PLEASE NOTE: While most TravelMaven tours are very small groups (limited to 12 adults), our March Break Special was created for a larger group and is open to all ages, especially kids. In fact, our goal is to “take over” the Rio Vista Lodge, creating an action packed and exciting atmosphere for everyone. Rio Vista has a variety of room types, including family suites and chalets, so suitable accommodation is available regardless of the number in your family. As such, this would be the perfect multigenerational vacation!
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 kid, but for many Canadians, an African safari has always seemed too far, too expensive, too dangerous, or just too much to seriously contemplate.
Well, here's some good news: TravelMaven wants to make this dream a reality for you and your family!
This tour is a TravelMaven March Break Special, meaning it was put together specifically for teachers, education workers and families who get a March Break, but cannot leave early or return late. And, in a travel world set up mostly for double occupancy, this tour has been structured for couples, solo travellers and larger families too.
Unlike most TravelMaven tours, our March Break Special was created for families. If you want to take your kids, let us know, and we can figure out accommodation that works for you. There are multiple room options (including family rooms for 4 persons), and there's sure to be one available for every requirement.
Some may say "South Africa is too far to go for one week". While we agree that more time is almost always better than less time, (e.g. our two week CAPE TOWN & KRUGER SAFARI tour), one week is still plenty of time to see a single destination. In fact, travelling from Toronto to Kruger will take about the same time as driving from Ontario to Florida - a trip Ontario families have been making for decades. But in this case, at then end of your 24 hour journey, you'll get a real African safari rather than a contrived experience at Disney!
Our home-away-from-home in the Kruger will be the Rio Vista Lodge, overlooking the Crocodile River. From here, we will enjoy five day trips, including three safaris into Kruger National Park. The first safari will be all-day (departing at 5 am!), the second will be an evening safari that starts in the daylight and ends after dark, and the third will be a chance to see whatever we've missed the first two times.
In addition to our safaris, we will also do a few more awesome things. For example, we will make a full day tour to the Panorama Route to see the Blyde River Canyon, considered by some to be Africa's Grand Canyon. We will also visit Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden, the Sudwala Caves, and even the i'landa Mall in nearby Nelspruit to see how South African families live and shop today.
It's important to note this is an "almost all-inclusive" package - even beer and wine is provided with dinner. Guests only pay for some lunches and souvenirs. Prices in South Africa are very reasonable (e.g. beer $3), so this could easily total as little as $200 for the week.
I am confident this will be the trip of a lifetime for whomever joins us. If you've read this far, you must have an African safari on your bucket list. Here's your chance to scratch it off!
TYPE: March Break Special
HOTEL: 3 star (2)
LENGTH: One week
City Lodge Hotel, Johannesburg Airport
Rio Vista Lodge, Malelane (Kruger)
Kruger full-day (10 hr) safari
Kruger half-day (6 hr) safari
Kruger sunset (4 hr) safari
Panorama Route full-day tour
Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden visit
Sudwala Caves tour
1 night City Lodge Hotel, 6 nights Rio Vista Lodge, including breakfast and dinner; 1 lunch; Welcome Reception; 10 hr Kruger safari, 4 hr Kruger sunset safari, 6 hr Kruger safari; Panorama Route day tour; Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden, Sudwala Caves, full time Canadian Tour Concierge & local safari guides, all ground transportation; all taxes.
This tour is guaranteed to depart. These Land Package prices are quoted in Canadian dollars and 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 10 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 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 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 (attached to the terminal). Depending on arrival time, travellers may have 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 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 Afsall Trader’s Rest and lunch at Skukuza, the largest rest camp in the park. Before returning to Rio Vista, we will also stop at a local supermarket to stock up on snacks & drinks, and see who South African grocery stores compare to Canada.
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. Once again, travellers will get to see a little slice of life for middle class South Africans. Dinner is back at the Rio Visa Lodge.
(B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner)
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. Those interested can also join Barry when he visits a local elementary school to deliver gifts of friendship from Canada. in the late afternoon we will head back to Kruger for a sunset safari with National Park staff. Dinner will be at a local sports bar & restaurant, the Duck & Dive.
Day 7 (Thu) Panorama Route & Blyde Canyon (B, L, D)
We will leave early, headed north to experience the world-famous 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. There’s even a chance to bungee jump, for those so inclined.
Day 8 (Fri) Kruger Half Day Safari (B,D)
On this day, guests will experience their final Kruger safari in the morning, followed by some free time back at the Rio Vista Lodge. Those interested can also make a final shopping trip to the nearby Inkwaze Shopping Centre. In the evening, we will treated to our Farewell Dinner, a South African braai (bbq).
Day 9 (Saturday) Transfer to Johannesburg (B)
After breakfast, we will depart Rio Vista Lodge for the final time, heading to Johannesburg to catch our flights home. Those flying Ethiopian Airlines will leave early to catch their 14:25 departure. Those flying KLM (affiliated with Air France & Delta) have a couple of evening departure options.
Day 10 (Sunday) Arrival in Toronto
Depending on their flight plan, travellers arrive back in Toronto in the morning, afternoon or evening.