This luxurious rock art-oriented tour introduces visitors to some of the finest, most well-preserved rock art sites accessible to the public.
Guests are met on arrival at O R Tambo International in Johannesburg by the African Sky guide for their 10 Day South African Rock Art tour. We then travel southeast via the N3 highway, passing through the vast tracts of farmland of the Free State before crossing over into KwaZulu-Natal shortly after Harrismith. The surrounding landscape rises gradually along the route as the Drakensberg mountain range begins to appear in the west. We arrive at our overnight accommodation on a farm just outside the tidy Midlands Meander town of Mooi River (‘beautiful river’) in the late afternoon.
After breakfast, we head southwest toward the Kamberg Nature Reserve in the foothills of the Drakensberg. Kamberg is home to Game Pass Shelter, known as the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of rock art sites, as archaeologists studying these paintings uncovered a vital key to understanding the symbolism of San rock art. The paintings at Game Pass Shelter enabled archaeologists to learn about the San’s beliefs that they could draw mystical powers from animals, depicting images seen by shamans during trance-like states. The eland, one of the most significant symbols in Bushman culture, occurs throughout, along with various therianthropic figures. The guided trail to the shelter departs from the Kamberg Rock Art Center and it generally takes around three hours to reach the extraordinary site. We return to Hartford House in the late afternoon.
Today’s cultural pursuit comprises the Main Caves at Giant’s Castle. Giant’s Castle is one of the most spectacular regions in the Drakensberg, rich with awe-inspiring views, cool rock pools, clear mountain streams and ancient history. The Main Caves are an easy hike from the camp office - between 30 and 45 minutes. Due to weathering and damage by visitors of years’ past, the main caves are now protected in a museum to ensure future preservation. The guided experience is quite informative and provides captivating insight into the world of the San. The rest of the day is spent at leisure. Opt to venture further into the Giant’s Castle Reserve with a hiking map in hand, cool off in one of the sparkling natural waterways or return to Hartford House for fishing, horse riding or a tour of Summerhill Stud - host to the stallions of the First Family of Dubai.
Following an early breakfast, the tour departs the Natal Midlands, returning to the N3 highway and heading southeast toward the coastal city of Durban. Guests board a flight to Cape Town, arriving in the Mother City just in time for lunch. After checking in at your overnight accommodation in the exclusive seaside suburb of Camps Bay, enjoy an afternoon at leisure admiring the spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The day is devoted to exploring the circumference of the Cape Peninsula, traveling via the awe-inspiring Chapman’s Peak Drive which skirts the rocky coastline that winds its way between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. The first stop of the day is at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve - a dramatic location rich with views, wild beaches and scenic walking routes. Animals such as baboon, ostrich, blesbok and red hartebeest frequent this reserve on the southwestern tip of Africa. En route back to Cape Town, the tour makes a stop at Boulders Beach, a sheltered cove in False Bay that serves as a conservation site for a colony of African penguins. Strewn with ancient granite boulders and fine white sands, the beach is the perfect setting to observe these endearing seabirds. Guests return to their overnight accommodation in the late afternoon.
Today guests will enjoy a trip to the top of South Africa’s most iconic natural landmark; Table Mountain. Enjoy spectacular 360 degree views from the modern rotating cable cars before reaching the summit. A network of trails leads visitors to various vantage points, and you may even encounter a dassie or two (rock hyrax) while exploring. Following your visit to Table Mountain, the tour makes its way to Kirstenbosch. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens offer a green paradise with hundreds of indigenous plant species. From fynbos to ferns, proteas to pines, this colorful Eden is ideal for hiking and picnicking. Every season teases new hues from the palette, ensuring that the gardens are a year-round destination.
After breakfast, the tour departs Cape Town for the natural drama of the Cederberg. The drive of between three and four hours traces the N7 northwards, traversing the Swartland with its silvery sheaths of renosterbos, which darken dramatically after the winter rains. After Piketberg, the road passes through the Olifants River Valley at the foot of the Cederberg Mountains - a region known for its proliferation of citrus farms. The route traces the Olifants River to the town of Clanwilliam, where the river is impounded in the Clanwilliam Dam. The rock formations and mountains increase radically as the road turns east into the Cederberg Wilderness Reserve. Bushmans Kloof is located in the eastern foothills of the Cederberg Mountains. The reserve covers 7 500 hectares, encompassing leagues of Cape Floral Kingdom and 130 bushman rock art sites. Fauna such as Cape mountain zebra, bontebok, red hartebeest, ostrich and gemsbok roam the landscape. With no towns or cities for miles around, the effervescence of the night sky will take your breath away.
Your rock art excursion embarks in the early morning, inclusive of an open-air nature drive and a guided hike to some of the country’s most significant rock art sites. Noteworthy sites include Bleeding Nose Shelter (with its dramatic contrast against white sandstone), Fallen Rock Shelter (one of the largest and most well-preserved sites in the Pakhuis region) and Sonya’s Cave. After an informative visit, guests enjoy a scrumptious bush breakfast before returning to the lodge. Back at the lodge, visitors are welcome to explore Bushmans Kloof’s Heritage Center, which provides fascinating insight into the history of the area’s ancient inhabitants. The center hosts a collection of artifacts and offers specialist talks. The herb garden affords the opportunity to learn more about the botanical remedies employed by the Bushmen and Khoi. Spend the afternoon at leisure or opt for a relaxing sunset nature drive in the reserve. After-dinner drives are also available, ensuring spectacular stargazing and the chance to encounter nocturnal animals such as aardwolf, bat-eared fox and porcupine.
An exciting medley of activities are available at Bushmans Kloof. Nature drives, guided walks, bird watching, bush picnics and view-rich sundowners form the core of the experience and are available at guests’ behest. Canoes are provided at the dam, where guests may similarly enjoy swimming in the crystal-clear pools formed by the Olifants River’s tributaries. Fly fishing is another popular venture, with fishing equipment readily available to tackle the Clanwilliam Yellowfish in one of the reserve’s many waterways. Spa treatments and local excursions to the Cederberg Wine Route, Rooibos Tea Factory and Lambert's Bay are offered at an additional cost.
Following a last breakfast in the magical Cederberg, the tour returns to Cape Town via the N7. Guests are dropped off at Cape Town International or any location of their choice in Cape Town after an unforgettably adventurous tour exploring South Africa’s captivating rock art sites.
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