Elephants, Penguins, and Other Animals on Land- and Sea-Based South African Safaris
Though visitors to southern Africa can see the big-five game animals—lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos—at nearly every game reserve, the marine big five are a bit more elusive. The animals of the marine big five, which include southern right whales, dolphins, cape fur seals, African penguins, and great white sharks, are mostly found right along Africa’s southern tip, where they migrate, feed, and nest along the rocky shoreline. On this 10-day, 7-night South African safari from Group IST, you’ll get a chance to see both the big five and the marine big five as well as the culture-rich city of Cape Town. The trip includes round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) on South African Airways, domestic flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, all accommodations, most meals, and numerous land- and sea-based safaris.
Click here to see the full itinerary.
Days 1–3: Pilanesberg National Park
The first stop on your South African safari is Pilanesberg National Park, where you’ll spend two nights in either the Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge or the Bakubung Bush Lodge. Located about three hours northwest of Johannesburg, Pilanesberg contains all of the big-five game animals, plus more than 300 bird species. The first night, get to know your fellow travelers during a sundown reception, where you’ll have the opportunity to interact with local elephants. The next day, you’ll head out on two game drives in an open-air jeep to find the park’s animals.
Days 4–6: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Located on South Africa’s southwestern tip, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve draws tourists hoping to see the marine big five. Though visitors can only encounter whales from June through December, you’ll see dolphins, cape fur seals, African penguins, and great white sharks on your first morning in Grootbos during a safari cruise around Walker Bay. The next day, hike to Klipgat Caves, where you’ll have the option of taking a shark-cage diving excursion (extra fees), and then head out on a scenic drive through ancient milk-wood forests.
Days 7–10: Cape Town
Cape Town is South Africa’s legislative capital as well as a hub for culture, fine dining, and natural beauty. The city sits on a cape that juts out into the South Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by white-sand beaches, sparkling bays, and rocky cliffs. One of the most popular spots to visit is Table Mountain, a level plateau near the edge of the cape that you’ll see on a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour. The rest of the time in Cape Town is yours to explore the city on your own. Many shopping areas, historic sites, and waterfront activities are within walking distance of the hotel, which is located near the trendy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.