7 to 8 DaysFor those with limited time available spend it exploring the beautifully situated “Mother City” of Cape Town. From the spectacular aerial views from the top of Table Mountain, to the equally impressive scenery around the Cape of Good Hope, and the viewpoints at Cape Point, there is plenty to occupy the time of the short stay visitor.Apart from the historic city itself, there are various opportunities to experience the kaleidescope of cultures that contribute to the vibrancy of the Cape. The original Bo Kaap muslim area, in the heart of the city, combined with a visit to Robben Island, and finishing off in the vibrant V&A Waterfront area , fills in a very diverse, and interesting day.Slightly further afield are the contrasting environments of the winelands, and the crop growing regions of the Overberg, where Cape Agulhas, the most southerly tip of Africa is within practical reach.
A day excursion through the Hex River Valley for a Big Game experience at the Aquila Private Game Reserve is also an option, whilst during July to November it is whale viewing season, with Hermanus, the world’s best land based whale viewing area, also being within easy reach of Cape Town.
Consider either using Cape Town as base for the complete visit, or enjoy some variation with a two centre holiday perhaps, whichever is your preference.
CAPE TOWN & GARDEN ROUTE
10 to 12 Days Following the Cape Town experience extend your self drive of South Africa through the beautiful Garden Route. Head east to Mossel Bay, official start of the Garden Route, and spend a little time exploring this harbour town, which historically, reflects South Africa’s Portuguese influence. Perhaps also take the opportunity for one of the better Big Game experiences in the Western Cape, and either take a half day tour of Bottelierskop Private Game Reserve, or better still, really relax, and enjoy the ambience of it’s well appointed Bush Lodge.
Continue through to the heart of the Garden Route via the natural environment of the Lakes Wilderness region, which is an ideal stop over for the nature lovers, bird watchers, and ramblers. Possibly base for 3 nights in the quaint town of Knysna, ideally situated on South Africa’s second largest estuary, and perfect for exploring the Garden Route in more detail. The Featherbed Nature Reserve excursion is to Knysna, what Table Mountain is to Cape Town, and is a strongly recommended experience whilst in the area.
Just “next door” is the upmarket resort of Plettenberg Bay, which is well worth a visit, whilst slightly further afield, a day tour including the off the beaten track Natures Valley, and it’s magnificent beach, is also suggested. This could be carried out as part of a day out to the Tsitsikamma National Park, and a few hours at the rugged coastline surrounding Storms River Mouth, which is the eastern end of the Garden Route. Take in the worlds highest Bungi Jump at the Bloukrans River Bridge, either from the safety of the viewing points, or from the “wrong end” of one of it’s bungees !
Return to Cape Town via Outdshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of the world, and stop over whilst visiting one of the local farms, and visiting the interesting Cango Caves. If time permits, a most relaxing stop between Outdshoorn and Cape Town is the Avalon hot water mineral springs complex at Montagu, which can provide the opportunity to completely recharge the batteries before heading for home.
EASTERN CAPE BIG GAME EXTENSION
3 to 4 Days An easy way to incorporate a genuine Big Game experience into a self drive itinerary of the Western Cape is to spend an additional few days in the malaria free areas just north of Port Elizabeth, where there are many Game Farms to suit all preferences, and budgets.
From the 5 star Shamwari Game Reserve, complete with its luxury accommodation, and all inclusive Game drives, to the nearby Addo Elephant National Park, where self driving in search of Big Game is easily undertaken, the choices are many and varied.
The real bonus of this area is from a self drive perspective is that the Eastern Cape can easily be part of that longer holiday, including both the Garden Route, and Cape Town.
KWA ZULU NATAL
12 to 15 Days
Stay a few days in Durban, and start getting to grips with the influence of the Indian culture in South Africa. Visit the famous Indian Market, and sample some of the “warmer” spices that cuisine in this part of the country can offer ! A visit to the lavish new Sea World complex is a must, and for those with a specific interest in Sharks, a tour of the nearby Sharks Board Research Centre at Uhmlanga Rocks can also be arranged.
A few days spent in the rustic town of St Lucia, situated on South Africa’s largest estuary is a worthwhile interlude. Well known for it’s Hippo, and Crocodile colonies, which are best viewed from the safety of an estuary cruise boat, a few hours in the company of a knowledgeable environmentalist is both interesting, and relaxing. There is also prolific bird life in the area for those with an interest in ornithology.
For a natural wildlife experience in this area a couple of days spent at one of the Rest Camps in the Umfolozi-Hluhluwe National Park is highly recommended, and could well be combined with one of the many private Reserves that are available along the “Elephant Coast”. For marine enthusiasts, there are excellent facilities available for snorkelling, scuba diving etc at venues such as Kosi Bay, and Sodwana Bay.
If military history should appeal in any way whatsoever, then Kwa Zulu Natal can provide some of South Africa’s most interesting, and well known Battle Field Sites. The Zulu, and Anglo Boer War battle sites such as Isandlawana, Rorkes Drift, Blood River, the Siege of Ladysmith, to name but a few, can all be visited during the course of well constructed few days schedule covering the respective areas. Mahatma Ghandi, and Winston Churchill are two of the worlds more distinguished leaders who also left some history changing events behind them, which are well documented in the region.
In total environmental contrast, a few days spent in the beautiful Drakensberg Mountain Region is a fitting finale to a tour of Kwa Zulu Natal. South Africa’s tallest mountain range possesses many fine resorts, quiet guest houses, and relaxing activities. Apart from being ideal walking territory, some of the best examples of Bushman Rock Art can be found in this region, whilst merely totally unwinding in the fresh mountain air is extremely invigorating. A highlight of the southern Drakensberg is a couple of nights stop over in order to experience the spectacular Sani Pass that crosses the border into Lesotho. Although not recommended as a self drive in itself, taking one of the local tour operators day trips to the top, inside Lesotho, is definitely worth doing, and you can also boast of having had lunch in Africa’s highest Pub !
MPUMULANGA & KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
8 to 10 Days
After perhaps spending a couple of days in the Johannesburg area, with visits to Gold Reef City, and Pretoria, including the Voortrekker Monument, and the Cullinan Diamond Mine, depart along the scenic route to Sabie, Mac Mac Falls, and past the now defunct gold prospecting diggings to the historic mining town of Pilgrims Rest. Stop over for a couple of nights to fully appreciate the ambience of days gone by.
Explore the “Panorama Route” via Robbers Pass, and Krugerpos to Lydenburg, and ascend the impressive Long Tom Pass, pausing to view a replica of the “firearm” after which it was named, and spend a couple of nights in the tranquil area of Hazyview. Take a day out to meander around the “Great Escarpment”, and the Lowveld Bushveld environment. Ascend the escarpment to Worlds End viewpoint, and continue via the Blyde River Canyon, Bourkes Luck Pot Holes, Gods Window, all of which complete a fascinating day in varying scenic environments
The internationally acclaimed Kruger National Park is close by, so spend 2 to 3 days in the Park, South Africa’s largest, searching for the Big 5. Over night in at least two of the many well appointed rest camps. A combination of two nights in one of the Parks Board complexes, with at least an additional night at one of the more luxurious private accommodation facilities, to really round off the experience.
A self drive of this region could either be done to and from Johannesburg, or alternatively by flying into and out of Nelspruit, which would eliminate the long drive to and from Johannesburg.
For the golfing enthusiasts a self drive golf schedule of South Africa, or to be practical, certain parts of it, can easily be constructed around either the regions mentioned above, or any combination of them, including the Sun City complex.
South Africa has some excellent golf courses, from well established Country Clubs to full service Golf Resorts that can certainly compete with their international counterparts. Fancourt in the Garden Route, Arabella near Hermanus, Zimbali in Kwa Zulu Natal, and of course the Sun City complex, host the Nedbank Challenge, or better known as the Million $ Challenge!