The Grape Escape
Cheat's guide to wine tasting:
- Look closely at the wine while nodding your head, furrowing your brow and making a few 'mmmm' sounds.
- Swirl the wine. Gently. You don't want to splash it all over that nice white tablecloth.
- Stick your nose in and take a whiff. The further into the glass you can get it, the better.
- Taste the wine: after a few goes you can skip straight to this step.
Day 1 - Durban
Head down to the Golden Mile for a cocktail and some group bonding. Don't stress, nobody will force you to wear name tags or play icebreaker games.Spend time exploring DurbanPerhaps visit the Art Gallery, the Juma Masjid Mosque, Sea World, Wet & Wild, or enjoy a bay cruise or surf lesson
Day 2-3 - Drakensburg
The Drakensberg mountain range (3482m), Barrier of Spears, Dragon mountains - call it what you want, as long as you lace up your walking shoes and go for a hike.Leave Durban and travel inland towards the Drakensberg mountain range (370 km, approx 6-7 hrs)Enjoy a whole day to explore part of the mountain range on footEnjoy a sun-downer from the thatched loft lounge room that has a big screen, HD television, book swap and internet cafe Other facilities include a pool, jacuzzi, barbeque area and fire pit
Day 4-5 - Lesotho Highlands
Stop by a village in Lesotho and spend time with the locals. Then you'll head to Golden Gate Highlands National Park to find elands, zebra and mongoose. Possibly less friendly but definitely hairier.
Leaving the Drakensberg behind, head into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho (320 km, approx 6-7 hrs)
Perhaps set off on a Bushman painting hike or the Pitseng Canyon hike
Day 6-7 - Wild Coast/Cintsa
Cintsa is on the coast, so pack your trunks (insert elephant joke here). Plenty of time for hiking, swimming, mountain biking and surfing. Visit a Xhosa village and see what rural life is like. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are from Xhosa tribes, so that's a good indication of how lovely the locals will be.
Head to the Wild Coast of South Africa and the small town of Cintsa (620 km, approx 10-12 hrs)Arrive in the late afternoon and have time to relax before an optional group dinner
Enjoy plenty of time to explore the town, relax on the beaches or make the most of optional activities such as hiking, swimming, mountain biking and surfing
Day 8 - Addo Elephant National Park
Reasons to be envious of elephants: They spend 18 hours a day eating, they have great memories, they have no natural predators and they can sleep standing up.Travel on to Addo Elephant National Park (500 km, 7-8 hrs)On arrival at the park, take an afternoon game drive and try to spot some of the local residentsWhile in Addo, stay at a campground that has basic shared facilities
Perhaps set off on a night game drive
Day 9-10 - Garden Route/Tsitsikamma National Park
If the coastline here was any more dramatic it would need its own reality show. There's a bit of ocean, a bit of forest and heaps of optional activities like bungee jumping, snorkelling and taking the canopy tour.
Spend the next few days discovering the most spectacular stretch of the Garden Route
Your first stop is the Tsitsikamma National Park (250 km, approx 4-5 hrs)Perhaps opt for a bungee jump, a canopy tour or snorkelling
Day 11 - Oudtshoorn
Oudtshoorn and Knysna are just two of the places you'll fail to pronounce correctly today. 97% of the world's ostriches live at Oudtshoorn. An ostrich eye is the size of a billiard ball, and it can run at 64kph. Don't try and keep up.
Head out across the arid Karoo region bound for Oudtshoorn (220 km, approx 3-4 hrs)
Stop off at Knysna en route to stretch your legs and explore this quaint little hamlet
Day 12 - Swellendam Wine Region
In the Cango Caves you'll see stalagmites (the hanging ones) with names like 'the bridal couple', 'glass flower fantasy', 'weird Cango candle' and the 'hanging shawl'. Then say hello to some old friends, namely chardonnay, sav blanc, shiraz and cab sav.
Explore the Cango Caves and learn about their formation and history from our local guideTravel from Oudtshoorn to Swellendam (220km, approx 4-4.5 hrs) on the scenic Route 62 via the towns of Calitzdorp, Ladysmith, Montaque and RobertsonCheck into your accommodation before heading out on a wine tour to sample some of the local produce
Day 13 - Cape Town
Head to Long Street for bars, bookstores, restaurants, clothes and antique shops. Find a fairy-lit balcony or a lounge on the sidewalk to toast the end of the trip with your favourite South African wine.Enjoy a host of optional activities in Cape Town such as abseiling, kloofing, scuba diving, a harbour cruise and much more besidesPerhaps visit the Botanical Gardens, the District Six Museum, the national gallery or spend some time on Table MountainThere's no accommodation provided for tonight but we are able to organise additional nights. Please request at the time of booking. We recommend you do stay longer as there is plenty to see and do in Cape Town.Please don't book international departure flights until after 9pm on departure day.
**This trip is run by our sister company Intrepid**
What to Know
On this trip you will be accompanied by 2 crew members, a Group Leader and a Driver. (Depending on your group size – from time to time your leader will also be your driver)
Addo National Elephant Park - Game drive, Cango Caves, Drakensburg - Short hike, Oudtshoorn - Local village visit, Swellendam Wine Tour
12 breakfasts, 10 dinners
- International flights, airport transfers, departure taxes, visas, insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals not listed, any optional tours or activities during free time, camera fees, excess baggage charges, tips and items of a personal nature.
It is recommended that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information prior to your departure.
Geckos strongly recommends the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Please leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Most of our hotels will have a safety deposit box, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and Geckos makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING CONDITIONS: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Be aware that traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
SWIMMING POOLS: You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
UNFENCED CAMP SITES: On some trips where you will be staying within a national park, please note that at times you will stay in unfenced camp sites. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules that must be adhered to. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price Kitty Payment Total Price 27 Apr 2014 - 09 May 2014 6 Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 08 Jun 2014 - 20 Jun 2014 7+ Available US $975 ZA R3,680 US $1,427 Book Now 06 Jul 2014 - 18 Jul 2014 7+ Available US $975 ZA R3,680 US $1,427 Book Now 24 Aug 2014 - 05 Sep 2014 5 Available US $1,030 ZA R3,680 US $1,482 Book Now 16 Nov 2014 - 28 Nov 2014 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 11 Jan 2015 - 23 Jan 2015 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 01 Feb 2015 - 13 Feb 2015 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 08 Mar 2015 - 20 Mar 2015 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 03 May 2015 - 15 May 2015 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 31 May 2015 - 12 Jun 2015 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now 05 Jul 2015 - 17 Jul 2015 7+ Available US $975 ZA R3,680 US $1,427 Book Now 02 Aug 2015 - 14 Aug 2015 7+ Available US $1,000 ZA R3,680 US $1,452 Book Now 06 Sep 2015 - 18 Sep 2015 7+ Available US $1,000 ZA R3,680 US $1,452 Book Now 04 Oct 2015 - 16 Oct 2015 7+ Available US $975 ZA R3,680 US $1,427 Book Now 08 Nov 2015 - 20 Nov 2015 7+ Available US $945 ZA R3,680 US $1,397 Book Now
Kitty payment is required in cash. It needs to be paid before the end of your trip, in the local currency stated above. It is generally paid on Day 1, and covers most on-ground expenses. Kitty payments calculated using exchange rates valid on 1 Jan 2013.
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