nights standard lodge.

Not Included

 Additional 5% GST

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This Trip Is Operated By Explore

At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Our authentic travel experiences explore the sights and culture of a country, with hand-picked accommodation that balances comfort and location. Our average group tour size is just 12; perfect for meeting new people and getting to the heart of our destinations.

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