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South Africa: Walking & Wildlife
TQ-EXD-406251
17 days from
£1,849
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At a glance
Trek South Africa's Drakensberg and go on safari in Kruger
Trip Highlights
Start Destination
Graskop
End Destination
Johannesburg
What's included
  • All breakfasts
  • 14 unches
  • 11 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

All breakfasts, 14 lunches, 11 dinners included. In the itinerary we state which meals are included on which day. All meals while on safari are included except one lunch on the last day. The list below provides an indication of what these will consist of: Breakfast - cereals, coffee, tea and toast, the occasional cooked breakfast. Lunch - cheese, cold meats, salads, bread or rolls. Dinner - potjies (stew), braais (barbecue), stir fries, pasta. Most generally cooked on the open fire. Please be aware that we need at least two weeks notice to deal with special dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian or allergies.) For this reason if you did not indicate these on your booking form please advise the Exodus office as soon as possible. The tour leaders do all the shopping, meal planning and cooking for each group. He/she will always try to obtain fresh produce wherever possible. Each tour has 2 cool boxes for meats and fresh produce and 1 cool box for cold drinks. We will supply the following drinks: fruit squash served with breakfast and tea or coffee served with breakfast and dinner. All other beverages will be at your own expense. We do not supply bottled drinking water although it is available at many shops on tour if you want to buy it yourself at +/-R10.0 / lt. (£0.60). Please note on days when the group are on morning game walks or drives we will have an early morning cup of tea or coffee and rusks followed by the walk. Once we return to camp we will have a large brunch at around 11am. In the early afternoon we will have a snack style lunch and dinner will be served after completion of the optional game drives.

Itinerary
1
Day 1
Depart London
Depart London.
2
Day 2
Arrive Johannesburg
We first pick up the land only clients from the start hotel before proceeding to the airport for the arrival of the group flight. We then transfer to the town of Graskop perched on the edge of the Mpumalanga escarpment. It is a long drive but we stop at regular intervals to take in the spectacular scenery and to visit the well-known Mac Mac Falls. En route we travel through South Africa's highest town, Belfast (1970m), and the scenic Long Tom Pass. We also take the opportunity to stock up on supplies such as drinks and snacks. Staying at Mogodi Lodge (or similar)
3
Day 3
Hike the Prospector's Trail to Pilgrim's Rest.
After a leisurely breakfast we take a short transfer to the Morgenson’s forest station halfway up Robber’s pass and walk along a section of the prospector’s trail, through a mixture of forest and open grassland, to the old gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest. We enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Blyde River before trying our hand at gold panning in the old diggings. In the afternoon we spend some time exploring this unique frontier town by foot. We return to Graskop late afternoon. 4 - 6 hours walking.
4
Day 4
Explore the Panorama Route; to Letaba Ranch Reserve; evening game drive.
We drive through some stunning countryside this morning, starting with the stunning views at God's Window. If we are lucky, God's Blanket may be down, a majestic cloud inversion that gives you the feeling of being on top of the world. We visit the fascinating rock formations at Bourke's Luck Potholes, before stopping for the most breathtaking views over Blyde River Canyon, the 3rd largest canyon in the southern hemisphere. We continue to the Letaba Ranch Reserve where we will go on an early evening drive. Staying at Mtomeni Safari Camp (or similar)
5
Day 5
Morning game walk; free afternoon.
The Letaba Ranch Game Reserve is part of the Greater Kruger area and is particularly known for elephants and buffalos. This morning we head out on a game walk in search of some Africa’s iconic wildlife. The walk is about 2-4hrs (depending on temperatures) and is led by a local guide and tracker. The afternoon is free to relax or go an optional game drive.
6
Day 6
Transfer to Kruger N.P.; afternoon game drive.
We head on to Kruger National Park, justifiably one of the most famous wildlife parks in the world. It is also one of the oldest, established by the South African president Paul Kruger in 1898. It has arguably the greatest variety of animals of any park in Africa, with lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, black and white rhino, as well as cheetah, giraffe, hippo and many species of antelope and smaller plains game. We game drive (in our vehicle) through the park where we have an excellent chance of seeing a wide variety of wildlife. We arrive at our campsite in the Kruger in the late afternoon just before the camp gates close to maximise our game-viewing chances. Staying at Skukuza camp (or Pretoriuskop camp) in permanent tents (or similar)
7
Day 7
Morning game drive in Kruger; transfer to Swaziland.
Up before sunrise this morning for a game drive (in our vehicle) at, arguably, the best time of day for game-spotting. We return to camp for breakfast and to pack up before moving onto a new country: Swaziland. We leave the Kruger park at around lunch time and have a short stop to resupply before crossing the border into Swaziland. We drive to the hilly Malolotja Nature Reserve (3 hours), where we spend a relaxing evening in the cabins ready for a long walk the next day. Staying at Malolotja Cabins (or similar)
8
Day 8
Full day walk in Malolotja.
There is superb flora here and we take a day-walk on one of the picturesque walking trails. Over 280 species of birds have been spotted in this reserve, as have many antelope species. You will have great views and the chance to spot various eagles or even the very rare Bald Ibis. The Nkomati River cuts a gorge through the park and flows east in a series of falls and rapids before it meets the lowveld. Our walk will take us to the Malolotja falls viewpoint and then on to the upper Majolomba falls and a great lunch spot. Nearby Ngwenya has one of the world's oldest mines, dating from 41,000 BC. 8 hours walking.
9
Day 9
Visit craft market; to St Lucia.
Today we head out of Swaziland and back into South Africa. On the way we visit Ezulwini Valley Craft Market before heading south through rural Swaziland. Upon leaving Swaziland we move on to St Lucia. The small town of St. Lucia is both by the Indian Ocean and by lake St. Lucia and is known for its crocodile and hippo populations (hippos are sometimes seen wandering in town). The lake itself is Africa’s largest Estuary and a haven for birds. As well as land animals, the proximity to the ocean means it is possible to go swimming and even whale watching (June – November). We stay in Shonalanga apartments or similar)
10
Day 10
Morning boat cruise and game walk; afternoon visit Cape Vidal.
Getting up early we will head down to the dock and board a boat on the nearby lake. We spend 2 hours exploring the lake by boat with an excellent chance of seeing some of the many resident Hippo's, crocodiles and Fish Eagles. We return to our apartments for breakfast and then pack a picnic lunch for the short drive to Cape Vidal, a long stretch of beach along the Indian Ocean. Along the way we stop at bird-hides and there’s a small chance of spotting rhinos. We spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach or walking to mission rocks.
11
Day 11
Transfer to battlefields; hike the fugitive trail.
Leaving the coast behind, we head 300kms towards the battlefields where the British and Zulus fought in 1879. After lunch we go on a 4hr hike along the fugitive trail. The trail follows the route taken by the British survivors from the battle of Isandlwana. The British and colonial force was armed with rifles, mountain guns and rocket battery were facing 20,000 Zulu warriors armed with spears. By the end of the battle there were only 65 British and Colonial survivors. After our hike we transfer 50kms to the Battlefields County Lodge (or similar) where we spend the night.
12
Day 12
To Royal Natal N.P.; afternoon walk.
We continue our journey to the beautiful Royal Natal National Park, particularly known the distinctive natural Amphitheatre. The Drakensberg is a basalt escarpment forming the border between Kwa-Zulu Natal and Lesotho and continuing into the Free State. It means 'Dragon Mountains', but the Zulu named it Quuathlamba ('the Barrier of Spears') - a more accurate description of the sheer, forbidding, jagged escarpment. This afternoon we go for walks in the local area from Thendele Chalets (or similar) where we will be staying. There are a number of walks we can chose from such as to policeman’s helmet or to some bushmen paintings.
13
Day 13
Thugela Gorge hike.
Today we follow the Thukela river, past Protea trees (the national flower of South Africa as well as the name of their cricket team), indigenous yellow wood forest and mountainous grasslands to the natural Amphitheatre and Thukela Waterfall viewpoint. The walk takes us into the heart of the Royal Natal National park and offers stunning views of the dramatic northern Drakensberg Mountains. 6 - 8 hours walking.
14
Day 14
Full day hike to Witsieshoek.
As the bus takes our luggage to our next lodge, we head along trails by foot. The start of our trail follows a contour line and takes us via Tiger Falls and Gudu Falls. We then head up as we walk through the Mahai Valley crossing the river and walking via the crack past the Mahai Falls, eventually reaching the Basuto Gate and our destination. The hike should take about 6hrs including stopping for lunch.
15
Day 15
Hike to Thugela Falls, the world's second tallest waterfall.
In the morning we drive the short distance (15km) to the trek start point at the Sentinel gate. From here we trek along the edge of the mountains, possibly chaperoned by mountain baboon or if we are lucky by the resident Bearded Vultures, up to the ladders, which take us to the top (2,900m). We then follow the Thukela River to the edge of the waterfall and enjoy the stunning views across the amphitheatre and our previous day’s route. We then walk back to the vehicle and transfer the short distance (15km) to our lodge. The hike should take about 6hrs including stopping for lunch.
16
Day 16
Depart Johannesburg
Morning walk in the Drakensberg; transfer to Johannesburg; depart Johannesburg.
17
Day 17
Arrive London
Arrive London.
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FAQs

Summer months in South Africa are from October to April and the average daytime temperature is 25 to 30ºC. The average night time temperature is 10 to 20ºC, so pretty mild. The winter months are from May to September and average temperatures are about 10ºC colder at this time of year. The summer months are typically dry and warm, but the South Easterly wind can blow up to 70km/h at least a few times a month. This helps to cool things off, but can be a little unpleasant if one is walking in exposed areas. Most of the rainfall is in the winter but it is frontal rain, which comes off the Atlantic. Therefore it can rain solidly for 2 days, and in between there will be warm sunny days! Due to the ocean’s proximity to the mountains and the winds, it is fairly common to experience tabletop clouds on the higher mountains.

Brendan Phelan - Customer Operations

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