South Africa Wildlife Safari, Drakensberg Mountains, & Cape Town

June 29-July 15, 2002

Trip Details

On this adventure we explore three geographic areas of South Africa: Sabie Sand, the Drakenberg Mountains, and Cape Town. Sabie Sand, located on the west side of Kruger National Park, is a very large private conservation area noted for its abundant and diverse wildlife populations, including the big five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. Our accommodation is the luxury Idube Lodge. We will venture out in vehicles on game drives to see the wildlife and take guided walks with rangers. Between game drives we enjoy South African cuisine, view wildlife from elevated restaurants and other structures, and relax at the pool. After leaving Sabie Sand, we explore the spectacular and stunning scenery of nearby Blyde River Canyon and visit a restored village of the Shangana people and be entertained by a cultural performance at dinner in a traditional village.

The Drakenberg Mountains, South Africa’s premier mountain wilderness and a World Heritage Site, has majestic peaks surrounding grassy valleys, crystal clear streams, and thousands of primitive rock art paintings left by the San people. We hike, explore rock art in caves, and take a 4-wheel drive tour to the top of Sani Pass.

Our final destination is Cape Town, the gay capital of Africa, and one of the most stunningly beautiful cities in the world. This cosmopolitan city lies between the sheer cliffs of Table Mountain and the sandy and sunny beaches along the Atlantic Coast. From our comfortable lodging in the “gay village” we venture out to explore world class wineries in fertile mountain valley, hike to the top of Table Mountain for a stunning view, journey along the breathtaking coast of the Peninsula through picturesque seaside village, hike in coastal nature preserves, and finally look for whales which come ashore near Hermanus to calve. In Cape Town we enjoy world class cuisine, have the opportunity to explore the city and the gay culture.


Day 1. (6/29) Leave U.S.A. and Canada

Day 2. (6/30) Arrive Johannesburg

Arrive in the morning, meet your guide at the airport and be conducted to the Sandton Holiday Inn. Our hotel is located in an up-market area in the city center close to great shopping and restaurants. The afternoon is free to rest, shop, or explore the city. Get acquainted dinner in the evening (D)*.

Day 3-6. (7/1-7/4) Sabie Sand Game Reserve

Early morning charter flight to Sabie Sand Game Reserve to begin our safari. We spend four days and four nights in the luxury Idube Lodge, complete with comfortable suits, bar, outdoor pool, and nightly entertainment. Each day we explore the reserve via automobile and on foot to look for lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and other wildlife. (BLD)

Day 7. (7/5). Panorama Tour

Full day touring the Mpumalanga Escarpment, a high grassland plateau bordered by mountains in the northeast and an immense escarpment, which plunges to lower elevation. We visit the Blyde River Canyon, one of South Africa’s scenic highlights; Bourkes Luck Potholes, weird cylindrical holes carved into rock by whirlpools; and Gods Window, for a spectacular viewpoint. (BLD)

We travel to Shangana Cultural Village for a tour, dinner, and tribal dancing. During the “evening festival” in the flame-lit Chief’s Kaal, the history of the Shangaans is presented by a huge cast of characters and dancers, and dinner is served in the huts; a visually spectacular and moving experience. Overnight at the Mercure Hotel in Nelspruit. (BLD)

Day 8. (7/6) To Drakenberg Mountains

Early morning flight from Nelspruit to Durban, located on the Indian Ocean, and then a drive north to Sani Pass Hotel, located at the bottom of the pass. Afternoon free. (BLD)

Day 9. (7/7) Sani Pass Jeep Tour

A day long 4-wheel drive tour of the Sani Pass, one of the most scenic parts of the Drakenbergs. The drive up the pass to Lesotho has stunning views of the Umkhomazana River to the north and looming cliffs almost directly above to the south. Lodge at Sani Pass Hotel. (BLD)

Day 10 & 11. (7/8-7/9) Giant’s Castle Game Reserve

In the morning we travel north to the nearby Giant’s Castle Game Reserve, a remote area of the Drakenberg Range with basalt cliffs rising up 9,600 feet. The park has a large herd of elk, 12 species of antelope, and numerous other species of wildlife. The park is also known for San rock art, painted on cave and cliff walls over 800 years ago by a now extinct tribe. After checking in to the Giant’s Castle Lodge and following lunch, we spend the afternoon exploring the best of the San rock art in nearby caves. On our second day at the park, we take an all day hike to explore scenic areas. (BLD)

Day 12. (7/10) Travel to Cape TownM

On our two hour flight west to Cape Town, we have the opportunity to see the picturesque landscape of South Africa along the Indian Ocean. Our hotel, the Victoria Junction, a stylish, and comfortable hotel is located in the Waterfront District in the heart of the Gay Village. The afternoon is free to relax and explore the city (BL).

Day 13. (7/11) Wine Tour

Today we explore the nearby wine country, a region of lofty mountains, fertile valley, slopes planted with orchards and vines, and graceful Cape Dutch Manor houses. We visit many world class wineries including the Stellenbosch Rosteberg Estate, which has been producing wine for 300 years. (BLD)

Day 14. (7/12) Peninsula Tour

We travel south down the rugged, picturesque Cape Peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, and to Cape Point, to see the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Peninsula has some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world, idyllic beaches and charming small towns with enticing blends of good food, and interesting shops. We have the opportunity for many scenic walks. (BL)

Day 15. (7/13) Climb Table Mountain

In the morning we hike 2-3 hours to the top of Table Mountain for a spectacular view of Cape Town, and lunch. After lunch we return to Cape Town via the cableway, or on foot. The afternoon is free to relax or explore Cape Town.(BLD)

Day 16. (7/14) Whale Watching

In the morning, we travel east to Hermanus, a fashionable summer beach town, where as many as 2,000 whales migrate from Antarctica to flirt, mate, and calve in the warmer water of the ocean. We return to Cape Town in time to catch our return flight to the U.S.A. and Canada. (BL)

Day 17. (7/15) Arrive U.S.A.

* (B) – Breakfast; (L) – Lunch; (D) – Dinner


Land Cost: 7-9 participants – $3,300. 10 plus participants – $3,000.

Cost Includes: All lodging, all meals, except where noted, airport transfers, internal South African land and air travel, American trip director, and local guides.

Land Cost Does Not Include: International air travel, beverages with meals, tips for guides and other services, insurance, and dinner on days 12 and 14.


This trip is rated low in terms of difficulty. On this adventure all lodging is in hotel and there are only short day hikes. While hiking, we carry only a daypack with personal gear.