Days 1 and 2 - Cape Town
Your 13-day South Africa rail adventure begins in Cape Town, where full day excursions will envelop you in the city's natural surroundings as well its culture.
Your full-day sightseeing tour into Cape Town's nature and wildlife includes a visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which showcases the diversity of the Cape's flora; Hout Bay with its colorful fishing vessels, a journey along Chapman's Peak Drive, one of the most spectacular cliff routes in the world, to Simon's Town; a visit to Boulder's Penguin Colony; and, a visit to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, known for its 2,700 species of plants, 250 species of birds and many baboons and antelope.
You will also experience Cape Town's culture on another full-day tour that begins with a cable car journey to Table Mountain (cable car ride not included in sightseeing) for panoramic views of the city. Your tour continues with a stroll through the Company Gardens followed by a visit to Bo-Kaap Museum, which gives a nod to the history and heritage of the Islamic Malays that first arrived in the Cape as political refugees and slaves during the 17th century. Your day continues with a visit to Diamond Works for a tour of the diamond-cutting studio, jewelry manufacturing workshop and design studio, and gemological laboratory. There will be a stop for lunch on your own at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront before embarking on a drive through District 6, a part of the Cape where various religions and cultural heritages once grew in harmony and later came to a halt when the Apartheid government removed the residents and most of the area's buildings in the 1940's. The day comes to a close with a visit to the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest surviving building in South Africa. Overnight days 1 and 2 aboard the train. (Day 1 stationary in Cape Town. Day 2 en route to Winelands region) (B, D)
Day 3 - Winelands/Overberg Region
The Mediterranean climate and winter rains make the Cape Winelands the ideal location to create some of the world's best wines. The Overberg region to the southeast has majestic mountain ranges, fertile valleys and scenic coastal areas and annually welcomes the Southern Right Whales. Today you have your choice of sightseeing to one of these magnificent areas.
If you elect to visit the Winelands, your exploration will take you to the region's main points of interest including Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in the country and located in the heart of the Winelands, the Huguenot Memorial in Franschhoek, and Worcester where you will see beautiful vineyards and plantations. Guests will enjoy a wine tasting.
Your alternate excursion takes travelers along the coastal road toward Hermanus, formerly a renowned whaling station and still considered one of the 12 best whale-viewing sites in the world. From July to November, Southern Right Whales can be viewed from less than 5 meters away! Your day also includes travel across scenic mountain passes on your way to Overberg towns of Villiersdorp, Botrivier and Worcester. One local wine tasting will be included.Overnight train en route to Kimberley. (B, D)
Day 4 - Kimberley / Bloemfontein
Kimberley is the capital city of the Northern Cape, well known for the Big Hole which resulted from the discovery of diamonds that led to the establishment of the city in 1893. Bloemfontein is the seat of South Africa's judicial system and once the capital of the Orange Free State. Today brings the option of three sightseeing excursions.
The first option offers a drive through Kimberley including a visit to the Big Hole Mine Museum, William Humphrey Art Gallery and the Macgregor House War Museum. There will be a stop for lunch on your own before going to Bloemfontein to join the train for the journey to Ladysmith.
The second option is a journey directly to Bloemfontein, where you will enjoy lunch on your own at the Waterfront before touring the capital of the Free State province. Highlights include a visit to the Women's Memorial at the Anglo-Boer War Museum, which commemorates the 27,000 women and children who died in concentration camps.
Lastly, travelers may elect to take a 2-hour drive from Kimberley to Bloemfontein, tour the Women's Memorial at the Anglo-Boer War Museum, drive through Bloemfontein, enjoy lunch on your own at the Loch Logan Waterfront, visit Naval Hill for panoramic views of the city and conclude at Olivenhuis, formerly the residence for the State's Presidents and now home to an extensive collection of South African art and well-maintained gardens. Overnight train en route to Ladysmith. (B, D)
Day 5 - Midlands / Southern Drakensberg
The jagged peaks of the Drakensberg and the hidden valleys and rolling hills through the Midlands are the highlights of today's sightseeing excursions. Guests will have their choice of four options.
The Battlefields excursion is ideal for those travelers interested in history and culture. The full-day tour will trace the course of the Anglo-Boer War with visits to the Siege Museum and famous battle sites including Spioenkop and Wagon Hill.
Travelers interested in arts, crafts, and culinary aspects of South African culture will enjoy a full-day tour to the famous Midlands Meander in KwaZulu-Natal, a unique mix of more than 160 places to eat, drink and shop. Originally started as a means to attract visitors to stray off the beaten track and explore art studios and galleries, the Midlands Meander has grown into an eclectic mix of arts and crafts and world-class restaurants. Also included in the day's activities are a visit to Howick Falls and a beer tasting in a Nottingham Road micro brewery.
Fans of the outdoors will enjoy an excursion to Southern Drakensberg for a guided walk in Pursers Bush, home to towering Yellowwood trees and the rare Cape Parrot as well as other bird species including the Sakabula, Bald Ibis, and Grey Crown Cane.
Hikers will enjoy a guided walk in the Cobham region of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Marvel at the Clarence Sandstone Formations, see Boundary Rock, a visit a bushman's studio to view bushman rock art. Overnight train to Durban. (B, D)
Day 6 - Durban
Durban is South Africa's third largest city. Travelers may elect to spend the day at the beach, shopping in the city or embark on one of two included sightseeing excursions. The first provides an orientation tour of the city including a drive along the Golden Mile Promenade, a visit to Victoria Market and an afternoon at either the Botanical Gardens or at uShaka Marine World. The second option is a guided tour of the monastery at Mariannhill followed by a visit to the Hari Krishna "Temple of Understanding" before lunch on your ownin Durban before an afternoon visit to Phoenix, the spiritual settlement established by Mahatma Gandhi, and the Juma Musjid, the largest mosque in South Africa. Overnight train to Zululand. (B, D)
Day 7 - Zululand
This morning embark on a guided tour of a Zulu cultural village followed by the St. Lucia Wetlands. This afternoon enjoy a cruise on the St. Lucia Estuary. Be on the lookout for hippos, crocodiles and a variety of water birds. Overnight train. (B, D)
Day 8 - Zululand
This morning depart for the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve. The park lies in the heart of Zululand and was once the exclusive royal hunting ground of King Shaka. Ancient trails and cultural history combine with an impressive assortment of animal species to make this park a true historic and natural wonder. On your game drive, keep an eye out for lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, hyena, and more! Overnight train en route to Swaziland. (B, D)
Day 9 - Swaziland
Grab your passport this morning and embark on a full-day tour of the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland. Highlights of your day include the a visit to a Swazi Market, the Ezulwini Valley to visit the colorful candle craft market, a drive past the Ludzidzini royal residence to the Swazi National Museum, the capital city of Mbabane to the famous glassworks of Ngwenya and the Komati River Valley with views of Jeppes Reef. Overnight train in Kaapmuiden. (B, D)
Day 10 - Kruger National Park
Embark on a full-day excursion to Kruger National Park. Sit back and enjoy a game drive throughout world-renowned Park unrivaled in its plant and animal life. It is home to 336 species of tree, 49 species of fish, 34 species of amphibians, 114 species of reptiles, 507 species of birds, and 147 species of mammals. Overnight train in Kaapmuiden. (B, D)
Day 11 - Panorama Route or Kruger National Park
Today is your choice of a second full day at Kruger National Park, or a guided tour to the village of Pilgrim's Rest, a National Monument and living museum to the area's heritage as a gold mine town. Many of miner's houses have been converted into shops. You'll also see Blyde River Canyon, the Three Rondavels, huge rock spirals rising from the canyon, and Bourke's Luck Potholes, deep cylindrical cavities formed by river erosion and flooding. Overnight train en route to Johannesburg. (B, D)
Day 12 - Pretoria / Johannesburg / Soweto
Travelers have the choice of two sightseeing excursions today. The first begins with a visit to Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. There are many historical buildings to be seen as well as the bronze statue of "Oom Paul (Kruger)," the patriarch of the old Transvaal Republic, surrounded by Boer fighters and the Voortrekker Monument that commemorates the Great Trek of the 1830's. This afternoon travel to Soweto for a visit to the Hector Petersen Memorial, which pays homage to one of the first students killed in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government.
The alternate sightseeing tour visits Johannesburg and Soweto. Beginning at Constitution Hill in the heart of Johannesburg, guests will see the site of the city's Old Fort Prison Complex where many of the country's political activists were detained. Continue on to Museum Africa, the suburb of Rosebank for lunch on your own, and a visit to Soweto, where you will see Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as the street that once housed not one but two Nobel Peace Laureates, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. The last of the day's activities will be a visit to the Hector Petersen Memorial. Overnight train en route to the Province of Mpumalanga. (B, D)
Day 13 - Tour Conclusion
Your great South African train journey comes to a close today. If you elect to extend your stay, transfers to your hotel will be arranged for the morning hours. If your flight home is planned for later in the day, you may wish to add-on an optional excursion in and around the city.
Prices are land-only, per person in USD and include all taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change and are based on a currency conversion as of 7/7/2012.
Single rates are available at a 50% increase of the above rates. Pre-night accommodations are required. Ask a Vacations By Rail representative for details. Reverse itinerary available upon request.
Travel insurance is required and quotes are available through your rail specialist.
A valid passport is required for this vacation. Visa requirements may also apply. Please inquire at time of booking.