11 DAY SELF DRIVE THROUGH SOUTH AFRICA
Travel, Garden Route, Winelands
Continue to the Winelands, with its backdrop of majestic mountain ranges and lush valleys and vineyards. Stop at wine estates for tastings and cellar tours. You will then discover the Garden Route’s treasure trove of pristine beaches, lush indigenous forests and tranquil lagoons, and finally, no visit to South Africa is complete without the ultimate Africanda adventure of a Big Five Safari.
Day 1 - Arrival in Cape Town.
Upon arrival at Cape Town airport, you make you way to the Rent-a-Car kiosk to collect your Group B hire car (Ford Ikon, VW Polo or similar). You drive towards the city and check into the Winchester Mansions. The rest of the day is at leisure. You may like to laze on one of Cape Town’s fine beaches, such as trendy Clifton or Camps Bay. Alternatively, you may prefer to explore the Victoria Alfred Waterfront, South Africa’s trendiest shopping precinct. We suggest you ride the cable car up Table Mountain in the early evening to enjoy the spectacular views over the city and across Table Bay to Robben Island.
Day 2 - Cape Point.
This morning we suggest you might like to take a drive around Cape Point. The drive will take you along the Atlantic seaboard via glamorous Clifton to the quaint seaside village of Hout Bay. Here you can take a boat ride from the fishing harbour out to the seal colony on Seal Island. Continue via the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive to Cape Point. Looking at this dramatic promontory jutting into the sea gives one an idea why early sailors nicknamed it the Cape of Storms. You can then follow the coastline northwards via Simonstown, where you can visit the penguin colony of Boulders Beach. A leisurely drive through the leafy southern suburbs will bring you back to the Winchester Mansions in the late afternoon.
Day 3 - Robben Island and Two Oceans Aquarium.
We suggest you return to the Victoria Alfred Waterfront. You can take a ferry from the Waterfront across Table Bay to Robben Island. An ex-prisoner takes you on an extensive tour of the prison, which includes a visit to Nelson Mandela’s cell, the limestone quarry and the old leper colony. This afternoon you could visit the Waterfront’s Two Oceans Aquarium, which is highly recommended for the insight it gives into life in the two oceans off the southern tip of Africa – the cold Atlantic Ocean and the warm Indian Ocean. Alternatively, museum lovers can visit the South African Museum and the National Gallery. This evening would be a good time to go up Table Mountain if the weather was inclement on your day of arrival.
Day 4 - Winelands.
You depart Cape Town and drive to the Cape Winelands, with its backdrop of majestic mountain ranges and lush valleys. You check into d’Ouwe Werf in Stellenbosch, the “town of oaks” and South Africa’s second oldest town.
Day 5 - Winelands
The next day is spent following the various wine routes (Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek). You can stop for tastings at wine estates along the way and you will have the chance to purchase some of the wines you have tasted. Particularly recommended are Fariview Estate on the Paarl Wine Route, which offers cheese tastings alongside the wine tastings, and Boschendal Estate on the Franschhoek Wine Route, which offers very interesting cellar tours. Another sight worth seeing in the Winelands is Spier Wine Estate near Stellenbosch where there is a cheetah breeding programme that allows visitors to get up close to these beautiful cats. A scenic drive over the Helshoogte Pass (Hell’s Heights) takes you to the Franschhoek Valley where you can visit the memorial to the French Huguenots, who sought refuge from religious persecution in Europe and settled here in the late seventeenth century. Franschhoek is a good lunch stop as it has a reputation as the gourmet centre of South Africa. Paarl, with its three imposing granite domes and monument to the Afrikaans language, is also an interesting stop.
Day 6 - Winelands to Knysna.
This morning you begin your journey along the Garden Route. After checking out of d’Ouwe Werf, drive over the spectacular Sir Lowry’s Pass, catching your last glimpse across the Cape Flats towards Cape Town and Table Mountain. You travel through the apple orchards of Grabouw and over undulating wheat fields to Swellendam. This small village nestling at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains has many beautiful historical buildings. You continue to the seaside town of Mossel Bay, where you can visit the “Old Post Office Tree”, a 500 year old milkwood tree used by 15th century Portuguese sailors as a mail box. A scenic drive through Wilderness and the Lakes District brings you to Belvidere Manor on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon. Take a sundowner cruise out onto the lagoon, which will take you out to the Heads, the large sandstone cliffs guarding the narrow mouth of the lagoon. You could then have dinner at one of the quayside restaurants.
Day 7 - Knysna.
Today is at leisure in Knysna. This quaint seaside village is full of arty-crafty shops and roadside curio stalls to browse through. Alternatively, you might like to delve into the past and catch the historic Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train to George and back. You could do a tour of an oyster farm, take a walk in the Knysna Forest, or drive out to the beautiful beaches at nearby Brenton-on-Sea or Noetzie.
Day 8 - Knysna.
You can spend another day soaking up the atmosphere in Knysna. Alternatively, you could take a drive to Oudtshoorn in the arid Little Karoo where you can visit an ostrich farm for an insight into the world’s largest birds. You could also visit the Cango Caves and embark on a magical journey through massive caverns and fascinating limestone formations. You could also drive to nearby Plettenberg Bay, known as South Africa’s Riviera. Plettenberg Bay has several beautiful beaches that offer safe bathing. Midyear is whale watching season in South Africa, when Southern Right whales migrate from Antarctica to calve in the sheltered bays of the South African coast. There are several licensed operators in Plettenberg Bay offering boat-based whale-watching trips.
Day 9 - Knysna to Lalibela.
After checking out of Belvidere Manor, you depart Knysna and enjoy a scenic drive over soaring single-span bridges and through the Tsitsikamma Forest, an indigenous primeval forest with towering ancient yellowwood trees, lush vegetation and deep gorges. Drive down the pass to the aptly-named Storms River Mouth where there are numerous short walking trails into the forest. You then leave the Garden Route behind and drive to the Big Five game reserve, Lalibela. Upon check-in at 13h00, you are served lunch at reception. At 14h30 you are transferred by landrover to your Lodge. After high tea, you are taken on your first game drive at Lalibela. This late afternoon/evening game drive is an opportunity to search for nocturnal animals, such as the elusive bat-eared fox, aardvark, black-backed jackal, aardwolf and the curious spring hare. You return to the lodge in time for a sumptuous safari cuisine dinner.
Day 10 - Lalibela Game Reserve.
This morning after a light breakfast you are taken on another game drive. Game drives at Lalibela bring you face to face with a multitude of game species, ranging from the mighty Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) to tiny blue duiker and rock Hyrax. Lalibela is also home to African wild dog, cheetah, hyena, hippo, giraffe, zebra, warthog and numerous species of antelope. You return to the lodge for a grand brunch. There is time to relax around the sunny pool, do some bird-watching from the observation deck, or read a book in the privacy of your room’s private deck. After tea you set off on another night drive, returning again in time for dinner.
Day 11 - Lalibela Game Reserve to Port Elizabeth
This morning you are taken on your last game drive at Lalibela. After brunch you bid farewell to this African wonderland and are transferred by landrover to reception, where your car will be waiting for you. You drive to Port Elizabeth airport and return your car at the car hire kiosk before boarding your flight.
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