Mala Mala South Africa Safari & Antarctica Tour

A 16 day trip to Africa, Antarctica & South Africa 
5 out of 5 stars
3 reviews

A true once-in-a-lifetime journey through two of the world's most redolent landscapes: the 24-hour sunlight and ice of Antarctica, and the iconic big-game Savannah at the Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa. Camp beside emperor penguins, then camp alongside an abundance of rhino and big cats, with four nights of colorful Cape Town sandwiched in between. All activities are fully customized, so the adventure is as active or as relaxed as you want it to be. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Antarctica Tour - Gentoo Penguins
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Antarctica, Atka Bay, Shirmacher Oasis, South Pole, Cape Town, Table Mountain, Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch, Mala Mala, Kruger National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Cape Town – Preparing for Antarctica

Your flight to Antarctica leaves from a secluded international airport, hidden in Cape Town. The secrecy of the airstrip confirms the exclusiveness of the experience, with a total of only 12 guests heading out to the white desert of Antarctica. But before you fly to the white wilderness, it's good to make sure you're fully prepared. After landing in Cape Town, you'll be transferred to the five-star Ellerman House in Bantry Bay. Later in the day, staff will provide a safety briefing for your trip and ensure you're fully prepared for the conditions. The rest of the day is free, and there are some stunning waterfront restaurants to enjoy close to your hotel. Chauffeured transport is provided throughout this day in Cape Town.

What's Included: transfer, accommodation, transfer

Day 2: Antarctic Peninsula – A White Welcome to the Southernmost Continent

A small intercontinental jet takes you across the Southern Ocean, over a vast sea of deep blue that slowly becomes covered in sheets of ice. Swoop low across the drifting slabs, many of them seemingly the size of a country. Flying into 24-hour daylight, you're entering a realm that few people have ever set foot. The veteran chief pilot brings you down on an ice runway, and you check into your base for next six nights. Designed and run on strict environmental guidelines, the camp features six sleeping pods, warm and cozy igloo-shaped rooms that feel spacious and homely. Guests come together in a lounge and dining room tent, with an award-winning chef doing the cooking. After the flight, the rest of the day is about relaxing and enjoying the first impressions of the continent. Don't wait for it to go dark before you go to sleep. You won't see nighttime for a week.

What's Included: accommodation, all meals

Days 3 – 6: Antarctic Peninsula – Adventures With Ice and Penguins

Wake up to an empty expanse of white and listen. Silence. Absolute and unflinching. The wilderness reigns. To put the scale in perspective, consider that it's still a six-hour flight from the camp to the actual South Pole. Over these days, the itinerary is completely designed by you and can be as active or as tranquil as you wish. A skilled team of guides keeps you warm and safe while a small plane and ground transport take you across this white wonderland. A variety of excursions are available every day as you discover your own adventure of the unknown continent. For some, Antarctica is about exploring the majestic scenery. Others will want to learn true polar explorer skills.

Hiking possibilities are virtually endless, from gentle treks through strange ice tunnels to finding massive ice waves emerging from the ground. Climb towering mountains, rappel down glaciers, do some technical ice climbing, and venture to hidden crevices where nobody has ever ventured before. This landscape is so remote and untouched that most of the peaks have never been summited. Perhaps something less adventurous, like picnics on the ice or an educational trip to one of the local science bases. Or something unusual, like kite-skiing across glistening glaciers or walking through vast ice caves. This is your experience, and the adventure is always tailored to what you want to do. And on this untouched playground, that's almost anything. All meals are included, along with some specialized equipment and clothes.

One highly recommended activity is a day with an emperor penguin colony. It's a two-hour flight to a colony of 6,000 penguins, all of them completely oblivious to human presence. They're not scared,  and they don't waddle away frightened; These penguins practically interact with their visitors. They're here in their full comical splendor, shuffling across the ice, beak kissing, and confirming all the behavior you might have seen on March of the Penguins. There's noise, commotion, and the surreal beauty of being amongst one of nature's greatest phenomena.

What's Included: accommodation, all meals

Day 7: South Pole – Standing on the Bottom of the World

Antarctica seems to stretch for eternity, white following white down to the bottom of the world. Flying over the landscape feels like a dream, the unbroken wilderness continuing for six hours. Standing on the South Pole remains something that very few people have ever done. Today, it's your turn to do so. The aerial journey has a stop on the polar plateau, where you can stand amongst the overbearing scale of the Antarctic. Then onwards to the South Pole, where you can walk around the world in just a couple of steps. As you stand on the bottom of the world, you also stand at 4,000 meters, with the temperature outside hovering around -25ºC (-13ºF). Surreal and sublime, this is one of the most exclusive travel experiences. You'll be guided around the science station and have ample amounts of time to take in the splendor of the South Pole. Flying back, you stop once more on the polar plateau and camp for ten hours, as the pilots must rest. It's very comfortable and a chance to truly appreciate the wilderness. Note that the day of the South Pole excursion may vary dependent on weather and other factors.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, all meals

Day 8: Cape Town – Returning to Africa

Wave farewell to the whiteness and cruise over the ice sheets towards Africa. Cape Town appears like a dream, the rugged mountains hanging above the city at the very tip of Africa. After the polar exploration and nearly six-hour flights, today is a day of relaxation and tranquility. And that's easy at the Ellerman House boutique hotel. Situated in Bantry Bay, perhaps Africa's most exclusive suburb, you have glorious views over the Atlantic Ocean and its warm exotic sunsets. A house suite offers a private terrace along with a separate lounge and dining area. All beverages other than wine are included, with cocktails and canapés are served every sunset. There's also a 24-hour inclusive guest pantry whenever you feel inclined. Step out onto a small sheltered beach or turn around for pristine views of the Table Mountain chain. Four nights here provide a chance to reconnect with reality while also discovering the enchantment of the Mother City.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Days 9 – 10: Cape Town – Relaxing in the Mother City

Cape Town's enchantment comes in many forms. Opulent restaurants overlook the Atlantic Ocean, taking you on journeys through unique game meat and seafood. Vivid street markets spill out across the city streets, revealing all the bright colors of the continent. Table Mountain National Park offers dozens of hiking trails, along with the iconic cable car journey to the mountain's summit. White beaches await your footprints while museums expertly unravel the country's hidden history. Like Antarctica, your time here can be as active or as relaxed as you want it to be. A private car and driver are at your disposal, enabling you to easily reach all the city's attractions. Tours and restaurant reservations can also be arranged for a seamless experience nestled between the mountain and ocean.

What's Included: accommodation, breakfast, transfer

Day 11: Cape Town – A Journey Through the Winelands

Hundreds of vineyards fill the valley northeast of Cape Town. Rows of vines line rustic white farmhouses, luxury cellars overlook rugged mountains, while sublime restaurants graciously stand over the vineyards. From meeting the winemaker to exploring two-century-old wine farms, today's tour opens up the sensual charms of the region. Start with bubbles at a multi award-winning-farm, sample the local grape Pinotage, and lunch at one of the Winelands’ most opulent destinations. You'll visit four or five vineyards on this private tour, where you can enjoy a tasting journey that includes up to 50 different wines. Purchases can be packaged to send home and there's always a new vintage to uncork. Returning to Ellerman House by late afternoon, you have a final evening to indulge in the beauty of Cape Town.

What's Included: accommodation, breakfast, tour

Day 12: Mala Mala – Starting the Big Five Safari

From the plane window, you see elephant herds marching amongst the trees. Giraffes grace the horizon while indecipherable dust clouds in the distance become zebra and buffalo herds as you get closer. Stretching across the northeast of South Africa is a huge evocative savannah, one that dwarfs many countries in size. Wildlife has always roamed freely here, and the numbers are staggering. This region is home to over half the world's rhinos, thousands upon thousands of big cats, and a near-complete collection of Africa's most revered mammals. Notions of seeing the big five are far too simplistic to comprehend the sheer scale and profusion of wildlife here. From Cape Town, you take an early-morning scheduled flight to Johannesburg, and then connect onto a small plane that lands directly in Mala Mala Game Reserve.

As your plane gently lands, the safari experience has already started. Ungulates cover the surrounding savannah and while rhinos are found on the drive to the camp. It's not that unusual to see lions beside the runway, creating a very mythical image of Africa. Most of this region is marked as Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest conservation areas. Mala Mala has unfenced borders with this park and is the largest private game reserve in South Africa. This means you get all the wildlife and wonder found in Kruger, but with a very exclusive feel. Settle into one of the five luxury suites at the Sable Camp, overlooking the Sand River and a wonderful procession of animal life. A large safari deck is ideal for watching the wildlife while a filtered swimming pool is enchanting in the day, then occasionally used by elephants at night. After a few hours to relax, you head out on your first game drive, an afternoon journey that captures the brilliance of African safari.

What's Included: accommodation, all meals, transfer

Days 13 – 15: Mala Mala – The Safari Adventure Never Ends

When buffalo are walking past at sunrise, you don't even need to go on a game drive. Even lions might be spotted from your wooden deck, along with the complete collection of famous animals. Just sit back and watch the show, the Sands River attracting a permanent gathering of wildlife. But over these three days, there's a huge outdoor playground to discover. Activities are customized, and there's a choice of excursions on each day, with most programs involving twice-daily activities. Game drives are in open-sided vehicles, with every seat offering uninterrupted views of the savannah. Find leopards amongst the trees, stop beside pools filled with hippos, and watch closely as a cheetah stalks its prey in the grass.

During the daytime, these drives reveal Mala Mala's wildlife abundance. You don't see one rhino. You see dozens of them. It's not about glimpsing a single big cat in the trees. Expect multiple sightings and opportunities to find them in hunting mode. Elephants, zebra, buffalo, eland, springbok, kudu, baboons can be found in the thousands, allowing you to appreciate just how wild this savannah can be. At nighttime, you can't see far. So the game drive is centered on opening up to the sounds and enjoying a thrilling intimacy with nature. Nature walks with armed rangers showcase another side to the bush while the leisurely evenings are spent looking across at the action of the Sands River. Mala Mala offers exclusivity and luxury. And it also offers one of Africa's finest experiences in the bush.

What's Included: accommodation, all meals, transfer

Day 16: Mala Mala to Johannesburg – International Departure

It's farewell to the animal kingdom as you drive through the savannah and take off from the Mala Mala airstrip. A short micro flight takes you to O.R Tambo International in Johannesburg where you embark on your return international flight.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, domestic flight


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.