South Africa Discoverer Map
Day 1 Durban
Arrive in Durban any time and make your way to the joining point hotel. Upon arrival look for information from your CEO on the hotel bulletin board regarding the meeting time. Please make sure you have all of the necessary visas for this tour by the time of the welcome meeting. It is very important to read the Visa section in our trip details to make sure which visas you will need, if any. Please note that not all nationalities are able to obtain a visa on arrival at the border.
Explore the beach front opposite our guest house, or venture into the centre of town, taking in the fair grounds, restaurants, water sports and the now world famous “uShaka Marine World”. In the evening at the meeting, you will meet your group, some of whom may in fact be arriving into Durban on a previous G Adventures tour.
Very little is known about the first residents of the area around Durban as there is no written history of the area before it was “discovered” by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1497. Da Gama had applied the name Natal (nativity) to this stretch of coast, first seen on Christmas day of that year. The first European settlers in the area where mostly survivors of shipwrecks. One of these survivors, Rodrigo Tristaa, survived a wreck in 1552 of the Portuguese galleon Saint John, was the first to make his home here.
The Zulu nation’s formation provided wealth for a trade market in this area - European merchants set up a harbour where the base of trade with Zulus could be formed. Durban was thus created by a population of 26 hard-living traders and ivory hunters. It was named on 23 June 1835, after the governor of the Cape, Sir Benjamin D’Urban. The centre of Durban grew around its sugar cane plantations, as large numbers of Indians were brought to work on the plantations. As a result, present-day Durban it the city with the largest Indian population outside of India.
The city has grown into one of South Africa's best-known and most popular coastal resorts and commercial ports. With stretches of safe, sandy beaches and abundance of holiday accommodation destinations available and all-year sunshine attract visitors to this festive city every year. This city is enjoyed for its vibrant mix of cultures and experiences, with a large diverse population of people. The beach front area has the usual attractions, from fair grounds to restaurants, to water sports and the now world famous “uShaka Marine World”.
Day 2 Port St. Johns (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 530km
Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs
South from Durban, we travel through to the Eastern Cape province, into the heartland of the Xhosa people, and to Port St. Johns, a paradise on a large stretch of Indian Ocean coast referred to as the Wild Coast. Here you will have time to explore the dramatic scenery of the rocky beaches, hidden lagoons, and coastal cliffs.
Our campsite is about 8km's outside of town, so after arrival you can take a walk into Port St Johns.
Day 3 Cintsa (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 360km
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs
Travel along the national highway toward the former homeland, known as the Transkei, enjoying views of rolling hills, farmland and traditional Xhosa villages.
Cintsa is a little piece of paradise. The residents of Cints wants to keep it unspoilt but they also love sharing their piece of paradise with visitors.
Cintsa has a subtropical climate – Summers are hot and winter day are average 21degrees Celcius with night temperatures dropping to 10 degrees. They received their highest rainfall in November.
With unspoilt sandy beaches and a variety of fauna and flora, this eastern coast forest reserve provides a refuge from the big cities. The beach area from Cintsa west to Cape Henderson, including Cintsa East is regarded by most conservationist as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Day 4 Addo Elephant National Park (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 280km
Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs
Today we cross many unique valleys as we continue on to the Addo Elephant National Park, a unique wildlife area. Although famous for the Addo elephants, this park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and we embark on an afternoon game drive (in own vehicle) in search of the resident elephants, black rhino, lion, buffalo and even leopard. Listen to the wild sounds of Africa while enjoying your sundowner and sitting around the campfire at night.
Although the Addo Elephant belongs to the same species as the African Elephant, it is smaller, with more rounded ears and the females generally have no tusks. The park was named after the KhoiKhoi name Kadouw, which they gave to a forting place over the nearby Sundays River. The bush here is a combination of acacia, Spekboom, Gwarrie and Boerboon. The English name for the Spekboom is “Elephants food”.
In 1919 the professional hunter, Major Jan Pretorius, was hired by the administration of the Cape Province to destroy the entire herd that inhabited the area at the time. It took him a year to kill 120, but he was then stopped due to a public outcry. Only sixteen Addo Elephants remained, but they were peppered with bullet holes, panic stricken, vengeful and cunning. And they declared war on man.
In 1931, after a change in policy, the area was proclaimed as a national park. The Elephants, however, were still on the war path, destroying crops and attacking anyone who came near. Finally, in 1952, one of the beleaguered farmers of the area suggested that a fence made up of tram rails and lift cables be erected around the park. This finally kept the Elephants secure and out of the surrounding farming area.
The black rhino was re-introduced into the park in 1961, and now the park is home to a number of different animals, including the big 5 (elephant, black rhino, lion, buffalo, and leopard), zebra, kudu, eland, warthog, and many types of buck.
Days 5-6 Tsitsikamma (2B,2L,2D)
Approximate Distance: 235km
Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs
We will spend the next two nights camping in the Tsitsikamma National Park. Optional Activities in the area include hiking a portion of the Otter Trail or other short hiking trails along the coastline. Optional activities include: boat rides, canoeing, tree canopy tours, whale watching, or even the world’s highest bungee jump.
Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan word meaning, “place of much water.” The Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal and marine life, stretching along 68 dramatic kilometres of South Africa's most spectacular coastline. Enjoy spectacular views of surging waves crash over rocky coastline and old hardwood forests that dot the coastal cliffs.
Although Tsitsikamma boasts a magical world of intertidal life and reefs in its marine part, there is also the famous terrestrial part of the park with its lush forest, delicate fynbos and sheer cliffs. The park thus offers a variety of habitat for many species of birds; cormorants (Cape and White-breasted), Kelp Gulls and African Black Oystercatchers along the coastline. The forest hosts African Crowned Eagle and African Wood Owl, plus some of the accipiters such as African Goshawk and Black Sparrowhawk. The highlight of the Tsitsikamma National Park is Storms River Mouth, a large and abrupt estuary over which a precarious rope-bridge is slung.
Day 7 Knysna (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 100km
Estimated Travel Time: 1.5 hrs
Today we travel further west to the town of Knysna, famous for the Knysna Lagoon and "The Heads". The Heads are sea cliffs flanking a deep, potentially treacherous channel where the sea pours into a wide and breathtakingly pretty lagoon at the mouth of the Knysna River. Optional activities that can be done en route to Knysna are visiting a cheetah sanctuary, an elephant park or a monkey park.
Day 8 Outdshoorn (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 220 km
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs
From Knysna we take a scenic drive to travel over the Outeniqua Mountains into the area known as Klein Karoo (“Little Karoo”), where we make the quiet town of Oudtshoorn our base. Optional activities are to explore the Cango caves or to visit an ostrich farm.
The Cango Caves are sculptured by nature through the ages, and is filled with mysterious and breathtaking limestone formations in a wide variety of natural colours. They lie in the Swartberg Mountain Range in a limestone belt measuring 1.5km in width and almost 16km in length. This part of the continent was once below the ocean. As the continent rose, the Little Karoo found itself above the water level. The caves started to form some 20 million years ago, when the water level dropped to such an extent that the ground water could start to seep into the limestone. As the water seeped into the ground it absorbed carbon dioxide from the decaying plant and animal matter in the soil and this made it fairly acidic. As it seeped into the limestone, cavities were created that filled with water. Rivers also formed on the surface and cut deeply enough into the limestone to allow them to reach the level of the water pockets. This caused the water to flow out about 4 million years ago. The cave was then, for the first time, exposed to air and the speleothems (cave formations) began to form. The portion of the caves that are accessible to the public extends for 1.2km, with a further 4.1km being kept closed for conservation.
Oudtshoorn is notably the ostrich capital of the world. Here ostriches are found in great numbers and the region produces the world’s best feathers, leather products and meat. Amidst the 400 ostrich farms surrounding the town, three have distinguished themselves worthy enough to be named show farms. In addition, the Klein Karoo is one of South Africa's eight wine regions, where the sweet and desert wines are well known.
Day 9 Cape Town (1B,1L)
Approximate Distance: 450km
Estimated Time: 8 hr
Cape Town offers many different activities – something for everyone. Visit Robben Island, Table Mountain, explore Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), embark on a wine tour in and around Stellenbosch (45min drive). Visit the old French Hugonote town of Franschoek and surroundings (1h drive). For the not so faint hearted there is numerous adrenaline activities in the surrounding areas, from skydiving to abseiling to cage diving and having a close encounter with the great white sharks. Or wonder through the city centre with some of the oldest buildings and gardens in South Africa (Botanical Gardens and Parliament Gardens). Do not miss the wonderful Cultural Historical Museum, Planetarium and numerous other small museums and theatres.
Cape Town's name originated from the term 'Cape of Good Hope' when Bartholomew Diaz and other seafarers looked forward to the sight of Table Mountain, like an inn that promised hospitality and prosperity. The city is steeped in a rich history and is a cultural melting pot with its diverse and vibrant character being derived from Khoxisan and other African tribes from the North, and Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers. Cape Town is the third most populous city in South Africa, with over 3 million inhabitants, and is the provincial capital of the Western Cape. It is also the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located.
For shopping, dining and entertainment the V&A Waterfront is a hotspot for foreigners and locals alike. Still a working harbour, the Waterfront is an example of creative architecture and restoration and has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. The Waterfront offers over 250 shops from designer boutiques to craft stalls, a host of restaurants and coffee shops and plenty of other activities.
For cultural exchange, you shouldn’t miss out a "Local Dinner” in a private home in an informal settlement. This authentic community experience provides guests the opportunity to get deep inside the heart of Cape Town. Choose from Cape Malay, Xhosa traditional or Cape Town fusion foods, and visit families in their private homes in townships and get insight into South African realities - be part of the family for an unforgettable night. Proceeds go into the community.
Planeterra - the G Adventures Foundation is our non-profit organization that was developed to give back to the people and places we visit on our tours. Planeterra supports local community projects, non-profit organizations and international charities that focus on the areas of health, education, community development, environmental conservation and employment skills training.
Day 10 Depart Cape Town (1B)
Depart any time.