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A herd of zebras quench their thirst at a watering hole.

South Africa Big Five Luxury Safari

Example 9 Day Tour
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Explore the private game reserves with intimate wildlife encounters on this 9-day trip throughout South Africa. Visit Johannesburg before heading off for game drives in the private Phinda Game Reserve and Mala Mala Game Reserve. Take a moment to relax between safaris along the gorgeous Dolphin Coast. This easy-paced trip is perfect for wildlife lovers with a sense of adventure.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Johnnesburg
Days 2-4 : &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge
Day 5 : Dolphin Coast
Days 6-8 : Kruger National Park
Day 9 : Depart Kruger National Park

Highlights

  • Visit the bustling city of Johannesburg
  • Encounter up-close game viewing in Phinda Private Reserve
  • Relax along the beautiful Dolphin Coast
  • Experience game drives in the Mala Mala Game Reseve

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

A herd of zebras quench their thirst at a watering hole. Family on Safari Elephant battle African carvings are a traditional from of art and culture. The sun sets over Kruger National Park

Day 1 Arrive Johnnesburg

Welcome to Johannesburg! You are met at the airport and assisted through immigration, baggage collection, and customs. You are then shown to your hotel for a relaxing evening.

With extra time, a longer stay in Johannesburg can be arranged. Johannesburg stems from gold and diamond mining, dating back to the 1800’s, and the city’s local name, Egoli, means The City of Gold. Today Johannesburg is the powerhouse of Africa and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Johannesburg is a wealthy and fast-paced city, earning its reputation as the “New York of Africa”, while also being considered one of the largest man-made forests in the world!

Day 2-4 &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge

  • Hotel
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Fly this morning to Phinda and meet the transfer to the lodge. &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge is located within the 23,000-hectacre Phinda Private Reserve. Phinda Mountain Lodge is poised on the crest of a mountain commanding spectacular views over Lebombo range and excellent safari opportunities for Big 5 game viewing.

Activities from Mountain Lodge include morning and afternoon game drives, nature walks, excellent birding, riverboat cruises, and canoeing. Extra activities available include scenic coastal flights, beach excursions with turtle viewing (November to January), horse riding, black rhino tracking, and cultural visits (all additional costs).

Day 5 Dolphin Coast

Transfer to the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, also known as the Dolphin Coast, stretching north from Durban to the mighty Thukela River. This Indian Ocean coastline of warm waters is rich in marine life as its name suggests. Optional boat excursions offer close encounters with bottlenose dolphins, which are visible close to the shore year-round.

This region is a mixture of Zulu and Indian cultures, reflected in the settlements started by indentured Indian laborers on the many sugar cane farms. The north coast is famous for its golden beaches, good restaurants, and pubs in seaside towns such as Umhlanga Rocks. It is also home to the Natal Sharks Board and historic battle sites of Fort Pearson and the Ultimatum Tree.

Day 6-8 Kruger National Park

  • Hotel
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Transfer to the airport and board a flight from Phinda to Sabi Sands airstrip. You are transferred into the park where you settle in at the Leadwood Lodge in Mala Mala Game Reserve.

Mala Mala is a game reserve located within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga province, South Africa. It is the largest private big five game reserve in South Africa, covering around 130 km. The Sabi Sand Game Reserve borders the Kruger National Park, which together with some other parks make up the Great Kruger National Park. 

Various antelope species, from impala, waterbuck and duiker to kudu, bushbuck and nyala can also be seen, as can giraffe and warthog. However, it is the leopard that is the real star of the show, with the area well-known for some of the best leopard experiences in Africa. This shy and elusive animal, normally the most solitary of the African cats, is often viewed both in daylight hours and during game drives.

A number of lion prides have territories at Sabi Sand and are regularly spotted on game drives. In contrast to the leopard, lions are the most sociable of the cat family and prides may consist of up to 12 related females and their cubs, as well as a far smaller number of related males, often brothers. Although not as common as the leopard or lion, the cheetah is also a frequent sight at Sabi Sand. Built for speed instead of power, this formidable predator generally hunts during the day, occasionally resulting in spectacular sightings of the fastest animal in the world in action.
  
Night drives are an important part of the game viewing experience at Sabi Sand and provide an opportunity to view many unusual animals, such as the beautifully-patterned African civet. Another animal often encountered in night drives is the dwarf mongoose, Africa’s smallest carnivore. Family troops of up to 30 of these little animals live in numerous hiding places in the sides of termite mounds. A typical though hair-raising sound often encountered on night drives is the wail of the bush baby, a forlorn noise that imitates the plaintive cry of a human infant.

Day 9 Depart Kruger National Park

  • 1 Breakfast
Transfer from Leadwood Lodge to the Sabi Sands airport for your flight to Johannesburg and then homeward.

&Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge

Dulini Leadwood Lodge

Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

The Oyster Box

Per person starting at
$5,230

Notes

Select a Date

Included

  • 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 4 Nights Accommodations
    • 2 Nights Hotel
    • 2 Nights Lodge
  • 4 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are included.
  • Park Entrance Fee
  • Internal Flights

Excluded

  • International Flights
  • Optional Excursions
  • Sabi Sands arrival and departure fees
  • Bed Levy tax

Recommended Budgeting

  • $75 Meals not Included
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Kassandra Miller
Kassandra M

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This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).
Karen Snider

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Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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