South Africa with Rovos Rail

South Africa with Rovos Rail

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South Africa with Rovos Rail

18 Days Starting and ending in Johannesburg, South Africa

Visiting: Johannesburg, Apartheid Museum, Kruger National Park, KwaZulu-Natal, Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift, George Goch, Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay, Hermanus, Winelands Estate, Cape Town, Cape Point, Rovos Rail, Kimberley

Tour operator:

Riviera Travel

Tour code:

SAR

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Physical rating:

Please contact Riviera Travel if you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility.

Age range:

18-99

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Please contact Riviera Travel with specific dietary requests.

Tour operated in:
English

This tour is no longer available

Tour Overview

South Africans call their homeland 'a world in one country'. It covers an area equivalent to five times the size of Britain, with a climate ranging from temperate, Mediterranean and sub-tropical to desert; it offers spectacular scenery with arguably the finest wildlife on earth and no less than eleven official languages. South Africa is truly a world-class destination!

Firstly, a more naturally beautiful country would be difficult to find - from the serrated peaks of the Drakensberg mountains, to the contorted and timeless semi-desert landscapes of the Karoo and the forested sea-shores and mirror-like lakes of the Garden Route, the enchanting temperate valleys of the Winelands, the rare proximity to nature found in the national parks and the instantly recognizable symbol of the country, Table Mountain - all under an endless azure-blue sky. Quite remarkable!

Then there is the wildlife, one of the main reasons visitors travel to Africa. One of the finest places in the world to experience this is the Kruger National Park, which is a similar size to Wales. It is exactly how you imagine the African bush to be, as depicted on countless TV documentaries: areas of sweeping savannah, bisected by rivers full of hippos, muddy waterholes lined with animals quenching their thirst, and the bush itself, home to zebra and antelope, studded by immense biscuit-coloured termite hills and towering above it all, instantly recognisable giraffes! The park is home to an incredible 150 mammal and 500 bird species including the 'big five': elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. Game-viewing is an intensely moving experience with nothing preparing you for the waves of emotion inspired by an encounter with these wonderful, almost regal creatures thriving in their natural habitat. Just to highlight the variety of flora too, the Cape Peninsula alone has twice as many plant varieties as Britain, which is 5,000 times bigger. But South Africa is not just about scenery and wildlife, fabulous as it is.

The cities are amazing and highlight the country's diversity. Brash Johannesburg, city of gold and South Africa's cultural capital, with skyscrapers of concrete and glass separated by canyon-like streets contrasting with townships on its outskirts. Then there is the 'Mother City', Cape Town, overlooked by the vast bulk of Table Mountain and easily Africa's most beautiful and sophisticated city. It is a real multi-cultural melting pot, with stunning Cape architecture, superb beaches, the best cuisine in the country, fabulous street musicians, mime artists and entertainers adding to its cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Highlights

  • Happy by day two or we'll bring you home with a full refund

  • Tour the legendary Zulu War battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift with a specialist guide

  • Full-day guided safari in the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s most outstanding game reserves

  • Stay three nights in cosmopolitan Cape Town, one of the world’s most naturally beautiful cities, dominated by the instantly recognisable Table Mountain

  • Stay in the heart of the gorgeous Western Cape’s Winelands, enjoying a cellar tour and tasting at a 300-year-old wine estate

  • Explore legendary Cape of Good Hope and Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

  • Visit Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum, a real must in understanding contemporary South Africa

  • Gaze at the awe-inspiring Blyde River canyon, the third largest in the world

  • Visit Hermanus for the world’s finest on-shore whale watching, dependent on season

  • Enjoy a scenic drive through the beautiful small country of Swaziland

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Itinerary

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Day 1

Location: Johannesburg

Meals Included: No Meals

Arrive at the airport to take your overnight flight to Johannesburg.

Day 2

Location: Apartheid Museum

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

After our morning arrival, we visit the Apartheid Museum, taking us on a fascinating, horrifying, humbling and ultimately inspiring journey from the dark days of ‘whites only’ privilege, through to Nelson Mandela’s historic release. It’s a truly fascinating exhibition charting the apartheid years and the struggle against it, culminating in the first democratic elections. It is a superbly presented walk through contemporary history using original material, riveting eyewitness accounts, photographs and film. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

Day 3

Location: Kruger National Park

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast we depart for the open spaces and farmlands of the Highveld, following the Panorama Route to Kruger National Park, one of the most scenic drives in South Africa. We follow the spectacular rim of the Blyde River Canyon, an amazing 20-mile long and 2,300- foot deep gorge cutting a vast swathe through the Great Escarpment separating the temperate grasslands of the highveld and the drier savannah beyond. Deep circular rock formations created by years of erosion and many excellent vantage points offer superb photo opportunities for some of the most breathtaking views in Africa. Our hotel for the next three nights is beautifully located in the midst of lush forest on the banks of the Sabie River on the edge of the National Park. Dinner is included tonight.

Day 4

Location: Kruger National Park

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we have a full day’s game drive in specially adapted 10 seat 4x4 vehicles. Experience areas of sweeping savannah, bisected by rivers full of hippos, muddy waterholes lined with animals quenching their thirst, and the bush itself, studded by biscuit-coloured termite mounds. There is simply nothing to beat that rising feeling of anticipation and excitement as we enter the nearby park in the half-light of the spectacular African dawn, surrounded by the noise of a unique ‘dawn chorus’. Which animal shall we spot first? Perhaps an elephant, a family of warthogs or possibly even the elusive cheetah. The experienced game rangers know the best tracks and waterholes whilst their stories will amuse, inform and fascinate you. Most have lived here all their lives, accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge.

Day 5

Location: Kruger National Park

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

This is a day at leisure for anyone who just wants to take it easy by one of the pools at the hotel or do some hippo-spotting from the lovely lawn overlooking the river. Alternatively, you could try some elephant interaction, exciting microlight flights or even river rafting (all subject to weather conditions), as well as sunset safaris or night safaris where you can experience the unique thrill of an open 4x4 vehicle game drive by spotlight. Exclusively for Riviera Travel guests, there are also a limited number of places available to stay the night at a tented camp and go on a bushwalk. Our camp provides a ‘glamping’ experience with comfortable beds, electricity and en-suite shower with WC. Our chef will

create excellent wholesome cuisine and you can listen out for any nocturnal visitors whilst sitting

around the campfire! You rejoin the main tour on the morning of day 6.

 

Day 6

Location: KwaZulu-Natal

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we leave Kruger on our way to the battlefields of Zululand. After breakfast we’ll drive south, entering the small but scenically beautiful country of Swaziland. As the road climbs past the interestingly named Piggs Peak we descend through lush green fields and rolling hills interspersed with small farms and drive through the country’s small capital Mbabane, passing the parliament house and Royal Palace

en route. We cross back into South Africa in the afternoon and enter Kwazulu Natal province.

 

Day 7

Location: Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast we visit the battlefields of the Zulu Wars, Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift – one a crushing British defeat sending shock waves throughout the Empire, the other a valiant stand of just 140 against 4,000 Zulus. Brilliantly dramatised in the films Zulu Dawn and Zulu, these two battles, just a day apart, became a defining moment for the British Empire. In 1879 at Isandlwana, a depleted force of 1,300 were surprised and outmanoeuvred by a 20,000-strong Zulu army armed with cowhide shields and spears. Only a handful survived. The next day just 9 miles away, about 140 British soldiers, some wounded, held off 4,000 Zulus for over ten hours at Rorke’s Drift, an action earning eleven Victoria Crosses, the largest number ever awarded in a single engagement. Isandlwana particularly, remains a haunting and lonely place, with mass graves marked by simple white stones. Our specialist Zulu guide will really make those desperate encounters come alive. We return to our hotel in the afternoon. Lunch is included today.

Day 8

Location: Johannesburg, George Goch

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast we return to Johannesburg airport, flying to George in the Western Cape and at the heart of the gorgeous Garden Route, before the short drive to the coastal town of Mossel Bay. Dinner at a local restaurant is included tonight. 

 

Day 9

Location: Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Today we head inland, through stunning mountain scenery of the Ruitersbos Nature Reserve to the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. Here we’ll visit the spectacular Cango Caves, formed over millions of years in the soft limestone and South Africa’s best-known caves. Next we head to the small town of Oudtshoorn,

a centre of ostrich farming since the 19th century. We’ll have the opportunity to see these

fascinating creatures close up and learn about their habits. After an included lunch, we head

back to Mossel Bay.

Day 10

Location: Hermanus

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, we take the long scenic drive to the Cape’s beautiful Winelands before continuing to Hermanus, a lovely town that’s also the world’s best spot for on-shore whale watching, usually between July and November. These gentle giants move in seemingly permanent slow motion and are a truly amazing sight as they playfully cavort in the water. 

Day 11

Location: Winelands Estate

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we tour the awesomely beautiful Winelands. Set in a valley backed by majestic mountains, rows of manicured vines and orchards stretch into a distance studded by lime-washed, often thatched, 300-year-old wineries built in the unique Cape Dutch style, seemingly mirroring the undulations of the

surrounding countryside. Our first stop is elegant Stellenbosch, established 300 years ago

and home of South Africa’s most prestigious university. Period buildings and historic streets reinforce the town’s dignified atmosphere. We have time to explore this delightful town before enjoying a fascinating cellar tour and tasting at the award-winning Neethlingshof Wine Estate.

After that, we visit the small town of Franschoek, set at the head of a valley. Tonight we’ll enjoy

an included typical South African BBQ or Cape Malay buffet dinner at our hotel.

 

Day 12

Location: Cape Town

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning we visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, set against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, before arriving in Cape Town.

Day 13

Location: Cape Point

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, we visit Cape Point and the legendary Cape of Good Hope, firstly driving past pristine beaches to the picturesque fishing harbour of Hout Bay. We continue along the breathtakingly scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive, full of rugged seascapes, to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, then on to Cape Point itself. We see the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean currents and the treacherous promontory of rocks and swells, the scourge of mariners for

centuries. Finally we visit Boulders Beach and its penguin colony, returning to the city during the

afternoon.

Day 14

Location: Cape Town

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

Cape Town, featuring British, Dutch and Cape Malay influences, is simply one of the world’s most naturally beautiful cities with so much to offer the visitor! You could do some bargain shopping at the Waterfront, followed by a sumptuous seafood lunch. Or maybe go peoplewatching at fashionable Camps Bay? Obviously no visit to Cape Town is complete without taking a revolving cable car ride to the top of iconic Table Mountain which has announced the city to generations of sea-farers. The views are fabulous. You should also visit Robben Island (weather permitting and based on availability), where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27- year incarceration, and whose visitors since its opening have included Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates and even Nelson Mandela himself. Perhaps though, simply wander where your feet take you, or relax a little, taking afternoon tea in beautiful colonial splendour at the Mount Nelson hotel – the choice is yours.

 

Day 15

Location: Rovos Rail

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

Transfer to Cape Town railway station to board the gleaming carriages of Rovos Rail and settle

into your luxurious wood-panelled private Pullman or Deluxe cabin. Our train departs at 11am and as we roll through the Winelands you’ll be able to enjoy the first of many wonderful meals on board. Traditional afternoon tea is served in the Lounge and Observation cars as we approach the charming perfectly preserved Victorian town of Matjiesfontein where we disembark for a short tour. This evening listen out for the gong that heralds dinner and make your way to one of the two dining cars for one of the best meals you’ll ever have on a train.

Day 16

Location: Kimberley

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Wake to the wide-open panorama of Africa. There’s no hurry to get up today as breakfast is served until 10am. After lunch our train pulls into Kimberley, South Africa’s most famous diamond-producing town. At over 700ft deep the Kimberley Big Hole is the largest man-made hole in the world. We also visit the nearby Diamond Museum, a moving testament to the thousands of miners who toiled here over the

years. Back on board it’s time for afternoon tea again before this evening’s sumptuous final dinner.

 

Day 17

Location: Johannesburg

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

We reach the end of our journey, arriving into Johannesburg at around midday. We say goodbye to our extraordinary home for the last two nights and transfer to the Indaba Hotel for an afternoon of relaxation and an included lunch. You will be transferred to the airport at the appropriate time, for your flight home this evening.

Day 18

Location: Johannesburg

You arrive home this morning after a truly remarkable tour of South Africa.

What's Included

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability (date dependent) at the relevant supplement. The price includes: Return UK flights - scheduled flights to Johannesburg and from Cape Town All transfers 13 nights’ accommodation Daily breakfast,;three dinners, and two lunchs All tours as mentioned Porterage of one item of luggage per person The;services of a Riviera Travel tour managerRegional UK flights carry a supplement from £100 per person.Rovos Rail;Includes two extra nights accommodation in a Pullman Suite (approx.7 sq.metres) with sofa that converts to twin bunk beds or double bed (on request), personal safe & mini-fridge, en-suite bathroom with shower and hairdryer; all meals, all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (local brands, excluding Champagne), 24-hour room service and limited laundry service whilst on board; all off-train excursionsIncluded ExcursionsVisits to Blyde Canyon,;Swaziland,;Rorke’s Drift, Hermanus whale watching, Swellendam, Stellenbosch, Franshoek, Winelands, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, Boulders Beach plus the Talana museum, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Apartheid Museum, Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour, tour of Zulu battlefields and full day Kruger safari and jeep tour

  • Accommodation

    3 to 4-star accommodation

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Entrance Fees

  • Local Taxes

  • Meals

    18 meals: 13 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 3 dinners

What's Not Included

Check out our Q&As

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    No

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Yes

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Yes

  • Are all the relevant entry visa’s included in the price of the tour?

    Yes

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    For almost 40 years

  • I have reduced mobility; can I still travel?

    We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us to discuss these concerns

  • Do I require travel insurance?

    It is a condition of booking that you carry suitable travel insurance.

  • What is my luggage allowance?

    You will receive details of your luggage allowance with your final travel documents, which are sent approximately 10 days prior to your date of departure.

Reviews of this operator

David Clarke (Google Reviewer)  

This review is for the...

08-Aug-2023

This review is for the italian Lake Como trip Aug 1-8 Wow what a trip. Riviera from start to finish were excellent the booking and help line answering questions were very good and clear. The travel booklet you get is laid out that it is simple to read and follow with step by step info from booking in to flights to meeting the guides. Our guide Matt Purse was just the best guide and real credit to Riviera with his knowledge and straight forward approach to running the trips. Matt kept us informed and told us all the sort of info you want to know without going over the top....This chap should teach other reps ..thank you so much. The coaches they use are all clean and well equipped with usb chargers and have aircon. The places chosen to visit were well researched even down to where coaches park or drop you off. The Bernina Express was the highlight for our family and matts photo tip was welcomed. The only down point was the hotel,a little dated and evening meal in main restuarant was a bit of a let down. I think we were lucky with our room on level 7 and with balcony as the walls are very thin and noise travels. We would book again with riviera

Barbara Shillaker (Google Reviewer)  

I have been on three...

11-Jan-2024

I have been on three trips with Riviera Travel so far, with two more booked during 2024. Highly recommended. Excellent tour guides. Great program of visits. Great hotels used.

Mrs Bodnarec (Google Reviewer)  

Thankyou Riviera and all the...

28-Apr-2024

Thankyou Riviera and all the staff on the William Wordsworth Danube River cruise. My husband and i have just travelled on the Danube to celebrate my husbands 60th and we had such a lovely experience. We were younger than most of the travellers but we met so many lovely people so this wasnt a problem. The staff were so lovely and professional. The service we experienced was so high. The boat was beautiful, the food amazing and the excursions were informative and well managed. I would definately recommend riviera as a company. In fact we are now considering their Japan holiday.

Valerie Pascoe  

We would go again in a heartbeat

22-Jan-2022

Oh my goodness, what a relief it was to actually get away! Full marks to all at Riviera for keeping us up to date before our trip and for the help so cheerfully and patiently given with the extra admin that Covid brought our way. We felt totally safe with the measures taken on board, thank you very much for this. Without exception, Staff were fantastic and our every need was attended to. The additional Covid testing ran smoothly, organised by our Riviera Reps. The guided tours were most interesting: the guides very knowledgeable and more importantly, interesting to listen to. We loved this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you again Riviera, you were FAB!

Chris Wilson (Google Reviewer)  

Second escorted tour with this...

25-Jul-2022

Second escorted tour with this company. Did 5 days in Iceland tour. Everything went smoothly, excellent tour guide, Per. Extremely knowledgeable and interesting guy. Very friendly too. Highly recommend. Just let down by the room given at the hotel, but I guess the travel company doesn't have control over this.

Kathryn Jurin, GB  

Riviera South Africa tour - awesome

21-May-2021

Riviera have amazing holidays and tours to choose from. The one we chose was South Africa and wow! It turned out to be our best trip ever - incredible memories we will never forget. We’ve been all over the world which was because of all our experiences, this one was awesome. The organisation of the holiday, the guide and the travel was e cells that. The choice of hotels, meals, restaurants, trips was absolutely fantastic - very good quality and character - nothing bland or boring! The Riviera guide was permanently with us along with a South Africa guide and they were both extremely friendly, professional, informative and you could ask any questions you want! I would massively recommend this holiday/trip and when you’ve experienced it, you realise how reasonable the price is. We reflect on this trip a lot and thank you Riviera for giving us such a wonderful experience.

Trustpilot
Barry, GB  

Rhine Christmas markets cruise

09-Dec-2019

Just completed a 5 day trip on the Rhine. Our first river cruise and a tester for future cruises. The boat was well appointed and the cabin and public areas were spotlessly clean. The staff were attentive and contributed to the very relaxed atmosphere on the boat. The quality of the food surpassed that which we have experiened on sea cruises in recent years. I have written little because it was a faultless experience. We have booked a further cruise (in France) on the basis of our experience.

Trustpilot
Christine Hardy (Google Reviewer)  

Although most people seem to...

10-Mar-2024

Although most people seem to book and pay for their holidays online, because we live close by we prefer to make a personal visit. In my opinion if they are offering this as an option they should be better equipped to accommodate visits in person. We have not been on our river cruise yet, so can't comment on that yet.

Norma Patrick (Google Reviewer)  

Recently went on a tour...

18-May-2024

Recently went on a tour of the Deep South USA plus Texas. Before we set off on the trip we were informed that our trip On the Amtrak train would not be going ahead and we were given a £50 refund each. We were disappointed especially as there was no consultation beforehand and to only receive £50 each in compensation was poor. This was one of the reasons we had chosen Riviera Travel and may have considered another company had we been given the choice. Despite this we had a fabulous holiday, although we thought the tour guide was poor. There was no music played whilst we were traveling on the coach and when asked if more could be played we received a flat ‘no’. If we had relied on the tour guide all the time we wouldn’t have gone anywhere. However we ignored his comments that Nashville was ‘mad’ and went downtown and had the best night. All in all we had a wonderful holiday but it could have been better from Riviera Travel point of view. This is a very expensive tour and we thought the standard of hotels were very poor in some places. Probably would try a different tour company next time.

Barbara Parkes (Google Reviewer)  

Presently in Croatia staying at...

22-Sep-2023

Presently in Croatia staying at Arauana Hotel, supposedly a 4 star property, but wouldn't give it any star rating. Rooms are small and dirty. Wallpaper blistering. Meals served in a shed like lean-to. Food like warm, greasy and always self service. Second holiday with Riviera this year and neither at standard advertised. Have travelled with them previously and everything was fine, but standards have really dropped. Have booked a holiday with them next year and now dreading it. Certainly don't provide the standard advertised. We have never stayed in such a hovel and have visited youngsters in back packers accommodation which was far better than this supposedly 4 star accommodation. There are no indoor bars or lounges only a shed as a so called restaurant. Absolutely disgusting. Won't be boking with them again

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Riviera Travel requires a minimum deposit of 500 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 75 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of riviera travel charges.

    Up to 75 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 74 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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