Carefree South Africa
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Last updated: 02/19/2009
See the best South Africa has to offer with a family-friendly self-drive tour. Track the Big 5 in the Pilansberg, explore the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains, drive the Garden Route, enjoy Cape Town
Arrival in Johannesburg and drive to Pretoria
Most likely, you'll leave the UK in the evening and arrive in South Africa the following morning. After arrival, you'll pick up your rental car at the airport and meet our local representative (or you'll meet him at the first hotel). Afterwards, you'll drive to your hotel in Pretoria located some 60km from the airport. When you arrive at your hotel you'll have time to freshen up, rest up and visit a few of the sights in Pretoria such as the Buildings of Parliament and their gardens, the Voortrekkers Monument (to commemorate the Boers that trekked north into the heart of the African grassland) and the Paul Kruger House. Invigorated by all of the new impressions and surroundings, you'll probably have enough energy to visit the bars, restaurants and stores in Hatfield in the evening.
Total distance on Day 1 is approximately 60 km.
Note: If you choose a direct flight to South Africa, you'll may arrive late at night. We'll make reservations for you in Johannesburg, not far from the airport, so that you don't have drive all the way to the hotel in Pretoria after arrival.
Pretoria - Pilanesberg
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve lies just north of Johannesburg. Today, you'll drive from Pretoria to this malaria-free zone and there is a good chance that you'll spot the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo). The park is less well known than Kruger Park; however it is a great place to spot large wild animals and since the park is less spread out than Kruger, there is a better chance of encountering the Big 5. Pilanesberg is only a two hour drive from Pretoria, so you'll have plenty of time to explore the park by car today. Of course, we can arrange a guided game drive for you if you like. The price is approximately Â£28 per person.
Total distance on Day 2 is approximately 160km.
Today you'll have an entire day to go on game drives in Pilanesberg Park. A more spectacular way to explore the park is by hot air balloon. It may be a little more expensive than a regular drive through the park; however it's an amazing once in a lifetime experience. The hot air balloon adventure will last a total of four hours, of which one hour will actually be spent in the air. You'll receive a glass of sparkling champagne after the balloon ride and you'll be treated to a very luxurious breakfast. If you've had enough of all of the peace and quiet and you prefer more entertainment, you can visit Sun City. This is the largest entertainment centre in Africa and while you're there you can visit a water park, a crocodile farm (feeding time at 16.30) and much more.
Pilanesberg - Parys
Parys is a great location for a rest stop during your drive to Drakensberg. It's a lively town with charming little houses and it is a refuge for those living in big cities (Johannesburg is only 120 km away). You'll spend the night in our game lodge near the Vredefort Dome, a crater with a diameter of approximately 40 km. Parys lies on the banks of the Vaal River, on the border of the North West Province, Gauteng and Free State. There's plenty to do in and around Parys. Go for a hike through the impressive Vredevort Dome, go rock climbing or go wild water rafting in the Vaal River. These optional activities are not included in the price of this trip.
Total distance on Day 4 is approximately 220 km.
Parys - Golden Gate National Park
From Parys, head off early in the morning into the country's interior towards the highest mountain in the country, Drakensberg. You'll leave flowing hills behind you and start to see impressive mountainous territory. The Zulus refer to the rugged Drakensberg peaks as Ukhahlamba, âa barrier of spears'. The Golden Gate National Park is your final destination for today, this park features parts of the Maluti Mountains. The park was named after the gold-coloured reflections created by the sun rising through the sandstone mountain cliffs. The park is known for its' breathtaking views, spectacular sandstone formations (such as Sentinel Rock) and excellent hiking opportunities. The wild animals and birds in the park can only be found in this region. You'll spend the night in a basic, yet comfortable chalet in the Golden Gate National Park camp.
Total distance on Day 5 is approximately 400km.
Golden Gate National Park
This entire day will be dedicated to exploring the National Park. Wake up early so that you have plenty of time to enjoy an amazing trek through the mountains. You can either explore this area by foot or by car. You'll encounter green grassy knolls, refreshing rivers and mountain streams. After your trek, enjoy a relaxing dip into the swimming pool back at camp. In the afternoon you can either go on a hike, explore the rugged trails by mountain bike or embark on an adventurous pony trail through the park.
Golden Gate - Champagne Valley
This morning, you'll drive for about an hour until you reach Champagne Valley, which is ideally located between 'Central Mountain' and the untainted wilderness of âRoyal Natal'. In the middle of this picturesque park you'll find the Amphitheatre, a wide half-moon shaped basalt wall that is 5 kilometres long and 500 metres high. The highest peak is Mont-aux-Sources (âmountain of the sources'). This is where the Tugela River plunges down hundreds of metres and crawls 330 km further towards the Indian Ocean. There are many hiking trails in this area lasting 2-4 hours. They begin from Drakensberg Sun, Monks Cowl and the Drakensberg Boys Choir School. You'll spend the night at the idyllic Champagne Farm, with mountain peaks visible in the distance and a green, lush environment surrounding you. Enjoy a lovely dinner with a glass of wine in the guest house. Spend the night in one of the romantic rondavels with your own private shower and toilet. Breakfast is also included. On arrival at the guest house, relax by the pool or take a short walk through the Central Mountain area near Monks Cowl.
Total distance on Day 7 is approximately 175km.
Champagne Valley Time to get back into your car for a drive to the Central Mountain region, one of the most beautiful parts of Drakensberg. Visit Giant's Castle, a centrally located reserve at Drakensberg. Its' grassy plateau is known for its' fantastic view. In the Main Caves museum you can view rock paintings and read about the history of the San (bushmen). In the Winterton Museum you'll also find more information on the San. Try to also visit Bergville, a picturesque town on the banks of the Tugela River. Every third Friday of the month local farmers come here to sell livestock. This mostly quiet little town becomes the stage for one big party on these days!
You may also want to visit Weenen for a day. Explore this wildlife reserve using your own rental car and try to spot the inhabitants of the reserve: white and black rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, ostriches, hartebeests and many types of antelopes.
Champagne Valley - Durban/Umhlanga
From the Drakensberg Mountains, you'll drive east to the beach town of Umhlanga (only 15 minutes from Durban). Spend the night at a charming bed & breakfast near a broad sandy beach. Your room will have a shower, toilet, tv and a fan. Enjoy breakfast on the pool patio, with many different kinds of plants and flowers surrounding you. A very lively city centre is only about 5 minutes away from the bed & breakfast. There are many bars, stores and great restaurants to eat at here. Of course you could also take a quick drive to the Durban boulevard if you're looking for more excitement.
Total distance on Day 9 is approximately 120km.
Tip: If you have a few extra days to spare and you feel like having a relaxing break..... stay at the sandy beaches of Umhlanga for a few extra days. This is particularly enjoyable during November-April. The average temperature during this time of year is 28 degrees Celsius.
Flight Durban - Port Elizabeth - Overnight in Addo Elephant National Park
Sometime in the morning you'll drop off your rental car at Durban airport and catch a quick flight to Port Elizabeth. After arrival in Port Elizabeth, pick up your new rental at the airport and drive to today's destination: Addo Elephant National Park. The park is located in the bush at Sunday's River Valley in the Eastern Cape. Spend the night on a fully operational farm, just outside of the park. In the evening you can go on an organized game drive through the Schotia Game Reserve. The staff at your accommodation can provide further details.
Total distance on Day 10 is approximately 250 km.
Addo Elephant National Park
Today, you'll have all the time in the world to spot wild animals in Addo. The park was declared a national park in 1931, when there were only 12 elephants left in the area. These days the eco-system has been restored. You'll find more than 350 elephants, 300 buffalos, black rhinos and all kinds of antelopes (luckily not all in the same spot). There are also horses, dogs and parrots. If you like, you can either book an adventurous safari by 4WD, a guided hike or a horseback ride today.
Addo Elephant Nationla Park - Knysna
From Addo, you'll head west towards Knysna. Along the way you can stop at the beach towns Francis Bay or Jeffrey's Bay, both well known for amazing surfing opportunities. Later you'll reach the Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can stop for a while and go on one of the many hikes or trails set out through the area. For instance, go on a one hour walk to the wobbling Suspension Bridge. At the end of the day you'll reach your home base for the next few days, Knysna. Your hotel is centrally located near enjoyable restaurants and the waterfront.
Total distance on Day 12 is approximately 290 km.
KnysnaKnysna is one of the most important towns along the Garden Route. Everything you could ever need is nearby, including a beautiful lagoon. The town itself isn't very large, but it's definitely far from boring. There are fun bars, pubs and restaurants featuring live-music until late at night. Daytime activities here include: a visit Plettenberg Bay for dolphin-spotting or whale-watching, kayaking on Knysna lagoon, diving, snorkelling, mountain biking, rock climbing, a visit Tsitsikamma, a visit the Robberg reserve and much more.
Today you finally get to truly stretch out and recover from all the driving you've been doing during your holiday. About an hour from Knysna you'll find the Tsitsikamma National Park. This is where the famous Otter trail is located; a spectacular 5-day hike from Storms River Mouth to Nature's Valley. The guided Otter trail hike (which includes overnight stays in huts along the trail) is so popular, especially among South Africans, that it is booked full a year in advance. However the trail can also be hiked independently. The Tsitsikamma is a long narrow stretch of rugged coastline with massive cliffs created by the relentless pounding of ocean waves. It features secluded beaches, waterfalls and native coastal woods known as fynbos in the river valleys.
Total distance on Day 13 is approximately 120km.
Tip: If you decide to extend your trip, you could add on the module Hiking the Otter Trail.
Knysna - Oudtshoorn
This morning, travel from Knysna lagoon through George and on to the arid region of Small Karoo. Here you'll find the world capital of ostrich farming, Oudtshoorn. This is a spread out town with broad lanes and lovely old buildings. You'll spend the night just outside of town, amidst ostrich farms, in our cosy guest house with pool. Breakfast is included.
In the afternoon, you'll have several different options available to you, such as a visit to the nearby Cango limestone caves.
If you prefer to remain outdoors, drive a little further until you reach the beautiful 'Rust en Vrede' ('Rest and Peace') waterfall. It's located in a small natural park that closes at 16.30. Another option is to visit the Cango wildlife ranch. This is a small zoo where you not only can look at animals, but you can also pet a lion, hold a snake and go cage diving between crocodiles.
Note: If you want to see the ostriches, the caves and the Prince Albert pass, you'll need to book an additional stay in Oudtshoorn.
Total distance on Day 14 is approximately 175km.
Oudtshoorn - Somerset West
Today you'll drive through the small Karoo and visit small villages, such as Calitzdorp (known for its' fine South African Port) located in the wine territories surrounding Paarl and Stellenbosch. We suggest that you start driving early today; there is quite a lot to see and you'll want to make several rest stops during the day. You'll spend the night near Somerset West, in Helderberg. The guest house has excellent self-catering facilities and there is a small playground for children.
Total distance on Day 15 is approximately 400 km.
Today, you'll spend the day in the Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch wine territories. Travelling through the Cape Winelands is enjoyable for a number of reasons (hic!). For instance, you can enjoy the scenery, go on wine tastings, hike through the area, go on a pick nick etc. All of these activities are also enjoyable for young children (although you may have to substitute some wine tasting with grape juice tasting for the young ones). You can also rent mountain bikes and ride through the vineyards. At the end of the day you'll return to the guest house at Helderberg.
Somerset West - Cape Town Today, you'll drive to Cape Town at your own pace. It's not so far from Somerset West, so it won't take too long to reach. You may want to take a detour and drive around Cape Point into Cape Town. Follow the beautiful coastal route past Falsebaai, Muizenberg, Kalkbaai and Simons town. If you drive a little further you'll reach the popular Boulders Beach with its' Penguins and white sandy beaches. This would be a great moment for a refreshing dive into the sea. As you continue along the route you'll reach the Cape Nature Reserve, a park with many small wild animals (better known as Cape of Good Hope). There are plenty of spots where you can stop along the way, stretch out for a bit and perhaps enjoy a pick nick on one of the secluded beaches. After lunch, continue on the Chapmans Peak route and pass by fisherman's town Houtbaai. From here it's only a 30-minute drive to Cape Town.
In Cape Town you'll be staying at the Portview House, a charming guest house run by friendly owners. Your accommodation is situated in the heart of Greenpoint, Signal Hill and is only an 8-minute walk from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. You'll be staying in the centre of Cape Town and yet the guest house is located on top of a quiet hill; therefore you'll still be to enjoy a peaceful stay at this accommodation.
Total distance on day 18 is approximately 150 km- depending on which route is chosen.
Cape Town Cape Town is often regarded as the most beautiful city in South Africa. It features a mix of the Western and the Third World, with luxurious suburbs and extreme poverty in the townships. It is also well known for Table Mountain, the sweeping winelands surrounding the city and the many outdoor activities available.
Cape Town has a wonderful, exciting feel to it - anything is possible! Visit the city centre and the stylish V&A waterfront, ride the cable-car to the top of the Table Mountain, relax at Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, drive the Cape Peninsula Coast Road, and head to the vineyards for a glass (or two... or three) of SA wine. Be sure to add Robben Island to your itinerary - this is where Nelson Mandela, among others, was imprisoned for so many years during the Apartheid regime.
Cape Town On Day 20 you'll return your car to the rental office at the airport and board a plane back home. If you have time, a final visit to the beautiful Camps Bay beach for a stroll on the sand will help you relax before your flight.
- Inclusions -
- Car rental category B (with air conditioning) including all mileage, taxes and full insurance coverage, domestic flights Durban - Port Elizabeth, accommodation with breakfast (Golden Gate accommodation only) and trail information
- Exclusions -
- All other car expenses on location such as 2 x one-way fee, 2 x contract expenses and 2 x deposit. Park entrance fees, optional excursions, intercontinental flights
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Email the tour operator - Carefree South Africa
Important Notice : Avoiding Fraud
It's rare, but some helpful hints to watch out for with regards to fraud:
- It is important to NEVER wire funds or use/employ other fund transfer mechanisms such as western union: Always use a credit card to protect yourself against fraud. If owners pressure you into providing a deposit or refuse to accept credit cards, there is a high probability that this is a scam.
- If at all suspicious of fraud, ask to see their website, or any other literature they can provide or send to you. Ask them for contact details for guests who have previously stayed on their property insisting on telephone numbers. Be suspicious of emails that originate from free email services (yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc)
- Research the property thoroughly on the internet to see if there is any history or mention of scams associated with the property.