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From the top of Table Mountain to dramatic sea cliffs, beautiful sandy beaches and underground cavern, South Africa has it all. Experience the thrill of a safari, try river rafting, caving and whale watching as we explore the best of South Africa's famous Garden Route.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights basic cabins
2 nights comfortable cabins
1 nights comfortable guesthouse
5 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights comfortable tree-house
10 - 16
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Cape Town. Hosting a stunning coastline, with the dramatic Table Mountain looming over the city and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities and an ideal launch pad for our trip.
For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 1 pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on a guided walk to climb Table Mountain. The climb is spectacular not just for the views it affords, but also for the beautiful plant life of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which has more indigenous plant species per square metre than anywhere else in South Africa.
If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Cape Town International airport (airport code CPT), which is 20km, around 40 minutes from our hotel.
Please note that if you wish to join the table mountain walk today, you must arrive at the hotel by 1pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least 1 hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around 40 minutes' drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 11am. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. Furthermore anyone arriving late on day one will also be able to ascend Table Mountain on one of the other days in Cape Town.
Note that weather conditions in Cape Town can be highly variable throughout the year. Should weather conditions prevail that are unsuitable for the ascent of Table Mountain, this excursion will be undertaken on an alternative day.
For those not wishing to walk, an aerial cableway runs frequently to and from the summit. Please note however the Table Mountain Cableway usually closes for general maintenance at the end of July, based on 2020 dates; the provisional closure is scheduled for Monday 20th July to Sunday 2nd August 2020. Although the cable car will not be running, Table Mountain is still be accessible by a hiking trail as described above.
Noordhoek Village Hotel (or similar)
Today we travel from the nearby Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Waterfront in Cape Town to take a tour of the world famous Robben Island museum, which includes a boat trip across Table Bay. The visit to the infamous maximum security prison provides us the opportunity to meet an ex-political prisoner sharing their experience of Robben Island. Please note, the ferry tickets and museum entrance tickets (both booked by Explore) need to be purchased around 4-6 weeks before departure and we cannot guarantee that they will be available for any late bookings.
Returning across the bay, arrive back at the hotel around 2pm. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the city.
We will make our way to Cape Point Visitors Park and take a walk up to a viewpoint to watch the turbulent clash of the warm Agulhas current from the Indian Ocean meeting the cold Benguela current from the Atlantic. We'll take an hour-long walk within the national park to Cape Point and the lighthouse, keeping an eye out for resident baboons, tortoises, otters and seabirds along the way. The trail is well marked, slightly rocky in places, and boasts diverse flora with many colourful flowers.
Moving onto Hout Bay, take a boat trip to see the remarkable bird and marine life of Seal Island - where approximately 7,000 Cape Fur Seals have made their home on low lying rocks.
This afternoon we head to one of Cape Town's best beaches. Muizenberg beach is an ideal location to learn to surf; well known amongst the surfing community as offering some of the best surfing conditions along this stretch of coastline. A wetsuit is provided, please bring a towel, swimming suit and sunscreen.
Drive to the District Six Museum. Although the Museum was initially started as a community space for ex-residents to gather and meet, it has now become a space that tells the story of District Six under apartheid to both local and foreign visitors to Cape Town and South Africa.
The museum has been designed in such a way that a visitor can wander in off the street and take a self-guided tour, but more importantly, our group will also make use of the privilege of taking a tour with an ex-resident of the district and listen to the amazing personnel experiences and recollections of an ex-resident.
Leaving Cape Town behind, we make a stop at Stony Point penguin colony just outside the quaint coastal town of Betty's Bay. The nature reserve is home to one of the largest breeding colonies of African Penguin in the world as well as hosting a wealth of endemic bird life. The reserve sits on the site of a historic whaling station and has a quiet, undiscovered feel, offering excellent penguin viewing without the crowds. The boardwalks can be followed over the craggy outcrops to see the resident seabirds up close without disturbing them. Although humans are not allowed to wander beyond the boardwalks, it does not always stop the penguins joining the trail and setting a slow walking pace!
After a lunch break at Betty's Bay, continue our journey, making a stop at the small seaside resort of Hermanus, regarded as one of the premier spots for shore-based whale watching in the world. From the cliff top walks it is possible to observe whales no more than 50 or 100 metres away. (The whale watching season is between June and November).
Departing Hermanus late afternoon, it's a short drive to Swellendam. Leaving the main road to follow a gravel track to our river camp, where rustic, wooden a-frame huts line the banks of the Breede River. This accommodation offers a real break from reality and a chance to enjoy the surrounding nature. You can chat with the friendly team - many of which come from the nearby town - at the bar or around this evening's camp fire for an insight into their life on the Western Cape. This evening a traditional, bush-style dinner will be served before a campfire under the starry sky (weather-dependent).
Round the Bend Lodge (or similar)
Spend the day in rafts along the scenic Breede River.
From its source up in the mountains above Ceres, the Breede River meanders for 300 km before it deposits its water into the mighty Indian Ocean. During its long journey to the coast, it provides life-giving water to one of South Africa's most beautiful regions. This river also boasts amazing bird life and ample fishing.
The winding channels and playful rapids make it the ideal river-rafting destination for families. This ultimate river adventure offers exciting grade 2 and 3 rapids. No experience is necessary and briefings will be given by our local guides. The rest of the day is free to find a relaxing spot along the riverbank to enjoy the peace and quiet at our river side base.
Drive to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of South Africa! The arid landscape that borders the Little Karoo is a desolate and yet magnificent area of semi desert.
After checking into our accommodation around lunch time, we set out to explore the finest dripstone caverns in the world - the Cango Caves. Situated in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains, these limestone caves extend more than 5 kms underground through a series of large caverns connected by passages. We hike into the most spectacular caverns - a truly surreal experience.
We then have a tour of the Safari ostrich and butterfly farm, north of Oudtshoorn as well as the Zeekoegat School which showcases the process of building a new school. Each individual will get the opportunity to sponsor a 'brick' towards the building of the new Zeekoegat Primary School. Depending on timings and weather, we may have to visit the caves, school and ostrich farm the following day.
De Poort Country Lodge (or similar)
Making our way eastwards, travel along the Garden Route to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
This afternoon try our hand at sea kayaking along the coastline from Central Beach. Explore the magic of our unique coastline with its abundant marine life up close and personal in one of our stable kayaks in the company of an experienced guide. Glide across sparkling water while enjoying a view of the majestic Tsitsikamma Mountains, Robberg Nature Reserve and marine life.
After a thorough briefing on kayaking techniques and safety we paddle from Central Beach with possible sightings of Cape Fur Seals, Bottlenose and Humpback Dolphins and a variety of sea birds. No experience is necessary although you will need to be able to swim. A sun hat and sunscreen and a change of clothes for afterwards is advisable.
Our accommodation for the next two nights is a white-washed, seaside resort, set just a five-minute walk down to the unspoilt Keurbooms Beach.
Bayview Hotel (or similar)
Plettenberg Bay and its surroundings boast some of the most exquisite beaches and stunning scenery of the Garden Route and an unparalleled range of activities. The most famous beach Central Beach, offering long stretches of white sand and warm waters which are perfect for swimming. The water is calmest on Central Beach making it ideal for families.
Today has been left free to choose from boat based dolphin and whale watching, to snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, surfing, mountain biking and canoeing (some of these activities do have age restrictions). In season (June to November, sometime into December too) the whale watching is especially recommended, as this shoreline offers the chance to watch a truly great mammal, the southern right whale. The dunes and escarpments offer panoramic views of the coast and you have a good chance of seeing seals, dolphins and whales, plus a wealth of bird and botanical life.
This morning we'll take a short drive to Robberg Nature Reserve where our local leader will lead a walk along the trails. The hiking here is moderate, it's uneven under foot in places and can be slippery so good walking shoes are advised, but rewards are abundant: brilliant bird viewing, sweeping coastal views and the possibility to spot dolphins and seals playing in the waters below. From July to December, there's also the chance to see southern right whales that come into the calmer and warmer waters to calve and nurse their young.
It's a two hour drive to our accommodation at Treetops. We'll be staying in the Storms River region where there are numerous well-marked walking trails for varying abilities, as well as the opportunity to explore suspended canopy walkways and zipwires, or to try river kayaking.
Teniqua Treetops is a unique eco-tented tree house occupying a position high on the foothills of the ancient Outeniqua mountain range. The tree houses offer a unique opportunity to sleep, eat and shower up in the canopy of the forest, all surrounded by birdsong and butterflies. Built on hand crafted platforms and situated in carefully chosen beauty spots, the accommodation boasts comfortable tented bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens and leafy bathrooms. Experience a true environmentally friendly accommodation experience.
Teniqua Treetops (or similar)
The morning is left free. Around midday, we take a short drive to Tsitsikamma National Park 'the place of much water', South Africa's most impressive marine and forest park, stretching for some 80 kms from the lagoon at Nature's Valley to the mouth of the Groot River.
The lush forest and sheer cliffs provide an ideal setting for short walking trails, the most popular of which takes you to the suspension bridge spanning the mouth of Storm's River: a quite spectacular sight, where the booming breakers of the Indian Ocean relentlessly pound rocky shores. The heartland of the park stretches some 5km to sea, protecting a wonderland of inter-tidal life, reef and deep-sea fish and where we can snorkel to discover the marine life. Dolphins frolic in the breakers, surfing and playing for the sheer joy of life, and the gentle giant of the ocean, the southern right whale visits here, coming inshore to breed.
Tsitsikamma Coastal Cottages (or similar)
Spend the early morning exploring the rock-pools and beaches; leaving late morning heading eastwards to Addo Elephant National Park; a 300,000 acre sanctuary for a wide range of South Africa's Wildlife, best known for elephant (with a population now in excess of 600) but also supporting buffalo, black rhino, leopard and lion in its southern locations as well as good birdwatching opportunities throughout. We will enjoy an afternoon game drive on arrival in the park.
We stay in the parks Forest Cabins allowing you quick access to the park. Each cabin sleeps a maximum of four people, so families of over four will have two cabins. Each cabin has an open area with four single beds, a table and seating for four people, with a separate shower, toilet and hand basin. A traditional braai dinner is included tonight prepared by your local leader.
Addo Elephant Forest Cabins (or similar)
After breakfast we depart Addo Elephant National Park, driving 75km to Port Elizabeth International airport (airport code PLZ), where we aim to arrive at about 10am and this is where our trip ends. The earliest your flight can depart is 12.30pm
Mild throughout the year and can thus be visited year round. The Western Cape has a Mediterranean-type climate, with warm, dry summers and cold winters with rainfall. Summer runs from November to March, with temperatures averaging 22oC to 34oC. The months of April and October are generally warm and sunny. Winter is also a good time to visit as towns and sites are not so crowded and the countryside is more verdant, but it can be cold. Seasonal weather patterns can be unpredictable.
3 Pin Round
A selection of optional activities are listed below to help you budget for your Family adventure. Whilst the basic tour price you pay before you travel includes a great selection of highlights, we have also built in free time to allow you the flexibility to choose from a carefully selected range of additional excursions and activities or take time to relax, the choice is yours. At certain destinations along the way there may be several options to choose from and it may not be possible to fit all the activities in; your Explore Leader will be able to give advice on which are the most suitable for your family. Days 1 to 3: Cape Town - Aquarium £11 per person Day 8: Plettenberg Bay - Whale watching trip £50 per adult & £26 per child under 12 years. Knysna Monkey Land £15 adults, £8 children per person Day 12: Early morning additional open top safarai drive before departing for Port Elizabeth. £25 per person (minimum 3 people required)
Clothing should generally be lightweight for the day. Also take a fleece, long trousers, a waterproof and windproof jacket. Take swimming gear and a beach towel. During Winter (June to November) we recommend you bring plenty of warm clothing, as temperatures can drop significantly. Swimming pools can be cold in the winter months as they are outside and not heated.
Comfortable shoes (or well broken-in walking boots if planning to hike), trainers or sandals for relaxing/travelling.
Take a soft bag, holdall or suitcase. Also take a daypack for items needed during any walks or sightseeing.
Due to limited space in the luggage trailer please only travel with one main piece of luggage and one daypack/ day bag per person. Please do not travel with hard shell cases.
Take a torch, water bottle, sunhatunscreen and insect repellent. Binoculars are useful for bird watching and whale watching. Mosquito nets are not required as the accommodation provides screening where necessary. While tap water in South Africa's urban area is drinkable, some people may take a few days to acclimatise and thus may experience traveller's tummy. Therefore we recommend for you to travel with a reusable filtered water bottle such as the ones featured at Water-to-Go: http://www.watertogo.eu/
4WD, Boat, Ferry, Minibus
The accommodation 30 minutes outside of Swellendam is rustic, but for many a real highlight of the trip. The A frame cabins themselves are basic, however its more than made up by the setting, right on the Breede River. There is plenty of outdoor space with a family play area, dining room and bar. The games room has a pool and table tennis table with plenty of room to play sports with the staff and other families, ideal for older children. Some cabins have private open air shower rooms attached, others have shared bathroom facilities. All have mosquito nets. The food is simple but homemade, wholesome and delicious, served in a buffet style format. A perfect spot to enjoy getting away from everything, really friendly staff and big fire pit to sit around after dinner to enjoy a drink and socialize. Our next stop is Oudtshoorn. Our locally owned and operated guesthouse offers en-suite accommodation with a TV and coffee and tea making facility. Wifi is available. The owners take great pride in their garden, there is a small treehouse with a seating area, a decent sized swimming pool, ideal for relaxing in after a busy day of activities and the accommodation offers a welcome and homely feel. The Dunes resort complex in Plettenberg Bay, where we have two nights has two swimming pools and an excellent restaurant. Rooms are well decorated with a TV, en-suite tea and coffee making facility and safe. The setting is truly fantastic, it's a short walk through the sand dunes to the beach on Plettenberg Bay with endless white sand to enjoy. This is a good location to get any laundry done as its a two night stop mid way through the trip. One of the highlights of the trip is the Teniqua Treetops in Sedgefield with individual treehouses scattered around the complex which are built into the trees and consequently offers wonderful views of the surrounding area that can be taken from the balcony. Each treehouse varies in design but generally they will have a living room, kitchen and a sleeping area. The main area of the complex has a large living area with lots of games, restaurant and a pool and table tennis table. There is also a hot tub and swimming pool. We move onto the Tsitsikama Coastal National Park where we sleep in cabins (not ensuite - communal shower blocks are available). The cabins are all together with a separate restaurant close by and there are amazing walks that can be taken in the area. Our final accommodation is in Addo National Park where we sleep in family cabins. Meals maybe served during the game drives and served by the ranger. Load shedding is the term used to describe short term electricity outages, used as a last resort to balance the demand and supply of electricity across the South African electricity market. Power outages typically last between two to four hours per day and can occur at any time, little notice is given to hotels and guesthouses. Whilst some of the properties we use have their own generators, most do not. Please be prepared for electricity outages during your stay in South Africa.
We have pools at the hotels in Plettenberg Bay, Calitzdorp and Cape Town as well as at several points along the coast on this tour
Dietary requirements: Most restaurants and hotels in South Africa do not have a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian choices. There is usually a choice of salads and one main vegetarian and/or vegan main dish on the menus, but choice will be limited especially in more remote locations. If you have specific dietary requirements we do recommend for you to bring some food with you.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
South Africa: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, US and Canadian citizens. New Zealand ordinary passport holders do not require a visa, all other passport holders please consult your local consulate for full information. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Please ensure you have the correct multiple entry visa, especially if you are visiting another country on your itinerary and will need to re-enter South Africa - this includes visiting Swaziland. All visitors should ensure their passport is machine readable, has a minimum of 6 months validity from your arrival date into the country and has two blank pages when entering and leaving South Africa. The South African Immigration officials will not allow child/ infant pages to be used for this purpose and visitors without the stipulated blank pages will be denied entry. There are special requirements for travelling to South Africa with children under 18 who hold South African nationality, and for unaccompanied children entering South Africa. The South African Department of Home Affairs has more information. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Please note that you will be required to supply a yellow fever certificate that has been issued at least 10 days prior to arrival in South Africa if you have travelled from or via a country where yellow fever is endemic. We recommend protection against hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, polio and diphtheria. According to various travel health sources, the Western Cape is not regarded as a malaria risk area. If you are travelling to other areas in South Africa please check with your doctor about malaria requirements. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.