South Africa Highlights & Safari

tour only from
$2,299
12 days
with flights from
$3,999
14 days
average review
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CAPE TOWN, ZULULAND-HLUHLUWE NATIONAL PARK, ESWATINI, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, AND SOWETO

South Africa is truly a study in contrasts, and you’ll see its amazing diversity for yourself on our expertly curated South Africa tour from the U.S. Experience the cosmopolitan flavors of Cape Town and the uplifting legacy of Nelson Mandela. View the meek and the mighty at both the oldest and largest nature preserves in Africa. Discover enduring traditions and expansive landscapes in Zululand and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). And gain a better understanding of South Africa’s struggle through history and the remarkable, big-hearted spirit of its people. The only way to enhance this tour is by extending it with a specially priced excursion to Victoria Falls, the “Smoke That Thunders.” Breathtaking! 4.5/5 stars on Tripadvisor

Extend Your Trip! Enjoy our South Africa Highlights & Safari with Victoria Falls tour which includes 3 nights at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe with an optional excursion to Chobe National Park in Botswana!

Itinerary at a Glance

2024 Tour Itinerary:

  • 4 nights in Cape Town
  • 2 nights in Hluhluwe/Zululand
  • 1 night in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
  • 2 nights in Kruger Park
  • 2 nights in Johannesburg

Tour Highlights

  • Table Mountain & Cape Town City Tour
  • Home Hosted Dinner in Cape Town
  • Cape Peninsula & Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • Indian Ocean Coast (Durban)
  • Hluhluwe Game Reserve with game drive
  • DumaZulu Traditional Village
  • Kruger National Park with full-day game drive
  • Apartheid Museum & Soweto Township (Johannesburg)

Your Tour Includes

  • Optional round-trip airfare from the New York area (varies by departure) including taxes, fees & fuel surcharges
  • Intra-South Africa flight and transfers
  • Ground transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle
  • Accommodations at superior first-class hotels
  • 19 meals: 11 buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Comprehensive touring and safaris
  • Experienced, English-speaking Tour Director

Is this tour right for you? Find out What to Expect

2024 Tour Itinerary

Flights

Passengers who purchase flights will depart 1 day before the tour starts and return 1 day after the tour ends.

You can find more details on the Before You Depart page.

Day 1: Arrive in Cape Town

Welcome to Cape Town, a vibrant city nestled between Table Mountain and the beautiful coastline. Travelers who purchased our air-inclusive package will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel.

Accommodations: President Hotel or similar

Day 2: Cape Town

Day 3: Cape Town

Day 4: Cape Town

Day 5: Cape Town – Durban – Zululand – Hluhluwe

Day 6: Zululand & Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park Excursion

Day 7: Hluhluwe – Eswatini

Day 8: Eswatini – Kruger National Park

Day 9: Kruger National Park

Day 10: Kruger Park – Mpumalanga – Sandton

Day 11: Johannesburg

Day 12: Depart Johannesburg

Guided Tour Pricing

Explore savings of up to $800 per person to dream destinations! Book by Mar. 1st.

Prices listed as “with flights” below include round-trip airfare from one or more airports in the USA. Travelers may choose to purchase the tour only, and arrange their own arrival in destination. Please note this may change your tour start date.

2024 Tours With Flights Tour Only  
Wed–Tue
May 8–21
Flights not available
Thu–Mon
May 9–20
From
$2,999
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Wed–Tue
May 15–28
From
$4,799
Thu–Mon
May 16–27
From
$2,999
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Wed–Tue
May 22–Jun 4
Flights not available
Thu–Mon
May 23–Jun 3
From
$2,999 $2,699
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Wed–Tue
Jul 17–30
From
$4,799 $4,499
Thu–Mon
Jul 18–29
From
$2,999 $2,699
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Wed–Tue
Aug 7–20
From
$4,949
Thu–Mon
Aug 8–19
From
$2,999
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Wed–Tue
Aug 21–Sep 3
Flights not available
Thu–Mon
Aug 22–Sep 2
From
$2,999 $2,699
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Wed–Tue
Sep 4–17
From
$4,799 $4,499
Thu–Mon
Sep 5–16
From
$2,999 $2,699
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Wed–Tue
Sep 11–24
From
$4,799 $4,499
Thu–Mon
Sep 12–23
From
$2,999 $2,699
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Wed–Tue
Sep 18–Oct 1
From
$4,799 $4,199
Thu–Mon
Sep 19–30
From
$2,999 $2,399
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Wed–Tue
Sep 25–Oct 8
From
$4,799 $4,199
Thu–Mon
Sep 26–Oct 7
From
$2,999 $2,399
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Wed–Tue
Oct 2–15
From
$4,799
Thu–Mon
Oct 3–14
From
$2,999
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Wed–Tue
Oct 16–29
Flights not available
Thu–Mon
Oct 17–28
From
$2,999
Sold Out
Join Waitlist
Wed–Tue
Nov 6–19
From
$4,699 $4,099
Thu–Mon
Nov 7–18
From
$2,999 $2,399
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Wed–Tue
Nov 20–Dec 3
From
$4,599 $3,999
Thu–Mon
Nov 21–Dec 2
From
$2,899 $2,299
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Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
Single supplement applies when not sharing a room. Select a date above to see the rates for that specific departure.

For more information on this tour, please contact us here or call us during business hours (Monday-Friday from 9:00 am - 5:30 pm Eastern) at 1.800.337.7773.

Reservations and Payments
Reservations can be made online or by phone (1.800.337.7773) and will be confirmed upon receipt of your non-refundable, non-transferable deposit, which must be received at the time of reservation. Deposits are $300 per person. Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Space and prices subject to availability. Please see the smarTours Terms and Conditions for complete booking information.

Optional Tours Customize your trip with these optional tours.

Enhance your trip with our recommended optional tours. Indicated optional tours are available to pre-book when you reserve your trip and can be added to your reservation up to final payment. This is the best option to guarantee your spot on your preferred optional tour! Optional tours require a minimum number of participants. Optional tours are non-refundable unless they do not operate.

Some optional tours can be purchased in-destination and may cost extra. The payment methods and currency information to purchase tours in-destination will be provided on final documentation.

Robben Island Tour**

Winelands Tour

Full Day Great White Shark Cage Diving***

What to Expect

Max Group Size: 30 travelers

Activity Level: Level 1

Expect most included touring to require walking and standing periods up to 3 hours at a time (up to 2 times per day) on easy terrain with some light stairs. Learn More

Pacing Level: Balanced

Expect either half-day or full-day tours most days with a free day or free half-day to explore independently in most cities. There may be a few early mornings or long travel days by bus (don’t worry—there are always comfort stops!), and you may expect to stay in most accommodations for 3+ nights. Learn More

No Additional Entry Requirements for U.S. Passport Holders

A valid passport is required for international tours. Currently, there are no additional entry requirements for U.S. passport holders, but this can change at any time. Before travel, both U.S. and non-U.S. passport holders should visit our Passports & Visas page to reconfirm entry requirements.

Safari vehicles have high ground clearance and require agility to embark and disembark. There are two days with scenic, but long drives. A few early wake-ups are required for travel days and game drives. South Africa has a system of "loadshedding" which means power turns off to particular areas on a rotation due to the shortage in electricity supply. Most hotels, restaurants, shops and safari lodges have sufficient backup power in place to avoid major disruptions during loadshedding. The impact on tourists is minimal.

For more detailed information about this tour and destination, visit our Before You Depart section.

Reviews

Paul D

1 month ago
Smartour Review

In general, between my wife and me, we have enjoyed 7 or 8 Smartours, and they have all been excellent experiences including terrific guides. We were lucky on this trip as Jeremy Poole was by far the best guide we have ever had. He made it the most educational trip we have enjoyed. We learned all the natural history from geology to climate to all the animals and major plants we saw. Perhaps most important, the sad political history of South Africa was laid bare by Jeremy who carefully and dispassionately explained the history of South Africa as well as the other countries we visited such as Eswatini. My family of 9 plus 3 friends who had joined the trip constantly commented on the excellence of Jeremy’s lectures.

Cape Town

The first day was perfect as we toured the most interesting areas of the city leaning about the history. The cable car trip was fantastic, and Jeremy did a great job explaining the view and the unique geological and biological features of Tabletop. The trip through Bo-Kaap was also excellent and very informative. Finally, it was nice to have the chance to wander around the Waterfront.

The second day was a long, wonderful excursion to the Cape of Good Hope with ample time to walk in several different places including the rare colony of African penguins. We then spent several hours in the amazing botanical gardens with Jeremy’s very enlightened and interesting leadership. He really is a natural teacher!

The third day was mostly open but ended in what I consider a very rare opportunity for a tour such as this: a visit to a local family for dinner. One thing I most appreciate about Smartours is the fact that they make a real effort to include cultural experiences. This not only enriches the experience, it also serves a very important role in helping visitors truly understand a different culture. In our case the dinner with a local family was one of the real highlights of our trip. The food was excellent, and the host loquacious, extremely articulate and knowledge about the racial history of South Africa (his mother was white and his father ‘colored’) so he was able to offer a unique perspective of apartheid that we found fascinating. All of this was presented in good humor, and a great deal of knowledge about American history as well. It was a very successful experience and I applaud Smartours for including this as part of the package tour.

The next day was a flight to Durban and an interesting day again made all the better by Jeremy’s enlightened narrations over a long bus ride to the Emdoneni Lodge where we stayed for two days. I want to praise the lodge and its staff for a wonderful stay. They prepared a very large birthday cake for my granddaughter and presented it with the entire staff coming out to sing to her. In addition, for a small fee, we were able to tour the various cat operations. I have long been interested in the smaller cats and this experience was a highlight for me.

The next day included wonderful visit to a classical Zulu village where we learned a lot about their culture. Again, Smartours’ focus on cultural immersion was important and very well done.
We then did a tour of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park. I had never really heard about the park, but the tour was superb and included a large number of forest elephants and most amazingly, an almost never-ending exposure to white rhinos! On several occasions they grazed right up to the side of our vehicle. We also saw water buffalos, all sorts of antelopes and even a dung beetle that we watched. When we attempted to drive around its ball, it seemed to attack the vehicle and did not stop until we backed up, at which point it resumed pushing its ball off the road.

The next day involved driving through the impoverished Swaziland (now Eswatini) that came to life via Jeremy’s excellent background lecturers. The lunch stop was interesting with good food and interesting things to see. We had been warned that Piggs Peak Hotel had suffered greatly from the pandemic, but we found it delightful. The smiling staff was unendingly helpful, and our group considered the hotel to be among the best.

We stayed two nights at the Sabi River Sun Resort, an outfit that obviously caters to wealthy visitors to the Kruger Park. I found the hotel replete with a beautifully manicured golf course and very high-end cabins as well as the hotel itself to be disappointing. It is probably the only one available to Smartours, and it is professionally run, and is perfectly satisfactory for lodging. But we had been staying at hotels characterized by happy, always smiling and very helpful staffs, but in the two days I never saw single staff person smile, nor for that matter, the wealthy guests. The staff almost seemed proud of the fact that they have no ATM machine (the town is too far to walk for one), and our group was strongly of the opinion that the food here was by far the worst of the trip, overcooked and tasteless.

But we had been advised to spend a little more to take one of the normal tour vehicles rather than the bus to see Kruker and that was VERY much worthwhile. The entire Kruker experience was every bit as good as advertised. It is a tremendous park with easily viewed animals, and the two days there were, next to Chobi, the highlight of the trip for us. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Eventually we had to leave and move on to Johannesburg where we stayed at an excellent downtown hotel. The Johannesburg stay included another of Smartour’s brilliant cultural experiences. This included a long fascinating visit to Soweto and a long visit to Nelson Mandela/Apartheid museum. I considered that museum to be the most powerful museum experience in my 83 years. It alone is worth the trip!

We paid for the Victoria Falls extension and Chobe River day, and they were very much worth the relatively small extra fee. Unfortunately Smartours did not include Jeremy, I think because we were one short of the 10 they wanted to include him. I think that was shortsighted of Smartours as we very much missed his commentary and his ability to make sure that we got what we paid for and that we knew about some of the extra tours available to us.

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge was spectacular. We all appreciated the wonderful staff, the view, and all the attention such as having mosquito nets set around our beds at night. I was fascinated with the monkeys playing on my balcony and we were all fascinated with the wildlife that accumulated at the small man-made lake in front of the lodge.

The day long Chobe tour including land and river was by far the best day of the entire trip, and it is well worth a separate trip in my mind. We found an optional elephant package for an afternoon, and that too was one of the top highlights of our entire trip. It is expensive, but very much worth the cost. But the afternoon included opportunities to actually fondle the elephants to the extent that my family was able to get between massive ears and the body and stoke the ears. The elephants are in more or less natural settings (they were being rehab-ed in natural settings) and we were very much thrilled to be able to hand feed them special elephant treats. My only complaint is that they never send me the video I had purchased!

To summarize, this tour and some of the optional tours we signed up for were lifetime experiences for all of us. I always marvel at how well Smartours manages to arrange the trips. The lodging is always excellent and the tour guides knowledgeable and very helpful. This is especially true of Jeremy, what an absolute treasure.

Big T

1 month ago
Jeremy Poole was an excellent and knowledgeable guide - perfect for my travels across South Africa. He knew the best places for meals, souvenirs, and shopping and always gave safety reminders.

The dinner with a local family was memorable. A suggestion to attend a 14 course African meal with entertainment was worth every penny. The guides on three days of safaris were very well trained, so when a herd of elephants gave warning signs that they were NOT happy, the guide moved out of their path.

This was a well organized trip giving us an overview of South Africa.

Gail F

3 months ago
Generally a great trip with some room for improvement - especially in the area of Optional Tours.

Linda Y

3 months ago
I highly recommend this tour

Nancy H

4 months ago
An eye-opening tour from beginning to final drop off at the airport. Wildlife viewing was spectacular. We saw the Big Five on two separate game drives. A bonus was the smaller 4x4 vehicles used. Everyone had a clear view of wildlife on both sides at all times. Never once did we feel our safety was at risk. Hotels were upscale and accommodations were roomy and generally up to date. Meals were tasty and typically offered several options. We came home with great appreciation for the work of the dedicated conservationists and the people of South Africa working for social and economic change in their country.

Sheila W

4 months ago
N/A

Debra G

4 months ago
It was a great trip. The weather did not always cooperate, but it was still asounding.

Ilene S

4 months ago
Fabulous; trip of my lifetime!
Wonderful group of people to travel with!
Tour guide, bus drivers, Safari rangers, hotels, restaurant choices, sightseeing wonderful!
Trip included it all!
Too bad US citizens can’t have the respect & manners as the natives of South Africa!

Leshowitz

4 months ago
Great tour....needed a more caring and knowledgeable guide

Linda M

5 months ago
Amazing tour .