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Explore beautiful Kwa-Zulu Natal, renowned for its amazing scenery, fascinating history, diverse wildlife and wild, unspoilt beaches.
This adventure starts from Durban, where you will collect your rental car and drive North, towards the Natal Midlands, a beautiful area of rolling valleys, forested hillsides and charming country house style properties. A few days exploring here will allow you to get a flavour of local life and enjoy some incredible food, before continuing North in to the towering Drakensberg Mountains. From your base in the heart of a beautiful valley you will be able to relax and enjoy the stunning views that unfold wherever you look. The next stop will be the iconic Battlefields area, where you will stay in one of South Africa’s best-known lodges and hear the epic tales of the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. No-less exhilarating will be your next stop, a few days on safari in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park, a beautiful park with wonderfully varied wildlife to enjoy. The final stop will be the wild, but beautiful “Elephant Coast” a much under-visited part of the country, home to unspoilt beaches and dense forests which are perfect for exploring.
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Day 1 : Fly to Durban
This evening you will be flying from London to Durban with British Airways.
Day 2: In to the Midlands
Arriving in to Durban this morning you will collect your rental car and make the drive North, past Pietermaritzburg and up in to the beautiful Natal Midlands. Take the opportunity to visit the sculpture at the Nelson Mandela capture site before continuing on to the charming Granny Mouse Country House where you will be spending the next 3 nights. Your afternoon will be at leisure to relax after what will have been a long journey to get here.
Day 3: Exploring The Midlands
Today you can enjoy a day exploring the charming Natal Midlands, somewhat reminiscent of the Cotswolds, with green valleys and gently-rolling hillsides. There is a route known as the Midlands Meander, where you can enjoy visiting a number of local craft shops, some excellent restaurants and marvel at the stunning views that unfold in front of you around every turn. If you are looking to be a little more active there are plenty of walking trails, horse-riding stables and golf courses to enjoy.
Day 4: Some time to relax
The Midlands is a real gem of an area and is locally renowned for its excellent restaurants, although these can often be ignored by overseas visitors. You can happily spend a day relaxing at Granny Mouse, enjoy the superb food in the two restaurants, indulge in a spa treatment or simply sit back by the pool, soak up the sunshine and enjoy the views from the deck.
Day 5: To the Drakensberg
Leaving The Midlands today the landscape will change dramatically, with the gentle topography giving way to the towering, jagged peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains – known by the Zulus as “The Barrier of Spears”. This stunning part of the country is a wonderful place to spend some time, with incredible views, plenty to do, but some lovely places to relax as well. You will be spending the next 3 nights at Cathedral Peak Hotel, which boasts a wonderful location in the heart of a dramatic valley.
Day 6: Hiking in the 'Berg
From Cathedral Peak you will have access to some of the finest walking trails anywhere in South Africa. The trails range from short morning walks to full day hikes up to the highest peaks, with routes offered with or without a guide depending on your preference. This is a superb way to spend a day and it can be tailored to your requirements depending on fitness levels and how much walking you are looking to do.
Day 7: Rest and relaxation in the Drakensberg
As well as being a great area to be active, the range of facilities on offer at Cathedral Peak make is a wonderful location for some rest and relaxation as well. There is an extensive wellness centre at the hotel, a lovely lounge where you can relax and enjoy a glass of South African wine and even a golf course if you are looking to stretch your legs a little. All-in-all, this is a wonderful choice for the Drakensberg Mountains and a few days here is a hugely enjoyable experience.
Day 8: On to The Battlefields
After a final breakfast with the Drakensberg as your backdrop you will need to make your way East, through to the rolling green hills of Zululand where you will be spending the next 3 nights at Fugitive’s Drift Lodge, one of the most iconic properties in all of South Africa. Arriving in time for lunch you will have the afternoon to sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning views on offer from the lodge. Drinks are served around the fire before dinner in the beautiful dining room which houses many important pieces from the Anglo-Zulu war.
Day 9: Isandlwana
After a hearty breakfast you will set off for a guided tour of the site of the Battle of Isandlwana. Along the way you will hear the background to the battle before your guide takes you across the site, telling the tale of how the British Army suffered the heaviest loss off life at any battle during the colonial era. In-keeping with the old adage that history is written by the victors, the story will be told by one of the lodges Zulu guides. Return to the lodge for lunch and then have the afternoon to relax, perhaps taking the chance to take a drive through the nature reserve that adjoins the property.
Day 10: Rorke's Drift
You will be able to have a more leisurely start this morning, perhaps enjoying a later breakfast before a stroll down to the Fugitive’s Drift – the burial place of Lieutenants Melville and Coghill, the first men in history to be awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses. After lunch you will head off to hear the iconic tale of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. This is one of the most captivating tales of bravery you will ever hear and even all these years later it isn’t hard to imagine what it was like being here as morning dawned on the 23rd January 1879.
Day 11: Your safari awaits
This morning will see an early start as you enjoy breakfast in the lodge before setting off on the long but beautiful drive to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park where you will be spending the next 3 nights at the beautiful Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge. With a stunning view out across the park this is amongst the most beautifully located lodges in the region and the perfect spot from which to enjoy your safari. Have a delicious alfresco lunch on the terrace before heading out for an afternoon game drive through the park.
Day 12: Exploring Hluhluwe
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park is one of the most famous, and scenic parks in all of South Africa and a few days spent here will allow for some impressive wildlife viewing. All members of the Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo can be seen here – along with a great range of herbivores and over 340 species of bird. As the lodge is located within a private concession, the range of activities offered is far greater than most other lodges within the area – as well as day and night time game drives there will be the opportunity to enjoy bush walks, which will give you a real appreciation of the beauty of the area.
Day 13: A final day in the bush
As well as being a wonderful spot for safari, Rhino Ridge is an outstanding spot for some rest and relaxation in between your busy programme of game drives. The aforementioned views are a real draw and the lodge’s spa has been sited to take full advantage of the views whilst you are enjoying one of the many treatments that they offer. The food here is outstanding, with meals often enjoyed out on the deck if the weather allows.
Day 14: To the Elephant Coast
Having enjoyed a final morning game drive and breakfast at the lodge you will hit the road again, taking the road to the coast and up towards Thonga Beach Lodge where you will be spending the final 3 nights of your trip. You will leave your vehicle at a secure parking area where you will be collected and transferred through the coastal forest until you reach this stunning lodge, perched in the tree canopy with stunning views out to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Have lunch at the lodge before an afternoon relaxing by the pool or perhaps take a stroll along the beach.
Day 16: Enjoy the coast
As it lies within the protected iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Thonga offers access to some world-class snorkelling and scuba diving spots, which makes it a huge draw for fans of sub-aqua activities. For those who prefer to stay above the waves, the lodge offers boat cruises on the ocean, fishing trips and sundowner drinks drives to nearby Lake Sibaya. Anyone staying between November and February may also be lucky enough to see turtles hatching on the beach – the summer months offer a strong chance of seeing this.
Day 17: Final day in SA
Your final full day in South Africa can be spent relaxing and enjoying the glorious surroundings of Thonga. With outstanding food (especially seafood), charming staff and the feeling of peace and tranquillity that only somewhere so remote can offer, this is truly a wonderful spot to round off your trip through arguably the most beautiful part of South Africa.
Day 18: The journey home begins
After a leisurely morning at Thonga you will be reunited with your car and from there drive to the nearby Richard’s Bay airport where you will drop off the car and catch a short internal flight to Johannesburg. After a short layover you will catch an overnight service back to London Heathrow with British Airways.
Day 19: London
Early morning arrival in to London Heathrow.
Duration: 19 Days
Location: South Africa, Africa
The Kwa-Zulu Natal self-drive itinerary costs from £4,465 per person and includes:
- International and domestic flights
- Fully insured rental car for the duration of your trip
- Arrival pack including airport meet and greet as well as full driving directions
- 3 nights with Breakfast at Granny Mouse Country House - Garden Room
- 3 nights with Breakfast and Dinner at Cathedral Peak Hotel - Superior Room
- 3 nights with All Meals at Fugitive's Drift Lodge - Chalet
- 3 nights with All Meals and activities at Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge - Safari Room
- 3 nights with All Meals and activities at Thonga Beach Lodge - Forest View Room
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