South Africa

South Africa

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South Africans call their homeland ‘a world in one country’. It covers an area equivalent to five times the size of Britain, with a climate ranging from temperate, Mediterranean and sub-tropical to desert, it offers spectacular scenery with arguably the finest wildlife on earth and has no less than 11 official languages. It’s truly a world-class destination. This wonderful 16-day tour is designed to highlight South Africa’s amazing diversity of cultures, its curious blend of old and new, as well as its phenomenal scenery and wildlife, together with its unique history. You leave with the feeling that the new South Africa, open to the world after years of isolation, is a land of superlatives that cannot fail to impress the welcome visitor.

Highlights

  • Return scheduled flights from London Heathrow, with regional connections available
  • Internal flight to the stunning ‘Garden Route’
  • Guided full-day safari in the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s premier game reserves
  • Tour of the legendary Zulu War battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, immortalised in the classic film ‘Zulu!’
  • Stay in charming hand-picked three and four-star hotels
  • Go whale watching for Southern Right Whales
  • Stay in the heart of the fabulously beautiful Western Cape’s Winelands, experiencing a cellar tour and tasting at a 300-year old wine estate
  • Visits to the Cape of Good Hope and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • Visit Johannesburg’s new Apartheid Museum, a real ‘must’ in understanding present-day South Africa
  • Stay three nights in cosmopolitan Cape Town – one of the world’s most naturally beautiful cities, dominated by the instantly recognisable Table Mountain
  • Visit the awe-inspiring Blyde River Canyon, the third largest in the world
  • Visit the scenically beautiful country of Swaziland
  • Daily breakfast and five meals included
  • Option to stay a night in a tented safari camp and experience a sunrise bushwalk with an experienced ranger
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager

Inclusions

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement (date dependent) of £199 to £329 per person. Scheduled flights to Johannesburg and from Cape Town, all transfers, 13 nights accommodation on bed and breakfast basis, three dinners, all tours as mentioned, visit to Apartheid museum, visit to Blyde River canyon, full day Kruger safari, tour of Zulu battlefields including lunch, tour of the Featherbed Nature Reserve including lunch, whale watching depending on season (19 Apr - 22 Nov), winelands tour including a wine tasting, visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, tour of Cape Point, porterage of one item of luggage per person and theservices of an experienced Riviera Tour Manager.
  • Visas & Health matters
  • British passport holders do not currently require a visa. However, please ensure that your passport is valid for at least thirty days after the intended return date and there must be at least two completely empty pages. Please note you will be refused entry into the country if your passport does not have two completely empty pages.
  • Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for South Africa at least a month before departure. The Kruger National Park is considered a malarial zone, although the risk is reduced during the South African drier ‘winter’ months of May to August. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate medication well before departure and ensure you use a strong mosquito repellent.

Itinerary

Day 1

You should arrive at the airport to take your overnight flight to Johannesburg.

Day 2

After our morning arrival, we transfer to the four-star Indaba Hotel in a prosperous suburb, north of the city. On the way to our hotel we take the opportunity to visit the Apartheid Museum, a truly fascinating exhibition charting the apartheid years and the struggle against it, culminating in the first democratic elections. It is a superbly presented walk through contemporary history using original material, riveting eyewitness accounts, photographs and film. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the pleasant leafy district of Fourways and nearby Montecasino shopping mall.

Day 3

After breakfast we depart for the open spaces and farmlands of the highveld, following the Panorama Route to Kruger National Park, one of the most scenic drives in South Africa. We follow the spectacular rim of the Blyde River Canyon, an amazing 20-mile long and 2,300-foot deep gorge cutting a vast swathe through the Great Escarpment separating the temperate grasslands of the highveld and the drier savannah beyond. Deep circular rock formations created by years of erosion and many excellent vantage points offer superb photo opportunities of some of the most breathtaking views in Africa. Our hotel for the next three nights is the three-star superior Hippo Hollow Country Estate, beautifully located in the midst of lush forest on the banks of the Sabie River on the edge of the National Park. It has lovely gardens, two pools, a very cosy bar, an excellent restaurant and an open-air terrace overlooking the grounds and river where you can actually watch the hippos! A more relaxing spot would be difficult to find. Dinner is included tonight.

Day 4

Today we have a full day’s game drive in specially adapted 10 seat 4x4 vehicles. There is simply nothing to beat that rising feeling of anticipation and excitement as we enter the nearby park in the half-light of the spectacular African dawn, surrounded by the noise of a unique ‘dawn chorus’. Which animal shall we spot first? Perhaps an elephant, a family of warthogs or possibly even the elusive cheetah. Our experienced game rangers know the best tracks and waterholes whilst their stories will amuse, inform and fascinate you. Most have lived here all their lives, accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge. One minute they can be talking about the constituents of elephant dung and the next about the mating behaviour of hippos or the latest UK football scores!

Day 5

This is a day at leisure for anyone who just wants to take it easy by the one of the pools at the hotel or do some hippo-spotting from the lovely lawn overlooking the river. Alternatively, you could try elephant-back safaris, exciting helicopter flights or even river rafting (all subject to weather conditions), as well as sunset safaris or night safaris where you can experience the unique thrill of an open 4x4 vehicle game drive by spotlight. Exclusively for Riviera guests, there are also a limited number of places available to stay the night at a tented camp and go on a bushwalk ending with a sunrise in the bush. Our camp is a real ‘back to nature’ experience, with no electricity or en-suite facilities – we use portable ‘bush’ showers and toilets. Our chef will create excellent wholesome cuisine and you can listen out for any nocturnal visitors whilst sitting around the campfire! Prices from R 2700 (£180 per person) sharing a two-person tent, including an afternoon game drive, sundowner bush walk, dinner and breakfast. You rejoin the main tour on the morning of day 6. Subject to minimum numbers.

Day 6

Today we leave Kruger on our way to the battlefields of Zululand. After breakfast we’ll drive south , entering the small but scenically beautiful country of Swaziland. As the road climbs past the interestingly-named Piggs Peak we descend through lush green fields and rolling hills interspersed with small farms and drive through the country’s small capital Mbabane, passing the parliament house and Royal Palace en-route. We cross back into South Africa in the afternoon and enter Kwazulu Natal province, staying at the simple three-star Battlefields Lodge for two nights on bed and breakfast basis.

Day 7

After breakfast we visit the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Brilliantly dramatized in the films Zulu Dawn and Zulu, these two battles, just a day apart, became a defining moment for the British Empire. In 1879 at Isandlwana, a depleted force of 1,300 were surprised and outmanoeuvred by a 20,000-strong Zulu army armed with cowhide shields and spears. Only a handful survived. The next day, just 9 miles away, about 140 British soldiers, some wounded, held off 4,000 Zulus for over ten hours at Rorke’s Drift, an action earning eleven Victoria Crosses, the largest number ever awarded in a single engagement. Isandlwana particularly, remains a haunting and lonely place, with mass graves marked by simple white stones. Our specialist Zulu guide will really make those desperate encounters come alive. We return to our hotel in the afternoon. Lunch is included today.

Day 8

After breakfast we return to Johannesburg airport, flying to George in the Western Cape and at the heart of the gorgeous Garden Route. We take the short drive to the coastal town of Knysna and our hotel, the charming three-star superior Knysna Hollow Country Estate. The comfortable rooms are all whitewashed and thatched and many overlook the two swimming pools. There is an excellent restaurant, with an extensive wine selection and a convivial bar. Dinner is included this evening.

Day 9

Knysna has been called South Africa’s favourite small town and with its stunning lagoon location, numerous art galleries, craft shops and the excellent Knysna Quays marina shopping and dining complex, it’s not hard to see why. The Garden Route, as its name implies, really is a scenic treat! This magnificent stretch of coastline encompasses mountains, lagoons, pristine beaches, indigenous forests, wetlands teeming with birds, lakes and mountains, all blended together in a feast of sheer natural beauty: it really has it all. This morning we take a ferry across the lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, a South African Natural Heritage site which we explore by 4x4 vehicle. We stop at some magnificent viewpoints whilst our guide describes the area’s fauna, flora, history and shipwrecks, followed by an easy downhill guided walk and delicious buffet lunch under the canopy of the milkwood trees.

Day 10

This morning, we take the long scenic drive to the Cape’s beautiful Winelands. During July to November we drive via Hermanus, the world’s best spot for on-shore whale watching. These gentle giants move in seemingly permanent slow motion and are a truly amazing sight as they playfully cavort in the water. You arrive in the Winelands by late afternoon, staying two nights on bed-and-breakfast at the excellent four-star Devon Valley hotel, which is a real find. This little property is set on the valley slopes offering breathtaking views, lush gardens, a relaxing shady terrace, a comfortable bar with dark leather armchairs, fireplace and a wide selection of single malt whiskeys. Some tours may stay at the nearby four-star Erinvale Hotel.

Accommodation

Cape Royale Luxury Hotel & Spa

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Southern Sun Waterfront

Cape Town – the four-star Southern Sun Waterfront (www.tsogosunhotels.com/hotels/waterfront-cape-town/pages/overview.aspx) is perfectly located less than a ten minute stroll from the heart of...

Indaba Hotel

Johannesburg – the four-star Indaba Hotel (http://www.indabahotel.co.za) lies in a quiet and prosperous suburb, north of the city. The low-rise buildings are surrounded by lush gardens with two...

Hippo Hollow Country Estate

Hazyview, Kruger – the three-star superior Hippo Hollow Country Estate (http://www.hippohollow.co.za) is beautifully located in the midst of lush riverine forest on the banks of the Sabie River,...

Battlefields Country Lodge

Dundee – the simple three-star Battlefields Country Lodge (http://www.battlefieldslodge.co.za) is situated near Dundee and lies in the heart of the battlefields in Kwazulu Natal. The lodge is...

Knysna Hollow Country Estate

Knysna – the three-star superior Knysna Hollow Country Estate (http://www.knysnahollow.co.za) is just a couple of minutes’ drive from Knysna. There is an excellent restaurant, with an...

Devon Valley Hotel

Winelands - the four-star Devon Valley Hotel (http://www.devonvalley.com) is a real find! This small award-winning boutique property is set in a quiet rural location on valley slopes a few miles from...
  Cost per person: €2,369pp
  Number of nights: 15
  Dates available from: Jan 2018

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  Call:  01 905 6300