This deluxe 14 night holiday is a sophisticated slice of South Africa's highlights. It's a really varied journey, giving you everything from city culture to picturesque vineyards, coastal villages, a luxury rail journey and a Big Five safari.
Your trip begins with 2 nights of pure relaxation in the stunning countryside of the Cape Winelands. South Africa is today one of the major producers and exporters of wines worldwide, and has been producing wine since the middle of the 17th century. The Cape Winelands region is set amongst rolling mountain slopes and valleys, with classic colonial style architecture which is some of the oldest surviving in South Africa. There are literally scores of wine estates, and staying in the area will give you the chance to either search out the labels you are familiar with from home or to go on a voyage of discovery and find new favourites.
Your hire car will be delivered on Day 3, and you head the short distance to Hermanus. Hermanus is considered the world's best land-based destination for whale watching. Southern Right whales swim from Antarctica every year to breed and rear their young, making Walker Bay their home from about June to November. The daily arrival of whales is heralded by the Whale Crier who sounds his horn to broadcast their arrival during season. Hermanus is not just about whale watching though - this bohemian town has a vibrant ambience, museums, art galleries, markets and great restaurants.
Then you will spend 3 nights in Cape Town, where you'll fall in love with the laid back atmosphere and natural beauty of the city. You will stay at the Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel - which is authentic Cape Town at its loveliest, boasting beauty, sophisticated charm, and quirky personality in equal measure. Each of the rooms has been individually decorated, marrying a touch of yesteryear with contemporary chic and bohemian influence.
It is now time to step aboard the magnificent Blue Train for a 2 night rail journey up to Pretoria. This train journey is for discerning travellers who want to be enveloped in 5* service, beautiful surroundings of rich mahogany and marble fittings, and see the African landscape from a unique perspective. Guests indulge in fine cuisine with personal butlers at their beck-and-call. The Blue Train is not just a mode of transport - it is an all-inclusive luxury rail experience.
On arrival in Pretoria, you will be whisked away to a Tuscan styled residence which overlooks the city. One of the nicest times to experience Pretoria is in October, when thousands of jacaranda trees burst into bloom, and the city is enveloped in a mauve haze - which has led to the city’s nickname – Jacaranda City.
This afternoon, you will enjoy a guided tour of the city. The Union Buildings, built in 1913 and designed by architect Sir Herbert Baker, are the official seat of power and this is where all new presidents are sworn into office. The Voortrekker Monument is one of the most popular cultural attractions in the country, and this impressive granite structure commemorates the pioneers who bought their culture to the interior of Southern Africa.
The following morning, you will be collected and transferred by road to the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, nestled against the border with Botswana, where you'll stay in a luxury lodge overlooking the wildlife-filled plains for 4 nights. The reserve is roamed by all of the Big Five and countless other mammals. Look up and you will see hundreds of resident and migrant birds gracing its skies. Coupled with the reserve being malaria-free, this all makes for a special place to explore.
While the luxury of staying here at Madikwe Safari Lodge lies in having direct access to some of South Africa’s best Big Five safari experiences, it is also the pleasure of coming back to thoughtful comforts, warm hospitality, and excellent meals after several hours in the bush that truly defines your total experience here.
Finally, you will be transferred back to Johannesburg Airport by road where you will check in for your flight home.
Arrive into Cape Town Airport. Once you have collected your luggage, make your way into the Arrivals Hall where your driver will meet you. You will then be transferred to Franschhoek.
Franschhoek is nestled at the bottom of a valley, surrounded by rolling mountains, and is arguably one of the prettiest villages in South Africa. There are over 20 wine estates in the region and one suggestion during your stay here is to take a hop-on/hop-off tour on the Franschhoek Wine Tram - a totally unique and leisurely way to see the Franschhoek Valley as you trundle in an open-side tram bus through vineyards and stunning scenery, stopping at wine estates along the way.
Your hire car will be delivered to the guest house at 09:00. Complete the necessary paperwork - you will need to present your driving licence, passport and credit card. The keys to your hire car will then be handed over to you. You can then set off on the drive to Hermanus - about 100 km, so allow about 80 minutes.
5 Day Car Rental: Group E: Toyoto Corolla Auto or similar - Automatic Transmission (on Super Cover)
Located on the south coast and within a 2 hour drive of Cape Town, Hermanus is amongst the world's leading destinations for both land-based and boat-based whale watching. From June to November each year, whales can be seen as close as 20m from the shore and can come right up to the side of the whale watching boats. If you don't have sea legs, good whale watching vantage points from dry land are from the Old Harbour wall, or from the 12 km cliff path.
Drive to Cape Town (approx 120 km / 1 h 30 mins). Cape Town has been voted as the best place in the world to visit by the prestigious New York Times. Ride the revolving cable car to the top of Table Mountain; shop at the V&A Waterfront, one of Africa's premier shopping destinations; or delve into South Africa's past at Robben Island, the prison that once held one of the world's greatest heroes, Nelson Mandela.
High Tea is served at 16:30 in the Lounge Car. You will then have time to relax before dinner. There are 2 sittings - the first is between 18:30 and 20:00; and the second is from 20:15 until 22:00. Dinner is an elegant affair - gentlemen are requested to at least wear a jacket/waistcoat. After dinner, you can enjoy post-dinner drinks in the Club Car before retiring to bed.
Breakfast is served between 06:00 and 09:00. Lunch is then served, again in 2 sittings - the first between 11:30 and 13:00; the second between 13:15 and 14:30. At 14:00, the train arrives into Kimberley Station, and guests can disembark here and taken by bus to the Kimberley Open Mine Museum for a tour of the mine (famous for being where the first ever diamonds in the country were discovered) and to the edge of the Big Hole - considered to be one of the deepest cavities excavated by man with a depth of 200 m2. One of the most interesting facts about the Big Hole in Kimberley is that after the mining operations were finally over, the Big Hole become the most visited tourist attraction in Kimberley. Guests are then taken back to the train, which departs Kimberley Station at 18:30. Dinner is then served in 2 sittings again.
Breakfast is served between 06:00 and 09:00. The train pulls into Pretoria's Rail Station at 10:30.
You will be met and transferred to Castello di Monte.
At Castello di Monte it is easy to believe that you had found paradise. The Tuscan style estate portrays pure luxury and elegance and offers spectacular views of the hills in and around the capital city. The landscaped gardens with mature olive trees and lavender bushes give an Italian flavour to the African landscape. You will hardly notice that you are in the middle of a bustling city.
You will be collected at around 14:00 for an afternoon guided tour of Pretoria City. Pretoria is informally known as the 'Jacaranda City', for its beautiful purple lined streets when the jacaranda trees are in full bloom. Take this opportunity to stand in front of the heart of the country overlooking a city built on passion and determination, where buildings are architecturally significant and a nation congregates around statues of past leaders. Highlights include Paul Kruger House, Church Square, Voortrekker Monument, Union Buildings and City Hall.
You will be collected and transferred to the Madikwe Game Reserve - the drive is about 4.5 hours.
The malaria-free Madikwe Private Game Reserve covers some 75,000 hectares and is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. The Big 5 is represented in the Park and you are likely to spot a lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo during your stay. During your visit you may also have the rare privilege of seeing the highly endangered African Wild Dog. The Park is home to over 66 species of large mammals and roughly 340 bird species.
You stay at the 5* Madikwe Safari Lodge. Game drives head out early morning at sunrise, and late afternoon just before sunset in search of the many animal species which call this place home. No more than 8 people at a time share in a private and intensely personal safari experience in the company of their Madikwe Safari Lodge guide.
After you return from your morning game drive, you will have time to enjoy breakfast before you need to depart for the drive back to Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport, arriving in time to check in for your flight.