Depart early from Cape Town and head for the most southern tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas. Here the warm Indian Ocean and the cooler Atlantic Ocean meet, and from August to November Southern Right and Humpback Whales maybe spotted along the coast. From Cape Agulhas travel inland and camp for the first night close to the picturesque town of Swellendam , one of South Africa ’s oldest settlements with tree lines streets and white washed Cape Dutch homesteads.
Today travel through the Outeniqua Mountains to the Little Karoo. Visit the Cango Caves recognised as amongst the worlds finest network of Calcite caves. The bizarre formations of Stalacmites and Stalactites represent over a million years of slow formation. Also visit an Ostrich farm to learn more about the worlds largest bird. The Ostrich has been around for 8 million years and a feather was actually discovered in King Tutankhamuns tomb. 97% of the worlds population of Ostrich's lives in the Karoo and here we will have the opportunity to ride one!
Days 3 & 4
Spend two days winding our way along South Africa ’s famous Garden Route and there is a wealth of things to see and do. We travel through the popular resort of Knysna, located on a tranquil lagoon that is protected from the sea by two enormous cliffs known as ‘the heads’. Visit the Titsitsikamma Forest , where you will be able to hike along the coast and view the crashing waves at the mouth of the scenic Storms River , and maybe spot dolphins and whales in the ocean. Optional excursions in this region include mountain biking, black water tubing, and the mother of all bungee jumps at Bloakrans Bridge - the biggest jump in the world at 216 metres.
From the Garden Route we continue along the coast and stop at South Africa ’s surfing mecca, Jeffrey’s Bay, home to the international surfing championships and world renowned supertubes. In the afternoon reach Addo Elephant National Park which has recently been extended to include part of the coast and is now home to the BIG 7 - lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, buffalo, whale and shark! In a game drive hope to spot some of the many elephant that the park is famous for, which are the most southerly population in Africa .
Day 6 & 7
Today drive to the beautiful and remote wild coast, an area of rolling grasslands stretching from East London to KwaZulu Natal. Once a former black homeland during the days of Apartheid, the inhabitants are mainly Xhosa people who heard their goats and cattle across the endless pastureland and live in rural settlements of brightly painted kraals. Previously neglected by tourism, it is isolated and wild with great coastal scenery and swathes of long empty beaches. Along the rocky coastline are the skeletons of sunken ships, which bear testament to a region that has sunk more ships than anywhere else in Africa . Enjoy 2 nights next to the Indian Ocean , and lazily explore the shell strewn beaches, lagoons and forests.
Day 8 & 9
From the wild coast have a long day’s drive north and out of South Africa into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Often referred to as ‘the kingdom in the sky’. This little country is completely surrounded by South Africa and is covered by mountains from 1000m to 3000m high. The scenery here is tremendous and the mountain air crisp and fresh and we will see Lesotho ’s horsemen dressed in their blankets and gumboots trotting around the hillsides. Spend two nights at Malealea Lodge , Lesotho ’s most famous countryside retreat tucked up high in the mountains. Here there are isolated waterfalls, cool rock pools ideal for swimming, and peaceful hikes in the surrounding hills. This is also a great place to try pony trekking, even if you have never been on a horse before, and the best way to enjoy the scenery is from a sure footed Lesotho pony.
Today drive through the lowlands of Lesotho and visit Thabo Bosiu with a local guide. This mountain stronghold was the home of Chief Moshoeshoe, the founder of the Basotho nation. Continue through Lesotho ’s tiny capital Maseru , and re-enter South Africa near Fouriesburg. Spend the night camping in the Golden Gate National Park on the edge of the Drakensburg Mountains . This is an area of massive sandstone rock formations and the park gets its name from the green grasslands, caves and cliffs set against a backdrop of golden rocks that are illuminated to their best at sunset. During the summer months the grasslands are full of wild flowers.
Day 11 & 12
Continuing into KwaZulu Natal enter the Drakensburg Mountains, spend the next couple of days exploring the Royal Natal National Park, a dramatic region of the Drakensburg beneath the famous Amphitheater - a massive wall of rock with over 4kms of sheer cliff face. Here you will have the opportunity to climb to the Tugela Falls , a hike that includes an ascent by chain ladder, to view the Tugela River as it plunges over the edge of the amphitheater wall dropping some 800 metres below. The Drakensburg Mountains are known by the Zulu as the ‘barrier of spears, and are today a UNESCO world heritage sight for their outstanding natural beauty.
Day 13 & 14
Johannesburg was built on the gold rush, and has grown into one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Arrive here in the afternoon and stay in a backpackers lodge for 2 nights. Although Jo’burg is changing slowly many of the old apartheid divisions still exist, especially in the urban spread where poorer areas are home to the black population and the richer suburbs home to mainly white people.
There is plenty to do and see in Jo’burg. A ‘must do’ activity is a tour of Soweto, where in this sprawling township, modern African culture is at its most vibrant and intense and you can visit one of the local shabeens (pubs), talk to local families and drop into the former home of Nelson Mandela. You can also visit the powerful apartheid museum, take a tour down a 700ft goldmine at Gold Reef City or visit South African breweries.
Those on the 14 day trip finish here in Jo’Burg, while those
on the 26 day trip carry onto Harare .
Those joining the 12 day trip from Jo’Burg to Harare read the itinerary from here.
Day 15 & 16 (Day 1 & 2)
Today drive east out of Jo’ Burg to the province of Mpumalanga , meaning ‘the place of the rising sun’. Head towards the Kruger National Park and on our way visit Blyde River Canyon - the third largest canyon in the world with stunning view points from the top over the lowveld and the shimmering Blyde River Dam at the bottom.
Day 15 & 16 (Day 1 & 2)
The Kruger National Park is our next stop, it covers about 24,000 sq km, larger than some countries, with a huge variety of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species as well as the BIG 5 - leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino. Explore on game drives during the day and camp at the park’s rest camps where there is the opportunity to join an optional night game drive with the Kruger’s rangers with a spot light to view the shyer nocturnal creatures. If you are lucky you may spot leopard! The diversity and size of this national park is awesome.
Day 17 & 18 (Day 3 & 4)
Crossing the border enter the smallest country in the southern hemisphere - the Kingdom of Swaziland. Here visit the capital Mbabane where, in the colourful markets, you can purchase some of the best quality carvings and crafts in Africa . Climb down the Ezulweni valley to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, a hugely successful conservation project that has reintroduced many species of wildlife that became extinct decades ago, back into Swaziland . Here we camp for two nights and you can undertake pony trekking or follow self-guided walking or mountain bike trails through the varied and rich landscape. There is even an overnight guided horse trail!
Day 19 (Day 5)
Leaving behind Swaziland , cross another border and enter Mozambique . Off the tourist trail for many years thanks to a brutal civil war, today Mozambique is enjoying a revival thanks to political stability and improved infrastructure, and the warm Indian Ocean and idyllic white sand beaches are again welcoming visitors. Pass through the balmy capital city of Maputo , with it’s Portuguese atmosphere and charmingly faded colonial architecture, and continue north to the beach near the mouth of the great Limpopo River at the small fishing village of Xia-Xai.
Day 20 (Day 6)
A few hours drive along the coast is Inhambane where we spend another night near the ocean at Praia de Tofu, a stunning swathe of beach 20km to the south of the town. Here there are numerous water sports to try or even explore the surrounding dunes by quad bike. The beach is in a sheltered bay ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Day 21-23 (Day 7 - 9)
A short drive further north reach Vilanculos. One of the most attractive resorts in Mozambique, this is the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, a string of gorgeously tropical Indian Ocean islands that are today a World Heritage Site and part of an important marine park. The waters here are home to dolphins, sharks, and the prehistoric looking and elusive dugong, and the islands are surrounded by colourful coral reefs teeming with fish. In Vilanculos you have the opportunity to enjoy magnificent seafood such as the famous Mozambique peri-peri prawns before an optional two night excursion to the islands by dhow - traditional white sailed wooden boats. The ride takes you across the bright blue sea where you may sea dolphins playing in the shallows or chasing the shadow of the boat.
Whilst on the island there is the opportunity to go snorkelling at two mile reef. You overnight on the beach in a delightful thatched camp and watching the sun sink over the ocean from this near-on deserted tropical island is a highlight of any trip to Mozambique. After your return spend a final night back in Vilanculos and enjoy a last night next to the beach.
Day 24 - 26 (Day 10 - 12)
Drive toward Zimbabwe and camp overnight near the border on the edge of picturesque Lake Chicamba. Crossing into Zimbabwe pass through the Eastern Highlands, a rich agricultural area and centre of the local wine industry. Arrive in the capital city of Harare by late afternoon. The tour finishes after a hearty cooked breakfast at our Harare campsite.