3 nights Cape Town | 2 nights Franschhoek | 1 night Oudtshoorn | 2 nights Knysna | 2 nights Lalibela Game Reserve | 1 night Durban | 2 nights Drakensberg | 2 nights Rorke’s Drift | 2 nights Phinda Game Reserve
- Cape Town
- Cape Winelands
- Oudtshoorn Activities
- Garden Route Drive
- Knysna & The Crags Wildlife Experience
- Eastern Cape
- Lalibela Game Reserve
- Big Five Game Drives
- Drakensberg & KwaZulu Battlefields
- Phinda Game Reserve
We had a great time throughout the trip and found the excellent travel pack extremely helpful! We had a great time largely due to your hard work putting the program together. Thank you very much!
Tour Consultant's OverviewDavid and Lynne contacted me through our website in July of 2016. They were wanting to do a trip in South Africa that included Cape Town, the Garden Route, Safari and spend some time in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area. I put together a proposal that included Cape Town, the Winelands, Oudsthoorn and Knysna before spending their first safari at Lalibela in the Eastern Cape. After their safari here, they headed off by plane to Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal for the next leg of their journey. This included a 2 night stay in the Drakensberg, followed by a stay in the Anglo-Zulu War Battlefields – such an interesting part of the country and one that is so overlooked. They finished off their South African trip with another safari, this time in the stunning Phinda Private Game Reserve. I really enjoyed working with both David and Lynne – they were keen to experience most of what South Africa has to offer and to learn more about our beautiful country.
Upon arrival at Cape Town airport, you are met by our representative and transferred by road into the city to your hotel.
Spend your days exploring the Mother City and the Fairest Cape – from the oldest buildings in South Africa to trendy waterfront shopping; from majestic Table Mountain to sun drenched beaches; and from dramatic seascapes to verdant vineyards. Cape Town regularly tops many lists of world must-visit destinations and Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain has recently been voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Cosmopolitan and fashionable, the relaxed atmosphere and pavement café culture give Cape Town a Southern European feel – but with a distinctive African twist.
This morning you will have your vehicle delivered to Winchester Mansions. You depart Cape Town and drive to the Cape Winelands, with its backdrop of majestic mountain ranges, lush valleys and verdant vineyards. Spend the day exploring the Stellenbosch Wine Route, before continuing your drive to Franschhoek and checking in at your guesthouse for a one night stay.
You can follow the Franschhoek Wine Route and stop for tastings at wine estates along the way. You will have the chance to purchase and ship home some of the wines you have tasted.
South African wine has a proud history dating back to 1659, when the first wine recorded in South Africa was produced by the founder of the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck. French Huguenots settled in the Franschhoek Valley in the late seventeenth century, seeking refuge from religious persecution in Europe and bringing with them precious root-stock to establish the wine-growing industry in South Africa. By the time of Napoleon, wine produced by Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town, was considered by Europeans to be one of the greatest wines in the world. Anti-apartheid sanctions hit the wine industry hard, but since independence in 1994, access to international markets has unleashed a burst of new energy and new investment, and South African wines are once again winning awards across the world.
Each wine route has a wide range of wine estates and wineries: ranging from historical to avant garde and from garagiste to large scale producers. Many of the wine estates offer informative guided wine-tastings to the public as well as cellar tours or tours of the vineyards. Some of them also make cheese, chocolate and olive oil and offer tastings of these products alongside their wines. Many of them have on-site restaurants offering food that ranges from gastronomical delights to picnic hampers to enjoy under the oak trees.
This morning you check out of your guest house and leave the winelands behind. You journey along the scenic Route 62 through the verdant Breede River Valley, the largest of the Western Cape’s fruit and wine producing valleys. As you follow the “fruit route”, you enjoy magnificent mountain views, vineyards, orchards and indigenous flora. Stops can be made at roadside farm stalls to purchase fruit. You then enter the unique landscape of the arid Little Karoo, passing through Barrydale and Calitzdorp. You then check into your guesthouse in Oudtshoorn for your 2 night stay.
Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world. The world's biggest birds are found here in great numbers and the region produces the best feathers, leather products and ostrich meat worldwide. Enjoy an entertaining tour and demonstration learning about the history and use of these unique birds and how they are farmed. Curio shops on the farms and in Oudtshoorn specialise in the finest ostrich leather, ostrich meat and ostrich feather products.
You can also spend time at the Cango Caves - the oldest and one of the most popular attractions in the region and one of the great natural wonders of the world. A standard tour offers visitors an enchanting hour long journey through this wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites.
This morning after a leisurely breakfast you will drive across the majestic Outeniqua Pass, through the town of George and onto Wilderness and the Lakes District before reaching your overnight stop, Knysna.
Knysna is the perfect base for exploring the Garden Route. Set on the shores of the beautiful Knysna lagoon and surrounded by the Knysna Forest, which form part of the Garden Route National Park, Knysna is blessed with great scenic beauty. This quaint seaside town is brimming with quirky arty-crafty shops and markets. Find yourself in foodie-heaven – with superb fine dining restaurants, legendary Knysna oysters and bustling wholefood markets.
Depart Knysna and enjoy a scenic drive to the nearby seaside town of Plettenberg Bay. You continue over spectacular single-span bridges to the Tsitsikamma forest, an indigenous primeval forest with towering ancient yellowwood trees, lush vegetation and deep gorges. We recommend that you enter the Tsitsikamma National Park and drive down the steep pass to the aptly-named Storms River Mouth. The Tsitsikamma’s spectacular scenery includes the Indian Ocean breakers, pounding rocky shores beneath 180 m high cliffs, evergreen forests and fynbos (proteas and heath) rolling down to the sea in a lush carpet where ancient rivers have carved their path to the ocean through rocky ravines. You then leave the Garden Route behind. You by-pass the city of Port Elizabeth and drive to your Big Five game reserve, arriving in time for your afternoon game drive.
Game viewing in the malaria-free Eastern Cape is excellent. The Eastern Cape straddles the meeting point of 5 distinct biomes (valley bushveld, savannah grassland, fynbos, riverine forest and acacia woodland), resulting in a breath-taking variety in animal and bird species. In addition, the carrying capacity of the vegetation in Eastern Cape game reserves is much higher than that of the Kruger area, so you will find a much higher concentration of animals. The region has some of the most luxurious safari lodges in the country, all seeking to offer discerning travellers the ultimate African adventure that harks back to the golden age of safaris.
Lalibela Game Reserve is a 7,500 hectare malaria-free Big Five game reserve in the heart of Eastern Cape game country. Lalibela brings you the charm of authentic Africa and is a perfect blend of the formal and informal. Lalibela has three lodges, all offering décor that is infused with the essence of Africa, as well as warm and friendly service, exciting safari cuisine and unforgettable game viewing.
This morning after your morning game drive and brunch, you will take a drive through to the coastal city of Port Elizabeth and catch your afternoon flight through to Durban for a 1 night stay. On arrival at Durban airport you will collect your hired car and head into the City for your overnight stay.
After breakfast the next morning you can start a leisurely drive through the Natal Midlands to your country lodge at the foot of the mighty Drakensberg.
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to 3,482 metres (11,424ft) in height. Soaring basalt cliffs and golden sandstone ramparts tower over rolling grasslands, steep-sided valleys, rocky gorges and ancient San rock art. Adventure activities abound: hiking, abseiling, canoeing, mountain-biking, mountain-climbing, while the more sedentary will enjoy the awe-inspiring views and abundant birdlife.
Today you leave the mountains behind and cross the Natal Midlands to the battlefields sites of the Anglo-Zulu War – Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and Fugitive’s Drift. You check in at your guesthouse overlooking Fugitive’s Drift.
The Anglo-Zulu War battlefields region abounds in evocative symbols of South Africa’s turbulent past. Dramatic and bloody battles such as Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are brought to life by raconteur tour guides.
This morning you set off eastward through rolling hills to Phinda Private Game Reserve in the heart of Zululand.
Phinda Private Game Reserve is situated in sub-tropical northern KwaZulu Nata, with close proximity to the warm Indian Ocean. It is an award-winning game reserve with a strong focus on conservation and community involvement. In 1991, &Beyond Phinda undertook the biggest game relocation in a private game reserve in the world at the time, restoring 34,600 acres of degraded farmland to a pristine wildlife reserve. The reserve has now grown to a total of 56,830 acres of land dedicated to the preservation of wildlife.
Referred to as “Seven Worlds of Wonder”, &Beyond Phinda is home to seven unique ecosystems that can be explored on twice-daily game drives from each of the Reserve’s six luxurious lodges. Phinda offers excellent Big Five game viewing, with spectacular sightings of the elusive cheetah and the rare black rhino. In addition to game drives, Phinda offers walking safaris and river cruises on the Mzinene River.
This morning after your morning game drive and brunch you say goodbye to this African Wonderland and drive through to Richards Bay. You will drop off your hired car and catch the mid-afternoon flight to Johannesburg to connect with your international flight home.
Winchester Mansions Hotel is an iconic Cape Dutch building and is the leading sea front hotel on Sea Point’s Promenade facing the Atlantic Ocean. It is two minutes’ drive from the trendy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and is unique amongst Cape Town hotels for its spectacular seaside location. This charming and gracious hotel offers its guests grace, style and contemporary flair. It is a multiple winner of the “Best Luxury Hotel” category at the annual AA Travel Guide Awards and is a winner in the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice 2013 Awards, making the list of the Top 25 hotels in South Africa.
The rooms are spacious and elegant and all of them have either sea or mountain views. There are 51 classic or contemporary loft style rooms and 25 suites, including one presidential suite.
Sip sundowners on the terrace whilst viewing the spectacular ocean sunsets and enjoy signature dishes from Harvey’s Restaurant. The Winchester’s beautiful colonnaded Courtyard, built in the style of an Italian piazza, is a tranquil oasis. Encircled by palm trees and water fountains, it makes a perfect setting for a romantic dinner under the stars. You can relax around the decked heated swimming pool and there is an in-house spa offering health and beauty treatments.
Chanteclair Guest House is nestled in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley. The main house at Chanteclair is a tastefully converted farmhouse, situated in an exquisitely landscaped and tranquil garden setting, offering luxurious accommodation and delicious breakfasts. A walk through the fragrant gardens and orchard and on up to the top of the vineyard offers panoramic views of the Franschhoek Valley and an opportunity to see the diverse local bird life.
The main house has four double or twin rooms and two separate detached units, namely, Vine Cottage and The Studio. The rooms in the house are named after the trees adjacent to them in the garden, Jacaranda, Cork Oak, Prunus and Syringa. All rooms are en suite, some have a fireplace or under-floor heating and all have superb views either to the vineyards or the mountains.
De Opstal Country House is on a working ostrich farm in the beautiful Schoemanshoek Valley. The lodge consists of a group of historical Karoo farm buildings, beautifully restored and fitted with modern conveniences and en-suite bathrooms. The terracotta floors, heavy wooden doors and shutters and wide timber ceilings bear the scars, buckles and blemishes of generations of use and give the entire complex an authentic feel. The entire complex has an old world ambience with subtle modern touches to ensure a luxurious stay.
In this relaxed atmosphere, the owners Albertus & Matilda, and their staff treat their guests to wholesome country hospitality and food. You can relax beside the swimming pool or in the lush, tranquil garden surroundings. There is time to cool off in the pool before trying ostrich steak or Karoo mutton in the in-house farm-style restaurant.
Situated near the Knysna Lagoon, Knysna Hollow Country Estate comprises of beautiful thatched chalets and lovely garden rooms, set in beautiful landscaped gardens. The estate’s tranquil environment invites leisurely relaxation beside three sparkling swimming pools, or you can venture down to the lagoon nearby.
On the property, guests can choose between the Knysna Hollow Restaurant – an a la carté restaurant serving seasonal, fresh food in relaxed and warm surroundings, the Pecan Tree Grill Room - menu includes both classic Malay-inspired dishes such as spicy Malay lamb curry as well as local specialities such as fresh Knysna Oysters and the Rutland Arms Pub is a warm and lively place to enjoy a laid-back beverage and socialise with friends, family and new acquaintances. Sport is screened on satellite televisions, whilst ice-cold local Mitchell’s draught and warm, friendly service make this a special gathering place.
Lalibela Game Reserve is a 10,500 hectare malaria-free Big Five game reserve in the heart of Eastern Cape game country. Lalibela brings you the charm of authentic Africa and is a perfect blend of the formal and informal. Lalibela has three lodges, all offering décor that is infused with the essence of Africa, as well as warm and friendly service, exciting safari cuisine and unforgettable game viewing.
Early morning and sunset game drives in an open vehicle with an experienced game ranger bring you face to face with a multitude of game species, ranging from mighty elephant, lion, rhino and buffalo to tiny blue duiker and rock hyrax. Lalibela is also home to cheetah, hyena, hippo, giraffe, zebra, warthog and numerous species of antelope. On thrilling night drives under the vast African sky, we search for the elusive bat-eared fox, aardvark, black-backed jackal, aardwolf and the curious spring hare.
Lentaba, the “lodge on the hillside”, sleeps 16 people in eight secluded thatched chalets, placed where magnificent indigenous gardens merge into the surrounding bush. Each en-suite unit has a private observation deck to make the most of the views over the valley bushveld. Each Chalet also has a ceiling fan and air-conditioning.
The main lodge, decorated in traditional safari style, boasts a large lounge, viewing deck and a sunny swimming pool where you can spend a lazy afternoon. The outdoor dining “boma” has a commanding view of a waterhole, which is spotlit after dark for night game viewing. There is also a stylish indoor dining area. Brunch is served al fresco on the main viewing deck.
Quarters Hotel on Florida is situated in Durban’s trendy suburb of Morningside. Four gracious Victorian homes have been beautifully restored by award winning architects to create a unique hotel of immense charm and character. Inside you will find a subtle combination of modern sophistication and old-fashioned warmth reflected in everything from the decor to the welcoming attitude of the dedicated staff. There are 23 rooms: 14 standard rooms and 9 superior rooms. Every room is air-conditioned, has a LCD TV offering both local and satellite channels, a queen size bed, direct-dial telephone, safety deposit box and the facility to make tea and coffee.
From the beautifully appointed bathrooms to the homemade biscuits, the luxury of Quarters is a unique experience. All of the rooms offer a choice of showers or baths, a selection of soaps, conditioners and shampoos and fresh bath sheets to wrap yourself in after a luxurious and relaxing foam bath.
The stylish in-house restaurant, The Brasserie, has been awarded Durban’s best traditional restaurant. The Brasserie offers a quiet setting for intimate dinners. Guests have a choice of dining in the conservatory-style indoor restaurant, or under the stars in the quaint candle-lit outdoor courtyard. Quarters on Florida is situated in an area often referred to as Durban's "Dining District". Whether your preference be for French Cuisine, exotic Taiwanese, sumptuous steaks or Indian Curry, a restaurant to satisfy your taste can be found within easy walking distance of Quarters on Florida.
Quarters on Florida is just 10 minutes’ drive away from Durban’s beautiful beaches and uShaka Marine World.
Within a decade, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse has earned global renown as a romantic gourmet getaway. Nestled in the heart of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Drakensberg, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is a 5 star lodge dedicated to sumptuous food and rustic luxury. This is the ultimate getaway for peace, tranquillity and solitude. It is a restful refuge with professional yet understated service, and the gourmet experience is something to savour. The historical farmhouse is set in magnificent gardens, including an enviable vegetable garden.
Each of the 11 rooms has warm, snug beds with crisp, fresh cotton sheets and mohair blankets, spectacular views and country kitchen aromas filling the air with fresh smells of freshly-caught trout and homemade breads. The menus for Cleopatra’s legendary 7-course dinners change every evening according to the seasons in the gardens and the availability of the local produce. Choose your wine from the underground wine cellar to complement your meal and experience the tales of Chef-Owner Richard’s culinary preparations.
Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is tucked away in the beautiful Kamberg Valley close to Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve, and it has splendid views of the Drakensberg Mountains and crystal clear streams and waterfalls running by. Enjoy fishing in the trout-filled dam or just relax at the dam with one of your favourite novels. Discuss food with your knowledgeable hosts or relax with a book in the Library and watch the weaver birds building nests outside. If you can bear to tear yourselves away from Cleopatra’s, there are scenic drives, walking and hiking trails and horse-riding in the nearby mountains.
Rorke’s Drift Lodge is a small 4-star guesthouse in the heart of the Battlefields region, tucked up against the Sinqindi Mountain in kwaZulu-Natal and only 5 km from Rorke’s Drift battlefield.
The Lodge is a tastefully converted farm house that is situated in an expansive 5 hectare garden with rolling lawns on a 1,000 acre property. The main building of the Lodge houses the cozy and tastefully decorated lounge, the dining room and kitchens, and the reception area with a small curio shop. A multi-level deck area is located in front of the Lodge and guests can choose to simply lounge comfortably on one of the levels or to take a swim in the plunge pool while enjoying the spectacular view. There are four en-suite rooms, two in the main lodge and two in cottages in the garden. All the rooms are tastefully decorated in a Contemporary African style and two units have baths and two have showers.
Accommodation is offered on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Cuisine with a South African flavour is the lodge speciality. They also pack delicious picnic lunches for guests who want to spend the day on a Battlefields tour. Dinners and lunches can be ordered from their on-site deli.
Poised majestically on the crest of a mountain, &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge commands dramatic vistas over the surrounding landscape. Balanced between soaring views of the scenery below and the endless blue of the African sky above, each suite opens onto a breathtaking panorama. With glamorous guest areas, this bold and stylish lodge will truly make you feel on top of the world. Magnificent guest viewing decks and private verandas attached to each suite ensure that there is no shortage of spectacular locations.
Light and space lie at the heart of &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge from the moment you enter the airy inner courtyard. The guest area is a magnificent u-shaped building with central al fresco courtyard, which provides luxurious comfort between game drives. Careful planning means that no structures in the Lodge overlook each other, resulting in uninterrupted views from each suite or viewing deck. Meals are served al fresco on the tiered veranda, inside the covered dining room or in the outdoor dining boma at night. A total of 25 suites are positioned to ensure complete privacy while optimising the view from the veranda. Each suite has a private outdoor shower and plunge pool, as well as a luxury en-suite bathroom.
Take advantage of your free bus pass on the “hop-on-hop-off” bus which passes in front of Winchester Mansions. The “red route” takes you through Green Point and past the famous soccer stadium to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (stopping at The Two Oceans Aquarium and the Clock Tower), to Cape Town Tourism centre in downtown Cape Town, to the Castle of Good Hope, the museums and galleries in the City Bowl area, up to the Cable Car station at Table Mountain, over Kloof Nek to Camps Bay and then back to Winchester Mansions.
You set off along the Atlantic seaboard via glamorous Clifton to the quaint seaside village of Hout Bay. You continue via the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive to Cape Point. Looking at this dramatic promontory jutting into the sea gives one an idea why early sailors nicknamed it the Cape of Storms. You then follow the coastline northwards via Simonstown, where you can visit the penguin colony of Boulders Beach. You can also visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which is dedicated to the extraordinary variety of plants found in the Cape Floral Kingdom. A leisurely drive through the leafy southern suburbs will bring you back to the city bowl in the late afternoon.
Spend time today at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.You could also visit the Waterfront’s Two Oceans Aquarium, which is highly recommended for the insight it gives into life in the two oceans off the southern tip of Africa – the cold Atlantic Ocean and the warm Indian Ocean. The V&A Waterfront is South Africa’s trendiest shopping precinct and is full of great restaurants and bars. If the weather was inclement on the first day, take the opportunity to go up Table Mountain today.
You drive to the Cape Winelands, with its backdrop of majestic mountain ranges and lush valleys. You can stop for wine tastings at various wineries along the way and you will have the chance to purchase some of the wines you have tasted. You can visit Stellenbosch, the “town of oaks” for a short guided tour of South Africa’s second oldest town. A scenic drive over the Helshoogte Pass (Hell’s Heights) takes you to the Franschhoek Valley. French Huguenots settled in the Franschhoek Valley in the late seventeenth century, seeking refuge from religious persecution in Europe and bringing with them precious root-stock to establish the wine-growing industry in South Africa.
The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley – picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300 year history.
Passengers aboard the hop-on hop-off tour will experience a unique and leisurely way to see the Franschhoek Valley as they journey through rolling vineyards in an open-side tram and open-air tram-bus stopping in at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates. A combination of tram and tram-bus transports passengers around a loop of stops allowing them to hop-off at each stop and experience the activities on offer, be it wine tasting, a cellar tour, lunch or simply a stroll through the vineyards and when they are ready, hop-on to continue the tour. The tour takes passengers right into the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, with a narration focusing on the history of Franschhoek and wine cultivation in the valley, complimentary wine tastings and unparalleled views of the valley and vineyards.
The Blue Line visits the following estates: Mont Rochelle, La Couronne, Holden Manz, La Bourgogne, La Bri, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence. The Red Line visits the following estates: Maison, Eikehof, Leopard's Leap, Dieu Donne, Chamonix, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence.
The history and development of Oudtshoorn is inextricably connected with the growth of the ostrich feather industry from as early as 1860. By the turn of the twentieth century (during the Edwardian Period) the use of prime ostrich feathers in ladies' clothing was high fashion, especially in England and Europe. Feathers were light and easily imported and fetched incredibly high prices. The resultant prosperity had a profound effect on Oudtshoorn and its immediate environment. During the ten years preceding 1914, ostrich Feathers ranked fourth to gold, wool and diamonds in the value of exports from South Africa. In 1914 there was close to a million ostriches on farms in South Africa. Then overnight the industry collapsed – the worldwide socio-economic effects of World War I and the advent of the motor car caused a cataclysmic drop in demand.
On arrival at Safari Ostrich Farm you will be met by a multi-lingual guide, who will take you on a tour of the farm, where you will learn more about these remarkable birds and their fascinating nature. Safari Ostrich Show Farm is an operating farm, where visitors will see large flocks of ostriches and in the breeding season see chicks hatching in the incubators. You will also see different types of ostrich feathers displayed. The processing of ostrich skins is explained, from tanning to dying to the manufacturing of products. A complete ostrich skin is on display showing the different parts of the skin used for shoes, bags and other products. In the breeding camp visitors get close to an ostrich breeding pair and have a photo opportunity by standing on an ostrich egg. At the plucking pen visitors get to sit on an ostrich – another great photo opportunities. The tour ends with the Ostrich Derby where ostrich jockeys show off their riding skills. The restaurant at Safari Ostrich Farm showcases dishes made with ostrich meat and ostrich egg. It is worth trying it!
While in Oudtshoorn, we suggest you visit the Cango Caves, where you embark on a magical journey through massive caverns and fascinating limestone formations. The Cango Caves, about 29 km north of Oudtshoorn in the Swartberg Mountains, are filled with a wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites and helictites (dripstone formations that grow in unusual directions), which have been formed over millions of years. The countless dripstone formations in many instances imitate everyday objects and have been given names such as Cleopatra's Needle, The Organ Pipes, the Bridal Couple, Cango Candle and the Hanging Shawl. The Cave system consists of five large cavern systems, but because of the extreme fragility of the formations, only Cango One is open to the public. The pure, crystalline beauty of the dripstone formations of the other caverns discovered so far – Cango Two, Three, Four and Five – is conserved for study and research purposes.
Visitors to the Cango Caves have an option between two tours of the caves:
The standard Heritage Tour is an enchanting and sedate hour-long walk through the first six chambers of the caves.
The 90 minute Adventure Tour follows a 1200-metre route through the mountain and is only recommended for the physically fit as it requires some clambering and crawling and visitors must be able to fit through the narrow Devil's Chimney.
Top-rated, multilingual guides lead all tours. The Caves are open from 09h00 till 17h00. Heritage Tours depart every hour on the hour and Adventure Tours depart every hour on the half hour.
Man has known the Caves since the Early Stone Age, but they were “re-discovered by a local farmer named Jacobus van Zyl in 1780. The interior of the Cango Caves will take your breath away - from the imposing Van Zyl's Hall which is over 90 metres long, 50 metres wide at its widest to the narrow Devil's Chimney on the Adventure Route, which narrows to an opening of only 27 cm!
The John Benn is a fully enclosed luxury ferry, beautifully appointed with her upper and lower decks constructed from Yellowwood sourced from the Knysna Forest.
This unique vessel has carried many local and international travellers on the Lagoon over the last 25 years and offers daily cruises to the Knysna Heads. If you have not cruised on the John Benn you have not enjoyed all of Knysna. The sunset cruise aboard the John Benn is an experience not to be missed. Share the stories of the legendary pilot of a by-gone shipping era on a relaxing and comfortable trip to the Knysna Heads. The duration of the cruise is approximately 1½ hours and drinks and snacks (oyster tasting) are available to purchase.
Enjoy an action-packed day full of the best animal-based adventure activities the Garden Route has to offer. Have an early breakfast and then start the day off with an exhilarating stroll through indigenous forest and Cape fynbos as you join the cheetahs of Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre on their daily walk. You then enjoy a guided safari through Monkeyland – the world’s largest free-roaming primate sanctuary, where previously caged primates can live in dignity. Here you can expect to see many species of monkeys, apes and lemurs living in this forested sanctuary. Thereafter you work up an appetite as you wander through the world's largest free-flight aviary at Birds of Eden, which incorporates the indigenous forest with waterfalls and elevated walkways. Previously caged birds from every corner of the globe live here in free flight. You can then enjoy a light lunch under the vines at Bramon Wine Estate. Bramon is the only wine estate this far east of the Western Cape and has pioneered a superior Sauvignon Blanc champagne-method sparkling wine. The day ends at the Crags Elephant Sanctuary, where you interact, touch, feed and walk trunk-in-hand with magnificent elephants. You participate in their bedding down during the brushdown programme
We recommend you drive down the steep scenic pass to Storms River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park. Storms River Mouth is where the booming breakers of the Indian Ocean relentlessly pound against rocky shores, where temperate high forest and fynbos roll down to the sea in an unspoilt verdant carpet, and where ancient rivers carve their paths to the ocean down rocky ravines. Tsitsikamma means "the place of much water". In addition to protecting the indigenous forest, the park stretches some 5 km to sea, protecting a wonderland of inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea fish. Dolphins frolic in the breakers, surfing and playing for the sheer joy of life, and the gentle giant of the ocean, the southern right whale visits here, coming inshore to breed.
Activities available at Storms River Mouth include several short walking trails through the forest to the swing bridge or along the shore, bathing at the small beach, snorkeling, scuba-diving, kayaking and boat trips.
Lalibela is home to the Big 5. There are no public roads running through the game reserve and all of the animals, including the predators, are free-roaming throughout the reserve. Game drives in an open vehicle with an experienced game ranger bring you face to face with a multitude of game species, ranging from mighty elephant, lion, rhino and buffalo to tiny blue duiker and rock hyrax. Lalibela is also home to cheetah, hyena, hippo, giraffe, zebra, warthog and numerous species of antelope, such as eland, kudu, bushbuck and wildebeest. On thrilling night drives under the vast African sky, you search for elusive bat-eared fox, aardvark, black-backed jackal, aardwolf and the curious spring hare.
Upon arrival at Lalibela Game Reserve you are transferred from reception to your lodge, where you are given a welcome drink and your safari experience will be explained to you by your lodge host. There will be time to settle in before afternoon High Tea followed by your first game drive. Game drives take place in the early morning and evening to ensure game viewing when animals are most active. Night game drives provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the predators. You return to your lodge in time for a sumptuous safari cuisine dinner. The next day after a light snack you are taken on a morning game drive. You return to the lodge for a grand brunch. Then there is time to relax around the sunny pool, do some bird-watching from the observation deck or read a book in the peace of your room’s private verandah. After High Tea you set off on another evening game drive, returning again in time for dinner. On your day of departure, you will do a morning game drive and will leave the lodge after brunch.
Mountain hikes and walks:
The Ukahlamba Drakensberg Park is a well-deserved World Heritage Site and the soaring basalt cliffs and golden sandstone ramparts towering over rolling grasslands, steep-sided valleys and rocky gorges call out to be explored on foot. There are many trails within the Park and in the many nature reserves surrounding the Park. Whether you prefer to stroll through the rolling foothills, hike the upper reaches or take on the challenge of man against mountain, the Drakensberg is a hikers’ paradise.
For the more sedentary, take a scenic drive to different parts of the Drakensberg and admire the views. The most dramatic drive of all is the trip to the top of the Sani Pass in the southern Drakensberg. This route is suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles only, but there are many tour operators offering guided trips.
There are several companies offering horse-riding in the Drakensberg. All levels of rider are catered for. They specialise in customising trails to suit the rider with everything from gentle strolls over flat fields and along bridle paths to exhilarating descents into the river valleys and up the escarpments.
Ancient San (Bushman) Rock Art Viewing:
Bushman or San rock paintings are one of the Drakensberg's and South Africa's greatest cultural treasures. Some 40,000 individual rock paintings have been recorded at 500 different cave and overhang sites throughout the Drakensberg. Some of the rock art in the Drakensberg dates back over 3000 years. It was first thought that Bushman rock paintings were merely narrative accounts of hunter-gatherer life. This has now found not to be the case, and their work is recognised as holding deep spiritual and religious meaning. When shamans put paint to rock, they opened portals to the spirit world. The Kamberg Rock Art Centre will help visitors understand and interpret the more than 40 000 San Bushman images.
The Drakensberg mountain range hosts more than 290 species and is a birder’s paradise. Amongst the towering peaks of the majestic Drakensberg, the bearded vulture is undisputed monarch of the skies. This soaring raptor has a wingspan of nearly three metres. Witness these giants flying at great height and speeds between the towering peaks and along the crags. Other regularly sighted raptor species include lanner falcons, jackal buzzards, black eagles and cape vultures. Birders will also enjoy spotting the Natal sugarbird, swifts, sunbirds, kingfishers and the orangebreasted rockjumper.
Led by the finest guides in South Africa, thought-provoking and often emotionally charged tours are conducted daily to Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. On a battlefield tour, you will visit places that will evoke a deep sense of history. As your raconteur-tourguide shares dramatic stories of the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, you will experience the hardship, tragedy, sense of victory and the futility of war.
The Battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879 was a part of the Anglo-Zulu war that saw the first defeat of the British Forces - by an imposing Zulu Impi - in the morning at Isandlwana and a complete turnaround in the evening of the same day at Rorke’s Drift. Also during this time the French Prince Imperial died in a skirmish and ended the Bonaparte dynasty. Today it is marked by a single cenotaph in a lonely field. At Fugitive’s Drift is another lone cenotaph raised to the honour of two men, Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill, who lost their lives attempting to save the Queen’s Colour of their regiment and whose bravery was acknowledged by the award of a Victoria Cross.
&Beyond Phinda is home to an abundance of wildlife, from the Big Five (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo) to the smallest antelope. However, it is the fastest of predators that has a special place here. Having reintroduced cheetah to the area after an absence of over 50 years, &Beyond Phinda has quickly established a reputation as one of the best places to view and photograph these rare big cats. Along with cheetah, lion and leopard are tracked on the reserve on a daily basis and guests have a high likelihood of encountering these magnificent animals. Another success story at &Beyond Phinda is that of both the white and the black rhino. Brought back from the brink of extinction, both species of rhino are doing well at the reserve. The elegant nyala antelope is a frequent site at &Beyond Phinda, with the reserve boasting one of the highest densities of the species. The rare sand forest in the northern parts of the reserve is the perfect environment for the shy red duiker and the tiny suni, one of the smallest antelope species.
Set out on the morning game drive in an open 4x4 safari vehicle in the company of a game ranger. After breakfast you can go on a short walk near the Lodge, accompanied by your ranger, who will share his insight into the smaller animals and vegetation in the area. Alternatively, cool off in the pool. Lunch is served on open air decks. After lunch, keep cool with a refreshing dip in the pool, indulge in an afternoon siesta or simply watch the wildlife from your private veranda. The evening game drive begins in the late afternoon and lasts until after dark, when spotlights are used for spotting nocturnal animals. If you prefer, you may be able to go on a boat cruise down the Mzinene River, watching the wildlife as they come down to drink. A mouth-watering dinner is waiting for you at your lodge’s outdoor dining boma.