Sat, Sep 2: Fly from Indianapolis to New York (JFK airport) and overnight at a nearby airport hotel.
Sun, Sep 3: Depart overnight flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mon, Sep 4: Arrive in Johannesburg and connect to your two-hour flight to Cape Town. Once at Cape Town International Airport, you will be met by your local English-speaking guide. Proceed to your home for the next four nights, the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, located near the vibrant Victoria & Albert Waterfront, and the main shopping and entertainment areas.
Tue, Sep 5: Cape Town & Cape Peninsula. Meet your local guide after breakfast for a full-day tour of the Cape Peninsula. Enjoy a scenic drive along the Atlantic seaboard to the fishing port of Hout Bay to experience a cruise past the seals on Seal Island. Continue over Chapman’s Peak Drive (weather permitting) to the Cape Point Nature Reserve at the most southwestern tip of Africa. Lunch is at Two Oceans Restaurant, a local fish restaurant. En route back to Cape Town stop for a visit to the Boulders Beach African (Jackass) Penguin colony and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
Wed, Sep 6: Cape Town & Cape wine region. Explore the Cape wine region, located not far from Cape Town. Your full-day tour takes you through the breathtaking scenery and the historic towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. The region has mild weather and a unique terrain that is ideal for wine growing. Visit the university town of Stellenbosch, probably the most scenically attractive town in southern Africa. The backdrop of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, the white-gabled Cape Dutch homesteads and the oak-lined lanes give this town a charm that will not be quickly forgotten. Franschhoek, nestled in the mountains and known for its fresh trout, will remind you of a little Swiss village. Stop for lunch at the Delaire Graff Wine Estate en route. Enjoy two wine tastings as well as a full cellar tour to gain better knowledge of the winemaking process. Dinner and the evening on your own in Cape Town. (B,L)
Thu, Sep 7: Cape Town & Robben Island. After breakfast at the hotel, your tour director will escort the group to the top of Table Mountain via cable car for incomparable views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean (weather permitting). A poignant visit to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town details the experience of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 27-year stay in the prison and will give you real insight into South Africa’s turbulent political past. Enjoy a special dinner with your group tonight at a restaurant featuring African specialties. (B,D)
Fri, Sep 8: Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Johannesburg. On arrival you will be met by your guide before transferring to Hoedspruit. Check into the Thornybush Waterside Lodge for the next three nights. Your lodging is situated among the natural habitat of the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park. The area has a great diversity of wildlife and Thornybush Reserve is a luxury private game reserve on the Monwana River. From your thatched-roofed private suite you may see wildlife, especially giraffe and elephants, close up as they come to the river to drink. After lunch relax during the heat of the day. Join the other guests in the late afternoon for “high tea” before embarking on your first safari in search of Africa’s wildlife. Depart in open Land Rovers with experienced rangers and trackers. At sunset stop for sundowners to toast the end of another day in Africa. Continue the safari after dark with the aid of powerful spotlights to hopefully glimpse some of the elusive nocturnal game. Return to the lodge for dinner under the stars. (B,L,D)
Sat, Sep 9: Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Awake at dawn for coffee and biscuits before heading out into the savannah at first light, a time when the animals are at their most active and the opportunity to spot game the best. You may be invited to leave the 4x4 vehicle to see wildlife tracks and examine certain local plants. Your experienced ranger and tracker team will help make the most of your time on safari through their extensive knowledge of the African savannah. Thornybush is located in the wild-life rich northern Sabi Sand area, which has no fences so wildlife is able to traverse freely between the private reserve and Kruger National Park. The reserve is home to a wide variety of African game, including the “Big Five”: lion, elephant, white rhino, leopard and Cape buffalo. Other wildlife you may see includes cheetah, giraffe, zebra, hyena, waterbuck, hippopotamus, crocodile, wildebeest, kudu (buck) and many bird species. Return to the lodge for a hearty brunch. Early morning drives include a break for coffee and tea; breakfast is served back at the camp or in the riverbed or bush. During mid-day, explore the bush with trackers during the day or relax at the lodge. Stay cool with a dip in the outdoor pool. Depart for your second game drive late in the afternoon. Power spotlights will help the trackers find leopards and cheetahs, which are active after dark. There are about 3,000 leopards in Kruger National Park, which shares a boundary with Thornybush, and you may see these elusive animals on your game drives; they are most active in the evenings. Watch for them sleeping m draped over branches of sturdy trees, during the days. A gourmet three-course dinner is served in the boma (a protected outdoor enclosure), in the bush or at the lodge; celebrate the day with drinks around a campfire before retiring for bed. (B,L,D)
Sun, Sep 10: Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Enjoy a full day on safari, with twice-daily (dawn and dusk) game drives to watch more wildlife, and meals with the group. If you feel adventurous, schedule a bush walk, too. (B,L,D)
Sun, Sep 11: Sun, Sep 11: Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Rise early for one more morning game drive for a last chance to maybe spot the elusive leopard. Return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast. Transfer to the Hoedspruit airport to board the flight to Johannesburg. Transfer to your international flight home. If you are continuing on The Victoria Falls extension, you will stay in Johannesburg one night before flying to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. (B)
Mon, Sep 12: Arrive home after your African adventure.
OPTIONAL VICTORIA FALLS EXTENSION
Extend your trip on a high note with a visit to the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The Falls, one of the great natural wonders of the world, are described as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the “Smoke That Thunders”) by the locals, and at peak flow, the spray from the falls can reach 1,300 feet into the air! Zimbabwe has 16 out of the 19 prime viewing spots and is where you’ll find the “untamed” Victoria Falls rainforest. The Scottish physician and explorer, David Livingstone was the first European to witness The Victoria Falls and named the falls for the British Queen. The Victoria Falls have been declared a World Heritage Site and enjoy special conservation status.
Spend two nights at The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. A boat ride on the Zambezi River at sunset to see hippos and crocodiles puts an exclamation point on this trip of a lifetime!
Sun, Sep 11: Rise early for a final early morning game drive and a hearty breakfast back at the lodge. Check out and return to Johannesburg via your flight from Hoedspruit Airport. Transfer to Kempton, a suburb of Johannesburg. Check into the Peermont D’Oreale Grande Hotel at Emperors Palace located next to the airport for one night. The rest of the day is at your leisure. (B)
Mon, Sep 12: After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight to the Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe, and then to The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Afternoon is at your leisure to explore the mighty Victoria Falls. The entrance to The Victoria Falls is just a short walk from the hotel. You will have unlimited access to the Falls on the Zimbabwean side during your stay. At sunset depart for a sundowner cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. (B)
Tue, Sep 13: Enjoy a morning tour of the Falls. A guide will accompany you through the rainforest and give a brief history of the Falls and detail the flora, fauna, birds and wildlife of the area. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the Falls, shop, take a helicopter or microlight flight over the Falls and surrounding area, or whatever you choose to do. (B)
Wed, Sep 14: Fly to Johannesburg and board your overnight flight to the U.S. (B)
Thu, Sep 15: Arrive in Indianapolis.
The Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
A five-star hotel with views of Table Mountain, the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, The Radisson Blu is within walking distance to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Highlights: Plush, comfortable rooms • bathrobes & slippers • in-room coffee/tea makers • mini-refrigerators & mini-bars • complimentary high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi Internet access • restaurant • bar/lounge • 24-hour room service • full-service spa • heated outdoor pool • spa pool, • fitness center • complimentary shuttle to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
Thornybush Waterside Lodge, Greater Kruger National Park
Located in the famous Thornybush Private Nature Reserve in the northern part of Sabi Sand, and adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park. This five-star lodge is set on a tranquil lake with breathtaking views of the African bushveld. The lodge has been designed to blend into the natural habitat, surrounded by an abundance of a natural wooded forest and manicured gardens. Highlights: luxurious thatched-roofed suites overlooking the Monwana River with views of wildlife • en-suite bathrooms with separate bathtubs and showers • private decks • in-suite coffee and tea makers, mini-bars and safes • A/C • in-suite telephones • Internet access in main lounge (fees apply) • indoor and open-air dining areas • bar • boma (outside lounge with campfire) • walking safaris • outdoor swimming pool • spa (at the Thornybush Game Lodge) • fitness center • library with Internet access • laundry service (fees apply) • gift shop • kids’ activities and special menus.
Peermont d’Oreale Grande Hotel at Emperor’s Palace, Kempton (Johannesburg) (Victoria Falls extension)
Located close to the airport and to the East Rand mall, this 5-star luxury hotel boasts opulent surroundings. Highlights: elegant guestrooms • air-conditioning • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • room service • restaurant • bar/lounge • 24-hour room service • spa • fitness center • outdoor pool • full-service spa.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls extension)
Situated on a plateau less than 2 miles from the majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the award-winning Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, surrounded by the wilds of Africa, offers an unforgettable experience. The sunset-facing 72-room Safari Lodge overlooks offers endless views of African bush stretching to the horizon, which includes a waterhole frequented by elephant, buffalo, kudu and other wildlife, as well as a rich variety of birds. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which is the flagship property of hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), has been voted the Best Safari Lodge/Resort Hotel in Zimbabwe for 20 consecutive years by the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents.