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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 : Phinda Game Reserve
Day 5 : Durban
Days 6-8 : Kruger National Park
Day 9 : Depart Kruger National Park


  • 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


Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level


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 to settle into the city.

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 Phinda Game Reserve

  • Hotel
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Rise early this morning for a scheduled flight to KwaZulu-Natal (included in rate), 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. We continue onward to &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge, 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 Phinda 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 Durban

Transfer this morning to Durban, resting before your onward journey to Greater Kruger National Park. 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. Take a stroll along Durban's beachfront promenade or simply relax inside the grounds of the stunning Oyster Box Hotel. Optional boat excursions offer close encounters with bottlenose dolphins, which are visible close to the shore year-round.

Day 6-8 Kruger National Park

  • Hotel
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Today we leave the coast behind for the exciting interior of Kruger National Park. Board flight from King Shaka to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (flight excluded from rate) before taking another short flight into Southern Sabi Sands (flight included). Settle in at the luxurious Dulini 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.

&Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge

Dulini Leadwood Lodge

Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

The Oyster Box

Per person starting at


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Rates may vary based on current exchange rate.


  • 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
    • 2 Nights Hotel
    • 6 Nights Lodge
  • 4 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are included.
  • Park Entrance Fee
  • Internal Flights
    • Includes Scheduled SA Airlink flight JNB/Phinda and Shuttle flights MQP/Ulusaba airstrip/JNB. Excludes all other internal flights


  • International Flights
  • Optional Excursions
  • Required Trip Insurance
  • Government bed levy, settled directly at the lodge
  • Internal flight King Shaka Airport to Kruger Mpumalanga
  • Optional Gratuity


  • $75 Meals not Included
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
Lisa Bridge

When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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