February 11: Arrive Johannesburg, South Africa

Touch down at Johannesburg International Airport where you are met and assisted to the complimentary shuttle to your hotel. Johannesburg grew from gold and diamond mining, dating back to the 1800’s, and the city’s local name, Egoli, means The City of Gold. Today Johannesburg is a wealthy and fast-paced city, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, earning its reputation as the “New York of Africa”, while also being considered as one of the largest man-made forests in the world due to the incredible number of tress which have been planted in the urban centers.

Peermont Metcourt

Overnight at Peermont Metcourt.

February 12 & 13: Panorama Route

We meet our guide and driver this morning and depart for the Panorama Route on our way towards Kruger Park. The mountainous escarpment of Mpumalanga presents stunning views of the Lowveld. Blyde River Canyon, is the third largest canyon on Earth and is situated below the confluence of the Blyde (joy) and Treur (sorrow) rivers. There are stunning views of the Escarpment from legendary viewpoints such as God's Window, where on a clear day, you can see as far as Kruger Park and Mozambique. Other natural attractions include Bourke's Luck Potholes, where Tom Bourke, a 19th-century gold rush prospector, is said to have made his fortune. Water erosion over millennia has carved cylindrical sculptures from the canyon's red and yellow rocks which are interspersed with rock pools. From the canyon look out eastwards to the Three Rondavels or Three Sisters, three massive spirals of dolomite that rise from the far wall of the canyon. A single quartzite column - aptly named the Pinnacle - rises from the wooded canyon, offering more spectacular vistas.

We may spot Verreaux's eagle, the rare bald ibis which nests on the cliff ledges, and if we are lucky, all 5 species of South African primates, including vervet and samango monkeys, chacma baboons and both species of bushbaby. Late this afternoon we arrive at our lodge, which is a haven for more than 200 different bird species and numerous migratory species of wildlife. The following day we can explore the pristine natural environment on one of many nature walking trails and/or head out to photograph more of the remarkable geologic formations in the area.

Iketla Lodge

Two nights at Iketla Lodge.

February 14-18: Sabi Sands Private Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park

We continue through the end of the Panorama route today to the renowned Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park. We’ll have lunch and a rest before setting out on an afternoon game drive with camp guides.

We have four full days to explore the reserve on game drives and walking safaris. The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a 65 000 hectare reserve, pioneered by the landowners in the 1950’s, when the internal fences were dropped and a shared environmental management program was put in place. Today, many of these families are now third and fourth generation land owners, their legacy being the successful conservation of the highest density of big game in South Africa. Even though there is a 50km unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, the game in the Sabi Sands reserve is well habituated resulting in unforgettable close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, which add further dimension to the bio-diversity of this area.

Arathusa Safari Lodge

Five nights at Arathusa Safari Lodge. All meals included.

February 19-22: iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Maputuland, KwaZulu Natal

We have a full day drive (12+ hours) through the sovereign kingdom of Swaziland to get from our safari lodge to the Indian Ocean. For three full days we explore this region by vehicle, boat on and on foot to photograph the diverse eco-systems found here. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in December 1999 in recognition of its superlative natural beauty and unique global values.

The 332,000 hectare Park contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, 700 year old fishing traditions, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25,000 year old coastal dunes which are among the highest in the world. The name iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder, which aptly describes this unique place. iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale).

We will also visit Lake Sibaya, which has 100 km of untouched shoreline and at 70 km2 is South Africa’s largest freshwater lake. The lake falls within the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, now a World Heritage Site, and the Ramsar Convention assures its international conservation status. The lake’s diverse flora provides a variety of habitats for birds, mammals and aquatic life. Research reveals that hundreds of years ago the lake was once connected to the sea and with the natural closure of the estuary, numerous fish and aquatic creatures were trapped in a fresh water environment. Lake Sibaya contains the second largest population of hippopotamus and crocodile in KwaZulu-Natal and is an important breeding, feeding and roosting area for a host of bird species. Surface water in the surrounding coastal plain often disappears completely during dry spells, making the lake the only source of permanent water for birds and mammals.

Thonga Beach Lodge

Four nights at Thonga Beach Lodge. All meals included.

February 23: Depart or Extension

This morning we have time for one last activity and lunch before the drive about 4 hours south to Durban to meet the direct flight to Johannesburg for those people heading home or on to Cape Town for the extension. Breakfast.

Touch down at Cape Town International Airport this evening where we meet our local guide and transfer to our guesthouse in the city bowl. The old and established suburbs of Gardens, Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof merge into each other as they line the foothills of Table Mountain and Signal Hill. The area enjoys convenient proximity to the city, the Table Mountain Cableway, as well as the beaches. The narrow little streets are lined by original Cape buildings, many of which have been beautifully restored, some now housing museums and art galleries, as well as lively sidewalk cafés and highly acclaimed restaurants. Now known for its trendy and modern vibe, this region is often visited on foot, encompassing the historic parliament buildings, the Company Gardens and the lively café culture and boutiques of Kloof Street.

More Quarters

Three nights at More Quarters. Breakfast included.

February 24: Cape Town City & Table Mountain

Today we have a full day exploration of Cape Town, known affectionately as the Mother City. We have ample time along the way to stop and set up shots. We visit the Houses of Parliament, the Castle (built between 1666 and 1679, this is South Africa’s oldest building), the lively Greenmarket Square with its daily market, the Company Gardens and of course Table Mountain which will give us spectacular views over the city and Peninsula (cable car fee is included but weather dependent). The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway opened its doors to its first visitors on 4 October 1929. Since then, it has had many upgrades, bringing it to the point where it can safely welcome an average of 800 000 visitors each year. The round cable cars take about 5 – 10 minutes to carry 65 passengers from Tafelberg Road to the top of Table Mountain and they gently rotate, offering 360 degree views on the way.

On the descent, we stop at the colorful Bo- Kaap, home to the Malay community and one of the oldest residential areas in the city. Cross over to District Six, once a vibrant Coloured neighborhood, before forced removals under the Group Areas Act of Apartheid turned it into a desolate wasteland.

February 25: Cape Peninsula & Cape Point

This morning we head out of the city to the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, before crossing over to Hout Bay. From here we drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve via Chapman’s Peak, one of the world’s most breathtaking coastal drives, where we board a funicular to get to the top of the Peninsula to witness the symbolic meeting of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and enjoy spectacular views over False Bay. After lunch, continue to Simonstown, the naval base, and visit the African Penguin breeding colony at Boulders Beach. Then stop at the world renowned Kirstenbosch Gardens before arriving back at the hotel.

February 26 & 27: Winelands

We return to more familiar landscapes as we drive to the Cape Winelands; the route winds its way through superb mountain ranges, vineyards and Cape Dutch homesteads. The picturesque region of the Winelands is centered around three charming towns each with their own unique appeal. The French Huguenot town of Franschhoek is widely regarded as the culinary capital of South Africa with its highly acclaimed outdoor cafes and bistros. Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in the country, is the historic center of the Winelands and is a bustling university town set in oak lined avenues, while Paarl has a beautiful setting beneath the imposing Helderberg mountains. These towns are surrounded by prestigious wine estates equally renowned for their award winning wines.

The first stop is Stellenbosch today, the second oldest town in South Africa, with canal lined avenues, and magnificent examples of Cape Dutch architecture where we enjoy our first wine tasting, coupled with a chocolate and dessert tasting. Onward over the scenic Helshoogte Pass, to Franschhoek, founded by French Huguenots over 350 years ago, and widely regarded as the culinary capital of South Africa. The beautiful setting and café lined streets will charm you and a further wine tasting is included at one of the renowned estates in this area. Our final stop is at the town of Paarl, at the foot of a cluster of remarkable granite domes where you do your last wine tasting of the day, before heading to our guesthouse in Franschhoek. Tomorrow we have full day of scenic lookouts interspersed with wine tastings.

La Fontaine Guesthouse

Two nights at La Fontaine Guesthouse.

February 28: Depart

Today we have free with our guides before we need to return to the Cape Town International Airport for departing flights home. Breakfast.

Rates - 2016 - Trip Full
Dates Per Person Double Single Supplement
Rates - 2018
Dates Per Person Double Single Supplement
February 11-20: Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received before February 10, 2017 $11,300.00 $2,540.00
February 11-20: Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received on or after February 10, 2017 $11,700.00 $2,450.00
Extension Feb 20-25: Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received before February 10, 2017 $3,260.00 $ 700.00
Extension Feb 20-25: Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received on or after February 10, 2017 $3,460.00 $700.00
Pricing subject to confirmation based on final group size, itinerary changes beyond our control and rate of exchange.
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