13 days of pure African delight in your own camper van ER 409

Description

Any big lover of the outdoors should try driving their own camper van at least once! The opportunity to live amongst nature and enjoy its many little intricacies is one of the best ways to gain a real understanding of the wild. Because South Africa and Swaziland are outdoor countries with a good climate and excellent wildlife areas, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to park your holiday home on wheels and idle their time away amongst nature. So take the plunge, come and explore the Kruger National Park, the Drakensberg Mountains, the tropical coast line and the fascinating Kingdom of Swaziland. This will give you a taste for more especially since your route has been planned and your camp sites have been booked.

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13 days of pure African delight in your own camper van ER 409

Itinerary:

Day 1 Dullstroom/Elandskloof Trout Farm/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 280 km.

Welcome to Johannesburg in South Africa!  You can pick up your campervan between 8 and 9 am in the depot and after all the paper work has been sorted and instructions given, your adventurous holiday can start!

Today you will be driving to Dullstroom, please leave as soon as you can. We are taking you through the Mpumalanga province which captures the world's vision of Africa. Endless bush velds,  the simmering haze above the hot plains, darting antelope and the thrilling site of the buffalo, elephant, rhino or leopard. Don't be fooled by the monotonous landscape at first, that will change quickly!

If you feel you have spare time please visit the Botshabelo Mission Station, 13 km north of Middelburg. This area is the ancestral home of the Southern Ndebele, famous for their love of colourful and symbolic decoration and you can see exquisite examples of their famous work in this museum. Or visit the Fort Merensky, a strange but impressive historic building, lots of wars have been taken place in this region.

There will be lots to see in the flowing grasslands of Mpumalanga which stretches north and east of the highveld plateau, rising towards the towering Drakensberg mountain range. The Drakensberg Escarpment, marks the point where the highveld plunges down over 1000 m, before spilling out onto the eastern lowveld. It is one of South Africa's most scenic areas, marked by dramatic cliffs, stunning views and an abundance of adventure activities. So drive slowly and enjoy the ride!

Dullstroom's village and farm environment offers the ideal opportunity for you to bond in beautiful natural surroundings, be it at trout waters, on horseback, bird watching or engaging in the vast variety of nature related activities. You will  spend your night at the Elandskloof Trout Farm which is the olders trout farm of Mpumalanga. The resort is now a bigger part of the farm operation so enjoy the open spaces, go for a drive, walk, horse ride or start fishing for your dinner.

Day 2 Sabie/Merry Pebbles Resort/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 90 km.

Not far to go today so you can take it slowely on your way to Sabie. If you are a cave lover, a visit to the Sudwala Caves is a must! A guide will take you 600 m inside and 150 m below the earth to admire nature's wonders.

You will be travelling close to the Panorama Route via the Drakensberg Escarpment, a spectacular cragged mountain range, which will give you breathtaking dramatic scenic views.

If you have spare time you can drive via Graskop, on the edge of the Escarpment, to Pilgrim's Rest, a historic village which uniqueness is vividly evident in its museums and historic sites. It was declared a National Monument in 1986 as a living memory of the early gold rush days in South Africa during the late 1800s, beginning 1900s.

Don't forget to visit Bourke's Luck Potholes. Essentially they're the result of decades of swirling eddies of water where the Treur River meets the Blyde River, the tumult of which has caused extensive water erosion over time. The result is a series of cylindrical rock sculptures that look as though they would be more comfortable on the moon.

A few highlights not to be missed are The Pinnacle Rock, an impressive rock formation, Jock's View and God's Window, two view points with amazing vistas and lots of souvenier sellers. At God's Window watch for the short trail leading to a point with good views over the lowveld, 1000m below.

Sabie, a picturesque mountain village with her magnificent scenery of the vicinity. Sabie is the centre of the timber industry and a little forest museum in town is of interest. This is waterfall country and numerous short drives lead from the town to picnic sites and view sites such as Sabie Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Lone Creek Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and MacMac Falls. Please know that they are best to be visited before midday because of the sun.

Merry Pebbles Resort is waiting for you on the banks of the upper Sabie River just 1 km from the main road of Sabie. After a long day you can stretch your legs and enjoy the nature around you. There is a shop and restaurant and of course you can cool down in the swimming pool. Don't forget to stock up for the coming days in the Kruger National Park.

Day 3 The Kruger Park/Skukuza rest camp/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 95 km.

With its vast savannas, abundant wildlife and long conservation history, the Kruger National Park is one of the best safari destinations of the world and you are about to experience that!

The park is home to the famous Big Five, the Little Five and the birding Big Six, in addition to a range of fauna and flora unique to the area. Although it is served by an extensive network of roads and rest camps, this infrastructure barely affects the natural wildness. The speed limit of 40 kph should never be exceeded as not only for the fines but also gamespotting is seldom successful when travelling above this speed.

It is unwise to cover large areas in a short time, it can be very rewarding simply sitting quietly at a water hole rather than driving around in the hot sun. The best game viewing is in the morning until around 10 am or in the late afternoon.

Most animals are found throughout the park, but the frequency of sightings is determined by the topography and vegetation. Near the southern rivers, where you will be now, hippo, elephant, crocodile, buffalo and small herds of giraffe are often spotted.

The Skukuza rest camp is situated on the southern banks of the Sabie River. Well foliaged, with lofty trees along the river's edge, you can expect a diverse amount of animals and plants. This is the main camp of the Kruger Park with facilities similar to a small town. It offers adventure in the form of guided bush walks and game drives, all under the supervision of well informed and keen professional field guides. After a long special day you can cool off in one of their swimming pools and if you are a golf fan you can even play a bit.

Day 4 The Kruger Park/Lower Sabie rest camp/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 45 km.

You have all the time to enjoy nature and wildlife on your way to your next camp. Just sit close to a water hole and let yourself be surprised!

With its soothing riverine views and Lebombo Mountain skyline in the background, the Lower Sabie rest camp hugs the banks of the Sabie River in the Kruger National Park. The camp is an exhibition of the natural wealth of the area, surrounded by lush green vegetation and attracting a multitude of game which can easily be spotted from the deck overlooking the water.

In the lazy midday heat, lions can be found resting alongside the hippos which wallow on the riverbanks in the cool shade of large riverine trees. Early morning game drives are an opportunity to spot lion, cheetah, elephant, rhino and buffalo among others, and there's no better way to end a morning drive than by enjoying a delicious bush breakfast in idyllic settings.

Whether going on adventurous bush walks or game drives, or simply soaking in the majestic views and wildlife spectacles that unfold along the banks of the river, you will have an unforgettable African experience!

Day 5 The Kruger Park/Berg en Dal rest camp/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 70 km.

An exciting fascinating drive ahead of you towards your next destination. Have an early game drive and/or enjoy the hot midday hours by having a leisurely picnic at a water hole or in camp.

Located in the midst of striking prehistoric settlements on the Matjulu Spruit, Berg-en-Dal camp has been built with care and preservation for the surrounding area, original San rock paintings still clearly visible from the hill shelters along the Bushman trail. And here you will be staying tonight. This camp is one of the few places in which one can regularly see the rare and beautiful wild dog, Africa's most endangered carnivore. So keep you camper van closed at night! You will find all the necessary facilities like a shop, restaurant and fuel station and you can have some adventure in the form of guided bush walks and game drives, all under the supervision of well informed and keen professional field guides or just jump in their swimming pool.

Day 6 Swaziland/Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 170 km.

Perhaps tough to say goodbye to so much beauty but be assured that you will experience lots more. Have your passport ready as today you will experience another African country namely the Kingdom of Swaziland. You can leave the Kruger Park via the Malelane border post and drive towards the Jeppe's Reef border.

Swaziland is a fascinating country with its laid-back ambience, friendly people and relative lack of racial animosities. Small as it may be, Swaziland is an exciting destination with its art and craft outlets and traditional markets and wildlife reserves. Visit the Matsamo Cultural village where you get to live just like the traditional Swazi in a custom-built 'hive'. This is a traditional Swazi village where the colourful Matsamo people tend their cattle, cultivate their crops and produce beautiful crafts. The drive to Piggs Peak is one of the most scenic in the country. Check out the Sibebe Rock, Ngwena Glass village, where each item is handmade from 100% recycled glass and/or visit a vibrant local Swazi market on your way to the beautiful Ezulwini Valley where you will stay the night in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

At Mlilwane Game Reserve tame birds and animals are free to come and go and wander through the camp ground. This sanctuary is a tranquil retreat and offers horse and bike trails, gamedrives, walks and bird viewing. Or open your lungs by climbing to the top of a mountain and looking out at infinity or swim in the mountain springs.

The Mlilwane rest ramp is found in the southern corner of the reserve, in the midst of a well matured rehabilitated area. Tall indigenous trees, all grown from seed, now tower over the camp overlooking an artificially created wetland system, which is home to hippopotamus, crocodile and a variety of water birds including infrequent visiting fish eagles.

The camp is unfenced, yet relatively safe as only smaller species of wildlife occur in the Sanctuary. The camp is tranquil and relaxing with a continual stream of animals such as impala, warthog and ostrich too, walking between the facilities quietly tolerant of human presence.

Day 7 Swaziland/Nisela Safari Lodge/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 100 km.

Nestled at the foot of the Lubombo Mountain range in the heart of the Swaziland Lowveld. A land rich in culture, with magnificent scenery, Swaziland offers a wide variety of things to do and places to see. Nisela Safaris is the ideal base from which to explore all the varied attractions in Swaziland. Return after a busy day exploring, park your holiday home and enjoy relaxing with sundowners on the deck.

Indulge in their 'a la carte restaurant which combines elements of fine dining with a contemporary ambience, perfectly positioned near the roadside with a convenience store and gift shop. Numerous species of plainsgame and bird life including crocodile, giraffe and wildebeest offer the avid photographer spectacular opportunities.

Another day in paradise...

Day 8 Mkhuze Game Reserve/Emshopi camp Site/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 100 km.

Back to South Africa and this time to Zululand a place of unspoilt beauty characterised by a pristine coastline, abundant forests, rolling green hills and zig zagging rivers. It is a world of rich natural diversity and enormous social contrasts, a place where modern lifestyles thrive adjacent to a culture steeped in traditions.

You are heading for the Mkhuze Game Reserve, a place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze is renowned as a mecca for bird lovers, with more than 420 bird species on record. The reserve has an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo mountains along its eastern boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forest. Mkhuze Game Reserve constitutes the north western spur of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park a recently declared World Heritage Site. A Zulu cultural village in the reserve offers a glimpse of the traditional lifestyle and crafts of the KwaJobe community.

Tonight you will sleep amongst all this beauty in the shady Emshopi camp site. The caravanning area is situated 1 km from the main gate, and 9 km from the Mantuma rest camp. You can make your way to Kwamalibala Hide and spend an interesting afternoon watching the wildlife as it wanders in to drink from the water hole.

Day 9 Great St. Lucia/Sugarloaf camp site/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 140 km.

Today you only have a relatively short drive so make the most of the extra time you have to explore the beautiful surroundings.

Tonight you will stay in the Sugarloaf camp site which has 92 large shady sites each with barbecue facilities and plug points. The camp has a swimming pool with a picnic facility and 24 hour entrance-gate control. The modern ablutions have hot and cold running water, flush toilets, laundry and dishwashing facilities.

If you have time explore Cape Vidal which is a magnificent coastal resort set in a sheltered coastal bay in the Greater St Lucia/iSimangaliso Wetland Park, with shallow pools and rock ledges for snorkelling, fishing, unspoiled beaches for walking and self-guided trails around the fascinating wetlands, in the rich coastal forest and on the shores of Lake Bhangazi. This iSimangaliso Wetland Park offers a mind-blowing range of natural systems, ranging from dune, swamp and coastal forests to rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs and submarine canyons, mangroves, savanna grassland, thickets, woodlands, and the largest protected wetland in southern Africa.

On the same day you could see hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, elephants, whales on their northerly migration to Mozambique to calve, loggerhead and leatherback turtles in summer as they come onto the beaches to lay their eggs, dolphins, and a variety of water, forest or grassland birds. In other words you will be spoilt by this unique piece of paradise and we trust you will indulge every moment.

Gate times: Summer (01 October - 31 March) 05:00 - 19:00. Winter (01 April - 30 September) 06:00 - 18:00.

Day 10 Salt Rock/Salt Rock Camp Ground/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 220 km.

Hopefully you were able to say goodbye to all this unique beauty and are ready to follow the Dolphin Coast to your next destination, Salt Rock. It is the frequent sighting of Bottlenose dolphins playing in the Indian ocean waves that has resulted in the area being called 'The Dolphin Coast'. The small town of Salt Rock is a very popular seaside holiday destination. Salt Rock shares a rich Zulu cultural history with its neighbour Shaka's Rock. Salt Rock's name dates back to the days of King Shaka, when his servants would collect dried salt at low tide for trade with the early settlers.

The Salt Rock Resort, where you will park your holiday home, is nestled amongst tropical palms on the golden shores of the warm and sparkling Indian Ocean. Here you can enjoy all the modern facilities. So you can stroll on the long beach, jump in the safe tidal pool or surf the waves. If you feel like playing golf you are in the right place as Salt Rock is surrounded by several world class golf courses. Also if you need to do some shopping, the largest shopping centre (Gateway Mall) in the Southern hemisphere is a mere 20 minute drive away. You can enjoy your sundowner drink on the terrace of the Salt Rock hotel overlooking the sea.

Day 11 Royal Natal National Park/Maihai Camping/Camping 1 night.

Distance: approx. 220 km.

After perhaps an early dive into the sea it is time to drive towards the impressive Northern Drakensberg mountain range. If you have time and are interested to learn more about sharks, please visit the Natal Sharks Board, a research centre, in Umhlanga Rocks. Learn here the important role sharks and other animals play in the marine ecosystem. Or just have coffee in this holiday resort village before hitting the highway.

After leaving the capital of Kwazulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, behind you the traffic will slowely decrease. The majestic Drakensberg mountain range is waiting for you! The Northern and Central Drakensberg area has some of the most beautiful scenery that can be imagined.

You are going to experience and stay in the Royal Natal National Park with many of its surrounding peaks rising as high in the air as the park streches across. With some of the Drakensberg's most dramatic and accessible scenery, the park is crowned by the sublime Amphitheatre, an 8 km wall of cliff and canyon, which is spectacular from below and even more so from up high. Here the impressive Tugela Falls drop 850 m in five stages. A rewarding experience is a climb up the 3282 m high Mont-aux-Sources, the country's highest peak. A steep two-hour walk, with sturdy chain ladders to ease the ascent, brings you to the summit. You are in for some fantastic hiking experiences within a flora's paradise and with lots of San rock art sites. At the visitors centre you can get the hiking guide, buy some groceries and there is a fuel station.

Between Bergville and the Royal Natal National Park is the Zulu handicraft center of Thandanani that sells a variety of traditional beadwork, woodwork and baskets. So stock up on traditional African souvernirs.

Your camp site, Mahai, is beautifully situated along the Mahai River with the mountains in the background. All sites have shared cold water taps. There are 5, modern ablution blocks with hot baths and showers, flush toilets, laundry machines and dishwashing facilities.

Please note: Gate times are in Summer (01 October - 31 March) 05:00 - 19:00 and in Winter (01 April - 30 September) 06:00 - 18:00.

Day 12 Golden Gate Highlands National Park/Glen Reenen Camping/Camping 1 night.

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north-eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's incredible sandstone cliffs. And that is where you are going to stay the last days of your holiday. The Glen Reenen camp sites are on beautiful shaded grounds and have barbecue facilities, a scullery and power points in ablution block.

Activities in the park include short nature trails varying from 1 hour to 5 hours (no bookings required), game viewing at leisure in own vehicles, guided excursions and/or night drives. If you feel brave jump on the small Basotho ponies and let them guide you through the stunning nature.

Think of visiting the Basotho Cultural Village which resembles an 18th century Basotho Village. The surroundings take you back from the pathway of previous times to the modern days, here the Basotho lifestyle, architectural and hospitality is the order of the day.

Or drive to Clarens, the jewel of the Eastern Freestate. Clarens is an artists haven with many well known artists either living in or frequenting the village on a regular basis with many art galleries and restaurants scattered around the village square. The town is also known for the many art and craft shops which will offer you a wide range of curios and original artwork. Another feature which adds to the picturesque atmosphere of the village is the many sandstone buildings.

Day 13 Johannesburg/Camper depot.

Distance: approx. 300 km.

Trust you are making the best of your last day and drive safely back to Johannesburg. Please drop off your camper van at the depot before 16.00. Have a safe flight and enjoy all your memories. Hope to see you back for another piece of South Africa.

If you haven't booked a flight yet, please click here: flights
If you need a travel and cancellation insurance, please click here: travel insurance
If you need advice or further information, please click here: contact

You can choose your own camper directly via www.camperspecialist.co.za or alternatively contact us via info@zuidafrikaspecialist.nl.

Duration:

13 Days, 12 nights

Departure:

Daily or based on availability

Accommodation:

Camping sites with electricity or otherwise

Care:

Based on self-catering

Price:

Per person based on double occupancy

Starting point:

Johannesburg

Endpoint:

Johannesburg

Malaria area:

Yes

Age:

All ages

Trip characteristics:

Active, cultural and adventurous

Countries:

South Africa and Swaziland

Highlights:

Kruger National Park, Panorama Route, Swaziland and the Drakensberg Mountains

Visa required:

No

Including:
-
Reserved camping sites
(according to description or equivalent)
- Road map

Excluding:
-
Flights
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Camper hire: book directly via www.camperspecialist.co.za
- Optional activities
- Cross-border fees, gratuities and entrance fees