18 Day South African Wildlife | Eastern Expedition

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South Africa

One of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth, South Africa, fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', boasts 11 official languages, and its inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of cultures. Discover the gourmet restaurants, impressive art scene, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches of Cape Town; enjoy a local braai (barbecue) in the Soweto township; browse the bustling Indian markets in Durban, or sample some of the world’s finest wines at the myriad wine estates dotting the Cape Winelands. Some historical attractions to explore include the Zululand battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town. Above all else, its untamed wilderness is astonishing: wildlife roams freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Panorama Route

Days 1 - 2

Connecting the Lowveld and the Drakensberg, and sandwiched between the Kruger National Park and the Highlands Meander, the historical Panorama Route is a scenic drive in the Mpumalanga Province. The route features sensational views of natural wonders including fascinating rock formations and impressive waterfalls and boasts numerous scenic hiking trails alongside a myriad of fauna and flora. The quaint little town of Graskop serves as the gateway to this wonderful route. Panorama’s undoubted highlight is the Blyde River Canyon, one of the world's largest green canyons, filled with lush subtropical vegetation. Some other popular attractions along the route include the spectacular Lisbon, Berlin, and Mac Mac Falls; Bourke's Luck Potholes; the Three Rondavels; and the astonishing God’s Window. Don’t miss the world-famous Kruger National Park and the picturesque gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest, a historic living museum.

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Central Kruger

Days 2 - 5

Set at the heart of South Africa’s largest and most famous game reserve, Central Kruger is home to large numbers of lions, hyenas, cheetah, leopards, buffalo, wildebeest, elephants, zebra, and birds of prey. The Olifants River flows through the region, a popular bathing and drinking site for hippos, elephants, and other mammals. Visitors can explore the area by way of guided game drives, bush walks, bird walks, and night drives. The area is also conveniently close to the Masorini archaeological site, an excavated ruin that dates back to the late Iron Age known to be a trading post for iron products by the Ba-Phalaborwa people. Other popular attractions easily accessible from the region include the spectacular Mac Mac Falls and the quaint historic town, Pilgrim’s Rest.

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Southern Kruger

Days 5 - 8

The southern area of South Africa’s most famous game reserve, the Kruger National Pak, is separated from lush farmland by the Crocodile River, a popular area to spot crocodiles, playful hippos and thirsty wildlife. The game viewing area is known as the ‘Southern Circle’ and is renowned for its rhinos and lions, with different prides boasting an array of different hunting techniques and behaviours to observe. Near the Hippo Pool, visitors can view ancient San rock paintings. The Southern Kruger offers incredible game-viewing opportunities and magnificent landscapes covered in African bushveld and savannah.

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eSwatini

Officially known as the ‘Kingdom of eSwatini’ and still referred to as Swaziland, this tiny landlocked nation boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage and is Africa's last remaining absolute monarchy. Swaziland encompasses a diverse array of ecosystems featuring towering mountains and low-lying savannah, tangled rainforests and lush river valleys. Highlights of this laid-back land include the mesmerizingly beautiful ‘Valley of Heaven’, the handicraft haven of the Malkerns Valley and the Hlane Royal National Park, famed for its white rhinos, antelopes and lions. Visitors can look forward to excellent wildlife watching, rafting, mountain biking, and hiking along a network of scenic trails which traverse spectacular mountainous landscapes.

Hlane Royal National Park

Days 8 - 9

Situated in Swaziland’s Lubombo Region, Hlane Royal National Park is the country’s largest protected area covering 30 000 hectares of Swazi bushveld. The landscape is characterised by ancient hardwood vegetation, shallow pans, and lowveld grasslands. The park is home to lion, elephant, white rhino, and leopard with an array of diverse bird life, including the highest density of nesting white-backed vultures in Africa. Visitors can enjoy guided bush walks, excellent game viewing, bird watching, lion and rhino tours, guided mountain bike trails as well as fascinating cultural tours.

South Africa

One of the most culturally and geographically diverse places on earth, South Africa, fondly known by locals as the 'Rainbow Nation', boasts 11 official languages, and its inhabitants are influenced by a fascinating mix of cultures. Discover the gourmet restaurants, impressive art scene, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches of Cape Town; enjoy a local braai (barbecue) in the Soweto township; browse the bustling Indian markets in Durban, or sample some of the world’s finest wines at the myriad wine estates dotting the Cape Winelands. Some historical attractions to explore include the Zululand battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and Robben Island, just off the coast of Cape Town. Above all else, its untamed wilderness is astonishing: wildlife roams freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Mkhuze Game Reserve

Days 9 - 11

Situated northeast of Richard's Bay in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal, the state-owned 40 000-hectare Mkuze Game Reserve is known for its dramatic landscapes, exceptional birdlife, and amazing cultural village. The scenery is beautifully diverse, with thornveld on the hills, an enchanting fig tree forest near the pans, swathes of acacia savannah, swamps, riverine forest and a rare type of sand forest. The reserve is home to incredible birdlife, featuring over 420 species. Animals on the reserve include lion, elephant, zebra, hippo, crocodile, black and white rhinoceros, giraffe, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, eland, impala, kudu, other smaller antelope and so much more. Rare species occurring in the reserve are cheetah, hyena, suni and leopard. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the unique cultural village, which offers a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle and crafts of the local Zulu community.

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Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park

Days 11 - 14

The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is the jewel in the crown of the KwaZulu Natal game reserves. Proclaimed in 1895, it is also the oldest game reserve in Africa. Initially two separate reserves, they were joined to create a single 94 000 hectare reserve which is home to one-fifth of the world's black and white rhino population. It was here that the internationally acclaimed Operation Rhino started in the 1960s, successfully capturing and relocating white rhino to havens within South Africa and abroad. The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park was the first reserve to introduce walking safaris and its Wilderness Trails are internationally renowned. Visitors can also look forward to visiting a traditional Zulu village, enjoying a horse riding safari, and spotting the world-renowned Big Five as well as a wide variety of bird species.

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St Lucia

Days 14 - 16

Encircled by the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, St Lucia is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. St Lucia lies on the magnificent St Lucia Estuary which is one of the largest in Africa stretching over 85 kilometres. It features abundant wildlife, pristine natural beauty, and offers a wide range of wonderful activities. This haven of tranquillity offers excellent mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and deep-sea fishing. Visitors can also look forward to thrilling night drive safaris, hippo and crocodile cruises, and many comfortable accommodation options.

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Central Drakensberg

Days 16 - 18

The Central Drakensberg is home to some formidable peaks including Monk's Cowl, Giant Castle Peak and Champagne Castle. The range rises to over 3000 metres in height and offers inspiring views and spectacularly scenic hikes. Known to the Zulus as the 'Barrier of Spears' and to the first European settlers as the 'Dragon's Mountains', the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg is one of eight South African UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as it holds unique significance as a natural resource and for the heritage of the ancient San rock paintings. For thousands of years the Central Drakensberg was home to the San people and they, in turn, left their record on the walls of numerous sandstone caves.

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