South Africa: Wine, Hiking, & Safari Adventure

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April 20, 2019 (Sat)

Cape Town, Cape Peninsula, Thornybush Game Reserve
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Cost: $3,700

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Day 1

Flights to Cape Town airport arrive at all times of the day. If you arrive early enough, you can spend some time walking around Cape Town, schedule a tour to visit a nearby “shanty town” township, visit the incredible Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, or take a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years of his life. We will meet as a group late this afternoon for an introduction to one another and to South Africa’s wines. Afterwards, we’ll have a short walk to dinner at a somewhat touristy but very fun restaurant that is alive with music, dancing, drumming and food from all over Africa! What a great introduction to the continent!

Day 2

Today we visit the Cape Peninsula and the southernmost point of the continent of Africa! Our hike takes place high above the water with incredible views of the sparkling blue water below and includes options for both a 4-kilometer hike and another 2-kilometer hike. Did you realize the tiny Cape of South Africa is its own plant kingdom, one of only six in the world? The Protea is a unique species that you will see all over the cape. Be sure to watch for baboons and ostriches along the trail! On the way back to Cape Town we’ll visit a penguin colony and then cap off our day with a tasting at a winery in the Constantia area. Tonight’s dinner is at an intimate little spot with excellent food — the bonus is that it is right out our back door!

Day 3

Our hike today is designed to get the kinks out of your travel-weary legs! We hike up impressive Table Mountain, the looming monolith above the city, and spend time walking around on top with the amazing views of the city, the Cape and the sea. We’ll take the cable car down (you can also choose to take it up if you don’t wish to have a strenuous hike up) and get back in time for a little beer tasting at Devil’s Peak Brewery or shopping at the Old Biscuit Mill this afternoon before perhaps hitting the hotel’s rooftop hot tub before dinner. Again, we stroll to dinner, this time through the lovely Company Gardens before arriving at our destination: the swanky Planet Restaurant in the famous Mount Nelson Hotel by Orient Express.

Day 4

We check out and depart this morning for Stellenbosch, a university town with very Dutch roots and fantastic Cape Dutch architecture. Stellenbosch is set against gigantic mountains and is the center of South Africa’s wine region. We take a wonderful historic walk through town, then have a bit of free time to explore on our own. This afternoon, we have a short hike through the vineyards to the beautiful Jordan Winery (of course, we cannot leave there without a tasting) and then stop at a lavender farm before shuttling back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. Tonight’s dinner is a magnificent Boerebraai (South African Farm BBQ) at Middelvlei Wine Estate.

Day 5

Stellenbosch is situated in a fertile river valley and boasts a mild Mediterranean climate with rainy winters and hot summers – ideal for growing the grapes that make this area so famous. We spend most of the day here hiking on the Dirtopia Trail. We’ll have two route options from which you can choose, both of which offer stunning views of the winelands and both will end at Warwick Estates and offer a luscious tasting. Our hikes are gentle, with wonderful views of the vineyards and unique Stellenbosch Mountains. Afterward, you can choose to have a picnic lunch and another tasting at Delheim Estates, or take a nearby township tour. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a walk through the cozy oak-lined streets of this historic town and a lively dinner at the Big Easy, the restaurant owned by South African wine legend Ernie Els.

Day 6

We take a morning flight to Huidspruit airport near Kruger National Park and a transfer to the Chapungu Luxury Tented Lodge in the Thornybush Game Reserve. This afternoon, after getting settled into our luxury camp, we’ll take our first driving safari in our comfortable Land Rovers. Our spotters and trackers will work hard to make sure we see as many of the reserve’s 48 Mammal species, 112 Tree species, 230 Bird species and 54 reptile species as possible. The drives are absolutely phenomenal and we see an incredible array of animals at what seems an amazingly close (but safe) distance. We’ll stop for “sundowners” (cocktails) as the sun sets over the bush. For dinner we have the first of the gourmet meals cooked by the lodge’s staff.

Day 7

After a quick cup of coffee or tea, we depart at first light – a time of day many animals are active – for another game drive. We get back to camp a few hours later and enjoy breakfast and perhaps a quick nap. After a gourmet lunch, we’ll offer an optional a bush walk under the care of our professional (and armed) ranger. You’ll be thrilled by the experience and get the chance to witness some of smaller species, like the dung beetle, at close range. (Note everything is optional and you can relax in the lodge if you wish to skip the bush walk.) We repeat yesterday’s schedule of late afternoon safari drive, sundowners, and dinner.

Day 8

We have our final attempt to complete our viewing collection of all of the “Big Five” animals (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo) before transferring back to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg. Our tour ends at the airport in Johannesburg and you can choose to either fly home or spend time in this city.

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