From its dramatic coast to the undulating lowveld where iconic creatures roam, South Africa dazzles with its natural bounty. Get to know captivating Cape Town with a private guide, and explore the seaside landscapes of the Western Cape, blanketed in milkwood forests and exotic wildflowers. Then travel to a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park for a thrilling safari experience.
Arrive in Cape Town and transfer to your hotel, located on the Victoria Alfred Waterfront. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, strolling the lively docks or dining on a harbor-front patio.
The day starts with a guided trip along one of the most scenic roads in the world. Chapman’s Peak Drive is carved into coastal mountains, offering sweeping views of shimmering Atlantic waters. Our first stop is the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Here, hike coastline trails that run through flowering shrublands while keeping an eye out for rare bird species and baboons. Visit the reserve’s landmarks, including the Cape Point lighthouse and the Cape of Good Hope, the southwesternmost point in Africa. After lunch, walk to Boulders Beach, home to hundreds of African penguins. On your way back to Cape Town, get immersed in a sea of exotic blooms at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, where over 7,000 plant species flourish.
Ferry across Table Bay to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Return to the mainland and ride the cable car to the summit of Table Mountain. From here, take in spectacular views over the City Bowl before descending and exploring the streets below. Wander past the brightly colored homes and mosques of the multicultural Bo-Kaap neighborhood. End your tour of Cape Town with visits to some of its foremost museums and historical sights, including the Castle of Good Hope, South Africa’s oldest existing colonial building.
Today’s trip along the South African coastline takes you to the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Nestled in the nooks of an ancient milkwood forest with expansive views of the wildlife-rich Walker Bay, Grootbos is part of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection. This afternoon, trace the legacy of ancient peoples who once lived at water’s edge. Walk a path that winds along limestone cliffs and white-sand beaches to discover ancient seaside cave dwellings where important Stone Age artifacts and fossils have been unearthed. Tonight, as a National Geographic traveler, you’re invited to enjoy a special private dinner in the lodge’s boma, savoring excellent cuisine while surrounded by thousand-year-old milkwood trees and a starry sky.
Enjoy a full day to discover the diverse natural wonders of this pristine corner of Africa. Ride horseback along one of the many scenic trails winding through Grootbos Reserve and take in views of the vast Atlantic to the south and craggy peaks to the north. If you wish, dare yourself to encounter great whites face-to-face on an optional cage-diving adventure, or take an optional scenic flight for incredible aerial views of South Africa’s splendid coast. This afternoon, join a guide on a nature walk through the gnarled milkwood forests, a unique ecosystem in which some trees date back nearly a thousand years, or hike the fynbos-clad slopes of the nearby mountains. Breathe the sweet scents of seasonal flowers as you pass through a colorful Eden of over 750 plant species. Toast an ocean sunset from one of the lodge’s balconies.
Embark on a morning bird-watching expedition with a naturalist, spotting weavers at their dangling nests and other exotic and brightly colored species that call the reserve home. Or set out on an optional wildlife cruise, keeping your eyes out for southern right whales (June-September), dolphins, seals, and penguins. Go for an afternoon hike or take a coastal drive to see the convergence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Fly from Cape Town to Skukuza, the airstrip for world-renowned Kruger National Park. Transfer to one of the four stunning National Geographic Unique Lodges set within the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. Sabi Sand is the oldest private reserve in South Africa and shares an unfenced border with Kruger, allowing animals to roam freely. Head out on your first safari this afternoon and track elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards, rhinos, and so much more.
Rise with the sun to join experienced rangers on two full days of game drives in search of wild dogs, hyenas, and impala engaged in their morning routines. If you choose, you may set out on foot with a tracker, learning about the smaller flora and fauna of the bush and identifying signs of wildlife. Grab your binoculars and go birding on the reserve, where roughly 350 species flutter and roost. Late in the afternoon, embark on a safari that continues into the evening. As the sunset creates a pallet of red, gold, and orange across the vast, African sky, stop for a sundowner drink, and then watch for the evening activity of nocturnal wildlife.
Venture out on one last safari before flying to Johannesburg and connecting to your international flight home.