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KwaZulu Natal Holidays Tours South Africa Battlefields Durban Safari

Private Guide: Hluhluwe Safari + St Lucia, South Africa


SPF12R
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,998
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Travel with your own private guide on this fascinating safari holiday to the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa. Explore its wildlife, history & magnificent scenery, with a boat ride in the St Lucia Wetlands & open top game drives in Hluhuwe National Park, renowned for its rhino. Visit the Zulu Battlefields at Rorkes Drift & Drakensberg Mountains. English speaking guide, all transfers & game drives included.
Private Guide Safari Zulu South Africa St Lucia Hluhluwe Drakensberg
• 
Durban, South Africa
• 
Zulu Kingdom
• 
St Lucia Wetlands
• 
Cape Vidal
• 
Hluhluwe Safari
• 
Big Five Game Drives
• 
Zulu Battlefields
• 
Spion Kop Battlefield
• 
Drakensberg Mountains
• 
Private Guide
• 
Durban, South Africa
• 
Zulu Kingdom
• 
St Lucia Wetlands
• 
Cape Vidal
• 
Hluhluwe Safari
• 
Big Five Game Drives
• 
Zulu Battlefields
• 
Spion Kop Battlefield
• 
Drakensberg Mountains
• 
Private Guide
Day 1
You will be met at Durban Airport and transferred to the warm North Coast, renowned for its wonderful beaches and excellent holiday weather.
  
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the warm Indian Ocean.
Day 2
Today travel 3-hours from the Durban North Coast to St Lucia on the KwaZulu Natal northern coast.
 
Along the way we stop at Eshowe to visit an authentically reconstructed Zulu Village to learn more about their life and culture. After a warm welcome with some energetic dancing, you can view their amazing beadwork and meet a sangoma ("witchdoctor").
 
We then continue to St Lucia. Situated inside the Isimangaliso Wetlands, this whole area has been declared a RAMSAR Wetland of international significance because of its great biodiversity and importance as a breeding site for waterbirds. Over 520 different species have been recorded in this vast wetland that is surrounded by mangrove swamps and dense reed beds, with birds ranging from permanent residents to tropical and altitudinal migrants, regional nomads and long-distance migrants. These include a variety of storks, pelicans, flamingos, kingfishers, spoonbills, fish eagles, gulls, herons, terns, ducks and geese.
  
On arrival enjoy a boat ride on the Lake St Lucia estuary, where you may see hippo, buffalo and crocodiles as well as abundant bird life.
Day 3
Today we venture further into the Isimangaliso Wetlands and travel to the remote beaches of Cape Vidal Nature Reserve, where you will see thousands of ghost crabs scurrying around for food.
 
With over a hundred miles of pristine coastline and the tallest forested dunes in Africa, these titanium-rich beaches are an important breeding ground for giant loggerhead and leatherback turtles, who nest and lay their eggs under cover of darkness from November to January, with the hatchlings emerging and running the gauntlet of ghost crabs from February to March. If you climb up one of these steep dunes, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of both the lake and the ocean.
 
Pods of dolphins are often seen in these waters and from June to November, you may be fortunate enough to see humpback whales, who migrate from Antarctica to mate and calve in these warm waters. In Cape Vidal Nature Reserve you can also hope to see rhino, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, reedbuck, porcupine and many other smaller animals.
 
Birdlife too is prolific with habitats ranging from grassland to swamp, sand and coastal lowland forest. There are also a variety of aquatic habitats including rivers, marshes, lagoons, estuaries and the beach. Here you can hope to see Great white pelicans, Marabou storks, Yellow-billed storks, African spoonbills and African fish eagles, whose calls can be heard along the shoreline. Sometimes after a storm, seabirds such as the Yellow-nosed albatross, Giant petrel, Tropicbird, Frigatebird, Sooty tern and Noddy tern are blown closer to shore, allowing for some wonderful close-up sightings.
Day 4
Today we travel 30-minutes from St Lucia to Hluhluwe National Park, renowned for its outstanding wildlife.
 
Check into your Hluhluwe Rest Camp, where game viewing opportunities should present themselves almost immediately in this famous game sanctuary. Hopefully you will see several species of antelope, zebra, wildebeest and maybe even giraffe or one of the Big Five, before reaching camp. B&B accommodation is provided in simple self-catering bungalows, with other meals available from the camp restaurant (pay locally).
Day 5
Today is devoted to game viewing in Hluhluwe National Park, travelling with your guide in his air-conditioned vehicle.
 
As you will have the services of a private driver/guide throughout your safari, you will have the flexibility of discussing preferred routings and travelling times with him each day. However we recommend setting off early each morning as the camp gates open (05h30 to 06h00 depending on the season), to take advantage of the best game viewing conditions of the day.
 
One of South Africa’s most beautiful game parks, Hluhluwe is home to all the Big 5 - lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino - as well as the subcontinent’s largest population of endangered rhino, which this park saved from extinction. Also hope to see giraffe, hippo, kudu, crocodiles, waterbuck, warthogs, baboons and many other interesting animals, before returning to camp for breakfast. With over 300 different bird species, outstanding bird watching is also guaranteed.
 
The rest of the morning is free to relax by the camp swimming pool, before setting out again at the time of your choice (usually the late afternoon) for another game drive. All game drives will be taken with your guide in his air-conditioned vehicle.
 
After a beautiful African sunset, enjoy the balmy evening and pristine stars of the southern hemisphere.
 
Note: Vehicles are not allowed to drive off-road in any national park in South Africa. Children < 12 are not allowed on open top game drives, but may enjoy unlimited game drives with your guide.
Day 6
This morning your guide will collect you from Hluhluwe and share with you the history of rural Zululand as you drive to the remote battlefields at Isandlwana. If you take the main road this will take 3-hours, or alternatively you can choose the longer route through Hluhluwe Game Reserve, game viewing along the way.
 
Our first stop in the battlefields region is at the old white Fort Nongqayi near Eshowe, built by the British in 1883 to garrison a Zulu peace keeping force. Here there is an interesting museum. We continue to the Zulu heartland of eMakhosini on the Mahlabathini Plain near Melmoth - the Valley of the Kings that was the birth place of King Shaka. The graves and royal capitals of seven Zulu Kings lie in this valley.
 
Afterwards we continue to our battlefields lodge, following the Zulu army's line of advance to Isandlwana. Check in and enjoy dinner, whilst absorbing some of the fascinating history of this great conflict between Britain and the proud Zulu Kingdom.
Day 7
Today enjoy a full day exploring the poignant Zulu Battlefields.
 
After an updated briefing, your guide will recount the events leading up to the fateful battle of Isandlwana, where in 1879 the mighty British army suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in its history following the controversial invasion of Zululand. See for yourself the events portrayed so passionately in the film Zulu Dawn, as the regiment was wiped out almost to a man by 20,000 Zulu warriors.
 
After returning to your lodge for lunch, we visit the famous mission station at Rorkes Drift where later that day a handful of British soldiers (outnumbered 30-to-1) fought off over 4,000 Zulu warriors for almost 12 hours. This battle - unforgettably brought to life by Michael Caine in the film Zulu -  saw 11 Victoria Crosses awarded, which is more than in any other engagement in the history of the British Empire.
 
We continue to Fugitives Drift where two young officers attempted to carry the Queen's colour to safety, before returning to our lodge.
 
Recommended Reading:
The Day of the Dead Moon - David Rattray
Brave Men’s Blood – Ian Knight
Day 8
Today we travel 4-hours to the spectacular uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains, recognised as a World Heritage site for its vast collection of Bushman rock art paintings.
   
We follow the Boer line of advance, stopping at the Talana Hill battlefield and museum, where the first battle of the South African War (Anglo Boer War) of 1899 took place and where khaki was worn for the first time.
 
We continue to Elandslaagte and Ladysmith, which was besieged for 118 days by the boers. Here we can visit the small Siege Museum. On Christmas Day, the Boers fired a carrier shell without a fuse into the town containing a Christmas pudding, two Union Flags and the message "Compliments of the Season". This shell is still kept in the museum (open on weekdays & Saturday am).
 
We also visit Spion Kop, where one of the bloodiest battles took place in efforts to relieve Ladysmith. Visit the mass graves atop Spion Kop hill and see for yourself how poor military decisions affected the outcome of this battle. Incredibly three future world leaders were in the area at the time this battle took place - Winston Churchill as a young newspaper correspondent, the future Mahatma Gandhi as a stretcher bearer, and Louis Botha as the Boer general who would go on to become the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
 
Afterwards we drive to the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains. Known locally as the "Barrier of Spears", this mountain range is the backbone of Southern Africa and runs all the way down from the Great Rift Valley. Check into your mountain resort in this area of unspoilt natural beauty.
  
Recommended Reading:
Boer War – Thomas Pakenham
Day 9
At leisure to relax in the Drakensberg Mountains and enjoy the facilities of your resort, with superlative scenery and fresh mountain air making it ideal for walking holidays at any level of fitness. Your hotel will organise guided walks each day – typically one short walk and one long walk, or a walk to a Bushman painting.
  
Your hotel has a swimming pool and offers many activities in or near the resort including golf, horse riding in the mountains, fly fishing, tennis, lawn bowls, badminton, mountain biking, table tennis, darts and pool. The mountains also offer an outstanding location for bird watching – particularly raptors, but also sunbirds, waxbills and the numerous other species found in the grasslands, riverine scrub and natural forests.
Day 10
This morning enjoy the beauty of the Natal Midlands on your 3-hour transfer to your hotel on the Durban North Coast, renowned for its wonderful beaches and warm holiday weather.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in your lush sub-tropical surroundings on the shores of the warm Indian Ocean.
Day 11
Today enjoy a full day private sightseeing tour of the highlights of Durban.
 
We start with a drive along the Golden Mile, the beachfront promenade with its colourful street markets, and through the Point Waterfront. We continue past the beautiful old City Hall to the small craft harbour at Wilson's Wharf and drive past huge sugar terminals and busy harbour warehouses to the University of Natal campus, which has lovely views over the harbour.
 
Then we visit the bustling African/Indian Markets at Warwick Triangle – home to 9 different markets developed around Durban’s largest public transport interchange, where over 6,000 street vendors ply their trade – an authentic cultural experience. We then visit the peaceful Durban Botanic Gardens, founded in 1849 and home to a magnificent orchid house and many massive trees from Asia, Africa and America. Our tour ends with a visit to the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium that was built for the 2010 World Cup. Here there is the option of taking a cable car ride to the top of the stadium for a phenomenal view over Durban and its coastline (pay locally).
 
After lunch (own account) we continue to uShaka Marine World, situated in the old harbour area that is being extensively re-developed. Here you can view large indigenous sharks of the Indian Ocean and a wide variety of marine animals - including turtles, dolphins, seals and penguins. There are snorkelling ponds with over 5,000 fish and a lovely beach. Afterwards you will be transferred back to your hotel.
 
Note: Moses Mabhida Stadium is closed on Saturdays and any other match day.
Day 12
At leisure to relax on the warm golden beaches of the Durban North Coast.
 
Many optional activities are available such as a marine cruise to search for dolphins, turtles, sharks, whales (in season) and other fascinating sea life. Championship golf, horse riding and deep sea game fishing are also available.
Day 13
Transfer to Durban Airport for your flight home.
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