South Africa with Rovos Rail
|Resort:||South Africa with Rovos Rail|
|Destination:||Africa, South Africa|
You should arrive at the airport to take your overnight flight to Johannesburg where you will be met on arrival ready for your transfer.
DAY 2ARRIVAL IN JOHANNESBURG
ARRIVAL IN JOHANNESBURG
After our morning arrival, we transfer to the four-star Indaba Hotel in a prosperous suburb, north of the city. On the way to our hotel we take the opportunity to visit the Apartheid Museum, a truly fascinating exhibition charting the apartheid years and the struggle against it, culminating in the first democratic elections. It is a superbly presented walk through contemporary history using original material, riveting eyewitness accounts, photographs and film. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the pleasant leafy district of Fourways and nearby Montecasino shopping mall.
DAY 3KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast we depart for the open spaces and farmlands of the highveld, following the Panorama Route to Kruger National Park, one of the most scenic drives in South Africa. We follow the spectacular rim of the Blyde River Canyon, an amazing 20-mile long and 2,300- foot deep gorge cutting a vast swathe through the Great Escarpment separating the temperate grasslands of the Highveld and the drier savannah beyond. Deep circular rock formations created by years of erosion and many excellent vantage points offer superb photo opportunities for some of the most breathtaking views in Africa.
Our hotel for the next three nights is the three-star superior Hippo Hollow Country Estate, beautifully located in the midst of lush forest on the banks of the Sabie River on the edge of the National Park. It has lovely gardens, two pools, a very cosy bar, an excellent restaurant and an open air terrace overlooking the grounds and river where you can actually watch the hippos! A more relaxing spot would be difficult to find. Our 2019 tours stay at the four-star Sanbonani Resort. Dinner is included tonight.
DAY 4PANORAMA ROUTE
Today we have a full days game drive in specially adapted 10 seat 4×4 vehicles. There is simply nothing to beat that rising feeling of anticipation and excitement as we enter the nearby park in the half-light of the spectacular African dawn, surrounded by the noise of a unique dawn chorus. Which animal shall we spot first? Perhaps an elephant, a family of warthogs or possibly even the elusive cheetah. Our experienced game rangers know the best tracks and waterholes whilst their stories will amuse, inform and fascinate you. Most have lived here all their lives, accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge. One minute they can be talking about the constituents of elephant dung and the next about the mating behaviour of hippos or the latest UK football scores!
DAY 5KRUGER FREE DAY
KRUGER FREE DAY
This is a day at leisure for anyone who just wants to take it easy by one of the pools at the hotel or do some hippo-spotting from the lovely lawn overlooking the river. Alternatively, you could try elephant-back safaris, exciting helicopter flights or even river rafting (all subject to weather conditions), as well as sunset safaris or night safaris where you can experience the unique thrill of an open 4×4 vehicle game drive by spotlight.
Exclusively for Riviera guests, there are also a limited number of places available to stay the night at a tented camp and go on a bushwalk. Our camp is a real back to nature experience, with no electricity or en-suite facilities we use portable bush showers and toilets. Our chef will create excellent wholesome cuisine and you can listen out for any nocturnal visitors whilst sitting around the campfire! You rejoin the main tour on the morning of day 6.
DAY 6SWAZILAND & KWAZULU NATAL
SWAZILAND & KWAZULU NATAL
Today we leave Kruger on our way to the battlefields of Zululand. After breakfast well drive south, entering the small but scenically beautiful country of Swaziland. As the road climbs past the interestingly-named Piggs Peak we descend through lush green fields and rolling hills interspersed with small farms and drive through the countrys small capital Mbabane, passing the parliament house and Royal Palace en route. We cross back into South Africa in the afternoon and enter Kwazulu Natal province, staying at the simple three-star Battlefields Lodge for two nights on bed and breakfast basis.
DAY 7ISANDLWANA & RORKES DRIFT
ISANDLWANA & RORKES DRIFT
After breakfast we visit the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift. Brilliantly dramatised in the films Zulu Dawn and Zulu, these two battles, just a day apart, became a defining moment for the British Empire. In 1879 at Isandlwana, a depleted force of 1,300 were surprised and outmanoeuvred by a 20,000-strong Zulu army armed with cowhide shields and spears. Only a handful survived. The next day just 9 miles away, about 140 British soldiers, some wounded, held off 4,000 Zulus for over ten hours at Rorkes Drift, an action earning eleven Victoria Crosses, the largest number ever awarded in a single engagement. Isandlwana particularly, remains a haunting and lonely place, with mass graves marked by simple white stones. Our specialist Zulu guide will really make those desperate encounters come alive. We return to our hotel in the afternoon. Lunch is included today.
DAY 8MOSSEL BAY
After breakfast we return to Johannesburg airport, flying to George in the Western Cape and at the heart of the gorgeous Garden Route. We take the short drive to the coastal town of Mossel Bay and our hotel, the charming three-star superior Diaz Hotel & Resort with breakfast. The comfortable rooms all boast excellent sea views. Dinner at a local restaurant is included this evening.
DAY 9CANGO CAVES & OUDTSHOORN
CANGO CAVES & OUDTSHOORN
Today we head inland, through stunning mountain scenery of the Ruitersbos Nature Reserve to the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. Here well visit the spectacular Cango Caves, formed over millions of years in the soft limestone and South Africas best-known caves. Next we head to the small town of Oudtshoorn, a centre of ostrich farming since the 19th century. Well have the opportunity to see these fascinating creatures close up and learn about their habits. After an included lunch, we head back to Mossel Bay.
This morning, we take the long scenic drive to the Capes beautiful Winelands. During July to November we drive via Hermanus, the worlds best spot for on-shore whale watching. These gentle giants move in seemingly permanent slow motion and are a truly amazing sight as they playfully cavort in the water. You arrive in the Winelands by late afternoon, staying two nights on bed-and-breakfast at the excellent four-star Devon Valley Hotel, which is a real find. This little property is set on the valley slopes offering breathtaking views, lush gardens, a relaxing shady terrace, a comfortable bar with dark leather armchairs, fireplace and a wide selection of single malt whiskeys.
Today we tour the awesomely beautiful Winelands. Set in a valley backed by majestic mountains, rows of manicured vines and orchards stretch into a distance studded by lime-washed, often thatched, 300-year-old wineries built in the unique Cape Dutch style, seemingly mirroring the undulations of the surrounding countryside. Our first stop is elegant Stellenbosch, established 300 years ago and home of South Africas most prestigious university. Period buildings and historic streets reinforce the towns dignified atmosphere. We have time to explore this delightful town before enjoying a fascinating cellar tour and tasting at the Neethlingshof Wine Estate. After that, we visit the small town of Franschoek, set at the head of a valley. Tonight well enjoy an included typical South African BBQ or Cape Malay buffet dinner at our hotel.
DAY 12CAPE TOWN
This morning we visit the amazing Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, located just outside Cape Town and set against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
These incredible gardens are some of the best in South Africa, with numerous fascinating endemic flora and orchid varieties. We soon arrive in Cape Town and our hotel, the four-star Southern SunWaterfront Hotel, staying three nights on bed and breakfast. It is located right in the centre of this bustling city within walking distance of the V&A waterfront. The afternoon is spent at leisure when you can start to explore this beautiful city.
DAY 13CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
This morning, we visit Cape Point and the legendary Cape of Good Hope, firstly driving past pristine beaches to the picturesque fishing harbour of Hout Bay. We continue along the breathtakingly scenic Chapmans Peak Drive, full of rugged seascapes, to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, one of the worlds biodiversity hotspots, then on to Cape Point itself. We see the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean currents and the treacherous promontory of rocks and swells, the scourge of mariners for centuries. Finally we visit Boulders Beach and its penguin colony, returning to the city during the afternoon.
DAY 14FREE DAY IN CAPE TOWN
FREE DAY IN CAPE TOWN
Cape Town, featuring British, Dutch and Cape Malay influences, is simply one of the worlds most naturally beautiful cities with so much to offer the visitor! You could do some bargain shopping at the Waterfront, followed by a sumptuous seafood lunch. Or maybe go people-watching at fashionable Camps Bay? Obviously no visit to Cape Town is complete without taking a revolving cable car ride to the top of iconic Table Mountain which has announced the city to generations of sea-farers. The views are fabulous. You should also visit Robben Island (weather permitting and based on availability), where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27-year incarceration, and whose visitors since its opening have included Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates and even Nelson Mandela himself. Perhaps though, simply wander where your feet take you, or relax a little, taking afternoon tea in beautiful colonial splendour at the Mount Nelson hotel the choice is yours.
DAY 15BOARD ROVOS RAIL
BOARD ROVOS RAIL
Transfer to Cape Town railway station this morning to board the gleaming carriages of Rovos Rail and settle into your luxurious wood-panelled private Pullman or Deluxe cabin. Our train departs at 11am and as we roll through the Winelands youll be able to enjoy the first of many wonderful meals on board. Traditional afternoon tea is served in the Lounge and Observation cars as we approach the charming perfectly-preserved Victorian town of Matjiesfontein where we disembark for a short tour. This evening listen out for the gong that heralds dinner and make your way to one of the two dining cars for one of the best meals youll ever have on a train!
Wake to the wide-open panorama of Africa. Theres no hurry to get up today as breakfast is served until 10am! After lunch our train pulls into Kimberley, South Africas most famous diamond-producing town. At over 700ft deep the Kimberley Big Hole is the largest man-made and hand-excavated hole in the world. We also visit the nearby Diamond Museum, a moving testament to the thousands of miners who toiled here over the years. Back on board its time for afternoon tea again before this evenings sumptuous final dinner.
As we near our journeys end we travel through Johannesburg and the goldfields of the Witwatersrand before arriving at Rovos Rails private railway station in Pretoria at around midday. We say goodbye to our extraordinary home for the last two nights and enjoy an included lunch in Pretoria and a short sightseeing tour of the city before our flight home this evening.
DAY 18ARRIVE HOME
You arrive home this morning after a truly remarkable tour of South Africa.