Contrasts are remarkable on your 12-day south Africa safari where Swaziland, Zululand, and Lesotho tribal landscapes tell a remarkable tale. Seductive traditions light up Southern Africa's kingdoms in the sky. Tribal villages practice ancient customs, mountain ponies canter past semi-nomadic shepherds, rock artwork depicts legends, and big mammals are a constant on the journey. Three safari destinations provide further narratives, intertwining giant mammals into a seamless South Africa tour.
Sabi Sands – Luxury Safari Welcomes
Africa's fables start with wild mammals, the true giants of the savannah. They're quick to leave an impression as elephant and buffalo herds are regularly seen around the Sabi Sands airstrip. After landing at O. R. Tambo International in Johannesburg, it's a short domestic flight into this Sabi Sands wilderness, where you're picked up in an open-sided safari vehicle for the first in a series of game drives. Paw prints in the sand lead you to a leopard's hideout, high in a sausage tree. A pair of rhino wander past, elegantly, stoically, every footstep a display of defiance against poaching. Giraffes dapple the horizon, and you quickly come to recognize the different antelopes, from nimble springbok to large bashful hartebeest.
An intimate lodge provides the base for the next two nights in this private reserve. It's a gentle introduction to Africa, wild sounds accompanying the evening yet opulent fittings providing a Western-style luxury. Your private terrace overlooks a floodlit waterhole, helping bring safari sights long into the evening. Today's afternoon's game drive is flexible dependent on your mood and energy levels; perhaps a short loop around the surrounding savannah or a longer journey attempting to spot all the revered mammals on your first day in Africa. As with most days on the itinerary, meals are included, and local guides offer a fascinating insight.
Sabi Sands – Relaxed Safari in a Private Reserve
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary – Through the Savannah to Swaziland
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary – Mountain Bike Safari and Afternoon Cultural Swaziland Tour
St Lucia – From Swaziland to the Land of the Zulu
St Lucia – The Wild Rhinos of Hluhluwe – iMfolozi Game Reserve
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park – Exploring Zululand
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park – World Heritage Rock Art and Hiking Trails
Sani Pass to Malealea – Entering the Kingdom of Lesotho
Day 10 - 11
Malealea – Traditional Pony Trekking and Lesotho Cultural Immersion
Moshoeshoe to Johannesburg – Departure
- Explore the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho, and experience fascinating insight into a culture unchanged for centuries
- Discover the traditions of the Kingdom of Swaziland, where endearing locals reveal how an alluring tribal life continues
- Journey through Zululand, connecting with an ancient heritage that dates back even further than famous King Shaka Zulu
- Surround yourself with the Big Five on two days of luxury safari in the Sabi Sands, a private game reserve filled with enchanting encounters
- Cross the epic Kruger National Park and continue the safari as you ascend into the mountains of Swaziland
- Go on mountain bike safari in Swaziland then visit traditional villages that are eager to tell their tale
- Relax on the white beaches of St Lucia and spend a day with wild white rhinos in the Hluhluwe – iMfolozi Game Reserve
- Discover the World Heritage rock art and hiking trails of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg mountains, the dramatic jagged peaks known to the Zulu as the Barrier of Spears
- Ride traditional ponies across the fertile plains of Lesotho, connecting with remote villages that have rarely seen foreign visitors
Africa holds on to its fabulous history, small enclaves revealing ongoing legends and a land untouched by Western influence. The clues are everywhere, from wild rhinos grazing on the lush savannah to semi-nomadic herders taking their goats across towering mountain passes. Rock art narrates stories in hidden caves while royal princes greet strangers in tribal villages. Sometimes a lion pride provides the tale, clashing with a buffalo herd at a waterhole. At other times, the stories come from around the fire, elders narrating the legends passed down by the ancestors.
This Southern Africa tour explores three distinctive kingdoms: Swaziland, Zululand, and Lesotho. They're under-explored destinations, eager to welcome visitors yet away from most African itineraries. Accommodation is always comfortable but not always luxurious, especially when traveling in Lesotho. Instead, the huge reward comes from the authenticity of the experience; you visit truly traditional villages, not villages that appear traditional yet are made for tourists. You meet locals who happily share experiences, even though they may never have met foreigners before. With local guides expertly leading the journey, this is an opportunity to connect with a very real and untouched vision of Africa.
It starts in the Sabi Sands, a luxurious private game reserve that helps ease you into the continent. South Africa's flagship private safari destination, the Sabi Sands is packed with the most revered of the continent's mammals. Lions and leopards dominate the savannah, elephant herds pass by the lodge, and the surrounding area holds Africa's largest collection of wild rhinos. Next, you travel to the adjacent Kruger National Park, ascending as you move east towards a mountain pass and the Kingdom of Swaziland. Cross the border and you immediately sense a new country, where circular huts are scattered across endless green slopes. For two days, you stay in a wildlife sanctuary, with mountain bike safari filling the morning and cultural encounters occupying the afternoons.
Swaziland is a small country, easily crossed in half a day. Exit from the south, descending into Zululand and two nights on the white beaches of St Lucia. Nearby Hluhluwe – iMfolozi Game Reserve is the oldest in Africa and provides a thrilling day of rhino encounters. The uKhahlamba Drakensberg mountains hide a history from before King Shaka Zulu, notably in the sublime rock art that dapples caves and overhangs. Spend two nights at this World Heritage site, enjoying a selection of stunning hiking trails and the insight of a local rock art guide.
To the Zulu, these mountains are known as the Barrier of Spears, in reference to how the Basotho people escaped Shaka Zulu and defended a new Kingdom on the alpine plateau now known as Lesotho. Its inaccessibility is aptly illustrated when you enter via the Sani Pass, one of Africa's steepest and most spectacular roads. Village life continues unchanged here, and ponies are the usual means of getting around. You'll spend three days exploring, a local guide leading you across a country that delights in its authenticity. Nothing is manufactured here; until very recently, messages were passed between villages by pony riders, not mobile phones. On the final day, the country's small capital provides direct flights back to Johannesburg and your international departure.
$6,235 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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