It’s time to journey to the world’s second-largest continent, land where majestic elephants, massive buffalo, and elusive big cats roam. In addition to getting relatively up close and personal with members of the Big Five, we’ll dedicate time to learning about South Africa’s history, giving back to communities in Swaziland, and exploring the beautiful beaches, waters, and nature reserves of these beautiful African countries. This is a three-week expedition you’ll never forget!
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21 Daysview dates and prices
Arrive: Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)
Depart: Durban, South Africa (DUR)
Tour Soweto's history on bikes
We’ll begin our trip in the culturally rich Soweto, the home to former president Nelson Mandela. We’ll explore the township on bicycles, stopping at such historical sites as Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. This memorial commemorates the many students who played an important role in the struggle against apartheid. We’ll also pass by the Mandela house, where we’ll learn more about this family’s story and legacy. The next day will be spent giving back to Soweto, working with local schools and community centers to help with whatever is most needed.
Explore Kruger National Park
Ready to see some of South Africa’s famous wildlife? There’s no better place than in Kruger National Park, which houses more species of large mammals than any other African reserve. On the way, we’ll stop at Jane Goodall’s Chimp Eden, the only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa. Once in Kruger, we’ll set up camp near the Crocodile River, an area from which it’s not unusual to spot prides of lions, giraffes, and rhinos. The entire next day will be spent on a safari through the park, so keep your eyes peeled for all Big Five: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. But that’s not all the wildlife that lives in Kruger. You may also see different species of antelope, the African wild dog, giraffes, hippos, and mongoose.
Whitewater raft the Sabie River and interact with elephants
Our next activity will lead us to Hazyview, where we’ll spend a morning introducing ourselves to African elephants. In this town’s sanctuary, you’ll be able to actually interact with and feed these gentle giants. You’ll tour the stables where they sleep and learn more about the largest mammal walking on Earth. In the afternoon, we’ll kick it up a notch with a trip down class III rapids on the Sabie River!
Cultural immersion in Swaziland
The journey continues as we cross our first border into Swaziland and north toward the Lebombo Mountains. We’ll spend two days in Simunye, learning local culture and how they sustain their mountaintop community. You’re sure to be challenged by local children to a game of soccer! Villagers will teach you how to make bangles, grass mats, necklaces, and more for the locals to sell at craft markets. At night, we’ll enjoy traditional African dancing around a campfire!
Go on a Swaziland sunset safari
After we say goodbye to our new friends in Simunye, we’ll head to Swaziland’s Hlane Royal National Park, the country’s largest protected wilderness area. During our sunset safari, it’s likely we’ll see more large mammals, and possibly even other wildlife like cheetahs, wildebeest, and zebras!
Snorkel in Kosi Bay
Our next adventure takes us south to Kosi Bay, where we’ll spend two days traversing the four interconnected lakes (Amanzimnyama, Nhlange, Mpungwini and Makhawulani) in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The water (with its sparkling clarity and abundance of wildlife) is famous for the traditional Thonga fish traps, curved woven kraals used for more than 700 years by this community. We’ll spend some time fishing with these traps to catch that night’s dinner! The pristine waters are famous for bird habitats; Kosi Bay is home to more than 250 avian species, including the African fish eagle, flamingos, and the rare palm nut vulture. On its beaches, you’ll spot loggerhead and leatherback turtles. During an afternoon of snorkeling, we’ll hope to catch a glimpse of the nine-striped cardinalfish, emperor angelfish, or honeycomb eel.
Snorkel in Ponta do Ouro
After crossing the border into Mozambique, we’ll spend four days in the coastal town of Ponta do Ouro, which means the “Tip of Gold.” What’s unique about this village is that it can only be reached via a 4×4 vehicle. We’ll take full advantage of its exquisite shallow coral reefs by spending our afternoons snorkeling. Ponta, as it’s called by locals, is famous for its dolphins, and it’s very likely we’ll get to swim with them! We’ll also give back to the community with a school and playground service project.
Go on a safari in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park
Back in South Africa, we’ll spend two days in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, the oldest nature reserve in the country. Known for its wildlife protection efforts, it’s likely we’ll see more of the Big Five here, especially the white rhino. You may also pass by the jackal, common warthog, baboon, and kudu. On the second day, we’ll spend some time in the Emdoneni Cheetah Project, a rehabilitation center for cheetahs, serval cats, African wildcats and, caracal (lynx). Not only will we learn more about the conservation of big cats, but we’ll get up close and personal with a few of their residents!
Community service in St. Lucia
Next up is a service project in St. Lucia, on the southern tip of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a world heritage site acclaimed for its copious biodiversity and unique ecosystems. We’ll contribute to this village by building swings at a playground, participating in the soup kitchen, or planting new crops in the community vegetable garden. That afternoon, we’ll hop onto a boat and explore Lake St. Lucia, home to Nile crocodiles and hippopotami.
Learn to surf and kayak in Durban
Our last full day in this beautiful country will be spent surfing and sea kayaking in Durban. This sleepy coastal village is South Africa’s best-kept secret for surfing, great for beginners and experts alike. That afternoon, we’ll embark on a tour of the bay by sea kayak. We’ll glide through the calm waters of the Indian Ocean, above dolphins, exotic fish, and limestone reefs.
Dates and Prices
|Departure Day||Return Day||Grade||Price||Availability|
Approximate service hours: 18–24
INCLUDED IN TUITION:
- All meals
- All lodging, group gear, and technical gear
- All guided activities
NOT INCLUDED IN TUITION:
- Personal gear and clothing
- Optional trip protection
I loved everything, especially the safaris, surfing, sandboarding, and the people. Out of my five Bold Earth trips, this Africa trip was my favorite!
The communication between the trip leaders during our trip when we were in contact was great. It was very clear that Hayley and Nick created a bond between all of the kids as well as
between themselves and the group.
My favorite part about the trip was every single day! I loved all of the community service we did, the safaris, camping, and experiencing Africa in all of its entirety. Going on Bold Earth trips has changed my life and my perspective on the
world. I have made so many new friends from around the world and have done so many amazing things
that I think everyone should experience.
My favorite part about the trip was probably being able to create friendships and family-like bonds with all of the people in my group, while getting to experience so many incredible aspects of the culture in the places we were
exploring. I also loved being able to play with the kids at the schools and playgrounds; it was amazing to see how excited and energetic they
were! I would recommend Bold Earth to anyone because it gives you an opportunity to make
connections with people from all over the world, see and explore new places, immerse yourself in new cultures, lend a helping hand
to those in need, and make amazing memories!