South Africa walking holiday

“Camping, walking and wildlife watching in the national parks, mountain ranges and protected waterways of South Africa and Swaziland.”


Mpumalanga | Pilgrims Rest | God’s Window | Mac Mac Pools | Blyde River Canyon | Kruger National Park | Kingdom of Swaziland | Malalotja Nature Reserve | Zululand | Hluhluwe Game Reserve | False Bay | Drakensberg Mountains | Witsieshoek | KwaZulul Natal | Tugela Falls |

Description of South Africa walking holiday

This two week South Africa walking safari enables travellers to explore a wide variety of quintessential South African landscapes as well as experiencing several unique cultural encounters with time spent within Swaziland absolutely no exception.

As you'd hope from walking safaris South Africa, this is an active couple of weeks with a solid itinerary of day walks to put travellers through their paces as they get to experience as much of the wildlife and classic highlights as possible.

From Pilgrims Rest and South Africa's first UNESCO site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, to the battlefields at Dundee and the awesome Drakensberg Mountain range, this walking safari is the perfect introduction to the natural and cultural world of one of Africa's best-loved countries.

Accommodation throughout the entirety of this two week South Africa walking safari takes place in small boutique lodges with en-suite facilities.

Travellers will find 13 breakfasts, 14 lunches and nine evening meals included as part of the overall price, approximately half of which will be provided within the lodge accommodation and the rest will be prepared at the transport vehicle, and served around the campfire or at the boma dining area by the guide team.

Specially-designed safari vehicles are used for just over two thirds of the tour with 12, forward-facing, seats, opening front hatches and panoramic sliding windows allowing for the optimum in traveller comfort and game viewing potential. For approximately 40% of this South Africa walking safari an air-conditioned, 12-seater Mercedes minibus and trailer will be used.

Travellers are reminded that the more they put in, the more they'll get out with minimal participation in tasks, such as: loading the trucks, washing up and transferring personal luggage to rooms and carrying day packs and water, all assisting in the smooth transition from one location to the next as well as adding to the general enjoyment and well-being of the whole party.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:An early morning tour briefing in Johannesburg signals the start of your South Africa walking safari as you transfer overland to Mpumalanga via Pilgrims Rest mining town and the extensive views from God's Window. A brief afternoon walk to the Mac Mac Pools is followed by settling into chalet accommodation which is situated close to the edge of the Blyde River Canyon escarpment. (Chalet accommodation with lunch and evening meal included.)
Day 2-3:Today you'll head to a private game reserve in the Lowveld region after a wonderful walk this morning around the rim of the Blyde River Canyon which presents some fabulous scenes over the Three Sisters and the River Blyde far down below. After settling into your tented lodge accommodation you'll be invited on an afternoon of wildlife watching which, in turn, continues into a nocturnal game drive by spotlight. The following morning's guided walk with a local ranger is usually a good topic of conversation around the campfire as you'll find yourself tracking animals on foot within classic South African bush landscapes. (Private tented lodge accommodation, all meals included.)
Day 4:Today your South Africa safari walks come to the fore with Kruger National Park supplying the habitat for leopards, lions and elephants as you experience a guided game drive south and find out more about the local ecology and where to spot animals before they appear out of the bush. (Overnight chalet accommodation with all meals included.)
Day 5-6:For the next couple of days your South Africa safari takes you across the border and into Swaziland where you'll head into the mountainous landscapes of Malalotja Nature Reserve via rolling hillsides covered in fruit orchards and agricultural fields. A full day's walking itinerary within the Malalotja Nature Reserve is a real treat as you'll get to experience the craftware and medicinal markets of the indigenous Swazi people before spending two nights on the park's perimeters in chalet accommodation. (All meals included.)
Day 7-8:At the beginning of Day Seven you'll pass through the capital city of Swaziland, Mbabane, before crossing the border back into South Africa and the heartland of the Zulu nation. A morning's game drive within the Hluhluwe Game Reserve conjures up no end of bird life and the occasional rhino with an afternoon's two hour walk around the False Bay estuary ensuring the importance of this wetland area is never in question. As iSimangaliso Wetland Park is such an integral part of South Africa's natural legacy our two days here are well spent with a remarkable mix of lakes, coast and wildlife-filled forests adding to the enjoyment of getting outdoors and active on a South Africa walking safari. (Lodge accommodation for the next two nights with two breakfasts, two lunches and one evening meal included.)
Day 9-10:On Day Nine we'll leave the St. Lucia coast and head west to the battlegrounds of Dundee which can be found amongst the hillsides and verdant valleys of the Zululand. Listen out for the echoes of the Boers, the Zulus and the British troops before paying your respects at the Islandlwana battlefield and finding out more at the informative Tulana Museum. A free afternoon to explore or relax before the next morning's five hour hike is well in order with lodge accommodation providing a comfortable means of getting a good night's rest prior to continuing your journey west and into the Drakensberg Mountains. (Breakfasts and lunches included at the lodge.)
Day 11-12:As promised, for the next three days you'll be walking the trails of the Drakensberg Mountain range with the Barrier of Spears, fresh water streams and a full day in Royal Natal National Park adding to the benefits of clear and crisp mountain air and awesome valley views. For the first night you'll find your base at the 'berg' at over 5000 feet above sea level before descending to lodge level for your second night's stay in the Drakensberg. (All meals included.)
Day 13:On the third day in the mountains you'll set off on foot to the base of Sentinel Peak before walking over a gravel track and climbing up a chain ladder to the stunning Tugela Waterfall at the summit of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre. Views over the KwaZulu-Natal at well over 7000 feet are simply staggering with this evening's mountain lodge accommodation providing the perfect perch from where to look out over the magnificent Mont-Aux-Sources Mountains. (Mountain lodge accommodation with breakfast and lunch included during the day.)
Day 14Your South Africa walking safari completes today as you peer up at vultures wheeling overhead and make a leisurely descent down the mountainside before transferring back to Johannesburg for a 5pm finish. (Breakfast and lunch included.)

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700


Check dates, prices & availability

22 Sep 2018
€ 1990
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06 Oct 2018
€ 1990
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20 Oct 2018
€ 1990
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03 Nov 2018
€ 1990
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24 Nov 2018
€ 1990
excluding flights
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15 Dec 2018
€ 1990
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'Free from' food:
We can cater for Vegans, Vegetarians, gluten free and celiac. We will just need to know this ahead of time when the bookings are being made.
With experience of personally guiding tours through a large number of African countries, and having previously led groups including LGBT travellers through those countries, I have not experienced any issues in accommodations or during the trip as a whole to date. The important thing is to know the local laws and gain an understanding of local points of view before you travel – we can advise you on these and the UK Foreign office FCO also has lots of country-specific information on local laws and customs. If a country is on the conservative side, generally being careful not to openly show affection in public for example is enough to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. All our guides are welcoming of LGBT travellers and will be happy to give advice on the trip when/where needed.
Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: South Africa walking holiday

Message from co-Founder of this Tour Operator. My name is Bruce and I am a founder of this tour operation. I believe that the old conservation tactic of the setting aside areas of "exclusion" for conservation are outdated.

The reality is that in order for effective, sustainable conservation to take place, there needs to be an interest from the society of that country, conscious effort from government and local "buy in" from the local communities. Sadly the world is in a place where economic benefit is the overriding driving force of action and as such conservation is directly linked to economic benefit. Sustainable tourism is therefore absolutely essential for conservation to be effective. Not only for local communities to see value in conservation, but for countries as a whole to place value in protecting their natural heritage.

I believe there is a deep and instinctual link between our humanity and our natural environment. Inherently we all want to know that the wild places are still out there. And Eco-tourism gives us that opportunity, as we so often hear, to "rebalance" or "rejuvenate".

The various promises and commitments detailed below are only a representation of what it is that we do. I sincerely hope that our tours offer our clients an opportunity to experience the wonders of the African continent, and in some small way through focusing itineraries around wildlife and national parks, we contribute to environmental conservation both economically and spiritually.

If you join one of our trips, and have practical feasible suggestions about our responsible travel practices, please contact us. We strive to improve our operation and if we can do more for conservation in Africa, then we're all ears!

Low impact tourism & supporting local communities:
• Small group travel: We specialise in small group travel with a maximum group size of 12 clients & minimum of 4. Small groups ensures a small impact on the destinations we visit when compared to larger groups. Smaller groups create an intimate safari experience, and mean that when we interact with local cultures and stay in environmentally sensitive areas, we do not leave a large footprint.
• Fuel consumption: By travelling in a small group your carbon foot print is approximately ½ of self drive safari. The average pick-up car hire runs on approximately 12ltr/100km with generally 2 people per vehicle and this equates to approximately 6ltr/100km pp. Our average safari truck runs on 25ltr/100km with an average of 9.5 clients per tour and this equates to 2.6Ltr/100km pp. So, by joining a small group tour, your fuel consumption is less than half of doing a self-drive 4WD or pick up trip.
• Cooking: We cook using gas as far as possible and, whenever feasible, avoiding cooking using fire or coal which depletes limited wood resources.
• Wooden carving curios: We do take clients to local curio markets to support the local communities. If they want to buy a carving, we encourage clients purchase only small wooden carvings instead of large pieces. This is in an effort to again conserve the forests around the carving markets.
• Waste: We ensure that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop, including oil traps, oil recycling, cleaning products etc).
• Entrance fees: All entrance fees for the national parks in each country are used by the local authorities to maintain the condition and infrastructure of the national parks, and run regular anti-poaching patrols. These are often supplemented by government grants. The national parks support a large number of local community members often providing housing and schooling for the staff families. For us as a tour operator, supporting the various national park boards is an essential element to each tour.
• Accommodation: On all tours wherever possible we use locally owned accommodation establishments which are involved in local responsible tourism initiatives. This provides direct benefits to local communities through employment. We avoid large hotel chains and more commercial properties but opt for simple self-catering lodge, B&B’s and tented camps for accommodation in rural areas. By doing this we create an intimate environment for group away from large scale tourism and the communities around the accommodation benefit directly through employment and this creates pride and further interest in sustainable tourism as the communities have tangible benefits from tourism. Our tours focus on out of the way destinations, and as such, our “spend” is distributed into rural areas.
• Drinking Water: Each client, drinking 5 litres per day from 1 litre plastic bottles produces 100 waste plastic bottles on a 3 week safari. On this calculation, we would pollute the environment (and waste energy resources in plastic production) with over 250,000 plastic bottles per year! So as solution, each of our vehicles has a tank of clean drinking water that is filled up along the journey. This is safe tap water. We do not provide bottle water we encourage clients to drink the local clean drinkable tap water wherever possible in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottle waste produced by the purchase of bottled drinking water.
• Water conservation: We are acutely aware that in many areas that we visit water is a scarce resource. Clients are encouraged to be conscious of water usage and not to take long showers or waste water.
• Wildlife: On all game drives, our trained and qualified guides ensure that our groups interact with wildlife in the appropriate way. Slow movements, no loud noises and to respect the animals “personal” boundaries. Our philosophy is that we are visitors in the amazing places that we visit, and we do not want our presence to impact the wildlife and environment in any negative way. We also enforce a policy of not feeding any wildlife (animals habituated to human feeding will turn aggressive in the future which often results in authorities being forced to kill that animal) and to appreciate the natural state of the areas that we visit and to leave the area in exactly the same condition that it was when we arrived.
• Local guides & communities: On each tour you will travel with two guides for the entire trip. In addition, we also employ local guides for certain activities on tour. These local initiatives help to maintain local cultures and also sustain the ideals of wildlife conservation. Tourism, goodwill and conservation all work together and we aim to maintain the delicate balance at all times! The employment of local guide adds value to our clients visit because they can gain specific local knowledge and expertise from the people who actually live permanently in the area they are visiting. These interactions also give our clients the chance to meet local people and see how tourism is benefiting Africa, piece by piece.
We use local guides at:
Botswana: Okavango Delta, Chobe NP, Ghanzi San Bushman excursion, national parks
South Africa: Mkuzi village walk, Qunu Mandela historical site, Kozi Bay
Swailand: Hlane walking
Lesotho: Malealea Lodge pony trekking guide
Malawi: Boat excursion on Lake Malawi
Mozambique: Dhow excursions
Namibia: Brandberg walk and drives (part of the Tsiseb Community Conservancy), Spizkoppe walk, Gariep River canoeing, Sossusvlei 4WD drivers,
Zambia: Lower Zambezi Canoe excursion, South Luangwa game walks and drives, Vic Falls optional activities
Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Matobos NP, Hwange NP, Victoria Falls
For more information on each of the community projects please talk to your guide or contact us.
• Local crafts and produce: At all local markets where fresh produce and crafts are sold and produced, we encourage the clients to barter (gently and in good humour) with the local people. This not only allows the clients to get involved with the local way of life, and interact directly with the local people, but also provides them a platform to experience local life first hand. Having said that, we explain to the clients by bartering too hard for a good deal might seem like a lot of money at the time, but if the amount being haggled over is converted to either US$, Euro or GBP, it amounts to very little. This is the local livelihood and we advise them to keep this in mind at all times.
• Underprivileged Children Groups: We operate a number of tours into the national parks of South Africa for underprivileged children from schools based in Johannesburg, South Africa. PEN Organisation is an independent, non-governmental and social development organisation. Its activities focus on neglected and abandoned children and orphans, as well as disadvantaged families. We try to run these tours as often as possible during the course of a year. We believe that the youth are Africa’s future and that environmental education is important. This opportunity allows them to see for themselves wildlife (perhaps for the first time), nature conservation at work, and also show them employment opportunities that are available in the conservation or tourism industry, and possibly encourage them to follow a career in tourism (for this reason we aim these groups at 14-18 year olds).
• Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre: We assist a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a Gymnogene, and spotted eagle owls. All birds are treated in a small makeshift clinic, and then kept in aviaries until they have recovered. Once able to fly, or care for themselves again, they are moved to a 'flight' aviary, for a period until they have regained strength. They are then released back into the wild. Those birds which are unable to be released are kept in large aviaries and fed through various donations. We assist the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint and other items on their wish list.

1 Reviews of South Africa walking holiday

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 13 Aug 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Has to be Kruger National Park game drives but every day offered something exciting.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be aware that if you are British you may be the only English first language speaker as this company don't seem to sell many holidays to the UK - don't know why as they are great.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes but it wasn't a main theme

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent value, great fun,exciting

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Hilary

Thank you so much for our review and positive comments. Thank you again for also sending us a review directly. It is greatly appreciated.
I agree that every day offers something new and a different highlight. Kruger is a truly wonderful game reserve and is world renown for a reason. I hope you saw some great game and if you have any photos from your tour that you would like to share, we would be thrilled to receive them.

I understand that it is sometimes difficult when there are clients of all nationalities and sometimes tours end up with many English speaking clients and sometimes, like on your tour, you were the only first language English speaker. I don’t believe this detracted too much from your experience as you have such wonderful feedback.

With regards to question 3 I wanted to clarify that we try and use National and Provincial parks as much as possible, as well as community projects. We use the recycling of the properties we use rather than in the vehicle where there is limited space. Most properties separate the rubbish rather than have multiple bins. So while you may not be aware of all of the conservation efforts, it is a focus for us in our decision making, itinerary planning and choice of properties.

Once again, thank you so much for your review and the time taken to not only review on Responsible Travel but to email us directly. We hope that you will choose to travel with us again in the future.

Kind regards
Jayne Harley
Marketing Manager

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