Explore South Africa's exquisite Garden Route and wild coast

Travel to South Africa and Lesotho and explore the exquisite Garden Route on a tour from Durban to Cape Town via the Stellenbosch Wine Region. Combining the classic Garden Route with the enchanting beauty of the Wild Coast, this adventure offers the chance to experience the incredible variety of cultures, stunning landscapes and unique flora and fauna of South Africa. Exploring the traditional Xhosa lifestyle and visiting quaint coastal towns, sophisticated vineyards and cosmopolitan cities, this is the perfect South African tasting platter.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
From 1st January 2017 this trip will visit the Cango Caves on day 11 rather than 12, as there will be included rafting in Swellendam on day 12.

Start
Durban, South Africa
Finish
Cape Town, South Africa
Countries
South Africa
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
UBOH
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
666kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Encounter gentle giants on a game drive through Addo Elephant National Park
  • Embark on a half-day guided walk in the mighty Drakensburg Range and some spectacular hikes along the Garden Route
  • Delve into the astounding Cango Caves outside of Swellendam
  • Cruise the classic R320 wine route, stopping for a tipple or two, en route to South Africa's southernmost point
  • Discover the Wild Coast, home to some of South Africa's friendliest tribal folk, the Xhosa
  • Finish in Cape Town, the perfect stepping-stone to the outdoors, epicurean adventures, seaside fun or further travel

Itinerary

Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these on hand to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, get out and explore Durban. A wealth of golden, sandy beaches and glitzy nightlife awaits. The Golden Mile is an essential spot – a stretch of fine sands bordered by frothy surf on one side and an attractive beachfront of shops, restaurants and cafes on the other.
Leave Durban and travel inland towards the majestic Drakensberg mountain range (approximately 5–6 hours).
This highly fertile mountain chain, home to an amazing amount of flora and fauna, is Southern Africa's highest range (3,482 m). It forms part of the border between South Africa and Lesotho. The range is often referred to locally as the Barrier of Spears or the Dragon Mountains. Your accommodation here is in en-suited twin rooms at a unique backpackers lodge in Drakensberg. Sip on a refreshing sundowner in the thatched-loft lounge room. Here there is a book-swap and internet cafe. Other property facilities include a pool, jacuzzi, barbeque, fire pit, and WiFi. Upgrades are available (subject to availability).
Enjoy free time to go hiking through this incredible mountain range. It's up to you how much time you spend exploring. Feel free to take a short hike for an hour or so, or perhaps challenge yourself to a full-day hike with a local guide (this is optional). This is a great chance to learn more about the region from a local as you walk along. Regardless of how deep you delve, there are sure to be some amazing views and excellent photo opportunities.
Leaving the Drakensberg behind, head into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho (approximately 7–8 hours). Nestled like a small island in the middle of South Africa, Lesotho is commonly known as the 'Kingdom in the Sky' with beautiful mountain ranges and endless hiking trails. Generally the border crossing into Lesotho is quite smooth, but you may experience some delays, depending on the time of year. Drive past the Golden Gate Highlands National Park which is famous for its extraordinary sandstone rock formations. The park is also home to elands, zebras, mongooses and hundreds of bird species – keep your eyes peeled along the way.
Today you will have a variety of hikes to choose from. The Lesotho Highlands offer excellent hiking for all levels of skill, so depending on your experience and level of fitness, you should be able to choose a suitable one that allows you to get the most out of these stunning landscapes.
Head to the stunning Wild Coast of South Africa and the small town of Cintsa (approximately 10–12 hours). A charming little coastal town, Cintsa and its surrounding region are inhabited by the Xhosa people, whose lifestyle is deeply rooted in tribal traditions and customs. You'll discover that they're a warm and friendly people who can give you a great insight into rural South African life. Arriving in the late afternoon, you will have time to relax and freshen up before an optional group dinner. Your campground has shared facilities, an ATM, and WiFi. Upgrades are possible (subject to availability).
Enjoy free time to explore the town, relax on the stunning beaches or pursue the many optional activities on offer. You might like to go hiking, swimming, mountain biking or surfing. Ask your leader about these optional activities.
Travel on to Addo Elephant National Park (approximately 7–8 hours). A true success story in conservation, Addo Elephant National Park was created in 1931 to protect the region's eleven remaining elephants. Today there are over 450 elephants in the park, as well as Cape buffalo, black rhinos, all kinds of antelopes and even the flightless dung beetle which is unique to the park. On arrival, you'll take an afternoon game drive and try to spot some of these resident creatures, among others, from your truck. Your campground here has basic shared facilities and WiFi. Upgrades are possible (subject to availability).
Spend the next few days discovering the most superb stretch of the Garden Route. Your first stop is the Tsitsikamma National Park (approximately 4–5 hours). Protecting both land and sea, steep ancient forests meet the breakers of the Indian Ocean at this park. It's a spectacular place for walking and viewing wildlife. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. The accommodation tonight is a campground with basic shared facilities, an ATM and WiFi access. Upgrades are possible (subject to availability).

Notes: Intrepid has not risk-assessed all optional local activities. Only those listed in the trip notes are recommended. If you are unsure about any, please check with your leader. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk-assessed or do not adhere to Intrepid's Responsible Travel ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles.
Explore this magnificent national park further. Cape clawless otters, dolphins, tortoises and southern right whales (in season) are all visitors here, along with baboons, monkeys and myriad birds. See how many of them you can spot!
Head out across the arid Karoo region bound for Oudtshoorn (approximately 4–5 hours). Stop off on the way at Knysna to stretch your legs and explore this quaint little hamlet. Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world, and at the turn of the 20th century it was full of 'feather barons' that grew rich from the popularity of ostrich feathers. Today there are thousands of ostriches here being farmed for their meat, leather, and on a smaller scale, their feathers and eggs. Take a short stroll around town and you'll discover all sorts of ostrich souvenirs. Your campsite has hot showers and flush toilets. Upgrades are possible (subject to availability).
Get your blood pumping while exploring the Cango Caves and learn about their formation and history from your local guide. Travel from Oudtshoorn to Swellendam (approximately 4–5 hours) on the scenic Route 62.
One of the oldest settlements in South Africa, Swellendam is located at the foot of the Langenberg Mountains. This picturesque town has something for everyone, with plenty of great restaurants, adventure activities and wildlife. It's the perfect base for exploring the local wine region. You should arrive in Swellendam by early afternoon. Set up camp and have the remainder of the afternoon free for you to explore or relax around the camp. The camp has WiFi access and limited upgrades are available.
Get up early this morning for your journey to Africa's southernmost point – Cape Agulhus (approximately 5 hours). You'll travel along the famous R320 winery route, visiting two or three wineries along the way, before heading onto the beach side town of Hermanus. This region is highly influenced by the cooling Atlantic Ocean that sweeps up past Cape Town and brings with it a nice breeze that cools down the grapes that are grown here. The predominant local grape varieties are French, German and northern Italian – such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage. You'll camp with shared facilities tonight and may go out for a BYO dinner to try some of the wine you might have purchased earlier.
Enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Hermanus before driving back to Cape Town via the scenic bay route (approximately 4 hours). With its stunning coastline, dramatic surrounding mountains and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities. It's a great place to end your trip, with vineyards, adventure activities and plenty of good restaurants and cafes at your doorstep. You'll be dropped at the finishing-point hotel in Cape Town.

Notes: No accommodation is provided for tonight. If you would like to extend your stay, this can be arranged when you book this trip. It's best not to book any international flights for earlier than 10 pm this evening, in case there are delays today.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
13 breakfasts, 10 dinners
Transport
Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (8 nights), Dormitory (3 nights), Lodge (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Drakensburg - Short hike
  • Addo National Elephant Park - Game drive
  • Cango Caves
  • R320 Route Wine Tour

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. This trip finishes upon arrival in Cape Town on Day 14. Please do not book any flights until after 6pm this evening.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Garden Route Adventure trips score an average of 4.65 out of 5 based on 40 reviews in the last year.

Garden Route Adventure , August 2016

Garden Route Adventure , May 2016