South Africa tour - Drakensberg to Cape via Lesotho
- South Africa
Travel from the warm sub-tropical climate of the Durban area to the majestic Drakensberg range and the spectacular sandstone formations of Golden Gate Highlands National Park in South Africa; marvel at the beauty of Lesotho, the Mountain Kingdom, look for elephants in Addo Elephant National Park and rare birds in the Tsitsikamma National Park. Taste wine in Stellenbosch and explore the bustling city of Cape Town. With time to explore on your own, you'll soak up the beauty and diversity of South Africa. Several nights of comfortable accommodation and transport in a Mercedes Sprinter, ensure that you'll get close to the land and experience all this region offers.
Arrive in Durban and make your way to the joining hotel in Umhlanga Rocks, a holiday resort village on the coast. Your welcome meeting will be at 18:00. Your Tour Leader will brief you on the route and give more details about the trip. Umhlanga offers the best of two worlds, on one hand, you have everything that a city offers and on the other hand, you have the relaxed atmosphere of a holiday town. Pre-book an extra day or two to enjoy the best of the balmy, sub-tropical climate and golden beaches. Make your choice from a variety of grill and seafood restaurants.
Your tour will depart after breakfast. The journey takes you past Pietermaritzburg and Bergville before reaching the Drakensberg mountain range and the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the early afternoon. Witnessing a sunset in this National Park will make you realize how fitting the name is. The magnificent sandstone cliffs take on all hues of gold and orange during sunrises and sunsets. Explore the numerous caves and shelters displaying San (Bushmen) rock paintings and spot wildlife such as mongoose, eland, zebra and over 100 bird species. Opt for a self-guided hike or simply relax at the campsite.
Travel to Lesotho, a small landlocked country in South Africa and home to the friendly Basotho people. Also, called the Kingdom in the Sky, or the Mountain Kingdom, Lesotho is the place where you can walk along spectacular mountain passes, cool your feet in icy cold mountain streams and fill your soul with the endless peace the endless mountains represent.
Once you have settled in, you have the afternoon and next day to just relax and enjoy the spectacular surroundings or you can do some of the many exciting optional activities that Malealea offers. You can do a preschool visit, village walk and vegetable garden visit, do hiking trails, pony treks or even visit a sangoma (traditional medicine man). For those who want to have a truly authentic experience, a homestay with a local family can be arranged.
Sleep in or wake up early to enjoy most of the fresh mountain air and one of the many optional activities. On the longer activities, such as horse riding or a hiking trail you might get the opportunity to wave at young herd boys in their traditional gumboots and blankets and marvel at the remoteness of some of the round thatched roofed huts, nestled high against a mountain slope.
Journey to Graaff-Reinet, the fourth oldest town in South Africa. It's a long drive but a comfortable bed awaits. The beautiful historical town of Graaff-Reinet boasts more national monuments than any other town or city in South Africa. Apart from museums, there are also several art galleries and craft shops to cater for the tastes of the artistically inclined. Once you arrive, you'll have time to explore the town on foot and enjoy a meal at one of the many local restaurants. Hunt for culinary experiences, true to the area. Try Karoo lamb with its unique flavour coming from the Karoo bushes the sheep feed on, ostrich steak or boerewors, the juicy South African sausage. Round off your meal with sweet delicatessens such as koeksisters, melktert or the famous malva pudding.
From Graaff-Reinet you head south, travelling through the open semi-desert Karoo landscapes with its distinctive flat-topped hills or “koppies” and picturesque wind pumps in the distance. Our destination is Addo Elephant National Park. Enjoy an afternoon game drive, in your Mercedes Sprinter or do an optional open vehicle game drive. Have your camera ready while looking for an elephant, buffalo, lion, kudu, vultures and many of the hundreds of other species of animals and birds.
After an early morning game drive, you will head to Tsitsikamma National Park which is located on the scenic Garden Route, the stretch of coast from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The national park covers large swaths of indigenous forest, commercial plantation and Fynbos (natural shrubland). The climate is mild all year around, which lends itself to outdoor activities. Choose from self-guided hikes, black water tubing, Bloukrans bungee, a treetop canopy tour, abseiling and much more.
You have the day free to enjoy some optional activities from self-guided hikes, black water tubing, Bloukrans bungee, a treetop canopy tour, abseiling and much more. Take the short hike that crosses the famous hanging bridge across the dark and brooding Storms River or the longer adventurous hike over boulders and through stretches of forest to a waterfall where the tannins from the trees colour the water dark reddish brown. Other trails offer the opportunity to search for the Knysna turaco (Knysna lourie) a beautiful blue and green bird if you want to tick some birds off your birding list.
Today you take a short drive along the Garden Route, so named for the ecologically diverse vegetation found in the numerous lagoons and lakes along the coast. After settling in, visit the Diaz Museum, which features a 500-year-old Post Office Tree, a life-size replica of the Diaz Caravel, a shell museum and aquarium and an ethnobotanical garden. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of the day and evening free. You can enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants nearby.
(December, we re-route via Route 62, a spectacular drive through the Klein Karoo).
This morning we continue to Stellenbosch, the second oldest European settlement in the Western Cape. Stellenbosch is a town that became known as ‘The City of Oaks’ or ‘Eikestad’ in Afrikaans and Dutch due to the large number of Oak trees planted by founder Simon van der Stel. Explore the town's numerous curio shops, museums, coffee shops and restaurants all within walking distance.
Celebrate a great holiday with a wine tasting at one of the numerous wine farms that Stellenbosch is known for. This also offers an excellent opportunity to buy wine directly from the farm it was produced at and which you might not always find in supermarkets. Then continue to Cape Town, the most popular tourist destination in Africa. Settle in at your hotel, and spend the rest of the day exploring this cosmopolitan city. Highlights include Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront & Aquarium, The Castle of Good Hope, Cape of Good Hope, Clifton’s 4th beach, Cape Malay Bo-Kaap, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Mostert's Mill and the Groote Kerk. Overnight at the Breakwater Lodge close to the V&A Waterfront.
After breakfast, we depart for the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve at the tip of the Cape Peninsula. Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs tower more than 200m above sea level. Cape of Good Hope is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the six recognized floral kingdoms in the world. Despite being the smallest, it is regarded as the richest, mostly made up with Fynbos, the hard-stemmed and fine-leaved plants indigenous to the southwestern corner of South Africa. Little wonder the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The elegant Protea flower is probably the most famous of all fynbos species and the emblem of the national cricket team. After lunch, we visit a colony of the endangered African Penguin at Boulders Beach in Simonstown. Here you will be able to come quite close to these upright walking birds while they nest, swim, play and do the things Penguins do every day.
Our last goodbye, a healthy breakfast and the end of another incredible tour. Make sure to book extra days in Cape Town to make the best of all the delights this cosmopolitan city offers.
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