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11 Days in South Africa

A country of undeniably unique experiences, where it’s possible to be in the presence of giraffes and hippos before breakfast is even served. Where by lunchtime you can have the surreal experience of being surrounded by hundreds of little penguins. Dinner comes with a glass of world-class wine, enjoyed on the patio of that very vineyard that produced it. South Africa is the country of wide open safaris with far more than just the “big 5”, underwater dives with great white sharks, and white sand beaches that quickly morph into imposing mountains before fading into wide open plains - just to name a few highlights.

A real experience in Africa sparks not just all five senses, but also imagination and emotions quite unlike any other place you’ll experience. Nature has been more than generous to this place, visible as much in its landscape, as in its wildlife at every turn. History has been tumultuous to say the least, emerging in recent years as a world leader in social progress and tolerance. Local South Africans have been rebuilding a country to be proud of, while creating museums and monuments to ensure the past won’t be forgotten.

Our 11-day experience through South Africa guarantees to showcase this country in all its glory. From the cosmopolitan, postcard-perfect city of Cape Town, to the expansive country estates of the Winelands, to the world famous safaris of Kruger park, before finishing in the big, busy metropolis of Johannesburg.

Days 1, 2, 3, and 4 - CAPE TOWN

Cape Town is one of the great cosmopolitan coastal cities of the world, fringed by gorgeous beaches, with the imposing Table Mountain as its focal point. The streets are full of a wide variety of languages and colors, making up a local culture that is as varied as It fascinating to be a part of.  We spend our first 4 nights here because there is so much to do!  Head to the local gay beaches, up to the top of table mountain, into the water with great white sharks, out to famous Robben Island, to the penguin colonies and more!  It's a city that is jam-packed with fun activities.  Our second night's dinner is in the home of a local family in the Bo-kaap neighborhood who welcome us with a 3-course meal to start the trip off right!

Included Activities: Cape Peninsula Tour, Boulder Beach Penguins Visit, Bo-Kaap Tour

Optional Activities: Table Mountain Cable Car, Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Sunset cruise of Table Bay, Aquilla Game Reserve, shark cage diving, Clifton Beach, high tea at My. Nelson Hotel, museums

Day 5 - WINELANDS

A visit to the Winelands is not complete without experiencing the reds, whites, blends and bubblies, along with stunning locations, fabulous food and hospitable people. That's why our time in the Winelands includes a day of vineyard-hopping as we move from the big city of Cape Town through the Winelands to our accommodation in the quaint town of Franschhoek. 

Franschhoek, nestled in South Africa's Western Cape, is renowned for its picturesque vineyards, gourmet cuisine, and charming French-inspired architecture. It's known as the "French Corner" for its Huguenot heritage, offering a blend of history, culture, and culinary delights amidst stunning natural beauty.

Included Activities: Franschhoek Wine Tour

Optional Activities: Aquila Game Reserve, Drakenstein Lion Park, explore the villages of Franschhoek and/or Stellenbosch

Days 6, 7, and 8 - KRUGER PARK

This 19,485 square kilometre (7,523 square mile) national park in South Africa’s Northeast region is one of the world’s most famous places for a safari – and that’s exactly what we’re here for! There’s no shortage of lions, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, and leopards here, and our mission is to find them.  We fly from Cape Town to Kruger then take a short drive to our beautiful hotel just outside the park gates.  The next day we wake up to a full day of game driving in the world-renowned Kruger National Park - a day you will never forget. Exploring the pristine wilderness in an open safari vehicle with a highly experienced ranger, who will ensure optimal game viewing with his in-depth knowledge of the African bush. As you search for the Big Five, keep an eye out for the many other smaller creatures that live in this reserve, including over 500 bird and over 100 reptile species.

We've also got one full free day here as well.  On this day you may choose to take an additional safari through the park to see more wildlife, or choose from several other unique options including a visit to Elephant Whispers to get up close to African elephants, or a trip through the Blyde River Canyon, or even a day trip to the nearby country of Eswatini.  Your trip leader is there to help coordinate this day with you in person.

Included Activities: Full Day Kruger Safari

Optional Activities: Blyde River Canyon, elephant encounter at Elephant Whispers, second safari day, sunset safari, day trip to Eswatini

Days 9, 10 and 11 - JOHANNESBURG

After a long but scenic drive to South Africa's largest city on day 9, we'll get settled into our home for the next two nights in the upscale Melrose Arch neighborhood.  The next day, our full day in the city, we'll take a guided tour of Soweto and learn about South Africa's apartheid history as well as Nelson Mandela's legacy with a visit to his former home.  Once the private tour with a local guide is finished, you'll have the option of being dropped off at the Apartheid Museum (where you could spend several hours if you'd like!) or you could return to Melrose Arch before enjoying one final night all together,

On the final, 11th day of the trip, you're welcome to depart any time as there are no included activites on this day.  Or, many of you will likely be extending your trip a few more days to experience Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe which is an incredible way to wrap up your adventure in Africa!  More on that below :)

OPTIONAL - 3-night Victoria Falls Extension

Got an extra few days to tack on another incredible experience you'll never forget?  Take a 3-night extension trip up to Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfall, located at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe!  We've crafted a self-guided extension to our South Africa adventure that will enable you to experience the massive falls up close and personal.  Check out this link for full details.

We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations and we're pretty sure you don't either! You work hard to go on vacation and we believe you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of each day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip. After rigorous wifi signal testing, fluffing pillows, and taking a shower or two, we've narrowed down our favorite properties. Check out our approved accommodation to see where we've stayed in the past and where we'll likely be staying on your trip. 

CAPE TOWN: Garden Court Victoria

The industrial and trendy chic Garden Court Victoria, sits right in the heart of the bustling district of Green Point, home to tons of exciting shopping, dining, and nightlife. Contemporary rooms with free uncapped Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and room safes. Swimming pool and fitness center are available for use with an on-site restaurant and coffee shop available to dine at.

WINELANDS (FRANSCHHOEK): Protea Franschhoek 

Overlooking the wineries and mountains near Franschhoek, this 4-star property is rich in history with sections of it dating back to the late 1800s. The hotel boasts a renowned restaurant and swimming pool with each room having complimentary Wi-Fi, refrigerator, room safes, flat screen TVs and air conditioning.

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK: Sabi River Sun Resort 

Situated off the banks of the Sabie River there is no better place to stay near Kruger National Park! Enjoy the resorts incredible spa, restaurant, five swimming pools, 18-hole golf course and resident hippos! Each room has complimentary Wi-Fi, room safes, flat screen TVs and air conditioning.

JOHANNESBURG: Marriott Johannesburg Melrose Arch

Centralized in the Melrose Arch Pricinct filled with trendy cafés, high street boutique shops, and el fresco restaurants, Hotel Melrose Arch is close to everything you need. Featuring an outdoor pool, restaurant and bar of its own, you will have plenty to enjoy. Each room has free wifi, 24-hour room service, flat screen TVs, air conditioning, and USB outlets for ease of device charging.

*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all Detours trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.

The Climate

South Africa’s location in the Southern Hemisphere means January to April are the sunniest and warmest months of the year, while June to August are the coolest months. That said, the Cape Town and Winelands area are really the only areas that have a big change, and the Kruger Park and Johannesburg areas are generally pleasant with clear skies any time of year. If you’re looking for the warmest weather and an escape from Northern Hemisphere winter, you’ll want to steer towards our January to April trip dates. Temperatures in January-April range from highs of low-30’s, while typical highs in June-August drop to around 15 celsius. That said, weather can sometimes be unpredictable anywhere in the world so it's always good to pack a “just in case” outfit for the odd rainy day at any time of the year.

The People and LGBTQ+ friendliness

South African people are quick to point out how diverse their nation is – and it’s true! With 11 official languages in the country and a big visible mix of cultures, classes, and colors, it really is a place where many different types of people come together. When South Africa’s constitution was rewritten in 1994, it worked hard to make all people feel welcome and accepted in society. This includes the large LGBT population, even going so far as to legalize same sex marriage long before many other western countries. You’ll notice that the local people are very laid back and friendly, and are very welcoming to foreigners in the place their proud to call home. Don’t worry about a language barrier here – it would be very difficult to find someone who doesn’t speak fluent English!

The areas of South Africa that we'll be visiting are very open-minded and most people will be very welcoming of homosexuality. That said, South Africa is a small pocket of gay friendly attitudes, in a continent known for quite the opposite. For that reason, we do suggest being cautious about the amount of public excitement and passion you have for your partner or new local “friend”.

The Cuisine

While there are always plenty of options for all sorts of dietary restrictions including vegetarians, it’s meat that makes up a good chunk of menus here including some exotic meat options. Detours doesn't believe in limiting your choices by including all of your meals at pre-decided restaurants as part of the trip package. Instead, we include all of your breakfasts to start your day off, then we explore all of the different restaurant options available for lunch and dinner. This way we can eat when we want, where we want, and spend what we want! Your trip leader definitely has their favorite spots so if you'd like some advice on the best in each location, just check with them.

What to Bring

Our advice is simple. Pack your bag, then take half of those things out and leave them back home. It’s common to hear people wishing they’d packed less stuff, but we’ve never heard anyone complain that they didn’t bring enough. Even if you realize you forget to pack some crucial item you can always pick up a replacement once you arrive in South Africa. We'll include some trip-specific packing advice based on expected weather as part of our update email to you, sent 10 days prior to your trip.

Money

We suggest just bringing your regular bank card from home and using the ATMs in South Africa to get cash. In our experience it’s cheaper than currency exchange shops here or even at home. South Africa has its own currency, the Rand (ZAR) and you likely won’t find shops or restaurants that will accept US Dollars or Euros. Credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa so it’s good to bring at least one on your trip too. Travelers checks are a thing of the past so we don’t recommend bringing them on any of our trips.

It can sometimes be challenging to use large-denomination bills at shops and restaurants, so we encourage you to request small denomination bills when getting cash prior to your trip.

If possible, it's always a good idea to travel internationally with a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.  The savings will add up over the course of your trip and may end up being worth the work of getting a new card prior to your trip.  Once you're overseas, if presented with the option to pay in the local currency or your home currency, we suggest always choosing the local currency to further avoid fees.

Tipping

Just like in the United States, Canada, and some other places in the world, tipping is expected in South Africa for restaurant/bar service and any guides you may have along the way. We suggest adding somewhere between 12-18% gratuity to your bill for good service. Your trip leader will have advice for other services along the way including your safari guide. We also recommend tipping around $10-15 USD per day for your Detours trip leader.

Accommodation

We have pretty high standards when it comes to choosing our accommodations, and trust us, we’ve done plenty of room-sniffing, pillow-patting, bed-jumping and bathroom inspections to make sure we stay at quality spots. To be approved as a Detours accommodations provider, a hotel/guesthouse must: be locally owned (to support the local community), be in an amazing location (close to the hot spots), AND be gay-friendly. We won't be staying in 5-star Ritz-Carltons but we also won't subject you to anything we wouldn't want to stay in ourselves. Clean and comfortable and approximately 4 stars, you can count on that!

Trip Leaders

All Detours trips are led by one of our own Detours trip leaders.  They're there with you every day and their job is to help ensure that this is your trip of a lifetime by taking the hassle out of your trip and enabling you to experience everything you came to South Africa for.  Consider them like a friendly concierge that's traveling along with you.  All of our trip leaders are gay and all are well-traveled and experienced in the destination they're leading in, so they'll be a great part of your experience!

Alarm Clocks

We do absolutely everything possible to avoid needing such a mundane awakening. A world without alarm clocks is one we want to be part of, and your “rise and shine” while in South Africa should come from the sound of a lion’s roar, or a hyena’s laugh. However, sometimes due to current train or flight schedules (and a morning safari!) we are required to make early departures, but we do everything we can to minimize this.

Your Group

Our Detours groups are run with a maximum of 16 travelers. Ages of group members vary but almost all our travelers are in their 30's, 40’s and 50’s. Whatever the age of the guys on our trips everyone's already got something in common, an exciting new experience in a new country! Each group is led by a Detours trip leader who is there to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, allowing you to focus on having the time of your life! We welcome both men and women onto our trips although it’s important to know that most groups are 100% gay men.

Solo Travelers

No problem! Don’t worry, at least half our travelers come solo and our trip will provide plenty of chances to meet great people both inside and outside of our group, including other solo travelers. As far as your accommodations go, you’ve got two choices. We can either pair you up with another solo group member in a two-bed room for no extra charge, or you can have your own room for a very reasonable surcharge. 

Electrical Outlets

South Africa uses several different plugs shapes so it's a good idea to bring a multi-prong electrical adapter on your trip here. The voltage is 230V with 50 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its acceptable range.

Staying Connected

To ensure you don't lose connection along the way, your cell phone provider likely has several roaming options available.  We suggest reaching out to them prior to the trip to find out which package is right for you as it will depend on how much you intend to use your phone while traveling.  Keep in mind that all accommodation and most restaurants have free WiFi available as well.

What's included? • All taxes • All group transport between itinerary destinations • Accommodations for your 11-day Detours experience • Domestic airfare from Cape Town to Kruger National Park • Full day wildlife safari through Kruger National Park • Winery hopping tour in the Winelands • Full day Cape Point tour with visit to Boulders Beach penguin colony • Dinner with local family in Cape Town • 1 dinner in the Winelands, 2 dinners in Cape Town • All breakfasts • Bo Kaap neighborhood tour with local guide • Knowledgeable and fun Detours leader • 

What isn't included? • Meals and drinks outside of those listed above • Activities outside of the those listed above • International Airfare • Arrival/Departure airport transfers • Optional gratuities •

Additional spending budget?  Your big-ticket items are included through the trip, but you'll want to budget for additional spending such as additional meals, drinks, shopping, activities, etc. These costs can vary dramatically with differing personal habits but we suggest expecting to spend an additional $900 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1300 USD at the higher end for the splurgers.  We suggest arriving to South Africa with approximately 4,000 local South African Rand to make those first few local purchases nice and easy.



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Trip Reviews

Rod F. - USA

October 14, 2022

This was my first experience using a tour company, and Miles and the Detours team exceeded all my expectations. I am a seasoned traveler, but this time I wanted to enjoy South Africa, without the stress of planning and organizing all the details. I also didn't want a super structured itinerary where every minute of every day was planned. Detours fit the bill, all I had to worry about was getting myself there. There was so much to do, and we felt like we were able to do everything we wanted to do and even experience things we didn't think about.
From the time we got to the meeting point to the departure date, everything was taken care of, from reservations for lodging, activities and transfers to and from the various activities, and locations.
Miles was our tour leader and also the owner of the company. He had everything well organized and was always available to help with anything from leading a hike, to organizing optional actives, to just hanging out and keeping the group engaged.
We had an excellent group of guys, which made the trip even more special, we were able to socialize and share our experiences with others who were either with us or experiencing something different that day.
I highly recommend Detours, and I myself definitely plan on using them again. Thank you to Miles and the Detours team for giving me and my partner a great experience for our milestone birthday experience.

Bruce M. - USA

March 2, 2020

I just came back from South Africa, my second trip with Detours and it was beyond my expectations. Working with Detours is a pleasure. So easy and responsive.....all the details come together flawlessly. Miles Mitchinson and his remarkable team of travel professionals are to be congratulated on their superb customer service and creative tour planning. Our Travel Escort in South Africa was Dan Clarke who was beyond extraordinary! If Yelp allowed for 10 stars, I would give it to them. I look forward to my next Detours experience!

Kevin B. - USA

February 12, 2020

I've done 2 trips with Detours and they have both been wonderful. The tour leaders - Shane & Dan - were excellent, the accommodations were good and conveniently situated. The a la carte format of most activities allows you the freedom to do as much or as little as you please making for a stress free, enjoyable vacation. Great job guys and I look forward to my next trip with you!

Randy F. - USA

April 28, 2019

Going into it we knew it was going to be a great trip and certainly different than any of our previous travels, but it far exceeded all of my expectations.  All of the accommodations, restaurants, and various activities were perfect.  Dan was an amazing tour leader.  He made it all so easy (for us).  He was on top of everything and anticipated everything that was needed.  He was so engaging and knowledgable.  The entire trip was well structured, yet very flexible, which is how we like to travel.

I also would like to thank you and the rest of the Detours' staff for all the support and planning you provided.  Going into initial planning of this trip we communicated a laundry list of expectations and desires, and had a LOT of questions throughout.  You always provide very timely and thorough responses, even when I knew you were leading other trips.  You NAILED IT!  For that, I thank the Detours' team for a most amazing adventure, one we will remember and talk about for many years to come.

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