South Africa’s North & East Coast
18-Day Self-Drive Tour, Accommodated
Number of Participants: Individual
Tour Price: from 9,400 ZAR pp sharing
Single Supplement: from 2,400 ZAR
This 18-day accommodated self-drive tour is for those wanting to take time to really get to know the north and east coast of South Africa. Therefore enough time has been allocated to really enjoy each of the sights. The route has also been planned in a way that you don’t feel like you are stuck in a car, rushing from one place to another. Highlights include the Drakensberg Mountains, the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park, St. Lucia and Kosi Bay. You will also visit the world-famous Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route, the highest tarred road in South Africa.
Day 1-6; South Africa
- Johannesburg: Gandhi Square, Soweto, Gold Reef City, Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Constitution Hill, Newtown
- Pretoria: President Paul Kruger House, Melrose House, Transvaal Museum of Natural History, Union Buildings, Vortrekker Monument, Pretoria Botanical Gardens, Pretoria National Zoo, South African Reserve Bank
- Drakensberg Mountains: Giant´s Castle, hiking, Bushmen paintings, Bushmen museum
Day 7-11, South Africa
- Durban: Indian market, botanical garden, aquarium, rickshaw ride, Indian cuisine
- St. Lucia: Boat cruise, relaxing on the long and sandy beaches
- Cape Vidal: Snorkeling
- Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve: Game drives
- Kosi Bay: Boat cruise, relaxing, snorkeling
Day 12; Swaziland
- Mbabane: Vibrant market, walking, trekking
Day 13-18; South Africa
- Kruger National Park: Game drives, guided bush walks
- Panorama Route: Blyde River Canyon, God´s Window, Bourkes Luck Potholes
We have visited all the below mentioned lodges, guesthouses and camps and can therefore recommend them at first hand. In order not to only “tick off” all the points of interest but to actually learn more about the visited places, the country and its people, we do not book our clients into big and anonymous lodges, hotels and resorts. Instead, we offer you owner-managed guesthouses and private lodges where you more likely have the chance of getting to know more about your destination while interacting with the staff and owners.
Day 1 Arrival in Johannesburg / Pretoria, South Africa
Distance approx. 70 km, driving time approx. 1h
After your arrival in Johannesburg, you pick up your rental car and drive to Brooks Cottage in Pretoria. The rest of the day is at leisure and you can either relax at the guesthouse or do a half-day excursion to explore Johannesburg or Pretoria. You will overnight at the Brooks Cottage.
Day 2-3 Johannesburg, South Africa - Clarens, South Africa
Distance day 2 approx. 350-400 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
You travel to the province of the Free State and pass Heidelberg, Frankfort and Bethlehem before you reach the small artist village of Clarens, the perfect base for trips to nearby sights: the Royal Natal National Park, Sterkfontein Nature Reserve and Little Switzerland are all well worth a visit. You will spend two nights at the St. Fort Country House.
Day 4-5 Clarens, South Africa - Drakensberg, South Africa - Central Drakensberg, South Africa
Distance day 4 approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
After a hearty breakfast you continue your journey to the centre of the Drakensberg Mountains in the direction of Giant’s Castle National Park. You have the possibility to hike at Giant’s Castle or in the surrounding area. From Giant’s Castle’s parking area it is only a short walk to the tracks of the Bushmen tribe, who walked the same pathsyou are doing today. You will visit the ancient rock paintings of the San Bushmen as well as the small museum. Thereafter you can hike along the river on different trails (depending on your fitness level) to enjoy this unique mountainous landscape. You will overnight at Antbear Guesthouse, outside the park
Day 6 Central Drakensberg, South Africa - Durban, South Africa
Distance approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
Your next destination is Durban, the busiest port on the Indian Ocean. Durban has a large Indian population which adds to the cosmopolitan feel of the city. A trip to the Indian Market is worthwhile for the sights, sounds and aromatic smells of spices and curries. If you like cooking you will probably find a new spice that you might want to try. Other attractions are the botanical gardens, the aquarium and perhaps a rickshaw ride along the promenade. You will overnight at the Fairlight Beach House in Umdloti - just 19km north of Durban and a stone’s throw away from the Indian Ocean.
Day 7-8 Durban, South Africa - St. Lucia, South Africa
Distance day 7 approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3h
You continue your journey to the town of St Lucia where you will spend the next two days. St. Lucia has a lot to offer: you can go on a boat trip on the estuary where you will get to see hippos and crocodiles just meters away. With a little luck you might even spot an elephant or nother animals coming to drink at the water’s edge. Alternatively you may choose to relax on the long and sandy beaches or to go for a walk along the coast. The area is also a paradise for bird enthusiasts as many hundred different types can be spotted. Between November and March the area is also great for turtle watching, as these fantastic creatures come to lay their eggs on the beach. You can also go to Cape Vidal which has great beaches and snorkelling spots. You will overnight at the St. Lucia Wetlands Guesthouse.
Day 9 St. Lucia, South Africa - Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park, South Africa
Distance approx. 100 km; driving time approx. 8-10h (incl. game drives)
You start off the day early in the morning and after a short drive past forest and sugar plantations, you reach the largest reserve for rhinos, the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park. Thanks to the breeding programme the park is home to both black and white rhino. Out of all the parks in Africa it is here where you have the best chance of seeing this magnificent and endangered species. In addition to rhinos you will also find elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards here. Many people also consider this park to be the most beautiful in South Africa because of its beautiful landscapes. In the evening you will return to the St. Lucia Wetlands Guesthouse.
Day 10-11 Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park, South Africa - Kosi Bay, South Africa
Distance day 10 approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
Kosi Bay is a small village in South Africa yet to be discovered by mass tourism. The main attractions are the four beautiful fresh water lakes which are connected by canals. A river runs through all four lakes eventually flowing into the Indian Ocean. Join a boat trip on the lakes and look for ospreys and cormorants as well as for the intricate fish traps built by the locals. Walk the endless sandy beaches, swim, snorkel and exploring the warm ocean. Because of the variety and abundance of life where the river water meet the sea, snorkelling at the river mouth is also something that should not be missed. You will spend two nights at the Kosi Bay Lodge. Please take note that many activities in the region require the use of a 4x4 vehicle and we recommend joining a guided tour.
Day 12 Kosi Bay, South Africa - Malkerns, Swaziland
Distance approx. 350 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
Leaving South Africa, today you cross the border to Swaziland. You travel via Manzini on to Mbabane, where you can stop to buy souvenirs and crafts at a colourful and vibrant market. Compared to South Africa, Swaziland is more rural and the area around Mbabane is ideal for walking and trekking. You will overnight beween Manzini and Mbabane at the Umdoni Guesthouse.
Day 13-15 Malkerns, Swaziland - Kruger National Park, South Africa
Distance day 13 approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 5-8h (incl. game drives)
Distance day 14 depends on choice of route
Distance day 15 approx. 150 km; driving time approx. 6-h (incl. game drives)
You will leave Swaziland and enter the Kruger National Park at the Crocodile Bridge Gate. This is the land of the “modern day hunter”, where guns and knives have been replaced with cameras and binoculars. You will drive to the Lower Sabie Rest Camp in the southern section and spend the night in one of the bungalows. The following days you will spend game viewing in the world-famous park where you might spot the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino). You will spend one night at Skukuza and one night at Olifants Rest Camp. You have the possibility of booking night game drives (in order to see the nocturnal animals) as well as guided bush walks at all the rest camps.
Breakfast (day 13)
You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner the restaurants at the rest camp or bring your own supply of food and drinks to cater for yourself.
Please note: In high season it might happen that some of the camps mentioned above are fully booked. In this case we would consult you and then book suitable alternative accommodation.
Day 16-17 Kruger National Park, South Africa - Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
Distance day 16 approx. 150-200 km; driving time approx. 2-3h (excl. game drives)
You exit the Kruger National Park at the Orpen Gate and travel to Zuleika Country House. You can either relax at the country house or visit some of the sights of the Panorama Route. These include the Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window and the Bourke’s Luck Potholes. The Zuleika Country House also serves as a good base for a visit to the northern Drakensberg. You will spend two nights at the Zuleika Country House.
Breakfast (day 17)
Day 18 Blyde River Canyon, South Africa - Johannesburg, South Africa
Distance approx. 450-500 km; driving time approx. 5-6h
You travel back to Johannesburg where you will return your rental car before you catch your return flight taking with wonderful memories, souvenirs and photos of a fantastic holiday in Africa.
- Self-drive tour according to the itinerary
- 17 nights accommodation in guesthouses, chalets, bungalows or lodges
as indicated in the itinerary
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Flights (international and domestic)
- Rental car (please contact us for a quote)
- Meals not indicated in the itinerary
- Beverages (alcohol and soft drinks)
- Possible toll- and crossing border fees
- National park fees
- Optional activities
- Visa, tips, personal expenses, travel insurance
How safe is a self-drive tour in South Africa?
- In general South Africa is not a lot more dangerous than other countries in the world. Most crimes and acts of violence take place in the townships of bigger cities. Public areas around shopping centres, restaurants, banks etc. are very safe. Nevertheless you should stick to a couple of rules to avoid risky or dangerous situations. This includes staying away from dodgy areas, walking in the dark, carrying a lot of cash or expensive cameras on you, wearing flashy jewellery and leaving bags or valuables in the car.
What is the infrastructure like (road conditions, shops, petrol stations)?
- South Africa in general has a very good infrastructure and with the exception of private roads and some roads in the national parks, most of the roads are tarred.
- Petrol stations can be found alongside all major routes and highways as well as in cities/villages.
- There are more than enough different and well-stocked shops available and many petrol stations also have a little convenience shop.
On which side of the road will I be driving?
- In Southern Africa vehicles are right-hand drives hence driving is done on the left-hand side of the roads.
Do I need an international driver’s licence?
- According to the law, all you need is a valid driver’s licence which has been issued in English and has a photo thereon. If your national driver’s licence has not been issued in English or does not have a photo, you need an international driver’s licence.
- As per the terms and conditions of the rental car companies, only a valid national driver’s licence and a credit card is required.
Can I enter the national parks with the rental car?
- Most roads within the national parks are tarred or good gravel and all are accessible to rental cars. Please however take note that you have to stick to the rules of the national parks at all time. These include: remaining in your vehicle unless you are in a designated area, sticking to the speed limit of 50 km/h on tar and 40 km/h on gravel roads and not littering.
- Most national parks offer guided game drives in open safari vehicles accompanied by a professional ranger. Night drives are especially recommendable if you are interested in seeing the nocturnal animals. All game drives can be booked at the camps directly.
How will I be able to find my way around?
- Along with your travel documents you will receive a voucher that includes detailed directions and contact details for all the pre-booked accommodation.
- Some rental car companies provide road maps but as not all of them do, it is advisable to bring a good map with a map scale of at least 1:1,5 mill. with you.
What meals are included and what food can be expected on tour?
- Meals are included as indicated in the itinerary.
- Breakfast usually consists of a full English breakfast and cereals, toast, cheese, jam, fruits, juices, tea, coffee.
- Since most of the days are spent on the road or in the national parks, no lunches have been included.
- As South Africa is well-known for its great cuisine and there is such a big variety of different restaurants, dinner has been excluded on most days. This allows you to make your own choices and to enjoy different dining experiences. Most restaurants offer an à la carte menu with different meat, poultry, fish, rice, pasta and vegetable dishes.
What about the money matter?
- You can either exchange your own currency for South African Rand at one of the exchange bureaus at the airport or in town or you can go to an ATM and draw South African Rand at the current rate of exchange. Please note that you need a Maestro card or any credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club) and your pin code to draw money.
- Credit cards are also widely accepted but as there are still some shops and petrol stations that do not accept credit cards, make sure you always have some cash on hand.
Do I need vaccinations for this self-drive tour?
- As the Kruger Park is situated within a malaria area, we would recommend some precautions. Please speak to your doctor or travel clinic about the different prophylaxis and their effects and side effects.
- Although none of the countries visited on tour require proof of immunization against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio and Hepatitis A & B, we nevertheless recommend those vaccinations.