The Rainbow Route

A 17 Day Expedition Across South Africa

The Rainbow Route

This expedition style safari is a perfect overview of South Africa and the neighboring Kingdom of Swaziland.  Starting in Johannesburg you'll spend 17 exploring game parks, mountain ranges, and coastlines before ending the journey in Cape Town.  This safari covers many highlights of South Africa, with a strong focus on the national parks.  Staying at simple lodges & chalets, this tour is a great value!

An essential part of your safari is some participation.  From carrying your own bag to cleaning your window and packing the truck in the morning – it’s all part of your adventure and when everyone puts in a little effort the trip will run smoothly (especially on the longer days). Where the tour leaders provide meals, we ask that clients help (on rotation) with the washing up.


  • Mpumalanga Panorama Route – sight seeing
  • Kruger National Park – game drives
  • Swaziland – mountain walks
  • Zululand – game drives & cultural village
  • Drakensberg Mountains – mountain walks
  • Wild Coast – beach walks & Xhosa culture
  • Addo Elephant National Park – game drives
  • Tsitsikamma National Park – forest walks
  • Hermanus – beaches and whales
  • Cape Town – Cape Point & Table Mountain

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The Rainbow Route

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Day 1 | Johannesburg to Mpumalanga

Departing from Johannesburg at 06:30am we head towards Mpumalanga where mountains, panoramic passes, valleys, rivers, waterfalls & forests characterize the landscape.  Few regions in the world can match the extraordinary beauty of the low veld & escarpment.

Days 2 & 3 | Kruger Private Reserve

The largest game reserve in South Africa, boasting the world's greatest concentration of species, has an amazing sixteen different ecosystems.  Exciting game drives provide us with excellent game viewing.  Spot the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) and many other animals in this true African wilderness.   

Day 4 | Kingdom of Swaziland

Malolotja Nature Reserve in the mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland is our next attraction.  Renowned for a great variety of habitats from short grassland, to thick riverine scrub, bushveld and moist forest, we explore the reserve on foot to enjoy the fantastic mountain views.

Days 5 & 6 | Zululand

We visit the craft markets near Mbabane that have a fascinating range of handmade crafts and the local witchdoctor stall is not to be missed!   We re-enter South Africa and head to Mkuzi Game Reserve, which is a safe haven for the endangered black rhino.  We visit a waterhole hide and watch game come down to drink.  An early morning game drive is followed by a cultural afternoon where we visit a Zulu village on the border of the game reserve and learn about the Zulu culture.

Days 7 & 8 | Drakensberg Mountains

The Drakensberg Mountains or “uKhahlamba” - the Barrier of Spears, is a 125 mile-long mountainous wonderland and world heritage site.  From Mkhuze we move further south to the base of these mountains where we overnight for two nights in quaint cottages. We will spend time walking along beautiful mountain stream paths, or just enjoying the spectacular views. 

Days 9 & 10 | Wild Coast

En-route to the Wild Coast we visit Qunu, the home town of Nelson Mandela, and pay our respects to this great man.  The Wild Coast remains a relatively untouched paradise with unspoiled stretches of dramatically beautiful coastline, open spaces and pristine forest areas.  

Day 11 | Addo Elephant National Park

The Addo Elephant National Park was established in 1931 to protect the last 11 wild elephants from extermination.  Today more than 600 elephants roam through the area.  The park also offers excellent viewing of black rhino, Cape buffalo, lion and leopard, as well as a host of other large and small mammals and over 400 species of birds in the greater park area. 

Days 12-13 | Knysna & Tsitsikamma National Park

For two nights we will stay in a lodge resort in Knysna, which is nestled on a tranquil lagoon.  We will take a day trip to the Storms River mouth where there are walks up the gorge and along the rocky coast.  The Tsitsikamma National Park incorporates 50 miles of spectacular sea and landscapes; a remote mountainous region with secluded valleys, coastal forests with deep river gorges leading down to the sea.  

Day 14 | Hermanus

Hermanus offers some of the best land based whale watching in the world.  From June to November Southern Right whales come up from the southern oceans to calve and mate in the shallow waters around the Cape.  In whale season we will take a walk along this beautiful coastline.   In the summer months we will explore the flowering fynbos in Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

Days 15 & 16 | Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the most picturesque cities in the world, with the majestic Table Mountain providing its central focus.  On our way into Cape Town, we visit Stellenbosch, South Africa’s renowned wine region, for wine tasting (own expense) and a cellar tour.  The “mother city” has many attractions; we will visit the harbor at Hout Bay, visit Cape Point, enjoy the famous beaches and the V&A Waterfront.

Day 17 | Cape Town – Tour Ends

In the morning we climb Table Mountain, offering panoramic views over Cape Town reaching out into the bay and Robben Island.  Having explored the highlights of the Rainbow Nation we take a last look at Cape Town and catch up on curio shopping in the afternoon, before your tour ends at 18:00 at the guest house.

2018 Departures

Bold dates are guaranteed departures, all others require at least 4 guests


Departs Johannesburg

Ends Cape Town

Jan 6

Jan 22

Jan 20

Feb 5

Feb 3

Feb 19

Feb 24

Mar 12

Mar 17

Apr 2

Apr 7

Apr 23

Apr 28

May 14

May 12

May 28

May 19

Jun 4

May 26


Jun 16

Jul 2

Jun 23

Jul 9

Jun 30

Jul 16

Jul 7

Jul 23

Jul 14

Jul 30

Jul 21

Aug 6

Jul 28

Aug 13

Aug 4

Aug 20

Aug 18

Sep 3

Aug 25

Sep 10

Sep 1

Sep 17

Sep 15

Oct 1

Sep 22

Oct 8

Sep 29

Oct 15

Oct 6

Oct 22

Oct 13

Oct 29

Oct 20

Nov 5

Nov 3

Nov 19

Nov 10

Nov 26

Nov 24

Dec 10

Dec 1

Dec 17

Dec 8

Dec 24

Dec 22

Jan 7 2019

Dec 29

Jan 14 2019


Accommodation: Fourteen nights on safari we stay at small lodges and guest houses, with en-suite facilities. Two nights on the Wild Coast are in self-catering chalets where two bedrooms share a bathroom.  Lodges are simple, clean and are generally rated as 2-3 star.  Here's a sample:

Zululand Lodge is a privately owned tented camp on the 2000 acre uKuwela wildlife conservancy north of Hluhluwe town and bordering Phinda Game Reserve, in northern KwaZulu Natal.  The lodge is built on a slope with breath taking views of the Msinene River valley and surrounding bushveld. The camp offers 9 tastefully decorated en-suite permanent canvas rooms sleeping up to 18 people.  The elegantly furnished central lodge area allows you to put your feet up and relax in the open-air cushioned lounge area.

Baleens Guest House is located in Hermanus, an easy walk to the beach.  There are 21 rooms, all en-suite with showers, seven with sea facing balconies and four with mountain views.  All rooms are comfortable and informal – catering for those travelers who expect good, clean and comfortable accommodation.

Sweetest Guest Houses are a collection of 5 houses located in the Sea Point area of Cape Town, along the Atlantic.  Each house has a different style, from a classic Victorian to a modern, African design.  Twin rooms en-suite facilities.  WiFi available.

Transport: You'll travel in rugged, custom-built safari trucks with 12 forward facing seats. The vehicles are comfortable for cruising and excellent for game viewing with large sliding windows and front hatches for ease of viewing.  There are several long days of travel providing for a beautiful journey on the way to exciting and varied destinations.

GROUP SIZE:  Some departures are guaranteed, other require a minimum of 4 (see Departure Dates).  Maximum group size is 12.



  • Accommodation as specified in itinerary.
  • Services of a guide and transfers in customized safari vehicles.
  • All entrance fees within the national parks and reserves.
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary, fruit juice, tea, and coffee.
  • All activities as specified in the itinerary.


  • Travel Insurance (required).
  • All flights.
  • Visas for South Africa & Swaziland.
  • Some meals at guests’ expense.
  • Water, beer, wine, and other drinks.
  • Items of personal nature and toiletries.
  • Staff gratuities.
  • Pre- or post-safari accommodations.

PAYMENT: A non-refundable, 20% deposit is required to confirm booking.  Balance is due 7 weeks before departure. 

Other terms & conditions apply.


2018 Rates

  • $2650.00 (Jan-Dec)
  • Single Supplement: $640

*Rates are per person sharing.  Single supplemented waived if guest is willing to share rooms.

Length: 16 nights/17 days

Route:  Starts in Johannesburg and ends in Cape Town

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