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Day by Day Itinerary

When you take a South Africa tour with Grand Circle Travel, you’ll discover cultural and natural wonders at a relaxed and leisurely pace. You’ll follow exotic wildlife on game-viewing drives through Kruger National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve ... enjoy visits to charming coastal towns along the famed Garden Route ... and explore cosmopolitan Cape Town, South Africa’s “Mother City.” You’ll marvel at the country's diverse landscape rife with verdant, grassy savannas, balmy, white-sand beaches, and tranquil, flower-ringed lagoons. And everywhere you go, you’ll connect with the people of South Africa, encountering a veritable kaleidoscope of cultures and creeds—evidence that the nation has indeed become, as Nelson Mandela envisioned, “a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

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    Board your overnight flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.

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    A Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and help you transfer to your hotel, where you’ll meet the Grand Circle Program Director who will accompany you throughout your trip, and fellow travelers, including those who have just finished our optional pre-trip extension, Big Five Bush Safari, South Africa. Settle in, and get to know your surroundings.

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    Johannesburg, South Africa

    This morning, you’ll drive to Soweto, enjoying scenic views of Johannesburg en route. You’ll see the city skyscrapers, including the Carlton Centre, which is the tallest office block in Africa, as well as the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

    Soweto, a former shantytown on the city’s outskirts, is both a bustling center of black South African life and a poignant symbol of the struggle to end apartheid. Here, you’ll see Freedom Square, the scene of many rallies, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial, which commemorates a young boy who died during the infamous 1976 anti-apartheid Soweto riots.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, depart for the Apartheid Museum, where you’ll confront one of the 20th century’s greatest injustices. The history of nearly 50 years of unequal rights affecting more than 20 million black South Africans is recounted here, in 22 exhibits spanning print, photo, and film. It’s a fascinating and moving examination of an era that has since been replaced by a constitutional democracy that celebrates diversity.

    This evening, get to know your fellow travelers during a Welcome Briefing, and enjoy a Welcome Dinner with wine at your hotel.

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    After breakfast, set off for Kruger National Park. Along the way, marvel at breathtaking views of the Klein Drakensburg escarpment, with its densely wooded canyons, sheer sandstone cliffs, and sparkling waterfalls. You'll have a boxed lunch on your own en route to your hotel in the province of Mpumalanga.

    You’ll travel the Panorama Route through Mpumalanga, where you'll look into God’s Window—a spot with stunning views—and the Bourkes Luck Potholes at the mouth of the Blyde River Canyon.

    Tonight, check into your hotel, where dinner will be served.

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    Embark on a full-day Intimate African Safari game drive, during which you will explore Kruger National Park aboard a small, open-air vehicle. Perhaps you'll see one of the elusive "Big Five" safari animals during your journey. A packed lunch will be provided by the hotel.

    Kruger is one of the largest and most notable among African game parks. Transvaal President Paul Kruger saw the need to protect the wilderness and its animals and first proclaimed it the Sabie Game Reserve before it became a national park in 1926. It is known for the chances it offers for spotting the “Big Five” animals—always elusive, but certainly present here: lion, elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhino. In addition to game animals, Kruger boasts an avian population of almost 500 species, some of which are found nowhere else in South Africa.

    Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

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    After breakfast, you’ll board a coach for a full-day game-viewing drive.

    Or, choose to take advantage of a second Intimate African Safari on our optional full-day outing. Today, you’ll venture further afield to some of the park's most remote areas aboard 4x4 vehicles to discover South Africa's wildlife in a smaller group. Please note: A minimum of six participants is required to operate this tour.

    Dine tonight at your hotel.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    After breakfast, cross the border into the Kingdom of Swaziland. A fully independent nation since 1968, this African kingdom originated in the early 19th century and maintained its cultural identity as a British protectorate—never absorbed into South Africa—through much of the 20th century. Today, Swaziland has a population of about 800,000 and is a peaceful, agricultural country where ancient and modern ways mingle.

    You’ll enter the country through its mountainous northwest, admiring a landscape of sloping hills and sugar-cane plantations along the way. Once you arrive, you’ll get the chance to uncover the secrets of the artistry of Swazi glassblowing during an exclusive Discovery Series visit to a local workshop.

    In mid-afternoon, you'll arrive at your hotel near the capital city of Mbabane. Here, you will have some time to explore the area or relax before dinner.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Today you'll enjoy a full day of a Swazi Cultural Experience. After breakfast, gather with your fellow travelers to enjoy produce, local crafts, and wares of the Swazi people when you attend the Mbabane Craft Market.

    You’ll also visit the Fontein Social Care Center, supported by Grand Circle Foundation—part of the World Classroom initiative. During your visit, you'll have the chance to help prepare lunch for the children.

    This afternoon, behold the artistry of local candle-makers as they work their magic in wax—using an age-old process—at a Swazi workshop and market.

    After lunch at the workshop, you’ll make a short stop at the memorial built in honor of King Sobuza, who brought Swaziland to independence in 1968. Crowned king at less than a year old, King Sobuza holds the record for the longest monarchial rule—more than 60 years.

    This evening, dinner is on your own—your Program Director can offer suggestions about where you can savor the local flavors.

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    As you cross the border back into South Africa today, you’ll enter Hluhluwe, a small town within the Kwazulu-Natal province. Here the great warrior-king Shaka unified many clans in the early 19th century under the name Zulu, which was the name of his own clan. Though mostly ceremonial today, the Zulu monarchy continues as a proud symbol of a living culture.

    While in Hluhluwe, you’ll spend an Afternoon with the Zulu during an exclusive Discovery Series event. You’ll visit an authentic re-creation of a Zulu uzumi (homestead), where you’ll meet modern-day warriors and witness fighting formations. You'll also enjoy lunch, take part in traditional activities such as beer-brewing and bread-making, and discover some of the secrets of the mystical nyangas (herbal healers) and the Sangoma (a priest-diviner).

    Tonight, dinner will be served at the hotel.

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    After breakfast, set off for a game-viewing drive through the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve—the oldest park in all of Africa.

    Thanks to the efforts of conservationists, the once-threatened rhino population has soared—the park is now home to the largest concentration of white rhinos in the world. Be on the lookout for their signature horns, along with spottings of the “Big Five,” and the more obscure sightings of yellow-, pink- and orange-throated longclaws.

    Afterward, you'll have the option to enjoy lunch while boating down the St. Lucia Estuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of unrivaled biodiversity where the topography ranges from submarine canyons to savannas. This stretch of the Elephant Coast has been likened to a sub-tropical paradise, where you may witness turtles nesting on the beaches, along with waterfowl like pelicans, storks, and herons.

    Tonight you'll return to your hotel for some leisure time before dinner.

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    Hobie Beach, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

    This morning, after an early wake-up, you'll drive to Durban. From here, you’ll fly to Port Elizabeth—a major seaport set along the beautiful shores of Algoa Bay.

    Enjoy a tour of the city's historical attractions, including St. George's Park and Settler's Park—both known for their cultivated and natural gardens. The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore the shimmering beaches and colonial history of "the Friendly City." This evening is at leisure.

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    Thomson Gazelles, Serengeti National Park, Northern Tanzania

    Spend the day and evening as you please in Port Elizabeth. The city has many historical attractions—including the Donkin Heritage Trail, which allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of the British settlers who arrived in 1820. The trail, which is several miles long, winds past more than 40 historical sites and architectural gems in the Old Hill area of central Port Elizabeth. You might also choose to stroll through St. George's Park, home to the world-famous Port Elizabeth Cricket Club. Lunch and dinner today are on your own.

    Or join an optional tour of Addo Elephant National Park, where you’ll enjoy another chance to see South Africa's most celebrated safari animals. The park houses more than 450 elephants, 400 Cape buffalo, nearly 50 endangered black rhino, and a variety of antelope. You may even see lion and spotted hyena, which have been re-introduced to the area in recent years.

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    After breakfast this morning, you'll embark on a scenic journey along South Africa's famous Garden Route, the magnificent stretch of coastline that has served as an inspiration for artists and writers for centuries. View lofty mountains edging toward some of the best golden-sand beaches in the country ... vast forests of giant yellowwood, pine, and eucalyptus trees ... colorful wildflowers ... pristine, amber-colored lakes, and tumbling waterfalls ... coves and lagoons peeking out from behind a ridge of sand dunes ... and charming tiny villages.

    This evening, you'll arrive in Knysna, known as the "Pearl of the Garden Route." Dinner is yours to enjoy at a local restaurant tonight.

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    Today, get closer to the world of exotic animals in Oudtshoorn during a visit to the Safari Ostrich Farm.

    Ostrich farming began in the late 1880s, when European demand for ostrich feathers prompted a boom in ostrich farming worldwide. By the early 1900s, only gold, diamonds, and wool ranked higher than ostrich feathers in terms of exports. In Oudtshoorn, the center of the industry, ostrich farmers built lavish sandstone mansions to showcase their wealth.

    On the farm you'll view large flocks of the flightless bird, still highly prized for its feathers, leather, and meat. Experienced guides will reveal the life cycle of the ostrich, and you'll also learn how products such as handbags and feather dusters are produced. Perhaps you'll even observe and participate in an ostrich derby! After lunch at the farm, you'll have more time at leisure to explore Oudtshoorn.

    You'll return to Knysna tonight in time for dinner on your own.

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    After breakfast, depart for Knysna's famed lagoon, which is protected from the open water by two giant sandstone cliffs known locally as “the Heads.” A ferry takes you across the lagoon for an included tour of Featherbed Nature Reserve. On your guided nature walk, keep an eye out for a glimpse of the blue duiker, Africa's smallest antelope (named for the blue sheen of its back) and other wildlife.

    After lunch outside under the reserve's milkwood trees, the remainder of the day is yours to explore Knysna. You can delve into the town's history at the Millwood House Museum, which displays items once owned by Knysna's founder, George Rex (reputedly an illegitimate son of British King George III). Or browse through the many quaint shops with their unique offerings.

    Dinner tonight is on your own.

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    Drotsy museum swellendam, South Africa

    Ride to Cape Town after breakfast this morning. En route, you'll stop in historic Mossel Bay, where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to land in South Africa in 1488. For more than 400 years, this was a spot where passing mariners dropped off their letters as their voyages took them around the Cape of Good Hope.

    You'll also visit the historic town of Swellendam, where you'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and tour the Drostdy Museum, a former outpost of the Dutch East India Company. Housed in a building that dates from 1747, the museum holds beautifully crafted historic furniture, art, and an old jail.

    Enjoy dinner on your own in Cape Town this evening.

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    Today’s included city tour features a cable car ride up Table Mountain (weather permitting), a 3,563-foot sandstone mountain that is remarkable for its flat top. Enjoy the ocean views from the summit.

    This afternoon, enjoy leisure time to explore Cape Town on your own.

    Or perhaps you'll join our optional tour to Cape Town's vibrant townships—Langa, Guguletu, and Bonteheuwel. Learn about the traditions and daily way of life here through a tour—guided by a township resident—and a home visit.

    Tonight, join a local family in their home for dinner. Enjoy a warm welcome, authentic local fare, and lively conversation during this exclusive Discovery Series event.

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    Departing after breakfast, head along the coast, with majestic Table Mountain rising in the distance. Your route follows the spectacular coast road, the Atlantic Ocean's crashing surf endlessly splashing the rocks below. Soon you reach the Cape Point Nature Reserve, with its wild fynbos landscapes, beautiful flowers, elusive bontebok, baboons, and ocean views.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Cape Peninsula is not consistently where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Because of shifting currents, that distinction is shared with lesser-known Cape Agulhas, 100 to 200 miles east of the Cape Peninsula. Nevertheless, when you get to the tip of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, you'll see Cape Point, the technical "Cape of Good Hope." Rapidly changing climactic conditions and the Indian Ocean currents coming from Cape Agulhas make it a particularly dangerous spot for ships. Your Program Director will tell you that more "sightings" of the legendary ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman, are reported here than anywhere else in the world. Who knows what you'll spy on the distant horizons as you gaze from the Cape Point viewing platform? You'll also explore some of the fascinating vegetation and more remote corners of this nature reserve, as well as the lush Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, before stopping for an included lunch at a well-known local seafood restaurant.

    On the return trip to Cape Town, a stop along the False Bay coastline offers a chance to see the penguins at Boulders Beach. Arrive back in town in the early evening, after passing through Simon's Town and Fish Hoek.

    Dinner is on your own tonight.

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    Vineyards of Stellenbosch, South Africa

    Venture to South Africa’s wine-producing region on an included excursion to Stellenbosch. You’ll visit a wine estate and sample their delicious offerings. A scenic river valley of rolling hills, quaint farms, and mountain vistas, this area is also the heart of Cape Dutch culture. You’ll see fine examples of traditional architecture while learning about the history of early settlement here. Lunch will be on your own in Stellenbosch.

    Tonight, share your impressions of South Africa with your fellow travelers during a Farewell Dinner.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you'll have the morning at leisure to do a little more exploring in Cape Town, or to simply relax before you begin your journey back to the U.S. this afternoon. Or begin your optional extension in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

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Traveler Reviews

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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 7 locations in 19 days

Physical requirements

  • Not accessible for travelers using wheelchairs or scooters
  • Travelers using walkers, crutches, or other mobility aids must travel with a companion who can assist them throughout the trip
  • You must be able to walk 1-2 miles unassisted and participate in 2-3 hours of physical activities each day, including stairs
  • Balance and agility are required for boarding 4x4 vehicles unassisted

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures range from 62-80°F during touring season
  • December-March are the warmest months

Terrain

  • Travel over uneven walking surfaces, including unpaved paths, hills, stairs, and cobblestone

Transportation

  • Travel by 45- to 52-seat motorcoach, 4x4 vehicle, ferry, and cable car

Cuisine

  • Meals will be based on the local cuisine

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • South Africa: Visa not required.
  • Swaziland: Visa not required.
  • Zimbabwe (optional Victoria Falls extension): Visa required. (Necessary to visit the Zimbabwean side of the falls.)

Travelers who are booked on this vacation will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your vacation, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Program Directors and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Protea Hotel Wanderers

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    Located on the grounds of the historic Wanderers Club in the Johannesburg suburb of Illovo, Protea Hotel Wanderers offers an idyllic setting just minutes away from the bustle of the city. Guests enjoy amenities including a restaurant, coffee bar, outdoor pool, and a fitness room. The 229 air-conditioned guest rooms feature private baths with showers, wireless Internet access, satellite TVs, and coffee- and tea-making facilities.

  • Protea Hotel Hazyview

    Hazyview, South Africa

    Located within driving distance of Kruger National Park, the Superior Tourist-Class Protea Hotel Hazyview reflects the serenity of the local environment, situated in a garden estate overlooking the nearby Sand River Valley. Amenities include free wireless Internet, a restaurant, bar, and outdoor swimming pool. Your air-conditioned room includes a telephone, TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

  • Mountain Inn

    Mbabane, Swaziland | Rating: First Class

    Just a few miles from Mbabane Center, the First-Class Mountain Inn offers scenic views of the Ezulwini Valley. Its unspoiled natural setting includes hiking trails and birding routes for guests, while the hotel’s hot tub and outdoor pool encourage relaxation. Each room includes satellite TV, refrigerator, and coffee- and tea-making facilities. The hotel also offers a fine dining restaurant, wireless Internet in common areas, and laundry service.

  • Protea Hotel Hluhluwe

    Hluhluwe, South Africa

    Nestled between the sprawling Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, The Protea Hotel Hluhluwe offers unbeatably bucolic surroundings.

    At dusk, guests can delight in Zulu dance performances that take place by the pool, or maybe you’ll opt to meet for nightcaps at the air-conditioned Rhino Bar. An on-site restaurant offers an extensive South African wine list. And all air-conditioned rooms include a private bath, satellite television, and coffee- and tea-making facilities.

  • Protea Hotel Marine

    Port Elizabeth, South Africa | Rating: Moderate First Class

    Overlooking Algoa Bay on South Africa’s eastern coast, the Moderate First-Class Protea Hotel Marine is within walking distance of historic attractions and sandy beaches.

    Travelers may unwind in the cocktail bar, dine in the hotel restaurant, take a dip in the outdoor pool, or enjoy a workout in the health center. All rooms are air-conditioned and include telephone, cable/satellite TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and Internet access.

  • The Rex Hotel

    Knysna, South Africa

    This modern, 30-room boutique hotel is located near the serene Knysna Lagoon, shops, and restaurants. Rooms are air-conditioned and feature coffee- and tea-making facilities, cable TV, in-room safe, Wi-Fi, and private bathroom with hair dryer.

  • Protea Hotel President

    Cape Town, South Africa | Rating: First Class

    From its location in Cape Town’s Bantry Bay, the First-Class Protea Hotel President offers scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Lion’s Head, the famous hill near Table Mountain, from nearly all of its rooms. During your stay, perhaps you’ll dine at The Islands restaurant, sip sundowner cocktails in the hotel’s Senate Bar, or relax by the outdoor pool. Your air-conditioned room features direct-dial telephone, cable/satellite TV, in-room safe, minibar, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

  • Wildside Safari Camp

    Entabeni Game Reserve, South Africa

    Designed to offer comfort in the midst of the African bush, the Wildside Safari Camp complements the natural beauty of Entabeni Game Reserve. Each of the 20 thatched-roof, tented chalets features a direct-dial telephone, ceiling fans, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and open-air lounge/bar with a fire pit.

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  • Protea Hotel O.R. Tambo

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    Due to its proximity to O.R. Tambo Airport, the design of the hotel is inspired by an aircraft hangar with a stylized industrial look that playfully incorporates elements of airplanes into the decor. Located in the Johannesburg suburb of Kempton Park, the hotel offers a shuttle to the nearby metro station and has a pool, bar, restaurant, and health club for your enjoyment. Each of the 213 air-conditioned rooms features satellite TV, wireless high-speed Internet, a safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities and private bath.

  • Wildside Safari Camp

    Entabeni Game Reserve, South Africa

    Designed to offer comfort in the midst of the African bush, the Wildside Safari Camp complements the natural beauty of Entabeni Game Reserve. Each of the 20 thatched-roof, tented chalets features a direct-dial telephone, ceiling fans, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and open-air lounge/bar with a fire pit.

  • Elephant Hills Resort

    Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe | Rating: Superior First Class

    Overlooking the Zambezi River and a short drive from Victoria Falls, the Superior First-Class Elephant Hills Resort offers 276 air-conditioned rooms with satellite TV, refrigerator, and private bath, as well as traditional African décor. Amenities include a golf course, swimming pool, and tennis courts. At night, relax at one of the on-site bars or restaurants, or simply retire to your room’s private balcony.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two vacations to maximize your value.

  • Extend your vacation and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip excursions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your ship or hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your vacation
  • Choose to "break away" before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of Grand Circle vacations to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium class

The air options listed above may involve additional airfare costs based on your specific choices.

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $2495
w/ standard air $4495

What Makes This Trip Unique

Exclusive Discovery Series Events

  • Glassblowing demonstration. Visit a workshop to learn about this local craft.
  • Swazi Cultural Experience, including visits to crafts markets and a children's daycare center.
  • An Afternoon with the Zulu. Spend time with the Zulu people, and enjoy a special lunch and cultural performance.
  • Home-Hosted Dinner. Experience everyday life in Cape Town as you share a meal with a local family.

Behind the Scenes Game-viewing Drives

  • With 1 optional and 3 included game-viewing drives through historic parks, you'll enjoy plenty of opportunities to get a closer look at South African wildlife.

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in South Africa

Here’s how Grand Circle travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our Highlights of South Africa vacation. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite Grand Circle Travel trip photos.

   

Bucking broncos have nothing on the speed and strength of an ostrich, as Lillian Stoff, 17-time traveler from Mamaroneck, New York, discovered during a visit to Oudthshoorn, once the world’s leading supplier of ostrich feathers. Nancy Becker, first-time traveler from Princeton, New Jersey, was on-hand to capture the ride of a lifetime.

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How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: GCTtravelerphotos@gct.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

10 Reasons to experience Highlights of South Africa—in the words of our travelers

We often find that the best endorsements of our discovery-rich vacations come directly from our travelers. Here are some of the memorable experiences that they have shared with us from Highlights of South Africa.

Reservations & Information: Call us toll-free at 1-800-221-2610

1. Wildlife

“We saw all the animals (the big 5) and many others. Seeing a rhino crossing right in front of your vehicle is a scene from Jurassic Park. In Addo we saw 4 different herds come down to drink. It truly was fabulous.”A 4-time traveler from New York, NY

2. Fontein Care Social Center

“On that day, we shopped for fresh fruits and vegetables at a local outdoor market, then arrived at the Center, prepared the food and fed and played with countless children. The efforts of the Foundation and its travelers provided them with a healthy meal that day ... and we gave (and received) lots of much-needed hugs. There wasn't a dry eye among us because we were so touched by the children, and by the local volunteer teachers who give of their time so generously.”A 6-time traveler from Deerfield Beach, FL

3. Scenic landscapes

“From mile after mile of cultivated land to majestic mountain peaks to thunderous waves at the Cape of Good Hope, the landscape was breathtaking. And since spring is my favorite season, I loved seeing all the beautiful spring flowers in bloom.”A 10-time traveler from Wise, VA

4. Big Five Bush Safari, South Africa pre-trip extension

“I took the pre-trip to Entabeni and would highly recommend it. We were able to get closer to the animals and were lucky enough to come upon a lion kill. The whole pride was there feeding on a giraffe. We were able to get very close to the rhinos. A baby rhino even came up and licked the tires.”A 7-time traveler from Uncasville, CT

5. The Garden Route

“We drove the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town and it was easy on the eyes. Vast fields with mountains in the background. A lot of flowers on the edge of the road and wheat fields like Canada or the US, corn fields, bananas fields, all sort of fruits etc. ... with monkeys, baboons, and impalas running across the road, and Giraffes and ostriches in the distance.”A 7-time traveler from Alameda, CA

6. Boulders Beach

“We had a special luncheon at "Black Marlin" in Simon's Town before getting to Boulders Beach at False Bay and another super highlight. Penguins! These are African Penguins that were called at one time, Jackass Penguins because of their braying calls. I was able to get a photo of one adjusting its position on its egg!”A 7-time traveler from Larkspur, CA

7. Cape Town, South Africa

“I enjoyed everything about Cape Town, especially the point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. It brought to mind shades of Vasco da Gama and Prince Henry the Navigator.”A 3-time traveler from Lakewood, CO

8. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe post-trip extension

“I took the Victoria Falls extension and would recommend it as a must for everyone who can afford to spend a few extra days. The falls are truly spectacular, especially flying over them in the optional helicopter ride, which is really fun too. Also, the optional safari game drive to Chobe National Park that is available with the Victoria Falls extension was great.” A 7-time traveler from Sherman Oaks, CA

9. Home-Hosted Dinner

“The Home-Hosted Dinner was a terrific way to get to know some people and their views of the politics of South Africa. We shared a delicious meal and wonderful conversation with our hosts.”A 5-time traveler from Florence, AL

10. Cape Town Townships optional tour

“I encourage you to go on the Township Tour. It's not really as depressing as you might think. I found it very informative and a tribute to the people there that are making a difference. Their story is close to the US vs the American Indian.”A 1-time traveler from Palm Springs, CA

Pay Early & Save up to 10% with our Good Buy Plan

It’s simple: The earlier you reserve and pay in full by check or electronic funds transfer, the more you’ll save on any 2015 departure of Highlights of South Africa

  • Enjoy the best value by reserving and paying in full as far in advance of your departure as possible—see below for an example of how your savings can add up
  • By paying in full early, you’ll protect your investment from fuel surcharge increases, currency increases, or other unexpected costs
  • You’ll also save up to 10% on your air add-ons, and pre- and post-trip extensions, maximizing your value even further

This example demonstrates how you can save, based on a 9/1/15 departure:

  ORIGINAL PRICE
per person
SAVE 10%
when you reserve by 9/1/14
SAVE 7%
when you reserve by 10/1/14
SAVE 5%
when you reserve by 12/1/14
Land Tour only price: $2895 $2606 $2692 $2750
Add a 3-night Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe extension: $1445 $1301 $1344 $1373
Add international airfare out of New York: $1900 $1710 $1767 $1805
Total price per person $6240 $5616 $5803 $5928
Total savings per couple   $1248 $874 $624

Maximize your value by using the money you save for an optional trip extension

Call Now 1-800-221-2610

Partner since: 2011
Total donated: $41,085

Supporting a World Classroom: South Africa

By seeing how children are cared for all over the world, we gain a rare understanding of different cultural values—as well as the common values that unite us all. When you visit South Africa, we bring you into a local children's center supported by Grand Circle Foundation and introduce you to South Africa's future.

"We went to the Mbabane craft market and bought fresh fruit and vegetables for the Fontein Social Care Center children we were going to visit. That was a moving highlight for us, personally. The children were so beautiful, and they sang for us in very sweet voices."

Gary Kirschner
Larkspur, California

Fontein Social Care Center

Partner since: 2011 • Total donated: $28,655

touch the lives of south africa youth

The Fontein Social Care Center has an ambitious mission to help orphaned and vulnerable children in Swaziland. In an area where hunger, poverty, and illness leaves many children without strong family units, the Fontein Center aims to provide two meals a day to children, as well as a daycare for the youngest and legal assistance, health care services, and safety within its walls. Though only 40 children are enrolled in the daycare, the Center feeds over 450 local children a day—no small feat without government assistance to purchase food. Grand Circle Foundation has helped fund roof and window repairs, as well as a covered outdoor seating area, so that the Center can continue to grow and serve the community.

School in session:

Year-round

Gifts to bring if you're visiting:

  • Clothing
  • Basic toileties (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, etc.)
  • Educational books
Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

Read More

A traveler's impressions of South Africa

Safari & spectacle from Johannesburg to Cape Town

by Ron Wetherington, 5-time traveler, Ocala, Florida

I could barely believe I was standing there, feeling transported somehow to another time on another planet.

Ron Wetherington experienced our Highlights of South Africa Land Tour. Below are some of his thoughts and impressions of this region—excerpted from an article originally published in Ocala magazine.

Johannesburg

On Day One, we toured Johannesburg, visiting the Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum, located near the site where this icon of the 1976 Soweto Uprising was shot and killed. Then we continued on to the Apartheid Museum, devoted to the struggle for independence and including many print, photo, and film exhibits illustrating the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela. I admit that I was surprised by the racism that is prevalent between the Afrikaaners, English, and the blacks who are sandwiched in the middle, and by how the terrible slums around Johannesburg looked as bad as anything I have seen in the world. The contrast of tradition and modernity served as a poignant symbol of this country’s continuing struggle with apartheid.

Swaziland

We continued from Kruger National Park to the border of Swaziland. An independent nation since 1968, Swaziland originated as a British protectorate in the 19th century. Today, this peaceful, agricultural country has a population of roughly 800,000. As we followed the Drakensberg Mountains, we passed manicured sugar plantations on our way to Mbabane, the capital of the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Port Elizabeth

Continuing our drive to Port Stanley, we checked into a modern, marble-faced hotel overlooking the beachfront. A visiting soccer team created a disturbance, but we were eventually left in peace and luxury upon their departure the next morning. The city offers many historical attractions—including the Historic Donkin Heritage Trail, which allows the visitor to follow in the footsteps of the 1820 settlers. The trail winds for several miles past more than 40 historical sites and architectural gems in the Old Hill area of central Port Elizabeth. We chose to stroll St. George’s Park, home to the world-famous Port Elizabeth Cricket Club.

Continuing our wildlife trek, we traveled to Oudtshoorn, where we visited Cango Wildlife Ranch, the world’s oldest and largest cheetah reserve. The ranch offers a rare opportunity to observe this endangered species and learn about conservation efforts. After a briefing by the staff, I was allowed to enter the cheetah enclosure to interact with the animals. I was understandably leery, but when I patted the male cheetah on the head, he rolled over to let me stroke his chest and stomach, just like a big house cat!

Cape Town

The Garden Route to Cape Town and on to historic Mossel Bay was the most scenic part of the trip. The bay is where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to land in South Africa in 1488. We welcomed a stop in Swellendam for lunch and a tour of the Drostdy Museum. Swellendam is the third-oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town and Stellenbosch, and the museum, a former outpost of the Dutch East India Company, is an example of a historic Cape Dutch building, housing historic furniture, art and an old jail. We later took the tram up Table Mountain for a beautiful sunset.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

We were up early at 4am to catch the flight to Victoria Falls via Johannesburg. After a very long day, we discovered that it was well worth the time and the effort.

We continued immediately in the afternoon to Victoria Falls, donning ponchos to protect us from the spray at the Falls’ edge. Some thrill-seekers are brave enough (or crazy enough) to bungee jump into the canyon from the heights of the waterfalls. What a sight, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, and I could barely believe I was standing there, feeling transported somehow to another time on another planet.

Botswana

The final safari of the trip was also the best, in Chobe National Park, Botswana. We came upon a place at the Chobe River, and I felt as though I had stumbled into the Garden of Eden. It was truly the most beautiful spot on earth that I have ever had the pleasure to witness. According to our Program Director, she came upon a bend in the Chobe River years ago, and found it the most romantic place she has ever seen. She discovered that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had been married for the second time on this very spot. No wonder it is considered the most beautiful place in Botswana!

That night, we closed out our trip’s itinerary with an authentic boma dinner, which included a show featuring the culture of the Matabele tribe. We were mesmerized by their elaborate painted masks, ornate costumes, musical instruments, and dancing. After beginning with a sampling of traditional beer and snacks, we enjoyed dining on a variety of game meats and Zimbabwean dishes. The Sangoma (storyteller) entertained us, and the local witch doctor was available for fortune telling, although I will keep his prophecies secret to myself.