2023: 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, white sand beaches that quickly morph into imposing mountains before fading into wide open plains.
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 12-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.
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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!
The Winelands are not far from Cape Town, but seem a world away. The city fades into rolling vineyards that spread to the east and west as far as the eye can see, with the looming rocky mountains creating a natural border to the north. True to its name, the Winelands is the land of world-class wines - of which we have yet to taste a bad one! 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 full day of vineyard-hopping on board a hop-on/hop-off winery train. But it's not all about wine here, there's also a "big 5" safari game reserve and a lion sanctuary nearby, as well as hiking and biking trails with fantastic views too!
This 19,000 square kilometre (7,000 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, springbok, 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 through the park to our beautiful hotel. 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.
After a drive to South Africa's largest city on day 10, we'll spend our last evening together before our 11 days of adventure come to an end. If time before your flight permits, make sure to check out some of Johannesburg's sightseeing opportunities. We're here to assist with any post-trip excursions too!
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: Radisson Red, V&A Waterfront
Conveniently located at the edge of the iconic V&A Waterfront, the Radisson Red is a new addition to this vibrant area, full of the city's best shops and restaurants. Featuring contemporary rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and safes. Room service and in-room spa treatments are available for a fee. There's a casual restaurant and a bar. Other amenities include an rooftop outdoor pool and an exercise room.
WINELANDS (PAARL): Cascade Country Manor
Set against the backdrop of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains, the 4-Star Cascade Country Manor offers guests authentic country-style hospitality in 15 upmarket rooms. Known for its world-class service, the venue boasts an extensive range of luxury amenities including an on-site spa, outdoor swimming pool and wifi. Olive groves surround the manor house, providing gorgeous landscapes and exciting in-house cuisine. With locally sourced and fresh ingredients, the dining is an experience in itself. Within the estate's vicinity, there's something for everyone: from championship golf courses, museums and a close promimity to Ashia Cheetah Sanxctuary, Drakenstein Lion Park, and a myriad of wine estates, the Cascade Country Manor has something for everyone.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK: Sabi River Sun
Comfortable accommodation enhanced by spectacular views, a rich heritage and abundant wildlife combine to create a stay that is unforgettable. In addition to its natural splendour and nearby safari opportunities, the resort offers guests an 18-hole golf course and recreational facilities. The spa offers an opportunity unwind in an atmosphere of bliss and privacy, with a range of exclusive rejuvenating treatments.
JOHANNESBURG: Silverbirch Hotel
The modern façade of this Johannesburg hotel is complimented by its pool and its two upscale restaurants. The perk of this property is its location at Johannesburg's international airport, making your departure from South Africa quick and easy. Simple, colorful rooms offer flat-screen televsion viewing, desks, safes.
*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.
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.
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!
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.
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 60 days prior to your trip.
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.
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 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!
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!
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.
For many people, 12 days in Africa just isn’t enough time. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay longer, or if you decide to quit your job and become a lion tamer or rhino wrestler for the rest of your life, we’d be happy to help you extend (or cancel!) your return flight. We’ve been all over the area, so don’t think twice about asking where to go or what to do after your Detours trip is complete. Victoria Falls, the sand dunes in Namibia, Chobe Park in Botswana... many interesting destinations are close-by.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
What's included? • All taxes • All group transport between itinerary destinations • Accommodations for your 11-day Detours experience • Full day wildlife safari through Kruger National Park • Full day wine hop-on/hop-off wine tour in the Winelands • 3-course dinner with local family 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 $600 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1100 USD at the higher end for the splurgers. We suggest arriving to South Africa with approximately 4,000 local South African Rand.
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.
Stanley N. - USA
April 25, 2019
A belated but HUGE thank you for a memorable trip. You guys are all amazing, in how you skillfully plan and orchestrate every aspect of the trip. Africa had been near top of my list for 5-6 years. The South Africa trip with Detours was a dream trip beyond words.
I will remember Dan's and Kyle's zest for life in foreign lands, and Shane's and Miles' patience for my pre-trip questions. The icing on the cake was how Dan imbued our experience with a big part of himself. In Greece it was the local relationships he'd cultivated; and in South Africa, his knowledge and respect for wildlife and the nuances of our relationship with wild animals.