South Africa’s North & East Coast
18-Day Self-Drive Tour, Accommodated
Number of Participants: Individual
Tour Price: from 13,900 ZAR pp sharing
Single Supplement: from 6,000 ZAR
This 18-day accommodated self-drive tour starts and ends in Johannesburg and allow enough time for nature walks, relaxing on sandy beaches, snorkelling, browsing traditional markets, bird watching and game viewing. It is a good choice for adventurous travellers who loves to combine nature and some culture with enough free time to just relax. Highlights include the Drakensberg Mountains, St. Lucia the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, and Kosi Bay. You will also visit south and central areas of Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route.
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, Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria Botanical Gardens and zoo, South African Reserve Bank
- Drakensberg Mountains: Giant´s Castle, hiking, rock art
Day 7-11, South Africa
- Durban: Spice market, botanical garden, uShaka Marine World Indian cuisine, beaches
- St. Lucia: Boat cruise, beaches, bird watching
- Cape Vidal: Snorkeling
- Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve: Game drives
- Kosi Bay: Boat cruise (optional), relaxing, snorkeling
Day 12; Swaziland
- Markets, traditional crafts, game viewing, horse riding (optional)
Day 13-18; South Africa
- Kruger National Park: Game drives, guided bush walks and game drives (optional)
- Panorama Route: Blyde River Canyon, God´s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes
We have visited all lodges, guesthouses and camps and can therefore recommend them first hand Instead of t huge impersonal tourism hotels we offer you owner-managed guesthouses and private lodges where you have a better opportunity 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’s pool, stock up on supplies or explore Johannesburg or Pretoria.
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 walking trips, fly-fishing and horse riding.. You will spend the nights at the St. Fort Country House on a farm outside Clarens.
Day 4-5 Clarens, South Africa - Drakensberg, South Africa - Central Drakensberg, South Africa
Distance day 4 approx. 250-300 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
Day 6 Central Drakensberg, South Africa - Durban, South Africa
Distance approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
Your next destination is Durban, home of a large Indian population. A trip to the spice market is worthwhile for the sights, sounds and aromatic smells. Other Durban attractions are the botanical gardens, uShaka Marine World (the aquarium is a ‘must’) and swimming in the warm water of the Indian Ocean. You will overnight at the Fairlight Beach House in Umdloti, about 20km north of Durban. Try the excellent seafood restaurants for supper (optional).
Day 7-8 Durban, South Africa - St. Lucia, South Africa
Distance day 7 approx. 250 km; driving time approx. 3-4h
You continue your journey and drive on to the little town of St. Lucia on the St Lucia estuary and border the magnificent iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Here you will stay for two days at the St. Lucia Wetlands Guesthouse has a lot to offer; join a boat trip to see hippos and crocodiles. With a little luck you will even spot an elephant or another animal coming to drink at the water’s edge. Alternatively, you may choose to relax on the beache or to go for a walk. The area is also a paradise for bird enthusiasts as many hundred different types can be spotted. Between November and March turtle come to lay their eggs in nests on the beach. Drive through iSimangaliso to Cape Vidal for excellent snorkelling and swimming. En route through the park you will see game and many wetland bird species.
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 the day early for a short drive past forest and sugar plantations to reach KZN’s only ‘Big Five’ reserve, the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. Here you will spend the day on a self-drive game viewing trip. Thanks to the breeding programme the reserve is home to black and white rhino and you might be lucky to see both these endangered species. In addition to rhinos you will also find elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards here. 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. 4h
Kosi Bay’s main attractions are the four beautiful fresh water lakes, connected by canals and eventually flowing into the Indian Ocean. You can go on a boat trip on one of the lakes to see water birds and the generations-old fish traps built by the locals. The sandy beaches nearby is perfect for swimming. Due to the variety and abundance of life where the warm fresh river waters meet the cooler sea, snorkelling at the river mouth is also something that should not be missed. You will spend two nights at the Utshwayelo Lodge. Please take note that many activities in the region require the use of a 4x4 and excursions can be arranged by the lodge (optional) should you wish.
Day 12 Kosi Bay, South Africa - Malkerns, Swaziland
Distance approx. 350 km; driving time approx. 4-5h
Leaving South Africa , you cross the border to Swaziland. Visit the local markets in Manzini or Malkerns to shop for Swazi handcrafts. Activities in the area including a visit to a traditional Swazi village, game viewing in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and horse riding. You will overnight at the Umdoni Guesthouse near Malkerns.
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. 6h (incl. game drives)
Today you will continue north through Swaziland towards the Kruger National Park. You will enter the park through the Crocodile Bridge Gate drive to the Lower Sabie Rest Camp in the southern section to spend the night in a bungalow. The following days you spend game viewing in search of 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 meals in rest camp’s restaurants. If you prefer to self-cater, the park shops stock basic supplies such as fresh vegetables, fruit and meats.
Please note: In high season some of the camps mentioned above could be fully booked. In this case we would consult with you to 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 on to the Blyde River Wilderness Lodge – just an hour away. You can either relax at the lodge or visit some of the sights the Panorama Route. These include the Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window and the Bourke’s Luck Potholes.. You will spend two nights at the Blyde River Wilderness Lodge.
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 at the airport. You can opt to extend your stay in Johannesburg or fly to Cape Town to join a connecting tour..
- Self drive tour according to the itinerary
- 17 nights’ accommodation in guesthouses, chalets, bungalows and 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.