South Africa: Conservation and Culture

Have you been to South Africa before? Its time to return and see what else this extraordinary country has to offer. This program explores two game reserves, traditional zulu culture, the Sani Pass, and the city of Durban. Please note that due to the unique nature of this program, participation is limited to 14 travelers.

The goal of this program is to experience the African bush and learn about conservation while enjoying the experience of a luxury game lodge.

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  • uShaka Island Marine Park, themed ship wreck
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We will visit the elephant herd at Thula Thula where Lawrence Anthony wrote a series of books about his experiences in wildlife conservation.  Our visit will also include three nights at Nambiti where we will have an opportunity to see the Big 5 if we are really lucky. (The Big 5 are considered to be Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo).  At Shakaland we will learn about traditional Zulu culture and the traditions of some of the first inhabitants of this beautiful country. Later we will ascend the Sani Pass for one of the best four wheel road adventures in Africa.

Program Snap Shot

Program length:  15 days
Estimated All Inclusive Price:  $6,595*

*note that this trip includes accommodation at luxury game lodges. Final price will be determined depending on the lodges used.


Highlights:

  • Durban on the Indian Ocean
  • Thula Thula game lodge – 2 nights
  • Meet the elephants from “The Elephant Whisperer”
  • Shakaland and Zulu culture
  • Nambiti Private Game Reserve – 3 nights
  • Sani Pass and Lesotho visit
  • uShaka Marine Land
  • Umhlanga Rocks

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Full Program Itinerary

Day One
Bon Voyage! Today we depart the U.S. for South Africa.
Day Two
Our flight arrives in Durban, South Africa in the late afternoon.

  • Our Travel Group will be met at the airport by our guide. Get ready to start making lifelong friends – our fun and informative guide will make sure we are where we need to be throughout the trip.
  • After clearing airport formalities we will head to our hotel for the evening for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

 

Day Three – Thula Thula

  • This morning we head north to experience our first bush experience at Thula Thula.
  • We will arrive in time for lunch. During lunch our game ranger will brief us on what to expect while we are there.
  • Following lunch we have some free time to explore the lodge and surrounds.
  • In the late afternoon we head to reception to board our open topped vehicle for our first game drive. With a bit of luck we will find the elephant herd and have our first introduction to these amazing animals. Be sure to ask lots of questions!
  • We return to the accommodation after dark and have a few minutes to freshen up before dinner.
  • Overnight at Thula Thula
Day Four – Thula Thula
  • Its an early start in the African bush. Our wake up call will be shortly before dawn. Hot coffee and rusks await us at reception.
  • Our game drive heads out shortly before dawn as some of the best animal sightings take place early in the morning.
  • Returning from our game drive an amazing breakfast awaits us back ad the lodge. After breakfast we have some down time. What will you do? Take a nap, wonder the grounds or perhaps settle down with one of Lawrence Anthony’s books to read about the extraordinary animals he has rescued.
  • After lunch we join our game ranger for a bush walk. He will show us some of the smaller inhabitants of this unique biome.
  • In the late afternoon we head our on our third game drive. Perhaps this afternoon we will be lucky enough to see one of the orphaned rhinos that have been hand raised by the rangers.
  • After dark we return to the lodge for another amazing meal and a beautiful nights sleep.
Day Five – Thula Tula – Shakaland
  • Another early start to the day with a pre-dawn wake up call. By now we know the routine. Hot coffee and rusks before our departure.
  • Just before dawn we head off on our last game drive of our stay. What will we see today?
  • Following our drive its a hearty breakfast and a pack up and bid farewell to Thula Thula and their magnificent elephants.
  • We re-join our guide and head to Shakaland, a short distance from Thula Thula. We will arrive in time for a light lunch and have chance to explore our accommodation which will be in traditional beehive huts.
  • Shakaland was originally used as the set for the T.V. series “Shaka Zulu”. After filming was complete the set, an authentic reparation of Bulawayo, Shaka’s kraal, was turned into a cultural village so that visitors could experience traditional village life.
  • Directly following dinner the “impi” will show up with lighted torches to escort us to the chiefs hut where we will learn the correct protocol for greeting a chief, sample traditional maize beer and see spectacular Zulu dances.
  • Following the entertainment its time to head back to our beehive hut for a good nights sleep.
Day Six – Shakaland 
  • Our wake up call this morning is the beating of a traditional african drum.
  • Following breakfast we once again head to the kraal where we will encounter the chiefs guards and will learn about the protocols of entering the chiefs village.
  • As we wonder around the village we will encounter women making traditional African maize beer and cooking techniques. We will also visit the local spear maker who will show us the different spears used by warriors at the time of Shaka, shield making and of course we will see warriors demonstrate spear throwing techniques.
  • Later we visit the sangoma or witch doctor who will introduce us to traditional bush medicine.
  • The youth of the village will demonstrate traditional stick fighting techniques.
  • Following a light lunch we head back to Umhlanga Rocks for our overnight.
Day Seven – uShaka
  • The vibrant city life of Durban will provide a sharp contrast to the quiet of the bush.
  • This morning  we head to uShaka, one of the largest aquariums in Africa. At the aquarium we will learn about the wide variety of species found in the waters of South Africa.
  • The shark display will amaze as will the education we receive about the annual sardine run where millions and millions of sardines appear off the coast of Durban, bringing with them predators of all description.
  • We will also enjoy free time at uShaka to explore the many tourist shops in the outdoor shopping arcade.
  • This evening we head to Moyo where we can sample some of the delectable traditional South African dishes such as bobotie, potjiekos, braai vleis, pumpkin and waterbloimitjie stew.
  • Overnight in Umhlanga
Day Eight – Nambiti
  • It’s time to head back to the bush for our second bush stay. This morning we head west to Nambiti Game reserve about three hour’s drive from Durban.
  • After arrival at our accommodation we will enjoy a light lunch before being shown to our rooms.(There are a variety of accommodations at Nambiti and ours will depend on what is available at time of booking.)
  • In the late afternoon we head out on our open top vehicle for an introduction to this Big Five reserve. What will se see?
  • Our transport returns after dark and a scrumptious dinner awaits.
Day Nine and Day Ten = Nambiti
  • By now we are familiar with the routine of staying at a bush lodge.
  • For the next two days we will be woken before dawn, head out on our early morning game drive, return for a delicious breakfast and then enjoy free time to read, relax, nap or explore the bush surrounding the lodge.
  • In the late afternoon we head out with our game ranger to explore the reserve.
  • Evenings are spent around the fire, eating dinner an experiencing the peace of the African bush at night.
Day Eleven – Nambit to Underberg
  • Following our early morning game drive and breakfast its time to pack our bags and head to Underberg at the foot of the spectacular Drakensberg mountains.
  • On the way to our accommodation we will be amazed at the beauty of the vast mountain range which dominates this area.
  • The name of this range is derived from the Dutch word for dragon. Early settlers thought that the range resembled the back of a dragon.
  • At this time of year there is often snow on the peaks of the mountains.
Day Twelve – Sani Pass
  • This morning we prepare for a day of adventure! The only way to experience the Sani Pass is by four wheel drive vehicle. The Sani is an ancient pass that connects South Africa the the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
  • We meet our guide for the day at the foot of the Sani and transfer into specially built vehicles which are designed to provide excellent views of the panoramas as we ascend the pass.
  • Be sure to have your passport handy. We will be crossing into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho where we will visit a traditional Sotho village and have lunch at the “highest pub in Africa” the Sani Mountain Lodge.
  • Be sure to bring layers. The weather may be beautiful in Underberg, but there may be snow at the top of the mountain.
  • From Underbred we will climb close to 5,000ft as we ascend the pass to the top which is about 9,500ft above sea level.
  • Following our adventure we head back to Unhlanga where we arrive in the late evening.
Day Thirteen
    • Umhlanga is a beach side community and also has one of the largest shopping malls in all of Africa.
    • This morning  we have free time to explore the beach and get our feet wet in the Indian Ocean. Its winter in South Africa but the weather is usually mild and usually the days are warm enough to swim. Be sure to stay between the sign posts so that life guards can keep an eye on you.
    • Later we head to Gateway, one of the largest shopping malls in South Africa for some free time to explore the shops and pick up last minute souvenirs.
Day Fourteen
  • Our last day in South Africa!
  • We will enjoy free time at our hotel before heading to the airport to begin our journey home.
Day Fifteen
Arrival back in the USA

 

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