We first pick up the land only clients from the start hotel and then proceed to the airport for the arrival of the group flight. We then transfer to the town of Graskop perched on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is a long drive but we stop at regular intervals to take in the spectacular scenery and to visit the well-known Mac Mac Falls. En route we also travel through South Africa's highest town, Belfast (1970m), and the scenic Long Tom Pass. We also take the opportunity to stock up on supplies such as drinks and snacks.
After a leisurely breakfast we walk from the town of Graskop along the Graskop trail through pine plantations and indigenous forests to the forest falls. We have the opportunity to take a swim in the falls before having a picnic lunch. We then drive the short distance to the old gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest where we spend some time exploring this unique frontier town by foot. We return to Graskop late afternoon. 4 - 6 hours walking.
We drive through some stunning countryside this morning, starting with the stunning views at God's Window. If we are lucky, God's Blanket may be down, a majestic cloud inversion that gives you the feeling of being on top of the world. We visit the fascinating rock formations at Bourke's Luck Potholes, before stopping for the most breathtaking views over Blyde River Canyon, the 3rd largest canyon in the southern hemisphere. We arrive at our cabin mid-afternoon and may take a short optional hike in the surrounding woods before a relaxing evening around the campfire. 2 hours walking at the different view points, 2 hour optional walk.
A full day's walking in the Magoebaskloof Mountains. We take the section of the route known as the Dokolewa Waterfalls Trail in the Limpopo Povince. This area has the largest stand of indigenous forest left in South Africa and there will be the chance to see the elusive Samango Monkey! Some great walking through various forest types, including Blue gum eucalyptus. There will be chances to cool off in natural waterfall-fed pools whilst walking and at our overnight stop where our hiking cabin sits alongside the river. 6 -7 hours walking.
Today we transfer through beautiful scenery to a private reserve in the lowveld area near Kruger National Park, arriving early to mid-afternoon for lunch. Two days of bush camping on the private reserve means we get very close to the wildlife around us. In the evening there is the option to take a sunset game drive and enjoy a few 'sundowners'.
We get up before dawn for an early morning game walk (2-4hrs depending on temperatures) led by a local guide and tracker. We will follow water drainage lines in search of animals and will learn about plants, spoor and birds as well as the big game which is found here. We return to camp for a big breakfast and to relax during the hottest part of the day whilst the animals hide away from the sun. We cantake a dip in the pool at the lodge next to our camp or visit a nearby snake park where we are given demonstrations in reptile conservation. In the late afternoon there is the option of sunset game drive (not included). 2 - 4 hours walking.
We head on to Kruger National Park, justifiably one of the most famous wildlife parks in the world. It is also one of the oldest, established by the South African president Paul Kruger in 1898. It has arguably the greatest variety of animals of any park in Africa, with lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, black and white rhino, as well as cheetah, giraffe, hippo and many species of antelope and smaller plains game. We game drive (in our vehicle) through the park where we have an excellent chance of seeing a wide variety of wildlife. We arrive at our campsite in the Kruger in the late afternoon just before the camp gates close to maximise our game-viewing chances.
Up before sunrise this morning for a game drive (in our vehicle) at, arguably, the best time of day for game-spotting. We return to camp for breakfast and to pack up before moving onto a new country: Swaziland. We leave the Kruger park at around lunch time and have a short stop to resupply before crossing the border into Swaziland. We drive to the hilly Malolotja Nature Reserve (3 hours). We spend a relaxing evening in the cabins ready for a long walk the next day.
There is superb flora here and we take a day-walk on one of the picturesque walking trails. Over 280 species of birds have been spotted in this reserve, as have many antelope species. You will have great views and the chance to spot various eagles or even the very rare Bald Ibis. The Nkomati River cuts a gorge through the park and flows east in a series of falls and rapids before it meets the lowveld. Nearby Ngwenya has one of the world's oldest mines, dating from 41,000 BC. 8 hours walking.
Today we head out of Swaziland back into South Africa. We visit Ezulwini Valley Craft Market before heading south through rural Swaziland. Upon leaving Swaziland we move on to Mkhuze Game Reserve in Zululand. Mkhuze is one of the last safe havens for the endangered black rhino and a very popular birding destination with over 420-recorded species. We set up camp before an active day tomorrow.
We will take a morning game walk with a ranger, to see if we can get up close and personal with these rare rhinos, plus various other species. After a big brunch at one of the many picnic spots, we will have the chance to visit a hide at one of the waterholes on an afternoon game drive. Sit in the quiet and see all sorts of species come up and drink, from the playful baboons to the nervous zebra. There may be a chance for an optional sunset drive with the camp rangers as well. 2 - 3 hours walking depending on the temperature.
A full day's drive to the Royal Natal N.P. Along the route we will stop for lunch at one of the various historic sites. This could be a Zulu battlefield or museum (entry fee at your own expense), as we drive through the heart of Zululand. We aim to arrive late afternoon into the camp at the foot of the Drakensberg, so we can do a short 1-hour walk.
The Drakensberg is a basalt escarpment forming the border between Kwa Zulu-Natal and Lesotho and continuing into the Free State. It means 'Dragon Mountains', but the Zulu named it Quuathlamba ('the Barrier of Spears') - a more accurate description of the sheer, forbidding, jagged escarpment. Today we follow the Thukela river, past Protea trees (the national flower of South Africa as well as the name of their cricket team), indigenous yellow wood forest and mountainous grasslands to the natural Amphitheatre and Thukela Waterfall viewpoint. The walk takes us into the heart of the Royal Natal National park and offers stunning views of the dramatic northern Drakensberg Mountains. 6 - 8 hours walking.
In the morning we drive to the trek start point at the Sentinel gate, via the Oliviershoek pass and Sterkfontein dam. From here we trek along the edge of the mountains, possibly chaperoned by mountain baboon, up to the ladders, which take us to the top (2,900m). There is an alternate scrambling route for those that don't wish to take the ladders, but this will take longer. We then follow the Thukela River to the edge of the waterfall and enjoy the stunning views across the amphitheatre and our previous day's route. We then walk back to the vehicle and transfer a short distance (15km) to our lodge on top of the world. 6 hours walking
There will be an optional short final morning walk in these wonderful mountains, with a local guide, before driving back to Johannesburg. 3 hour optional walk.