Cape, Rails & Kruger Quest
Day 1 Cape Town
Arrive at any time. There will be a welcome meeting around 6pm on Day 1 where you will meet your CEO and fellow travellers. Please look for information on this important meeting in the lobby of the hotel.
Day 2 Cape Town (1B, 1D)
Enjoy a free day in Cape Town with options to visit Robben Island, Table Mountain, explore Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope) or embark on a wine tour around Stellenbosch (45 min drive). In the evening, experience an authentic meal with a local family. There is plenty to do with your free time here. Opt to visit the old French Huguenot town of Franschoek and surroundings (1hr drive). Not for the faint of heart, there are numerous adrenaline activities in the surrounding areas, from skydiving to abseiling to cage diving with great white sharks. Choose to wander through the city centre to see some of the oldest buildings and gardens in South Africa (Botanical Gardens and Parliament Gardens). Check out the numerous museums including the wonderful Cultural Historical Museum or hit up the Planetarium. Cape Town's name originated from the term 'Cape of Good Hope' when Bartholomew Diaz and other seafarers looked forward to the sight of Table Mountain, like an inn that promised hospitality and prosperity. The city is steeped in a rich history and is a cultural melting pot with its diverse and vibrant character. The residents come from Khoxisan and other African tribes from the North, and Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers. Cape Town is the third most populous city in South Africa, with over 3 million inhabitants, and is the provincial capital of the Western Cape. For shopping, dining and entertainment the V&A Waterfront is a hotspot for foreigners and locals alike. Still a working harbour, the waterfront is an example of creative architecture and restoration and has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. The Waterfront offers shops from designer boutiques to craft stalls, a host of restaurants and coffee shops and plenty of other activities. In the evening of Day 2 we'll get to experience cultural exchange first hand with a local dinner in a private home. This authentic community experience will provide the opportunity to get deep inside the heart of Cape Town and experience some real homemade food.
Day 3 Shosholoza Meyl Train (1B)
Board the Shosholoza Meyl train early at Cape Town station. You will have a chance to buy some groceries and drinks at the train station to stock up for your roughly 30 hr ride. The train has a restaurant with tasty food at a reasonable price so meals here are a good option and a fun experience. Please note that no bedding is provided in the 2- and 4-bed sleeper compartments. Please bring a sleeping bag and cushion (optional) with you. Travelling by train allows you to mingle with the locals, get to know your fellow travellers a bit better and save some time crossing this long distance overnight. By taking the train, we're able to keep your CEO with you from start to finish, ensuring you get that cohesive group travel experience and you'll have the support and security of a local expert with you at all times.
Day 4 Johannesburg (1L)
The train is scheduled to arrive around noon to Johannesburg though delays are common. Your transfer and local guide will be waiting to take you to Soweto township for a bicycle tour with basic but tasty lunch from a local snack bar. The cycling will involve a few hills and a walking tour can be arranged on request. In the event the train is delayed through lunch time, lunch will be provided on the train instead of in Soweto. Johannesburg, also known as eGoli, is the most populous city in South Africa. The city is affectionately known as "Jo'burg", "Jozi" and "JHB" by South Africans. It is the site of a large-scale gold and diamond trade due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills. From Jo'burg we'll visit Soweto township and take an included bicycle tour of the area. The tour is about 3 hrs with some small hills, but something most people should be able to handle. The tour will vary from trip to trip and focus mostly on the people of the area. Some highlights will be learning the history of Soweto township and a visit to a traditional Shebeen where beer is brewed by local women and passed around in little buckets. Depending on the route you may visit some local homes, stop at a refugee camp, stop by the exterior of Nelson Mandela's house and learn stories of the black South Africans' struggles against apartheid. We'll stop for a local snack lunch. When time permits we can also visit local musicians and churches as well.
Days 5-7 Greater Kruger Area/Manyeleti Game Reserve (3B,3D)
Leave Johannesburg early in the morning on Day 5 and head for the Manyeleti Game Reserve and the village of Shalati on a long day’s scenic drive. Stop at the Blyde River Canyon and other sights of the Panorama Route, as time allows. Arrive in the late afternoon at our accommodation at Shalati Lodge, just outside Kruger National Park. Manyeleti is situated away from the mainstream tourist areas and guests can experience the tranquility of the African bush in absolute seclusion. In the late afternoon/early evening relax around the pool, sit around the campfire and enjoy a sundowner drink, followed by a traditional meal and dancing by the villagers. Sleep tight and listen to the haunting sounds of the African night in your basic but comfortable hut. Each bungalow includes en-suite facilities with electricity, hot water, flush toilets, mosquito nets and fans. Breakfasts here are boxed for early game drives and dinner is at the Shalati Lodge. On Day 6 enjoy a full day of game drives inside Kruger National Park in our touring vehicle. Keep an eye out for elephants, lions, rhinoes, leopards and buffalo – Africa's famed Big Five. Day 7 is a free day where you can choose to relax at the lodge or opt for additional game drives in safari vehicles through Manyeleti or Kruger. The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares is unrivaled in the diversity of its wildlife and a world-leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 types of trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
Day 8 Johannesburg (1B)
In the morning visit the Planeterra-supported G Hope Africa preschool, close to the lodge in Shalati village. G Adventures, Planeterra and the Shalati Lodge work closely with the school to provide not only funds for improvements and supplies but also hands-on support with lesson plans and teacher assistance. Many employees of the lodge are Shalati residents with children benefitting from the preschool. Future plans include expanding the kitchen and building a community garden. After the visit, continue on to Johannesburg where the tour ends on arrival at the airport. All onward travel can be booked after 5pm. G Hope Africa Preschool: Over 80 children, under the age of 5, attend the G Hope Africa Preschool. Planeterra is focusing on sustainable solutions, such as early childhood education, to provide access to resources for communities in need. The school has one teacher, and two teacher's helpers that organize activities for the children, as well as provide them with two meals each day, new compostable toilets and fresh water. This school provides support to the children and prepares them for the transition into primary school.