SMALL GROUP LODGE SAFARI: Discover the highlights of South Africa and the kingdoms of Eswatini and Lesotho as you journey south from Johannesburg to Cape Town over 18 incredible days. Spot the Big Five in Kruger National Park, journey along the picturesque Garden Route, and relax in the UNESCO-listed Drakensberg Mountains. Explore iSimangaliso Wetland Park, ride the cable car to Table Mountain and visit the frontier town of Cradock.
Johannesburg - Kruger National Park. Welcome to South Africa! We will be leaving Johannesburg at 08:00 this morning to make sure we arrive in Kruger National Park in time for a game drive! We strongly advise arriving in Johannesburg the day before the tour commences - we are more than happy to help you arrange pre-tour accommodation.
Arriving at our lodge in South Africa's premier national park, there is time for an afternoon game drive in open 4X4 vehicles. We hope to spot some of the Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo.
Overnight: Kruger National Park
Day 2 is spent on safari in Kruger National Park, with a full-day game drive meaning we will hopefully see plenty more of southern Africa's iconic wildlife.
The following day we explore some of the region's stunning scenery with a full-day excursion along the Panorama Route. See the dramatic Blyde River Canyon, enjoy the view from God's Window, and visit the Bourke's Luck Potholes, a series of geological formations which are linked by walkways and bridges.
Overnight: Kruger National Park | Breakfast x 2
Kruger National Park - Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary (Eswatini). Today we explore one of the two landlocked countries surrounded by South African territory. Eswatini was formerly known as Swaziland until 2018. We'll be exploring Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, the country's premier wildlife destination and a great example of conservation in action. Formerly a working farm, this 4,560-hectare reserve is now home to all manner of species, including hippo, hyena, zebra, and more. There are no (or very few) large predators, so the best way to explore the park is on foot or horseback, which we will have the opportunity to do. You can also opt to visit a local Swazi village, and we will stop at a Swazi market so you can shop for souvenirs.
Overnight: Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary | Breakfast, Dinner
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - iSimangaliso Wetland Park (South Africa). Day 5 sees us travelling through the Zululand region of South Africa, arriving at the small coastal town of St Lucia in the afternoon. St Lucia is the base for exploring iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was designated as South Africa's first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. And it's easy to see why.
This part of the country is renowned for its ecology and wildlife, particularly the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which we visit. On day 6 we head into the wilderness on an off-road exploration, taking in some of the many ecosystems which make up this diverse area. Travel through bush, forest, and beach in one day, and enjoy game viewing, birdwatching, and snorkelling at the coast, with possible whale-watching opportunities. Other iconic wildlife to look out for today includes hippos, rhinos, elephants and leopards!
Overnight: iSimangaliso Wetland Park | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1, Dinner x 2
iSimangaliso Wetland Park - Drakensberg. We journey into the Drakensberg Mountains on day 7. The scenery here is spectacular even by South African standards, and our lodge is located near the amphitheatre, regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on Earth. The region is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and day 8 is free to further explore this mountain landscape with guided walks. Alternatively, you can simply sit back with a drink and take in your incredible surroundings.
Overnight: Drakensberg Mountains | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1, Dinner x 2
Drakensberg - Lesotho. You can tick another country off your bucket list today as we travel through the Eastern Cape and cross into the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. Our time here is free for you to explore and enjoy optional activities including village walks and pony trekking.
Overnight: Lesotho | Breakfast, Dinner
Lesotho - Cradock (South Africa). Today we journey back across the border into South Africa and continue to the historic town of Cradock. This frontier town is located on the edge of the Great Karoo desert and is best known for Die Tuishuise, a collection of around 30 colonial Victorian-era craftsmen's houses, which have now been restored and turned into guest accommodation. We will spend tonight staying at one of the Tuishuise, and there is time to walk the length of Market Street, which is crowned by the grand colonial-era Victoria Manor Hotel.
Overnight: Cradock | Breakfast, Dinner
Cradock - Tsitsikamma. Today we begin our epic journey along the picturesque Garden Route, home to some of South Africa's best scenery. Our first stop is Tsitsikamma Forest, where there's time for walking or relaxing at our lodge. The Tsitsikamma Forest is a protected coastal reserve, known for its lush indigenous forests and impressive coastline.
Overnight: Tsitsikamma National Park | Breakfast
Tsitsikamma - Knysna. Leaving the Tsitsikamma Forest behind on the morning of day 12, we continue along the world-famous Garden Route to Knysna, a small town situated on the coast and nestled among some of the world's finest scenery. Along the way, we pass lush lakes, verdant forests, and idyllic beaches. We'll stop at Plettenberg Bay en route, with time to relax on the beach. The afternoon is at leisure in Knysna.
The next day is free to soak up the scenery or book one of the many optional activities available. You could visit Knysna Elephant Park or tuck into some fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants on the shore of Knysna Lagoon.
Overnight: Knysna | Breakfast x 2
Knysna - Hermanus. We depart Knysna after breakfast and travel along the scenic coastal route to Hermanus, arriving at around lunchtime. The afternoon is free to explore this pretty coastal town, and you can opt for a whale-watching cruise if you'd like the chance to get up close to some of the many species which live and breed in the waters of southern Africa.
Overnight: Hermanus | Breakfast
Hermanus - Cape Town. Day 15 sees us complete our South African journey to Cape Town, perhaps the country's most famous destination.
We have two whole days to explore the city and surrounding area. On day 16 there's an included guided tour of the Cape Peninsula. We visit Table Mountain National Park for majestic views of this famous landmark and for an included ride on the cable car to the summit (weather permitting). We also stop off at Boulders Beach to see the giant penguin colony here, and we take in some of the region's stunning coastal scenery, including Hout Bay and Chapman's Peak.
Day 17 is at leisure to see more of the city your way. Some of the activities we recommend are a day trip to Robben Island or a wander down to the V&A Waterfront, but you can spend the day how you wish!
Overnight: Cape Town | Breakfast x 3
Today your tour comes to an end. Tuck into breakfast at the hotel before your included airport departure transfer.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates marked with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. This safari has a maximum group size of 16. The 'Twin Share' price is per person when there are 2 people sharing a room. The 'Single Room' price is applicable to all solo travellers, or if your booking party cannot reach the minimum of 2 persons in a room. Single Rooms can also be booked by any other person wanting the comfort and privacy of their own room.
Local payment - ZAR 3,600, to be paid in cash on day 1
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Hippo Hollow Country Estate, Kruger National Park
A family-friendly hotel located on the banks of the Sabi River on the edge of the Kruger ecosystem. Accommodation is in thatched chalets and traditional standard rooms. Set amongst well-maintained gardens (often with visitors in the forms of elephants and other wildlife), there are two outdoor swimming pools and an onsite restaurant with views of a popular hippo gathering spot. Outdoor patio areas and ensuite bathrooms come as standard and the constant sound of the flowing river adds a tranquil element to this charming hotel. There's free Wi-Fi in public areas.
Beehive Village, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Beehive Village has grass-domed beehive huts arranged in semi-circles. Rustic simplicity makes for a fascinating stay and while most have an en-suite bathroom there are shared ablution facilities available.
St Lucia Eco Lodge, iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Spectacularly located beside the Indian Ocean and surrounded by the UNESCO-listed iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the St Lucia Eco Lodge offers comfortable accommodation for up to 72 guests in its 29 units. Each unit has a balcony or veranda, air-conditioning, kitchenette, TV, and a tea and coffee station. There's an outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi throughout the property, with a daily buffet breakfast and a braai fire is lit every night. Being so close to the biodiverse wetlands, it is not unusual to spot a hippo, or even a leopard wandering through the gardens of the lodge.
The Cavern, Drakensberg Mountains
Named after a massive cave above the hotel, the Cavern sits within 3000 hectares of private mountain reserve. Guest rooms are beautifully designed with spacious interiors and excellent amenities. The lodge boasts a beautiful outdoor pool and some of the best views of the area. When staying at the Cavern guests can take advantage of a plethora of activities on offer including trout fishing, guided hikes and horse rides. Well located in the heart of the Drakensberg mountains just north of neighbouring Lesotho.
Malealea Lodge , Malealea
Surrounded by beautiful landscapes and spectacular mountain passes, the Malealea Lodge is a great place to base yourself when visiting the area. Guest rooms are made up of traditional Rondavels and farmhouse bedrooms - all with en suite facilities. The on site Pony Trekking Centre offers a great selections of rides - a must do when in Lesotho. The really adventurous can even head out on an overnight trek! Situated in the remote rural region of south-western Lesotho.
Die Tuishuise, Cradock
Built in 1840, Die Tuishuise has been beautifully restored to their former splendour to recreate the gracious bygone era. All rooms are tastefully decorated with their own distinctive theme of antique furniture and period prints. Guests can enjoy dinner in the Manor House that serves delicious Karoo and South African cuisine. Guests can also indulge in a unique African Hum and Sun massage at the onsite spa. It is a great way to feel rejuvenated after a long day in the African sun. This accommodation is perfectly located on Market Street in Cradock.
Tsitsikamma Village Inn, Tsitsikamma National Park
Established in 1946, the Tsitsikamma Village Inn is a village style accommodation close to Tsitsikamma National Park. The 49 guest rooms are all individually decorated in a number of free standing buildings. All are decorated in the colonial style famous on the Garden Route. The Inn is home to the relaxed Hunter's Pub which serves a good range of refreshing beverages. There is also a beautiful outdoor pool - perfect for an early morning dip. This accommodation is well located at the end of the Garden Route, in beautiful Tsitsikamma.
Knysna Hollow Country Estate, Knysna
Knysna Hollow is a small and friendly resort located on a 3-hectare estate in some of the best scenery on the picturesque Garden Route. It's located just a 5-minute drive from Knysna itself and is open again after a 2018 refurbishment following fire damage. The 44 garden suites are all modern and stylishly decorated. Every room features air-conditioning, a patio, ensuite bathroom, and flat-screen TV. There are two outdoor swimming pools set in verdant gardens and free Wi-Fi is provided. The majority of the hotel's amenities, including bar, restaurant, reception, and sun deck are located in the Cape Country Manor House, the grand focal point of the estate.
Windsor Hotel, Hermanus
Serenely located on the coast, the Windsor Hotel is an excellent base in Hermanus, especially for those who have come for whale watching, with it possible to see these giant creatures from the hotel's sea-facing rooms! The oldest hotel in Hermanus, the Windsor perfectly blends modern amenities with an older charm. Sea-facing rooms offer a panoramic view of the ocean, whilst there are rugged mountain views on the other side. All rooms feature ensuite bathrooms and there is free Wi-Fi throughout the property. Breakfast is served buffet-style at the onsite restaurant.
Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town
Set in a restored 19th-century prison, the unique Protea by Marriott is now a modern hotel on the V&A Waterfront, with great views of Table Mountain. The ensuite rooms feature full-length windows, TV, minibar, air-conditioning, and a chair or sofa. High-speed Wi-Fi is complimentary. Breakfast and other meals are served at the a la carte Stonebreakers restaurant, and there's also a ground floor cafe to enjoy. Guests can also make use of the onsite gym.