Brimming with fascinating cultures and eternally wild, South Africa offers an extraordinary array of family adventures. In Cape Town, explore Table Mountain and hike the hidden trails of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Observe African penguins up close on the spectacular Cape Peninsula, and spend time with San people, learning ancient tracking and hunting techniques. Drive one of the world’s most spectacular roads, and get up close to endangered animals at a rehabilitation center. Then, during four days on safari, watch for the glow of eyes on a night game drive, observe a jaw-dropping array of species, and gaze at tangerine-colored sunsets melting into the bush.
Learn about traditional tracking skills and medicinal properties of plants with San hunter-gathers, and try your hand at painting pottery with local artisans.
Frolic with hundreds of endangered African penguins at Boulders Beach.
Follow trackers on a wildlife identification adventure, and encounter lions, rhino, giraffes, elephants, and much more in Kruger National Park and Kapama Private Game Reserve.
Join a local botanist in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to learn about area plant species, and walk amid the treetops during a stroll along the garden’s canopy walkway.
Itinerary - 9 Days
Day 1 — Cape Town, South Africa
Welkom! Arrive at Cape Town International Airport and transfer to our hotel, located near the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, your base of exploration for the next few days. Gather this afternoon for a lively introduction to this intriguing country. Your expedition leaders and local guest speaker tie together the many layers of South Africa's present and past providing a great foundation for your family's cultural and natural experiences. Then join your new traveling companions for a special Welcome Dinner. Southern Sun the Cullinan (L,D)
Day 2 — Cape Town/Table Mountain/Langa
Spend today discovering Cape Town, starting early with an aerial cable car ride to the summit of 3,558-foot Table Mountain-a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk the network of paths that crisscross the plateau and watch for lizards and mongooses in the underbrush and eagles and kestrels soaring overhead. Then drive to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, where more than 7,000 plant species thrive. In the company of a local botanist, see a spectacular baobab tree and unusual blossoms of the endemic species of the fynbos biome. Kids will love the walk along the "Boomslang" (tree snake) canopy walkway and through the medicinal plant garden and learning about the “magical” healing properties of flowers and herbs. This afternoon, visit the township of Langa to learn about the history of apartheid and witness the growth of the communities since it was abolished. At the Gugu S'Thebe Cultural Center, join township artists to make your own mosaic or pottery and later participate in a musical performance and a drumming lesson. Southern Sun the Cullinan (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Cape Peninsula/Cape Point
Trace the coast of the Cape Peninsula on a spectacular drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, stopping to visit harbor towns and historic villages along the way. Walk on Atlantic beach trails and hike along the cliffs overlooking False Bay, keeping an eye out for wildlife like bonteboks and baboons, or dolphins swimming off the coast. Hike to the lighthouse at Cape Point—the tip of Africa, where rugged cliffs drop sharply into the sea, near where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. On our way back to Cape Town, stop in Simon’s Town and find yourself amid hundreds of endangered African penguins on Boulders Beach. Southern Sun the Cullinan (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Cape Town/West Coast
This morning we visit the Two Oceans Aquarium for a close encounter with more than 3,000 marine creatures. Explore galleries that spotlight the
kaleidoscopic marine life of the waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Witness the mysterious
world of predator fish, from ragged-tooth sharks to stingrays. Walk through a glass tunnel
surrounded by graceful turtles and rays and marvel at the underwater kelp forest that shelters
thousands of glittering silver fishes. Then delve into one the oldest cultures on Earth at !Khwa Ttu, the San Education and Culture Centre. Meet San people, hunter-gatherers once called “Bushmen” to learn about their unique traditions and try your hand at shooting a bow and arrow or igniting a fire using sticks. Cook up a typical San ostrich dish with our hosts or head into the countryside to learn ancient tracking techniques. Southern Sun the Cullinan (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Cape Town/Kapama Private Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park
Fly this morning from Cape Town to Hoedspruit and exchange the big city life for the 32,000-acre, pristine wilderness of Kapama Game Reserve, which sits
between the Drakensberg Mountains and the eastern border of Kruger National Park. More than 40 species of
mammals and 250 species of birds thrive in the reserve’s savannah and riverine forest habitats. After settling in, meet your private trackers and wildlife guides who accompany you throughout your time at Kapama. Depart for a late afternoon game drive and watch for zebra, hyena, and the "Big Five". Return to camp at twilight and enjoy a wonderful dinner at our lodge. Kapama Southern Camp (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Kapama Private Game Reserve
Greet the morning from your open 4x4 vehicle as you set out for a magical dawn drive around the reserve in search of the "Big Five"-lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros as well as the other creatures that roam here: giraffe, zebra, antelope, the elusive cheetah and many more. Take a bushwalk with a tracker and learn to identify signs of wildlife and the different footprints you discover, or relax at the pool. This afternoon travel to a different area of the Reserve for the chance to spot more amazing wildlife. Kapama Southern Camp (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Kapama Private Game Reserve/Kruger National Park
Leave Kapama Game Reserve and head to the grasslands and forests of Kruger National Park, a UNESCO
World Biosphere Reserve and one of the largest national parks in the world. More than 147 species of large
mammals find shelter here—more than any other African game reserve. Continue along the Panorama Route, stopping at one of South Africa’s most scenic lookouts,
“God’s Window.” Lush, subtropical foliage carpets majestic cliffs that drop precipitously into
Blyde River Canyon, one of the planet’s largest canyons. Visit the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center
home to many injured, poisoned and abandoned wildlife and birds, and an important center for the conservation of endangered species. This afternoon to learn about its many successful methods and meet some of the resident animals. Return to Kapama for evening game drive. As you watch the sun set, listen as the daylight species retire and the nocturnal world begins to awaken. Kapama Southern Camp (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Kapama Private Game Reserve
Rise before the sun appears this morning for another exciting open vehicle game drive in search of the incredible variety of wildlife that roam here. Keep a sharp lookout for the magnificent leopards that live in the southern part of the Greater Kruger. Return to the lodge for breakfast and choose your activities for the afternoon. Put your newly learned tracking skills to the test on a bushwalk or relax at the Lodge. Later in the afternoon, we'll have another chance to see and photograph the animals of the reserve, followed by a special farewell dinner under a dazzling canopy of stars. Kapama Southern Camp (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Kapama Private Game Reserve/Johannesburg
Enjoy a last game drive this morning. After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Hoedspruit for our flight to Johannesburg, where we connect with evening flights home. (B)
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1150 in 2017 and $1,650 in 2018. On the December departures, a single room is $1850. There is an additional holiday surcharge of $700 per person in 2017 and $1000 in 2018.
International airfare to and from South Africa is not included in the expedition cost. The group flight within South Africa is $700 in 2017 and $750 in 2018 (subject to change).
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
About this Expedition
We tap into National Geographic’s vast network to design unique travel experiences for the whole family, filled with hands-on activities and memorable moments. A special aspect of this expedition is the Kid-to-Kid Connection, which links every young traveler with a child of similar age in South Africa. On some departures, the Kid to Kid Connection will take place a cultural center in Langa and feature traditional music and drumming. On other departures, kids will meet at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and explore the garden's unique flora together.
Our dynamic Expedition Leaders enrich each experience with their insights, knowledge, and energy, and a Young Explorer Leader joins every group to facilitate fun activities that help kids get the most out of the places we go. As we travel, we’ll also meet up with fascinating people doing meaningful work in the field.