Arrive in Durban any time and make your way to the joining point hotel. Be in time for your welcome dinner and meeting with your fellow travellers and CEO, enjoy a traditional Curry tonight and get to know the members of your group. Upon arrival look for information from your tour leader on the hotel bulletin board regarding the meeting time. Explore the beach front opposite our guest house, or venture into the centre of town, taking in the fair grounds, restaurants, water sports and the now world famous “uShaka Marine World”. In the evening at the meeting, you will meet your group, some of whom may in fact be arriving into Durban on a previous G Adventures tour. Very little is known about the first residents of the area around Durban as there is no written history of the area before it was “discovered” by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1497. Da Gama had applied the name Natal (nativity) to this stretch of coast, first seen on Christmas day of that year. The first European settlers in the area where mostly survivors of shipwrecks. One of these survivors, Rodrigo Tristaa, survived a wreck in 1552 of the Portuguese galleon Saint John, was the first to make his home here. The Zulu nation’s formation provided wealth for a trade market in this area - European merchants set up a harbour where the base of trade with Zulus could be formed. Durban was thus created by a population of 26 hard-living traders and ivory hunters. It was named on 23 June 1835, after the governor of the Cape, Sir Benjamin D’Urban. The centre of Durban grew around its sugar cane plantations, as large numbers of Indians were brought to work on the plantations. As a result, present-day Durban it the city with the largest Indian population outside of India. The city has grown into one of South Africa's best-known and most popular coastal resorts and commercial ports. With stretches of safe, sandy beaches and abundance of holiday accommodation destinations available and all-year sunshine attract visitors to this festive city every year. This city is enjoyed for its vibrant mix of cultures and experiences, with a large diverse population of people. The beach front area has the usual attractions, from fair grounds to restaurants, to water sports and the now world famous “uShaka Marine World”.
Approximate Distance: 530km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs South from Durban, we travel through to the Eastern Cape province, into the heartland of the Xhosa people, and to Port St. Johns, a paradise on a large stretch of Indian Ocean coast referred to as the Wild Coast. Here you will have time to explore the dramatic scenery of the rocky beaches, hidden lagoons, and coastal cliffs. Our campsite is about 8km's outside of town, so after arrival you can take a walk into Port St Johns.
Approximate Distance: 360km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs Travel along the national highway toward the former homeland, known as the Transkei, enjoying views of rolling hills, farmland and traditional Xhosa villages. Cintsa is a little piece of paradise. The residents of Cints wants to keep it unspoilt but they also love sharing their piece of paradise with visitors. Cintsa has a subtropical climate – Summers are hot and winter day are average 21degrees Celcius with night temperatures dropping to 10 degrees. They received their highest rainfall in November. With unspoilt sandy beaches and a variety of fauna and flora, this eastern coast forest reserve provides a refuge from the big cities. The beach area from Cintsa west to Cape Henderson, including Cintsa East is regarded by most conservationist as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Approximate Distance: 280km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Today we cross many unique valleys as we continue on to the Addo Elephant National Park, a unique wildlife area. Although famous for the Addo elephants, this park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and we embark on an afternoon game drive (in own vehicle) in search of the resident elephants, black rhino, lion, buffalo and even leopard. Listen to the wild sounds of Africa while enjoying your sundowner and sitting around the campfire at night. Although the Addo Elephant belongs to the same species as the African Elephant, it is smaller, with more rounded ears and the females generally have no tusks. The park was named after the KhoiKhoi name Kadouw, which they gave to a forting place over the nearby Sundays River. The bush here is a combination of acacia, Spekboom, Gwarrie and Boerboon. The English name for the Spekboom is “Elephants food”. In 1919 the professional hunter, Major Jan Pretorius, was hired by the administration of the Cape Province to destroy the entire herd that inhabited the area at the time. It took him a year to kill 120, but he was then stopped due to a public outcry. Only sixteen Addo Elephants remained, but they were peppered with bullet holes, panic stricken, vengeful and cunning. And they declared war on man. In 1931, after a change in policy, the area was proclaimed as a national park. The Elephants, however, were still on the war path, destroying crops and attacking anyone who came near. Finally, in 1952, one of the beleaguered farmers of the area suggested that a fence made up of tram rails and lift cables be erected around the park. This finally kept the Elephants secure and out of the surrounding farming area. The black rhino was re-introduced into the park in 1961, and now the park is home to a number of different animals, including the big 5 (elephant, black rhino, lion, buffalo, and leopard), zebra, kudu, eland, warthog, and many types of buck.
Approximate Distance: 235km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs Indigenous Tsitsikamma forests surround the campsite in the village of Storms River. Optional Activities in the area include hiking a portion of the Otter Trail or along the coastline, abseiling, scuba diving, snorkeling, boat rides, canoeing, whale watching, or even the world’s highest bungee jump.
Approximate Distance: 100km Estimated Travel Time: 1.5 hrs Today we’ll visit the Tsitsikamma National Park. Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan word meaning, “place of much water.” Covering a thin belt of marine along 68 dramatic kilometres of South Africa's most spectacular, the Tsitsikamma National Park protects a wonderland of inter-tidal and marine life. Here, surging waves crash over rocky coastline and old hardwood forests knot the coastal cliffs. Although Tsitsikamma boasts a magical world of intertidal life and reefs in its marine part, there is also the famous terrestrial part of the park with its lush forest, delicate fynbos and sheer cliffs. The park thus offers a variety of habitat for many species of birds; cormorants (Cape and White-breasted), Kelp Gulls and African Black Oystercatchers are prominent along the coastline, and the forest hosts African Crowned Eagle and African Wood Owl, plus some of the accipiters such as African Goshawk and Black Sparrowhawk. The highlight of the Tsitsikamma National Park is the Storms River Mouth, a large and abrupt estuary over which a precarious rope-bridge is slung. In addition, there are the more sheltered water ways such as the Nature’s Valley Lagoon and the Groot River. Walking is the main activity in the park – you will have time to hike a portion of the famously spectacular Otter Trail. A walk in the area is well worth it – the scenery of the unspoiled nature in the area is breathtaking.
Approximate Distance: 220 km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs After visiting "The Heads" in Knysna, a town nestled on a tranquil lagoon on the coast, we take a scenic drive to travel over the Outeniqua Mountains into the area known as Klein Karoo (“Little Karoo”), where we make the quite town of Oudtshoorn our base. In the late afternoon, go and explore the Cango caves or visit an ostrich farm (optional). The Cango Caves are sculptured by nature through the ages, and is filled with mysterious and breathtaking limestone formations in a wide variety of natural colours. They lie in the Swartberg Mountain Range in a limestone belt measuring 1.5km in width and almost 16km in length. This part of the continent was once below the ocean. As the continent rose, the Little Karoo found itself above the water level. The caves started to form some 20 million years ago, when the water level dropped to such an extent that the ground water could start to seep into the limestone. As the water seeped into the ground it absorbed carbon dioxide from the decaying plant and animal matter in the soil and this made it fairly acidic. As it seeped into the limestone, cavities were created that filled with water. Rivers also formed on the surface and cut deeply enough into the limestone to allow them to reach the level of the water pockets. This caused the water to flow out about 4 million years ago. The cave was then, for the first time, exposed to air and the speleothems (cave formations) began to form. The portion of the caves that are accessible to the public extends for 1.2km, with a further 4.1km being kept closed for conservation. Oudtshoorn is notably the ostrich capital of the world. Here ostriches are found in great numbers and the region produces the world’s best feathers, leather products and meat. Amidst the 400 ostrich farms surrounding the town, three have distinguished themselves worthy enough to be named show farms. In addition, the Klein Karoo is one of South Africa's eight wine regions, where the sweet and desert wines are well known.