South Africa Whale Watching Tour and African Safari

A 13 day trip to South Africa 
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Relish the rich natural beauty and diversity that South Africa has to offer, and enjoy the finest marine viewing experiences. Get up-close-and-personal to marine mammals in their natural environment – experience the thrill of watching humpback whales lobtailing, southern right whales breaching, dolphins jumping and seals playing, and be awed by great-white sharks. Then shift your search from the sea to the land and scout the African bush for the Big Five – this vacation is packed with wildlife viewing for your enjoyment.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cape Town, Hermanus, Oudtshoorn, Garden Route, Safari at Amakhala Game Reserve

Departure Dates 

The best time of the year to do this tour is during the Whale Season from July to November. 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town, South Africa

Today, you arrive in Cape Town - world renowned for award-winning wines and spectacular natural beauty. Collect your rental vehicle from Cape Town International Airport and begin exploring the breath-taking views across False Bay. Travel onto Simon’s Town and the Boulder Beach Lodge where you’ll be spending the night. The lodge is ideally positioned near Boulders Beach – home to approximately 2,000 African Penguins. 

Day 2: Explore the City, Table Mountain, Township Tour, Walk with Baboons

Today, your exploration of the surrounding area begins. You have the option of enjoying various guided tours – from a half day tour discovering the iconic Table Mountain and the surrounding city, to walking alongside one of Africa’s primates – the Chacma baboon. Or if interacting with South African people enthuses you, then consider the half day tour to a local township. Anyone who has ever visited Cape Town will gush about Table Mountain – one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. A trip up to the summit will yield unimaginable scenery with a bird’s eye view of the city bowl, jagged coastline and white sandy beaches. Afterwards, tour the city sights where you’ll be exposed to rich history and culture. If you’d prefer to come face-to-face with the local wildlife then the “Walking with Baboon” tour offers an entirely unique and unforgettable experience. Witness baboons in their natural environment for a life stopping two hours as your guides take you into the heart of a baboon troop and shares factoids on these extraordinary primates. 

Day 3: Cape Peninsula Guided Tour 

After a hearty breakfast you’ll explore the raw and natural paradise at Cape Point. Take in the breath-taking views and follow the path for an energetic walk up to the lighthouse - which has guarded these waters for over 150 years. Then, return to Simons Town - which from the early 18th century was used by the Dutch East Indian Company as their official anchorage during the winter months. From 1957 onwards the town became the official home base for the South African Navy. Explore the harbor and surrounding shops and then tuck into a local favorite for lunch - fish and chips. Afterwards, drive up the twisting Red Hill Road for rewarding and awe-inspiring panoramas of False Bay and the Simons Town Harbor and you might even see docked naval ships. In the afternoon, travel to Boulders Beach for an up-close-and-personal experience with African penguins. 

Day 4: Cape Town to Hermanus

Awaken to the sounds of waves – seemly appropriate for today’s adventure. After breakfast, you leave for Hermanus – a small town regarded as the best place in the country to view whales. This whale capital has a festival every September to honor these magnificent creatures, and travelling to the town during this month promises numerous whales right in the town’s bay, viewable without even having to leave the shore. Be sure to take the scenic coastal route as you drive from Cape Town towards Hermanus, and you’ll journey along a spectacular stretch of raw and rugged coastline. Pass through the town of Strand, with white sandy beaches that seemingly stretch on forever, before stopping at Betty’s Bay – home to another African penguin colony. When you reach Hermanus, check-in at the four-star Abalone Lodge, which offers outstanding vistas of chiseled mountains and the sapphire-colored ocean. 

Day 5: Dyer Island Cruise

If you’ve always dreamed of seeing the Marine Big 5 (namely: whales, sharks, seals, dolphins and penguins) then look no further – today’s trip across the ocean will provide you with incredible wildlife sightings. Travel to the nearby Kleinbaai (meaning small bay in the local Afrikaans language) where your tour with Dyer Island Cruises awaits. The company focuses on conservation and responsible tourism and guarantees that if you take a tour between August and November you will see whales. Your first destination is the 20ha Nature Reserve of Dyer Island - home to a plethora of sea and shore birds. Then view a large colony of 60,000 Cape fur seals before you proceed to the famous ‘Shark Alley’ – which as the name suggests is renowned for various sharks, particularly great whites. Afterwards, it’s time to get unbelievably close to nature’s giants – Southern Right Whales. Let your knowledgeable guide (a marine biologist) take you to some of the area’s best whale viewing points. You can be sure that after your time on the water (2-3 hours) you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.  

Day 6: Oudtshoorn & Cango Caves

Today, travel to the Klein Karoo and the town of Oudtshoorn - the ostrich capital of the world. Oudtshoorn was a major supplier of ostrich feathers during the “feather boom” of the 19th century. This history shaped the town’s existence and today various breeding farms still exist, most of which offer tours. Learn about the planet’s largest bird from a knowledgeable guide, while the daring can enjoy an extraordinary opportunity – a chance to ride an ostrich. Then, step back in time to discover breath-taking geological wonders in the 20 million year old Cango Caves. Be awed by spectacular dripstone caverns filled with immense formations. Walk through vast limestone halls and feel the increased humidity as you gaze up at ancient stalactites dripping from the roof. After you remerge into the sunlight, travel along the spectacular Swartberg Pass to the farm Voorbedacht and the Swartberg Country Manor – here you can enjoy a traditional dinner at the restaurant Patat.

Day 7: Oudtshoorn to Plettenberg Bay

After breakfast, move from Oudtshoorn to the town of George via the breath-taking Outeniqua Pass. Get out at the marked viewing sites along the way, especially the stop marked “4 Passes” - where sweeping vistas await. Continue along the specular Garden Route - undeniably one of the most scenic routes in all of South Africa. Be sure to stop in the town of Knysna to view the impressive Knysna heads - two imposing cliffs of sandstone which stand guard over a channel linking the ocean with the Knysna lagoon. Go to the lookout point on the Eastern Head where you’ll be rewarded with vast picturesque views. Afterwards, why not enjoy lunch at the charming East Head Cafe which offers further vistas of the lagoon and the heads. Then, travel onwards to Plettenberg Bay and the fair trade accredited Hog Hollow Country Lodge, which overlooks the Matjies River Gorge. 

Day 8: Garden Route exploration

Today, embark on your second scheduled ocean voyage led by the fair trade accredited Ocean Blue Adventures. From July to September you’ll have a good chance of sighting both southern right and humpback whales. The company holds a specialized permit which authorizes the skipper to get just a stone’s throw away from these majestic ocean beasts. Your adventure begins with an adrenaline-charged beach launch. Once in the water, you could encounter sharks, bottlenose dolphins or even Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Your skipper proceeds towards areas in which Bryde’s whales and common dolphins (seasonal) are often sighted, before taking you past Cape fur seals. Further insight into the sea mammals you encounter, as well as the area’s unique geology and history, will be provided. After your voyage, explore more of the Garden Route. A variety of activities and sights are on offer –adrenaline junkies can take a tandem ski dive, while budding archeologists and history lovers can uncover a 100,000 year old human story at Nelson’s Cave. 

Day 9: Garden Route Exploration – Bungee Jump or Canopy Tour

Today, you have free time to explore your surroundings – from the quirky art shops and natural scenery to exhilarating adventure. What about jumping off the highest commercial bungee jump in the world? Sound appealing? If so, the jump is only 30 minutes away from the lodge by car. You’ll leap off the 709 foot high Bloukrans Bridge. Various celebrities have dared to take the plunge towards the river below – from Price Harry, to surfer Kelly Slater and Jack Osbourne. Alternatively, enjoy an adrenaline rush of an entirely different kind as you zip between 10 platforms, connected by steel cables through an indigenous rainforest on the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour. You can be sure that travelling on a zip-line between the treetops at 98 feet above the forest floor will rate as an unforgettable experience. Your knowledgeable guides will share absorbing facts about forest ecology as you glide through this unique treetop world. 

Day 10: Journey to Port Elizabeth – Calabash Township Tour

Set out this morning for the friendly city of Port Elizabeth where blue flag beaches adjoining the warm Indian Ocean await you. Explore the local culture on a fair trade accredited Calabash township tour. Your guide will take you into the heart of a township and impart the social history of the area, while your participation will contribute towards the community’s livelihood. For dinner you’ll go to a shebeen where a traditional meal and drinks can be enjoyed. Then, overnight at the Fifth Avenue Beach House - only a short distance away from the beach front.  

Day 11: Amakhala Game Reserve

Today, your South African safari begins. Travel to Addo National Park and the neighboring 18, 000 acre Amakhala Game Reserve. After a brief orientation and welcome drinks, set out on your first guided game drive exploring the area. This is Big Five territory so keep your eyes peeled for lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant and leopard as you drive across the dramatic landscape in an open-topped Land Rover. Be sure to return to the bush in the evening on a sunset game drive which promises unique sightings of nocturnal animals - completely different to what you witnessed earlier today. 

Day 12: Amakhala Game Reserve

Start the day with a guided walk in the African bush, where some of the smaller bush residents can be spotted. Search the ground for a leopard tortoise and scout the treetops for vervet monkeys. The Reserve is happy to tailor-make requests to suit your needs. One of these includes their unique offering of a delectable picnic lunch in the bush – consider enjoying this special experience today. After lunch, take a boat cruise along the Bushman’s river and enjoy life at a more relaxed pace. 

Day 13: Fly From Port Elizabeth Home

Today, your African love affair sadly comes to an end. As you drive back to Port Elizabeth to catch your flight home, you can be certain that the intimate and face-to-face wildlife encounters you experienced will stay with you for years to come. 

Price

What's Included 

12 Nights: Accommodation on mostly a B&B basis 

13 Days: Car hire category B (Nissan Tilda or similar) 

Grand Cape Peninsula tours 

2x boat whale watching trips (July-October) 

Shebeen township tour

2 Days Wildlife Safari

Internal flight

What's Not Included 

Meals & activities not stated in itinerary

Park entry fees

Items of a personal nature

Tips and gratuities

Travel insurance

Visa cost 

International flights 

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized South Africa safari tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $600 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $500 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $400 per person per day

The customized package will include hotels, airport transfers and other transportation within South Africa, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.