South Africa: Walking & Wildlife

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Moderate
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Trip code: 
TZS
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Hiking
Group size:
4–12
Min age:
16

Hike through forests, plains and mountains and track wildlife on foot, by boat and 4WD.

Rising high above the veld, the Drakensberg, which translates as ‘Dragon Mountain,’ forms an imposing, dramatic and quintessentially South African scene which we explore on foot. Along with the fantastic walking opportunities, we take the time to discover the country’s amazing wildlife and we can hope to see the likes of elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, giraffe, cheetah and much more. Complementing our journey are more walks and visits of Swaziland, St. Lucia and the Battlefields.

Highlights

  • Several days hiking in the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains
  • Royal Natal National Park and the amazing rock formation, the 'Amphitheatre'
  • Walking through the mountainous terrain of Swaziland
  • Morning and afternoon game drives in Africa's famous Kruger National Park.
  • Game walk and drive in a private game reserve

Key information

  • 9 days walking
  • Mixture of wildlife spotting and walking
  • Altitude max 2900m, average 1250m
  • Group normally 4 to 12, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 11 nights log cabins and chalets and 3 nights permanent tented camp

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 12 lunches, 7 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

9

Days of Walking & Trekking
Pace:

Approximately 2-8 hours hiking per day

Terrain:

There is some walking at higher altitude and occasional longer/harder days may be involved

Day by day breakdown
Day 216.0km/9.0miles
Day 410.0km/6.0miles
Day 715.0km/9.0miles
Day 95.0km/3.0miles
Day 1010.0km/6.0miles
Day 118.0km/4.0miles
Day 1216.0km/9.0miles
Day 1312.0km/7.0miles
Day 1415.0km/9.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Johannesburg; to Graskop.

    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.
    Mogodi Lodge or similar

  • Day 2

    Hike the Prospector's Trail to Pilgrim's Rest.

    After an early 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.
    Mogodi Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    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.
    Mtomeni Safari Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    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.
    Mtomeni Safari Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    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.
    Skukuza or Pretoriuskop camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    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.
    Malolotja Cabins or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    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. 8 hours walking.
    Malolotja Cabins or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    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).
    Shonalanga apartments or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    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.
    Shonalanga apartments or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    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 our lodge for the night.
    Battlefields County Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 11

    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 our lodge 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.
    Thendele Chalets or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 12

    Tugela 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.
    Thendele Chalets or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    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.
    Witsieshowk Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Hike to Tugela 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.
    Witsieshowk Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 15

    Drive through Golden Gate N.P. en route to Johannesburg; end Johannesburg.

    There will be an optional short final morning walk in these wonderful mountains, with a local guide, before driving back to Johannesburg in time for our flight this evening. The land portion of the trip ends upon arrival in Johannesburg. 3 hour optional walk. Please note that if you are organising your own flights these should not be earler than the group flights due to the distance we need to travel back to the airport.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

South Africa

British passport holders and most European and Commonwealth Passport holders do not require a visa to travel to South Africa. Please note that all travellers to South Africa who do require a visa are required to have a minimum of 2 blank consecutive pages in their passport i.e. a left hand page and a right hand page to enable an entry visa to be issued.

Please note that new regulations from the 1 June 2015 mean that any child under 18 travelling to South Africa needs to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate with the names of both parents.

If a child under 18 is only travelling with a single parent, they will also have to have an affidavit, no less than 3 months old, from the absent parent confirming the child can travel with the other parent; a court order granting full legal guardianship of the child; or a death certificate of the deceased parent.

Swaziland

British passport holders and most European and Commonwealth Passport holders do not require a visa for Swaziland.

Vaccinations

South Africa

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

Malaria prophylaxis is essential if travelling in the greater Kruger area and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. The rest of South Africa, including the Garden Route, has a low risk of Malaria.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 12 lunches, 7 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.

The water provided on this trip is safe and clean drinking water, normally coming from bore-holes. It is not bottled water, however. If you would rather have bottled water then this will be at your expense, though we would encourage you to make use of the safe drinking water provided as this helps diminish plastic consumption.

Weather

Although the greater part of South Africa lies south of the tropic of Capricorn, the temperature is moderated by the altitude. The average midday temperature is likely to be about 22ºC on the coast and 24ºC inland. This trip covers various different weather regions. Generally inland areas will be dry between the months of April and October (although storms can occur), whereas in the Drakensberg Mountains rain is more common at this time. In August the nights can be very cold, especially in the Drakensberg where temperatures can drop below freezing. However the days are warm and crisp with generally cloud-free skies. During the months of November through February rain can sometimes be expected and the temperature will be higher. However, as anyone who has travelled to these parts will say, rain is often a blessing, it manifests the local colours, drops the sometimes sweltering temperatures and never generally lasts too long. It also means the night times are incredibly clear.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg

Is this trip for you?

There are a few long drives (the longest being 6-7 hours on the first and last days) but the reward is a trip that offers an amazing variety of walking through diverse scenery, plus exciting game viewing, in a comparatively short time.

This is primarily a walking trip, although there is still time to go on an organised safari to Kruger National Park. This trip has an activity level of 3 (Moderate). Good health and reasonable fitness are important and you should take regular exercise before travelling on this trip. Moderate trips are either fairly easy medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks. There is some walking at higher altitude and occasional longer/harder days may be involved. Generally underfoot conditions will be fair. On Day 10 there is a small river crossing that we wade across but this is only attempted when conditions are safe. We climb to a maximum of 2900m and a walking day is normally 4 - 8 hours.

There are some ladders to climb while walking in the Drakensberg. The ladders are in two stretches, a longer (about 30m/100feet) first stretch followed by a shorter (about 15m/50 feet) one. Neither are quite vertical and they are metal ladders with thick, square edged footholds and comfortable handholds. Whilst they're not particularly physically challenging they can constitute a slight mental challenge to some - but one that is worthwhile for the incredible views from the top of the escarpment. The guides are extremely experienced in taking our clients up and down these ladders and are always happy to help.

The game viewing is generally at its best from July to September as visibility improves with trees losing their leaves and because game is more restricted to areas that have water. The bush at this time, however, is much drier compared to earlier in the season and scenically the country is generally at its prettiest in April - June. The migratory birds are visible between October and April.

Legal Note: all group members joining this tour will be asked to sign an indemnity form at the start of the holiday. This indemnity form is a requirement of the South African Tourism Service Association which our local supplier is a member of. As a client of Exodus Travels Ltd, your rights under the Package Travel Regulations (1992) are unaffected, and Exodus remains liable for the actions of our sub-contractors.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Chalets

All nights will be in chalets, log cabins and four nights in a permanent tented camp. Some of the accommodation is en suite though in Swaziland and St Lucia we usually stay in cabins of 2 rooms sharing a bathroom and a lounge whilst in Thendele we usually stay in cabins of 3 rooms sharing 2 bathrooms and a lounge. The permanent tented camp in the Letaba River Game Reserve is made up of large tents with beds and an en suite bathroom. In the Kruger Park we stay in a permanent tented camp with shared ablutions. It is possible to get laundry done in Swaziland.

Wifi is available most nights but is not always very reliable.

Single rooms are available throughout. Please note that on the nights in the Drakensberg and in Swaziland you might share a chalet/cabin with other members of the group. However, you will still have a single room to yourself.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for tailormade trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed March 2019
    Chris Williams

    South Africa: landscapes, wildlife and battlefields

    The Exodus holiday in South Africa was a wonderful introduction to African landscapes and wildlife. I have travelled widely in my life but with little experience of Africa. This holiday exceeded my expectations in two ways: the remarkable opportunities to see wildlife at close quarters in Kruger; the amazing landscapes of the Blyde River canyon, Swaziland and the Drakensurg Mountains. My enjoyment of the holiday had a lot to do with the way it was organised and led by the group leader. I have been left with many great memories.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was inspirational to be in Kruger National Park for a few days and to see the great variety of wildlife. I'm thankful that there remain a few places on earth that have this rich ecosystem. A three hour walk just after dawn was especially exciting - being aware that large animals were around us and that we were walking through their natural habitat, their world

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Rowan Moon, was excellent and I rate him highly. His enthusiasm and energy was infectious. He is natural leader and developed a close relationship with us as a group and as individuals. Organisation and time-keeping was excellent. He has developed a very good working relationship with Sofiso, the driver, and I felt safe and well-cared for at all times. He has remarkable wildlife-spotting skills and was able to detect the presence of animals (including many species of birds) and identify them accurately and instantly. He also has very good hiking skills and was confident at route-finding and care of people who struggled on more challenging parts of the mountain trails. The driver, Sofiso, was superb: very safe driving at all times on some challenging road surfaces, very well organised for luggage and food preparation and hard working & reliable in all ways. He is also friendly and good company. Betz, a trainee guide, worked hard assisting with food prepapration. A few times she gave information when we were touring in the minibus but I found it really hard to understand her because she has a very strong South African accent. This would have been a big concern for me if she had been our group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My advice for travellers buying this holiday is to ensure that they are as fit as possible for the days of walking. And to be aware that while the trails are not over-long, nor are the altitude climbs significant (about 700m maximum), the routes are very rugged at times, there are parts when there are steep or near vertical sections on or near the route, there are a few quite tricky river crossings and there are very challenging metal ladders on the last two days (see my comments below). The guide Rowan, and the driver Sofiso, gave excellent support on these walks.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would definitely say that there is a walking activity grading problem for this holiday. The walking grade 'Moderate' says 'general underfoot conditions will be fair'. However, on all the days there were sections of the trail which were more demanding than 'fair' - the Blyde River canyon to some extent, but especially the Tugela Gorge hike, the Witsiehoek 'Crack' hike and the Sentinel Peak hike to the ladders. These three days, if fully completed, including ascent (and descent - you have to come back down the same way) of the frankly hair-raising 20 metre ladder up to the Tugela Falls viewpoint, would clearly fit into a Challenging category in my opinion. So, the length of the walks are Moderate (about 2 to 5 hours max) but the trails are rugged and challenging at times. Should the holiday be given a Moderate/Challenging rating? Or the last 2 days only could be given Challenging. Please note that Day 13 description should make clear that the Crack is demanding for those with vertigo and has a 7 metre ladder which is in quite poor condition. My wife was made aware of the ladder just the evening before and had to miss the day's walking for this reason. Our guides, Rowan Moon and the local guides hired were superb at all times helping us with these routes. Thank you.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Elizabeth Moxham

    South Africa walking and Wildlife

    Really excellent trip with great variety of walking and wildlife, wonderful scenery, great accommodation and fantastic guides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I have to name two, one travelling through Kruger and the other being in the Drakensberg

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marco was excellent, well organised, worked extremely hard to make sure all our needs were well catered for and was extremely knowledgeable about wildlife and different geology. He was ably supported by Jojo, the driver and Roman who was training. All three were absolutely great.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of travelling in the minibus. The trip notes make this clear but I’m mindful not everyone fully takes everything in. Also, some of the walking is quite strenuous on uneven ground and involves some scrambling over boulders, river crossings so make sure you have appropriate sturdy footwear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved staying in the two private reserves, particularly Zululand Lodge which was a change in the itinerary from staying in St Lucia. The settings for most of the accommodation was absolutely fabulous.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Jenny Williams

    First time in Africa

    This was my second trip with Exodus, and I was confident that I was going to have a good time, get good value for money, and a wonderful experience. I was not disappointed. The booking was effortless, including the add on of four days in Cape Town that I requested. All the information that I needed was in the trip notes,and I felt well prepared. Our guide, Innocent is very knowledgable, and keen to impart this to us, and for us to have as good a time as possible. JoJo, the driver/chef, is also very well-informed, and a very careful safe driver. A lot is asked of him, as he would often prepare a meal for 13 after a long day's drive, sometimes on pretty basic equipment. This he did, always cheerfully. Both were very keen to explain how we can help the local craft industries, but we never felt pressurised or uncomfortable. The variety of experience, each day something new, was a fantastic introduction to South Africa. One week essentially wildlife spotting, the second hiking in some very dramatic scenery. I strongly recommend adding on a few days in Cape Town, if you haven't been before. It is less than a 2h flight, and a beautiful, easy, interesting city, and a great contrast to the game parks and mountains.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    From the wildlife aspect: a troop for 8 giraffes crossing in front of our jeep. Or maybe the lion kill? Or the weaver birds in the reeds? A vast herd of buffalo? Not to mention two rhinoceros. From the hiking: climbing to 3165m in the Drakensburg, the last 40m by chain ladder.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As I have said, Innocent is charming, reliable, knowledgable, and keen to help with any (reasonable) request.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Add on Cape Town!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus is, in my experience, a reliable, well organised company, which gives good value for money. It is not 5*, and if that is what you want, you will have to pay a great deal more! But for a 3* deal, with some accommodation above that, you will not be disappointed. When I got home, I turned the page of my Cicerone calendar to November, to see the photo of The Sentinel, in the Drakensburg Amphitheatre, take from the lodge we stayed in!
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Audrey Henley-McCarthy

    Full on and very enjoyable

    Really enjoyed this trip even though we probably did not chose the best time of year to do this, April. Sayin that the weather was quite kind to us. Letaba Game Reserve was a lovely start to our tour, the rangers at Mtomeni Safari Camp were very knowledgeable and friendly, food, especially breakfast, was very good. Permanent tents were much better than expected. Found the safari section a little repetitive but still enjoyable. Early starts and then pretty full on all day but never felt rushed. Loved the beach at St Lucia, a relaxing few hours there was appreciated as allowed us to recharge our batteries. Battlefields tour very interesting and would suggest if possible that you try and get your guide to add in a visit to Rorkes Drift to complete the story. Drakensburg was the highlight for me, good walking and marvellous scenery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking in the Drakensburg, very atmospheric and beautiful

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Colly is a great tour leader prompt, helpful, considerate, accommodating, knowledgeable and an excellent cook. Catered extremely well for this vegetarian. Our driver Jojo is a very experienced careful driver who was a great foil to Colly. Jojo is fun and also very knowledgeable especially about recent South African history. A great team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Walking for me was the top end of moderate as there are a lot of ascents and descents on fairly rocky paths. Walking poles would have been useful. Don't bother talking a lot of snacks with you as there are supermarket shops every few days when you find most of what you want. Sandwich box very useful for the packed lunches so that you do not end up with a soggy mess in a plastic bag at the bottom of your rucksack. Music for the long bus trips was very useful, recommend Graceland by Paul Simon.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Hazel Edwards

    South Africa Walking and Wildlife

    Well, what a trip! Soaking up the sights and sounds of South Africa and Swaziland was truly an amazing experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many unexpected inspirational moments for me. These included spotting both the white and black rhino and, at night in my tent, listening to hippos and other animals snorting and grunting close by. It was also a delight interacting with local shepherds in the mountains, and star-gazing at night. The vast dark sky made it easy to see the Milky Way. All fabulous!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nothing was too much trouble for Colly. He clearly enjoys what he does and was proud to show us South Africa and share with us his extensive knowledge of flora, fauna, local history and culture. He and Joe the driver made a great team. Both men were very kind, patient and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you're looking to do a 'big' holiday and can't quite make up your mind which one, then go for this trip. It offers incredible variety and an unforgettable experience.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Josephine Fish

    A challenging experience

    We chose this holiday for the combination of walking and wildlife offerred and the areas within South Africa that it covered. We love the Kruger and were also interested in seeing the Drakensburg mountains and Swaziland. Inevitably we spent a lot of time in the minibus as we covered very long distances, but it was worth it. We saw plenty of wildlife and fantastic scenerey. We stayed in some staggeringly beautiful places. My main concern with the holiday was always the walking, and whether we would be up to it? We are both in our 70s, but consider ourselves reasonably fit, as we regularly play 3 rounds of golf a week ( walking) and always take exercise every day. In the event, we found the walking very tough. In the main the terrain was difficult: narrow steep and stoney paths with tricky footing: there was a lot of difficult clambering across rocks and a head for heights was essential! I feel that a grading of “ moderate” for the walking was misleading: it seemed much more demanding than that. The altitude is high, and this adds to the difficulty. I would have preferred to have been given the option of easier walks from time to time, so that I could look at the wonderful scenery as well as my feet! Having said this, our guide was really helpful and got me through. I am glad we went.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having 4 male lions walk past us on an evening drive. We must have watched them for about 15 minutes as we stayed with them. Fantastic!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Really good. Very knowledgable on animals, birds, and plants. Very well informed. Learned alot from him. He was also very well organised and we kept to time, without feeling stressed or hurried. He is also a very good cook: the meals he prepared were well cooked and very tastey: again always on time, and hot! He also helped me a lot on the walks when I was struggling: he was kind and thoughtful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to be tough! This is not a holiday for wimps: you need a lot of stamina. Some of the accommodation in the camps is a bit rough: this is not a holiday for softies. Comfortable walking boots are essential. You have to walk with a backpack, so a good quality one is a good idea.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were concerned whether everyone would be a lot younger than us. In the event, most people were retired or nearly retired! We had no need to worry.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Irene Turner

    Great way to see SA

    An interesting and varied trip, including trekking in several locations, safaris in a number of places, a trip to a beach and a boat ride to see hippos and other wildlife. I like hippos and gazelles.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being woken by elephants at night whilst in my permanent tent in the first game reserve we visited. Being vegetarian and not being given pasta every night for dinner. The food was actually very, very nice and thoughtfully prepared - with a different menu every night!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The two leaders, Mira and Marco, were marvellous. They answered all my questions about the trip, the country and its history. Mira Is particularly knowledgeable about all the scientific names of the plants in the areas we went.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a SÁ travel adaptor (or be pleasantly surprised when your travel companions have one). Take clothes for all climates. Be prepared not to see any Baoba trees. It's best if you like wild animals, otherwise the safaris are a bit boring. Some of the walks are uphill, but in the Drakebsberg mountains you can do your own, flatter walks. The Swazi Candles shop in Swaziland is excellent: Stock up whilst you can. No need to bring half a suitcase of food with you: as it turns out, there are supermarkets in SA that sell edible vegetarian food! The group leaders also provide excellent food!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks to my daughter and son-in-law for taking me on this fascinating trip. It was an excellent trip and highly recommended.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Pam Peers

    Superb, fun-filled trip with lots of variety

    This trip covers a lot of ground! I can't believe how much we managed to do in just two weeks, and needed my photos and videos to remind me. The accommodation was of an exceptionally high standard and we slept very well everywhere. Our own guides were brilliant, and the external guides at various locations were excellent and very knowledgeable about their specialist areas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were too many to list them all! Crossing Buffalo River (near Rorke's Drift) was quite an adventure - certainly very memorable. Michael Caine would have been proud of us :-) The Sentinel Path walk, in the Drekensburg range, was wonderful and the ladders weren't too challenging - well worth the effort to reach the escarpment with superb views for miles in all directions. Watching hippos at close range, from the safety of a sturdy boat, was an amazing experience. The wildlife encounters were fantastic everywhere - I never imagined we would be able to see so many varied species at such close proximity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had an amazing team! Colly, Skhu and Farai were all fantastic and worked hard from morning to night to ensure that we all had a great holiday. It was a privilege to share their insights into the fascinating culture, history and landscape of South Africa. They were very good at judging when we needed a break on the long days travelling, and made sure we had plenty to eat and drink at all stages. They prepared varied and interesting meals, and there was always more than enough for even the most hearty appetites.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes carefully. Take plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent. Don't take too many clothes - the laundry service in Swaziland was very good and excellent value for money

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    South Africa is a wonderful country and this trip provides an excellent introduction to a small part of it. We added a few extra days in Johannesburg at the end of the trip, and visited Soweto, Kliptown and the Apartheid Museum. I'd recommend it very highly and wish we'd had longer.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Madeleine Newcomb

    South Africa Wildlife and Walking

    A good mix of wildlife watching in a number of areas and walking in the Drakensberg Mountains

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The view of The Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Colly, and his assistants were excellent. They were patient and knowledgeable. It was great to witness young men with such a passion for their surroundings.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My only reservation is that I didn't get to the ladders on The Sentinel climb. My advice is to NOT LOOK DOWN at the exposed sections (I didn't do this). Your leaders will make sure you are safe the whole way.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Stephanie Walker

    South Africa: Walking and Wildlife

    Difficult to sum up as we were offered such a wealth of experiences on this holiday. However revelling in the wonders of the natural world, whether specifically looking for wildlife, or walking in the mountains and hills, was a constant.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Again, there were any number. However, getting out a a 4X4 in a game reserve, walking cautiously and quietly in line behind our ranger with his rifle, to come over the top of a rise to find hippos and crocs in front of us in the river.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had three leaders who worked incredibly hard, driving, shopping, cooking, clearing up and keeping us informed about what we were seeing. They were all skilled, knowledgeable and thoroughly professional. They also guided and safeguarded us on walks with patience and understanding.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were very lucky to find ourselves to be a friendly and confident tour group so were able to rely on others for support as well as our guides. I found it useful to have a hydration bladder, rather than fumbling about with water bottles, in my backpack, and, having some concerns about my elderly knees, I used trekking poles for every walk; all was well.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were fortunate with the support of our guides, our fellow-travellers and the weather, along with the amazing things we saw and did on this trip. It was a brilliant experience.

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