Safaris, killer coastline and local interactions on a southern Africa adventure

Experience the diversity of southern Africa on this Lonely Planet experience, powered by Intrepid. Spend nine days on an adventure that takes you to wildlife-rich game parks, idyllic beaches, wetlands and small villages, exploring with a local leader along the way. Search for lions in Kruger National Park, enjoy a homestay in Zululand, relax on the sands of Ponta Malognane and more. A mixture of included activities and free time make this tour perfect for travellers who want the benefit of on-the-ground local knowledge with some of the freedom of independent travel.


Start
Johannesburg, South Africa
Finish
Durban, South Africa
Destinations
Mozambique, South Africa, Eswatini (Swaziland)
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Overland, Wildlife
Code
UBOE
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 22

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Go on an epic safari with expert local guides in search of lions, hyenas and more through Kruger National Park – one of the largest game reserves in southern Africa.

  • Go overland in a purpose built truck and stop to take in geological wonders like Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window along the Panorama Route.

  • Spend a few days however you please on the white-sand beaches of Mozambique’s Ponta Malongane. Snorkel? Sun? Seafood feast? The choice is yours.

  • Visit the heartlands of the Zulu people and spend the night in a homestay, where you’ll be treated to traditional food and song, plus a meeting with the local healer.

  • Swap four wheels for two legs on a guided hike through the Hlane Royal National Park, keeping an eye out for antelopes and zebras passing by.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is an overland trip. That means you’ll be travelling with a group in a purpose-built vehicle, visiting remote communities, setting up your own tent (unless you’re on an Original or Comfort style trip), occasionally roughing it in the bush with no facilities, and getting the best possible views of the Big Five. While the trucks don’t have air conditioning, they do have sliding windows which let in the breeze and make it even easier to take spectacular snaps of the local wildlife. The drive days can be long, but it’s as much about the journey as the destination, and half the fun is the camaraderie. For more info on this style of travel, see our Africa overland page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/africa/overland

  • While a homestay in Zululand is a unique and rewarding experience, the conditions are basic – foam mattresses on the floor, with up to six people (of the same gender) per room. Clean linen and pillows are provided. Hot water is not available on this night.

  • There will be many early starts either to make better use of the safari time or to beat the morning traffic on long travel days.

  • You may also want to check out our Kruger, Coast & Cape trip if you have longer time to explore in southern Africa.

Itinerary

Sawubona! Welcome Johannesburg, the sprawling South African capital. In Joburg (unlike a lot of city nicknames, this is one people actually use) mansions stand alongside humble tin abodes and there are as many green parks on the outskirts of the city as there is concrete jungle in the centre. Your Lonely Planet experience begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you can’t wait to begin exploring and arrive with time to spare, why not make your way to the Apartheid Museum and start your journey with some crucial history before you meet up with your group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Rise and shine for a long day’s drive to Kruger National Park (approximately 11–12 hours). Leave Johannesburg and travel through the Mpumalanga Province and along the famous Panorama Route through some of the most stunning scenery South Africa has to offer, such as God's Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Southern Africa. It boasts over 500 bird species, 100 species of reptile and 150 mammal species, including the Big Five and the endangered African wild dog. Drive through some of Kruger’s prime game viewing areas on your way to camp and try to spot some of these amazing creatures straight away! Set up camp and get settled for the evening.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panorama Route - God's Window Viewpoint
  • Panorama Route - Bourks Luck Potholes
Optional Activities
  • Kruger National Park - Night 4x4 Game Drive - ZAR440
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your campground has shared facilities with hot and cold water. Upgrades are possible but subject to availability. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent for more information on upgrades.

On occasion, especially during the peak months of May, June, July and December, we are unable to secure campsites within the Kruger National Park. In the event of this happening, we will camp at a backpacker lodge outside the park and will miss the short game drive on the way to the usual campsite.
Rise early and enjoy a light breakfast of coffee and rusk (twice-baked bread) before heading out on a morning game drive. Most of your day will be spent spotting game from your overland vehicle, birdwatching and stopping at various waterholes and viewpoints to rest along the way. In the evening, choose to relax at camp or perhaps head out on an optional night drive with the park guide. The optional night drives are a chance to spot nocturnal animals and perhaps even a night-time predator or two – maybe catch a lion or hyena out hunting, or perhaps impala out in search of a late-night feed.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kruger National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
Optional Activities
  • Kruger National Park - Night 4x4 Game Drive - ZAR440
  • Kruger National Park - Sunset 4x4 Game Drive (from price) - ZAR325
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Start the day with a slow game drive through Kruger, covering between 20 and 70 kilometres (depending on what animals you see along the way) in the park then exiting by mid-morning. Hit the road towards Hlane Royal National Park (approximately 6–7 hours). Travel south-east and cross the border into the kingdom of Eswatini, a country nestled between Mozambique, Northern Zululand and Mpumalanga. Arrive at Hlane Royal National Park, a vast expanse of bushveld with ancient hardwood trees, and begin exploring immediately on a guided game walk. Spend tonight at a camp within the national park.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hlane Royal National Park - Bush & Wildlife Walk
  • Kruger National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
The border crossing between South Africa and Eswatini is generally very smooth, but occasionally there are delays. Come prepared with good book just in case.

Please note that upgrades to your accommodation tonight are possible but subject to availability. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent for more information on upgrades.
Set off this morning to your Mozambique beach camp (approximately 7–8 hours). Departing from Hlane National Park, head to the Golela Border Post and cross into Maputaland. After a little while, cross another border into Mozambique. Change vehicles to a 4WD for the drive to the beautiful seaside village of Ponta Malongane – your beachside oasis for the next two nights. Your campsite is the ideal base for seaside fun such as snorkelling, swimming and scuba diving.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hlane Royal National Park - Guided Walking Safari - ZAR200
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your accommodation tonight is basic but comfortable, with shared facilities.
Make the most of this gorgeous seaside getaway with a day to explore at your own pace. This is one of the many unspoiled beaches of Mozambique, and there is plenty to do here. Keen scuba divers can choose from many reefs – one of which is just 300 metres off the shore. Alternatively, you could explore the blue waters of the Indian Ocean on an optional boat cruise in search of dolphins – ask your leader about booking. Of course, you could always find a spot on the beach and chill out.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mozambique - Boat Cruise - ZAR400
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart southern Mozambique and drive to Lake St Lucia, part of the St Lucia Estuary. stopping at a shop for supplies along the way (approximately 4–5 hours). Declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, St Lucia Estuary is home to thousands of varieties of birds, mammals and reptiles, including hundreds of hippos and crocodiles. You can either explore on your own or join an optional boat cruise on the wildlife-filled waters for the chance to spot creatures basking on the banks.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • St Lucia Estuary - Hippo boat cruise - ZAR260
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Tonight, you will stay at a campsite with shared facilities (upgrades and wi-fi are not available here).
Rise early and head to the Valley of a Thousand Hills (approximately 5–6 hours), the heartland of the Zulu nation, for a unique homestay experience. Gain insight into the daily life of the rural Zulu people with a night in a local’s house, where you'll be treated to some traditional food, song and dance. Explore the village on foot and make the most of this rare opportunity to see a remote culture from the inside. Interact with your hosts and perhaps share some of your own culture and language in turn.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Zululand - Community Centre Visit
  • Zululand - Traditional Healer Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Make sure to wear comfortable footwear. You will only need a small overnight bag with essential clothing and toiletries.
Continue to Durban (approximately 2–3 hours). With no activities or accommodation planned on arrival, your adventure comes to an end. Durban is South Africa's second most populous city, boasting sandy beaches and a glitzy nightlife – a great place to extend your stay and enjoy some leisure time. Perhaps take the opportunity for a final dinner with your fellow travellers this evening.
Optional Activities
  • Durban - Art Gallery - Free
  • Durban - Bay Cruise - ZAR240
  • Durban - Juma Masjid Mosque - Free
  • Durban - Bike Hire (per hour) - ZAR30
  • Durban - Surf Board Hire (per hour) - ZAR100
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There is no accommodation arranged for tonight, but this can be booked when you first book this trip. If you wish to take an onward connection today, it's best not to book any outgoing flights until after 7 pm this evening to allow for any delays on the journey back to Durban.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle

Accommodation

Camping with facilities (4 nights), Camping with basic facilities (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Panorama Route - God's Window Viewpoint
  • Panorama Route - Bourks Luck Potholes
  • Kruger National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
  • Hlane Royal National Park - Bush & Wildlife Walk
  • Zululand - Community Centre Visit
  • Zululand - Traditional Healer Visit

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Kruger & Coast trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may go up, so secure your trip today!
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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip. Please speak to a booking agent for further information.
2. This trip finishes on arrival in Durban on Day 9. Please do not book any flights before 7 pm this evening.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

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