Exploring South Africa’s Eastern Cape –

Culture, carved landscapes, craggy coastlines, the Karoo and the Kwandwe Rhinos all in one tour

10 Night Eastern Cape Self-Drive 

Johannesburg – (flight) – Port Elizabeth – Graaff Reinet – Samara – Kwandwe – Haga Haga


N.B. This itinerary is a guide only. You can add time and places to this and upgrade, reduce, or change travel and accommodation with us to make this a truly personal journey. Just click ‘enquire’, or simply phone us.






enquire-1TEL: 01202 030443, or click ‘enquire’

Day 1: Johannesburg

Welcome to Johannesburg! You will be met at the door of your aircraft with your name on a paging board and assisted through immigration, baggage collection and customs.

South Africa’s economic hub, the New York of Africa, bursts at the seams with a wealth of art, history and culture. Johannesburg is a fusion of chic sophistication and rustic, inner-city vibe born of Africa’s finest creative minds. Modern African art meets designer trend and the results are striking. From the inner city walking tours’ street art and graffiti, to the re-invented university suburbs, the rejuvenation exposes a vibrant urban life. Braamfontein’s Constitution Hill, art galleries and restaurants are an example of this regeneration. It is here the continent can express itself and the results are funky, a little off beat and totally captivating.



Upmarket Sandton, Rosebank and Melrose are shopping meccas, with restaurants, and activities easily located beside leafy suburbs. Soweto, once home to South Africa’s most well-loved legend, is an essential part of any visit to Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela’s house, the Hector Pieterson Museum and Regina Mundi Cathedral are part of the historical appeal of any Soweto visit, and the importance of South Africa’s turbulent past and hard won democracy is evident. With the legacy of these heroes, and the modern stadiums which stand in tribute to the importance of local sport, you are sure to see a fascinating side to South Africa.

Additional attractions include the De Wildt Cheetah Rehabilitation Centre, the gold and diamond mines on which Johannesburg was founded and Gold Reef City, the 19th century gold mine theme park. Of huge archaeological interest is The Maropeng cradle of humankind world heritage site.

Transfer to the Winston Hotel for check in.

This stylish boutique hotel, situated in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank, is an ideal base from which to explore the vibrant city of Johannesburg. Perfectly suited for the discerning traveller, a range of spacious, beautifully themed rooms offer sophisticated luxury and gracious living. Décor is an eclectic blend of modern elegance and opulent comfort. Pre-dinner cocktails, fine malts and a selection of wines and champagnes may be appreciated in the lavish bar – or perhaps paired with a cigar in the outdoor courtyard. A mouth-watering menu includes classic Mediterranean dishes, with a modern South African twist. Cool off in the 15 metre pool, catch up on some reading in the library, or unwind in one of the lounges.

• 30 luxurious suites
• Gourmet dining
• Well-stocked bar
• Sophisticated boutique hotel
• Personalised service

Overnight at The Winston Hotel, on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2: Johannesburg – Graaff Reinet


Transfer to the airport for your flight to Port Elizabeth. On arrival, collect your hire car from Avis and travel to the fascinating town of Graaff-Reinet, where you check in at the Drostdy Hotel.

Birthplace of many of the country’s big names, Mandela, Hani, Biko and Sisulu, the Eastern Cape reaches from a coastal region of pristine beaches and forests, to the arid desert landscape of the Karoo. Such varied scenery means you could be watching penguins and whales off a craggy coastline, bouncing along through a grassland reserve, and exploring the lunar landscapes of the desert – all in a matter of days. Sweeping views of barren plains stretch as far as the eye can see, and ancient rock formations jut dramatically from the earth, reaching for the heavens. Aloes and brightly coloured Xhosa houses dot the topography, a splash of colour in the stark countryside.

Step back in time when you visit the towns time forgot – Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Nieu Bethesda. Immerse yourself in the pioneering history of farms, forts, steepled churches and the South African artists and writers who have left their mark indelibly carved into this land. The University town of Grahamstown hosts the annual Arts Festival and the Observatory Museum bursts with fascinating Victorian-era memorabilia.

This afternoon enjoy a guided sundowner tour, through the starkly beautiful landscape of the Valley of Desolation. Experience the solitude of the hauntingly beautiful “Cathedral of the Mountains” with spectacular 120m high columns of ancient eroded volcanic rock that stand sentinel over the endless, parched Plains of Camdeboo. Panoramic views over Graaff-Reinet are also afforded and on the distant horizon the Cockscomb Mountain is visible 150km away. Wildlife commonly seen on this tour includes Kudu, Cape Mountain Zebra, Mountain Reedbuck and the majestic Verreaux’s Eagle with their 2m wingspan. If you wish, perhaps enjoy the 2km Crag Lizard hiking trail along the cliff top.

Return to the Drostdy Hotel for overnight.

The Drostdy, established in 1786, is a luxury boutique hotel positioned in the heart of historic Graaff-Reinet, a town containing over 220 heritage sites and wonderful examples of magnificent Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo architecture. 48 rooms vary in size, shape and décor: 31 in Stretch’s Court, 7 in Ferreira Precinct and 10 in Kromms Court. The 8 bachelor rooms, 17 standard rooms, 15 executive rooms and 8 suites are contemporary farmhouse chic, marrying wooden floors and classical pioneer etchings with state-of-the-art luxuries. Enjoy meals in the hotel restaurant, or in one of Graaff-Reinet’s selection of restaurants serving Karoo delights. Perhaps visit the nearby Valley of Desolation to appreciate the striking landscape and maybe Nieu Bethesda and Helen Martin’s Owl House, a fine example of artwork.

• 48 comfortable rooms
• Historic destination & heritage town
• Warm Karoo hospitality
• Gym, spa & art gallery
• 3 pools in manicured gardens

Overnight at The Drostdy on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 3: Graaff Reinet

Today, enjoy a relaxing stroll through the historical streets of Graaff-Reinet with your local tour guide and resident, Chantelle Marais. Admire the architecture of buildings of historical importance (there are nearly 220), hear interesting facts and soak up the ambiance of this fascinating town. See the beautiful Dutch Reformed Church, the Reinet House Museum – with one of the oldest grapevines in the country and visit the Graaff-Reinet club (if open) which housed the Officers of the Coldstream Guards, during the Anglo Boer War and boasts memorabilia from that era. If the antique shop is open, see the oldest cake in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records) and hear about Dr Anton Rupert’s strong sense of community. This tour is a snapshot of Karoo life.

Overnight at The Drostdy on a bed and breakfast basis.



Day 4: Graaff Reinet – Samara


After breakfast this morning, depart your hotel, and drive to the Samara Private Game Reserve, where you check in at the Samara Karoo Lodge’s Sibella Suite.

One of 3 exclusive lodges in the Samara Private Game Reserve, near the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet, this exquisite property is an award-winning gem boasting Karoo hospitality, charm and cheetahs! Here the landscape is truly stunning: dramatic mountains cut into the sky and the blue/green colours blend with open plains and drier stretches of countryside. The colonial Karoo Lodge enjoys a warm authentic Cape feel, natural woods, fireplaces and antiques throughout the hotel. 3 Lodge suites are located in the main homestead and open onto a wrap-around verandah, while the 3 Karoo suites have a garden cottage feel and feature fireplaces and outdoor showers with views. Sharing a wooden deck, the 2 Sibella suites are ideal for small family groups. Samara is renowned for its successful cheetah conservation endeavours and on foot cheetah tracking, in addition to its Spekboom planting and community projects.

• 3 Lodge, 3 Karoo & 2 Sibella luxury suites
• Cheetahs: conservation & cheetah tracking on foot
• Traditional Karoo-style decor
• Exquisite scenery: rivers, plains, mountains
• Conservation, planting & community involvement (animals, people & environment)
• Malaria-free reserve
• Child-friendly & fenced play-area

Overnight at Samara Karoo Lodge on a full board basis.


Day 5: Samara Private Game Reserve


Samara’s extensive landscape opens up a world of safari experiences, to be enjoyed in open game vehicles or on walking safaris. Expert rangers introduce you to the reserve and the fascinating creatures which call this region home. On guided walks, discover the characteristics of the four diverse biomes, view game tracks and animals up close, and soak up the tranquillity of the area. Learn about Samara’s effective conservation efforts and research projects and visit the tracker academy. There is a high occurrence of the illusive aardvark in Samara, so keep your eyes peeled for this rare animal.

Overnight at Samara Karoo Lodge, on a full board basis.


Day 6: Samara – Kwandwe


After a morning game drive and breakfast, depart Samara, driving to the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, where you check in at the Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge. Located in the 22,000 hectare reserve, the elevated lodge is designed to appreciate the views over a vast landscape.

Enjoy an afternoon game drive before returning to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Dramatically perched above the Great Fish River, the luxurious Great Fish River Lodge is located in the malaria-free Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. This gem of tranquillity and peace is an elegant fusion of natural materials and neutral tones, juxtaposed against sweeping landscapes. 9 beautiful suites feature classic-contemporary interiors, fold-away glass doors and private decks with plunge pools and endless views. Unwind in the spacious guest rooms appreciating the uninterrupted vistas from wraparound viewing decks, or socialise before a roaring fireplace. Browse through the elegant library and safari shop and select quality wines from the cellar for pairing with the delicious Pan-African cuisine. Dine under the star-studded sky in the boma, or in a candlelit dining room. Romantic meals can be served in the privacy of your suite.

• 9 luxury suites with fold-away glass doors
• Dramatic river setting
• Private decks with plunge pools
• Library & wine cellar
• Malaria-free private reserve

Overnight at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.


Day 7 & 8: Kwandwe


Start your morning at dawn, with a game drive through the reserve before a hearty breakfast. Spend a few hours at leisure dozing beside the pool, or perhaps on a guided game walk or fishing excursion. As the day cools, animals become more active, and nocturnal creatures come out to play.

Late this afternoon climb into your game vehicle for a new safari experience. Night time brings a certain magic to a safari, the sounds, scents and movement of the bush so different from the day. Your experienced ranger and tracker team work together to ensure each game drive and walk is memorable.

Optional Activity During your stay
Save the Rhino Drive – Spend 3 – 4 hours tracking rhino with a specialist ranger and tracker team. Learn about the habits of this threatened species, the issue of rhino poaching as well as Kwandwe’s own conservation efforts. The experience ends with refreshments at a scenic spot in the bush.
£75  per person, min 2 guests, max 6 guests, 16 years & older, available all year 

Overnight at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, on a fully inclusive basis.


Day 9: Kwandwe – Haga Haga

After a morning game experience and breakfast, depart Kwandwe for Haga Haga, traveling to the Miarestate reserve, along the Eastern Cape coastline. Check in at the Miarestate Hotel and Spa.

Along the stunning Eastern Cape coastline, Miarestate Hotel and Spa is found on a private reserve, boasting plains game and access to a secluded cove with a sandy swimming beach. The hotel allows guests to experience the wild, natural beauty of the region. Built on 3 original farms, it overlooks rolling hills which extend to the ocean. Accommodation consists of 3 deluxe rooms, 4 superior kings with outside showers, and 2 suites with private plunge pools. Superb meals are served under a canopy of trees, on the charming deck. Perhaps delight in a rejuvenating spa treatment, work-out in the gym, cool off in the pool, or spend time at the beach. Explore the landscape on game drives, mountain bikes and horse rides and take the opportunity to visit a local Xhosa community. In order to best appreciate the majestic coastline, it is recommendable to take an optional helicopter transfer (in or out of Miarestate) from East London airport.
• 9 comfortable rooms
• Raw, natural beauty
• Stunning swimming beach
• Clifftop walks & spectacular vistas
• Fine dining

Overnight at Miarestate Hotel & Spa, on a fully inclusive basis.


Day 10: Haga Haga


Spend the day at leisure, on game drives, or exploring the reserve on bikes or horse-back. If the weather is good, perhaps visit the swimming cove at the beach, or unwind in the spa, under the care of a skilled therapist. Guests can pop in at the local village to meet the Xhosa people.

Overnight at Miarestate Hotel & Spa, on a fully inclusive basis.

Day 11

Today, return your car to the East London Airport and board your onward flight to Johannesburg, to connect with your international flight home.

From £2,400

exc. all flights

Prices are per person, based on 2 adults travelling together and sharing a double / twin room at current conversion rates


N.B. This itinerary is a guide only. You can add time and places to this and upgrade, reduce, or change travel and accommodation with us to make this a truly personal journey. Just click ‘enquire’, or simply phone us.enquire-1

PHONE: 01202 030443, or click ‘enquire’


Some of the small print:
VIP Meet and Greet
10 Night’s Accommodation
Meals as specified
Transfers as specified
Activities as specified
Park Fees / Conservation levies as specified
11 Days Group C Car Hire on a Premium Package basis (Super Cover insurance)
All flights
Any meals and drinks not specified
Park Fees / Conservation levies not specified
Items of a personal nature

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