A good percentage of tourists to South Africa are shocked when they’re not greeted by a pride of lions and a stray elephant on the tarmac when their planes land. They’re also surprised that the South African jungle is more concrete and steel than scrub-brush and watering-holes. Experience South Africa the way tourists think it is and save 50% on a fully escorted six-day tour of Kruger and Kingdoms with Thompsons Guided Holidays.
While no one will be fanning you with a palm leaf or feeding you grapes, the Kruger and Kingdoms gives you the perfect opportunity to feel like royalty while you’re fully escorted through some of South Africa’s most superb and scenic sights. From quaint historical mining towns to eyeballing the big five up-close as you can get without risking teeth-marks.
Your adventure starts off with a brief orientation tour in Pretoria before meandering through Mpumalanga and into the lush, subtropical Lowveld. Pass through the history-saturated towns of Witbank, Dullstroom and Lydenburg before traversing the famous Long Tom Pass and ending in the old mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest. Your first night will be spent in either the Royal Hotel or somewhere similar, surrounded by charming comfort and nostalgia.
When you finally manage to shake off the sleep, you’ll be moving on to Blyde River Canyon and the stunning views of God’s Window, some of the best wonders of Africa. While away the afternoon hours in the quaint village of Hazyview and say ‘thank you’ to the person who invented digital photography – there are far too many photo opportunities to be tangling with film.
Though touring through towns where they first invented gold is nice, unless they’re giving you actual gold-nuggets as a keepsake, it’s not as good as skipping breakfast to ogle the wildlife. The full-day Game Viewing in the Kruger gives you the perfect opportunity to spot the pride of lions that tourists always expect to see strolling down the road. It’s not just lions and leopards either; with elephants, buffalo, rhinos and all manner of other wildlife and birds, you’ll probably spend all day oohing and awwing (after enjoying a breakfast pack in the park, of course) and restraining yourself from climbing out of the open-top vehicle and trying to give Simba a hug.
Proving itself to be the perfect mix between tame and wild, the Kruger and Kingdoms tour doesn’t leave you in the wilderness long enough to consider renaming yourself Tarzan. After your trip through the Kruger, you’ll visit the kingdom of Swaziland and see the famous Ngwenya Glass Factory and the vibrant marketplaces of Mbabane.
The Ngwenya Glass Factory is stacked to the rafters with functional molten-glass art and figurines, and the marketplace provides a plethora of beadwork, woven baskets and carvings. To add the metaphorical cherry to cultural sundae, visit the Swazi Candle Factory. The afternoon tour of Zululand and the World Heritage Site of St Lucia is the perfect opportunity to add to your list of wildlife I’ve seen with crocodiles, hippos and over 350 different species of birds during a boat cruise the next day. Your stay over in the Umfolozi area the night before the cruise will prepare you for the feast for your eyes that lies ahead in St Lucia.
Finish off your tour with a cruise on Lake St Lucia and watch the sugarcane fields do their own interpretation of the Mexican-wave and try not to cry when you have to leave the wild behind and return to the bland and boring real-world.
Tour Fact: The world’s most exclusive scientific expedition occurs only once every twenty-five years and takes a maximum of five guests. The tour lasts four days and involves a boat-ride down the Thames and camping on its banks to watch the icicles form in winter.