You begin with a few days in the spectacular mountain landscape of the Drakensberg, before continuing to the Buffalo River Gorge, site of the historic Anglo-Zulu war battlefields of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana. You then travel north-east to the Phinda Private Game Reserve where seven distinct habitats shelter a breath-taking variety of wildlife, including Africa’s Big Five and over 380 bird species. Finally, a few days are spent relaxing at a secluded beach retreat along the lush Maputuland coast, the perfect conclusion to this absorbing journey.
London – Johannesburg – Durban
Take an overnight flight to Johannesburg, landing early the following morning. Then fly to Durban, where you will collect your hire car and make the short drive to your hotel.
Stay: One night in a classic sea-facing room at The Oyster Box
Today your self-drive adventure kicks off as you make the 2.5-hour journey to the Natal Midlands. With the legendary Drakensberg Mountains as a backdrop, the area of is one of unforgettable natural beauty; a canvas of green and brown coloured mountains, sparkling lakes, sweeping valleys and clear, blue skies.
Nicknamed the “Barrier of Spears” thanks to its impenetrability, the World Heritage Drakensberg is easily the most impressive mountain range in South Africa. It’s divided into northern, southern and central regions – each of which boasts its own unique rock formations. Soak up its startling beauty by horse-riding along mountain tracks, or venture to ancient mountain caves to wonder at the intriguing San Rock Art painted on the walls. You can also take a 4×4 up to the notorious Sani Pass – otherwise known as the Roof of Africa.
Stay: Two nights in a luxury suite at Cleopatra’s Mountain Farmhouse
On the fifth day, your journey continues to the Natal Battlefields, where you will be staying at the spectacular Fugitives Drift hotel. The setting for the Zulu War of 1879, this region is well known for the great battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.
You will enjoy riveting and informative tours of both sites led by some of the finest guides in the country, and hear moving retellings of the conflicts between the British, Zulu and Boer. Walks and horse rides through the reserve to encounter the abundant game and birdlife are also on offer.
Stay: Three nights in a standard room at Fugitives Drift
Phinda Private Game Reserve
Today you will self-drive yourselves to Phinda Game Reserve. With no less than seven different ecosystems – woodland, grassland, wetland and more – you can expect to find an abundance of interesting wildlife including the Big Five, the elusive cheetah and even the scarce black rhino. The marine diversity of nearby Sodwana is equally impressive.
At Phinda you will be spoilt for choice with the wide range of activities on offer. In addition to twice-daily game drives, nature walks and bird watching, you can choose to go snorkelling, scuba diving and deep sea fishing. For something extra special, you also have the option to take a stunning coastal flight.
Stay: Three nights in a suite at Phinda Vlei Lodge
Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve
Up next is some well-deserved relaxation at the divine Thonga Beach Lodge, less than 2 hours’ drive away from Phinda. Hidden away amongst the lush coastal dune forest of the Maputaland Coast, the lodge offers a Robison Crusoe-esque experience with its elevated thatched suites, outdoor showers and sweeping seascapes. Your time here can be spent on guided wilderness walks, canoe trips on Lake Sibiya, surfing or simply relaxing on the beach deck enjoying the salty breeze.
Stay: Three nights in an ocean view room at Thonga Beach Lodge
Johannesburg – Home
Today you will drive yourself to the airport to catch your afternoon flight back to Johannesburg. You will fly to London in the evening, and arrive early the following morning.