South Africa: A Journey of Discovery17 days / Nature & Wildlife Tours
85.0% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
Journey to the southern tip of Africa to discover a country that defies comparison. No other destination offers such a spectacular combination of scenery, cities and amazing animal sightings. One day you’re out on the savannah, spying on leopards and lions; the next, you’re sipping a crisp chenin blanc and feeling the breeze off the Indian Ocean. Your adventure culminates in Cape Town, a captivating, cosmopolitan capital nestled between the mountains and the sea.
Look for this symbol throughout the tour itinerary to discover sustainable highlights. Sustainable highlights include activities that benefit indigenous cultures or help protect local wildlife.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
14 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 5 lunches, 8 three-course or buffet dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Up-close encounters with the Big Five & beyond
The markets of Mbabane
The white rhino success story
Stunning scenery along the Garden Route
Captivating Cape Town
The surprising variety of South African vintages
Overnight Flight1 night
Johannesburg1 night - hotel info
Discover South Africa’s “City of Gold”
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to South Africa! A Go Ahead representative greets you after you clear customs and assists you with check-in at your hotel. If you took the pre-tour extension, join the rest of your tour today. Become acquainted with your fellow travelers at this evening’s included dinner.
Kruger Region2 nights - hotel info
Journey through the grasslands and farmland of Gaugeng Highveld
Kruger National Park
This morning, travel across the savannah of Gauteng Highveld. This afternoon, arrive in the Kruger National Park region, which, at two million hectares, is the largest game reserve in South Africa. Settle into your hotel and enjoy dinner with your group.
Aim your camera at the bounty and the beasts in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Today, set out for a full day of game drives where you’ll have a chance to see the Big Five game animals: buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinos. Kruger National Park has more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve.
Swaziland1 night - hotel info
Cross the mountains and lowlands of the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland
Today you’ll enter the Kingdom of Swaziland, one of Africa’s smallest countries. Thanks to its rigorous attitude towards wildlife and environmental conservation, Swaziland is also one of Africa’s most lush and beautiful. En route, drive through Manzini to visit a local market. Arrive in time for an included dinner.
Hluhluwe2 nights - hotel info
Get a glimpse of white rhinos at Africa’s oldest game reserve
Hluhluwe/ Umfolozi Game Reserve
Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve
Begin your day with a journey to the Hluhluwe/ Umfolozi Game Reserve. Situated in the heart of Zululand, Umfolozi is Africa’s oldest game reserve and was where Zulu kings hunted and enacted the first conservation laws. In the 1950s and 60s, Imfolozi was the home of Operation Rhino and became world renowned for its white rhino conservation. Today, it is one of the best reserves thanks to its many watering holes which attract a plethora of game. This afternoon, you’ll enjoy an included game drive on which you might spot the white rhinos for which the game reserve is famous. Arrive at your hotel this evening.
Count hippos and crocs as you cruise the estuaries of Lake St. Lucia
St. Lucia Wetland Park
Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Eco Cruise
Today, depart for the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park for an ECO cruise tour exploring the St. Lucia Estuary for hippos, bush bucks, crocodiles, fish-eagles, mangroves, monkeys, kingfishers and mudskippers. Return to your hotel in Hulhluwe (Tonight may instead be spent in Durban, depending on flight schedules.)
Port Elizabeth2 nights - hotel info
Bask on the beaches of Algoa Bay
Today, travel to Durban and board your flight to the sun-drenched shores of Port Elizabeth, where your guide introduces you to this major seaport and vacation destination set on the shores of the beautiful Algoa Bay. With 40 km of unspoiled coastline, it is the ideal spot for a bit of relaxation. Later, enjoy an included dinner with your group.
Knysna2 nights - hotel info
Follow the scenic Garden Route and traverse the Storms River gorge
Tsitsikamma National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park
Continue on to Knysna, heading through the Garden Route to Tsitsikamma National Park, where forests, rivers and fynbos roll down verdant slopes and rocky shores to the sea. Enjoy an included lunch then ready yourself for spectacular scenery on a guided, tractor-drawn wagon tour through the Garden Route forests (weather permitting).
Explore the forests, fynbos and sea caves at Featherbed Nature Reserve
Optional Excursion - Elephant Sanctuary
Featherbed Nature Reserv
Featherbed Nature Reserve
Embark on a ferry ride to Featherbed Nature Reserve, a pristine piece of paradise only accessible by boat. Enjoy an included lunch beneath the milkwood trees. Drive up to an impressive viewpoint and enjoy a guided nature walk along the coast. Tonight, opt to visit an Elephant Sanctuary, where you’ll interact with these gentle giants and enjoy dinner.
Elephant Sanctuary $119* pp
Come face-to-face with these gentle giants on a visit to the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary. With the help of professional elephant handlers, you’ll have the opportunity to pet the largest living land animals on Earth and even feed them from the palm of your hand. After visiting with the elephants, take a moment to sit and enjoy dinner. Look out from the sanctuary's open-air terrace while you indulge in an elegant, three-course meal accompanied by drinks.
Cape Town4 nights - hotel info
Cruise around Cape Town, from Table Mountain to Robben Island
Table Mountain, South African Museum, Robben Island
Enjoy a tour of the beautiful city of Cape Town, the “Mother City”, with a cable car ride up Table Mountain (weather permitting) and a visit to the South Africa Museum. Catch glimpses of the National Gallery and the Houses of Parliament as you drive through the city and stop in the Malay District. This afternoon, take a tour of Robben Island (weather permitting), the historic symbol of apartheid and South Africa’s struggle for freedom.
Splurge on souvenirs at Greenmarket Square or V&A Waterfront
Optional Excursion - Cape Winelands Tasting & Lunch
Enjoy a free day to explore Cape Town on your own. Alternatively, join an optional excursion to the Cape wine region to taste the delicious South African vintages. Share an included farewell dinner with your group this evening.
Cape Winelands Tasting & Lunch $95* pp
Leave the city behind for a scenic drive from Cape Town through the valleys of the Cape Winelands, finally arriving in the Stellenbosch wine region. Among the mountainous, treelined surroundings of the Stellenbosch Waterford Estate, get a taste for the region’s finest labels complemented by luxurious chocolate pairings. Continue on to Takora, an award-winning winery estate, for another wine tasting and a light lunch. Afterward, relax and soak in the vineyard scenery before returning to Cape Town.
Extend Your Stay
Add Victoria Falls & Johannesburg $779*
When the Zambezi River is at its highest, the towering column of spray from Victoria Falls can be seen from over 20 km away. This magnificent waterfall—the world’s largest—marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although the explorer David Livingstone named the falls after Queen Victoria, the locals call this natural wonder the “smoke that thunders.” Please note: A visa is required for U.S. and Canadian passport holders to enter Zimbabwe.
Overnight Flight1 night
Johannesburg1 night - hotel info
Victoria Falls2 nights - hotel info
Land in Zimbabwe and get acquainted with the locals
Fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where you will take a guided tour of Chinotimba Township, a local village of the Nambya and Tonga people. Get a glimpse of local township-life, including the oldest houses, taverns, local markets and churches. Dinner is included in Victoria Falls this evening.
Feel the spray of the world’s largest waterfall
Visit Victoria Falls this morning on a guided tour. Both a World Heritage Site and a Natural Wonder of the World, Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world. This evening, opt to enjoy a Sundowner Cruise where you’ll cruise along Zambezi River in Victoria Falls National Park.
Passport & Visa
In order to enter South Africa and Swaziland (as well as Zimbabwe on the tour extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry, and at least two empty pages for each country visited Additionally, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in order to enter Zimbabwe. You may choose to obtain your individual visa in advance by applying directly to the Zimbabwean consulate or by using a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. Travelers also have the option to purchase a visa upon arrival. Please note that all travelers visiting South Africa and Zimbabwe may be required to have a yellow fever certificate or a valid waiver certificate. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Visitors should be in good health. Please contact your family doctor well in advance of your departure for information regarding immunization and personal travel requirements. While on safari, you are assured the services of emergency medical evacuation to Johannesburg, which has been designed to bring first-rate medical care by superbly qualified personnel to outlying areas. All travelers returning to South Africa from extension in Zimbabwe will now be required to have a yellow fever certificate.
Important Health Tips
You are requested to obtain Yellow Fever inoculations at least 14 days prior to arrival in South Africa. Please be prepared to present your vaccination record or other proof of this inoculation. Visit travel.state.gov for more information. In order for you to stay healthy on your South African tour, we recommend the following:
- Drink bottled water and refrain from drinking tap water.
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
- Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication and any prescription medications.
You’ll find that most cuisine in the game lodges reflects the region’s Afrikaner and British colonial influences. Quality is superb with meats, vegetables and fruits from the surrounding area’s farmland. Always avoid drinking tap water in South Africa. Use bottled water for drinking and even for brushing your teeth, and be sure the bottle is sealed when you receive it. Bottled water is provided on tour each day. Remember also to avoid any drinks served with ice cubes.
Transportation / Walking on tour
Round-trip flights arrive in Johannesburg and depart from Cape Town (usually stopping in Johannesburg). On safari, you will be traveling in a specially equipped safari van. The vehicle is open at the top, allowing for a panoramic view during game drives. Window seats are also guaranteed. The remaining transportation is by private motor coach. A flight to Port Elizabeth is also included.
Clothing & Packing Tips
Safaris are informal, and casual dress in comfortable lightweight cottons is appropriate. Since the temperature varies significantly from midday to evening, clothing that can be layered (eg, a windbreaker) is a good idea, as are comfortable shoes such as sneakers or lightweight hiking boots. Sandals or other shoes that expose your skin are discouraged. We advise that you wear a hat during the day, and make sure you use a strong sunblock. Insect repellent is also recommended. For your game drives, we recommend muted colors, as bright clothing can scare off the animals. Paid laundry facilities are available on tour.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.
Special Information: Shopping
Local handicrafts, including wood carvings, textiles and jewelry, are generally inexpensive and make wonderful souvenirs of your trip. You will have the opportunity to shop at outdoor markets, small shops and tribal roadside stalls, as well as elegant boutiques in Cape Town and at some of the lodges. Prices in South Africa are almost always negotiated, providing an excellent way of meeting the South African people up close.
Items to Give or Trade
South Africans are fond of North American goods. Many travelers bring token items to offer as gifts or when bartering for souvenirs. Inexpensive items that the locals value include T-shirts, baseball caps, anything imprinted with professional sports logos, pens, cosmetics and toiletries. Although it has become common for American visitors to offer South African children candy and gum, this practice is somewhat controversial because the availability of dental care for these children may be negligible. Instead of sweets, children’s books in English are enormously appreciated. Small toys, games and crayons are also good gifts.
The currency you will be using on your tour is the South African rand (and the U.S Dollar, on extension). All African countries have stringent exchange regulations. Their currencies are not interchangeable. We recommend that you carry as little local cash as possible, and small amounts of the U.S. dollar for small purchases. (Please make sure that you only bring U.S. dollars printed in 2004 or later.) It is important to keep a receipt whenever you convert foreign currency. No local currency can be taken in or out of the country. Major American credit cards are accepted in South Africa. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2 USD/ CAD per local guide. Tips may only be paid in cash.
85.0% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
So worth it!
I have been all over the world and this was the best trip I have been on. I was hesitant about doing a group tour but our tour guide Chris took care of everything! He made it so easy to go from one place to the next and getting checked into our hotels was so efficient. On top of that he was so knowledgeable of the area and was able to answer any questions that came up. He also had plenty of suggestions for the limited free time we had on the trip and was able to fit in some additional stops that were not on the itinerary. As for the trip itself, the diversity of seeing the wildlife, the local people, and the incredible scenery was what made it so enjoyable. South Africa is a beautiful country and there is so much to see and the people are very friendly. The accommodations were great and the itinerary is fantastic. Overall this trip blew away my expectations!
"Breathtakingly Beautiful Country"
South Africa & the Southern region of Africa is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Television & pictures do not do this country justice. The people were so genuinely warm, friendly & helpful. This tour gave a wonderful overview. Each place had it's own unique flavor. Zimbabwe/Victoria Falls was stunning. Swaziland was welcoming. The Hotel Foresters Arms was one of my favorite. The atmosphere was relaxing, food was good,service great & staff so helpful. Port Elizabeth was interesting. I was overwhelmed by Knysna. "Storms River" was indescribable. It was picture perfect. "Featherbed Nature Preserve" is a place that I wish I could to do a daily walk in. I am sure there is always something new to see. The "Elephant Sanctuary" is so needed & what a blessing. Enjoyed Capetown & all the tours that we did except the "South African Museum". Not much to see. We could have made better use of that time.
2ND To None Tour!
This was overall a 1st class tour. Tour Director, Chris was VERY knowledgeable and lots of fun. Everything was great so to pick one thing that was best about the trip is very hard. Overall, hotels were pretty good although for 2 ladies traveling together, we were disappointed that we had to have Housekeeping move the beds apart or give us a different room because they gave us l bed. It did work out each time though. Trip was much more than I expected and I would highly recommend it and also to take the excursions - it all is a once in a lifetime experience!!
Me gusto todo de la excursion.La recomendaria a otras personas.Excelente director.Crist.Amable.
Great itinerary - poor tour guide.
Poorest tour I have taken!
Lack of information on where tour was visiting. Poor information from telephone calls, didn't know much about trip. Given one place to eat when paying for our own instead of numerous choices. Lack of interest in clients from tour director. Many had done lots of different tours and were treated as welcome guests to the country visited.
We really enjoyed the tour. We were able to see a lot of beautiful South Africa. In the game parks we saw a lot of animals-elephants, buffalo, rhino, wildebeest, lion, giraffe, hippos and more-- on a real up close and personal basis. Our hotels were excellent and the food great. The tours were great but only as good as our guide. Our tour guide was average. He was hard to understand with his accent . He was not helped by the sound systems we had. Our guides in 2 of the game parks were poor in that we saw a lot of animals but information from the guides about the animals and the area was limited. All in all it was a great trip with a lot of memories.
Very Enjoyable Trip
South Africa is a beautiful country! Very nice scenery, friendly people and of course, lots of Wildlife to be seen. Our Tour director is very knowledgeable and helpful. The tour had a very busy schedule since it covered many places. We saw the Victoria Falls, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope and had several Safari Game Drives. Food was good and prices were very reasonable. I would recommend this tour to anyone who loves nature and animals.
Bus and PA system
Our tour bus at the start of the trip had s PA system that did not work. Chris did optain a head phone system, but this didn't work the best either. Also I have small ears and the earbuds hurt my ears.
Trip of a Lifetime!
This trip far exceeded my expectations! We saw and did so much more than I had expected; I learned a great deal about the countries we visited: the history, the culture, and the economics of the region from Chris, the tour director, as well as Sollie and Stefan, our bus drivers. Chris has a wealth of information and helped us arrange adventures and excursions beyond what was offered as part of the tour. This was my first trip with a tour group, and I will definitely use Go Ahead again!