Feel the heartbeat of nature as you watch for whales from the shoreline, and explore a Big 5 game reserve in an open 4x4 safari vehicle. Take in all the sights along the Garden Route, and spend a morning with meerkats. It is a lot to pack in - hence why the trip is 15 nights!
You begin your holiday with a relaxing night in Port Elizabeth, enabling you to recover from any lost sleep after your travels.
With a hire car being delivered early the next morning, you head to the Shamwari Game Reserve for what will surely be a huge highlight - a 3 night safari. Shamwari, meaning 'my friend' in local Shona dialect, is the pinnacle of private game reserves and home to the coveted Big 5. It's a place where guests can exist in harmony with nature, however fleeting the moment, and where wildlife roam the landscape under the relentless African sun.
Then you stay along the Garden Route at 2 different locations, enabling you to fully experience this part of the coastline. Hog Hollow enjoys breathtaking views of the valleys and the Tsitsikamma Mountains and promises outstanding cuisine, comfortable accommodation and friendly hospitality. The Lofts in Knysna offers the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing catamaran trip or a sunset champagne cruise out to the Knysna Heads.
You then visit Oudtshoorn, the 'ostrich capital of South Africa'. You can also visit the nearby impressive Cango Caves which are illuminated to show some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world, or meet the resident meerkats on a morning adventure.
Hermanus is your next stop, where you can enjoy whale watching (in season) and shark-cage diving (if you're brave!). 2 nights in Hermanus over this period gives you the opportunity of going on an early morning whale watching boat trip, but also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the whale watching from the land. Cape Aghulas, the southern most tip of Africa, is also only a short drive from Hermanus and can easily be visited as a day trip.
You end with 4 nights in Cape Town. The Southern Sun Waterfront Cape Town is situated in the heart of the city's most sought-after area. When not out exploring the city, you can cool down at the outdoor pool, and indulge in decadent cocktails and fine wines at the hotel bar.
Holiday Title: Shamwari Safari and Garden Route Explorer
Countries Visited: South Africa
Arrive into Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport. Go through Immigration, collect your luggage and clear Customs, then make your way to the Domestic Departure Terminal to check in for your next flight.
British Airways BA6241 (Economy Class): Fly from O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) departing at 11:10 to Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ), arriving at 12:50
Arrival in Port Elizabeth, Make your way to the Bidvest Car Rental office. Complete the necessary paperwork - you will need to present your driving licence, passport and credit card. The keys to your hire car will then be handed over to you.
16 Day Car Rental: Group C: Toyota Corolla Quest or similar - Manual Transmission (on Super Cover)
Depart the airport and drive to your overnight hotel, where you can relax after your long flights. Claiming to have the best climate and more sunshine than any other coastal resort in the country, Port Elizabeth is a popular holiday destination, and renowned for its beautiful coastline and long sandy beaches. Known more fondly as just PE, the warmth of the people have earned it the well-deserved reputation as 'The Friendly City'.
After breakfast at the hotel, check out of your room and drive to your safari lodge.
During your time at the award-winning Shamwari Private Game Reserve, you'll set off on 2 thrilling game drives per day, one at sunrise and one at sunset, with your game ranger and fellow guests in an open game viewing vehicle, in search of the Big 5 as well as cheetah, hyena, hippo, zebra and antelope.
After your morning game drive and breakfast at the lodge, check out of the lodge and depart the Game Reserve. Drive to the Garden Route, about a 3 hour drive. Hog Hollow is situated just 18 km east of the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay, set on the edge of an indigenous forest with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and Tsitsikamma Mountains.
Drive to Knysna (approx 35 km / 30 mins). Situated right in the heart of the Garden Route and set on the shores of a beautiful lagoon, Knysna (pronounced 'Nysna') is a bustling little holiday town, with a lively Waterfront area. The excellent selection of accommodation and restaurants, coupled with the many activities on offer, makes this a superb holiday destination and a perfect base from which to explore the many attractions of the Garden Route. The Knysna Lagoon is sheltered from the ocean by a coral reef and the Knysna Heads - 2 large cliff formations which form a natural narrow opening into the ocean. Several operators offer relaxing catamaran trips and sunset champagne cruises out to the Heads and into the open sea, which is a great way to escape the busy streets for a while
Drive to Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo (approx 130 km / 1 h 35 mins). Oudshoorn is famous for its meerkat adventures and its Ostrich Show Farms. Just north of Oudtshoorn, the Cango Wildlife Ranch is the oldest and biggest cheetah contact centre worldwide, and offers visitors the rare opportunity of interacting with their hand reared cheetahs and getting actively involved in saving this species and others from extinction. The impressive Cango Caves are also 30 km from Oudshoorn. The caves are illuminated to show some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world.
The most popular of the activities, however, are without a doubt the daily wild habituated meerkat tours. These tours commence only at sunrise are dependent on fair weather, since these little creatures will not venture outside their burrows on cold and rainy days! The meerkat tours last between 2-3 hours and booking is essential. Upon arrival at the meerkat burrows, guests are treated to a hot cup of coffee, after which they are issued with a lightweight aluminium chair to sit in while observing the meerkats as they come out of the burrow into the sunshine and then go about their daily routine of foraging and frolicking.
Drive to Hermanus, approximately a 4.5 hour drive. Located on the south coast and within a 2 hour drive of Cape Town, Hermanus is amongst the world's leading destinations for both land-based and boat-based whale watching. From June to November each year, whales can be seen as close as 20m from the shore and can come right up to the side of the whale watching boats. If you don't have sea legs, good whale watching vantage points from dry land are from the Old Harbour wall, or from the 12 km cliff path. Another great spot to watch the whales is at Bientang's Cave restaurant, where from your table you can watch the whales frolic not more than 100m away in the Old Harbour. The town also has several fine beaches and restaurants.
Drive to Cape Town which is one of the world's most beautiful cities. With a magnificent mountain as its centre, miles of sandy beaches, a colourful and moving history, and countless bars and restaurants, Cape Town captures the hearts of visitors. During your stay here, enjoy the major attractions in the city (Table Mountain, Robben Island, township tour, Camps Bay, V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Gardens, numerous museums and galleries) and if time permits, take a day trip down to the Cape Peninsula, stopping on the way back at Boulders Beach, which is home to one of only 2 mainland nesting colonies of African penguins in South Africa.