- Visit Blyde River Canyon and other natural wonders on a road trip
- See exotic wildlife on self-guided safaris in national parks
- Go snorkeling and take boat tours in iSimangaliso Wetland Park
- Venture into the Drakensberg Mountains for outdoor adventures
|Day 1||Arrive in Johannesburg, Drive to Hazyview||Hazyview|
|Day 2||Full-Day Panorama Route Scenic Drive||Hazyview|
|Day 3||Drive to Kruger National Park, Self-Guided Safari||Kruger National Park|
|Days 4-5||Kruger Self-Guided Safaris||Kruger National Park|
|Day 6||Drive to Hlane National Park||Hlane National Park|
|Days 7-8||Hlane Self-Guided Safaris, Optional Activities||Hlane National Park|
|Day 9||Drive to St Lucia, Hippo Cruise||St Lucia|
|Day 10||Full-Day iSimangaliso Safari & Snorkeling||St Lucia|
|Day 11||Drive to Underberg, Optional Activities||Underberg|
|Day 12||Sani Pass & Makhapung Village||Underberg|
|Day 13||Underberg Free Day||Underberg|
|Day 14||Drive to Cathedral Peak, Optional Activities||Drakensberg|
|Days 15-16||Cathedral Peak Free Days||Drakensberg|
|Day 17||Drive to Johannesburg, Optional Activities||Johannesburg|
|Day 18||Depart Johannesburg|
Day 1: Arrive in Johannesburg, Drive to HazyviewWelcome to Johannesburg! "Jo'burg" is the commercial and financial heart of South Africa, and it also boasts the largest urban center in the country. There's a lot of history, culture, and energy here—and outside the city even more wonders await. You won't waste a moment, because right when you arrive at the airport you'll pick up a rental car and head out on a road-trip adventure.
Day 2: Full-Day Panorama Route Scenic DriveToday is your first day exploring eastern South Africa, and there's no better place for it than Mpumalanga. This region is home to spectacular natural beauty, including the Blyde River Canyon. At 66,585 acres (26,946 ha), this is the third-largest canyon in the world. Its soaring cliffs rise as high as 2,625 feet (800 m), and much of it is blanketed in subtropical foliage. Besides its many impressive vistas, the canyon also offers breathtaking views of Three Rondavels: huge rock formations that resemble ancient stone beehive huts.
Day 3: Drive to Kruger National Park, Self-Guided SafariWake up early for the first of three days on self-guided safari drives through Kruger National Park. Spanning 7,576 square miles (19,623 sq km) across the northeast of the country, this is the largest national park in South Africa. Therefore, it has many entry gates to choose from, with the most popular located in the southwest of the park, near Hazyview. On entry, you'll pay your conservation fee and register your vehicle with the game wardens, then pick up a map of the park.
From the gate, make your way to the camp booked for the duration of your stay in Kruger. Even the drive there is a mini-safari in itself, as you'll no doubt be treated to sightings of exotic wildlife along the way. Once you've checked in to your accommodation, you'll have the rest of the day free to relax and get settled. You can go wildlife spotting around the camp on foot, or head out on a game drive in your vehicle. Guided safari drives with a local park ranger need to be booked in advance.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Days 4-5: Kruger Self-Guided SafarisKruger is one of South Africa's most-visited tourist sites for good reason. This ruggedly beautiful savanna is home to 147 species of mammals including the Big Five safari animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. It's also a paradise for birders, as the 508 species here include various hawks, eagles, storks, and parrots. Over the next two days, you'll embark on safari game drives to spot as many of these exotic creatures as possible. Leave early to see the animals at their most active and enjoy picnic lunches under umbrella thorn trees. Then, when the day is done, return to camp in time for a sundowner.
Day 6: Drive to Hlane National ParkAfter breakfast, leave Kruger and drive about four hours south to eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). Within this small landlocked country is today's destination: Hlane Royal National Park. The "royal" comes from the fact that this was once a private hunting ground for the king due to the large game herds in the park. Now it's a protected wildlife reserve open for self-drive safaris, which is how you'll spend the next couple of days. First, though, you'll cross the border, enter the park, and transfer to your camp.
Days 7-8: Hlane Self-Guided Safaris, Optional Activities
Over the next two days, wake up early to enjoy the abundant wildlife of Hlane, like lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, and rhinos. Besides self-guided safaris, there are other activities you can book through the camp that include guided nature walks and mountain-biking excursions. There are also sunrise and sunset safaris as well as a visit to an Indigenous Swazi village for a cultural exchange.
Day 9: Drive to St Lucia, Hippo CruiseIn the morning, you'll depart Eswatini on a 4.5-hour drive to St Lucia, a settlement in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal. The town sits on an estuary at the southern end of the magnificent iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its diverse flora and fauna. After checking in to your hotel, you'll see its most famous residents on a hippo boat tour. Also making an appearance will be Nile crocodiles as well as birds like pelicans, storks, terns, and perhaps the African fish eagle.
Day 10: Full-Day iSimangaliso Safari & SnorkelingLet someone else do the driving today as you enjoy the incredible nature and wildlife of this region. After breakfast, you'll meet a game ranger in an open-topped safari vehicle for a tour of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The excursion includes game viewing on the open grasslands en route to Cape Vidal, a bay on an unspoiled stretch of coastline. During the drive, you'll see various species that might include leopards, buffalo, rhinos, and kudus. Upon arrival at Cape Vidal, you'll trade your binoculars for a snorkel as you hit the water and explore this incredible dive site, which is home to Africa's southernmost tropical reefs.
Day 11: Drive to Underberg, Optional ActivitiesIn the morning, continue your exploration of KwaZulu-Natal with a 5.5-hour drive south via the coastal city of Durban to Underberg. Located in the stunning Mzimkulu River Valley, this town lies in the foothills of the southern Drakensberg Range. You'll be right in the mix of this beautiful mountain scenery, as the hotel in which you'll be staying sits on part of a 2,160-acre (860 ha) UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, upon arrival, feel free to kick back, relax, and enjoy the sweeping views of the surrounding basalt escarpments and green valleys. Or head out for a hike on one of the many scenic hiking trails.
Day 12: Sani Pass & Makhapung VillageThe Sani Pass is a mountain pass that snakes through the Drakensberg between South Africa and the small, landlocked kingdom of Lesotho. The excursion you'll embark on today is both scenic and cultural, as not only will you travel over the pass, which rises as high as 9,436 ft (2,876 m), but you'll also visit Makhapung, a Basotho village deep in the highlands. It's a truly authentic experience, as mass tourism has yet to encroach on this tribal village, so residents have preserved their culture and traditions.
It starts when your guide takes you on a ride over the top of the Sani Pass, where you'll enjoy great views over the escarpments. However, it doesn't stop there. After crossing the Sani Plateau, you'll head up the Black Mountain Pass, which reaches an altitude of 10,629 feet (3240 m). From here, you can see the nearby peak of Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest point in southern Africa (11,423 ft/3,482 m). Continue down into the Sehonghong Valley, passing highland Basotho villages, to Makhapung.
Upon arrival, you'll participate in a sustainable tourism project in which you'll witness ceremonial dances, hear traditional songs, and visit the resident healer. You'll also get to know the villagers over lunch. Afterward, say goodbye to your new friends and return to Underberg.
Day 13: Underberg Free DayToday you'll have free to relax and enjoy some adventures. There's a wide range of activities on offer here including hikes, mountain bike excursions, horseback rides, fishing trips, zip line tours, archery lessons, and hitting the links at an 18-hole golf course. Or simply spend the day relaxing by the hotel pool and enjoy a spa treatment.
Day 14: Drive to Cathedral Peak, Optional Activities
After breakfast, you'll drive north to the Upper Drakensberg and the lovely Cathedral Peak area. Also known as Mponjwana by local tribespeople, this 9,856-foot (3,004 m) mountain is nestled in a secluded valley and is surrounded by other, equally majestic peaks. After checking in to your hotel, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing or head out for a brisk walk on a nature trail. If you have the energy, you can try the three to four-hour hike to Cathedral Peak's summit.