Tours - Kruger & Beyond
We offer a number of shorter excursions into the Kruger National Park. The details for those on on our main tours page. Here is more information about our longer 5 day and 10 day tours, reaching further across the country. Prices may fluctuate seasonally, so please enquire for a current quote.
NOTE!Please note that if you book one of these tours, it kicks off a lot of effort and up-front cost. Please read the detailed terms and conditions below.
Five Day Golden Adventure Tour
Our Best Value Tour!
5/6 Day & Night Blyde, Timbavati & Kruger Adventure Tour
Terms & Conditions - Payment:
The tour price for 5 days 6 nights (flexible) tour is R4500pp (about US$345pp as at 07/2015). I require a deposit to cover the prepaid Kruger bookings, the Game drives and the accommodation, which because of previous experience, I refuse to pay out of my own pocket. It is your tour, you pay. I will provide you with a figure which you must then pay online, via our website. The balance is due upon your arrival, or the next morning. This can be in cash or online, and you are responsible for all bank charges.
Terms & Conditions - Food!
- 1) I pack a cool bag with water and orange juice every day and this is free! Any other drinks you pay as we go. You can buy the driver a beer at each stop!
- 2) For lunches, I stop on the road at a take away so you can get what you feel like.
- 3) Our budget for breakfast and supper is (R30 + R70 =) R100pp per day. If we eat at a restaurant I pay the first R70 pp + my food. You settle the difference! This better that me saying you may only choose between dishes #4 & #7.
Terms & Conditions - Accommodation:
- 1) Every person gets a basic en-suite bed. The young people in the bushtents, the older people the Rondawels.
- 2) The Rondawels have a Queensize and a 3/4 bed. There is no space
for another bed. It is possible for one kid to sleep on the couch. A
sleeping bag is best if you have one. For the 3 persons bedding and
towels are included.
Normally I give the rondawel for the parents and a bushtent for the kids. More cautious parents often prefer to keep the kids with them, especially when they hear the leopard and hyenas outside!
- 3) The night in the Kruger Park is in 2, 3 4 or 5 bed budget huts. En-suite / luxury huts available at extra cost. (R400 – R600pp)
Terms & Conditions - Travelling:
In the Kruger we stop at every possible place to stretch legs and for toilet stops (and smokers to feed their lungs). On the open road, within reason, please keep the kids quiet. Our roads are dangerous, and distractions can be fatal.
NB - Smoking:
No smoking is allowed by law in any public building or on any public transport in South Africa. This is enforceable by one phone call to the Police. You can upgrade your room to a cell at no extra charge and no refund!
There are bus companies that travel to Hoedspruit and Acornhoek, which cost ± R260pp one way. They take all day, and start from the railway station! Then there are shuttle busses. Ashtons leaves every morning at 7am to and from the airport and Hoedspruit, cost is ± R750pp one way.
A transfer (Johannesburg) to Hoedspruit costs more than our 5 day tour! It is 1000km at R3.50/km for a car or R5.50/km for a minibus.
All entrance fees, and one Big 5 game drive are included in the tour. Only the "Daily Corruption Fee" in the Kruger Park is not included. This fee varies from free to R60pp or even R260pp. This fee is entirely your responsibility and must be paid at the Kruger's park camp when we book in. They do accept credit cards.
Summary of the Itinerary:
- Day 0
Arrive in the afternoon. We meet you at the airport and drive back to Amanzimlotzi. We do free pickups from Hoedspruit, Acornhoek or Klaserie.
We hope to see some animals on the road here! After booking in we go for a walk down to the river. Sit outside and relax till the BBQ starts.
Tonight we might throw a few Kudu or Impala steaks on the fire, eat it with my special sauce and of course pap!
- Day 1
After breakfast we visit Maholoholo wildlife rehab centre. After that we drive to the Blyde Dam, and go on a short hike to the waterfall. You can swim in the pools or even jump down if you dare. We have lunch at any one of several nice places in the area.
We return to the bush-camp. Tonight potluck cooked by my wife!
- Day 2
We drive to a ranch where we spend a few hours walking among the wild animals. This ranch specializes in the rare animals you hardly ever see in the Kruger Park.
We return to the lodge for lunch and to get ready for the big big event, the highlight of the tour! ...
The Big 5 game drive in a R48,000 per day private ranch. We return to the lodge for food and sleep.
- Day 3
Today we do the 8 hour long Blyde River Canyon tour and jump 10 meters down the waterfall if you dare. We visit the best swimming and diving pool along any river in SA! You will hear the story of Maholoholo. We also try the world-famous Harrie's pancakes!!
Tonight we hit the food-pots and beds dead tired.
- Optional extras: for Day 4 .. R500pp
Today we visit a traditional Pedi village. We experience how an African woman gets through her day. We have a late lunch at an African street Chicken BBQ. * details
- Optional evening excursion .. R190pp
Tonight you may go to another ranch where we first hear animal stories in the boma around the fire, and then enjoy a two course traditional meal in the restaurant, finishing the evening with a bush walk in the dark.
I am the only nutcase who loves walking between predators in the dark. (Other people do skydiving or rock-climbing, I used to fly hanggliders) We return to the bush camp.
- Day 4/5
Long before dawn, we are up and packing the bus! At sunrise we enter the Kruger. We do game drives as the sightings lead us. Breakfast in Satara Camp. Lunch at Tshokwane Bush camp. We sleep where I find and book place. Tonight we braai and cook on a fire.
- Day 5/6
We do more game drives and leave the Kruger in the afternoon, depending on your further transport arrangements. I may put you on a taxi from Hazyview to Nelspruit where you spend the night before getting on the bus the next day, or we just return to our bush camp at 6pm.
This tour can be done at a relaxed pace in 6 days, or more rushed, high-intensity in 5 days! It is even possible to SQUEEZE it into 4 days, for a slightly lower price.
NOTE: no two days in Kruger are the same! One day, you are astounded, and the next day bored. You might find a spectacular sighting around any corner, or you can drive for 60km without seeing one Impala!
* details: A day in an African Village
We have to play the role of an African Woman and do all the chores of the day. We fetch water and carry the 20 litre GogGog on our heads.
The local kids who arrive in droves laugh themselves silly at how useless European woman are!
They then carry the water for you - as 10 year old kids are far better than European adults!
Then we fetch firewood, then collect edible leaves, and then make Maize Meal from corn on the cob.
Another big comedy for the kids! You have to learn the milling song which teaches you the rhythm to stamp the maize.
Then we make fire to cook Pap and Morogo (like spinach) for the older kids who will arrive from school soon.
After the meal, the huge set of drums are brought out and the lady who is a spiritual medium will dance till she falls down into a trance and becomes a gateway for any villagers who have to consult with their forefathers.
Then it is a big free-for-all African dance for everyone, getting dressed up in traditional beads and skins for photos for those at home.
Ten Day Golden Package Tour
Our Biggest Adventure Tour!
The 10 Day Golden Package has been designed and perfected over a decade to cater for people, not old enough, not confident enough, or who listened to too many scary stories of South Africa, to self-drive through South Africa!
That said, this tour is an intensive 3000km journey, so we understand if you don't feel like driving such a crazy distance and prefer me to do the driving. Even so, you will get very tired... so I have added a day or two of rest in between. So now it is a 12 day tour at a slightly more relaxed pace. You will thank me for this later.
As with the 5/6 tour above, certain reasonable Terms & Conditions apply. Please contact us to work out the details. We cannot start making bookings unless we have your deposit. This ensures your holiday is a memorable and pleasant experience.
In a Nutshell
I meet you at the Johannesburg airport, and take you through Mpumalanga and the Blyde River/Motlatse Canyon, Pilgrim's Rest and, if time allows, Sabie. The we go on through Limpopo, the Timbavati - made famous by the white lions - and the Kruger Park, onward through Swaziland and Zululand to the curry pots and Chaka Marine World in Durban. The tour ends at Durban Airport.
Note: for Swaziland (and optional Lesotho) you will need additional visas - check your passport requirements.
Optional extras: Drakensberg or Sodwana for scuba diving.
When I see you off for your flight out of Durban, having taught you survival skills for the modern South African jungle, you will be confident enought to hire a car in Port Elizabeth and drive on your own down the beautiful Garden Route to Cape Town, from where most people then fly back home.
The beauty of going with a small tour operator is that the owner is also your guide and driver. One of the best compliments I received was: "I have been on many guided tours in my life, and this is the first tour I have even been on, where every item on the adverts were given to us!"
PLEASE NOTE - your guide, Andre, may change the itinerary at a moment's notice.
For example - On one tour, the weather was changing, and we adapted the activities to match the 7-day weather forecast... Everything worked out very well, until the the day we had picked as the 'best weather' for the Blyde River Canyon. Yes, it was nice and sunny below, but heavy fog up on top! Two of the three tourists on this tour were history majors. God's Window (the amazing viewpoint) was closed! So I took them to the Natural Bridge, explaining how the fortune seekers of the 1870's and the wagons later crossed the river using the natural bridge! I then turned down the mountain road into Pilgrim's Rest, the historical museum town. We did a full day history tour, covering the Gold Rush, the Diamond Rush, the (in)famous robberies, the fever, Delagoa Bay, .. right up to the formation of the Kruger Park. When we drove back up the mountain, we passed by God's Window - where other tourists were still waiting in vain for God to open the curtains!!
The (detailed) Itinerary - Day by Day
- Day 1
Arrive at Johannesburg International Airport.
Transfer by mini-bus to the Timbavati (450km). If you arrive in the afternoon, we rather sleep in the city. On the way we see (time permitting): Pretoria with the Voortrekker Monument and the Union Building (Mandela's ex office.) We drive through the highest part of SA, Dullstroom, where we eat our first lunch (pancakes). We travel through majestic mountains and forests (largest man made in world) to arrive at Amanzimlotzi Riverside Bush Camp where a meal and, above all, a bed awaits our weary bones to sleep off the jetlag or long journey. Hope the call of the jackal, the hyenas or the roar of lions do not keep you awake! (mainly the tent dwellers!)
You might want to watch the DVD 'Jock of the Bushveld' in preparation of your visit to Pilgrims Rest later. (Please read the book by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick)
- Day 2
Since we we drove most of the previous day after a long flight, we have a late start, and a hearty brunch. Then we take a leisurely game drive/ walk on a ranch which specializes in the rare animals you seldom see in the Kruger Park. We spend 3 hours to see our first wild animals. When we see Giraffes, we get out and try to get some photos of ourselves with them. Sometimes we are lucky and get as close as 5 meters from them. We return to the ranch for a relaxing afternoon walk in the bush and along the river. If the weather is good, the kids may jump into the river and swing on the ropes over the river. That night we have our first South African braai. That means we throw marinated Impala* or Kudu* chops on the fire, eating them with Pap, Sheba and salads. (* - available only when in season)
Tonight we pack an overnight bag.
- Day 3
Now that we have relaxed, we start the real trip with a visit to the panoramic route. We drive to Sabie, a forestry town below the great escarpment. We visit four waterfalls. At the Horseshoe Falls, there used to be fabulous trout fishing. New owners took over, and if conditions are favourable, we catch & fry fresh trout in garlic butter served on a bed of rice right next to the dam! This is a 5 star dish! We might also go to the Mac Mac pools, for a swim and or a long hike in the fresh mountain air! Nearer, there is also the Loerie trail at the waterfalls.
Tonight we spend the night in Sabie backpackers (or the Sabie Valley Hotel, depending on your budget.) Their waterhole has a (heated) swimming pool where cold beers & warm meals are served. Accommodation in dorms or double rooms. (ensuite optional extra)
- Day 4
After breakfast we drive to Pilgrims Rest where the goldrush of 1872 led to fortunes and lonely graves. We look around town and the Royal Hotel, (A church that became a diggers haven) and hear of the mine that yielded 200 tonnes of gold, a 1000 times richer than the average.
We visit the grave yard, and hear one of the crazy stories about this area!
We drive to Graskop and the Blyde River Canyon. Here we see the most beautifull views in the world, hike along the escarpment with a drop of 1km, swim in crystal clear streams, jump down a waterfall (if you dare), and visit the potholes. We have lunch at the world-famous Harrie's pancakes. We see the Lisbon and Berlin falls, God's Window & Pinnacle Rock, Lowveld Viewpoint the most famous Three Rondavels before driving back home via the Strijdom tunnel and the Elephant's River Valley. Tonight we sleep back in our own beds where you may watch the video 'The Gods must be Crazy'.
Optional for crazy youngsters - The Big Swing. Bungy jump with a difference! 65 Meter freefall! Cost is about R300pp.
- Day 5
We visit the Maholoholo Wildlife rehab center, where you will encounter lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dogs, caracal, serval cats, and all the vultures and eagles of South Africa. I like to take you here, as I never had a guest that did not love it, and if we do not find one animal in the wild, then you have seen them all here!
After this, we drive to the Blydepoort Dam which we saw the prevous day from the top. We do a 45 minute hike to a waterfall, where you may cool off. We then have a lunch at a spot known for their bottomless coffees.
In the afternoon comes the highlight of the tour, a Big 5 game drive on the the most famous of SA game ranches. It is for the rich and famous, and officially rated under the top 50 hotels/resorts in the world. One night here, will cost you 7 times more than our whole 10 day tour!
Tonight, we greet our own rooms and family, and pack all our things.
- Day 6
Before dawn, we are up and packing the bus! When the gates open, we enter the government part of Kruger Park. We spend the whole day doing game drives to try to see as much of the 147 mammal, 507 bird, 114 reptile and 336 tree species as possible.
We have breakfast and lunch at a bushcamp, and overnight at Lower Sabie camp, or wherever we got accommodation. We sleep in 3-5 bed huts, with shared ablutions. The Kruger is not cheap, but everything is very good and clean!
We cook our meal over the fire. A big steak and bushburgers.
Optional - Luxury en-suite and or riverside chalets for the non-budget tourists, who may choose to eat the buffet in the restaurant.
- Day 7
Today we head South through lion country, eat in another bushcamp where anything can and does happen, (watch your food!!) and exit the Kruger at the Malane Gate.
We drive to Swaziland and enter at the Jeppe's Reef bordergate.
We drive over huge mountain ranges, and past the capital city, Mbabane, down the mountain to the valley of the king. Next to the King's western palaces we book into the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
We stay in traditional Swazi huts. These are a real treat! For the non budget customers, there are ensuite huts.
Here we splash out! We eat in luxury style at the restaurant. It is built on poles, partially over the pool filled with hippos, crocks, turtles, and a variety of large fish. We entertain ourselves, trying to feed the slow turtles pieces of bread, while the fast and furious catfish get 95% of your tries! Do not fall in, or you might become the meal.
After the meal, the staff gather around the campfire for a show of traditional Swazi dancing and singing. Of course they come around with an empty tin afterwards, but you did not pay an admission fee, so please give freely!
Swaziland is one of the poorest countries, and the kids are standing along the streets shouting..... "swweeeeeeetttsss! So, come prepared, and do not think of their teeth! Sadly, many of them will probably not live long enough for that to become a problem!
- Day 8 ...FREE DAY. Today, I rest!
You may relax at the Mlilwane Nature reserve, doing hikes, horse riding or mountain biking. You may swim in the luke-warm pool if the resident crocodile does not get there first! You may climb up the mountain to see real Bushman paintings (10,000 yrs old they say) and the execution rock, where the warrior's courage was tested!
Today, everything you do is out of your own pocket, including food. Only your bed is paid for.
- Day 9
After Breakfast, I drive you to the largest crafts market in Africa. I have never yet managed to walk right through from one end to the other! We also stop at the Lobamba market, for fresh fruit and veggies.
In Manzini, we stop at Kentucky or their equivalent for a take-away lunch. This we eat somehere on the roadside.
We exit Swaziland and drive along the N2 Highway towards Durban. Our first stop is at Hluhluwe, where we spend the night at Isinkwe bush camp. There are a variety of huts available. From a Zulu hut with dorm mattresses on the ground, to twin-bed huts.
We bought lots of fresh fruit and veg along the way - because their restaurant is too expensive for a medium-sized meal. So we prepare our own food in the kitchen and on the fire.
For the non-budget folks, they have an en-suite tree house with two bedrooms. And you can go for the set meal served by the restaurant.
There are a couple of bush babies living near the dining room, pool, kitchen and bar area. At sunset they come out and you may get a photo if you are prepared!
- Day 10
Up early to make a quick breakfast. At 7h50, we leave for Dumazulu. This is by far the best Zulu cultural show and dancing in South Africa.
At 11am, we depart for St Lucia, the famous estuary where half of SA's crocodiles are supposed to live. We buy fresh pineapples (ananas), bananas and papayas from stalls on the way. We mix them up with a litre of Yogurt, and have a feast on the jetty, while we wait for our boat.
At noon, we depart for a two hour cruise on the lake to see waterbirds, hippos and crocodiles.
Then at 2pm, we hit the long black snake (road) to Durban.
At around 6pm, we arrive at the famous beachfront. From now on, I eat nothing but Real Durban Indian curry untill I go back. We start at the Beach Hotel and wander around the Esplanade. At about 20h30, we make our way to our lodgings. The best place closed down, as the owner married one of his customers and then emmigrated!
For budget, we might stay at Banana Beach Backpackers, or even at a block of holiday flats for larger groups. There are lovely holiday flats on the beach for the non-budget travelers.
- Day 11
We might start the day by running straight into the sea from our beachfront flat. We have curry for breakfast.
We drive (or walk) to Chaka Marine world. Here I pay for you the basic entrance fee, which allows you to partake in most of the rides and activities for the whole day. There are some things like diving with the large fish and sharks that you have to pay extra for. There are plenty of restaurants there, including one under water in a sunken trawler, with fish swimming around you. You may eat curry for lunch at any of them.
That night is our farewell and last night night together. I treat you to a lovely restaurant dinner in the sunken trawler. (Curry of course!)
We retire to our flat and you may spend a romantic time on the beach in the moonlight.
- Day 12
This morning, we finish whatever is left in the food kitty, before I drive you to Durban airport. Tour Ends.
Optional - Day 9 Scuba Diving at Sodwana Bay.
Tour then ends on 13th day since landing in Jhb. Price on Request.
We have breakfast at Isinkwe Bush camp. Then we drive 100km north to Sodwana Bay, for the 2nd or 3rd best scuba diving in the world. (And the possibly the cheapest!)
We enter as day visitors. We park the car, and everybody has to look after their own things!
There is lovely and exciting snorkling from the beach. Visibility is amazing! All over the beach, there are diving operators waiting to give you the best deal on 2, 5 or 7 mile reefs.
At lunch, I drive you up to town where you get yourself something to eat. Spend the rest of the day tanning, swimming, snorkling, or diving. (Check those decompression tables. Your flight is only 2½ days away!)
At 4pm we return to Isinkwe where we eat out tonight. (Too tired to cook)
Optional - Day 11 & 12 Ascend the Drakensberg
and spend a night in Lesotho.
Tour then would end on 14th day since landing in Jhb. Price on Request.
After sleeping in Durban, we turn inland and travel to Underberg. Here we torture ourselves. It is like a bungy jump! It is crazy, but you have to do it at least once! I personally thought that it was one of the highlights of my life, and I would like to do it to (with) my family just once! You will enter into Lesotho, so take your passport!
We put ourselves in the hands or the 4x4 experts and drive or struggle up the monntain to the highest pub in Africa. Most South Africans have never seen snow! Here, in Lesotho, the huts are often covered in snow!
We enjoy supper, overnight there and come down the next morning after which we drive back to Durban.
Detour Finished. We carry on with the original tour now from Day 10 at Chaka Marine world, and you can fly out the next day. I return to the Timbavati.