21 DAY EXPLORER
Over the last five years the 21 Day Explorer has become an expedition of a lifetime – and we have the friends, memories and awesome pictures to prove it.
Through the canyons of the Blyde River, over the Drakensberg Mountains, along the Wild Coast, in the waves of J-Bay, under the tree tops of Tsitsikamma and on the beaches of the Garden Route… This is an expedition for the adventurous soul!
Departs: Every second month from Johannesburg.
Day 1 – 3: Hoedspruit/ Kruger National Park
At the crack of dawn we leave the City of Gold ( Johannesburg ) and the Highveld area of Gauteng province. We depart from Once in Johannesburg nice and early at 5am and start our journey north in the direction of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. On the way we will pass Long Tom Pass, Pilgrim’s Rest, God’s Window and of course Blyde River Canyon.
Right after this spectacular canyon, we head to Kruger Adventure Lodge about 15 min outside Hazyview. With the twin tents as dorms spaces (2pax per tent) and luxury double private tents we will be spending 2 nights in comfort while exploring Kruger national park just a 20 min drive away.
After a full day in Kruger enjoying open vehicle game drives, a sunset safari and morning bush walk, the pool will be inviting with a drink in hand and delicious South African style “Braai” dinner around the fire.
Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, Big5 Safari, full day Kruger Park safari, bush walk
Day 3 – 5: Ezulwini / Kingdom of eSwatini
Off we go, out of South Africa and into the Kingdom of eSwatini. After a last relaxed breakfast at the Safari Lodge, we leave at 9am in the morning and head south through the African Bushveld towards the city of Nelspruit. We drive through the Barberton Nature Reserve, Mountainsland Nature Reserve and pass through the Songimvelo Nature Reserve until we arrive at the Oshoek border post, into the Kingdom of eSwatini. After passing the capital Mbabane, we will arrive at our next destination.
Situated on the slopes of the Ezulwini Valley, our stylish backpacker lodge is surrounded by massive boulders and indigenous trees. This is a fully eco-run place with a solar heating system, their own vegetable garden, strict recycling etc).
Day 4 offers local education from and with our local friends: The Lobamba Village Tour will teach us about the local history, show us the National Museum of the Kingdom and the royal residence of the King of eSwatini. The rest of the day is for you to enjoy as you wish; to explore the surrounding area or do whatever you feel like doing e.g exploring the local markets or joining our team for a hike up Sheeba’s Breast which is situated right behind our backpacker lodge.
The next morning, we will return to South Africa and head for the majestic Drakensberg Mountains.
Included: Lobamba Village Tour
Day 5-7: Royal Natal National Park / Drakensberg Mountains
At 8am we will leave Ezulwini and the Kingdom of eSwatini and head in a south-westerly direction towards the escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountains. Our next stop is the Drakensberg Mountains where we will stay at a freestanding hostel in an exceptional location. The range of optional activities is amazing: a short distance away there are the Tugela Falls (the 2nd highest waterfall in the World), rock climbing, horse riding, mountain biking and fly-fishing. At the hostel you can try your luck at the climbing wall, jump into the jacuzzi near the bar or chill with other travelers at the pool area. On the first evening of our stay, we will prepare a traditional braai (BBQ) for you where you are more than welcome to join in and learn how to prepare delicious food over an open fire. An absolute highlight is the included Amphitheatre Hike (Tugela Falls) which of course is not compulsory if you don’t like hiking. In case you have other plans for the day (but let’s be honest here, you don’t want to miss this) you are more than welcome to stay at the hostel and go for another fun optional activity.
After successfully conquering the mountains it’s always nice to end the day at the rec area – swimming pool, Satellite TV, braai (BBQ) area, climbing cave and the BAR!
Included: Amphitheatre Hike, African braai dinner.
Day 7 – 8: Durban
After the mountainous, dry and dusty territories we will now be on the way to a more… wet environment: the Indian Ocean. After sleeping-in a little, we will leave around 10am and make our way to our next stop, Durban. It might be a good idea to have a little nap during the drive in the morning to recover from the night before. We will head straight to the big city which is situated right at the ocean with a subtropical flair. We’ll stay for one night at our backpacker lodge close to the harbor and the beach front.
After we arrive, you can spend the rest of the day inhaling the city air, or go with the flow (beach, shopping, Waterfront, see the Stadium or chill at the hostel’s rooftop bar). Nightlife in Durban happens mainly along the famous Florida Road with its many bars, clubs and restaurants which all offer amazing local flavors and international cuisine. You can of course also stay at the backpacker’s kitchen and cook yourself a delicious dinner.
We will leave at 9am the next morning, so there’s nothing standing in the way of a little party night in Durban. Next stop is paradise!
Day 8 – 10: Umzumbe
After driving for about an hour we will arrive at one of our top spots on the south coast – Umzumbe! Imagine a tropical jungle-like garden with a stunning rock pool in the centre. The rooms are tree houses and the jacuzzi is waiting for you. The bar is extended into a little casino which gives you the chance to win some cash from your fellow travellers. The beach is located 2 minutes away from the backpackers, so it’s super convenient to quickly check the surf.
On Day 9, we offer you an optional tour to Oribi Gorge which is just 25 km away and is home to one of the deepest gorge swings in the world. The Umzimkulwana River shaped a 27 km long and 1km wide gorge over thousands of years, which is surrounded by untouched Bushveld, wildlife and breath-taking views. But even if you’re not in the mood for that, there are plenty of activities like beaching, surfing, diving, fishing etc. available. And of course, there is still the sundeck from where you can spot dolphins or whales with a cold beer in your hand.
After a really exhausting day in paradise we will offer you a fantastic African dinner once more (we cater for vegetarians as well as for omnivores). Umzumbe is the starting point of our route back along the Indian Ocean – we will find the most beautiful sunsets, endless kilometers of deserted beaches and ice-cold beer in unique jungle bars.
Included: African braai dinner.
Day 10 – 13: Coffee Bay
We will now move to the heart and soul of the old South Africa, to a region which is locally called the Transkei; back in the days of apartheid this part of the country was under self-administration by the local people. Since those days the region kept its rural charm with soft hills which stretch right to the Indian Ocean. It literally means to take off your shoes, relax and get in touch with the abundant nature and the rich culture around you!
We leave Umzumbe at 8am in the morning and drive further down the east coast, heading south. Final destination: Coffee Bay. The backpacker lodge we are staying at is one of the leading backpackers when it comes to sustainable tourism and Fair Trade on the east coast and it’s located directly at the Bomvu River Mouth, right at the beach. It’s truly AFRICAN TIME in Coffee Bay! We will explore, surf, relax and explore the soft hills along the oceanside to spend time with the local Xhosa people who have lived here for centuries. Once in a while you will spot a pod of dolphins and whales making their way up the coast.
Day 11 or 12 can be used for an amazing hike to the Hole in the Wall along the Indian Ocean, which is included, but that’s of course up to you. Otherwise, chill in the hammock with songs of Bob Marley in the background and stare at the ocean. Or try one of the many activities that are offered at the backpacker lodge…OR just do nothing and relax!
Included: Hole in the Wall Hike.
Day 13 – 16: Chintsa West
We’ll depart at 8am the next morning and stay along the coast. After a short drive we’ll arrive at the Chintsa lagoon, sitting at the beginning of the Wild Coast, and then make our way to our legendary backpacker lodge accommodation.
The backpacker lodge is situated in a tropical garden on a hillside overlooking the Chintsa lagoon and the Indian Ocean. It’s almost a little backpacker village, with houses and cottages spread out all over the property. The hostel village has an amazing pool house area and an awesome volleyball field (free wine will be provided for the games in the afternoon), a yoga and massage cottage and of course a fully stocked bar – complete with a mind-blowing view over the whole lagoon and 40 km of beach stretching out in front of your eyes. Activities are endless, with game watching across the road, horse riding or surfing at the beach, mountain biking in the local area or just walking along the endless white sand beach. Our backpacker lodge is one of the places you just don’t want to leave – so we are staying one day longer until Monday.
Day 16 – 17: Jeffrey’s Bay
We’ll leave bright and early at 8:30am, after a last delicious breakfast on the sundeck with a view over the Indian Ocean. Our next stop is the surf mecca of South Africa – Jeffrey’s Bay. We will stay right at the beach again, at a backpacker lodge which has the typical laid-back surfer style. Jeffrey’s Bay offers various surf outlet factory shops ranging from Billabong to Quicksilver to Roxy etc. so you can use the rest of the day for shopping or surfing.
Day 17 – 19: Storm’s River (Tsitsikamma National Park)
We’ll leave J’bay after breakfast, around 9am, and start cruising along the Garden Route. We’ll retreat to the lush area of the Evergreen Forests and the Tsitsikamma National Park. Our next stop is Stormsriver Village.
Surrounded by the majestic mountains and deep forest gorges, we find Storms River Village in an area which is still blessed with indigenous forest that existed long before the first settlers set foot on the African continent (the famous Big Tree is just around the corner). We will visit the provincial border from the Eastern to the Western Cape at the highest bridge Bungee Jump in the world (Bloukrans Bridge). Ziplining tours, snorkeling, mountain biking etc. can also be organised if you don’t fancy jumping 216m off a bridge.
We’ll take you into Tsitsikamma National Park on Day 18 and hike parts of Otter Trail along the rocky shore coastline to a waterfall that drops into the Indian Ocean. If you don’t feel like hiking, just wander around the deep forest trails or relax and chill at our backpacker lodge. To refill energy levels, we’ll throw in another legendary African braai for dinner!
Included: African braai dinner, Storm’s River Mouth tour and waterfall hike, Tsitsikamma National Park.
Day 19 – 20: Oudtshoorn
We’ll leave Storm’s River Village at 9am in the morning after breakfast. We’ll travel further along the coast and the Garden Route until we make a slight right-turn and enter a completely different vegetation zone – the Little Karoo, a semi-desert – and the town of Oudtshoorn (the unofficial international capital of the Ostrich).
We’ll stay for one night at a homey family run backpacker lodge. From there you can either use the day to explore the world famous Cango Caves or visit an Ostrich Farm. If you want to have a cage dive to make yourself familiar with crocodiles in a close environment – not a problem! The backpacker is in the centre of Oudtshoorn so restaurants, movies, bars and banks are literally down the road.
Included: Transfer only to Cango Caves and Ostrich Farm.
Day 20 – 21: Ruiterbos / Mossel Bay
At 8:30am, we’ll leave Oudtshoorn and drive through the desert landscape of the Little Karoo, straight towards the Outeniqua Mountains. We’ll drive over the Robertson Pass and enter a completely different area again, one which can best be described as a Lord of the Rings landscape. It’s another favorite spot of ours that we have chosen for our last night – Outeniqua Moon Percheron Stud and Guest Farm.
As at the beginning of the tour, we fully cater for you here around the clock. Peter and Christine Watt have committed themselves to save the last great giants in Africa – the enormous Percheron draft horses. They run this Guest Farm and Percheron Stud farm with dedication and a spirit which is amazing. We promise that you have never seen such strong and beautiful horses in your life.
Our stay here is the perfect time to sit back and relax at the pool with the view of the Outeniqua Mountains in the background and mellow down a little after the last weeks of fun and action in Africa. All the rooms are en-suite and are fully catered by Chrissie and her cooking skills. We also offer you a personalized horse experience with the giants and the little ones, if you are keen.
In the evening, we’ll sit around the fireplace and enjoy a home cooked dinner with the sunset over the mountains and chat about the last weeks of our adventure together. The next morning we’ll leave for the Mother City – Cape Town.
Included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, Horse Experience.
Day 21: Cape Town via Stanford and Hermanus
We’ll leave Outeniqua Moon at 9am sharp and drive along the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains in the direction of Cape Town. A little detour will take us to Hermanus to spot some whales (in season from May – December), so sharpen your eyes. We’ll have a quick look at the penguins at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay before we drive along Clarens Drive, past False Bay and towards Cape Town.
From here it’s a mere 45 minutes before we hit the Mother City. Our tour ends in an area called Gardens, in the city centre, with the more-than-impressive Table Mountain right in front of you. Our final stop is at Ashanti Backpackers.
This legendary backpacker is the place to stay in the Mother City. We recommend that you extend your stay in Cape Town for at least another three days so that you can enjoy the metropolitan vibes of this unique city – at the very least, a sunset from the top of Table Mountain is a must.
We will of course assist you with your further travel plans and happily organize a Cape Point Tour, wine tour or any other fun activity in and around Cape Town after our tour has finished. Just speak to our team.
Accommodation options (2023)
TWIN ROOM SHARING – EN-SUITE
Unscheduled departures welcome
min 4 pax
WHAT YOU GET
- A bush walk in the Guernsey Private Nature Reserve
- Transport throughout the week
- Private professional guide
- Dorm room accommodation with bedding (upgradable to en-suite)
- Entrance into National Parks
- One tree planted with Precious Tree Project per person to offset carbon emissions
- Safari in a private reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park area
- A full day in the Kruger National Park
- Lobamba Village Tour/ Ezulwini Valley – eSwatini (lunch included)
- Tugela Falls hike to the second highest waterfall in the world (lunch included)
- Hole in the Wall Hike in the Transkei (lunch included)
- Storms River Mouth tour at Tsitsikamma National Park with a waterfall hike
- Horse interaction at Outeniqua Moon Percheron Stud & Guest Farm (fully catered)
- 3x Traditional African braais (barbecue)
- Meals unless stipulated in the itinerary
- Optional extra activities
- Airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- International or domestic flights
- Room upgrades to private single rooms