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South Africa and Swaziland
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Mixed Groups

10 Days / 9 Nights Trip to South Africa

South Africa and Swaziland

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
    10 Days
  • Starting From
    $1,747
    /person
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
    Explore
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Encounter the Big 5
Highlight #1
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.
Go on a safari drive in Kruger National Park
Highlight #2
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.
St. Lucia wetlands: South Africa’s coastal jewel
Highlight #3
St. Lucia wetlands: South Africa’s coastal jewel
This enormous coastal reserve is a mosaic of lagoons, beaches, and woodlands. Encounter a variety of wildlife - colorful birdlife, argumentative hippos, tropical fish, and more.
Wildlife spotting in Swaziland
Highlight #4
Wildlife spotting in Swaziland
Swaziland has some of the country’s best-known nature reserves, and is famed for its rural beauty.
Mpumalanga: ‘Paradise Country’
Highlight #5
Mpumalanga: ‘Paradise Country’
This is one of South Africa’s most beautiful regions, dotted with rivers, canyons, and waterfalls.
Video

South Africa in 4K

Description: 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 tour in Johannesburg; drive to the Drakensberg Mountains

Heading south-east out of Johannesburg our first destination is the Drakensberg Mountains. Drakensberg is the world's oldest mountain range and derives its name from the Afrikaans word for 'Dragon Mountains'. In the inevitable mist and the razor back ridges one can see a likeness to these mythical beasts. The hikes, the plunge pools and all-round silence make the Drakensberg Mountains a must-see. The Drakensberg itself comprises basalt massifs that have been cut through by crystal clear streams. The indigenous people that lived here called these mountains the Ukhlamba, or barrier of spears, because all of their peaks resemble upturned weapons. The old San bushman culture is reflected richly in the paintings that dot the cliff faces and overhangs, reminding all South Africans of their rich history. Depending on our arrival time this afternoon, we may have the opportunity to take a short walk.

Walk in Drakensberg World Heritage Site

We wake up to a hearty breakfast before having an opportunity to partake in a guided walk, where we will be able to experience the beauty of this mountain range first hand. The walk will usually take 4-5 hours and is of a moderate to challenging level of difficulty. Weather permitting, upon returning, our guide will have prepared a tasty 'al fresco' lunch enabling us to soak up the spectacular views of the Drakensberg. The afternoon is left open to either relax whilst enjoying a cool drink or perhaps continue our adventure with an unguided walk through the mountain valleys.

Visit battlefields; drive on to St Lucia

Today we visit the famous battlefields. As anyone who has ever watched the film Zulu Dawn will know, the battlefields of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana were the scenes of bloody and hugely significant events in the history of the Zulu nation. We will visit the battle sites of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana to gain a perspective into the people and history of South Africa. Isandlwana is undoubtedly the most haunting of all the battlefields as the many white cairns reflect upon the arrogance of a Victorian empire and the victory of the Zulu people who call themselves 'the children of the stars'. The hill of Isandlwana stands a silent testimony to the determination and pride of the Zulu people. Isandlwana is truly haunting in the lessons it taught South Africa of colonialism and the folly of war. Rorke's Drift, a battle made famous in the film Zulu, is unique for the awarding of eleven VC's in a single engagement. We make our way to St Lucia after the battlefields where we will be based for the next 2 days.

Game Drives at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

We rise early this morning to take advantage of the 'golden hour' on what is our first opportunity to experience a 'Big 5' safari. Umfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve boasts the densest population of both white and black rhino in the whole of Africa. We will have a quick stop at one of the reserve's watering holes, where we can stretch our legs and freshen up before continuing on our journey through this ancient Zulu hunting ground. With over 500 species of birds recorded at this reserve it is also a paradise for any birdwatchers amongst us. In the mid afternoon, we depart for St. Lucia where there is the opportunity to experience the optional activity of a 'Hippo Cruise' on the Greater St. Lucia Estuary. The cruise meanders along allowing us to relax whilst viewing the hippos and crocodiles in their natural habitat as, once again, the sun drops from the African sky.

At St Lucia Wetland Reserve

Today is a day of leisure, where we have a choice of optional activities available in the area. There is the opportunity to continue our game viewing experience by taking an open game drive in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was the first World Heritage Site in South Africa. The word iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder, which aptly describes this truly unique place. The day includes a 'braai' lunch and an option of an afternoon swim or snorkel in the Indian Ocean at Cape Vidal. There is also the chance to amble to the St. Lucia beach for a relaxing dip in the ocean or spend time walking the local forest trails. In the evening we can enjoy an exhilarating night game drive when all the nocturnal wildlife start their day. From November to February we can join a guided turtle tour in the Wetland Park.

Drive to Swaziland

This morning we make our to Swaziland, during June to November we may have the opportunity to participate in the optional activity of whale watching along the way. We then drive north and enter Swaziland - a tiny, independent kingdom inhabited by the Swazi tribe who revere their king and take great pride in retaining their culture and traditions. Our journey takes us through some spectacular scenery in the Ezulwini Valley and past numerous traditional homesteads and curio stalls. In the late afternoon we enter one of Swaziland's best wildlife reserves, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This secluded and beautiful sanctuary is a haven of tranquillity, located as it is in a natural bowl beneath the Nyonyane Mountains.

Due to the high demand in Mlilwane, accommodation is subject to change without notice and can vary in style. We'll endeavour to stay within the park when possible, however, some departures may be staying up to a 15 minute drive from the sanctuary. The daily itineraries and activities will remain the same for all departures.

Game viewing and optional activities in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Mlilwane is Swaziland's oldest protected area, owned and managed by a non-profit making trust, it is situated in the low foothills of the Nyonyane Mountains. The park has been rehabilitated to become Swaziland's most frequented reserve where one can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and the abundant wildlife that grace these plains. Mlilwane has a large area of open grassland making game viewing and bird watching relatively easy and this morning we begin with a walk in search of zebra, wildebeest, nyala and warthog. The afternoon is left free to choose one of the optional activities available at the reserve, the absence of big cats allows us to partake in mountain biking or trail walking in a relaxed setting. The alternatives are to accompany our guide to the friendly local curios thus providing a real feel for the Swasi people and their culture, or relax and sit back to watch the local wildlife grazing outside our very own front door.

Drive to Kruger National Park

After an early start we drive north re-entering South Africa and crossing the Crocodile River into the Kruger National Park. This two million hectare wilderness is amongst the world's first proclaimed game reserves and is justifiably South Africa's showpiece, boasting 147 mammal species. The park offers the 'Big 5' and over 500 recorded bird species along with scenery as diverse as riverine forest, granite outcrops, endless savannah and impenetrable mopani woodland. We take an open-vehicle game drive on our way to the camp area where we stay overnight. These camps areas benefit from modern infrastructure with toilet and shower blocks, restaurants and shops, as well as our accommodation.

Game viewing in Kruger National Park; drive to Graskop

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. We depart camp for our morning game drive searching for sightings of the extensive wildlife that make this national park their home. We stop at various watering holes where we may see buffalo or antelope taking an early morning drink and hopefully a pride of lions nearby. We finish the morning drive by having lunch at one of the park's restaurants. Our afternoon game drive takes us to the Sable River, which is a major water source for the park's wildlife and a fantastic spot for game viewing. We leave the park in the late afternoon, climbing in excess of 1,000 metres to our overnight stop at Graskop.

Drive through Mpumalanga to Johannesburg where tour ends

The airy uplands of Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal) 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 before we make our final journey back to Johannesburg.

Inclusions

 Included meals - 9 breakfast, 1 lunch, 2 dinner.

 Trip staff - Expert tour leader, driver(s)

 Transport - 4WD minibus

 Accommodation - 1 night simple bungalow, 2 nights standard hotel, 4 nights standard lodge, 2 night standard rondavels.

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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