“Change is the name of the game in Africa and this is especially true in South Africa. As a second generation native, I have witnessed everything from government changes to the rise of leaders such as Nelson Mandela. Through it all, South Africa has always carried a special place for me because of its dynamic blend of the modern metropolis of Jo’burg and small cosmopolitan Cape Town with the quintessential safari experience. And, it serves as a gateway to the entire continent. Some things never get old.”
Day By Day Itinerary
Day 1: Cape Town, South Africa / Cape Winelands
Welcome to South Africa! In the Arrivals Hall, look for your representative, who will be holding a name-board with your surname on it. You will receive any necessary documents (if applicable) at that time. Your driver will transfer you from Cape Town to your Winelands hotel. The drive to Franschhoek will take about an hour, depending on traffic. The Winelands region is an area of exquisite beauty with rocky mountains overlooking green vineyards. The attractions of the region encompass South Africa’s famous wines estates, the superb Cape Dutch architecture, fine restaurants, boutique shops and galleries, and the scenic drives or walks in the surrounding mountains. Explore the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch, a bustling university town; and enjoy the rural charm of the Huguenot settlement of Franschhoek, or meander along a wine route. Your hotel offers a warm ambience with a 'Cape Provencal' style in in the heart of the pretty village of Franschhoek. It has easy access to the boutiques, cafes and galleries of the village. The auberge is set around a colorful garden with a central swimming pool. The 15 rooms and six suites are spacious and stylishly furnished with air-conditioning, underfloor heating, fireplaces, extra-large beds, Egyptian cotton linen, bathrooms with separate shower and bath and large sitting areas. It is widely known for its excellent cuisine. Le Quartier Français - Auberge Room (B)
Day 2: Cape Winelands
This morning, begin your South Africa adventure with a drive into the Hottentot Holland Nature Reserve for a zip lining experience. In a previously inaccessible and pristine area of this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be transported by 4×4 high into the mountain range. Professional guides accompany your small group, and explain the nature and geology of the region. Once you are safely prepared, you will glide along steel cables from platform to platform, 13 in all, taking you past waterfalls and through valleys. Some slides are up to 320 meters/1,050 feet long, satisfying both nature and adventure enthusiasts. This afternoon, you enjoy a private tour to the Cape Winelands for a leisurely exploration of the historic towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek as well as wine tasting at local wine estates. Enjoy lunch at one of the award-winning winelands restaurants. A combination of the favorable effects of the two major ocean currents meeting off the Cape makes the climate in the area perfect for the acres of vineyards. The stunning backdrop of the mountains, the tree-lined streets and the white gabled Cape Dutch homesteads all blend in tranquil harmony. The exact wine
estates to be visited will vary for each private tour as everyone has their own preference in wines. Your guide will discuss all the options with you and select the best wine estates to visit. You also experience the rich historical and architectural traditions of the region. Stop in the picturesque village of Franschhoek set in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. Enjoy some of its many interesting shops and boutiques. Then head to Stellenbosch. It is easy to see why Simon Van Der Stel decided to build a village in such an idyllic spot. The Cape Dutch architecture along the oak-lined streets and the many alfresco cafes give Stellenbosch a certain charm. Return to Cape Town in the late afternoon. The majestic scenery of the winelands is unparalleled, so even if you are not a wine buff, the countryside, towns and history make it well worth the visit. This tour does not take place on Sunday. Le Quartier Français - Auberge Room (B,L)
Day 3: Cape Winelands / Cape Town
You get an early start this morning for the trip up Table Mountain by cable car. Savor the panoramic views of the whole of the Cape Peninsula. There is time for a short walk at the summit to admire the incredible scenery. Then, get ready for a thrilling adventure – abseil off Table Mountain! You will step off the top, at 1,000 meters/3,281 feet above sea level, and rappel into pure vertical space. This is the world's original highest commercial abseil. You are surrounded by awesome views and the deep blue Atlantic at your feet. At the end of the abseil, you enjoy a short hike (20-30 mins) to get back to the top of the mountain. (Cable car tickets included however, ascent as well as the abseil jump are weather dependent).
Then set out for a comprehensive city orientation tour of the city. Cape Town is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Cradled by Table Mountain, it has immense charm and historical interest while its unique cultural blend – part African, part European and part Asian, makes for a cosmopolitan dining experience. The roster of sights include the Castle of Good Hope, the original fort of Cape Town built in 1652, the historic center of Cape Town with its many 18th century buildings, museums, the vibrant Greenmarket Square, the Company Gardens and the parliament buildings. The colorful Malay Quarter is a historic sector of the city that retains many of the original Malay buildings and narrow streets. The fashionable Waterfront and City Bowl areas are ideal for their restaurants, cafes and clubs; and shopping at the Waterfront is great. If time permits, you can take a boat trip to Robben Island or simply relax on the beach. The intimate Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is has a distinctly glamourous feel to it, and is just five minutes by car from Camps Bay, between the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range and the Atlantic Ocean. The Twelve Apostles offers a choice of dining options, including an innovative Fynbos-inspired tasting menu amid other dishes including Cape fusion dishes. The hotel also has a 16-seat private movie theatre, complete with milkshakes and popcorn machine on hand; the massage pavilion and more. The hotel also boasts an award-winning spa. The Twelve Apostles Hotel And Spa - Mountain Facing Room (B)
Day 4: Cape Peninsula
You set out early this morning to explore the stunning coast on a full-day private tour of the Cape Peninsula. Travel along the spectacular Atlantic Seaboard through the chic suburbs of Clifton and Camps Bay, and on to the scenic fishing village of Hout Bay. (An optional extra would be to take short 30 minute boat cruise to view the Cape Fur Seal colony on Duiker Island.) Next, drive along the famous Chapmans Peak Drive, if it is open. It hugs the dramatic cliff side with a 200-meter/656-foot drop on one side and the same 200-meter/656-foot rise on the other. This is a spectacular mountain pass. You continue south to reach the Cape of Good Hope National Park. Explore the rocky coastline and unique Cape Fynbos vegetation which is home to unique birdlife such as African black oystercatchers and Cape sugarbirds amongst others. You may be lucky to see wildlife such as the Cape mountain zebra, bontebok, ostrich and baboon. Climb up to the famous Cape Point Lighthouse to capture the magical views over the bay. Alternatively you can take the funicular train as an optional extra.
This afternoon, visit the penguin colonies at Boulders Beach for a close encounter with these delightful African penguins. Drive through the historical naval village of Simonstown and over another spectacular mountain pass, Boyes Drive, and on to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens nestled on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. Discover some of the 4,000 of the 22,000 Southern African flowering plants are cultivated in a setting of mountain streams, pools and rolling lawns. Return to your hotel late this afternoon. The Twelve Apostles Hotel And Spa - Mountain Facing Room (B)
Day 5: Cape Town / Kapama Game Reserve
Today you are collected by your guide for a private transfer of about 30 minutes, depending on traffic, to Cape Town Airport. Board your scheduled flight to Hoedspruit, where you are welcomed and transferred to your exclusive camp. Camp Jabulani is situated on the Kapama Private Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger Park. Camp Jabulani is known for its elephant-back safaris. Seated on comfortable canvas-covered saddles behind an experienced handler, you view all the wildlife from close proximity as the gentle giants move silently and in single file through the bush. The elephants used at the camp have an unusual story – they were all rescued from certain death; and this camp was created primarily to serve as a home for them. Game viewing can also be enjoyed in open safari vehicles on morning and afternoon game drives and also on guided bush walks with an experienced ranger and a local Shangaan tracker who work together to give you a deeper understanding of the wildlife and the natural cycles of the bush. The evening safari departs after afternoon tea and offers the opportunity to experience a bush sunset, and the evening holds a sense of anticipation as the rare and elusive nocturnal species begin to hunt. Camp Jabulani is truly luxurious with an open-plan dining room and lounge merge with the wooden deck which lies in the shade of gigantic leadwood trees. An impressive hanging bridge connects these opulent living areas with the six suites which flank the river bed. The main area also includes an impressive wine cellar, which also doubles as a private dining room on request as well as an inviting shop full of beautiful African arts and crafts. Massive wooden sliding doors open into the spacious interior which is a pure translation of style, comfort and elegance. Each has its own private deck with plunge pool, fireplace and sitting area, well-stocked private bar and air-conditioning. The open plan bathroom includes a large Victoria bath, double vanity and stunning glass-enclosed shower as well as separate toilet. Facilities include telephone, mini bar stocked with your choice of drinks, tea/coffee facilities, air conditioning, fan and in-room safe. Camp Jabulani – Suite (B/L/D)
Day 6: Kapama Game Reserve
Begin with a wakeup call followed by a morning elephant safari or a game drive or a game walk, depending on what you feel like. Return to camp for breakfast. Take a specialized tour of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, which includes the opportunity to interact with the cheetahs. Lunch is followed by an afternoon at leisure and use can be made of the gym, spa and sauna at Camp Jabulani. You then head out on a game drive with informal sundowners. Then you are in for an unforgettable experience – an elephant-back safari at night, lit only by lanterns and the stars. Camp Jabulani – Suite (B/L/D)
Day 7: Kapama Game Reserve / Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Today your game lodge will transfer you to the airstrip where you board your air charter flight (seat in plane) to your next game lodge, Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Please note that the 44lbs luggage allowance is strictly enforced. Your luggage needs to be in soft bags so that it can be stored in the base or back of the plane.
The private game reserves of Sabi Sands, Timbavati and Manyeleti all share an open border with the Kruger National Park so animals move freely. The 65,000 ha Sabi Sands is considered to have some of the best game-viewing in the country. Due to a long history of sensitive game-viewing, the animals are mostly relaxed allowing superb game-viewing, especially of the shy leopard. So diverse is its habitat and wildlife that you have an excellent chance of experiencing close encounters with the 'Big 5' – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard, as well as many species of antelope, several dog-like species including spotted hyena and cape hunting dog, jackal, and a variety of smaller mammals. The Sabi Sands comprises a number of private game lodges which cooperate in conserving their valuable heritage. Some of the world's finest game lodges are found here, together with some less well-known bush camps. This is an intimate and informative experience. The evening meal is often enjoyed in a 'boma' or even in the bush around an open fire, which many guests feel is a particularly evocative treat. Your lodge in the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve is situated in the Southern portion of the 65,000-hectare Sabi Sand Game Reserve, an area at the confluence of two major rivers, making it ideal for game viewing. Lions Sands safari philosophy is to offer an informative and holistic safari experience, ensuring that all spheres of the eco-system, from the smallest insects to the mighty African elephant are viewed as a whole. Ivory lodge is Lion Sands' new luxurious lodge, built on the banks of the Sabie River with magnificent views over to the open sand banks of the Kruger. It focuses on sensitivity to the environment and complete privacy for its guests. Six ultra-luxurious suites are huge and spaced for privacy, yet all have breathtaking views over the Sabie River. Game viewing can be done from the luxury of your private suite. The interiors have a contemporary, Afro-European elegance. Each has an en-suite bathroom, outdoor and inside shower, courtyard, lounge with fireplace, wooden viewing deck, patio and private plunge pool. The bedroom and bathroom areas are air-conditioned with overhead fans. Telephone and internet access is available. The main lodge includes a private lounge and bar, wooden viewing decks, wine cellar, gymnasium and health spa, curio shop, and both an indoor and open-air boma dining area. Lion Sands Ivory Lodge – Villa (B/L/D)
Days 8/9: Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Enjoy game viewing and other activities at your lodge.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge – Villa (B/L/D)
Day 10: Sabi Sands Game Reserve / Johannesburg / Depart
After a final morning game drive, you are transferred from your lodge to Skukuza Airport to board your scheduled flight to Johannesburg. On arrival, you are welcomed and begin a private half-day Soweto and Johannesburg cultural tour, designed to give you an overall impression of Johannesburg and take an in-depth look at the history of apartheid, its impact on Johannesburg and the role of the city in shaping South Africa's future. Johannesburg is the heart of South Africa's industrial and commercial life where gold mining still continues. Begin with a short drive through the suburbs of Illovo, Rosebank and Houghton, passing Nelson Mandela's residence en route to Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnship), the largest black residential area in South Africa which contrasts dramatically with the richer suburbs in the north. This sprawling 'city within a city' is home to approximately two million people. Major points of interest include Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Baragwanath taxi rank, Freedom Square, Hector Pieterson Memorial and Nelson Mandela's former home. You return to the airport in the late afternoon in time for check in of your departing flight home. (B)
Included In The Tour Cost:
- Daily accommodations as shown in the itinerary & all hotel taxes and service charges;
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast), (L = Lunch), (D = Dinner);
- All hotel / airport transfers as indicated;
- Transportation in mini buses and/or various safari vehicles;
- All sightseeing, game viewing, entrance fees and park fees as indicated in the itinerary;
- Comprehensive assortment of pre-tour planning materials and amenities
- Big Five’s 24-hour White Glove Service® guest assistance
- A complimentary one-year membership to the nonprofit One More Generation, including adoption of an engendered species in one of the areas of special concern
Not Included In The Tour Cost:
Any international airfare; Any passport or visa fees; Travel insurance (which is strongly recommended); Excess baggage fees; Items of a personal nature; Telecommunications fees; Laundry services; Gratuities to guides, drivers, and porters; Meals and services not specified. Scheduled flights unless specifically mentioned; Fuel surcharges; Specific drinks not included (please see the lodge inclusions for what drinks are included, if any); Surcharge for early/late pickups for transfers between 9:00pm and 6:00am.
Prices are for land only, double occupancy.
The Big Five Edge
At Big Five, you are working with one of the most experienced groups in the travel industry. Our Destination Specialists receive 900+ hours of in-destination and in-office training annually; and have a combined average 20 years’ experience in travel.
Big Five is in the top one percent of luxury tour operators to place on Travel+Leisure’s A-List. Big Five’s Destination Specialists have appeared on the A-List of top travel professionals from 2009 to 2015. This list validates the value of experience. This recognition is achieved by going through unbiased questioning and itinerary planning, and it is not based on voting by magazine subscribers.
White Glove Service® Guest Assistance
Big Five provides a personal experience that begins with a live person answering each call promptly during business hours. Our 24-hour White Glove Service® guest assistance desk is manned by a team of specialists available 365 days from anywhere in the world. WGS® is your:
- Personal concierge service for anything from dinner reservations to hard-to-get special event tickets
- Assistant to relay messages to family and friends, to help arrange private air charters and other details
- Emergency specialist who is there to tackle any emergency situation from lost luggage to stolen passports to emergency medical assistance
- Information kiosk for all the latest news, weather, airline delays; whatever information you need to make your journey run more smoothly
- Organizer who can coordinate special events such as a birthday or anniversary dinner, flowers or gifts
- Our Destination Specialists combine creativity with their impressive knowledge to customize clients’ journeys to meet each guest’s interests, whether that is honeymoon couples, families or special interest groups.
- Big Five guests benefit from our partnerships with properties and suppliers who have strong sustainable ethics built into their operations, which assures each guest will experience the best a destination has to offer. As part of our commitment, we employ local professional guides and drivers in each destination; and we support local initiatives dedicated to cultural preservation and habitat conservation.
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.