Adventures / Wildlife Adventures

The Ultimate South Africa Hiking Safari

Track wildlife in Kruger National Park on a unique walking safari, eyes open for lions, cheetahs, giraffes and elephants

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Trip Ref #10519

Adventures / Wildlife Adventures

The Ultimate South Africa Hiking Safari

Track wildlife in Kruger National Park on a unique walking safari, eyes open for lions, cheetahs, giraffes and elephants

DURATION

10 nights

LOCATION

South Africa

ANNUAL LEAVE

9 days off work

SEASON

Apr-May | Sep-Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 12 people

MEETING POINT

Johannesburg Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Glamping · Lodge

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

An active, outdoor adventure. You'll be on your feet a fair bit, so you'll need a reasonable level of fitness & a fondness for wild spaces.

Hike the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains, discover the world’s second-highest waterfall and cool off in rock pools along the way

Scramble to the top of the iconic Table Mountain for phenomenal views, before cruising back down to Cape Town on the panoramic aerial cableway

Cycle through the verdant winelands of Stellenbosch, pausing in the vineyards to snack on delicious canapés and taste the local wines

Glamp in the African bush, tuck into hearty fire-cooked meals, bed down in luxury lodges and sip sundowners under a sienna sky

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Local, English-speaking tour leader, plus wilderness safari, hiking and cycle guides

Accommodation

Think boutique hotels, luxury lodges and a truly special safari camp

Meals

All breakfasts, 4 lunches, 7 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Permits

Conservation fees for Maseke Balule Game Reserve, Drakensberg trail fees

Internal flights

Flight from Durban to Cape Town

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

O. R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg

Anytime on Day 1

Ends

Cape Town International Airport

Anytime on Day 11

Transfers

Your host will meet you on arrival at the international airport in Johannesburg and transfer you to your accommodation in the centre of the city. On the last day of your trip, your host will drop you off at the airport in Cape Town in time for your onward flight. Your host can also drop you off at your accommodation in central Cape Town if you are staying on longer in South Africa.

Airport transfers are included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 11. If you wish to arrive before the trip start date or stay longer at the end, your host can arrange private airport transfers and pre/post-trip accommodation. See Optional Extras for prices.

Travel options

Multiple airlines operate direct flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town from major hubs in Europe and North America, such as London, New York, Washington, Paris and Amsterdam. Travellers from other start points in Europe and North America can transit through any of the aforementioned hubs.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Glamping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 4

Glamping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 7

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8 – Day 10

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 11

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

During your time in the wilderness camps in Kruger, you'll have a light breakfast before the morning walking safaris, a packed brunch enjoyed in the bush, snacks in the afternoon and a three-course dinner at night. This will be cooked braai-style on an open fire, washed down by South African wines: expect barbecued meats and vegetables, accompanied by tasty salads and breads.

In Drakensberg, there are continental and English breakfasts, salads, bread, artisan cheeses and cold meats for lunch. Dinners are a set menu with three homely, farm-style courses which use locally sourced ingredients and produce grown on-site.

Vegetarian, vegan and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Johannesburg

Your first night of the trip is spent at Rivonia Premier Lodge. Nestled north of Johannesburg in the suburb of Rivonia, the lodge is set in a large private garden and offers a tranquil retreat after arriving in South Africa. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Greater Kruger National Park

In the wilderness of Greater Kruger National Park, you'll stay at a series of camp locations in Maseke Balule Game Reserve. This is a mobile safari camp, easily set up and broken down which ensures minimal impact on the environment. There is a ‘mess tent’ where the private chef will prepare the fire-cooked meals you will enjoy under the stars in the evening. The camp is an intimate set-up, designed for socialising around the fire in the evenings and enjoying the natural ambience of the bush. You'll stay in twin-share dome tents on swags/mattresses with en-suite bucket showers (see pictures - these are a lot better than they sound!), chemical toilet facilities and hand basins which are renewed each morning and afternoon with warm water. The site is dotted with solar-powered lanterns in the camp and one is also supplied per tent.

Drakensburg

In Drakensberg you'll stay at Three Tree Hill, a 4-star lodge situated in the foothills of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg range. Rolling green hills dotted with acacia trees give it a quintessential 'Out of Africa' feel. The lodge is Fair Trade Certified with an emphasis on responsible tourism, employing local Zulu staff from nearby Hambrook Village and offering fair wages, strong working conditions and fair distribution of benefits. The lodge has spectacular scenery, locally grown farm-style food, a lounge, a sheltered swimming pool, a sunrise deck, and a sundowner viewing point. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Cape Town

Your Cape Town base is the Kloof Street Hotel, situated on popular Kloof Street, close to Cape Town central. A spacious hotel with a boutique feel, there is a restaurant and a coffee shop, plus a rooftop deck with bar, pool, loungers and outside tables. Again, you'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability). Please note that this does not cover the nights camping in Kruger - no solo occupancy is available on that portion of the trip.

Day 1

Touch down in Jo'burg

Welcome to South Africa! Meet your host at the airport in Johannesburg and transfer to your hotel. Catch up with your guide and fellow adventurers in the evening for dinner and a chat through the adventure to come.

Day 2

Journey to Kruger National Park

Driving

6hrs

Settle in for a road trip to the Greater Kruger National Park. Heading east, watch the cityscape fade into open plains as you drive to Maseke Balule Game Reserve. Located in the Greater Kruger, Maseke Balule is an 8000-hectare private game reserve which shares open borders with the main sections of Kruger National Park. You'll reach the first of your three camping spots and immediately settle into bush life as your guides get the campfire going. Tuck into a three-course dinner with wine before you bed down in your dome tents, as an early start beckons.

Day 3

Walking safari

Wildlife Tracking

4-5hrs

Wildlife Watching

2-3hrs

Wake up at dawn (5.30am!) to coffee and rusks (a traditional South African breakfast treat) and pop your walking shoes on. Alongside your trail guide, you'll head out into the bush to track the wildlife - keep your eyes peeled for early morning sightings of big cats, elephants, giraffes, hyenas, zebras and hippos, to name but a few. Moving on to your next camping spot, in the afternoon you'll either head out on a second walking safari or a sunset game drive, depending on conditions and how the group are feeling. Return to camp early evening for sundowners, a meal and another memorable evening spent around the campfire.

Day 4

Another day in magical Kruger

Wildlife Tracking

4-5hrs

Wildlife Watching

2-3hrs

Rise early again for rusks and a coffee hit while the surrounding bush awakes, then head out on the trail, traversing rocky terrain dotted with waterholes and low-lying woodlands to reach the Olifants River. Another day of quintessential African wildlife viewing awaits, as your tracker uses their experience to find the best congregations of animals, whilst teaching about the intricacies of the ecosystem here. Later, you'll move on to your final camping spot, followed by more afternoon safaris as you soak up every last second of this unique wilderness. Gather round the dinner table to tuck into delicious food and wine beneath the endless African skies.

Day 5

Road trip to Drakensberg

Driving

8-9hrs

Wake up in the bush one last time and bid farewell to Kruger, hopping back in the van for the long journey to Drakensberg. Leaving behind the wildlife-rich plains, you'll approach the rolling green hills and angular peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains (and you'll see why J.R.R. Tolkien used this landscape as inspiration for the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings). Arrive at your luxury lodge, settle in and stretch your legs in the scenic grounds, before enjoying dinner in sumptuous surroundings.

Day 6

Hike the Tugela Gorge

Hiking

4-5hrs · 15km · 765m up · 765m down

Time to hit some of the Drakensberg range's greatest hiking trails, starting with Tugela Gorge. This trek captures the essence of the Royal Natal Park, with a trail that contours over the roaring Tugela River and into the gorge, where a series of boulders form stepping stones as you meander to crystalline pools. A true highlight sits at the top of this natural amphitheatre: the second highest waterfall in the world, Tugela Falls. There are rock pools along the hike where you can brave the cold water with a rejuvenating dip. After completing the out-and-back trail, head back to the lodge for some downtime, dinner and a well-earned sleep.

Day 7

Rainbow Gorge

Hiking

2-3hrs · 5.5km · 215m up · 215m down

Fuel up at the lodge before driving over to the Rainbow Gorge hike trailhead. Another of Drakensberg's big hitters, this is an easy, mostly flat trail in epic surroundings, which circles the foot of Cathedral Peak. Beginning at Didima Camp, you'll weave your way up towards the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg slope, enjoying the crisp mountain air and pine needles underfoot. Be rewarded for your efforts with spectacular views of the mighty Ndumeni River. Descend slowly into the forest below, home to a multitude of rare birdlife, perhaps stopping for a dip in a clear rock pool. Later, settle in for your last night at the luxury Drakensberg lodge with a sundowner on the deck and dinner in the lounge.

Day 8

Off to Cape Town

Driving

4hrs

Bid farewell to Drakensberg, head to King Shaka International Airport near Durban and take a 2.5hr flight to Cape Town. You'll be met and transferred to the Kloof Street Hotel, your base for the next three nights. Enjoy some downtime this afternoon - soak up the rooftop pool and views, or head out for a stroll around Cape Town at your own pace.

Day 9

Cycle the Stellenbosch winelands

Cycling

3-4hrs · 21km

Explore the famous winelands of Stellenbosch by bike, pedalling along the tracks that weave through the large vineyards which dominate the landscape in this part of Cape Town. There is the odd climb or two to tackle, some fun downhill sections, and a stunningly scenic backdrop throughout. You'll make several stops to sample the best wines Stellenbosch has to offer, accompanied by tasty canapés - a quintessential Cape Town experience.

Day 10

Hike Table Mountain

Hiking

3.5hrs · 3km · 700m up · 0m down

Tackle a sensational hike to the top of Table Mountain today for an unrivalled panorama of Cape Town and the surrounding ocean. You'll be taking the India Venster trail, arguably the best half-day route to the summit, involving some scrambling at certain points, with some fixed chain sections that your guide will help you safely navigate. There is a good chunk of elevation with some steep sections to get those thighs working, but the going is manageable - especially after your days spent hiking in Kruger and Drakensberg. After some time at the summit taking in the 360-degree views, you'll take the aerial cableway back down to sea level where you can head out for a well-earned dinner in Cape Town.

Day 11

So long, Cape Town

Your South African odyssey comes to an end today. Tuck into one last breakfast overlooking Table Mountain and enjoy some downtime in Cape Town ahead of your host transferring you back to the airport in time for your flight.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Mountain bike and helmet for the Winelands cycling
  • All your camping gear in the Greater Kruger

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof cover/liner for daypack

CLOTHES

  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Light waterproof trousers
  • Fleece jacket or similar for evenings
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Sunhat
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes/trainers (worn-in)
  • Sandals

OTHER

  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch for the wilderness camp in Kruger
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks

Post trip accommodation in Cape Town: Single room

Payable Before Departure

Post trip accommodation in Cape Town: Single room

Per Night

Post trip accommodation in Cape Town: Twin or Double room

Payable Before Departure

Post trip accommodation in Cape Town: Twin or Double room

Per Night

Pre trip accommodation in Johannesburg: Single room

Payable Before Departure

Pre trip accommodation in Johannesburg: Single room

Per Night

Pre trip accommodation in Johannesburg: Twin or Double room

Payable Before Departure

Pre trip accommodation in Johannesburg: Twin or Double room

Per Night

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Private airport transfer - Cape Town accommodation to airport

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer - Cape Town accommodation to airport

Private airport transfer - Johannesburg Airport to accommodation

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer - Johannesburg Airport to accommodation

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 857kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

Your time in Greater Kruger is a magical and exclusive experience, offering a different take on the more classic vehicle safaris offered in other parts of the park. You'll stay at two different spots located in the Maseke Balule Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger: an 8000-hectare private game reserve which shares open borders with the Kruger National Park. The Olifants River courses through the reserve, while prominent mountainous ridges and boulder koppies characterise the terrain, making it an incredibly diverse and interesting region to explore on foot. The camps are an intimate set-up, designed for the group to socialise around the fire in the evenings, and enjoy the natural ambience of the bush. Each day you'll rise at dawn, around 05:30, and wake up with coffee and traditional rusk biscuits before heading out early for the walking safari, when the animals are at their most active. The morning safaris last around 4-5 hours with plenty of stops to observe the wildlife, and a brunch stop halfway through.

Each afternoon, the group will choose between heading out on another shorter walking safari of 2-3 hours, or alternatively going on a game drive, depending on the conditions on any given day and how the group are feeling. On all safaris you are accompanied by experienced safari guides and wildlife trackers to help find the best wildlife viewing and keep the group safe - the guides will be armed. Each day ends with sundowners enjoying the sunset, and a dining table is set every evening for a three-course meal, and in the mornings to serve up coffee and rusks before departure.

This is an active adventure trip, and aside from the long road trip days on Day 2 and Day 5, you'll be on the move for a good few hours each day. The walking safaris are manageable by anyone with a basic level of fitness - there are no big elevation gains to tackle, but you'll be on your feet for up to six hours with regular stops to view wildlife as you go. The hikes in the Drakensberg have more elevation gain and loss, with 765m up the Tugela Gorge being the biggest. You'll need some fitness for this part, although you'll have warmed your legs up on the flatter plains in Kruger in the days before. Cycling in the Winelands is very easy, stopping to sample local food and wines and going at a very gentle pace. The biggest challenge of the trip is climbing Table Mountain - again, you'll have built up some fitness for this on the days beforehand in the Drakensberg, so anyone with an OK level of fitness should be fine. You'll tackle 700m of elevation gain in a short distance, and the India Venster route involves some scrambling and exposure to heights about 15% of the way.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

$10USD per person per day

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Your host will provide clean drinking water throughout the trip. Tap water in South Africa is generally safe in urban areas such as Johannesburg and Cape Town. Make sure to bring along a reusable water bottle to keep with you throughout the adventure.

A walking safari in Kruger is best during the cooler months of the year. Summer is between November and February - this season has high rainfall and temperatures that soar above 40°C / 100°F. The bush becomes very thick, while the terrain is wet and muddy, so we don't run trips during these months. Around April and May, the temperatures drop and the rainfall subsides. The months between April and October offer fantastic walking and camping conditions, with the nighttime temperatures dropping to about 12°C / 54°F and daytime temperatures rising to a mild 23°C / 73°F.

April-May and October are fantastic times to visit Cape Town. Expect pleasant daytime temperatures of around 23°C / 73°F with a lot of sunshine during these months. November starts hotting up with highs of 30°C / 86°F. Temperatures will be considerably chillier in Drakensberg (down to freezing on some nights), so pack some warmer layers for your time in the mountains.

Your luggage will be transported in the overland vehicle throughout the adventure, and it is safe to leave in your room at each accommodation throughout the trip. Since your trip starts in Johannesburg and ends in Cape Town, it is not feasible to leave luggage at the start of the trip to collect at the end.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daypack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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