Day 1 Johannesburg
Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. Your trip begins with a welcome meeting at 12 noon. Afterwards, head out on a 2 hour cycling tour of Soweto – an exciting opportunity to get an insight into contemporary life in South Africa. You will cycle to some of the most interesting historical sites around Soweto. Visit the formal migrant workers’ hostel and be introduced to conditions of male mine workers and meet the families that live here today. Cycle through the vibrant community of Meadowlands, and continue to the Hector Pieterson Memorial, the historical landmark of the 1976 student's uprising, proceed to the famous Vilakazi street where Nelson Mandela used to live. There will be the chance along the way to visit a market or shop to stock up on any supplies you might need for the next few days. There's WiFi available at your accommodation (the first 30 minutes are free). Note: If you do any exploring on your own today, be sure to get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk, especially in the evening. The level of crime here may be higher than what you're used to, and doing a bit of homework can significantly reduce the risk.
Day 2 Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Today is a travelling day. Depart Johannesburg early this morning and travel into the heart of KwaZulu Natal (560km/350miles - approximately 9 hours). Here you will camp at an eco-lodge just 20 kilometres from Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park. The park is home to some amazing wildlife, including lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, buffaloes and wild dogs. At our camp, you'll have access to a fully stocked communal kitchen, gas stoves, kitchen utensils, a fridge and freezer, a braai (for grilling) and a campfire area. Camping guests are more than welcome to use the swimming pool, bar and restaurant in the lodge. There are also showers, wash basins and toilets available. With the group's assistance, your crew will prepare meals, and the group will help with washing up. The tents are 2 x 2 metres across and 1.7 metres high. Tomorrow we head out on a game drive.
Day 3 Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park
Embark on an adventure through the oldest proclaimed game reserve in South Africa. While you're here, you'll have the chance to see some of the 'Big Five' game – African elephant, black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, African lion and African leopard. There will also be a good chance of spotting the white rhino, as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi has the largest population of these near-threatened creatures in the world. A series of conservation efforts has saved them from extinction and their population is once again on the rise. The park also boasts some 400 species of birds, including the African finfoot, bat hawk and white-backed night heron. It is approximately a 40km drive from our overnight camp to the gate of the park. Leaving just after breakfast we spend the whole day in the park. With a picnic lunch along the way, the day will be full of animal watching.
Day 4 Kosi Bay
Depart the game reserve in the morning and visit a Zulu village with a local community guide. Then, travelling northeast to the coast, visit the beautiful Kosi Bay Nature Reserve (160km/100miles - approximately 5 hours including time spent at activities). The location of the bay is amazing. On the one hand there is picturesque jungle with wild figa and monkey orange trees, and a grazing area for hippos; on the other, a mangrove and coral reef that's teeming with aquatic life. Your accommodation, Kosi Bay Lodge, will be in comfortable log chalets. Enjoy a night under the stars as you relax around the campfire.
Day 5 Kosi bay
We have a full day ahead as we explore Kosi Bay by kayak. Kosi Bay is one of very few places on earth where five different species of mangrove trees are found in one area. It is particularly famous for the traditional Tsonga fish traps built to trap fish moving in and out of the estuary with the tide. The Tsonga people, who have made this land their home for more than 1,000 years, are experts in fish traps and the construction of fishkraal. There is also the opportunity to snorkel over the coral reef in search of some colourful fish.
Day 6 Hlane National Park
Driving north, you will reach the small land-locked kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland), and Hlane National Park (220kms/135miles - approximately 6 hours depending on border crossing). At some point today you'll be able to visit a market or shop to buy anything you might need. A vast expanse of bushveld and its ancient hardwood trees make Hlane Royal National Park home to the largest wild herds in Eswatini. Your camp is spacious and has plenty of tree coverage, making for a nice spot to relax and be greeted by the odd inquisitive impala, warthog or nyala. If you're feeling adventurous, book a guided mountain bike trail, bird walk or game drive and explore the greater Hlane area. In the absence of electricity in Ndlovu Camp, the area is romantically lit at night with candles and parafin lanterns. It's also within easy reach of Ndlovu's semi-open-air restaurant and floodlit waterhole. Hlane Activities Center, a braai/barbeque area (with firewood provided), communal kitchen, and hot showers are all available.
Day 7 Hlane National Park
Explore Hlane National Park on a game drive. This park used to be a private royal hunting ground, which gives you some idea of its calibre as a wildlife-viewing destination. It is Eswatini's largest park, spanning an impressive 30,000 hectares. Landscape-wise, it’s a flat lowland area with some grasslands and shallow pans. There's a great chance of catching sight of Wildebeest, zebra and impala, especially in the drier months. Notably, cheetahs were reintroduced to the park relatively recently. The park also has an abundant and diverse array of birdlife, boasting the highest density of nesting white-backed vultures in all of Africa. Today's game drive is in an open vehicle with a park guide and takes approximately 2.5 hours.
Day 8 Kruger National Park
Crossing back into South Africa, journey to Kruger National Park – one Africa's very best wildlife arenas (130kms/80miles - approximately 4 hours). On arrival at the park we start our game drive as we head towards our overnight campsite. The game drive will be in the overland truck and takes approximately 3 hours before reaching camp to set up. Later on, there will be the option of a night drive with the park guide. This is a great chance to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two – catch a lion or hyena out hunting, or perhaps an impala out in search of a late-night feed.
Day 9 Kruger National Park
Enjoy further explorations of Kruger. You will embark on a second game drive today, hopefully spotting some animals you didn't cross off the list yesterday! One of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa, Kruger National Park boasts more than 500 bird species, 100 reptile species and 150 mammal species. The big five and the endangered African wild dog are no exceptions. Depending on the areas you visit, you'll have the chance to see some exotic birds along the way, from the tiny bronze mannikin to the more conspicuous ostrich. Keep an eye to the sky where, if you're lucky, a giant eagle owl or martial eagle might be soaring. Today's game drive will be in our overland truck and will be a full day in the park.
Day 10 Blyde River Canyon
Today we set off to visit parts of the Blyde River Canyon, including the three rondavels en route to Graskop (120kms/75miles - approximately 6 hours). One of South Africa's most spectacular attractions, Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world, and probably the greenest. It's an excellent place for walking. The sheer-sided walls of the canyon rise over 2,000 metres and the vegetation varies wildly, from dry rocky sections to rainforest, depending on the altitude. You will explore the stunning Bourke's Luck Potholes, where shadowy rock formations take on different colours and shadings in the changing light.
Day 11 Blyde River Canyon
Enjoy a day of free time with your family. There are many activities on offer. You can choose to take a treetop canopy tour, or perhaps explore the countryside.
Day 12 Johannesburg
Enjoy a morning of free time before returning to Johannesburg (410km/255miles - approximately 7 hours). Your trip comes to an end upon arrival at Tambo International Airport in the afternoon (usually between 2pm and 4pm). If you prefer, we can also drop you at the original joining point location. Please advise your booking agent before you depart or your leader during your welcome meeting on day 1. Please do not book any onwards flights until after 8pm this evening.