BONUS DAY! For 2021 only, this tour has been shifted from February to March and will overlap with our 10 day KRUGER SAFARI March Break Special. As a result, the 2021 tour will be 17 days rather than the regular 16 days. The extra day will be at Kruger, while the second week in Cape Town will retain the regular program.
Who hasn't dreamt of riding across the African savannah in an open vehicle, checking out the elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, zebras, and a few big cats? I think everyone had this dream as a child, but for many Canadians, an African safari has always seemed too far, too expensive, too dangerous, or just too much to seriously contemplate.
Well, TravelMaven can make this dream a reality if you join us for two weeks in South Africa.
Our first week will be spent in Kruger National Park, the most famous safari destination in the world. Our home-away-from-home there will be the lovely Rio Vista Lodge, overlooking the Crocodile River. This family run resort is friendly and casual, with meals provided in their awesome outdoor restaurant.
The marquis attraction on this tour is the three safaris. The first is a full day outing, departing at 5 am to catch sunrise in the park. The second is starts at sunset, and is led by National Park staff. This is a unique opportunity to see nocturnal activity. The final safari is for 6 hours, and can be customized for birds or other priorities.
In addition to safaris, there are also two full-day tours. The first is along the Panorama Route to see the awesome Blyde River Canyon. The second is to nearby eSwatini (a.k.a. Swaziland), an independent country located between South Africa and Mozambique, where we will enjoy the rugged mountains and cultural experiences. We will also visit Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden, a rehabilitation and research centre for abused primates, and the Sudwala Caves.
Our second week will be in South Africa's Western Cape region based in Cape Town, a historic port city and perennial candidate for 'most beautiful city in the world'. While in Cape Town, we will stay within the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a spectacular development that links an active harbour with dozens of cafes. restaurants, galleries and shops. In this area, visitors from around the world walk the streets and paths safely, enjoying the works of art, soaking up the vibe and breathing the salt air.
While in Cape Town, nobody should miss Robben Island. This prison, where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years, has become the #1 attraction in South Africa. To access other sights and attractions, our hotel is conveniently located across the street from the main 'Hop On Hop Off' bus station, making exploring the city and region easy and convenient for everyone.
While Cape Town is amazing, so is what lies beyond it in the rest of the spectacular Western Cape. We will explore the Cape of Good Hope and visit the Boulder Penguin Colony. We will spend a morning at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and ascend Tabletop Mountain by cable car or hiking (for the more adventurous) to look out over the city and Atlantic Ocean.
In terms of meals, breakfast is included daily, as are dinners during our first week at the Rio Vista Lodge. However, during the second week in Cape Town, travellers have more restaurant options and free time. That’s because the Waterfront offers multiple wonderful and surprisingly affordable dining options.
Fortunately, the cost of living in South Africa is lower than Canada. As a result, meals and drinks are less expensive. Lunch can be found for less than $10, dinner for less than $20 and a beer or glass of wine is usually less than $5. As a result, I think guests should budget $300 for meals not included. (Obviously, this could be more if guests choose expensive restaurants.)
I first visited South Africa in 2015 with my family during our six month around-the-world tour. Believe it or not, when asked afterwards which country was our favourite, all four of us chose South Africa (and there was plenty of stiff competition)! Ask around, everyone who goes to South Africa loves it!
TYPE: Bucket List
HOTEL: 3 star (2) & 4 star
LENGTH: Two weeks
GROUP: Max 12 guests
City Lodge Hotel, Johannesburg Airport
Rio Vista Lodge, Malelane
Kruger safaris (3)
Eswatini day tour
Panorama Route day tour
Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden tour
Portswood Waterfront Hotel, Cape Town
Visit to Robben Island prison
Cape Town Hop on Hop Off Pass
Cape Point & Penguins full-day tour
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens visit
Groet Constantia winery tour
1 night City Lodge Hotel, 7 nights at Rio Vista Lodge, 6 nights at Portswood Hotel, breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 8 dinners, 2 Welcome Receptions, 10 hr Kruger safari, 6 hr Kruger safari, 4 hr Kruger sunset safari, Swaziland tour; Panorama tour; Jane Goodall Chimp Eden tour, Sudwala Caves tours, Robben Island tour, Unlimited 5 day Hop On Hop Off bus pass; Cape Point & Penguins full-day tour; Tabletop Mountain cable car or hike;TravelMaven Tour Concierge, all ground transportation and all taxes.
Tours are guaranteed to depart regardless of group size. This Land Package price is quoted in Canadian dollars, based on double occupancy, and is only guaranteed when a $250 deposit is received.
Day 0 (Thu) Early Arrival in Toronto
Guests from outside Toronto may wish to take advantage of a special rate TravelMaven has arranged at the Crowne Plaza Hotel that includes 16 days parking. Ask about this option when booking your tour.
Day 1 (Fri) Depart Toronto
There are many flight options to South Africa, but we suggest one of two. The first is with Ethiopian Airlines which departs Toronto about 10:00 and arrives in Johannesburg about 13:00 the next day. The second is with KLM Airlines which departs Toronto about 18:00 and arrives in Johannesburg about 22:00 the next day.
Day 2 (Sat) Arrive in South Africa
Barry will meet travellers upon arrival at Johannesburg Airport and walk them over to the CityLodge Hotel, which is attached to the terminal. Depending on arrival time, travellers may enjoy some free time, possibly taking a swim in the pool or enjoying a meal at one of the many restaurants available.
Day 3 (Sun) Overland to Kruger, Sudwala Caves (B,D)
After a nice breakfast, our group will head east towards Kruger National Park. Along the way, we will make two stops. The first is the Alzu Welcome Centre for lunch. The second is Sudwala Caves, a place where we will begin our quest to understand the Kruger region. After check-in at Rio Vista Lodge, we will enjoy a Welcome Reception and brief presentation highlighting the history of Kruger National Park.
Day 4 (Mon) Kruger Full Day Safari (B,D)
For many, this will be the most exciting day of the tour. We will leave our hotel at 5 am in open safari vehicles to catch sunrise in Kruger National Park. This is a full-day safari includes morning coffee at a lunch stop at Skukuza Camp. Before returning to Rio Vista, we will visit a local supermarket to stock up on snacks & drinks.
Day 5 (Tue) Chimp Eden & i’langa Mall (B, D)
In the morning, we will visit Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden. This mountain-side facility rehabilitates and provides a refuge for abused chimpanzees. Afterwards, we will stop at the i’langa Mall for lunch and some free time. Dinner is back at the Rio Visa Lodge.
Day 6 (Wed) Free Day & Kruger Sunset Safari (B, D)
Guests will have most of the day to relax around the pool, read a book, or enjoy a massage or treatment in the on-site Eagle View Spa. For those interested, we will visit a local elementary school to deliver gifts of friendship from Canada. In the late afternoon, we will head back to Kruger Park for a sunset safari with National Park staff. Dinner will be in town at a local sports bar & restaurant, the Duck & Dive.
Day 7 (Thu) Panorama Route & Blyde Canyon (B, L, D)
A private coach will take us north to experience the magnificent Panorama Route. This spectacular drive overlooks the Blyde River Canyon, sometimes called Africa's Grand Canyon. There will be several stops for photographs, and lunch will be provided.
Day 8 (Fri) Kruger Half Day Safari (B,D)
On this day, guests will experience their final Kruger safari in the morning, followed by a free afternoon at the Rio Vista Lodge. A shopping trip to the nearby Inkwaze Shopping Centre is also available in the afternoon. In the evening, we will treated to our Farewell Dinner, a South African braai (bbq).
Day 9 (Sat) eSwatini (aka Swaziland) Day Tour (B, L, D)
On our last day in this region, a private coach will take us to nearby eSwatini, an independent nation situated between South Africa and Mozanbique, to learn about their unique culture and way of life. At the end of the day, we will stop for dinner before returning to the Rio Vista Lodge for our last night.
Open safari vehicle in Kruger National Park
Day 10 (Sun) Fly from Kruger to Cape Town (B, D)
After breakfast and check out, we will be transfered to nearby Mpumalanga Airport, where we will catch our 2 hr flight to Cape Town. Upon arrival, our private transfer will take us to the Portswood Hotel in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront District. After check in, we will enjoy a Welcome Dinner in a nearby restaurant.
Day 11 (Mon) Robben Island & Sunset Tour (B)
A short walk from our hotel is the ferry that takes us to Robben Island, site of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment for 18 years. At the end of the organized tour, guests will have the option of returning to the Waterfront, or staying longer to explore the island. For those interested, there is a Sunset Tour to Signal Hill, where we can watch the sun plunge into the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 12 (Tue) Table Mountain (B)
On this day we will ascend Cape Town's most famous icon, Table Mountain. We will catch the cable car to the top and enjoy a leisurely stroll catching the amazing views of Cape Town. Afterwards, guest will have two options: take the cable car back down and return to the Waterfront, or join a group hike (moderate difficulty for 3-4 hrs) that will bring us off the back of Table Mountain.
Day 13 (Wed) Cape of Good Hope (B,D)
On this day we will visit the Cape of Good Hope, including a visit to the Western Cape's penguin colony. Once again, guests will have two options. For non-hikers, there is a day-trip offered by the Hop-on Hop-off bus company,. For those wanting a more active day, a hike around the Cape Point Nature Reserve will be offered. In the evening, we will enjoy the Portswood Hotel's Wednesday Cape Malay Curry Buffet.
Day 14 (Thu) Botanical Garden, Groet Constantia Winery (B)
In the morning we will visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Afterwards, we will continue to the Groet Constantia winery for lunch, a tour and wine tasting. Alternately, guests may prefer to spend the afternoon in Camp's Bay, or return to the Waterfront for the harbour or canal tour. In the evening, those interested may join Barry for a trip downtown to experience the (seedy but fun) nightlife found on Long Street.
Day 15 (Fri) Free Day (B)
There are multiple options for guests on this day. In fact, picking which one may be the biggest challenge! In 2020, many guests booked a full day winery tour to Stellenbosch, a couple took a Township Tour, one woman visited a couple of Cape Town's amazing museums - and one even took a helicopter tour of the Western Cape region.. In the evening, many of us went for pizza & beer.
Day 16 (Sat) Depart for Toronto (B)
On this day, after our final breakfast and check out, we will head for home. Those travelling with Ethiopian Airlines depart Cape Town International at 14:35. Those travelling with KLM (partnered with Air France & Delta), have two or three options in the evening.
Day 17 (Sun) Arrive in Toronto
Depending on their flight plan, travellers arrive back in Toronto in the morning, afternoon or evening.
The wineries of Stellenbosch & Paarl.