South Africa. Naturally

For travellers with less time available South Africa offers good opportunities to see much of the country in a relative short period of time? When your luxury South Africa is limited to the eastern part of the country, it is very well possible to experience many of the highlights that the country has to offer. Of course, a stay in one of the luxury private game reserves should not be missed. For some more activity the coastal area and St. Lucia Wetland Park present plenty of options. Finally, you can really stretch your legs when walking through the impressive Drakensberg Mountains. After this luxury South Africa holiday you can surely say that you feel completely rejuvenated. This complete South Africa itinerary takes you to Makalali Private Game Reserve, the small Kingdom of Swaziland, the stunning wetlands of St. Lucia, tropical Durban and the rugged peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains. All this in two weeks time, without having to rush through the country. It is an ideal itinerary for travellers with little time, but that also do not want to make concessions to the quality of a luxury South Africa holiday.

Tour duration: 17 days, 16 nights

Price: From £ 2144 per person (high), from £ 1969 per person (low) for two adults sharing

Best time to visit: All year round

Day 1 & 2: Flight to Johannesburg

Johannesburg starter pack

Today your South Africa luxury self drive tour starts. Most flights from the UK arrive in Johannesburg the next morning after a flight time of about eleven hours. After clearing customs and reclaiming your baggage you'll be met by our local representative in the arrivals hall. You will receive a comprehensive information pack that contains local vouchers and driving instructions. There is a shuttle service between the airport and hotel for the first overnigh stay (leaving every half hour). The hotel is conveniently located near the airport so that you don't have to travel a lot today after such a long flight. The hotel is simple, but definitely modern and comfortable enough for a one night stay.

Hotel name: Protea OR Tambo Hotel style: travel convenience

Day 3: Johannesburg - Hazyview

panorama route three rondavels south africa

Well rested breakfast awaits you in the restaurant next morning. Shortly after breakfast your rental car will be delivered to the hotel. Now it is really to start your South Africa luxury self drive tour. From Johannesburg you depart in easterly direction for the five hour drive to Hazyview. The roads in this part of the country are of excellent quality, so you can concentrate fully on getting used to South Africa road etiquette. From the city of Nelspruit the route continues northbound over smaller roads to the village of Hazyview. The hotel for the coming night is located just outside the village and next to the Sabie River. Hazyview is a well known base for travellers visiting Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route. Upon arrival you have some time to relax, for example by taking a swim in one of the two swimming pools. Or go take a stroll along the river: with some luck you may be able to see hippos here. In the evening you can choose to stay in and have dinner in the lodge restaurant, but you can also choose to find an alternative in town. They happily advise you at the reception. Breakfast next morning is included and is served in the lodge restaurant. (Driving distance 380 miles)

Name hotel: Hippo Hollow Country Estate Hotel style: riverside fusion

Day 4: Hazyview - Makalali Private Game Reserve (via Panorama Route)

luxury safari tent Kruger

We recommend getting up early in the morning. This way you have the opportunity seeing a part of the Panorama Route before travelling to your lodge in Makalali Game Reserve. Visiting the Panorama Route is definitely worth the detour. En route you'll come across many impressive viewpoints, but also the famous Blyde River Canyon. It is a magnificent sight: this canyon is 16 miles long and 800 metres deep making it the third largest canyon in the world. Via the town of Hoedspruit you follow the main road further to the lodge where you'll be enjoying the African bush the forthcoming days. When you arrive before three o'clock in the afternoon you can directly join the evening gamedrive. The tent in which you sleep is simply stunning. Inspired by stories from a bygone era these tents appear very 'Hemingwayish', but with a wink. The design is truly unique and tasteful at the same time. Your own private patio has a -much needed- hammock and the bathroom features an indoor and outdoor shower. Your ranger picks you up just before dinner: the lodge is not fenced in and game is able to roam freely (and sometimes very close to the lodge). (Driving distance 180 miles)

Hotel name: Garonga Safari Camp Hotel style: tented safari for the soul

Day 5: Makalali Private Game Reserve

safari Makalali

After a comfortable night's sleep, your ranger wakes you up early in the morning. First things first: after a quick tea or coffee it is time to embark the open 4x4 safari vehicle with some of the other guests and ranger. The ranger/guides in this area are exceptionally well trained and are therefore able to provide you the best safari experience possible. They possess an impressive knowledge about all flora and fauna in the area. Through their years of experience they are able to find and recognise animals tracks as if it is nothing. By following these tracks (or "spoor") they show you a wide variety of game. It is absolutely amazing to notice how much a game ranger actually sees, without you ever seeing it yourself. This is definitely the added value of staying in one of the private game reserves. These enthusiastic people can show you so much more than you would be able to see for yourself. Makalali is situated off the beaten path which shows itself by the very low amount of other vehicles encountered when on safari here. You barely see other 'hunting' visitors. Back in the lodge breakfast awaits you after which there is time for relaxation. At around four o'clock in the afternoon the second gamedrive starts.

Hotel name: Garonga Safari Camp Hotel style: tented safari for the soul

Day 6: Makalali Private Game Reserve

swimming pool safari South Africa Makalali game reserve

The bush expects you to get up early once again. Depending on the season you're travelling in, morning game drives start between five and six o'clock in the morning. Today you will try to tick off the Big 5 as much a possible (altough there is no African buffalo in Makalali). Our eyes are getting used to the bush more and more and by now you've learned where to look and what to look for. Perhaps you are the first one to spot that sleeping lion under a tree today. After breakfast there is an opportunity to join the ranger for a safari on foot. Bsides that it is also a nice idea to take a refreshing swim in the spectacular swimming pool. In the afternoon the Landrover is ready for you again to start a new search in the bush. In the few remaining hours of the day the South African bush appears completely different compared to the morning. The environment changes colour every minute and even the smell is different (don't be surpised when you think you smell potatoes). Back in the warmly-lit lodge you are first invited to have a drink at the bar before dinner starts. The rangers usually join you for dinner which provides some great entertainment: they are ful of incredible bush stories. Before getting into bed you have the opportunity of taking the much famed "bush-bath": literally a lavish bath in the open air, a truly romantic and unforgettable experience.

Hotel name: Garonga Safari Camp Hotel style: tented safari for the soul

Day 7: Makalali Private Game Reserve - Swaziland

Swaziland hotel

Following the bush experience near Kruger national Park, you continue your Africa safari to the Kingdom of Swaziland. It is considerable distance, over 200 miles. Take the road south by rental car to the border with Swaziland. Crossing the border normally doesn't take too much time, and from there simply follow the road to Mbabane. The accommodation for your overnight stop is located near Mlilwane National Park, the biggest national park in Swaziland. Surrounded by mountains and a colourful garden this lodge provides accommodation with a country feeling. The rooms are not particularly luxurious, but good enough for one night. They are equipped with bathroom, telephone and television. From the room and patio you can ejoy wonderful views over the moubtains. To recover from the long drive you can make use of the swimming pool or visit one of the nearby waterfalls. In the evening an excellent dinner awaits you close to the cosy fireplaceand the terrace offers a nice view of the surrounding mountains. In order to get the car you an afternoon swim in the pool or one of the nearby waterfalls. In the evening enjoy dinner by candlelight or cozy fireplace in the adjacent restaurant. (Driving distance 217 miles)

Hotel name: Foresters Arms Hotel Hotel style: highland simplicity

Day 8: Swaziland - St. Lucia

St Lucia hotel

Today you cross the border into South Africa again. St. Lucia is easily reached via the N2 motorway. The guest house is located near the pleasant village where you can find many nice restaurants and bars. This striking guest house lies adjacent to the St. Lucia Wetland Park, from the garden you can enjoy views over the nature reserve. The structure is expecially notable for its magnificent architectural features: this type of design ins found nowhere else in South Africa. The project was designed by a Dutch architect and is based on so-called "Nouvelles Formes". The interior of the guest house is characterised by an optimal interplay between modern design and African nature. The result is a minimalist approach, while maintaining a warm African ambience. The guest house only has five large rooms (50 square metres each approximately), where diversity is emphasised by using different colours and special lighting effects. All rooms are air conditioned. In addition there are king-size beds with Auping matrasses, satellite television, comfy chairs, mini-bar and coffee/tea making facilities. The guest house is run by the Dutch Olga en Hans who are really passionate about St. Lucia and offer a wealth of information about what to do when staying in the area. (Driving distance 205 miles)

Hotel name: Serene Estate Hotel style: lakeside minimalistic chic

Day 9 & 10: St. Lucia

hippo st lucia South Africa

You have got two full days to spend in St. Lucia and surroundings. There are many activities and attractions around, so you will definitely need this time to make the most out of your stay. Some options for you to choose from: recommended is a cruise on Lake St. Lucia where you can see hippos and crocodiles in great numbers. Or maybe you rather visit the striking beach at Cape Vidal? You can stroll over the beach without seeing another person for hours. Maybe you really got hooked on safaris? Then visit Hluhluwe-Infolozi Game Reserve not fat from St. Lucia. Is today a beautiful weather day? Seize the opportunity and visit Cape Vidal first. The next day you can spend visiting Hluhluwe, Africa's oldest protected nature reserve. Here you can make your own safaris with your rental car and search for the Big 5.

Hotel name: Serene Estate Hotel style: lakeside minimalistic chic

Day 11: St. Lucia - Durban

Durban South Africa

After the last night in incredible Serene Estate your stay in St. Lucia ends. You continue your South Africa luxury self drive tour to the southwest. Today's destination is KwaZulu Natal's largest city: Durban. We schedule a one night stay in our guest house overlooking the Indian Ocean. The guest house can be described as classic, cobined with some elegant and stylish touches. There are just fifteen rooms, all lavishly decorated. Rooms are equipped with wireless internet connection, satellite television and air conditioning. Not far from the restaurant are some excellent restaurants, please enquire at the hotel reception for advice. Also the beach is very close. (Driving distance 171 miles)

Hotel name: Goble Palms Guesthouse Hotel style: stylish urban

Day 12: Durban - Drakensberg south

Drakensberg luxury lodge

Today a complete different experience swaits you. Make ready for some streneous walks and muscular pain. Your efforts will be richly rewarded: The view from the top of the Drakensberg Mountains are some of the best we ever saw in South Africa. With your rental car you travel in northwestern direction. It is great sight seeing the mountains appearing on the horizon. The next beautiful accommodation is located close to the foot of the Sani Pass, the mountain road between South Africa and Lesotho. Also in the southern Drakensberg there are many activities available. Rooms are classic and elegantly decorated, they provide a very romantic atmosphere. You will have no trouble sleeping here in the king-size beds. The rooms are equipped with bathroom, television and coffee/tea making facilities. All rooms provide stunning views over the mountains. Activities range from horseback riding, walking trails, mountain biking or scenic flights in a microlight aircraft. Naturally, a perfect start of your day includes a sumptuous breakfast (Driving distance 136 miles)

Hotel name: Qambathi Mountain Lodge Hotel style: classic mountain retreat

Day 13: Drakensberg south

Sani Pass Lesotho South Africa

A full day at leisure in the Drakensberg. Our Chic! tip is to travel to the top of the Sani Pass. It is inaccessible for regular 2x4 cars, so you can join a day trip accompanied by a professional guide and a four-wheel drive car. Sani Pass is a truly magnificent piece of road engineering and an attraction in itself. At the bottom of the pass you pass the South Africa border, after which the driver slowly starst ascending the steep unpaved road. En route you see the scenery change to an almost surreal moonlike landscape. Arrived at the top you'll pass through Lesotho customs (so bring your passport) and find a remarkable restaurant. Welcome to the highest restaurant in Southern Africa. Enjoy a cup of coffee while overlooking Lesotho on the one side, and South Africa on the other. After return to the lodge there is time to relax, followed by dinner in the restaurant.

Hotel name: Qambathi Mountain Lodge Hotel style: classic mountain retreat

Day 14: Drakensberg south - Drakensberg north

lodge Drakensberg

Today you'll travel to the northern part of the Drakensberg Mountains. You traverse the province of KwaZulu-Natal and pass some meadows en route that served as battlefields for the Anglo-Boer war early twentieth century. English colonists fought the Afrikaners (descendants of Dutch settlers) in some gruesome battles in this area for power in South Africa. The coming two nights you stay in a charming accommodation overlooking a characteristic mountain range called the "Amphitheatre". You are within easy driving distance of the Royal Natal Drakensberg Park. Peace, comfort, and above all space are keywords here. The accommodation is designed like a lodge: There is a central building, which includes the reception area and an excellent restaurant. Your overnight stay is in one of only fourteen cottages. The suites are spacious and all have a wonderful view of the Amphitheatre. There is a small riding school at the lodge where you can go for horse riding (even for absolute beginners). Breakfast and dinner are inclusive. (Driving distance 186 miles)

Hotel name: Montusi Mountain Lodge Hotel style: clean air spaciousness

Day 15: Drakensberg north

Drakensberg hiking walking South Africa

After breakfast and soaking up some of the fresh mountain, you have a bit of a luxury problem. What to do? There are opportunities to go hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing or perhaps go on a cultural excursion. Everything is possible. We highly recommend the Drakensberg hiking excursions which are organised from the lodge, which can be quite streneous. There are multiple options for visiting the Amphitheatre. The best option, in our opinion, depars from Royal National Park and takes about five and half hours. This walking trail, where you are being accompanied by expert guides, concentrates on the lower section of the Amphitheatre. The guide takes you to the Tugela Gorge (carved out by the Tugela River), the return walk is about 8.5 miles. En route you will come across a tunnel which you crawl through, a rope ladder and some large rocks that should be climbed. If temperatures are high, there is the chance of taking a refreshing dip in a mountain rock pool. So do bring a towel! At the end of the day you return to the lodge probably very tired, but also extremely satisfied.

Hotel name: Montusi Mountain Lodge Hotel style: clean air spaciousness

Day 16 & 17: Drakensberg north - Johannesburg - return flight London

lodge South Africa

This luxury South Africa holiday ends today. The flight back to the UK only leaves in the evening. As such, there is some time left to explore the region on your way to Johannesburg airport. A good idea is to travel via Golden Gate National Park for a lunch stop. In Johannesburg you drop off the rental car, check in, and have some time for a small bite. You'll arrive in London the next morning.

You can request a quote for this complete South Africa luxury holiday by completing a quote request form. For more suggested itineraries see our luxury South Africa holiday overview.

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Rental car (included).

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Included: car hire category C; meet & greet; route information package

Excluded: extra costs car hire (more information); park entry fees; optional excursion; intercontinental flights; all items of personal nature and tips

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