Travel across Southern Africa on a luxury expedition that couples natural drama, breathtaking wilderness and city splendor.
Guests will be met on arrival at Cape Town International and transferred to their hotel for the beginning of the 14 Day Cape, Wine, Kruger and Victoria Falls Tour. Cape Town is set in an area regarded by many as one of the most beautiful in the world. The impressive presence of Table Mountain, flanked by Devil's Peak and Lion's Head stands proudly above the city. Beautiful white sandy beaches along a stunning coastline frame the Cape Peninsula, which is famed for its unique floral kingdom, bountiful rivers, and magnificent countryside. During the afternoon, guests will be taken by cable car to the top of Table Mountain, where they will enjoy a spectacular view of the Cape Peninsula, Robben Island and Lions Head. Then it's back to the Cape Grace Hotel, which is regarded as the finest hotel in Cape Town. The hotel has in the past won the "small luxury hotel of the world" award.
After a lavish breakfast, guests will be taken on a breathtaking drive along Chapman's Peak. This road hugs the near-vertical face of Chapman's Peak between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. The road leads to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point. In the nature reserve we visit the point, where the stormy waters of the Atlantic are met by the calming influence of the Indian Ocean. On the return journey to Cape Town, we visit the towns of Simons Town and Muizenberg, both set along the shores of False Bay. A visit is also made to Boulders Beach, an attractive secluded haven comprising a tumble of huge round boulders on a sandy shore. The boulders are ideal vantage points for observing the antics of the colony of mainland-based African penguins.
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those that they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society. The most well-known of political prisoners is former president Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned here by the apartheid government. The island is a living museum and is reached by a return boat trip leaving from the waterfront (half an hour each way). It is a World Heritage Site, and your guided tour around the museum is conducted by an ex-inmate and is an experience not to be missed. The afternoon is spent relaxing on the V&A Waterfront before enjoying a sunset cruise in Table Bay.
First on the agenda are the oldest gardens in South Africa - the Company Gardens. They were established in early 1652 by Jan van Riebeeck as a vegetable garden and were originally closer to the coast. In an effort to plant in more fertile soil and on ground sheltered from the wind, he moved his garden with its northern boundary to where Wale Street is today, and this is where it remains. The large public park and botanical garden are home to a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond and aviary.
We then visit the Cape Castle and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Kirstenbosch is nestled at the foot of Table Mountain and includes a large, indoor greenhouse exhibiting plants from a number of different regions, including savanna, fynbos, Karoo and other biomes. Outdoors, the focus moves to plants native to the Cape region, highlighted by the beautiful collections of proteas. Some time is then allotted to lunch before visiting the District Six Museum.
District Six was named after the sixth municipal district of Cape Town and was established in 1867. Originally a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants, District Six was a vibrant center with close links to the city and port. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the history of removals and marginalization had begun. The first to be 'resettled' were black South Africans, displaced from the district in 1901. As the more prosperous moved away to the suburbs, the area became the neglected ward of Cape Town. The museum will offer insight into the history of the area.
Breakfast is followed by a 40 minute drive to the Cape winelands where we devote some time to exploring the town of Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch was founded by Simon van der Stel in 1679. The town became known as "the City of Oaks" due to the large number of oak trees that were planted to line the streets. Upon completing our tour of the town, we visit two of the famous wine estates situated in the area. The first wine route was established in the 1970's. Today, various wine routes offer visitors the opportunity to taste more than 260 different wines. From Stellenbosch, the tour makes the short drive to our hotel, situated a stone's throw from town.
The French Huguenots brought their knowledge of viticulture with them and, upon receiving land from the Dutch East India Company, many vineyards were established and are today still producing some of the world's finest wines. You will spend some time exploring the town of Franschhoek before visiting three local wine estates, where we will sample the fine wines they produce. Franschhoek is known to be the home of some of the top restaurants in South Africa and this, along with its strong wine culture and pristine natural and architectural beauty, has made Franschhoek into what many have described as the "food and wine capital of South Africa". The tour returns to Stellenbosch during the late afternoon.
An early breakfast is followed by a flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga Airport). Guests will be met on arrival at the Nelspruit airport and transferred to the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Sabi Sand shares an atmosphere of adventure and romance, inherited from the days of the safari traders, hunters, prospectors and transport riders. The fence between the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park was taken down some years ago to enlarge the protected area in which the big herds of elephants may roam free. The day will end with an open vehicle game drive.
Two game drives and a bush walk will bring guests close to the famous African Big Five, offering sightings of lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. Walking through a wilderness area with nothing but a guide and his rifle to protect you is a surprisingly peaceful experience. Once you overcome the fear of being in the wild with nothing to separate you from the animals, your senses awaken and begin to tune themselves into the immediate smells, sights, and sounds of the South African wilderness. This is undoubtedly an experience that will live with you for a lifetime.
After a morning game drive, guests may relax at the pool or make use of the spa facilities on offer at Lion Sands. The lodge also offers an optional tour to a local rural village and community center where guests will learn more about how the locals make their living. Once again the day will end with a late afternoon game drive in the company of your experienced ranger and tracker.
A last morning game drive and breakfast will be followed by a flight to Johannesburg. Guests will be met on arrival and will be transferred to their hotel located in Sandton, Johannesburg. Sandton is the financial hub of South Africa and various companies' head offices are located in the area. The late afternoon will be spent at leisure, enjoying a drink at one of the fine restaurants found in Mandela Square or visiting some of the numerous shops in the area.
After breakfast, guests will return to O R Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) for a flight to the town of Livingstone in Zambia. Guests will be met on arrival at Livingstone Airport, from where we visit the Livingstone Museum en route to the hotel. The town was established in 1905 by the British South Africa Company and bears the name of the famous missionary explorer, Sir David Livingstone. The Livingstone Museum is centrally located and houses the largest collection of Livingstone's letters and journals. It bears testament to the legacy of this legendary man who spent more than half of his life in Africa. A glimpse of the thundering Victoria Falls is followed by check-in at the hotel, where the late afternoon is spent at leisure.
The morning will start with breakfast, after which, from where different views of the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls are enjoyed. The unusual form of the falls enables virtually its entire width to be viewed face-on from as close as 60 meters, as the Zambezi River drops into a deep, narrow gorge. On our way back to the hotel, guests will visit the village of Chief Mukuni and his people. Chief Mukuni jointly rules the Victoria Falls region with his queen, Be Dyango. The Mukuni monarch practices a dual kingship system following both male and female lineages. Because of this dual-rule arrangement, which is present even at village level, gender imbalance is on a comparatively small scale in this culture. The visit will offer guests a better understanding of how the Chief and Queen manage the lives of their approximately 7 000 subjects.
The morning is devoted to an elephant-back safari in a wilderness area not far from Livingstone. An experienced elephant minder will accompany each elephant and client. Upon mounting the elephants, the safari begins. View game and savor the experience of riding silently through the African bush atop a gigantic pachyderm. Your safari ends with a short training session and interaction with the elephants and is followed by a late breakfast or early lunch. Guests then return to the hotel where they are met during the late afternoon for a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. View game coming to the water’s edge for a late afternoon drink, as the setting sun creates a splendid display of warm colors over one of Africa's finest wilderness areas.
A leisurely breakfast is followed by a transfer to Livingstone Airport and from there a connecting flight to Johannesburg. Guests will be met on arrival in Johannesburg and are then assisted in transferring to an international return flight to their country of origin, or, alternatively, are transferred to any location of their choice in either Johannesburg or Pretoria. Memories of a wonderful African tour are sure to be painted in your recollections forever.
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