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Zululand & Kruger Wildlife

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Zululand & Kruger Wildlife

1-Join tour in Johannesburg; drive to the Drakensburg Mountains
Heading south-east out of Johannesburg our first destination is the Drakensberg Mountains. Drakensberg is the world’s oldest mountain range and derives its name from the Afrikaans word for ‘Dragon Mountains’. In the inevitable mist and the razor back ridges one can see a likeness to these mythical beasts. The hikes, the plunge pools and all-round silence make the Drakensberg Mountains a must-see. The Drakensberg itself comprises basalt massifs that have been cut through by crystal clear streams. The indigenous people that lived here called these mountains the Ukhlamba, or barrier of spears, because all of their peaks resemble upturned weapons. The old San bushman culture is reflected richly in the paintings that dot the cliff faces and overhangs, reminding all South Africans of their rich history. On arrival this afternoon we will have the opportunity to take a short walk to appreciate our surroundings in the Royal Natal National Park.
Overnight: Basic Camping

2-Hike in the Tugela Gorge
Today we have the opportunity to explore the breath-taking amphitheatre where the Tugela River has its source. These are said to be amongst the world’s highest falls, dropping some 900 metres off the top of the Drakensberg escarpment. The scenery is spectacular, and in spring and summer the valley is a carpet of indigenous flora. The path meanders in and out of lush forests with great views down the hills. This will be a 4-5 hour walk. For those feeling less energetic there are a number of shorter walks available to you near the campsite and there may be a possibility of taking a dip in a cascade by a waterfall.
Overnight: Basic Camping

3-Visit battlefields; drive to Ulundi
Today we visit the famous battlefields and witness authentic Zulu war dancing (optional depending on numbers). As anyone who has ever watched the film Zulu Dawn will know, the battlefields of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana were the scenes of bloody and hugely significant events in the history of the Zulu nation. We will visit the battle sites of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana to gain a perspective into the people and history of South Africa. Isandlwana is undoubtedly the most haunting of all the battlefields as the many white cairns reflect upon the arrogance of a Victorian empire and the victory of the Zulu people who call themselves ‘the children of the stars’. The hill of Isandlwana stands a silent testimony to the determination and pride of the Zulu people. Isandlwana is truly haunting in the lessons it taught South Africa of colonialism and the folly of war. Rorke’s Drift, a battle made famous in the film Zulu, is unique for the awarding of eleven VC’s in a single engagement. We make our way to the Zulu Capital in Ulundi where we will overnight in traditional-style huts.
Overnight: Standard Hut

4-Game Drives at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve; drive to St Lucia
We spend our first full day in the area making an extensive game drive in the famous Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve – formerly the Zulu kings’ hunting ground in days gone by. This reserve has achieved remarkable success with an ambitious rhino conservation programme which has brought the rhino back from the brink of extinction. As a result, it now supports the densest rhino population in Africa with both black and white rhino. It also supports lion, cheetah, leopard, wild dog, and crocodile. Birdwatching is particularly good in the reserve with over 500 species recorded. We make our way to St Lucia in the late afternoon.
Overnight: Standard Lodge
Single Room option available

5-At St Lucia Wetland Reserve
Today is left free for you to choose one of the many optional activities available in the area. The beaches of St Lucia and Cape Vidal are completely unspoilt and untouched, with recent legislation prohibiting vehicles from entering and blemishing these huge tracts. It is an internationally recognized site for the critically endangered leather-backed turtle. A phenomenon that is unrivalled is the annual migration of sardine fish, followed by dolphins, sharks, barracudas and marlin. Apart from enjoying the natural wonders on another game drive, you may like to take an active excursion by 4WD within the Wetland Park itself to Cape Vidal which includes dune walking, a braai (or barbeque) and snorkelling. Some of the other optional activities available are a night drives around the wetland reserve to possibly see genet, owls, chameleons and rare cats. Also from November to February there are trips to spot giant turtles coming ashore. Whale watching is good from June to November. There is also the option of a boat trip on the St. Lucia River to spot hippos, birds and crocodiles.
Overnight: Standard Lodge
Single Room option available

6-Drive to Swaziland
We drive north and enter Swaziland – a tiny, independent kingdom inhabited by the Swazi tribe who revere their king and hold on to their culture and traditions. Our journey takes us through some spectacular scenery in the Ezulwini Valley and past numerous traditional homesteads and curio stalls. In the late afternoon we enter one of Swaziland’s best wildlife reserves, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This secluded and beautiful sanctuary is a haven of tranquillity, located as it is in a natural bowl beneath the Nyonyane
Mountains. For the next two nights our accommodation is in traditional dome-shaped beehive huts set in a wooded area. Though the camp has all the mod cons of showers, toilets, outdoor swimming pool and restaurant/bar it is rustic in the best sense of the word. Warthogs and ostrich share the camp with us and the restaurant overlooks a lake populated by water birds.
Overnight: Standard Beehive Huts
Single Room option available

7-Game viewing and optional activities in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Mlilwane is Swaziland’s oldest protected area, owned and managed by a non-profit making trust. Mlilwane is situated in the low foothills of the Nyonyane Mountains. The Sanctuary has been rehabilitated and is now Swaziland’s most frequently visited reserve where one can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and the abundant wildlife that grace the plains. Visitors can explore the southern portion of the Sanctuary by foot, vehicle, and on mountain bikes. This morning we begin with a walk in search of zebra, wildebeest, impala, nyala and warthog. Mlilwane has a large area of open grasslands, so game viewing is relatively easy. The afternoon is left free for you to choose one of the many optional activities on offer. The great advantage of Mlilwane is that the absence of big cats allows for a very different game viewing experience. Those who simply want to relax can sit back in the camps and enjoy the tranquillity of Nature.
Overnight: Standard Beehive Huts
Single Room option available

8-Drive to Kruger National Park
After an early start, we drive north, enter South Africa and a little further on cross the Crocodile River into the Kruger National Park. This two million hectare wilderness is amongst the world’s first proclaimed Game Reserves and is justifiably South Africa’s showpiece, with 147 mammal species roaming in the freedom that this National Park offers. It has a very good infrastructure, although 96% of the land is still as pristine and untouched as it was before the first settlers arrived. The Kruger Park is a world leader in animal and plant research. It offers scenery as diverse as riverine forest, granite outcrops, endless savannah and impenetrable Mopani woodland. We take open-vehicle game drives in our modified Toyota Landcruisers on our way to the camp where we overnight. These camps are very comfortable.
Overnight: Basic Camping

9-Game viewing in Kruger National Park; drive to Graskop
This morning we drive around the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s premier game reserves. Covering an area larger than Israel, the park was established in 1898 to protect big game that had almost been hunted to extinction. The park is now one of the most prolific animal habitats in South Africa, committed to animal conservation and patrolled by armed rangers to prevent illegal poaching. A large number of species are present, including elephant, lion, black and white rhino, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wild dog, hyena, wildebeest and almost all of South Africa’s species of antelope. Bird life is just as impressive with crowned cranes, bee-eaters, sunbirds and vultures. We spend a full day in the park before moving on to Graskop in the late afternoon for our overnight stop.
Overnight: Standard Lodge
Single Room option available

10-Drive through Mpumalanga to Johannesburg where tour ends
The airy uplands of Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal) have been inhabited since Stone Age times and with the region’s plentiful water from mountain rivers, multiple waterfalls, beautiful craggy escarpments covered in vegetation, and colourful birdlife, it is easy to understand why. We’ll stop at several excellent viewpoints, including the aptly named ‘God’s Window’ and admire the awe-inspiring Blyde River Canyon before we make our final journey back to Johannesburg.

Tour includes:

9 Breakfast
1 Lunch
2 DInner
3 nights Basic Camping
1 night Standard Hut
3 nights Standard Lodge
2 nights Standard Beehive Huts
Tour Staff:
Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader
Group Size:
Generally 14 – 20

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explore holidaysExplore have been running small group adventure holidays throughout the world since 1981 and have a vast array of experience, knowledge and well established close personal contacts in all the countries in which they operate, which makes them stand out as one of the most trusted adventure tour operators in the UK.

They are passionate about what they do, and above all, simply love nothing more than to travel. The founder directors ran overland trips through Asia, Africa and the Americas in the 1960s and 70s prior to setting up the company, and were determined that the spirit of adventure that was such an important part of those early pioneering days, should continue to play key role as part of the driving ethos of Explore.

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It is little wonder that over 60% of all Explore customers who travel each year have travelled with them previously, Explore are clearly committed to the “travel experience” and their itineraries are always offer that slight “Explore Twist” which makes them even more appealing.

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