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Home » Destinations » Africa » South Africa » Riviera Travel South Africa With Rovos Rail
From its Mediterranean-like coastlines to the captivating desert landscapes, South Africa showcases breathtaking scenery and hosts arguably the world’s most magnificent wildlife. This remarkable 16-day tour has been meticulously crafted to showcase South Africa’s remarkable cultural diversity, its intriguing juxtaposition of old and new, and its awe-inspiring natural beauty and wildlife.
By the end of this journey, you will depart with a profound appreciation for the new South Africa, a country that has embraced the world after years of isolation. It is a land of superlatives that never fails to leave a lasting impression on its welcomed visitors.
Take your overnight flight to Johannesburg.
Following your morning arrival, embark on a thought-provoking visit to the Apartheid Museum. The exhibition is a captivating narrative of the apartheid years and the relentless struggle against it, culminating in the triumph of the first democratic elections. Immerse yourself in this impeccably presented walk through contemporary history, featuring authentic materials, gripping firsthand accounts, evocative photographs, and compelling film.
The remainder of the afternoon offers a well-deserved period of relaxation and leisure.
After breakfast, journey through the Highveld’s open spaces and farmlands via the Panorama Route to Kruger National Park, renowned for its scenic beauty. Along this picturesque drive, trace the stunning rim of the Blyde River Canyon—an awe-inspiring gorge, spanning 20 miles in length and plunging 2,300 feet into the landscape. This geological wonder carves a dramatic division between the highveld’s temperate grasslands and the arid savannah beyond. Capture remarkable photos at various vantage points showcasing some of Africa’s most breathtaking views.
Today, embark on a thrilling full-day game drive using specially adapted 10-seat 4×4 vehicles. Traverse sweeping savannahs, encounter riverbanks teeming with hippos, and observe animals gathering at muddy waterholes to quench their thirst. The bushland is punctuated by biscuit-coloured termite mounds, creating a captivating landscape.
Today offers leisure options: relax by the hotel’s pool or engage in hippo-spotting from the scenic riverside lawn.
Alternatively, weather permitting, explore elephant interaction, thrilling microlight flights, or river rafting. Enjoy sunset safaris or night safaris, experiencing the exhilarating open 4×4 game drive by spotlight. For Riviera Travel guests, limited slots are available for an overnight stay at a tented camp with a bushwalk experience.
Today, bid farewell to Kruger as you journey toward the Zululand battlefields. Following breakfast, head south, crossing into the charmingly picturesque country of Eswatini. The route takes you through captivating landscapes, including the intriguingly named Piggs Peak. Descend through lush green fields and rolling hills dotted with small farms, passing through Eswatini’s petite capital, Mbabane, catching glimpses of the parliament house and Royal Palace along the way.
In the afternoon, re-enter South Africa and make your way into the Kwazulu Natal province.
Following breakfast, explore the historic Zulu War battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Isandlwana, where a mere 1,300 British troops faced a surprise attack by a 20,000-strong Zulu army, is a sombre reminder of a devastating British defeat. The next day, a mere 9 miles away, approximately 140 British soldiers, some wounded, valiantly defended Rorke’s Drift against 4,000 Zulus for over ten hours, earning eleven Victoria Crosses—an unprecedented honour. Isandlwana, marked by simple white stones and mass graves, remains a haunting and poignant site. Our expert Zulu guide will vividly recount these harrowing encounters, bringing history to life.
Return to the hotel in the afternoon, and lunch is provided.
Following breakfast, make your way back to Johannesburg airport and board a flight to George, situated in the heart of the scenic Garden Route. From there, a brief drive takes us to the charming coastal town of Mossel Bay.
In the morning, leave the hotel for Knysna. You’ll take a ferry ride across the lagoon to explore the Featherbed Nature Reserve in a 4×4 vehicle. Along the way, you’ll pause at scenic viewpoints and receive informative commentary about the area’s wildlife, plants, history, and shipwrecks. Afterward, enjoy a leisurely downhill walk followed by a buffet lunch beneath the shade of milkwood trees (during winter, lunch will be in Knysna). You’ll return to Knysna via ferry, where you’ll have free time to explore the town, including its art galleries, craft shops, and the Knysna Quays marina.
This morning, embark on a picturesque journey to the stunning Winelands of the Cape. The route then leads you to the charming town of Hermanus, renowned as the world’s premier location for onshore whale watching, typically occurring from July to November. Witness these majestic creatures, which seem to move in perpetual slow motion, as they engage in playful antics in the water—an awe-inspiring spectacle.
Today, explore the stunning Winelands, nestled in a valley surrounded by majestic mountains. Manicured vineyards and orchards extend into the distance, with 300-year-old wineries, built in the distinctive Cape Dutch style, dotting the landscape.
The first destination is the charming town of Stellenbosch, founded three centuries ago and home to South Africa’s prestigious university. The town’s historical streets and period buildings exude an air of dignity. You’ll have the opportunity to explore this delightful town before indulging in a captivating cellar tour and tasting at the acclaimed Neethlingshof Wine Estate.
Later, visit the picturesque town of Franschhoek, situated at the valley’s head. In the evening, you’ll relish a South African BBQ or Cape Malay buffet dinner at the hotel.
This morning visits the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, set against the slopes of Table Mountain, before arriving in Cape Town.
This morning, explore Cape Point and the iconic Cape of Good Hope. Start by driving past pristine beaches to reach the charming fishing harbour of Hout Bay.
Next, embark on the stunning Chapman’s Peak Drive, offering rugged coastal views. Your journey takes you to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, a global biodiversity hotspot, and then to Cape Point itself. Here, witness the meeting of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean currents and the perilous rocky promontory, a historical hazard for sailors.
The final stop is Boulders Beach, home to a penguin colony, before returning to the city in the afternoon.
Cape Town, blending British, Dutch, and Cape Malay influences, is a stunningly beautiful city with diverse attractions. Enjoy bargain shopping at the Waterfront or indulge in a seafood lunch. People-watching at trendy Camps Bay is another option.
A must-do is the revolving cable car ride to Table Mountain, offering breathtaking views. If weather permits and slots are available, consider a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. Notable visitors include Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates, and Mandela himself.
Alternatively, explore at your leisure or unwind with afternoon tea at the elegant Mount Nelson hotel. The choice is yours.
Savor a leisurely morning in Cape Town before your afternoon embarkation on the Rovos Rail.
Once aboard the vintage, wood-panelled carriage, settle into your luxurious cabins. In keeping with the ambiance of a bygone era, the train is devoid of radio or television, inviting you to unwind completely. As the train traverses the Winelands, partake in a traditional afternoon tea in the Lounge and Observation cars. While dining, soak in the region’s natural splendour through the expansive carriage windows or engage with fellow travellers. Head to one of the two dining cars for a delectable dinner showcasing fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes.
In Matjiesfontein, post-breakfast, disembark for a historic village stroll. Founded by Scottish railwayman James Douglas Logan in 1884, this tiny Great Karoo village was once a Victorian health spa. Today, it’s a living museum with well-preserved historical architecture, offering rare tranquillity.
Explore the museum at the railway station, including the station master’s late 1800s office and the original signal room. Classic car enthusiasts will find a remarkable collection of vintage cars from the 1930s-1960s, including two Royal Daimlers used during King George VI’s 1947 South Africa tour.
Continuing through the timeless Karoo, a vast semi-desert akin to the Australian Outback or America’s Chihuahuan Desert, cross open plains that were once an inland sea. The ever-changing scenery, painted in green, gold, and amber hues, stretches as far as the eye can see.
Wake up to the awe-inspiring African landscape and enjoy a delicious breakfast amidst the train’s gentle rhythm.
After breakfast, tour Kimberley, a town steeped in diamond history. The Kimberley Big Hole, a remarkable man-made excavation over 700 feet deep, serves as a reminder of South Africa’s mining heritage.
Explore Kimberley’s diamond legacy at the nearby Diamond Museum, tracing the discovery of the mine in 1866 near Hopetown in the Northern Cape. The museum highlights the hardships and successes of diamond miners during the rush triggered by the discovery of the 83-carat Star of South Africa just three years later.
After enjoying breakfast on board, you’ll disembark for a sightseeing tour of Pretoria. Renowned for its charming historic buildings, significant landmarks, affluent neighbourhoods adorned with greenery, and broad avenues bordered by jacaranda trees.
In the afternoon, you’ll transfer to Johannesburg for your return flight home.
Indaba Hotel, Johannesburg
The four-star Indaba Hotel, offers an array of amenities including swimming pools, a spa, lounge, restaurant, fitness centre, and a 24-hour front desk. The hotel’s low-rise buildings are surrounded by lush gardens with two outdoor pools. Guests can also unwind with spa treatments in one of the 260 comfortably furnished, air-conditioned rooms featuring en-suite bathrooms, hairdryers, cable TVs, safes, and tea/coffee makers.
Hippo Hollow Country Estate, Hazyview
The three-star superior Hippo Hollow Country Estate offers a range of amenities, including a 24-hour front desk, lounge, restaurant, swimming pool, boutique gift shop, air conditioning, laundry service, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Accommodation options include 109 rooms in low-rise buildings or thatched chalets with garden views, each equipped with TVs, air conditioning, en-suite shower/WC, a safe, and a tea/coffee maker. The hotel is beautifully situated amidst lush riverine forest on the Sabie River’s banks, just a 10-minute drive from the National Park gate.
Battlefield Lodge, Dundee
The three-star Battlefields Country Lodge offers 50 rooms with features including a swimming pool, breakfast restaurant, air conditioning, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Set in beautiful gardens, the lodge is located near Dundee in Kwazulu Natal’s battlefields region, nestled in a green valley overlooking rolling hills and the historic Talana Hill, the site of the first battle between the Boers and British soldiers.
Diaz Hotel, Mossel Bay
The Diaz Hotel in Mossel Bay offers beachfront accommodations with ocean views from every window and balcony. The hotel features a swimming pool, picnic area, terrace, garden, BBQ facilities, coffee shop, bar, restaurant, air conditioning, laundry service, fitness centre, spa & wellness, and a lift between floors. Rooms include satellite television, private bathrooms with bath and shower, free toiletries, kettle, and sofa. The hotel is centrally located in the charming town of Mossel Bay, close to regional activities, attractions, restaurants, and shops, and is near the renowned Garden Route.
Pearl Valley Hotel
The four-star Pearl Valley Hotel, located in the picturesque Paarl-Franschhoek Valley within the Val de Vie Estate, offers various amenities including a swimming pool, spa & wellness, lounge, bar, restaurant, fitness centre, 24-hour front desk, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, laundry service, terrace, and gift shop. The 31 one-bedroom studio rooms feature balconies or terraces, kitchenettes, safes, hairdryers, satellite TVs, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Southern Sun Waterfront, Cape Town
The stylish Southern Sun Waterfront hotel in Cape Town offers an array of amenities, including a swimming pool, lounge, bar, restaurant, fitness centre, 24-hour front desk, air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry service. Rooms are well-appointed and feature amenities like air conditioning, bath, shower, hairdryer, safe, satellite TV, and tea/coffeemakers. Additionally, it’s conveniently located within a 10-minute stroll of numerous restaurants, bars, and shops, with a shuttle service to the waterfront.
*All transfer times listed below are approximate and dependent on traffic. Please note that en route to the hotel in Johannesburg, you spend 2 hours at the Apartheid Museum.
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