Scenic Safari Trail Self Drive

This luxurious and leisurely combination takes you from your safari in a private game lodge in the Greater Kruger Park through the Kingdom of Swaziland and northern KwaZulu Natal to Durban. Staying in intimate game lodges and luxury hotels along the way.

This is a great itinerary for keen game-viewers with two contrasting game experiences. This self drive tour begins with 2 days on safari at a private game lodge in the Greater Kruger Park (Timbavati Game Reserve). Afterwards you are transferred back to Hoedspruit where you collect your rental car.

Enjoy a leisurely meander through the Blyde River area, the southern Kruger National Park, Swaziland and into KwaZulu Natal where you enjoy another safari experience. The Scenic Safari Trail self drive finishes with 4 nights of relaxation in a luxurious yet relaxed coastal lodge at secluded Mabibi bay.

Scenic Safari Trail Accommodation at a glance:

This safari is offered at two accommodation levels to suit a variety of budgets. Luxury and Premier with some lodges featured in both tours using different room types.

Premier option:
Simbavati River Lodge, (Full Board & Game Drives) – 2 nights
Tanamera Lodge, (Dinner, Bed & Breakfast) – 2 nights
Nkomazi Lodge, (Full Board & Game Drives) – 2 nights
Reillys Rock Lodge, (Dinner, Bed & Breakfast) – 1 night
Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge,  (Fully Inclusive) – 2 nights
Thonga Beach Lodge, (Full Board) – 4 nights

Luxury option:
Simbavati Hilltop Lodge (Fully Inclusive) – 2 nights
Summerfield’s (Dinner,Bed & Breakfast) – 2 nights
Nkomazi Lodge (Full Board & Game Drives) – 2 nights
Reillys Rock Lodge (Dinner, Bed & Breakfast) – 1 night
Thanda Safari Lodge / Phinda Mountain Lodge (Fully Inclusive)  – 2 nights
Thonga Beach Lodge, (Full Board) – 4 nights

Tailor-made Option:

This tour can be tailor made by substituting the game lodge of your choice, though this will of course change the price. Contact us for a tailor-made quote.

See Day by Day
Day 1

2 nights on safari in the Greater Kruger Park, Full Board & Game activities

On arrival at the Hoedspruit Airport, you are met by our representative and transferred to your game lodge for your two night safari.

The Premier option is based on Simbavati River Lodge in the Timbavati Game Reserve. Simbavati River Lodge is a warm friendly lodge with a stunning river setting in the heart of the Timbavati Game Reserve. This area of the Timbavati is known for its leopard sightings and so is ideal for safari enthusiasts. Game-viewing is excellent and includes spotting of elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, rhino, general game and bird life.

Simbavati Hilltop Lodge review - Infinity pool, with panoramic views of the bushveld and Drakensberg Mountains

The luxury option is Simbavati Hilltop Lodge. Simbavati Hilltop Lodge has one of the most stunning settings of any safari lodge in the Timbavati Reserve in the greater Kruger Park. This luxury tented camp enjoys a hillside setting with wide angle views over the bush and the distant Drakensberg escarpment and tents are all set on decking to preserve the surrounding bush.

Each of the eight air-conditioned tented suites has a bedroom, separate en suite bathroom as well as an alfresco shower. Large doors open onto an expansive private deck with your own private covered sala for those all important afternoon siestas. In room facilities include air-conditioning, fan, minibar (complimentary drinks), hairdryer, safe and tea/coffee facilities. Each suite has glorious views over the bush and down to the Nhlaralumi river.

Accommodation: Simbavati River Lodge
Located in: Kruger Park - South Africa - Timbavati Reserve

Accommodation: Simbavati Hilltop Lodge
Located in: Kruger Park - South Africa - Timbavati Reserve

Day 3

2 nights Drakensberg Escarpment area, B&B

After a final early morning game drive, you are transferred back to Hoedspruit to collect your rental car and drive to the Blyde River Canyon area for a two night stay. The Drakensberg escarpment provides welcome relaxation after the excitement of a safari. The panoramic drive alongside the Blyde River Canyon is magnificent. Many clients also enjoy visits to the Cheetah Research and Breeding Centre and the Shangaan cultural village.

Tanamera Lodge, (Premier option) means “place of the red earth” . It has a hillside forest setting close to Sabie and offers breathtaking views of the fast flowing Sabie River below and the forested slopes all around. Luxury suites each have their own plunge pool on their private decks.

Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa (luxury option) is a romantic hideaway known for its excellent food, luxurious yet rustic accommodation and its excellent Spa.

Accommodation: Tanamera Lodge
Located in: Blyde River Canyon - South Africa

Accommodation: Summerfields Rose Retreat and Spa
Located in: Blyde River Canyon - Kruger Park - South Africa

Day 5

2 nights near the southern part of Kruger National Park, B&B

Today you travel south and perhaps meander through the southern part of the Kruger Park for your overnight stay at Nkomazi Game Lodge.

Its lodge, Nkomazi River Lodge, has a stunning Kloof setting alongside a fast flowing river with twelve ‘Africa Campaign’ styled tents positioned to blend into the natural bush and overlooking the tumbling river. Furnished with luxury campaign style furniture, the tents have a traditional 1920’s safari ambience. Each has its own private deck with private plunge pool and Victorian outdoor bath. The tents are very spacious with en suite bathroom with shower and separate toilet. Each is well-appointed with comfort cooling/heating, ceiling fan, telephone, tea/coffee facilities, minibar, safe, hairdryer. The Royal Suite also has a private lounge tent and a separate firepit.

The main lodge at Nkomazi River Lodge comprises a dining tent and a separate majilis lounge tent with viewing deck. There’s a stunningly-situated River Retreat Spa with two treatment rooms and an outdoor massage deck right next to a waterfall as well as an outdoor boma dining area.

Accommodation: Nkomazi Game Reserve
Located in: Kruger Park - South Africa

Day 7

1 night Swaziland, DBB

Today you travel to the Kingdom of Swaziland for your overnight stay at Reilly’s Rock Lodge. Swaziland provides a fascinating cultural experience. Travel through undulating country dotted with Swazi villages and enjoy game viewing in the Mlilwane reserve.

Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge (premier option) is the utterly captivating former homestead of conservationist Ted Reilly. The colonial homestead has a colourful pioneer history and has been sympathetically restored with great attention to period detail. (3½ hours, 180km). Summerfield is the luxury option.

Accommodation: Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge
Located in: Eswatini (Swaziland)

Accommodation: Summerfield Luxury Resort & Botanical Garden
Located in: Eswatini (Swaziland)

Day 8

2 nights on safari in northern Maputaland, Fully inclusive

After breakfast you travel to KwaZulu Natal to enjoy two more nights on safari at a private game reserve. Enjoy 4×4 open vehicle game drives and bush walks. Again there is a choice of game lodge.

Established to protect the previously endangered white rhino now numbering over 1000 in the park, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve has been a triumph of conservation efforts. Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge offers exceptional safari experiences in the heart of Big five territory, with both day and night games drives on offer.

Rhino in Hluhluwe Game Reserve, best safari in South Africa

Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge (Premier option) is the only first private lodge in its own concession within Africa’s oldest game reserve, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park. The Lodge has a contemporary design with organic forms utilising natural finishes and materials. 22 well-appointed rooms nestle on a ridge, each with their own private deck giving expansive and uninterrupted views over the reserve. There’s a choice of Safari Rooms or Luxury Bush Villas.All rooms are air-conditioned with ceiling fan, indoor/outdoor showers, tea/coffee facilities, safe, hairdryer, minibar and internet connection.

Beach on Coastal Maputaland

The main lodge comprises living areas, bar, dining are and extensive deck with the stunning view over the bushveld. The Day Spa has been designed to ensure that guests can soak in the sights and sounds of Africa while enjoying professional treatments from the hands of therapists.

Thanda Private Game Reserve (Luxury Option) lies in northern KwaZulu Natal on 14,000ha of Big Five bushveld and comprises Thanda Safari Lodge, Thanda Tented Camp, Villa iZulu and the superb Thanda Spa.

Thanda Safari Lodge is the epitome of opulence and romance – probably the most luxurious and romantic game lodge in KwaZulu Natal. Modern African arts and crafts have been incorporated into the décor in an imaginative and trend-setting way.

The main lodge is beautifully decorated with colourful fabrics, touches of beading, welcoming leather and authentic craftwork. They cascade over several levels with an inviting library overlooking a waterhole favoured by elephant, business centre, well stocked wine cellar, cigar bar as well as spacious sitting and dining rooms. Featuring African art, huge windows, fascinating books, plush sofas and open views over the bushveld, Thanda Safari Lodge epitomises African hospitality.

An alternative for the luxury option is Phinda Mountain Lodge.

Accommodation: Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge
Located in: KwaZulu Natal - KwaZulu Natal Game Lodges - South Africa

Accommodation: Thanda Safari Lodge
Located in: KwaZulu Natal - KwaZulu Natal Game Lodges - South Africa

Accommodation: andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge
Located in: KwaZulu Natal - KwaZulu Natal Game Lodges - South Africa

Day 10

4 nights Mabibi beach in coastal Maputaland, Full Board & selected activities

Today you travel to the coast of Maputaland to Thonga Beach Lodge. You leave your rental car at the secure collection point and are transferred down to the beach by 4×4 vehicle. The Kosi Bay coastal reserve is an unspoilt wilderness region of pristine golden beaches backed by forested dunes and captivating freshwater lakes. This truly is a magical area, untouched by large-scale tourism.

Thonga Beach Lodge is a luxurious yet relaxed coastal lodge at secluded Mabibi Bay. It’s a magical place of tranquil swimming bays, sandy beaches, snorkelling reefs, coastal forest and shimmering lakes. The lodge, nestling high in the canopy of the dune forest, offers panoramic ocean views. Eco-friendly suites are decorated in a chic “Robinson Crusoe” style. As well as swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, enjoy bird-watching, sundowner cruises and guided kayaking trips on Lake Sibaya or a treatment in their bush spa. Turtle tracking is a highlight for summer visitors.

Note: Premier option is priced on a Forest Suite whilst the Luxury option is priced on an Ocean View Suite.

Accommodation: Thonga Beach Lodge
Located in: Isimangaliso & Coastal Maputaland - KwaZulu Natal - South Africa

Day 14

Return rental car to Durban or Richards Bay

Today you are transferred back to the collection point to be re-united with your rental car. You then drive south either to Durban or Richards Bay Airport to drop off your rental car in time for your onward flight connections.

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Meals and accommodation as shown in text, Car rental with unlimited kilometres and supercover insurance. Upgrades to larger vehicles easily arranged.
International & domestic flights, visas, items of a personal nature, meals not specified.
Best time to go:
Suitable all year round, especially April to October/November
Health requirements:
Anti-malarial precautions essential.
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