SOUTH AFRICA - THE ELEPHANT COAST: WILDLIFE AND WILD BEACHES
12 days, from £1,600 per person, based on a family of 4 sharing.
Plus international flights, from £600 per adult.
Recommended for travel between March and October.
Travel Style: Self - Drive
If your priority is epic wildlife, and the idea of hidden beaches, vast wetland ecosystems and traditional Zulu culture sounds exciting, then this is the perfect route for your Tribe. Combining a range of opulent accommodation, from stilted lodges to beach-side bungalows, this itinerary is all about putting you on the doorstep of some of the most wild and dramatic landscapes around.
Marvel at the 'big 5' in Hluhluwe Imfolozi park.
Spot hippos and crocodiles on a boat safari on St Lucia Lake.
Search out hidden beaches on the spectacular Elephant Coast.
Enjoy luxury lodges and eco-huts with plunge pools and al fresco dining.
Meet an authentic Tribe in a Zulu village.
THE BORING (BUT NECESSARY) BITS
Average flight time from UK: 15 hours (1 stop)
Total drive time: 13 hrs 45 mins
Longest drive: 4 hrs 45 mins
No visa required for UK passport holders
Day 1 – 2 Durban and Umhlanga Rocks
Your first stop is the cosmopolitan beach city of Durban and the neighbouring Umhlanga Rocks. Boasting excellent beaches backed by a shiny new promenade thronged with shops, restaurants and quirky sand sculptures, Durban is a great starting point for an Indian Ocean adventure. For little explorers People's Park is home to an excellent adventure playground with picnic areas over-looking the beach. There's a fabulous aquarium and South Africa's oldest botanical gardens with its world-renowned collection of fossilised (dinosaur) plants. The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is also a great option. A short stroll through the coastal dune forest, along boardwalks and across the Ohlange River leads to the Umhlanga Lagoon and a beautiful sandy beach. Make sure you keep an eye out for the resident vervet monkeys and blue and red duiker (small antelopes). Durban has the highest Indian population in a city outside of India, so after a day of exploration and beach, time treat your Tribe to a delicious curry at one the cities renowned Indian restaurants.
Day 2 – 5 St Lucia and Southern iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Head north over sugarcane-coated hills to the quirky resort town of St Lucia, gateway to iSimangaliso Wetland Park and home to the glittering St Lucia Lake. This UNESCO World Heritage site (meaning miracle and wonder in Zulu) offers everything from beaches and offshore reefs to lakes, wetlands and coastal forests. Turtles nest along the parks shores, whales and dolphins splash in the deeper waters, and hippos, zebras and buffalo wander the dusty trails to gather at the numerous in-land lakes. St Lucia lake is home to the largest breeding population of Nile crocodiles, as well as hundreds of different birds. Kids will love hopping on-board a traditional safari boat and heading onto the lake, for a unique close-up view of the resident wildlife, while experienced and knowledgeable skippers will entertain all ages with top facts and tall tales.
On your second day head out to Cape Vidal where, after a short trek over forested sand dunes, a beautiful crescent shaped beach awaits. Let the kids loose on the cinnamon tinted sands and in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean where, in season, hump-back whales are clearly visible from the shore line. On the return journey to St Lucia, make sure adventurers keep their eyes peeled as you pass through grasslands and river deltas, home to hippos, giraffe and antelope. Be sure to stop at the local market to pick-up some Zulu handicrafts and fresh local produce, before you embark on the next leg of your South African adventure.
Day 5 – 7 Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park
A short drive in-land takes you to the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, famed for saving the white rhino from extinction in the 1950’s. Rivalling Kruger for both beauty and diversity of landscapes, and at just one twentieth of its size, this stunning malaria-free park offers some of the best game viewing in South Africa, and certainly the most family-friendly. There’s plenty of wildlife including lions, elephants, rhinos (black and white), leopards, giraffes, buffaloes and African wild dogs. The sparse vegetation ensures viewing opportunities are at a premium and we’ll pair you with one of our expert local bushmen who’ll guarantee you some amazing animal encounters.
For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience the park offers an unrivalled eco-trail-system in a large wilderness area. There are multiple guided hikes to choose from ranging from two to five days, both with a minimum of 4 people (advance booking is essential). Not one for the younger adventurers, but an incredible experience for slightly older Tribes, where night time animal patrols and sleeping under the stars will live long in the memory.
Day 7 - 11 Maputaland Coast and Northern iSimangaliso Wetland Park
After a picturesque early morning drive through the wetlands and lakes you'll arrive at your home for the next four nights - a fabulous beach-side eco-lodge in the northern reaches of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Luxury and adventure combine to provide the perfect destination for the family to enjoy. Choose between a raised eco-hut or a canvas lodge and enjoy private plunge pools, outdoor baths and wooden verandas with endless views of the wild coastline.
The area is rife for exploration and adventurous activities abound. The beach is magnificent with the shallow warm waters ideal for swimming and powder white sands stretching in both directions. Kids will love turtle tracking along the sands, or a midnight vigil to watch tiny hatchlings taking their first steps towards the ocean. Whale and dolphin spotting aboard a traditional Dhow sailing boat, snorkelling, sea and lake kayaking, forest hikes and arachnid trails are all available, whilst a cultural experience at a local Tsonga village provides an opportunity for little adventurers to learn and play. Evenings will be spent relaxing around the campfire, telling tales of the days adventures as the setting sun disappears.
Day 11 - 12 Durban
Return to Durban for a final explore, before your flight home.