Kruger, Coast & Cape


Embark on an action-packed adventure through some of the most stunning scenery in southern Africa. In 22 days, head from Johannesburg to Cape Town on the spectacular coastal route, with plenty of epic stops along the way. Track down elusive wildlife on game drives in Kruger National Park, relax on golden beaches, meeting local Xhosa communities in Cintsa and mix it up with two fun-filled nights in Cape Town. From the savanna of Kruger and the lush wetlands of the St Lucia Estuary to the dramatic ocean vistas and fertile vineyards along the Wild Coast, see the best of southern Africa's blessed natural beauty, joined by a local leader with all the best advice and a group of likeminded adventurers keen to explore.

22 days, from

$3,051

per person

GROUP SIZE

22 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: UBOSC
Style: Basix
Theme: Overland

Details

Countries Visited:  Lesotho South Africa Swaziland
Accommodation: Camping with facilities (10 nights), Camping with basic facilities (3 nights), Backpackers (4 nights), Basic Huts (shared facilities) (2 nights), Hotel (2 night)
Transportation: Overland vehicle
Included Meals:

  • 21 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • 19 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 22

  • Go on an epic safari with expert local guides in search of lions, hyenas and more through Kruger National Park – one of the largest game reserves in southern Africa.

  • Enjoy a different perspective to traditional Game Viewing with a guided Hippo Boat Cruise on St Lucia Estuary, and a Walking Safari in Hlane Royal National Park.

  • Visit the heartlands of the Zulu people and spend the night in a homestay, where you’ll be treated to traditional food and song, plus a meeting with the local healer.

  • Embark on a half-day guided walk in the mighty Drakensburg Range – one of many spectacular hikes along the Garden Route that you can choose to discover in your free time.

  • Rise early with your small group to watch wild meerkats wake and warm in the morning sun, before continuing south to Swellendam – South Africa’s third-oldest town.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Johannesburg

Sawubona! Welcome Johannesburg, the sprawling South African capital. In Joburg (unlike a lot of city nicknames, this is one people actually use) mansions stand alongside humble tin abodes and there are as many green parks on the outskirts of the city as there is concrete jungle in the centre. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you can’t wait to begin exploring and arrive with time to spare, why not make your way to the Apartheid Museum and start your journey with some crucial history before you meet up with your group.

Day 2: Kruger National Park

Rise and shine for a long day’s drive to Kruger National Park. Leave Johannesburg and travel through the Mpumalanga Province and along the famous Panorama Route through some of the most stunning scenery South Africa has to offer, such as God's Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa. It boasts over 500 bird species, 100 species of reptile and 150 mammal species, including the Big Five and the endangered African wild dog. Drive through some of Kruger’s prime game viewing areas on your way to camp and try to spot some of these amazing creatures straight away! Set up camp and get settled for the evening.

Day 3: Kruger National Park

Rise early and enjoy a light breakfast of coffee and rusk (twice-baked bread) before heading out on a morning game drive. Most of your day will be spent spotting game from your overland vehicle, birdwatching and stopping at various waterholes and viewpoints to rest along the way. In the evening, choose to relax at camp or perhaps head out on an optional night drive with the park guide. The optional night drives are a chance to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two – maybe catch a lion or hyena out hunting, or perhaps impala out in search of a late-night feed.

Day 4: Hlane Royal National Park

Start the day with a slow game drive through Kruger, covering between 20 and 70 kilometres (depending on what animals you see along the way) in the park then exiting by mid-morning. Hit the road towards Hlane Royal National Park. Travel south-east and cross the border into the kingdom of Eswatini, a country nestled between Mozambique, Northern Zululand and Mpumalanga. Arrive at Hlane Royal National Park, a vast expanse of bushveld with ancient hardwood trees, and begin exploring immediately on a guided game walk. The walking safari, led by a local guide, will give you the best understanding of how large and complex the ecosystem in this park is. With a professional ranger by your side, you’ll look out for animals like rhino, giraffe, and elephant while also searching for tiny creatures like the snakes, spiders, and small mammals (don’t worry, there’s no lions in the section of the park where you’ll be walking). You’ll spend tonight at a camp within the national park.

Day 5: Hlane Royal National Park

Today you’ll have the opportunity to further explore Hlane Royal National Park at your leisure. You might like to book an optional 4x4 game drive within the park, where you can expect to see all kinds of animals like antelopes, elephants, zebras, rhinos, and lions. Guided by a local Swazi guide, these drives typically take 2-2.5hrs either in the early morning or late afternoon.

Another optional activity for today is to visit the Hlane Umphakatsi (Chief Village) - a tour of the authentic living homestead and opportunity to discover the Swazi way of life. You'll learn more about the traditional culture here, get to know the locals and even get a chance to try your hand at day-to-day activities. You’ll discover how Umphakatsi is a special village since it is one of the few with a female Chief: Inkhosikati.

Day 6: St Lucia Estuary

Depart Hlane this morning and cross the border to Lake St Lucia, part of the St Lucia Estuary, stopping at a shop for supplies along the way. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, St Lucia Estuary is home to thousands of varieties of birds, mammals and reptiles, including hundreds of hippos and crocodiles.
On arrival, jump onboard for a Hippo Boat Safari which offers a different perspective to traditional Game viewing with the chance to spot creatures cruising down the estuary, or basking on the banks.

Day 7: St Lucia Estuary

We'll take a day trip to Cape Vidal today for some time by the sand, in the sun today. Cape Vidal lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site and sits on the exquisite Zululand coast – home to a rich array of marine life. This area is visited seasonally by humpback whales during their migrations, as well as loggerhead and leatherback sea-turtles that come to the beaches north of Cape Vidal from November to February to nest. You can spend the day relaxing on the beach or speak to your leader about booking some of the optional activities in the area. You’ll head back to your camp at Lake St Lucia this afternoon.

Day 8: Valley of a Thousand Hills

Rise early and head to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, the heartland of the Zulu nation, for a unique homestay experience. Gain insight into the daily life of the rural Zulu people with a night in a local’s house, where you'll be treated to some traditional food, song and dance. Explore the village on foot and make the most of this rare opportunity to see a remote culture from the inside. Interact with your hosts and perhaps share some of your own culture and language in turn.

Day 9: Durban

Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening. If you arrive early, why not get out and explore Durban – teeming with golden, sandy beaches and glitzy nightlife. The Golden Mile is an essential spot – a stretch of fine sands bordered by rolling surf on one side and an attractive beachfront of skate parks, restaurants and cafes on the other. For dinner, perhaps grab your group and head to Florida Road for traditional Bunny Chow or some fresh seafood – your group leader will be able to recommend their favourite spots.

Day 10: Drakensberg

Leave Durban and travel inland towards the majestic Drakensberg mountain range (approximately 7–8 hours). Stop along the way at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site and learn of the history of this great man. Then stretch your legs on a short hike along the Drakensberg mountain chain. Home to an amazing array of flora and fauna, Drakensberg is Southern Africa's highest range – sitting at 3482 metres – and forms part of the border between South Africa and Lesotho. The range is often referred to locally as the Barrier of Spears or the Dragon Mountains. Your accommodation here is in twin rooms with an ensuite at a unique backpacker lodge in Drakensberg. After you’ve settled in, enjoy a drink with your travel group in the thatched-loft lounge room, where there’s a book-swap and internet facilities. You’ll also be able to check out the onsite pool, jacuzzi, barbeque, fire pit and wi-fi.

Day 11: Drakensberg

Enjoy free time to go hiking through this incredible mountain range. It's up to you how much time you spend exploring. Feel free to take a short hike for an hour or so, or perhaps challenge yourself by booking into a full-day hike with a local guide. This is a great chance to learn more about the region from a local as you walk along. Regardless of your level of hiking or exploring today, there are sure to be some amazing views and excellent photo opportunities.

Day 12: Lesotho Highlands

Leaving Drakensberg behind, head into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho (approximately 8–9 hours). Nestled like a small island in the middle of South Africa, Lesotho is commonly known as the 'Kingdom in the Sky' and has beautiful mountain ranges and endless hiking trails. Generally, the border crossing into Lesotho is quite smooth, but you may experience some delays, depending on the time of year. Drive past the Golden Gate Highlands National Park which is famous for its extraordinary sandstone rock formations. The park is also home to elands, zebras, mongooses and hundreds of bird species – keep your eyes peeled along the way.

Day 13: Lesotho Highlands

Today you’ll have a variety of hikes to choose from. The Lesotho Highlands offer excellent hiking for all levels of skill, so depending on your experience and level of fitness, you should be able to choose one that allows you to get the most out of these stunning landscapes.

Day 14: Wild Coast/Cintsa

Head to the stunning Wild Coast of South Africa and the charming little coastal town of Cintsa (approximately 10–12 hours). Cintsa and its surrounding region are home to Xhosa communities, whose lifestyle is deeply rooted in tribal traditions and customs. You'll soon discover that these warm and friendly people can provide you an insight into their enduring cultures. Arriving in the late afternoon, you will have time to relax and freshen up before an optional group dinner.

Day 15: Wild Coast/Cintsa

Enjoy some free time to explore the town, relax on the stunning beaches or book one of the many optional activities on offer. You might like to go hiking or mountain biking in the hinterland, hire a canoe to explore the Cintsa River or book in for surfing lesson! Be sure to check in with your group leader to get their recommendations.

Day 16: Addo Elephant National Park

Travel on to Addo Elephant National Park (approximately 7–8 hours). Addo Elephant National Park was created in 1931 to protect the region's eleven remaining elephants and is a true success story in conservation. Today there are over 450 elephants in the park, as well as Cape buffalo, black rhinos, all kinds of antelopes and even the unique flightless dung beetle. On arrival, you'll take an afternoon game drive with your group and try to spot some of these resident creatures, among others, from your truck.

Day 17: Garden Route / Tsitsikamma National Park

Wake early and enjoy another game drive in Addo Elephant National Park in an overland vehicle. Afterwards, begin your journey along the Garden Route, the first stop being Tsitsikamma National Park (approximately 4–5 hours). Steep ancient forests meet the breakers of the Indian Ocean at this park, protecting both land and sea. It's a spectacular place for walking and viewing wildlife. Your group leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer, some of which you may like to book for your free day tomorrow.

Day 18: Tsitsikamma National Park

With another day in Tsitsikamma, you’ll have more time to explore this magnificent national park. Cape clawless otters, dolphins, tortoises and southern right whales (depending on the season) are all visitors here, along with baboons, monkeys and a heap of birdlife. See how many of them you can spot on a range of hiking trails, including those to the Stormsriver Mouth and waterfalls.

Day 19: Garden Route / Oudtshoorn

Head out across the arid Karoo region bound for Oudtshoorn (approximately 4–5 hours). Stop off on the way at Knysna to stretch your legs and explore this hamlet with a gorgeous lagoon. Travel on to the Cango Caves, where you’ll have time to explore the weird and wonderful rock formations – one is ‘Cleopatra's Needle’, standing at 29 feet high and at least 150,000 years old. Your local guide will give you all the ins-and-outs of their formation and history. Continue on to Oudtshoorn, known as the ostrich capital of the world. At the turn of the 20th century, it was full of 'feather barons' that grew rich from the popularity of ostrich feathers.

Day 20: Bontebok National Park

Rise and shine very early this morning to spend some time with wild meerkats, part of the so-called Shy 5. Head to their burrow, pull up a chair and sip coffee while the sun comes up and the meerkats climb out into the sunshine. You’ll have time to watch these habituated wild animals, which are never fed or handled by humans, go about their daily routine of foraging and frolicking. Then travel onto Bontebok National Park (approximately 3-4 hours) – the smallest of South Africa's 18 national parks and named after its unusually marked antelopes. Drive towards Swellendam, through towering mountain passes and crossing some of the most beautiful and rugged scenery around. On arrival, take an leader-led orientation walk, perhaps grabbing some lunch afterwards. Swellendam, South Africa’s third-oldest town, has over 50 provincial heritage sites. After lunch take the short drive to set up camp in Bontebok, with the remainder of the afternoon to hike one of the three nature-hiking trails, all starting and ending in the rest camp area. Trail maps are available at the campsite.

Day 21: Cape Agulhas / R320 Winery Route / Hermanus

Get up early this morning for your journey to Africa's southernmost point – Cape Agulhus (approximately 5 hours). You'll travel along the famous R320 winery route, visiting two or three wineries along the way, before heading onto the beach side town of Hermanus. This region is highly influenced by the cooling Atlantic Ocean that sweeps up past Cape Town and brings with it a nice breeze that cools down the grapes that are grown here. The predominant local grape varieties are French, German and northern Italian – such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage.

Day 22: Cape Town

Enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Hermanus, perhaps with a walk from Grotto Beach along the cliff and beach path or along the local shopping strip. Afterwards, drive back to Cape Town via the scenic bay route (approximately 4 hours). With its stunning coastline, dramatic surrounding mountains and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities. It's a great place to end your trip, with vineyards, adventure activities and plenty of good restaurants and cafes at your doorstep. You'll be dropped at the centrally located hotel in Cape Town at approximately 3 pm if your group doesn’t encounter any delays. With no activities planned after arriving in Cape Town, you are free to leave at any time.