SOUTH AFRICA: 471,443 SQ/MI. You have 11-days in South Africa and there are 471,433 square miles to explore; what to do? If it’s a first time visit to the continent, 11.7 recommends this South Africa itinerary. And here’s why.
South Africa is one of the most spectacular countries in the world. It is blessed with a wide variety of natural habitat and is home to some of the kindest people one will ever encounter. There are so many areas worth visiting and innumerable accommodation options.
In this itinerary, we’ve put together lodges that are just right and can provide the best first time Africa experience. It’s good value for money and gives you a glimpse of the possibilities of further travel in Africa. South Africa delivers; no question about it. It will leave you wanting more, and trust us, there is a lot more.
JOHANNESBURG/ KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
Upon arrival in Johannesburg, connect to your Federal Air flight departing Johannesburg and arriving Rhino Post. Upon arrival, you are met by a representative from Rhino Post Safari Lodge and transferred to the lodge.
The lodge offers exclusive traversing in 29,653 acres of pristine bushveld in the only official wilderness concession awarded in the Kruger National Park. The concession shares an eight mile boundary with Mala Mala in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with game moving freely between the two reserves. The concession features environmentally sensitive areas previously unexplored, with a huge diversity of both fauna and flora.
Set on the banks of the Mutlumuvi Riverbed on the southern end of the concession, the elegant Rhino Post Safari Lodge is built using natural materials of stone, wood, thatch and canvas. Stilts raise the spaciously appointed suites from the riverbank allowing guests to view the Mutlumuvi riverbed with ease from the bedroom and private wooden deck. The suites are designed in an open plan style with wooden floors, thatched roofs, canvas walls and a ceiling fan. Each en-suite bathroom includes a deep, freestanding bath, twin vanities, a separate toilet and an outdoor shower protected by thick reed poles.
Kruger National Park is one of the most famous wildlife parks in the world and you spend your time here exploring the area in open game viewing vehicles or on foot under the guidance of armed and experienced guides. In the Park’s five million acres, the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) can be seen, as well as cheetah, giraffe, hippo, antelope species and a variety of birdlife.
Rhino Post Lodge
On the morning of Day 4 you fly to the Phinda Private Game Reserve. Phenomenally diverse landscapes lie within Phinda's borders and the reserve spans rocky hillsides, mountainous regions, verdant wetland "vleis", perennial and seasonal rivers, marshland, pans and the distinctive wooded Sand Forest. The plains of Phinda are the roaming grounds of buffalo, white rhino, elephant, giraffe, impala, zebra and wildebeest. Predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena wait their turn in the shadows. In pools and lakes, hippo lounge the day away, while along the Mzinene River, elephant and impala wander past.
Other optional activities such as boat rides, scuba diving or game fishing in Sodwana Bay, horseback riding through False Bay Nature Reserve, or a breathtaking flight over Maputaland, can be arranged at Phinda.
Overlooking the reserve’s unique vlei system at the edge of the sand forest, Vlei Lodge offers an intimate safari experience, with elegant and gracious spaces designed for quiet contemplation of the African wilderness. The six elegant thatched suites look out onto an ever-changing parade of animals on the open vlei. Here you can indulge in game viewing from the comfort of your private plunge pool or share it with a thirsty elephant. Experience delicious dining with an Africa twist on expansive viewing decks open to the night sky or in a beautiful remote bush setting.
Phinda Vlei Lodge
Day 7 & 8
In the mid morning today, you depart Phinda for the Cape region. Upon arrival at the Cape Town Airport, you are met and transferred to the Franschhoek Valley and the fabulous Le Quartier Francais. Le Quartier Francais is eloquently decorated, with en-suite bedrooms that open onto the rose filled central courtyard and swimming pool. Emphasis is on ultimate luxury and romantic charm, combined with the priceless gift of privacy. The unashamedly luxurious suites offer spacious lounges, private pools and complimentary full bars.
After you have settled in at your beautiful hotel, you take a tour of the Cape winelands. Visit a few of the famous wine estates for wine tasting and a cellar tour. The vineyards form a patchwork in the fertile valleys and seem to be overshadowed by dramatic mountains.
11.7 also suggest exploring the charming town of Franschhoek. Visit some of the charming small “cottage industries” in the valley, including chocolate and cheese makers and interesting craft stores. Franschhoek is where the persecuted French Protestants, among them experienced winemakers, chose to settle when they sought refuge in South Africa in the late 1600s. The place was called 'Coin Francais', the French corner; in Dutch, Fransch Hoek. Today, the French influence in Franschhoek Valley is still strong. It can be seen in the picturesque architecture of the small village, and tasted in the area’s wonderful cuisine and wines, the settlers’ greatest legacy.
Le Quartier Francais
Day 9 & 10
After breakfast, you are transferred into Cape Town for your last two nights. Cape Town is a city where old and new elements harmoniously converge in history, architecture, cultural pursuits and the essence of its people. It is dominated by a towering, table-shaped mountain set on a peninsula of soaring, rocky height, lush valleys and a dramatic coastline. Immense natural beauty and the fast pace and bright lights of a great urban center meld effortlessly here. Spend the next few days at your leisure.
11.7 suggests the following optional activities for your stay in Cape Town. 11.7 can pre-arrange and customize all desired activities and provide a private guide/ driver.
- Tour the Cape Peninsula, a stretch of rocky land jutting southward into the sea. Here one finds a myriad of pristine beaches, sheltered bays and coves, quaint fishing harbors and a rich array of rare indigenous flora. Visit Chapman’s Peak via the breathtaking Chapman’s Peak Road, which closely hugs the coastline as it was dug out of the sea wall. Take the boardwalk along Boulder’s Beach to view the famous African Penguins. Visit Hout Bay and the Cape Point Nature Reserve which is home to fynbos, various wildlife and bird species. Jackass penguins and Cape fur seals are common.
- Explore the Cape Flats and its various townships where the majority of Capetonians live. On humble and ordinary streets, visit one of the frontlines of the past resistance against apartheid and its various monuments. Take a journey through the history of forced removals, segregation and urban control that shaped Cape Town’s political, economic and social climate. Get a glimpse of the spirit that has enabled the new hope for South Africa.
- Visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in prison. From the island enjoy spectacular views of the Cape.
- Take a cable car ride up the eastern side of Table Mountain or visit Kirstenbosch Gardens, one of the world's leading botanical gardens. Here some 9,000 of the country's 18,000 indigenous flowering plant species are cultivated.
- Spend the day touring the Cape winelands. The wine-producing region around Stellenbosch is not only the most important wine growing region in South Africa, but it is one of the oldest, most beautiful and well-preserved towns in South Africa. The vineyards form a patchwork in the fertile valleys and seem to be overshadowed by dramatic mountains. There is an almost European atmosphere with beautiful Cape Dutch architecture seen everywhere.
- Take advantage of the Cape's extensive coastline with activities such as hiking, swimming and surfing as well as whale watching, predation and shark diving.
Enjoy downtime at the Cape Heritage Hotel. Historic graciousness meets contemporary chic at the Cape Heritage Hotel, a relatively unknown boutique hotel in the historic heart of Cape Town. The Cape Heritage offers easy access to the city's vibrant street life, business precinct, shopping and fine dining. The modern meets the master-crafted in rooms that feature high-beamed teak ceilings, 200-year-old Cape yellowwood floors and carefully preserved bespoke details. Throughout the hotel, sash windows reach up to high beamed teak ceilings and the original plasterwork preserved to showcase the original workmanship.
Cape Heritage Hotel
CAPE TOWN/ IN TRANSIT
After breakfast at the hotel, you are transferred to the Cape Town airport to board your departing flight.