Published on : 07 July 20209 min reading time
After a few days exploring Cape Town, the mother city of Africa, you head for Hermanus, a coastal town where whales meet, discover the small kingdom of Swaziland, go on safari and taste the best wines in South Africa! It is a unique adventure to share with your family.
Here you are in Cape Town, considered the mother city of South Africa. Three days of open house await you; to animate them, here are some suggestions for visits. A day can be spent discovering Cape Town and the majestic landscapes of Table Mountain. Its surprising nature and historic centre with its main arteries of Long Street and Kloof Street should not leave you indifferent. In the heart of the City Bowl, the historic heart of Cape Town, you will discover Greenmarket Square and its craft market in the sumptuous setting of the historic monuments that surround the square. Walk past Old Town House, the old town hall completed in 1761, along Longmarket Street, St George Mall, a pedestrian shopping street with musicians and street dancers, and Adderly Street where there is a beautiful flower market. You can admire the Groote Kerk and Old Slave Lodge, the former slave house that now houses a museum that traces the city’s history. Also not to be missed is the Castle of Good Hope, a 17th century star-shaped fortress built by the Dutch. Nearby, at the Grande Parade, a flea market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In the Malaysian district known as Bo-Kaap, the Malaysian community has managed to resist the pressures of apartheid politics and the call to prayer of muezzins is still being heard from the pink or pistachio minarets. The façades are narrow, the pastel walls decorated with elaborate parapets and the streets still paved. Finally, the docks of the old port offer some good restaurants: an ideal place to end a day in style!
During this day, on the program, the discovery of Hermanus located about 2 hours by car. National Road 2 leads you to Walker Bay on the Indian Ocean. The whales meet off the coast of the seaside city of Hermanus from July to October. The coastal city has built an international reputation in the field of cetacean observation. Every year during the southern winter, humpback and southern right whales, returning from their distant wanderings in the seas near Antarctica, gather in the sheltered bays of the Cape coast to give birth to their young. Whales sometimes approach the coast very close, to such an extent that it is often possible to admire them from the rocks. Megapters are among the most “acrobatic” of all great whales and it is common to see them perform large jumps or pirouettes out of the water: a stunning sight! Several species of dolphins also frequent the sheltered areas of the coast. In Gansbaai, you have the opportunity to do a “shark dive” to observe these marine giants very closely, well protected in a submerged cage: adrenaline rushes guaranteed!
In the Winelands
This day is dedicated to the vine! At the wheel of your rental car, we advise you to follow the wine route. Through a superb region of mountains and fertile valleys, the Wine Route is dotted with beautiful Cape Dutch style residences. You will discover the most famous in the small colonial towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoeck and Paarl. You can taste the excellent wines of South Africa. A wine and university centre, Stellenbosch has vines that are three hundred years old and proudly displays its white houses with elaborate Cape Dutch-style gables. In the heart of the Winelands, this charming city founded in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company is also the cradle of Afrikaans culture. Its superb campus makes you want to go back to school: some evenings, thousands of students invade the city’s bars in a carnival atmosphere. Another nugget not to be missed: The village of Franschhoek (the corner of the French), South African gastronomic capital located in one of the most beautiful valleys of the country. It is in this valley that French Huguenots, including winegrowers, settled at the end of the 17th century. It is possible to taste wines from different estates in the region.
Durban and Saint Lucia
You are arriving at Cape Town Airport to catch your flight to Durban. Upon arrival, you take possession of your new rental vehicle and drive along the Indian Ocean coast to St Lucia, where your accommodation is located. A quiet village located along the estuary, St Lucia is home to many crocodiles and hippos. Separated from the sea by a cordon of giant dunes, Saint Lucia Wetland Park is characterized by a series of lakes and large swamps that serve as a refuge for many animal species. A colony of 600 hippos, crocodiles, elephants and 300 bird species have made their home in this park, which was the first in South Africa to be inscribed on the list of World Natural Heritage Sites.
Leaving Kwa-Zulu Natal, you will have the opportunity to cross the small kingdom of Swaziland. It is one of the last remaining monarchies in Africa. Bordered to the northeast by Mozambique and to the other three sides by South Africa, this small landlocked and mountainous country with its waterfalls and rivers, enjoys a temperate climate and offers superb landscapes. Swaziland is a real paradise for rock climbing and hiking enthusiasts. You can discover the candles of Swaziland. This traditional art is probably the most famous in Swaziland. Using the “millefiore” technique (a thousand flowers), craftsmen use a special, hard wax to create coloured patterns. Each candle, shaped and finished by hand, is very finely decorated, reflecting a great attention to detail.
The Sabi Sands Reserve
You are already leaving the Kingdom of Swaziland for a return to South Africa in a northern direction to reach the Kruger Park region. After crossing the border, you cross the towns of Nelspruit and Hazyview and continue towards one of the private animal reserves in the Sabi Sands region. Your lodge is in the heart of this reserve. After a little rest to enjoy the incredible setting of your private reserve, departure in the middle of the afternoon for your first 4×4 safari experience with a specialist driver-guide and a tracker in charge of identifying and following the animals’ tracks. Sabi Sands is the most famous wildlife viewing area in South Africa. The reserve borders the Kruger National Park and there is no barrier between them. Animals therefore move freely through it. The return is scheduled after sunset with a night safari on the way to dinner. This is taken in the “boma” around a wood fire and in the open air. Kruger Park is one of the largest animal life sanctuaries on the planet. Created in 1898 to protect the fauna of the Lowveld, Kruger has become the jewel of South Africa’s national parks. It is home to almost all species of the great African fauna (elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes, antelopes, warthogs, giraffes, primates…), some of which are rather rare, such as the wild dog or black rhinoceros. Today, the park covers an area of nearly 2 million hectares. This is not to mention the Sabi Sands and Timbavati private reserves, which are adjacent to Kruger Park and no longer separated by fences. Kruger Park and the adjacent private reserves now form a single conservation area with some 8,000 elephants, 1,200 lions, 250 cheetahs, 900 leopards, 20,000 buffaloes, 1 million antelopes, rhinos, warthogs, giraffes, several primate species, etc. In addition, there are 507 bird species, 114 reptiles, 34 amphibians, 49 fish species and more than 300 tree species! You participate in two safaris a day, one at sunrise and one at sunset. Accommodation is provided in lodges (bush hotels) with a particularly high level of comfort and service, generally integrated into the natural environment in an exemplary manner. The number of visitors admitted is very limited, which guarantees a quality atmosphere and exceptional privacy. The guides (“rangers”) are among the most competent in the country.
Blyde River Canyon
After a final morning safari, you will head back to your next stop. This day could be an opportunity to discover the splendours of the Panoramic Highway along the Blyde River Canyon. The northern part of the Drakensberg mountain range, the canyon extends over 26 kilometres. Its 800 meters deep are impressive! During this day, you can explore Three Rondavels and its rocky massifs that look like traditional Zulu huts. It is one of the most beautiful views overlooking the vastness of the canyon and the lake. Bourke’s Luck Potholes is also to be discovered. Constituting the confluence of the Blyde and Treur rivers, this site was named after a gold prospector named Tom Bourke who reportedly found a huge gold nugget. The formation of these potholes, emphatically called “Pots of Giants” or “Witch’s Cauldrons”, is due to violent eddies and whirlwinds that have eroded the rock for centuries to form amazing cylindrical sculptures. Finally, don’t miss God’s Window! Famous for the magnificent panoramic view of Lowveld (with Kruger National Park and Mozambique in the background) over 800m below. To fully enjoy the scenery from God’s Window, go there on a clear day. Several spectacular waterfalls also punctuate the southern part of the Blyde River Canyon.
JOHANNESBURG Blyde River Canyon – Nelsprut
After a last moment of relaxation, you will take the road back to Nelspruit airport where you will return your rental car to take your flight back to Europe via Johanneburg. Why not before that, if you feel like it, fly over the magnificent landscapes of the region in a hot air balloon?