Wildlife safari, coastal exploration and Drakensberg walks for the family in South Africa
Tour type: Age
* Wildlife viewing in Kruger National Park, walking safari in Hlane Reserve
* Walks and relaxation time in the dramatic Drakensberg mountains
* Visit the coastal wetlands and wildlife by boat and enjoy a beach day
* Expert, fully qualified experienced South African safari guides
This classic route through northern South Africa takes you and your family on a 2-week tour seeing some of the world's finest game reserves, spectacular scenery as well as activities including boat trips along the coast and walks in the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains. Starting in Johannesburg we meet our specialist guide and drive along the Panorama route past Blyde River to the small, but impressive Edeni Reserve for our first night looking for Africa Wildlife. We have dinner around the campfire. Many of the campsites have swimming pools, a bar and restaurant, making it very flexible and family friendly. Perfect for families who like the outdoors. After a stop at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, where we can see lion and leopard, we continue to the world-famous Kruger National Park. Two nights here allows us enjoy several game drives for maximum opportunity to see the big five.
We then continue to Hlane Reserve in Swaziland where we can experience a walking safari (over 12yrs only) and camp next to a waterhole watching the wildlife come for a drink at sunset. The safari tradition of a 'sundowner' (a G&T or the like as the sunsets) is practised as we watch the wildlife. Travelling onwards to the coast we have a stop to learn about Swazi village life at the Mantega village where we stay in traditional huts. At the coast we have a boat tour at the St Lucia Wetland Park, a UNSECO heritage site to see turtles, hippos and crocodiles. Further south we have a couple of nights at an apartment near Durban for a little beach time before heading inland to the Drakensberg Mountains. These stunning mountains are our last stop, and there are options of walks, mountain biking or an adventure park whilst here. Our accommodation here is haven of peace and tranquillity in sight of the mighty escarpment, and a beautiful end to an incredible 2-week adventure holiday through South Africa with the family.
Is this holiday for you?
Suitable for children from 6yrs old
This fantastic family adventure holiday in South Africa is a busy itinerary, with lots of sightseeing, wildlife viewing and interesting activities. There are a few long drives and game drives in safari vehicles on dirt roads and tracks. Accommodation is in a mix of chalets, lodges, apartments, safari-style bush camps and campsites. Many campsites have swimming pools, a bar and restaurant, making it relaxing for all members of the family. Everyone is asked to help the guide out whilst camping with preparing dinners, washing up and the like. There are a number of superb swimming opportunities. We request that all children are supervised by their parents during any swimming based activities. Direct flights from London to Johannesburg make this destination very appealing to families seeking wildlife and adventure.
➕ Day 1 Meet at Johannesburg Airport in the morning. Drive to Graskop.
Meet at Johannesburg Airport at breakfast time where we will meet with our guide. KE Land Only package services begin with the long drive to Mpumalanga and the small town of Graskop. En route we will travel via the Long Tom Pass and stop off to look at the cannon on the top. The pass was named after 'The Long Tom', silver cannons used in the Second Boer War and a commemorative cannon sits on top of the pass. The Long Tom Pass was once a treacherous journey of steep hairpin bends and hair-raising drops and was originally the route followed by pioneer wagon drivers transporting goods from Mozambique to Lyndenburg. We'll also stop off for a picnic lunch at Lone Creek Falls, a 70m waterfall close to the town of Sabie. This is a great place for a swim in hot weather. We'll also view the impressive Mac Mac falls before travelling on to Graskop, where we check into our accommodation at Mogodi Lodge. Accommodation will be in family chalets, each with 2 separate rooms, a shared bathroom and open plan lounge. Drive time today will be around 6 hours plus stopping time (450km).
➕ Day 2 Passing Blyde River transfer to Edeni Reserve for game drive.
The magnificent Panorama Route drive in Mpumalanga is best-known for its cultural heritage and its dramatic landscapes. Today we will check out God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Blyde River, home to spectacular wildlife and birdlife and some of the best views in South Africa. We'll then journey on via the Abel Erasmus Pass and the JG Strydom tunnels to Edeni Game Reserve. Edeni is home to the 'Big Five' and is also one of the best locations to spot Africa's most elusive large cat, the leopard. We will arrive in the afternoon with time to set up camp, freshen up and then take a game drive with a local guide through the reserve. During the trip we'll stop for a Sundowner before switching on the spot lights on the vehicle and returning to camp for dinner round the camp fire. The campsite has a swimming pool, so there may be time for a quick dip if anyone wants to cool off in the pool. Drive time today will be approximately 3 hours plus stopping time (150km). Swimming: At campsite pool.
➕ Day 3 Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Drive to Kruger National Park.
After breakfast we'll visit the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for a guided tour. The centre, established in 1991 is home to many wounded animals and the aim of the project is to contribute to the conservation of endangered species and the rehabilitation of injured and poisoned wildlife. Animals at the centre include lion, leopard, serval, lynx, honey badger, eagles, vultures and can include an array of baby animals depending on when we visit! After our tour we'll drive into the Kruger National Park spotting for big game as we drive to our camp. We'll overnight at a Kruger Park campsite, which has a swimming pool and small shop. Drive time 2 hours (150km) plus game drives in the park. Swimming: At campsite pool.
➕ Day 4 Two game drives in Kruger National Park to see Big Five.
Today we'll enjoy morning and late afternoon open vehicle game drives in the world-famous Kruger National Park. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of almost 20,000 square kilometres is unrivalled in terms of biodiversity and is a world leader in advanced environmental management policies. Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 113 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals, including the 'Big Five' : lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo. Each of our game drives today will be for around 3 hours, giving us plenty of time to spot the 'Big Five' and more! Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see the animals, so we'll take some out during the heat of the day to rest and chill out by the pool. Swimming: At campsite pool.
➕ Day 5 Morning game drive in Kruger. Transfer to Hlane game reserve in Swaziland.
After a final morning game drive (3 hours approximately) in the Kruger, we'll leave the park and cross the border into the Kingdom of Swaziland. Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa and is one of the world's last remaining absolute monarchies. Bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa and to the east by Mozambique, the country is named after the 19th century king, Mswati II and is about the same size as Wales. Despite its small area, the country has a variety of landscape including mountains, savannah and rain forest. We'll drive to the King of Swaziland's traditional hunting reserve, now a game reserve - Hlane. In the afternoon we'll set up camp and sit around the waterhole at sunset, looking out for rhino who come down to drink. Drivetime today will be 3 hours (280km) and we'll enjoy a 3 hour drive in the Kruger in the morning.
➕ Day 6 Optional game walk. Transfer to Mantega a traditional Swazi village.
In the morning there is the option to take a guided game walk through the reserve with a good chance of seeing rhino. Note that children must be aged 12 and up to take part in the game walk. Alternatively families can take a game drive or relax by the waterhole. After a late brunch we'll drive to Mantega Nature Reserve where in the afternoon we'll enjoy a guided tour through a traditional village. The Mantega Village is a mini-complex of 16 huts, each with its own specific purpose. Kraals (or byres) for cattle and goats, reed fences that serve as windbreaks and various other structures. With traditional artefacts on display, the village showcases many facets of the ancient Swazi way of life. This evening dinner will be taken in the restaurant and we will spend the night in traditional Swazi huts. Approx drive time 2 hours (130km).
Accommodation Traditional Hut
➕ Day 7 Transfer to the St Lucia wetlands on the coast.
After an early start we drive through southern Swaziland before re-entering South Africa at the Lavumisa border. From here we drive to St Lucia, via the Pongolapoort Dam, the third largest in South Africa. We arrive in the afternoon in time to set up camp. Drive time around 5 hours (350km).
➕ Day 8 Morning boat tour and afternoon crocodile farm visit.
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of 13 protected areas and is the largest estuarine system in Africa. The marine conditions in the estuary have resulted in a variety of landforms and ecosystems, including wide submarine canyons, sandy beaches, forested dunes and a mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, forests, lakes and savannah. As this is such an extensive area with a wide range of different habitat environments, animals of all sorts may be seen including hippos and crocodiles on the St Lucia estuary. Wildlife in the park also includes nesting turtles on the beaches, migrating whales, dolphins and sharks offshore and huge numbers of birds including pelicans, storks, herons and terns. In the morning we enjoy a boat tour on the St Lucia estuary and will be on the look-out for birdlife and wildlife with a good chance of seeing both. In the afternoon we will visit a crocodile farm which offers guests the opportunity to learn more about the estuary and one of the world's most fascinating and misunderstood creatures. The farm interprets the Lake St Lucia system and the habits of the crocodile and serves as a centre for monitoring and research. Crocodiles are a protected species in Natal province. In the afternoon we'll take a short walk through the sand dune forest before returning to our campsite for dinner in camp.
➕ Day 9 Optional guided tour of Zulu village. Transfer to Natal north coast.
After breakfast at camp, we drive to 'Shaka's Kraal' and enjoy an optional guided tour through his Zulu village. King Shaka was a great Zulu king and lived in this part of KwaZulu Natal in the nineteenth century. Shaka became king of the Zulus when he was about 30 years old and his warriors, the amabutho, were legendary. Their battle tactics were very successful and included the famous 'horns of the buffalo' fighting formation - it was very simple, the warriors formed the 'horns' encircling their enemy while the 'head' took on the main weight of the attack. Shaka led the growth of the fearsome Zulu people from a small clan into a significant local power. The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa and are known for their beautiful brightly coloured beadwork and basketry. We'll have the chance to feel the pulsating rhythm of mysterious and magical Africa as we re-live the excitement in this authentic re-creation of the 'Great Kraal'! After lunch we'll continue to the Natal north coast which will be our base for the next two nights. We will stay in holiday apartments with separate bedrooms, bathroom, open plan lounge and kitchen. Allocations will depend on family size, with some families sharing. Drive time approximately 4 hours (300km).
➕ Day 10 Free day at beach. Option to visit UShaka Marine World in Durban.
Today is free to spend at the beach. Alternatively the tour leader will be available to drive anyone who wants more action to nearby uShaka Marine World in Durban. UShaka is a world class marine entertainment park spanning 15 hectares of prime beach front at the end of Durban's 'Golden Mile'. There is a salt water aquarium, dolphin stadium, Sea World 'behind the scenes' tours, beach activities and Wet'n'Wild World! Entry to the marine world is not included, but transport will be provided.
➕ Day 11 Drive to the Drakensberg. Exploration walk.
We depart the apartments after breakfast and head inland, via Durban and Pietermaritzberg, crossing the South African Highveld before reaching the town of Bergville close to the Drakensberg Mountains. Rising above 3000m on the western edge of KwaZulu Natal, the rugged escarpment is known by the Zulus as 'uKhahlamba' - barrier of spears. The escarpment stretches for almost 200kms and forms the border between South Africa and Lesotho. Arriving at our comfortable accommodation in the afternoon, we should have time for a short walk to explore the area. Drive time today will be around 5 hours (400km).
➕ Day 12 Full day walk in North Drakensberg. Optional adventure park, mountain biking or quad biking.
We have a full day for walking in the nearby Royal Natal National Park, at the foot of the dramatic Drakensberg escarpment. The park was founded in 1916 and contains some of the most spectacular scenery in Africa. The main feature is the Amphitheatre, a rock wall 5kms in length and 1000m in height that forms part of the escarpment and most famously was the backdrop to the battle scenes in the film 'Zulu' starring Michael Caine. Five rivers rise at the top of the escarpment, most dramatically the Tugela River which plummets 948m and is the world's second highest waterfall. Today we can choose to walk the Tugela gorge to visit the foot of the falls or try shorter walks to nearby Tiger Falls and the cascades where there is a lovely swimming spot and we can also see some bushmen paintings. For those who have extra adrenaline, it's possible to visit (optional, entrance fees payable locally) a local adventure centre, All Out Adventures where you can try mountain biking, paintballing, quad bike tours or Go Ape style treetop adventures.
➕ Day 13 Departure day. Transfer to Johannesburg Airport.
After a leisurely breakfast and the chance of a short stroll, we drive back to Johannesburg Airport in time for a late afternoon check-in. KE land only package services end on arrival at the airport. Drive time will be approximately 6 hours (500km).