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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.
Ascend to the top of Table Mountain in a revolving aerial cable car.
Learn about traditional tracking skills and medicinal properties of plants with San hunter-gathers, and try your hand at painting pottery with local artisans.
Walk among 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.
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. After time to relax this afternoon, gather for an orientation with your expedition leaders and head to a popular Cape Town restaurant to try some traditional dishes. Southern Sun the Cullinan (L,D)
Day 2 — Cape Town
Spend today discovering Cape Town, starting early with an aerial cable car ride to the summit of 3,558-foot Table Mountain. 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. This afternoon, visit the township of Langa to learn about the history of apartheid. Join township artists to make your own mosaic or pottery at a cultural center and gather for a musical performance and a drumming lesson. (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Cape Town
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, where rugged cliffs drop sharply into the sea, near the boundary between the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans. On our way back to Cape Town, stop in Simon’s Town and find yourself amid hundreds of African penguins on Boulders Beach. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Cape Town
Meet volunteers at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds and take a tour of the chick-rearing areas and rehabilitation units for a close-up look at African penguins and other species. 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. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Cape Town/Kruger National Park
Fly from Cape Town to Nelspruit this morning and drive to the southern region of Kruger National Park, home to around 145 species of mammals and more than 470 species of birds. Our base here is a stunning lodge with strategically placed viewing balconies so we can watch wildlife—especially elephants—as they come to drink at the river. Set out with trackers on our first safari this evening, looking for the “big five”: lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhino. Stop for a special sundowner drink as the sun sets over the bush and listen as nocturnal life begins to stir. Kambaku River Sands (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Kruger National Park
Wake up early for an open-vehicle game drive to observe wildlife active at dawn. Keep a lookout for the magnificent leopards that live in the southern part of Kruger, as well as endangered wild dogs. Return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast and time to relax at the pool. This afternoon, go on a bush walk with a tracker and learn to identify birds, plants, and animal footprints. Head out on an evening game drive followed by dinner under the stars. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Kapama Game Reserve
Drive west to the 32,000-acre wilderness of Kapama Private Game Reserve, nestled between the Drakensberg Mountains and the eastern border of the Greater Kruger National Park region. On the way, pay a visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, an important center for the conservation of endangered species. Meet wildlife that has been injured or abandoned and learn how they rehabilitate their resident animals. Arrive at Kapama for a late afternoon game drive before dinner at our lodge. Kapama Southern Camp (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Kapama 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 and other creatures that roam here: giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, wildebeest, hyena, kudu, antelope, the elusive cheetah, and many more. Take a bushwalk to identify signs of wildlife, relax at the pool, or enjoy a spa treatment before our afternoon safari. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Kapama/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)
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2016 and 2017 departures
Child (under age 18)
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $800. On the December departures, there is an additional holiday surcharge of $300 per person.
International airfare to and from South Africa is not included in the expedition cost. The group flight within South Africa is $700 (subject to change).
Featured Traveler Photo
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 pen pal 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, pen pals 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.