Eastern Nature Trail
- Nature / Eco
- Price from:
- 723 GBP /person
- 01273 322047
- Payment Types:
- Credit Card
- Travellers cheque
- Wire Transfer
Last updated: 02/19/2009
Spend an exhilarating two weeks exploring eastern South Africa. Spot the Big 5 in the Kruger Park, stay in beehive huts in Swaziland, relax on the beaches of St. Lucia & hike the Drakensberg Mountains
Arrival in Johannesburg and drive to Pretoria
Your flight to South Africa is likely depart in the evening and arrive the following morning. When you've landed, you'll pick up your rental car and our local representative will talk you through the itinerary either at the airport or your first hotel. Next, you'll drive for approximately 60km to your hotel in Pretoria, where 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.
Total distance on Day 1 is approximately 60 km.
Note: A few direct flights to South Africa arrive late at night. In these circumstances, we make hotel reservations for you in Johannesburg instead, not far from the airport, so that you don't have drive all the way to Pretoria.
Pretoria - Hazyview
This morning, you'll leave Pretoria early in your rental car and take the N4 to the eastern province of Mpumalanga. Slowly but surely, the countryside will become more meadow-like and hilly and traffic will become scarce. After a while you will see the peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains and the impressive gorge of the Blyde River Canyon. Your trip ends in the village of Hazyview, beautifully situated between sugarcane and banana plantations, on the border of Kruger Park. You'll spend the night just outside of the village in a cosy guest house with a swimming pool in the midst of fields. The restaurants in Hazyview are easily accessible for dinner in the evening.
Total distance on Day 2 is approximately 400km.
Hazyview - Blyde River Canyon - Private Game Park Bush lodge
This morning, you'll get back behind the wheel of your car. You will have plenty of time to explore the spectacular surroundings. Take a drive along Blyde River Canyon and admire the uniquely shaped hills at the Three Rondavels, witness the results of wind erosion at Bourkes Luck Potholes and enjoy the view at Gods Window (see picture above). When skies are clear, you can see all the way to Mozambique! There are several other possible stops along the way such as the quaint village of Sabie and former mining town Pilgrim's Rest with its' historic houses, facades and stores. Maybe even grab lunch at one of the friendly cafÃ©s in the area.
Just short of Klaserie lies the exit to Kruger Park's Orpen Gate. Sometime late afternoon you'll arrive at your Greater Kruger Private Game Park Lodge where you'll spend the next few nights. This cosy lodge is run by enthusiastic South Africans, who have turned their hobby and love for the bush and the outdoors into their livelihood. In the evening, relax and enjoy the campfire under an endless starry sky or have a cocktail at the bar. In other words, welcome to bush heaven!
Total distance on Day 3 is approximately 200km.
Private Game Park Bush Lodge
You'll stay at the bush lodge on a full board basis. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 game activities. Take part in a morning or afternoon game drive in an open safari car (see picture). Or - you can go on a bush walk with a trained guide who'll let you in on all of the secrets of the bush. Additionally, you can choose to book other activities on location such as an ultralight flight, allowing you to search for wild animals by air. On arrival at the property, the owners will let you know which activities are possible and you can decide whether you'd like to participate in them. Of course, you can also always opt to simply pull up a comfortable chair, grab a good book and enjoy the sounds of the many wonderful birds serenading you.
Private Game Park Bush Lodge - Kruger National Park
After breakfast, you'll say goodbye to your new friends at the bush lodge and drive down to the Kruger Orpen Gate. As you pass Satara and the Orpen dam, you'll head further and further south through Kruger National Park. The roads are in excellent condition and you'll encounter all kinds of different animals during your drive. You can stop at one of the many camps or rest stops along the way to stretch out for a bit, and grab some lunch.
Please keep in mind that the speed limit in this area is 40-50 km per hour. You'll spend the night in one of the southern camps, such as Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Pretoriuskop, Berg-en-Dal or Crocodile Bridge. Be sure to remember that the park is larger than you would imagine it to be and that at 18.00 all camp and park gates are closed.
Kruger National Park - Swaziland
If you feel like going on a game walk or game drive in Kruger National Park this morning, just let us know and we'll arrange for an armed guide to accompany you through the park. The guides become booked up very quickly, so it's best to book in advance.
Coming from the southern part of Kruger Park it's about a 275km drive to Mlilwane National Park. Once you leave Kruger behind you it won't be long until you reach the Swaziland border. A scenic road leads through the mountain passes of Piggs Peak and along the Malotja reserve to the busy, somewhat chaotic capital city of Mbabane. After a visit to the Swazi market stands, where all types of art and other products can be purchased, you'll reach Mlilwane Natural park. This is the first and largest natural park in the country. After you've passed the entrance, head for the camp where you'll spend the night in a small Swazi village in a traditional âbeehive' or beehive hut. These accommodation are very basic, featuring 2 single beds, electricity, mosquito netting and basic plumbing. But then again, what else do you need?
You can also choose to stay in a nearby wooden chalet with private facilities for the same price. The colonial lodge 'O'Reillys', home of the founder of the park, is a more expensive and exclusive option.
Total distance on Day 6 is approximately 240 kms.
Swaziland, MlilwaneWhy not get an early start and have a hot bath in the warm springs just outside of camp? Floating around in the warm water at sunrise, under the watchful gaze of sleepy impala or zebras, what a pleasant start of the day. Looking for a little less unconventional start of your day? How about a dip in the 'regular' pool?
The Swazi village nearby the camp offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about their culture and perhaps do some dancing and singing as well. There are also a few other options available to you that will allow you to unwind from your long road trips. Make reservations the evening before and go on an early morning horseback ride straight through the park (also for beginners!). Perhaps you would prefer a mountain bike ride to âExecutioners Rock'? In the past, unlucky criminals were thrown to their death from this elevated rock formation. There are also several hiking trails available to you near the camp. Walking through nature, leaving all forms of motorized transportation far behind, has an incredibly calming effect on people. Although you won't see any lions or other predators, there are plenty of crocodiles and hippos in the lakes, streams and banks of the river. Be sure not too get to close to these areas.
Swaziland - St Lucia
This morning, you'll leave Mlilwane and drive further south past Manzini and Big Bend along the Mozambique border to Golela, the KwaZulu Natal border. The landscape will become flatter and more arid. Once you reach South African territory, take the highway to Hlhuhluwe and then take the exit to the village of St. Lucia. The village is very nearby the lake and reserve both known by the same name, St. Lucia. Spend the night in a small, pleasant accommodation with swimming pool near the main street, restaurants and stores. There are also several bars nearby that would be great for a drink and some music in the evening hours.
Total distance on Day 8 is approximately 350 kms or 4 hours.
You'll have two entire days to explore Lake St. Lucia and the beautiful Hluhluwe National Park. A boat leaves from the village of St. Lucia several times a day for an approximately 2 hour cruise on St Lucia lake. Aside from crocodiles you'll also see hippos, flamingos, pelicans and other fish-eating birds. This trip can easily be booked on location.
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is about an hour drive away from your accommodation. Aside from lions, (many, many) elephants and giraffes this park is also known for being the home of the nearly extinct black rhino. You can easily use your own rental car for a game drive. The best time for seeing animals is right after sunrise or around sunset, so try to plan your game drives around these times of day. If you'd like an experienced ranger to guide you through the park, your accommodation can arrange an open land rover game drive for you through Hluhluwe park. This usually costs about Â£38 per person for half a day (with morning coffee and muffins included) or Â£55 per person (with lunch included). This evening will be spent in St. Lucia once again.
Total distance on Day 10 is approximately 150km.
St Lucia - Durban/Umhlanga
From Hluhluwe, you'll set off on the 3 hour drive to Durban. Sometime in the afternoon you'll arrive in beach town of Umhlanga, near Durban. You'll spend the night at a charming bed and breakfast near a broad sandy beach. Your room will have a shower, toilet, TV and a fan. You can enjoy breakfast on the pool patio, with plants and flowers all around you. The very lively city centre of Umhlanga is only about 5 minutes away. There are many bars, stores and great restaurants. Of course, you can also take a quick drive to Durban boulevard. Want to spend more time at the beach? Think about booking an overnight stay at Umhlali, a beach town with a beautiful sandy shoreline about 10km north of Umhlanga.
Total distance on Day 11 is approximately 300km.
Durban/Umhlanga - Champagne Valley (Drakensberg Mountains)Get back behind the wheel of your car this morning and drive to Champagne Valley. Rolling plains will become more hilly and eventually you'll see the Drakensberg peaks looming in the distance. 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. Sleep in one of the romantic rondavels with a shower and a toilet (breakfast is included). On arrival at the guest house, relax by the pool or take a short walk through the Central Mountain area near Monks Cowl.
Champagne Castle - Drakensberg Mountains
The 'Central Mountain' and 'Royal Natal' are only a short drive away from your accommodation in Champagne Valley. Today you'll be able to take 1 to 6 hour breathtaking hikes through both of these areas. The Drakensberg massif has mountaintops ranging up to 1700 to 3500 metres in height and consists mainly of overgrown basalt mountains through which many mountain springs run. You'll encounter very all kinds of flora and fauna. If you look closely you'll see the black eagle, the bearded vulture, badgers, different types of gnus etc. Naturally, the highlight of the Royal Natal Park is the 'Amphitheatre', seen on the picture to the right.
If hiking isn't your thing, you can also visit the Spioenkop or the Weenen Game Reserve. Weenen Game Reserve is home to black rhinos, giraffes, buffalos, zebras, ostriches, European bison and many other types of antelopes. Spend the night in Champagne Valley.
Total distance on day 14 is approximately 100 km.
Champagne Valley (Drakensberg) - Golden Gate - Johannesburg - End of itinerary
We suggest waking up early today in order to arrive at the Golden Gate National Park before lunchtime. The Gold Gate National Park is located on the border between Lesotho and Free State and is quite mountainous. Fertile grassy hills, refreshing rivers and mountain streams, oddly shaped rock formations in every colour imaginable and beautiful skies are the decor for your hikes through this area. Enjoy a walk through the park and then embark on your 4 hour drive to the hectic city and airport of Johannesburg. This is where your trip will end.
Total distance on day 15 is approximately 350 km.
- Inclusions -
- Rental car category B (with air conditioning) including all mileage, taxes and full insurance coverage, overnight stays with breakfast (Kruger accommodation only, bush lodge half board and 1 game drive/walk per day) and trail information
- Exclusions -
- All additional car expenses on location, such as contract expenses and deposit, park entrance fees, optional excursions and intercontinental flights
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Email the tour operator - Eastern Nature Trail
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.